USED PANTIES by Anthony Neil Smith

Punk Noir Magazine

USED PANTIES

 

Posted on E***.**m, May 18th, 2021, by MistressDoneWithYou.

USED PANTIES – $98.00

This is a high-quality pair of women’s silk underwear from a high-end shop (you know the one. Shh!) I am selling to one lucky buyer out there. Not only will I wear this for you all day at my job as a Liberal Arts Dean at a very selective private Christian university, during which I will sit through a dizzying number of meetings with other administrators spouting jargon (“synergy,” “goals-based equity realignment,” and “F2F qualitative assessment”), meaning we should have another meeting later to talk about the same thing but never actually move past reports saying there’s a need for more study.

Those meetings can be awfully steamy as I rub my thighs together under my dress from 7:45 to 4:45, with a break for lunch, some personal meetings with department chairs, aggrieved faculty members, and occasionally students with complaints that usually turn out to be their own damned faults.

Once the working day is through, I will continue to wear these panties as I head home, kick off my shoes, relax, then later murder my boyfriend for leaving me to go back to his wife. 

It’s complicated. I’m married, too, but we had hit the wall. Our sons are both in college, and we hardly see them. It’s just me and my unemployed husband, who daydreams about starting get-rich-quick businesses instead of looking for a job in his field – insurance. Once I became a dean, I started making more money than him anyway, so I can laugh at the pre-nup I signed when I was young, in love, and stringing together adjunct classes to teach. He didn’t expect that, nope. He’s been out of work for two years now. One of his “business” ideas inolved, you guessed it, selling my used panties online. 

Why would I do that, though? Why would I wear these silky, dainty panties all day, sweating and fantasizing, only to hand them over to him for half the profit?

As you can see from the photo, they are lacy, skimpy, and violet, stretched across my thick hips. I am no stick-thin model, not at my age, but curves are sexy. You know that already, don’t you, gentlemen? That’s why you’re here reading this.

My marriage was falling apart, my body was desperate for passion, when in walked Giancarlo. Five foot ten, all thatmuscle in a tight frame, with midnight dark hair and olive skin – third generation Italian-American. Born and raised in New Jersey, joined the Army at eighteen, two tours in Afghanistan, and now looking to make a new life for himself outside of the military. 

He had moved to Iowa for a girl, a pen pal from the war, and now they had a baby together. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. He was kind, polite, and it stung when he called me, “ma’am” because I was fourteen years older than him. He was blue collar – jeans and a trucker hat, work boots. Didn’t shave often. He awakened something in me. If only I had sold that pair of panties – I couldn’t stop thinking about him after we discussed his financial needs to pursue a degree in missions ministry. 

Now, while I may be a Dean at a Christian University, it’snot because I’m a good Christian. My husband is agnostic at best, and I exaggerated my Methodist upbringing to secure the job. I just wanted to be an administrator, but couldn’t get a job with secular schools. So while Giancarlo talked about his callingto one day go to India or China as a missionary, I was flirting my ass off. It took effort. My blonde hair was going gray, and I knew my skin and tits and ass had been stretched by gravity – not that any of that matters when there’s plenty of gas left in the tank. Trust me, I knew how to light it up. I smiled. I kept eye contact. I nibbled my bottom lip when I told a joke. I laughed at his. I found excuses to move my chair closer – so he could read along on the paperwork, say. I kept touching him, accidentally, and apologizing. 

Somewhere in my bumbling seduction, he reached out to me. His arm around my back so he could point to a clause and ask a pretty simple question about it. 

Made me squirm. You can only imagine what that smelled like, dear fans.

It wasn’t an immediate thing. Giancarlo was loyal. He liked being a family man. He loved his baby daughter. He felt his wife was his best friend, even if her libido had slowed to a crawl. 

We had that in common. I had lost count of the weeks and months since my husband and I had enjoyed a little too much wine with some friends at an Italian place, both of us tingly, both of us “backed up,” so the blowjob I gave him in the car didn’t last as long as I thought it would, and that was that. I had to take care of myself later, after he’d passed out. 

Thank God for a thick dildo – or as I called it that night, Giancarlo.

Our first time, after a week of my “stalking” him, I’m not proud to say – bumping into him unexpectedly in the hallways, the library, at the supermarket, a few blocks from his apartment building – was in my office. 

Another occasion when selling my panties would’ve been a financial windfall. 

It was fast and hard. One of those fumbling times where we kissed and held each other and fought with our clothes, expecting to be caught at any moment. I was wet the moment he stepped into the room, thanking me for something, something, honestly, just an excuse. I sat wide on the edge of my conference table, he slid his jeans down just past his ass, and he pushed my panties aside, fucked me quick, but it wasn’t like with my husband. Giancarlo was as thick as his plastic namesake. Powerful. For the four minutes it took for him to come, I squeezed my thighs around him and dug in my heels, unwilling to let go until he’d emptied every drop into me. 

