First published in MicroHorror (2008)
Josie limped along the sidewalk, pushing her belongings in a rusted shopping cart. Wary eyes swept the adjacent park until she spotted the donut bag and to-go coffee cup perched on the rotting bench.
She sat, looked around for the owner, and seeing no one nearby, opened the bag—one glazed, one cream-filled and one chocolate, her favorite. Warmth radiated through the palms of her fingerless gloves when she picked up the cup and drank in the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee.
These haven’t been here long, she thought.
“Wonder what happened, Irene,” Josie said. “You think someone killed the donut man and dragged him into the bushes?”
Irene didn’t answer.
Josie closed the bag and looked around. A young mother pushed a stroller on the opposite side of the lake. A jogger ran past her and smiled. Josie wondered if he winked at the mother.
“Just like a man to do that. Right, Irene?” Josie shook her head. “Next he’ll run off with some shameless floozie and leave his wife destitute. Somebody should kick that jogger in the balls. Bet he wouldn’t wink then.” Josie laughed and heard Irene guffaw.
Her eyes followed the jogger as he rounded the lake. Was he a rapist who used the park to find his victims? Was the mother his target? What about Irene? Josie knew Irene wouldn’t survive another rape. They’d have to put her in an institution.
Placing the donuts and coffee on the bench, she grinned, her plump face looking like a jack-o-lantern, as the jogger raced by. Josie watched him leave the park and climb the stairs of an apartment building across Jefferson Street. She let out her breath, retrieved the bag and took out the glazed donut. She’d save the chocolate one for last. She wiped five rogue ants from the pastry and put it to her mouth. She glanced from side-to-side before slowly biting into the sweet delight and thought about what she would write in her journal tonight.
Dear Diary. Irene and I had a good day today. Nobody raped us, and we shared a chocolate donut.