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one | yeah...whatever

To my dearest Sutton,

 

I tried. I really did. I wore the mask day in and day out to appease the great God normalcy, but I just couldn’t do it. With each passing tick of the clock, I felt meaning swirl farther and farther down the drain. What started out as a glorious ride down joyful lane turned into a shit-slogging hike up a mountain I liked to call Monotony.

But don’t worry...it wasn’t you.

I know, I know. I can already hear you saying it.

“Yeah...whatever.”

Seriously, you were great. Not only were you a dynamo in bed (which you were; trust me, I bragged about it a LOT), you were (are, I can’t really speak about you in the past tense, sorry) a great mother to my son (you know, the one we never managed to have), and a pillar of justice and equality in society.

You’re fucking amazing.

As cliche as this is going to sound…

God, I hate to say this. I’m going to come off like some spineless douche. C'est la vie; too late for that now, right?

It’s me. I mean...it was me. I speak in the past tense with regard to myself because, by the time you read this, I’ll be gone.

Wow. Can you believe it? I finally had the courage to do the right thing. Don’t believe me? Look up. See? I told you. I’m dead.

Fuck. That was hard to write. Was it hard to read? Does it break your heart to glance heavenward and see your husband hanging by a noose?

For what it’s worth, I’ll miss you. Your kiss, the smell of you in the morning, the way you roll your eyes at me every time I start talking about anything remotely nerdly.

Speaking of which, for the love of all things holy, do NOT sell my Star Wars figurine collection. I realize it’ll be very tempting, but just don’t.

Sutton, I adored you. I wish I could have soldiered on, but, in the end, I simply wasn’t made for this world. Should we meet in some form of afterlife, I hope you’ll forgive me.

Bye now.

Foster.

 

She read the whole goddamn letter without so much as a hitch in her breath. I stood there, skulking in the shadows, waiting for at least that single fucking tear to trace its way down her perfect cheek.

Nada.

“Fuck!” I shouted so loud I expected bats to swoop down from the rafters and Scooby Doo their asses out of the attic.

It didn’t happen. In fact, there was nothing—no emotional response whatsoever. My beautiful, still living, wife stood there.

“Come on. Give me something, Sutton.”

Nothing. She crumpled up the letter, tossed it at my cold, lifeless body, and left the attic.

“I don’t understand.” I stood in the center of the musty room, scratching my head. “I was an amazing husband.”

A wind kicked up. My body swung gently from the rope; the macabre creaking of hemp against wood rose and fell.

Out of nowhere, I laughed. “This is just like the fucking horror movies. Any minute, my eyes are going to pop open, and I’ll pull myself from the noose.”

I watched.

And waited.

“Come on, Foster!” I shouted.

“It won’t work.” An unfamiliar voice shocked me from my reverie.

I jerked around to see a man in a suit...carrying a briefcase in one hand and an oversized clock in the other.

“Tick tock, Foster.”

I assumed a pose....karate in nature. “Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my house?”

The gent calmly gave his glasses a push back up his long, thin nose. “As to question the first, my name is Holden. With regard to your second inquiry, I am here to collect you.”

“Say huh, Holden?”

“Huh,” the man said with a deadpan tone.

“What do you mean, collect me?”

Holden set his briefcase down on a too-dusty table, popped it open, and removed a…

“Scroll? What the hell?” I asked.

He glanced up at me, his eyes blinking with a furious innocence. “If you will allow me to continue, you will understand everything momentarily.”

“Well, in that case...be my guest. Who the hell am I to stop a total stranger from reading a scroll in my attic as my dead body continues to cool above me?”

“You are Foster Donovan.”

I crossed my arms over my chest and stared.

Holden closed the scroll. “Is there something wrong, Mr. Donovan?”

“Really? That’s the question you choose to ask as you stand between what must be a ghost and his dead body? Is there something wrong? Yes, in fact, Holden, there is. I’m fucking dead!”

For the second time, Holden unrolled the scroll. “It seems that was the outcome you were hoping for. So, again, I ask you...is there something wrong?”