I could tell Giancarlo immediately felt guilty. How could a man who wanted to preach the word succumb to my Delilah-like temptation? 

Remembering Samson, I might have told him, Prettyfucking easily, but it might have scared him away. 

Instead, I consoled him, apologized, and told him how much it meant to me. Told him how I was falling for him, that he deserved better than a selfish young woman trapping him in a loveless marriage. 

Me, a homewrecker? 

I felt so dirty. So delicious. 

Luckily, it must’ve been great for him, too, because after that, we fucked all over town, and even out of it once. Our cars, our homes, my office, an empty study booth in the school library, in the men’s room, a fancy hotel when we were both out of town for “business” but that business was him fucking the living fuck out of me. A cheap, sleazy motel where we told each other the sick things we wanted but our partners wouldn’t do,and we did them all.

I felt like a teenager again, with one of my first loves – after the first awkward attempts, how I found someone who knew what he was doing. I felt drunk, giggling all the time thinking about him, daydreaming of my husband dying and Giancarlo’s wife leaving him so we could be together. I loved fucking him on campus and feeling him all inside of me the rest of the day, through the meetings and other meetings and lunch meetings and executive meetings and committee meetings, everyone else talking about budgets, FYE, equity, revenue, microaggressions, athletics, new lab equipment and course evaluations, while I drew Giancarlo’s cock on my legal pad in various states of rigidity.

I started buying nicer underwear, a lot like the pair here I’m going to sell to a lucky winner out there, my admirers. I bought black stockings with a seam up the back. Sometimes, as I passed Giancarlo in the hall, I would hand him a pair of panties that smelled very much like me in every way. For free.

It couldn’t last.

Giancarlo began to make excuses for why he couldn’t meet me. He was mopey and sad more often, the guilt weighing his down. I had to push harder, employ emotional manipulation to make him yield to me. I had to threaten taking my own life(which I would never do). The more guilty and upset he got, the harder he fucked, and the more I wanted to keep him for myself. 

That was a mistake. 

He began to hate me. 

While it made for fantastic sex, I had lost him emotionally. 

Until the night I was sucking his cock the sloppiest, most filthy way I could, telling him in-between how, “We…could be…together…and feel…like this forever…if you’d only…kill your wife.”

Giancarlo shoved me away. “How could you even think a thing like…?”

He tucked himself into his underwear, zipped up, and said, “Never again!”

Left me naked on the floor of my office, after midnight, no one else around except the maintenance crew, who had probably been listening through the walls for weeks.

Giancarlo meant it that time. He avoided me. He knew I was shadowing him, and learned how to lose me. He would not answer his phone, or my texts, or my emails, or my Facebook messenger, or the notes I left tucked under his wiper blades…blocked, blocked, blocked, blocked, blocked. 

I stopped attending meetings. Told my colleagues I was sick. Something chronic. I fell far behind on my paperwork. When I was in the office at all, I was snooping electronically. I found the wife’s socials. I made up profiles to follow her, befriend her, see what was going on. I finally saw Giancarlo’s daughter – an ugly child like her mother, a pasty dull brunettewith a puffy face, still in her mid-twenties. Barely an adult.

Giancarlo must’ve have confessed something to her. She stopped posting photos on Insta for a week before coming back with a picture of the both of them, Ginacarlo embracing his smiling, gap-toothed wife from behind: Love hurts, but God heals. As Jesus forgives us, we must forgive each other. 

I felt feverish. 

I threw up on my secretary’s desk. 

I went home. That was yesterday afternoon

Today, I have a plan. 

First, I specifically chose this pair of panties, violet and silky and lacy, because they are close to the ones from the first time Giancarlo fucked me. 

Then, I will return to work and tell my colleagues it was a twenty-four hour stomach bug, and thank them for their concern. 

I will fake my way through all those meetings, thighs tight, getting wet at the thought of seeing Giancarlo again. All for you, dear fans. All for you.

After work, I will return home and prepare dinner for my husband, the bastard. His favorite – spaghetti and meatballs. I’venever seen my husband stop at one plate of this. He is a glutton for it, eats until he is poping the button on his khakis. I will add extra garlic and salt and chili flakes to hide the taste of the rat poison and sleeping pills.

Once that’s taken care of, I will leave the house, hiding my long filet knife in my coat, and drive to Giancarlo’s apartment. I will bang on his door, I will scream and cry and tell him it’s an emergency.

