[Editor's Note: Jack Grisham is an author, hypnotherapist, T.S.O.L. front man and all-around troublemaker. This column, True Story, may or may not be factual, with characters who may or may not be real.]
The street was empty as Arlo made his way to the tavern on Fourth. He wasn't a drinking man, but the odd shot of whiskey on a cool night was more medicinal than pleasurable--the Lord loves a sober soldier. Arlo pulled his jacket collar up and put his hands in the pockets. He could feel the razor riding heavy in his pants, an unnatural weight diverting his attention from the street.
"You got a light, man?"
Arlo looked up and into the eyes of a young man. He was blond, with wavy, greased-back hair. He had a cigarette hanging from his lip and a single teardrop tattooed under his right eye.
"Or some change?" The smoker had a friend. He came alongside Arlo--not too close, but close enough.
"I don't smoke," Arlo said.
"You don't do money, either?" The friend asked.
"Yes," said Arlo, "I have money. I took it from the barbers'--look." Arlo reached into his left pants pocket and pulled out the bills. The razor in his right was heavier still. "Here," Arlo held out the money. "It must be for you. I just received it, and now here you are asking if I have any. The Lord does strange works."
The blond reached out and grabbed the bills. "What else you got, man?" "What else?" Arlo asked.
"In your fucking pocket. What else you got?"
"I have a straight razor."
"Motherfucker." The blond shoved Arlo. "You think you're bad, dude? You gonna cut us?" "No," replied Arlo, "I'm not bad. I'm good. I'm a godly man." He reached into his right pocket, and he grabbed the razor. The handle melded to his flesh--a blade from most high given unto Arlo. He pulled it from his pocket. The blade opened of its own volition. Arlo obediently flourished the steel. "I gave to you what was asked," Arlo said. "And now you want more?"
The two men circled. Arlo slashed.
"Father," Arlo called to God. "Help me."
The men laughed. Arlo slashed again. The blond went to grab Arlo from behind, but his shoes--used, black steel-toe boots with a worn-smooth tread--found no purchase on the slick pavement, and he slid to his knees. Arlo reached down, grabbed the man's hair and tore at his throat with a razor cut. The skin parted wide, and a red sea of blood cascaded down his shirt. The man's companion backed away. Arlo came toward him.
"It is the fate of all men to die," Arlo said.
The friend tried to run, but he was unable to move--unseen hands securing the struggling man. God held him in place, as Arlo slowly advanced.
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"I'm thirsty, Father," Arlo said, "and I'm tired. I need to rest."
"I hear you, my son," God replied. He pulled the man's head back, exposing his throat. "But first, do this for me," God said. "One small strike, and I'll buy you an ice-cold beer." Arlo slashed.