Archive for the ‘A Nightclub of Naughty VOICES’ Category

Lady of the Night (Redlight Series)

June 14, 2010 6 comments

Your wish is my command
I will push back and pull forward
confronting your senses while tearing apart my own
I perform admirably
I hold my head up in the face
there’s only one thing on my mind,
no monthly specials here
no flat ‘on my back’ rate either!
I’m a bargain in the first place, comparatively
they should be so lucky
no chance of getting bored,
I re-invent events
creatively juicy and spicy hot with a side of lies
the blood never drains nor loses its metallic colour
and the well will never dry with KY,
spread from arsehole to breakfast like _______
I got class, my website deems it so

“It would be my absolute pleasure to welcome you into my
wonderful world, filled with all things naughty and nice.”

oh make me over, please!
I lie
on my back, my side, my stomach and my face is covered
69 divine and women line up!
I’m not exclusive… smile ; )
sad and lonely is universally applied, like my eyeliner
smudged and blurred
obscured from most
I provide a service, the hostess with the most(est)
and fine wine will have you spellbound!
they line up
I spread em’
in a downtown apartment with a sea view
on Fur-Lined avenue – not!
my un-inhibited wide-on, exhibited
and the 26th floor, awaits you but
I am not for free
never for free
I am a Lady of the Night
who shines in the face of adversity
with trust issues and insecurities like the rest of us
I am not blinded by earthly needs by fools
I wake up,
I put on my make-up
I dance to my own tune
and pay the bills

© 2007 Jodine Derena Butler.  All Rights Reserved

Margrit’s Best Friend by Walter Bjorkman

June 13, 2010 2 comments

Tante Margrit was getting used to this. It was late, and her husband Ivar was not home yet, working again into the night, digging the foundations for the Levittown Housing Projects in Long Island, just over the border from Queens. Margrit couldn’t object too much. After the depression and WW II, when it was mostly the women taking cleaning and cooking jobs to support the family, it was good to see their still not old men back at it, instead of drinking beers on the stoop or in the parks, bemoaning their lack of work. It was also good to get them out of their hair for a bit.

Levittown was the first ever planned suburbia, and there was a need for it. As the economy took off after the war, the educated professionals thrived, and wanted to spend their money on a place with a little greenery for their families, away from the swelter of the city. The prosperity spilled down to the immigrants such as Ivar and his sister Klara’s husband Axel, providing as much work as they wanted. The pay wasn’t great, but with the double shifts the wives could finally stay at home to see to their families.

Margrit was a bit flighty, to use a kind word, but in a sometimes calculated way. A few years later when they got a phone, she would call up Klara, and if either of her very young nephews answered, would ask how the weather was where they were, just four miles away. If it was August, and the boy would say “Hot, Tante Margrit” she would tell them “Oh – we just had six inches of snow here.” In January, the reverse – “It snowed six inches yesterday, kindygarden is closed” was followed by “Oh – its so hot here, I have my bathing suit on.” The nephews believed every word.

She also was the one who played Santa all those years, none of the kids ever knew, she was that well disguised and an actress, deepening her voice so well, her belly laugh shaking the walls and putting the requisite awe and fear in the kiddies.

This made her a perfect fit for Ivar, well known for antics of his own.

After a while, having her husband gone so much, Margrit got bored, so she went looking for a pet. But, it couldn’t be any pet, this was Margrit. She chose a myna bird, with her ever-skewed logic that she could have conversations with it, even though it would just repeat what she said.

Now, to tell the truth, those nights Ivar didn’t show up weren’t always because he worked a double shift. He liked to toddle every now and then, stopping in every two weeks or so at The 19th Hole, a bar a few blocks from the house, near the Dyker Beach golf course. He could cover the pay issue, for math was not Margrit’s strong point, and he was good at coming up with reasons – extra union dues, work clothes, etc. They didn’t have a phone yet, so he couldn’t call.