One of them will open the door. I swear. Be it Giancarlo or his skank wife. They will both let me in, whether she knows it was me, specifically, who’d led her husband astray, because they are good people, with caring hearts, who would not want to slam the door in my time of need. 

Idiots. 

My adrenaline will carry me into their apartment, my panties soaking in my fear, my rage, and my lust. 

I will take the wife first. She will lead me to the kitchen or the living room to take a seat, then ask if I’d like some water or tea. When she comes back with a glass of iced water, I will take my knife from my coat and stab her in the throat, rip the blade across, and then stab into her abdomen again and again – into her womb, trying to prove a point to Giancarlo, in case another child might be the reason he’d called things off with me. Had he still been fucking his wife the whole time he was with me? 

I would show him how much better it would be, him and I and his ugly daughter.

If Giancarlo still wouldn’t see how perfect it is to take me and his daughter away from this place to begin a new life, well, I suppose he’ll have to die, too. By my blade. 

Then I will take his ugly little girl, although she willbecome a brilliant seducer once I train her well. I will call her Estella, no matter what her name actually is.

But I promise I will stop somewhere not far from the scene of the crime and remove my panties, seal them in an envelope, and mail them to the lucky individual who has given me the price I’m asking. Rest assured, I will fulfill my contract with you before I am caught, if ever.

One more thing: if my plan goes in another direction, such as Giancarlo accepting his wife’s death and agreeing to come with me, you’ll still get my panties, but with a forty percent discount. 

Thank for your business. 

 

Anthony Neil Smith is the author of numerous crime novels, including the Billy Lafitte series (including YELLOW MEDICINE and HOGDOGGIN’), award-winning ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS, plus CASTLE DANGER: WOMAN ON ICE, WORM, SLOW BEAR, XXX SHAMUS, and more.

He is an English Professor at Southwest Minnesota State University. 

He likes cheap red wine and Mexican food. 

His dog is named Herman, and he is a good boy. (RIP Herman,

Waitin’ Around to Die By David Cranmer and Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

BIO: David Cranmer is the editor of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and whose own body of work has appeared in such diverse publications as The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Under the pen name Edward A. Grainger he created the Cash Laramie western series. He’s a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

Your Call is Important to Us by Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

The Siren By Yasumi Tsuhara Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Punk Noir Magazine

The Siren

When Ikuko confided her plot to murder their grandfather, Kotaro felt a secret thrill in knowing that the malice multiplying inside her had reached a point where she was on the verge of acting out her murderous impulse. It was like a herd of plankton luring a monster fish, as dictated by the law of nature. She didn’t even bat an eye while harboring such a thought. At the same time, he foresaw his own inevitable fate: he would succumb to his sister’s flesh, which seemed as fertile as the Inland Sea. His intuition quickly accumulated within his hipbone and turned into a throbbing ache.

“Oh dear. How come you’ve got a hard-on?” Ikuko cackled aloud and pressed her breasts against his back. Her semi-suntanned hand brushed his flank and reached his crotch. Her soft palm grazed his manhood. Her carefree action teased Kotaro’s curiosity toward immorality, which hovered so close to his undiluted sexual desire.

“Cut it out. Nobody’s got a hard-on.”

The boy brushed away his sister’s arm.

“You pervert. The thought of killing Grandpa gives you a hard-on?”

“No way.”

“Yeah, it does. I touched it.” Ikuko laughed louder. “Murder gets you turned on. Did you kill our neighbors’ rabbit by any chance?”

She wasn’t far off after all. Kotaro turned and shoved Ikuko’s shoulder hard. She tripped and landed on her elbow on the tatami mat, revealing her underwear. Kotaro’s sharp gaze landed on lemon-yellow stains on her white cotton panties. He recovered his feelings of intellectual superiority over his sister. While he was a bright student whose intellect awed his middle school teachers, Ikuko had failed to pass the entrance exam to any high school in the last two years. As a result of too frequent abuse at the hands of bony delinquents in town, she’d become pregnant. After she got an abortion, her parents had sent her to this ship-building town for convalescing. Now she lived with their grandfather who had occupied the house alone for a long time. The town’s name had become a taboo in their parents’ conversations.

During the summer break, Kotaro had decided to pay his sister a visit in the house where their mother was born. After he parked his bicycle in front of the train station, he embarked upon a two-hour trip. He hesitated only for a few seconds before he purchased his ticket. However, once he secured his seat, he would find himself in the town that reeked of oil and rust at dusk. He would call his parents from the station once he got off the train. Grandpa had no phone in his house. If Kotaro needed to get in touch with him, he would call Grandpa’s neighbors’ house. As he’d walked along a leaky irrigation ditch, he’d reached Grandpa’s one-story house with a crooked roof. Grandpa was usually absent, leaving Ikuko home alone.

