Jeremy slid the blade out, careful not to nick the ribs. The customer, who a moment earlier had been demanding to see a manager, wheezed like a faulty bellows as he fell to his knees, dropping the pack of razor blades and letting the expired coupon flutter to the ground. Having carefully chosen a remote corner near the alcohol storage, which was off-limits for Sunday sales in that town, Jeremy was sure that nothing would interfere with the customer passing on.

“Shh, it’s okay,” he said, as the man gasped quietly. “You’re going to a better place. Little things like this won’t bother you anymore.”

The knife, Mr. Happy, had come out red and wet, so Jeremy took a moment to wipe it off, revealing the jaunty grin cast into the stainless steel blade. He replaced it next to its smaller wife, Ms. Joy, in the custom sheath he’d made in the small of his back. They’d been cheese knives, once, their smiles serving as holes to help them glide through dairy without sticking. Justin had bought them on the spot when he’d seen them in that Kenosha Goodwill, since they were absolutely perfect for his purposes. Stainless, one-piece with a low risk of breaking, small enough to easily conceal, and–most importantly–aesthetically pleasing.

Whether he was slipping Mr. Happy between ribs or driving Ms. Joy betwixt cervical vertebrae, their smiles not only kept the blades from sticking, they reminded Jeremy why he did what he did. He wasn’t slipping into retail stores dressed as an employee to waylay and end customers for himself; no, sir. The motivations were wholly unselfish. He was sending them to the Better Place, where none of the things that bothered them would do so anymore. Jupiter’s second moon, Europa, was big enough for all the souls he could send there, after all.

Jeremy carefully took off his store uniform vest and folded it, before walking out the loading dock with a jaunty wave at the janitors there.

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