Home > How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back
Diana Rowland

Chapter 1

Sweat dribbled into my eyes and my ribs ached, but I stood my ground against the burly man in front of me. He flexed his hands as we slowly circled each other, his teeth bared in a sneer framed by a truly majestic beard.

His hand shot out to seize my sleeve. I twisted to break his grip, but he merely shifted to grab my shoulder with his other hand. Within about two seconds he spun, slammed his butt into my hips, hoisted me up and sent me flying.

I landed hard on the mat, breath whooshing out of my lungs before I remembered to slap my hand down.

“No, no, Angel, the slap is part of the fall.” That was my sensei, his voice laced with three months of frustration from trying to teach me the most basic aspects of jiu jitsu.

“Right,” I wheezed. “Got it.”

My brawny opponent reached down and grabbed the front of my gi, then hoisted me up to set me on my feet as easily as picking up a kitten.

“C’mon,” he rumbled. “Try it on me. It’s all about balance.”

All about balance, my ass. I weighed barely a hundred pounds, and Freddie easily topped three hundred. Lips drawn back in a snarl, I seized his sleeve, grabbed his shoulder with my other hand, then spun and tried to slam my scrawny ass into his groin in an attempt to copy the move he’d performed on me.

“You’re not going to get him onto your back using brute strength,” my sensei lectured as Freddie remained immobile. “Try a different move. Try osoto gari.”

I gave him a blank look, and he sighed. “‘Trip the Drunk Guy,’” he said, supplying my own nickname for the move.

“Gotcha!” Why did they have to use so many weird names for things? And yes, I knew it was Japanese, a beautiful and elegant language that wasn’t weird in the slightest, but I still had trouble with parts of the English language. Expecting me to remember a bunch of foreign words was asking way too much of my brain. Of course, for all I knew osoto gari actually meant Trip the Drunk Guy.

I adjusted my grip, yanked on Freddie’s arm to try and get his weight onto one leg, then shot my own leg forward and slammed it back into his to sweep it.

Like kicking a tree trunk.

“Pull on the arm,” sensei suggested, oh-so-helpfully.

“I am,” I growled, then added a belated, “sir.”

I continued to yank and pull and grip and kick and sweep until finally Freddie tumbled to the ground—with a perfect slap and fall—though I was pretty sure he’d simply taken pity on me. Sensei probably suspected the same thing, but he looked more relieved than anything. Poor guy. It wasn’t his fault that I wasn’t exactly the best learner in the world.

After my brilliant demonstration, it was my turn to stand back and observe humongous Freddie and normal size Chance go at it. My ego recovered slightly as I watched Chance get taken down over and over, though when he fell he slapped the mat and did shit right instead of flopping like a sack of flour the way I did. About a month ago I’d snapped something in my ankle because of my horrible form, but a quick snack of brains healed the damage right up. That was one awesome thing about being a zombie. As long as I had my “protein shake” in my bag—with its super special ingredient—no one, especially my sensei, ever needed to know I was hurt.

Sensei gave the two men some critiques on form, then turned to me. “Rollouts, Angel,” he instructed, gesturing to the length of the mat. “Both sides, back and forth twice, then you’re done.”

“Yes, sir!” I said with a cheerful grin, then proceeded to throw myself at the mat in the most spaztastic rolls any jiu jitsu dojo had ever seen.

I wasn’t sure, but I think sensei might have wept a little.

“Cherry red face.”

The skin parted beneath my scalpel as I let out a soft snort of derision. “Oh, please. Give me a hard one. Carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Dr. Leblanc smiled from where he leaned against the counter. Fifty-something, with thinning grey-blond hair, glasses perched halfway down his nose, and more flab than muscle around his middle, he wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, but I didn’t care about that one little bit. The pathologist for the St. Edwards Parish Coroner’s Office was one of my all-time favorite people in the world, mostly because he seemed to have absolute faith that I was capable of all sorts of great things. I didn’t always believe him, but I sure tried my best to live up to his expectations. Barely an hour earlier I’d been spazzing my way through jiu jitsu, and one of the reasons I hadn’t given up weeks ago was because, shortly after I started training, Dr. Leblanc had remarked that he would be honored if I would invite him to attend my belt ceremony once I earned my yellow belt. Honored. Before I was turned into a zombie, I’d been a drug addicted high school dropout with a felony conviction who couldn’t hold a job. And Dr. Leblanc couldn’t have cared less about any of that.

“All right,” Dr. Leblanc said, “let’s stick with the carbon monoxide subject.” He tipped his head back as he contemplated my next challenge. “Your decedent has second and third degree burns over ninety percent of his body. No evidence of other trauma. Tox scan comes back clean. Carboxyhemoglobin level is five percent. How does that level corroborate your decedent’s death by fire?”

I drew the scalpel down the woman’s abdomen to finish the Y-incision as I thought. “It doesn’t,” I said after a moment. “Poor dude probably got himself killed, and the murderer tried to use the fire to cover it up.”

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