As Grandpa hardly ate at home, Kotaro wanted to know what Ikuko ate. She answered that she would buy fish on credit from a peddler and cooked it for herself. But she had no idea whether or not Grandpa paid off the debt. He only gave her money to go to the bathhouse in town, so she would save as much as possible to buy herself sweets. Around midnight, Grandpa came home drunk, pretending not to notice Kotaro, and lay in the six-tatami room in the back. Without turning the lights on, he listened to the radio through earphones and began to snore. Kotaro and his sister kept chatting in low voices in the living room. They finally went to bed as the sky began to turn white.

***

The sun’s rays shone over the tatami mat when Kotaro got up around noon. The old man had gone out to play shogi with his friends. As Ikuko had no money, Kotaro went out to fetch sweetened buns, fish sausages, and milk. They spent the day lying around doing nothing in particular while they neglected to clean up after themselves after meals. A few times, their grandfather came home like a jailor and stared at Ikuko in her slovenly state. Then he hurried back out again despite having no errands to run. On the train home, Kotaro would be able to count the number of words he exchanged with Grandpa during his three-day stay.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“What do you mean?”

“Killing Grandpa. Are you going to help me or not?”

Kotaro had no affection for him or, unlike Ikuko, held no hard feeling against him. A man of small stature, their grandfather had bad breath and bum legs. Despite his quick temper, he was a man of few words and kept his emotions in check. Barely living off his meager pension, he clung to a damp piece of land like litter floating at the water’s edge. He played shogi and gave nonsensical answers to his acquaintances who greeted him. At the bar he frequented, he would occupy the same seat and sip his second-grade sake while nibbling on sliced kamaboko or hanpen. On the days he had marked on the calendar, he would go see the speedboat races and make some pocket money. Even if he stopped doing any of his activities, no one would notice the difference. On the other hand, no one, except for Ikuko, would mind if he continued his routine for the next decade or two.

“But what’s the point of killing him?” Kotaro wondered aloud.

“It’ll make my life easier. A lot easier.” Ikuko lifted her chin, stuck her whitish tongue out, and breathed audibly. Her soft breasts wriggled as her throat throbbed.

“We’ve gotta do something. He doesn’t even let me bring friends home. I can’t even go out for long, ’cause he’d go to the local police box. Because the officer there has nothing else to do, he’d look for me all over town—from the station to the beach. It’s a nightmare.”

While their grandfather paid no attention to his other relatives, let alone Kotaro, he had exhibited his possessive obsession with Ikuko, despite the fact that her parents had forced him to take her in. Although he set strict limits for his dim-witted granddaughter, he seemed to regard her with a kind of awe.

“I don’t wanna go to jail, though.”

“Don’t worry, Ko-chan. Nobody will find out. I know a great way to do it. Pay attention to how he snores. In the middle of the night, he stops breathing for ten seconds or so. He can’t breathe ’cause he’s got something stuck in his throat. Then he gasps for air and goes back to snoring. If we keep him from breathing again, he’ll surely kick the bucket. Everybody will think he’s died in his sleep.”

“How are we supposed to keep him from breathing?”

“I’ll leave that up to you, Ko-chan. You’re the brainy one.”

Kotaro remained thoughtful for a while.

“Even so, a doctor will get suspicious and investigate the cause of his death.”

“Of course not. Nobody will care enough for an old man like that.”

“What are you going to do afterward?”

“I’ll stay here. He’s got money. He keeps it locked up in a drawer in the tansu over there. He unlocks the drawer, takes out a wad of notes, and counts them. A lot of dough. At least 500,000 yen.”

“What ya gonna do with it?”

“I can buy a lot of things. How about you, Ko-chan? Me? I want sandals. I saw a beautiful pair in the shoe store in front of the station. Maybe they’re imported. I wanted them so much.”

Ikuko seemed to have forgotten that Kotaro had shoved her and tipped her over a while ago. She leaned over his shoulder and cooed in his ear.

***

When Kotaro held a lifeless rabbit tight in his grip, he was disappointed that its death failed to cause anything in him except a mute ennui. After he experienced his first ejaculation two years earlier, he began his search for a way to recreate the sensation of fear and bliss. He presupposed that an active approximation to death would be the key. However, his hypothesis was proven false. As a young boy, he felt a tingling sensation running up his spine as he acted out of malice and squashed an insect. He had expected something close. Perhaps the death of a rabbit was too insignificant to thrill him with pleasure now.