“Shit, Holden, you’re killing me here.”

“Actually, Mr. Donovan, you did that of your own volition.”

“Do you have something to read to me or what? If not, please get the fuck out of my attic and never come back.”

Holden bowed and shook his head. “Actually, Foster, I do have something to read. May I?”

I gestured for the man to continue. “Did I not...oh, for Chrissake, read it.”

He complied.

Once the scroll was ceremoniously unrolled, Holden gave his glasses one more push up the mountain of flesh that split his cheeks, took in a deep breath, and read. “And thus it is bestowed and held to power on this day…” He turned the giant clock and gave it a knowing glance. “...of October thirty-first, two thousand fifteen, that Foster Donovan did vanquish his own life and is therefore required to make his passage through the Suicide Station. Your attendance is mandatory and punctuality is expected. You shall be escorted into the station by your guide, Holden Escobar.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up there, Holden. Suicide Station? Wasn’t that a song by INXS?”

Holden stared, his face gaunt and without the slightest hint of recognition. After the awkward moment passed, he meticulously re-rolled the scroll and carefully returned it to his briefcase. He then withdrew what looked like a tuning fork from the attache and, without warning, struck it against my forehead. A piercing shriek poured from the tiny device...a sound that threatened to devastate my ears.

“Jesus Christ, Holden.”

“No...just Holden, thank you.” He held out his hand. “This way.”

The song from the metallic wand continued to sing a ridiculously annoying song.

“Could you shut that thing off, Holden?”

“That is not possible. Tuning is the only means to pass through.” Again, Holden held out his hand to me. “Please take hold.”

“And if I don’t?” I challenged the man.

Holden turned to me, his eyes glowing with pure frustration. “If you don’t, then you’ll miss the passage, and I will be docked significant hours.”

“You mean pay?”

“Where we’re going, the only form of currency is accrued time.”

“I don’t understand.”

Holden punched his hand toward me. “You will soon enough. Take hold now, before it’s too late.”

Without questioning further, I grabbed the man’s hand. The second flesh met flesh, everything stopped. Well, almost everything. Before us, a crack appeared in mid-air. The crack spiderwebbed across the room until we were surrounded by a dangerous lacing. Holden reached forward with the still-singing fork and touched it gently against one of the cracks. The song of madness went silent, and shards of glass rained down around us. I yanked my hand from Holden’s and covered my head against the brittle flakes of death falling over me.

“Foster,” Holden whispered gently.

I remained tucked under the safety of my arms.

“Foster, we’ve arrived.”

“Wh-what the hell do you mean? We didn’t leave the attic.”

“You are mistaken, Mr. Donovan.”

Cautiously, I pulled out of my protective shell and opened my eyes.

“What the fu…”

“Foster, welcome to Suicide Station.”

We stood in an office...a very large office. All around were cubicles, ringing phones, people rushing about or waiting in lines. A tall, leggy woman in a polka dot dress and patent leather heels bumped into me as she zipped by. She stopped, turned, blushed, smiled, and went on about her business. My eyes were glued to her sway. The hypnotic rhythm had my heart and blood bumping and thumping through my system. For the briefest pause, I was my sixteen-year-old self again and Miss Polka Dot was that English teacher who promised to take me to heaven after school.

Heaven never happened...thanks to Ricky Sullivan. The prick challenged me to a fight and I couldn’t back down...not without becoming the joke of Milldale High. The taking of my virginity would have to wait for another year and Karen Z.

“I could get used…”

“Follow me, Mr. Donovan.” Holden gestured toward the cubicle farm.

“Is this really happening?” I called out to my guide, glancing back over my shoulder in a vain attempt to get one last look at the pinup girl.

Holden turned back, eyes closed and lips pursed, and huffed. “Foster, I am working on borrowed time here...quite literally. If I don’t get you processed immediately, things are going to get really ugly for both of us. If you please…”

His voice was sincere. I hated that. Why? Because sincerity was that one thing I could never resist. It was the thing that helped my wife convince me I wanted to have a child. I never fell for the old paternal clock thing. In my mind, it was a means to an end.