But Ivar knew Margrit was pretty shrewd in life matters, behind the ditzy facade, so he came up with an elaborite ruse for those nights. He didn’t want to be on the town in his mussy workclothes or cart them around; there were women at the bar, and even though he never strayed, he did like to flirt. So he would change at work, and he kept extra dirty clothes in a sack that he snuck to outside the back door in the morning, to don when he got back home, Margrit safely asleep upstairs. If she awoke upon his entering, there he was in the mud of the soon to be suburbanites.

One Thursday, the night Ivar would use to dally, Friday being payday was too obvious, Margrit needed to do laundry again. Mondays and Fridays were the normal days, but it had rained all week and she couldn’t finish on Wednesday. As she went out to the clotheslines in the backyard, she saw the sack and thought to herself “Oh, that Ivar, so silly, why didn’t he just tell me he had more laundry.” So she washed them and hung them out to dry.

That evening, Ivar ran into an old friend, and the usual four or five short beers turned into six or seven tall ones. The result was that he stayed out a few hours later, and his head was a few turns dizzier. As he came home, he searched for the sack of dirty clothes, but they were nowhere to be found. “I musha lef dem in the foyer by mistake” he thought. Ivar slurred his thought-words as well when tipsy.

As he entered the foyer, still in his glad-rags, he heard Margrit stir through the creaky floorboards above. “Uh-oh, gosta hide, cant gosh back out, she’ll hear the door close.” So he started to crawl to the kitchen table, which had a long cloth over it, down to the floor. Through the moonlight from the window, he saw Petey – Margrit gave the myna a parrot’s name, and Ivar thought fuzz-headed again, “Oops, better cover my bases.”

He lifted a finger to his lips and whispered to Petey “Shhhhhhh – don’t tell Margrit Ivar’s under the table.”

Margrit came down the stairs sleepy-eyed, looked around, saw nothing, and started to head back upstairs. “Good!” Ivar thought, peeping out from the cloth, “It worked!”

Margrit gave a turn before heading upstairs and called “Ivar, is that you?”

“Sqwaaaaaaaakk!! Don’t tell Maaaaagrit Ivar’s under the taaaaaaaaable!”

I am the voice inside your head – by Ajay Nair

June 12, 2010 4 comments

Hi. I am the voice inside your head. My name is Rogan.

I am the one who tells you that it is alright to laugh at that sad, pathetic little girl, eating lunch, unaware that there’s a piece of green vegetable stuck in her anyway ugly teeth. When your wife looks at you funny for laughing, I tell you that she has no clue that you once slept with that sad, pathetic little girl – she was not so little then, was she? I help you picture how your wife would look with a fork sticking out the side of her cheek, small droplets of blood dancing out, dark red and merry, happy to be liberated from the confines of her oily, white skin, that smells like buried disinfectants. I was the one who goaded you to bury the disinfectants when you were a child, with no reason other than the fact that it amused me to see you do something so futile, so pointless.

Like I said, I am the voice inside your head, and my name is Rogan. I am your boss-man and you belong to me, you whiny little piece-of-shit.

Sid & Eddie Reminsce at 46 of being 36 & Reminiscing of Being 26 & Reminiscing of Being 18 – by Walter Bjorkman

June 7, 2010 4 comments

“Hey Eddie, tune into a replay of Nova in an hour, Gwendlyn Bacon is being featured, its on here right now, but you should see it from the start.” Sid was calling from deep in the bowels of the SuperCaliFragile Istic Expealidotious Laboratory in the mountains of western Pennsylvania.

“Gwendlyn? Bacon?”

“Yes! Get offa your ass, splash on the water and have a cuppa, then turn on PBS.”

“Oh, you mean Rock Lobster Gwendlyn Bacon.”

“Yes, you remember!”

“Sure, she was this semi-hot astronomy gal that was at a party for some distinguished retiring Astro-physicist great that you dragged me to and we hit it off so we start dancin’ an the kids of all these old profs are there and so they put on Rock Lobster an when they all went ‘down, down, down’ an fell to the floor I did too an Gwen is standin there lookin at me like I’m an Alien! Me E.T.! We kinda drifted apart the rest of the night.”

“YES! That Gwendlyn Bacon.”

“So what’s that got to do with NOVA?”