As he sank deeper into his reverie, he desecrated his sister’s flesh. He managed to stay inside the brilliant color just before he ejaculated. Afterward, he would find himself in a discolored daily life again. He wiped the translucent fluid off of his palm with tissue paper. From the small window of the toilet, he glanced at the now empty rabbit hatch in the neighbors’ backyard. For some reason, Shimada-san had blamed his rabbit’s death on an unleashed dog. Now he would chase away any stray dog in his sight.

In the evening, while immersed in the tub at the bathhouse, Kotaro overheard a rumor about a strange siren. In the shipyard, the sirens would ring out all too frequently. They announced the hour or preceded special notices. Ships sounded their whistles. The lighthouse blew its foghorn. However, recently, a different siren echoed through the beach on some nights. The following morning, someone in town had disappeared.

“Maybe it’s umibōzu. It snatches you away and swallows you,” a man said.

A chorus of raucous guffaws rose. The man who had brought up the sea-monster laughed hardest.

“Could be a Russian or North Korean ship,” another man chimed in.

“They’d stay in the Sea of Japan. They wouldn’t bother coming to the Inland Sea.”

Thick muscles had formed around their necks, shoulders, and arms. They were some kind of craftsmen but not shipyard workers. His mother had told Kotaro that there was a bath inside the shipyard as well as their company homes, so shipyard workers wouldn’t come to a bathhouse in town.

He waited for Ikuko outside the bathhouse. When she came out, they headed toward their grandfather’s one-story house. On the way back, Ikuko stopped in front of the shuttered shoe store. She peeked in through the mail slot.

“I can’t see well. Maybe they have been sold.”

“Then you can order another pair.”

Kotaro made a mental note to speak to his father and ask for money for Ikuko’s sandals.

When they got home, their grandfather was sipping his sake in the living room. Perhaps the bar he frequented was closed. He had earphones in his ears. While they lingered, seated on the agari-kamachi at the entrance, he raised his cup to his mouth and drained it. He went into the room in the back, folded a zabuton in half, laid it as a pillow under his head, and started to snore faintly.

Kotaro sat up against the wall, hugging his knees to his chest. Ikuko crawled closer and whispered in his ear. “Listen.” But their grandfather’s snoring remained steady. As he listened to his regular breathing, he too was seized by sleep. His eyelids dropped closed. In a brief dream, the boy heard a siren that sounded like a woman’s sobbing,

“Ko-chan. Ko, help!” Ikuko’s scream and the banging on the tatami mat brought him back to reality. His sister called him from the room in the back. In the penumbra, Grandpa’s legs thrashed against the tatami mat. Ikuko’s pale thighs were spread apart. He strained his eyes, thinking that the two of them might have been engaged in an abnormal act. Then he realized that Ikuko sat astride Grandpa while she pressed the zabuton against his face.

“Ko-chan, hurry. Hold him down.”

She struggled to choke their grandfather. The boy rose from the tatami mat and stood dazed at the entrance to the room. Grandpa grabbed Ikuko’s arm that pressed his chest.

“Ko-chan. Hurry. He’s going to kill me!” Ikuko screamed.

The boy grabbed Grandpa’s arm and ripped it away from his sister. Grandpa kicked even harder. Kotaro sat on top of the old man’s knees and pressed his weight against them.

“He hadn’t breathed for a long time. So I thought he was dead. Just in case he was still alive, I pressed the zabuton to his face. Then he began fighting.”

As his sister babbled on, it dawned on Kotaro that this wasn’t a make-believe game. They were trying to do Grandpa in for real. Just then, his heart began pounding fast. Before he decided to see through this folly to the end or call it off, their grandfather’s limbs suddenly went limp. That prompted Kotaro to get up, but the old man lay listless. Ikuko still pressed the zabuton against his face.

“Is it over? Is he dead?” Ikuko asked.

“Yup, he’s dead,” Kotaro replied. The sweat from his forehead ran across his cheeks.

Then the entrance door slid open and the next-door neighbor stepped in.

“Matsumoto-san, you’ve got a phone call,” he yelled.

Kotaro leaped into the living room.

“Oh, I didn’t know you were visiting.”

The neighbor placed his hands on the agari-kamachi and gazed inside. As he saw a disturbed expression on the boy’s face, his smile became frozen.

“What happened to your grandpa?”

When Kotaro turned toward the room in the back, the zabuton was no longer on Grandpa’s face.

“He’s dead,” Kotaro mumbled.

“He stopped breathing during his sleep and never woke up,” said Ikuko in the dark.

***

“Oh, here you are.” A plump, robust-looking doctor the neighbor had summoned narrowed his eyes at Ikuko. Kotaro sensed that his sister was some sort of celebrity in town. As soon as the doctor entered the six-tatami room and sat beside Grandpa’s body, he frowned and uttered an audible groan. Taking a penlight from his shirt pocket, the doctor waved it in front of the old man’s eyes, holding first one of his eyelids open and then the other.