I mean that literally. A means to my wife’s end. I’d always been a horny bastard. My penis was my Achilles. Not in the same way as every living male on the planet. No, I had a very special relationship with my dick. He and I had an understanding. I feed him a healthy dose of vagina, and he doesn’t fuck up and land me in divorce court...or worse. Because of that, I used it to my advantage.

Or so I thought.

Said advantage quickly dissipated the second Sutton’s maternal clock struck midnight.

I decided to follow Holden. Why the hell not, right? I had nothing to lose and, according to Holden, all the time in the world to kill.

There was that word again. Already it had lost its sheen.

“Have a seat.” Holden pointed at the row of plastic chairs that waited for ass on the opposite side of his cubicle.

“I think I’ll stand.”

Holden set his briefcase on his desk, popped it open, and removed a folder. Once the case was situated on the floor, he took a seat behind his desk, glanced at me, and cocked his head. “You really have no idea what’s going on, do you, Foster?”

I gave in and took a seat on one of the dollar-store chairs. “That’s the first intelligent thing I’ve heard you say all day.”

“All day?” Holden shook his head. “It’s only been…” he glanced at his watch. “...two minutes.”

“Wait...what? That can’t be. We’ve been chatting for…”

“Time doesn’t work that way here. Nothing is linear. What time was it when we arrived inside of this building?”

“I have no idea. I’m not wearing a watch, and I don’t see any clocks.”

“Exactly,” Holden declared.

“Exactly what?” I demanded.

Holden opened up the folder on his desk and glanced between whatever was tucked within the folds and me. He finally pulled a tape recorder from a drawer, pressed Record, and set the device on his desk. “Foster Donovan, in your own words, please describe the string of events that led you here to Suicide Station.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but couldn’t form a single word. I slammed my lips closed and attempted again. Nothing.

Holden picked up a phone and spoke so softly into the receiver, I couldn’t make out the words. He placed the handset in its cradle and crossed his arms over his chest. “Try again.”

My lips unsealed. A Go Go’s song popped into my head. Another cliché. Goddamn it. Still, my voice refused to be heard. I forced a gale of wind from my lungs, yet the folds within my larynx refused to vibrate.

Panic danced a disco twist in my chest. I wanted to scream, sing, or anything in between...but I had been silenced.

Holden stood and glanced past me. “Ah, thank you for arriving so quickly.”

A woman in a crisp white nurse’s uniform glanced down at me. “Another intake blanked on you, Holden?”

“Indeed, Christy.”

“That makes the third one this week. You’re pushing them too hard and fast. Sometimes these things cannot be rushed.”

Holden huffed. “Did it ever occur to you that, on occasion, some of these entrants are simply not capable of smooth processing?”

Christy the nurse stood and let spread a smile of pure sarcasm across her bright red, lush lips. “Of course not, Holden. I’m just a part of the medical intake here at good ol’ SS. It never dawned on me that the problem could possibly be on those that had only just recently offed themselves.” The nurse tossed a patronizing smile my way. “Sorry about that, sugar.”

I shrugged—a gesture in perfect counterpoint with my current mood.

“Would you unblank him for me? Please?”

The nurse withdrew a syringe from her pocket.

I stood and backed away from the icepick-like needle. I raised my hands to hold off the vampiric beauty in white. Even so, she came at me, jousting lance at the ready.

My feet tangled into one another and I dropped. Christy came down on me like a Lucha Noche wrestler leaping from the top rope...icepick first. Somehow, nurse Christy managed to stick the landing...as well as the needle. The second the XL Pipeline from Hell pierced the crook of my arm, my lips parted and a voice I never knew I had escaped. Handel's Hallelujah chorus rang out...of me; every part, all at once. I was a choir unto myself.

Verse. Chorus. Verse. Son of a bitch, I couldn’t stop the impressive feat of vocal dexterity.