“Well, alright, you never could wait. She’s now the head of MI NASA SUI NASA’s Search for Alien Life Program, and she’s doing a special. Man, if you just kept your cool you could be living on easy street right now, she makes buko, and get me a job with her, instead of me hanging in these caves! And – get this, when showing an image of a lobster shaped galaxy, they played the song!”

“What can I say, guess I was an Alien Ahead of My Time.”


“Hey , Sid! That reminds me, remember the time I called you up way back when about doin’ the same with The Gong Show? Only you were at CalTech then, and I was in Brooklyn, so you just waited til when it came on there?”

“Gonnng Showww! Yeah! I remember. Rita.”

“Rita Brandyalexandria, you remember!”

“Yep, on our coming of age trip to n’orlans. bout 4 days after we chatanooga-ed our chew-chews for the first time with the hooker, Fred too and then we go to the Showoff-Boat strip club an out comes Rita Brandyalexandria with a filled champagne glass balanced on top of eacha her boobs stickin so straight out she could do it without leanin back, drinks them without using her hands and puts em back then puts one plastic one at the foota the bar which you swoop up cause it touched her nipples an then she went on and did a fantasy fuck with James Bond all alone up there makin all those sounds on a big round bed, gyratin’ stark nakkers.”

“Yeah, that Rita Brandyalexandria.”

“And so I says, what that’s got to do with the Gong Show, Eddie?, an you says shes on there now! doin’ her act! but not the fantasy fuck just the balancin an sippin’ and she got on a skimpy bra not nothin like back then, and that she says she’s from Stormsville, Maryland and she’s only 24 but this is eight years after an’ she was no way 16 back then, we woulda got arrested.”

“Yep, Sid you got it the way I remember. But I forgot what you said to that.”

“I said, ‘well if she really was just sixteen, she came ahead of her time, if you know what I mean, nudge nudge.'”

PS – Rita won The Gong Show that day – so far no alien life found . . .

Breaktime – by Linda Simoni-Wastila

June 5, 2010 11 comments

Damn. I didn’t think the crash would come so fast. I grip the sink, wait for the bathroom to clear but the door keeps opening. Men stand three deep before the urinals and I gag from the smell of ammonia melding with lemon disinfectant. Nausea pulses, a wave of jittering gray.

No time to wait for a stall to empty, seminar starts in ten minutes. I hurry out. Pale light fills the hospital atrium. Two kids toss coins in the fountain, each penny dropping with a melodious ping. Making wishes no doubt: help daddy get better, let mommy bring home a baby brother, fix Grammy’s broken heart. If I had time and money to waste, what would I wish for?

Rubber soles squeak on linoleum. Bette from ICU calls my name, snaps me from my daze. She waves, a tight curl of her hand. The smile plastering my face feels lopsided, too large. I walk carefully but no one else seems to mind the wavering floor.

I pause before the Chapel, look both ways before pushing the wooden door. The hospital roar fades, replaced by airless silence. A woman kneels before Mary and Jesus, blond hair tumbling down her back. For a moment I swear it’s Phoebe, but it’s not, it can’t be, Phoebe’s prepping anesthesia. I should be with her, but I’m in no shape to thread IV lines into veins.

Out of habit I genuflect before collapsing into the pew. My fingers tremble in the white jacket pocket under the ‘Kevin Sullivan, MD’ embroidered in black over my heart for the fentanyl patch I fished from Mrs. O’s hazards box. The foil crinkles.

The lady’s head lifts. I freeze. Her red-rimmed eyes stare back at me. She doesn’t look like Phoebe at all; fake blond, sucked-in cheeks from too many face lifts. A lot of women look like this in Baltimore, the rich ones. I know their sort too well. My lips quiver into a smile. She turns back to the altar.

Say a prayer for me, baby – I need all the help I can get.

My thumbnail scrapes the patch. Three drops, shiny and viscous, ooze into my palm like liquid crystals. Remorse pricks me, and disgust I’ve come to this again. Today is the last time, I swear, but I greedily lick my hand. The alcohol taste turns sweet. Calm gilds my mouth and throat, spreads to my chest, my fingers, my world, and I forget. The door opens, the blonde mourner floats from the room. I surrender to the velvet-lined bench.