“He’s passed away. It was sudden, wasn’t it?” The doctor stared at Kotaro and then his gaze hovered over Ikuko. She nodded and glared at the doctor.

“Was he drinking?”

“Yes, doctor. A lot,” Kotaro answered.

The doctor nodded. “It happens to a lot of drinkers. I’ll have to exam him carefully, so please wait at Shimada-san’s house. Oh, I want you to stay here, miss. I need a woman’s help here.”

With Mrs. Shimada’s arm around his shoulder, Kotaro stepped into the neighbors’ house. It was well illuminated with many lamps.

“We’ve got quite a situation there,” Mr. Shimada sighed.

“He could be a bit difficult, but he was a good person down deep,” his wife said.

Kotaro sipped the icy glass of barley tea Mrs. Shimada had brought him. He felt disoriented by the unfamiliar odors of the strangers’ house that filled his nostrils. He barely paid attention to the couple’s talk while he imagined how upset they would be had he told them the truth—that he had murdered his own grandfather merely to get his rocks off. Then he realized that he had mixed up their rabbit and his grandfather.

More than half an hour passed. Even so, the doctor hadn’t come. He excused himself, put his shoes back on, and went outside. The doctor had just slid open the door. When he spotted the boy, he fixed his tie and hand-combed his thinning hair. “Don’t worry. His hard drinking took its toll. I’ll have a chat with Shimada-san.” The doctor headed to the neighbors’ house.

Kotaro bowed as they crossed paths. When he peeked inside the six-tatami room, Ikuko was buttoning her blouse back up beside their grandfather, his face covered with a handkerchief. The air reeked with the smell of an afternoon tidal flat.

“Oh, it’s you, Ko-chan,” Ikuko uttered in a listless tone. “Never mind then. It’s awfully hot in here.” She unbuttoned the top part of her blouse and fanned herself. “Now get over here, Ko-chan. Do you wanna suck on my tits?”

His mouth half open, Kotaro stepped into the room and kneeled before Ikuko.

“Just kidding. Of course you can’t. We’re family. But you can lick between my tits as long as you don’t touch them.”

Kotaro nodded and placed his hand on the tatami mat. He buried his face in her cleavage, touching her moist skin with his mouth. Beads of sweat rolled down between her breasts and wet his lips.

“The doctor is going to buy me sandals.”

As he savored Ikuko’s salty skin, Kotaro unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis, began to stroke himself. When his sister chuckled, her breath tickled his hair. Then he splashed all over her skirt. In spite of himself, he repeatedly came and drew abstract shapes on her. This is it. This darkness. In the blink of an eye, the darkness swallowed his consciousness as Kotaro collapsed into Ikuko’s lap.

He awoke to a deafening cacophony of sirens. He realized he had fallen asleep after he ejaculated. He zipped up his pants and looked around, but Ikuko was nowhere in sight. Neither was his grandfather’s body. The living room was empty. When he put on his shoes and went outside, he noticed the wail of sirens drifting from the sea. As he hurried down toward the beach, he decided to look for his sister first. But her scent wafted from the same direction.

He spotted the doctor at the entrance to the beach. His heart skipped a beat when he saw his grandfather standing at the water’s edge. But it all made sense as it dawned on him that everyone was on the lookout for Ikuko. The ceaseless sirens kept calling him. As he realized what had transpired, he stepped into the salty waves.

Yasumi Tsuhara has authored numerous books, most recently the best-selling novel Hikky Hikky Shake (2019). In 1997, he made his debut as a horror novelist with Yōto. His 2011 story collection 11 won the second Twitter Literary Award. In 2014, the manga adaptation of his story “Goshiki no fune” won the Bureau for Cultural Affairs’ Media Arts Festival Grand Prize. His work has been translated into several languages, including Chinese, English, Italian, and Korean.

Tent City by Chris Cascio

Punk Noir Magazine

Spooner was at it again, having arranged traffic cones he’d taken from God-knows-where to block off the main drive aisle in the parking lot so he could draw his enormous chalk eagles. Sprawled on the searing pavement and whipping his tangled blonde mane back from in front of his face, he spat at drivers who honked and shouted at him, administering emphatic fuck yous flanked by dual one-finger salutes.

People liked to say that one of the few things they were sure about when it came to Spooner was that he didn’t give a shit, but I witnessed otherwise one day when he dropped trou right there in front of the dollar store entrance and produced a hot loaf while Bobbi stood screaming on the other side of the glass.