As I sang, Nurse Christy bounced up, smoothed out her skirt, and walked off without a word. Holden offered a helping hand, which I gladly accepted, and pulled me to my feet. Once righted, the song faded, and my voice returned to whatever state of normalcy could be had.

“I can’t feel my arm.”

Holden laughed. “But you can feel your voice, right?”

I nodded.

“Then we’re set. Have a seat, why don’t you?”

I complied.

“I’m not a big fan of how they do things here at Zoo Station.”

Holden glanced up. “That reference, I get.”

“You, too?”

Holden laughed at my lame attempt at punnery. Me? I was ashamed. Before I offed myself, I was a comedian. I hadn’t unlocked Jim Gaffigan or Louis CK level comedian, but I’d just finished recording the first of three CDs. Not that CDs actually sell any more. Merch just isn’t what it once was.

Merch.

Fuck, I missed being alive.

“Shame, that.” Holden mumbled.

“Shame what?”

Holden glanced up at me, a glint of shock in his eyes. “You…”

“Heard? Yeah. I’m dead...not deaf. ‘Fess up, Holden. Shame what?”

“It’s a shame you didn’t realize how precious life was before you checked out. Had you accomplished that one simple task, you wouldn’t be missing life. And you maybe would have had the opportunity to experience the success of that first CD.”

“How did you…”

“I can read your mind.” Holden stared at me for a moment before breaking out in a raucous laughter. “I get ‘em with that one every time.” He continued laughing. “Don’t worry, it’s temporary. When you first arrive at Suicide Station, your mind is an open book for anyone to read. It has something to do with the emotional and mental effect of taking your own life.”

“So everyone can…”

“That’s right. Even Miss Polka Dots.” Holden offered a greasy smile to me. “Who, by the way, is single.”

Holden turned back to his computer and typed. “Let me open up your case and see who has been assigned to you.”

“Wait, I thought you were my…”

“Sorry, Mr. Donovan, I was only assigned as your transporter. I do not have the level of training required to serve as your counselor.” He went back to the keyboard and tapped a few more keys. “For that, you have been assigned…” A Santa Clausian laughter spilled from Holden’s lips. I half expected an elf or a reindeer to appear in full Christmas drag. “Looks like today is your lucky day, Foster.”

“How? I don’t understand.”

Holden slow-clapped as he said, “Your caseworker is none other than Candy.”

“And that would be?” I asked, allowing the tail end of the question to dangle in mid-air between us.

“Me.”

The voice came from behind. The sound was almost perverse in its sensuality. The words landed on my back and ran circles around my neck. Holden nodded toward the mysterious voice.

Slowly, almost painfully so, I turned.

“Miss Polka Dots, at your service.” Candy grinned and blew me a kiss.

For a brief second my mind bent and twisted around the Kennedys and conspiracy theories. But then our eyes locked, and I melted. Not from the seductive power of the blown kiss, but from shame. Before I could fold inside out, Candy placed her hand between us. Instinct collided with logic as my gut begged me to reach out and give the flesh of her palm a great sniff.

Why? I couldn’t even remotely say. I was certain, however, that palm could tell some of the most amazing stories, and its scent would be a romantic’s cocaine.

Before I could venture down the polite path, Candy turned her hand over and lifted her palm to my face. She knowingly winked. Heat rose to my cheeks and my knees buckled. On my way to the floor, Candy raced to my rescue.

So there I stood, leaning against one of the most beautiful women I’d ever experienced, staring upward into her hypnotic eyes. “God, you’re beautiful.”

“Why thank you, Foster Donovan. It’s nice to know exactly where we stand here. Most intakes beat around the bush with me...completely unaware that I know their every thought.” She offered a Hollywood starlet smile. “You like my dress, eh?”

I nodded.

“Maybe I’ll let you try it on.”

“I’m not...I don’t....not that there’s anything wrong with...I mean.”

Candy laughed; I wanted to bathe in the sound.

“Send him over before you bore him to his second death.” She blinked. “I mean, when you’re done with him, Holden.”

Holden offered a curt nod, and Candy swayed off to her own cubicle.