Nothing else is more pure.

I don’t have a gun and I don’t have you – by Marcelle Heath

When Ellie comes into Western Appliance, I’m behind the counter waiting for the owner, Chase, to arrive. I have the package that my Aunt Ginny gave to me in my pocket, and I’m supposed to drop it off across town at eleven. It feels like a key, with baffling grooves and a tinny vibe.

I imagine it’s a key to mailbox or lockbox or box of some sort. The box is candy-apple red. A fun, frolicking red that some women wear to make an impression. The kind of red that has unintended results. Maybe it’s not for a box at all but for a piece of expensive luggage sailing on a ship in the Baltic sea.

All the packages that Aunt Ginny has given to me are wrapped in thick brown paper I think French butchers must use to wrap fatty meats. The paper is always the same, but the contents vary greatly in size. I had to rent a moving truck for the last one, and spent the night driving it up the mountains in a blizzard. Aunt Ginny thinks it’s better if I don’t know what’s in them, just in case.

“How’s it?” Ellie asks. Ellie is tall and voluptuous, with doe eyes and severe mouth. Everything about her seems ready to battle. In other words, she looks like how I want to look.

“Who’s on the job?” she asks, unloading her keys, cell phone and spare change onto the counter.

“Tim and Jay.” Ellie and I are the only women who work here. All the men have monosyllabic names, and sport mustaches that they caress at every opportunity.

I love this job because of Chase but my days here are numbered. For one, I page Ellie after hours when I know she’s with him. I also make sure to send her out with Jay, who gooses her when she’s underneath large objects. It was Sam who hired me but it will be Chase who will sack my sorry ass.

At my last job, I was accused of intimidation, of provoking the elderly clients. All I wanted was their stories. What they made of the world in which they lived. Perspective for the younger generation. A little inspiration! The place I worked at was called The Elderhaus. I took care of the independents. When I started I was given a list of activities that my clients might enjoy. Many horrified me. 4) Horseshoes. 9) Make tape recordings. 11) Visit Skyhawk casino. I had nightmares about sweet, arthritic Mr. Parker, breaking his wrist casually tossing a horseshoe, Mr. Allen confessing to his crimes, or Ms. Pendleton gambling her pension away in a single game of blackjack.

That’s where I met Chase Hughes. Chase owns Western Appliance and splits his time between Durango and Telluride. He has a wife from Morocco who lives in Seattle. They’ve lived apart for most of their twelve-year relationship and have a seven-year old daughter. I don’t know where Chase’s cash comes from but I know that he’s forty-six, plays the hurdy gurdy, and is allergic to peanuts. Other fun facts include his fear of dead ringers, the Ice Capades, and safes that might fall from the sky. It’s the sort of lunacy that I want to open up with this key in my pocket.

At the Elderhaus, Chase was a friend of Mr. Allen’s. I later learned that Chase had known Mr. Allen from the Illinois State Penitentiary. Chase was in for possession, Mr. Allen for sexual assault. Mr. Allen had no family, was pushing seventy, and had spent the last quarter century in and out of prison. Chase took care of him. After their release, Mr. Allen wanted to be close to the mountains, and so Chase had brought him here to Durango.

Mr. Allen was a dependent, and so he was not my client but I knew that he was on dialysis and was popular with the residents. Chase visited twice a week for months, and so I was bound to run into him now and then. He always came with gifts for Mr. Allen and the others; large print books, DVD’s, candy. I had no interest in him until I found out that he wasn’t a relative. Then I took notice. It was silly of me, to think that he came without obligation.

Speaking of which, Aunt Ginny will not be happy if I lose this job. I have to be her eyes and ears in town, as she rarely ventures from her fortress in the mountains. As her transporter, I have to be flexible. While there’s no racket like the tourist industry and therefore no shortage of jobs, the jobs themselves are shitty. Long hours, little pay, and most importantly, no loyalty. It takes a couple of months at the least to build some trust, convince the boss that you’re a hardworking, responsible employee before you can begin to break that trust and get away with it. It gets harder as I get older. I’m pushing forty and have nothing to show for it. I have Aunt Ginny, true, but I don’t have a career. Or a family. Or Chase.