Well, come to think of it, maybe they were right, but only within the scope of the idiom. Concrete, on the other hand, is—well, concrete, and wrong is wrong.

The eagles, in all fairness, were gorgeous. Massive wingspans and regal features. Fierce, foreshortened talons. Sky-soaring hellions highlighted in shades of lavender and tropical pink, all rendered to a stunning effect, like a modern Monet—and all done with large, sidewalk-style chalk. The kind the kids use.

I watched all this from my parking spot. The plan was to hit the liquor store down at the end of the strip while Mom finished up her shift at the dollar store, but the Spooner show was just too good to pass up. Amid the din of furious strip-mall patrons, the vagabond’s focus was impregnable. Like some spidery and maddened old G.I. in his drab, heavyweight M-65 field jacket—long, lanky, and gangly as Mom would say, and how could he possibly be comfortable in that thing in mid-July? Spooner’s electric gaze lifted only when he deemed appropriate to grace protesting motorists with his fingers and choice verbiage before returning to the work at hand.

This probably went on for a good ten minutes, just from the time I arrived, before Bobbi stormed out with the push broom, jabbed at Spooner till he crawled off on all fours and then swept the eagles from existence, each stroke heaving a cloud of chalk dust into the air.

Spooner lay on his belly and hissed. Then he screamed: “You son of a bitch!”

Bobbi raised the broom above her head like a broadsword and then slammed it down onto the pavement. “I ain’t nobody’s son, you dirty asshole.”

The next day Spooner shit outside the door while Bobbi was setting the back-to-school storefront display.

On the drive home, I caught Mom watching me out of my periphery. Her hands were folded and shaking a little. Her Parkinson’s was showing more, but I pretended not to notice. “Alright,” I said. “Out with it.”  

“I was just thinking about Bobbi out there just now, giving Gary hell.” She always called Spooner by his first name. Everyone else just treated him like the town crazy, which in fairness he was. I mean he showed up everywhere, had been around forever, and had always been exactly the same. Everyone either knew him or knew of him, and so there was this mystique. But she felt for him, ever since she first met him and learned he was living back there behind Fresh Foods in Tent City. People called him the mayor. He was just a guy trying to deal, though. I could tell that much. And I would say hi or nod when I passed, if we made eye contact, but she talked with him whenever she saw him. No matter what. Really talked with him, too. Not like everybody else. Not like anybody else that I’d seen. She actually cared.

“So why you staring all goofy at me while thinking it?” I said.

“Well, I just thought she was doing it for you.”

Lunacy, but I knew what Mom was up to. “I’m pretty sure she was doing it to get Spooner the hell out of there.”

She just stared at me. With that look. That I know something that you don’t look.

“Okay. Why would she do that for me?”

“I dunno,” she said with an up-pitch lilt. “People like to make themselves visible sometimes, especially if it makes them look strong.”

Well, that she had done. Look strong that is. She was strong. And that wrath was no joke. I’d felt it firsthand. Earned it, too. Every bit of it.

A long moment passed.

“You know he was never in the military.”

“Who?” I said, shaking off the fog.

“Gary. He was never in. People think he’s a Nam vet because of how he looks and acts and because of the coat, but he’s not. He just fits the bill. He’s just sick. And it’s just a coat.”

She had this earnest look, all long-faced and round-eyed.

“Is that so?”

She nodded. “Mhm.”

“Interesting. And he just goes along with it?”

“I’ve never heard him correct anyone. I mean, what would you say? Who knows, maybe he likes it. Maybe it makes him feel more accepted that way, you know? Maybe it makes him feel safe. Nobody wants to go messin’ with a crazy Vietnam veteran, am I right?”

She had a point. “So what about the dope? Is that all bogus, too? Is he actually just clean and ill?”

“Not sure, but who knows? I’ve seen him at both ends, lucid and looney, but I couldn’t tell you if he was on something.”

“And what about the fires?”

“Oh, no,” she said. “That’s real.” She adjusted herself in her seat and faced forward. “That’s all real. I’ve never asked him about it directly, but the last time he showed up after being away for a while, I asked him where he’d been, and he hung his head and said they had just let him out after doing it again. And I mean he hung his head.”

#

I lacked the gumption is what Bobbi had argued. I flashed, sure, but never turned the corner, never really became. Instead, she said, I found reasons and made excuses to remain idle, to let things go. To her I just hid behind an idea that things would work out the way they’re supposed to and used that as a rationale not to act. Not to mention that my hiding place was usually somewhere deep inside a bottle. Unrelated habits in my opinion. And if you ask me it was just because I didn’t want to fight every guy in every bar that came onto her—specifically when Big Raab got all shined up and decided it was the right night for him to take Bobbi away from me. I mean he’s a big guy, big heroin-dealing goon, but on that night the goon was shnoggered. A strong gust could’ve knocked him over. And he and his boys had their little laugh, but I saw his face when she left with me, regardless if she was angry or not. He felt rejected, and he had been, and that was all that I had needed. I didn’t need to fight him or make some grand display. All I needed was her, and for her to know that her heart was all that mattered. But she saw it differently, and her needs were different.