“Don’t worry, Foster, she has that effect on everyone.”

“How in the fuck is she single?” I dared to ask.

Holden tensed up. “That is not my place to say, Mr. Donovan.” Once again, his attention turned back to the keyboard. “Now, before this intake completely derails, let’s finish you up.” He danced his fingers over the keyboard. “There we are. You’ll be staying on the thirteenth level of Dante’s Hall...room 666.”

Holden shot a quick glance my way.

“Gotcha. I gotcha, didn’t I? My shenanigans know no bounds.”

I played along. “That’s right, Holden old pal, you got me.”

“Actually, my statement wasn’t completely untrue. You will be staying in Dante’s Hall on the seventh level, but your room is number 13. You’ll be rooming with...oh boy, this is going to be fun. Your roomie is David David.”

“Wait...roommate? Are you serious?”

“Quite. There’s been such an uptick in suicides, we’ve had to double up on the housing situation. Just consider it motivation to aid you through the process with a bit more expedience.”

With a flourish, Holden tapped one last key and then smiled my way. “You’re officially processed. If you don’t mind, head on over to Candy, and she’ll start you off on your journey through Suicide Station.”

two | like candy from a baby

Candy’s cubicle. I expected softly diffused light, pillows, fifties-inspired furniture, and the strobe of camera flashes dancing off the walls as the pinup queen of Suicide Station struck every possible pose.

Instead, it was just a damn cubicle.

“I know, right? I keep meaning to spruce the place up a bit, but...well...suicides get in the way of things.”

Fuck.

Candy grinned and winked. “Not here...at least, not yet.”

I’d never get used to having my mind read.

“Have a seat, Foster.”

Before another thought dashed across my frontal lobe, I did as Candy said. I was fairly certain I’d do just about anything…

“Why, Foster, you are out of control. Would you like a little time to get this all out of your system?”

“I’m so sorry, Candy. I’m not usually that guy.”

Candy touched her fingertips down on my knee. Every muscle in my body tensed. “Honey, every man is that guy, given the right circumstance.” She pulled her hand away. “Let’s just start this off easy. Do you have any questions...about Suicide Station, that is?”

Finally, my head was able to eject itself from my ass and my feet from my mouth. “Yes, what the hell is this place?”

Candy smiled and nodded. “That is usually the first question. And the answer is simple. The afterlife is not what anyone—Bible-thumping or not—ever thought it would be. Instead of Heaven and Hell, there are stations. How you lived your life determines what station you are assigned to. There’s the Art Station, Sport Station, Family Station, Holy Station, Nature Station...the list goes on and on. There are stations created specifically for criminals, as well as the profoundly evil. And then there’s Suicide Station. This is where you go if you’ve…” Candy pointed at me and smiled. “...taken your own life. Here, you go to counseling, therapy, rehab—or whatever you need—so that you can then transition to your permanent station.”

“That sounds…”

“Simple enough?” Candy cut across me. “It’s not. This isn’t some government-sanctioned body with minimum numbers to meet. Getting through Suicide Station is challenging.” A harsh veil of concern blanketed her face. “Not everyone makes it.”

A cloud of angst moved in over the cubicle. “What do you mean?” I asked through a fist-sized lump in my throat.

“Some have trouble coming to grips with either their death or their life. When you can’t reconcile that level of profound confusion, there simply is no station for you.”

Sweat collected at the base of my throat and then trickled down my shirt and pooled in my navel. I hated the feeling and had to fight against going beast-mode. Instead, I drew up the cajones and asked the only question that held a single ounce of relevancy at the moment. “What happens to those who don’t make it through?”

Candy sat in silence, chewing her scarlet lip. She looked over both shoulders and leaned into me. “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but—call me crazy—I like you. If you don’t make it through your counseling, you’re nullified.”

“Do I even want to know?” I asked.

Candy shook her head.

I leaned in close enough to smell her perfume—hints of cinnamon and vanilla. “Please help me pass through this place. Just…”

“What?” Candy crossed her legs; the glint of an overhead light shone off her patent heels to temporarily block the sight of her gorgeous thighs. The moment was mesmerizing.