Where is he? Sam said he was coming by sometime today. It’s 10:36. I have twenty-four minutes. I don’t want to leave and risk missing him. If I have to, I can be out the door by five to and back by 11:15. I should be thinking about the logistics of my drop off, which will require me to remember a password, engage in “non-threatening” small talk with the person receiving said package, and make sure that no one sees me.

Aunt Ginny worries that I’ll get my heart broken, and she should be because my heart’s a fault line waiting to crack wide open. What can I tell her about his habit of resting his head in his left hand and blowing his bangs from his eyes in one poof!? Or that first time that he came up to me in the lobby of the Elderhaus and flicked my nametag with his forefinger and thumb. The pin poked my chest. I looked down and readjusted the tag, which was peeling at the edges.

“Stella Gold.” He smiled at me. He said my name again as if it were a problem to be solved. He was careful with each syllable.

“Can I help you?” I said. I was holding my work schedule. I was angry because Ms. Moore had complained to my supervisor. The paper in my hand felt greasy and uncouth, as if by holding it I was revealing more than I wanted to. I flipped it over and pressed it against my leg.

“Perhaps. It’s about Mr. Allen.”

“In 2B? I don’t work with him.” We liked to put things in productive terms. We didn’t use words like “help” or “aid” or “nurse.” We used words like “work with ” and “facilitate” and “growth.”

“You might want to talk to Gladys.” I pointed down the hallway to the Activities Room.

“I might want to, but I don’t. I’d rather talk to you.”  He smiled again, and I noticed that he had a lot of metal in his mouth. I saw a flash of gold from the upper left.

What did he want? I wonder now. Ah, it was the bedding. Mr. Allen’s bedding. It irritated his skin. I felt a surge of affection for this man’s concern over his friend’s skin. Chase asked about the detergent we used, and the thread count of our sheets. I told him that we used chemical-free detergent (a lie), and that the thread count exceeded 300 (another lie).

“Stella, you’re fucking with me,” he said. He put his hand on my shoulder, as if to say – what?

As if to say, Fuck with me. I won’t mind.

“I know what it’s like to love someone who doesn’t love you back,” Aunt Ginny said. We were drinking our morning tea at the kitchen table, watching the sunrise through the trees. It was going to be a busy day. A drop off in Farmington, a place Durangoans like to poach from for its cheap labor force and commercial goods, and which can only be described as apocalyptic.

Aunt Ginny, of course, was referring to my father, the one and only love of her life.

It’s 10:45. Tim and Jay stop in for parts while I handle a call about a leaky dishwasher. Sam is in the back doing inventory. I don’t know where Ellie is. I check the schedule, fax an order, and brush my unruly hair. This task is painful in its futility.

I do it anyway and press my hand against the package in my pocket. From a certain angle, it may look like I’m pressing my hand against myself, in the quick manner of an inexperienced masturbator.

I move my fingers over it. Now, the key feels like it has multiplied into a hundred sharp angles. Conflict diamonds, I think. A funny phrase, conflict diamonds. It’s supposed to elucidate but ends up lessening its meaning. Conflict, as if war were an argument started over a family dinner.

My family tree will tell that we are fluent in the language of war. But I should say branch, not tree, since both my parents were only children and are long dead. Aunt Ginny’s really my parents’ closest friend, Virginia Critchlow, daughter of Llewellyn Critchlow, who worked under Kenneth Bainbridge at Los Alamos. As legend would have it, it was Ellen, as Critchlow was known, who Bainbridge turned to at the Trinity Test site on July 16, 1945 when the mushroom cloud erupted over Jornada del Muerto and said, “Now we are all sons of bitches.” Critchlow hired my mother, Ingrid Kohler, a German-born physicist in 1963, just one month after President Kennedy proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

The tide was changing, indeed. Ingrid, brilliant, imperious, met my father, Raymond Wade, at one of Ginny’s soirées in 1964. Ginny was a rebel even then; she abducted Raymond from her parents’ hacienda in Santa Fe where Ginny was contemplating her future life of crime after being suspended from Texas A&M and Raymond was working as a ranch hand. Ginny took one look at my father and saw her future as one big, bright explosion, and told him she needed him in Los Alamos. Raymond came reluctantly; he had seen pictures of Hiroshima in National Geographic, and he had read Howl and “the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down.” And then there was Ms. Virginia Critchlow herself, and she scared him more than the H-bomb did. She was fast and smart and a looker, and though it wasn’t love for him, it was something like it. Rebellion. Freedom.

