Jackie, by Lela Marie De La Garza

   Oh my God! Trevor thought. I forgot to feed Jackie! If the Drakle got hungry it would go in search of food, not caring where or who it might be. Trevor hurried to Jackie’s room and found it empty.  The door was always kept locked, but apparently the monster had simply broken a window and escaped.

      He didn’t dare call the police. Owning a Drakle was illegal in the first place. He could be fined, or imprisoned or both. Certainly Jackie would be taken away. And if it had done any damage, his pet could be put down. No, he’d have to track Jackie himself.

      Fortunately Drakles were easy to trace. They were extremely scaly and shed skin as they moved. Trevor found scales under the broken window and began following them. The trail led at first to Humphrey’s house. Humphrey was an unpleasant man, constantly reporting to the neighborhood association if a hedge was too high or a fence too close to the street. He knew nothing about Jackie, and Trevor didn’t want him to. It wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if Humphrey disappeared; still…

      Then the trail led away from Humphrey’s house toward the Johnston residence. That was bad. The Johnstons were nice people. Also they had a new baby. A plump, rosy baby. Probably tender… Then Trevor saw with relief that the litter of scales veered away from their house. He followed it out of the residential district and finally it led into Charley’s Chicken Shack.

      In a back booth he saw Jackie, chicken bones piled high in front of him. Quietly he approached the monster. “Jackie, what are  you doing here?”

      The Drakle smiled, light reflecting off his fangs. “Delighted to see you, old boy. Have a seat. You know, I was feeling a bit peckish, so I came to this marvelous place for dinner. Used your credit card. I hope you don’t mind.”

      “How did you get my—” Trevor reached in his pocket and discovered his wallet was missing.

      “You left it in my room last time you were there.” Jackie handed a worn billfold to him. “I noticed you have three credit cards. I’ll just keep one, if it’s all right with you.”

     “Of course.” Trevor sighed. “Did anyone…notice you?”

      “I got a funny look from the cashier when I first walked in, but when I showed her the credit card and ordered two family sized buckets of chicken, she was all smiles. You know, I’ve really enjoyed the raw chickens you’ve been bringing me, but it’s really much better cooked. I’ll have to remember this place.”

      Trevor looked around, wondering what the other customers might be thinking.. He saw a couple of bored teenage boys, so jaded or stoned they didn’t recognized anything as being peculiar. A drunk mumbling to himself. A bag lady, shopping cart beside her, whose eyes had seen so much strangeness in the world that nothing was strange now. No. None of them would have taken the slightest interest in his Drakle. It was safe to leave now. Nobody had noticed anything in here; it was safe to assume no one on the outside would notice anything either. People were indifferent. “Well, I guess we should go now. Are you finished?”

      “Quite. I’ll just get a snack for later on.” Jackie got an order of a dozen chicken tenders, and they stepped out into the night. I understand there’s a Chinese place just down the block,” Jackie said happily. I’ve always wanted to try sweet and sour pork. And there’s Roy’s Ribs, Pistol Pete’s Poppin’ Pizza, Tommy’s Steak House, a sushi bar…”

      I’ve created a monster, Trevor thought. And then No, Jackie was always a monster. Now he has the appetite of one.

 Lela Marie De La Garza has had work published in “Creepy Gnome,” “Passion Beyond Words”, “Black Denim,” “Yellow Mama,” “Bewildering Stories,” and “The Western Online”. Her latest novel, “Mistral,” was published in December of 2014. She was born in Denver, CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She currently resides in San Antonio, TX. with three and a half cats and a visiting raccoon.

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