“Never mind,” I said half-heartedly.

Candy pointed her right index finger my way, the gleam of the crimson-red nail almost as brilliant as her shoes. “You can’t do that to me. Besides, I already know what you were thinking...so you might as well say it.”

I mumbled, “Just take as much time as possible.”

“And why should I do that? Fess up, Foster.”

Another mumble. “So I can get as much time with you as I can.” I stomped my foot on the ground. “This isn’t fair, ya know. How is it I can’t read your mind?”

“Them’s the rules, pretty boy.”

Time and tide stopped...or so I assumed it had. My brain doubled back upon itself to try and recall if Candy had said what I thought she said.

“Call you pretty boy? Yes, Foster, I did. And you are. But I must make this official Suicide Station statement. According to bylaw 5150, I am not allowed to date you or engage in acts of unlawful carnal knowledge.”

Fuck.

“Sorry, Foster, we can’t.” Candy uncrossed and recrossed her legs.

This wasn’t fair...and she knew it.

“I said it was the official Suicide Station statement.” She winked and whispered, “I don’t generally play by the rules.” Candy leaned in and whispered directly into my ear. Her warm breath was scintillating. “You and I are going to have dinner together tonight.”

Before she pulled away from me, she nipped my earlobe with her teeth...just enough to ensure I noticed.

I did.

Quite.

“Do you have any other questions before we dive in?”

I remained in silence, still lost in the nibbling of flesh.

Candy stood and snatched a pair of keys from her desk. “Let’s go.”

“Where? Why are we leaving? Isn’t it perfect right here?”

“I’m going to escort you to your dorm. On the way, I’ll give you the quick tour of the Station. Pretty much everything you need is between this office and your dorm. Venturing beyond the main boulevard is forbidden...something you’ll hear a lot. That happens to be advice you should most certainly heed...otherwise this,” she made a sweeping gesture up and down her body, “will never be yours to have and/or hold. Or both.” Another wink. “Come on.”

We walked. My inner “bro” begged me to hold back a few steps so I could scope Candy’s sway a bit more...or at least get a glimpse of her amazing gams.

“Gams?” Really, Foster? Are we in a 1940s noir film? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some noir...but gams?”

“I’m sorry, Candy. I really am. I can’t…”

She turned on me and placed a finger to my lips. “Stop apologizing. I’m flattered by your constant inner comment about my lips, hips, and tits.”

“And gams,” I added.

“And gams,” she agreed with a smile. We stepped through the exit and into the dry, warm air of outdoors—or whatever it was. Candy continued. “But we do have a rather full schedule to get through today. So, if you don’t mind, let’s try to curtail the…”

A piercing alarm crashed into the moment. The sound was a shrill cross between a British police car and any given Enterprise bridge klaxon cuing the actors to go all Shatner on set.

I cupped my hands over my ears and screamed, “Did we just pass onto the set of some '90s sci-fi film?”

Before Candy could answer, two uniformed men raced by.

“What the hell are they carrying?” I asked, my voice overloud and anxious.

“Soul nooses.” Candy said matter-of-factly. “They use them to catch runaway ‘Ciders.”

“What the fuck is a ‘Cider?” I asked over the alarm.

Candy turned, her hands over her mouth and her eyes larger than usual.

“What?” I demanded.

“You didn’t hear me say that.”

“Say what?”

“Exactly.”

“No, seriously...say what? ‘Ciders?”

Candy slowly shook her head.

“Holy shit, as in suiciders. That’s what you call us, isn’t it? I’m a fucking ‘Cider. Goddamn. Thank fuck my first name isn’t Apple or Hard.”

Her head-shake evolved into a nod until we both burst out laughing.

“You know, I’ve never in my life had a nickname,” I confessed.

“That’s not true,” Candy rebuffed my statement. “In your circle of comedian friends, you were known as…”

“Don’t say it!” I screamed, just in time for the siren to fall silent. My voice echoed off the ancient stone walls of the surrounding buildings.