When I got the job at Western Appliance, I didn’t know Chase owned the place. It had been six months or more since I had last seen him. He came in the store one day. At first I thought he had come in to see me. Wow, I thought. He’s tracked me down. Foolish girl. As soon as we figured out what we were doing here – “Oh, you’re the new recruit!” and “Let me guess, you’re the tyrant I keep hearing about,” HaHaHa – tears welled up in his eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

Mr. Allen had been the only reason that he was staying in Durango full-time. He was building a house in Telluride and was set to move in August.

It was a glorious summer. We drank at the Strater and played pool at El Rancho and chased the wildfires that hopped from north to south and east to west like crickets in Apache Plume. The first question out of his mouth each day was “What are you doing later?” At El Rancho, he talked about Mr. Allen and prison, and I wanted to tell him that I understood what it’s like being an outcast and a criminal. Instead I told him about Aunt Ginny and how she raised me after my parents died in a plane crash outside of D.C. when I was three. My mother had been appointed to serve on the Atomic Energy Commission and was traveling to Washington once every couple of months. My father usually took care of me on these trips but Aunt Ginny offered to take me one weekend. Chase told me about his own daughter, Pauline, and how he hadn’t seen her in more than two years.

“That must be hard,” I said, silently cursing the wife. I sunk the eight ball in my anger, and Chase bought us another round.

One night we got into trouble. We were drinking by the river when a mother bear with her two cubs appeared on the bank. Chase pulled me down and held me, and we were still. The family moved on, and he looked at me and smiled. I saw no hope or promise in that smile but I kissed him anyway. I don’t want to go into what happened next so I won’t.

Ellie was hired in the fall. I took one look at her and saw my future blow-up in my face. I gave her bogus job orders, pinched tools from her truck, sent her out on wild goose hunts, but my attempts at sabotage were futile. People liked her. She was funny and smart and a good mechanic. What more can I say? She was on to me.

Chase didn’t go to Telluride. At the store they were discreet but Durango is a small town. I can’t turn a corner without seeing them together and each time the door opens, the first question out of his mouth is, “Where is she?”


I go to the back to let Sam know I have to go. Behind him, in the parking lot, is Ellie. She’s standing next to a light blue sedan, talking with a man in the passenger seat. Another car pulls up next to the sedan. The driver, a woman, walks over to it. I can see a gun holster beneath her jacket. The man gets out and introduces Ellie. The woman shows her something (a badge?) and shakes her hand.

While they were as different as two women could be, Ginny and Ingrid were best friends. As a “lady scientist” Ginny admired Ingrid and sought her advice on everything, despite the fact that Ingrid was woefully inept with matters of the heart. Ingrid was flattered and a little awed by Ginny, who exuded sophistication and worldliness. She also had no interest in the work done at the lab and when Ingrid would talk about her neutron-scattering experiments, Ginny would laugh and say, “Oh, Ingrid, I’m as scatterbrained as your neutrons or neurons or whatever. I’m a Capitalist, not a scientist.”

Like Ginny, Ingrid was also beautiful but men were more wary of her. She was too serious. And Ingrid had what was a deal-breaker for any would-be suitor at the time. Ambition. Unlike her good friend, Ingrid was a virgin. So when Ginny introduced Ingrid to the man who she was secretly seeing for months, Ingrid, guileless, shook Raymond’s hand warmly. Ginny, giddy at their meeting and at the success of her party, excused herself to greet her other guests.

The night I drove up the mountain in a blizzard, the snow came down in blue light. It was so lovely that I stopped caring about going over the edge. I almost wanted to, to see the light in the pine trees, gray green and blue.

