Just One Piece

By: Katie Graykowski

Chapter 1

“I’m sure lots of ex-husbands hire contract killers to kill their ex-wives.” A few months ago, I’d found out that my ex, David, had done just that. Until that moment I’d thought he was dead. Unfortunately, it had turned out that he was very much alive.

“No, I’m pretty sure they don’t.” My best friend, Haley Hansen, who bore a striking resemblance to Cinderella in both looks and naïveté, sipped the expensive rosé she’d been kind enough to bring to my house.

Haley is super mega rich, married to a plastic surgeon, and loves me unconditionally. She’s also the secretary of the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, which means our meeting notes are verbatim, we follow most of the bylaws, and the rosé is plentiful.

Today her nanny, Anise, had taken our kids to the park and then for pizza so that we could get down to some PTO business.

I can’t afford expensive rosé or even the cheap kind that comes in a box.

My name is Mustang Ridges and no, I’m not a stripper or a dusty Central Texas town. I’m the billing manager for Lakeside Hospital and the president of the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization. Oh, and ex-wife to David the Shit, who may or may not be the legendary Cervantes who runs the criminal underworld for a good portion of the continental United States and wants me dead.

“It certainly had never occurred to me to put a hit out on David.” Mainly because I spend all of my hard-earned money buying frivolous things like food, electricity, and Dunkin’ Donuts K-Cups. Now that I think about it, I really should cut back on all my electricity usage. From now on, no more flat-ironing my hair. I was going au naturel. The good Lord gave me my brown frizzy hair and it was time I shared that special gift with the world. “Any idea what the going rate is for killing an ex?”

“No idea.” Haley thought about it for a second. “If it were me, I’d charge no less than six figures.”

Six figures?

If I only ordered off the dollar menu at McDonald’s, I just might be able to swing the hit money in about a million years. Then again, how would I explain to my ten-year-old son, Max, that we could only order off the dollar menu because Mommy was saving up to have someone kill Daddy? And in a million years David will already be long dead. It really takes the fun out of killing someone if they’re already dead.

“I know a guy who’ll off David for a twenty-dollar Starbucks gift card.” My other best friend, Monica Garza, sat across from Haley at my small kitchen table. Monica is our esteemed PTO vice president.

Also, she’s a badass workers’ compensation claims adjuster with lots of attitude and even more curly black hair. I can’t decide if she’s a former CIA agent posing as a workers’ comp adjuster, or if she’s just in a street gang and that’s where she learned all sorts of nifty things like how to break into a house and how to steal a car. Either way, I feel like it’s rude to ask.

“Really?” Come to think of it, I’d be willing to do just about anything for a Starbucks gift card myself.

“Don’t listen to her.” Haley nodded at Monica. “How good can her hit man be if he’s willing to work for coffee?” Her blue eyes scrunched up in the corners like she was mulling things over. “Is hit man sexist? It feels sexist to me. Should we call them hit persons?”

I hunched my shoulders. “We could just call them killers. That’s gender neutral.”

“I think we’ve gotten off topic.” Monica was excellent at steering us back to the discussion at hand. “We know that David put a hit out on you. Since both of the local contract killers are dead, do you think you’re safe?”

Several months ago, our kids’ beloved kindergarten teacher, Molly Miars, had been murdered. While investigating her murder, we’d found out that she’d been doing some contract killing on the side to supplement her teacher’s salary so her mother could live in a fancy retirement village. To be fair, if Edna Miars were my mother, I’d have taken up murder-for-hire to keep her out of my house too. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you looked at it, Edna had been murdered. Even if I didn’t already know who’d killed her, I still wouldn’t have cared. Some people deserved to be murdered in some horrible, slow way. In my opinion, Edna’s getting shot in the head was way too quick and painless.