“Tuna Can.”

She said it.

“I swear to God that name has no bearing on…”

Candy lobbed another wink my way, turned, and walked.

“If you’re trying to break my resolve...it’s working,” I called to her while enjoying the view.

She snapped her fingers and pointed to her side. I got the hint and raced off toward her. As soon as I caught up, she started in on her spiel.

“That building there, the one with the black doors, is called, ironically, Church.”

My heart sank. For whatever reason, I immediately assumed all ‘Ciders would be required to attend some oddly twisted form of worship.

“No.” Candy interrupted my train of thought. “It’s not what you think it is. Church is where ‘Ciders go to finally get assigned their Station.”

“But…”

“Why the black doors?” Candy cut me off. “Those doors are carved out of a rare malachite that knows when a soul has been given the Suicide Blessing and cleared for passage. Should an unblessed ‘Cider attempt to enter, the pain would be legendary.”

“Even in Hell?” I asked.

Candy shook her head and turned to face me. “I’ve only counseled one other comedian through the Station. You remind me very much of him.”

“Shit, you have to tell me who it was.”

“Sorry, TC, no can do.” Candy laughed at her joke.

I didn’t.

“Oh, come on, Foster, that was funny.”

“Fine...yes, it was funny. At my expense, but it was funny. You still have to tell me who it was.”

“No. I don’t and I won’t. I can’t even give you any hints...see kay?”

“See kay? What the…”

Candy smiled. “Run, Foster, run!”

I laughed. “Okay, that was funny. But seriously, I was so sure you were going to say Gaffigan. I hate being compared to him.”

“That makes me a tiny bit sad.” Candy offered an exaggerated frown. “I kinda like him. He’s…”

“I know, I know...family friendly and goofy.”

“Actually, I was going to say kinda cute. I think that’s why I like you.”

My heart dove head-first into the shallow end of my gut. I knew I wasn’t the Chris Hemsworth type, but Gaffigan? The comparison made me feel like a red-headed Grimace.

“Grimace?” Candy questioned.

“You don’t remember Grimace?” I asked.

“Darling face, do you know how long I’ve been here at the SS? The only reason I know Gaffigan is because I happen to enjoy comedy.” She winked.

Two things caught me off guard there. First, she'd called me “darling face”. It would take days to come down from the high of that compliment. Second...SS? Certainly she hasn’t been here at Suicide Station that long.

Schutzstaffel.” Candy declared.

“Say huh?”

“Huh,” she responded.

I sighed.

“You were wondering if I knew what SS was in reference to. I do. Schutzstaffel. Nazi Germany. And you may take as long as you need to crash down from darling face.”

“Candy!” Another woman called out from across the street. When I glanced her way, I finally managed to pull my attention from Candy and take in the whole of the area.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Jack Wallen is a Hoosier transplant living in Kentucky with a wife he adores and cats who adore him. He's released nearly thirty books of twisty fiction, most of which involve the undead. Throughout his career, he's peppered his work with humor and love, so writing within the romance genre wasn't such a stretch. When not writing, Jack teaches acting at the University of Louisville, where he subjects young minds to his special flavor of madness.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
The idea for Suicide Station came to me in one incredibly cheesy moment while waking up having dreamed of my own death and realizing the worst part of it was that I'd never get to spend another moment with my wife. I decided to deal with that in the best way I knew how...invent a new world.
Q. What did you learn while writing this book?
A.
I learned something I think I knew all along...humor and love go hand in hand. Both make our lips smile and our hearts yearn for more.
Q. This book is part of a series, tell us about your series.
A.
Originally Suicide Station was intended to be a one-off. I quickly realized, however, this new world I'd created had so much more story than one book could tell. Besides, sometimes I need a break from the death and destruction the apocalypse brings. What better way than romance?

Next in:
Romance
Elodie
Tale of passion, shadows and vanishing smiles
Silent River
If you love me why am I in restraints
SCARS
She should have never taken that call.