As I drove, I was sure that I was carrying delicate Indonesian artifacts, glumly hued and stolen from Berlin. I imagined them falling all around me, ornate boxes and sculptures and utensils falling from the trees.

Sam is examining his clipboard. I tell him that I’m taking off and that I’ll be back in a half hour.

“Can you pick up a turkey sub for me?” he asks.

“Sure, you got any cash?” The man and woman look over at our window, but our window is tinted and they can’t see me. The woman is unfamiliar but I’ve seen the man before. He was in front of me at the grocery store two weeks ago. I remember him because he bought loads of gum and a teen magazine, which I thought an alarming combination for someone his age. I saw him later that day, behind me at a stoplight. I didn’t make him for a tail.

“Here’s a ten. No jalapeños, and a large Coke.”

“Got it.” Ellie is walking back toward the building with the man and woman trailing behind her. Ellie looks regal, like a woman accustomed to getting what she wants.

“Hey Sam, any chance you know who’s with Ellie?” Please, I think.

“No clue,” he answers as I make my exit. In the hallway, I hear Ellie, faint but still audible, saying Officer.

I pocket the ten. I have five hundred in my wallet, fifteen hundred sewn into the passenger seat, and a trailer in Abiquiu. What I don’t have is my gun. That’s in the drawer next to my bed. For a moment I’m far away. I’m over the mountain with my beautiful things.

“Ellie?” I turn around. In the doorway of Sam’s office is Chase. When he sees that I’m not Ellie, the lines in his bronze skin arc downward, and his hazel eyes glaze over in a far-off way. It’s a look that I’ll never get used to. A here-but-not-here look that I think prison guards give to ward off need. Which, if I don’t get out of here, I’ll be seeing a lot more of.

“Oh, I’m sorry Stella. I thought you were Ellie.”

“She’ll be here any minute.” Chase blinks and nods his head slowly, as if he understands the gravity of the situation. I put my hand in my pocket. The key, the diamonds, the lockbox, the sea. I’d give it all to him.

Peach (2) – by Claire King

June 5, 2010 9 comments

I don’t see him all day, he’s up in his office with the air-con cranked up, working on his papers. But then around 5.25 he starts up like a teenager – sprays on cologne, brushes his teeth, so when she gets in from Kroger he’ll be fresh for all the PDAs. He brushes his teeth with hot water; I’ve seen him. What is that?

Ugh, whatever. She’s, like, eight years older than me, and he’s getting ready to retire. It’s disgusting. Way to go, Dad, Mom would be so proud of you.

They love it when I ‘stay over at my girlfriends’. Petting in privacy in the den, eating take-out, watching her belly grow round. He bought me the car when they found out she was knocked up. My consolation prize.

Today it’s the gas station guy.  He was a way down the list but he’s easy-pickings. I’m early parking up, so I get a soda and stand out front looking like some kind of hooker. But the night’s warm and there’s a stand of gardenia right by me. Smells like heaven.

He’s here at last and playing Springsteen. His eyes light up like a kid on Christmas day when I slide in beside him. He’s pleased to see me, all right. Damn it, though, he’s taking me to Joe’s bar on Lafayette and Tenth. Shit, Joe’s seen me here before with the biology teacher that gave me herpes. Nice twist on sex education, you asshole. But Joe’s OK. He looks at me funny, but then turns away, shaking his head a little, and pours the beers.

I’m a virgin, I tell Gas Station Guy. They love that shit.  He holds my hand. He has stubby, rough little fingers. Good. Then I drink my beer and shut up. Gas Station Guy can talk for both of us. I guess not many people listen to him.

Tomorrow morning I’ll tell him I’m feeling sick. Headache. He’ll give me Tylenol. I’ll tell him I don’t remember a thing. Then he’ll tell me nothing happened, that I was a little drunk, couldn’t say where I lived, passed out. The usual. I’ll thank him. Then he’ll leave for work early, tell me to make myself breakfast, close the door behind me. I won’t eat a thing in his crumby kitchen. Gross. But I’ll help myself to a little souvenir.  I’m a collector.