She basically diagnosed me, had the nerve to diagnose me, said I had a commitment issue, but that it wasn’t simply commitment to her, it was to anything because I was afraid of rejection and failure and afraid to stand up for what I believe. Well, I believe that the truth will show itself with time, and I don’t have to go forcing it out with my fists or by acting like some goddamned hero. Like, there’s a virtue in it, in just staying cool and letting things play out, because it usually plays out properly. Deep down, though, I don’t think she questioned if I could or if I wanted to fight for what was right. I think she just wanted to see me fight for her. Wanted somebody to. Probably why she was always fighting for herself. Was probably dead tired of it. That’s—well that’s tough. But that’s what she needed, and I wasn’t the person to give that to her. And that’s just the truth of it. See? Truth shows itself.

#

The next night we were eating soup and sandwiches at our little metal drop-leaf kitchen table when Mom told me that a house garage out near Weatherly had caught fire early in the evening. Said a girl had been burned pretty bad. “So what do you think she was up to?” I said. “Start-up meth lab, or partying with a few friends and the horseplay went awry? Then they run and she tries to go in and stop it before it gets out of control?”

“Doesn’t look that way, not neither. That’s not what people are saying at least.”

“What are they saying?”

“That it looked like arson. That it was Gary.”

“You gotta be kidding. The guy was over here emptying his bowels not six hours ago. What, he leaves and goes all the way out to Weatherly to light up some garage?”

“You never know. And we haven’t seen him since then.”

“Would you come back around after that? I’m sure Bobbi called the cops.”

“Oh yeah she did. Three of ‘em stood around that turd for a good five minutes taking her statement and then deciding who would get rid of it. I thought they were gonna do rock-paper-scissors.”

We laughed with our mouths full and then Mom went and brought up Bobbi again, but I shut it down. She didn’t push, she never did, she just wanted to give it a nudge. She understood well enough that we had been good together when things were good, but we had never loved each other. She just wanted to see me happy, to see me start a family and get out. Not that she didn’t like having me there or need me there, for that matter. Beyond needing a steady hand in the house she just needed somebody there. She was probably just thinking the same for me. But getting out, really getting out, just wasn’t something that seemed reasonable. Nobody really did it anyway, not unless after high school they got into State, finished, and then got a job out of state. And none of that was me. Truth is I had never been much of anything. Never stood out, wasn’t great or terrible at anything. Definitely no kind of hero, which I think is what ticked me off most about how Bobbi judged me. It was like she was holding me to some standard that I didn’t want and didn’t apply to me. Mom understood, though. She still tried for her own good reason, but she understood.

After Spooner disappeared his absence itself became a presence. He hadn’t been picked up, at least the paper hadn’t said so, and so everyone figured he was either keeping to the confines of Tent City or had hopped on a bus and moved on to a new town, which just made him look guilty because it was simply abnormal not to see him at least once a day. And if he wasn’t guilty, he was at least aware he was a suspect, which I suppose was smart unless you think that acting normal is the best way to show that you’re innocent. But what would that mean? Taking another crap on the sidewalk or stealing headphones only to try to return them for a refund? I suppose if anyone really wanted to find him they could, but I also suppose nobody really cared to find him.

By this time I had started helping out my buddy Shane with his off-the-books but lucrative handyman jobs. It started when he asked me to help him patch a hole in the ceiling of his living room, right beneath the upstairs bathroom. Water had fully rotted the fibreglass and lath, and now whenever anybody used the toilet up there you could hear everything. The house, like all in that neighborhood, had been built back in the 1940s, and if you worked on them you could tell whenever the builders had fallen short on lumber because the distance between the studs got longer and longer. We sawed the ceiling hole to a neat rectangle, retrofitted a piece of drywall, and spread plaster over it. With how nice it came out he asked me to be his helper, which meant steady work and cash pay. Better than the temp jobs in the industrial park on both counts. It was also flexible, so I was always able to help Mom out when she needed me.

I worked with Shane the rest of that summer and never had a problem except for once when he shook down his uncle for money he owed outside of the job we were doing. We had just finished floating a new set of concrete steps leading up to his kitchen door. Uncle Antoni had handed the cash down to Shane from inside and then thanked him from behind the closed door before retreating into darkness. Shane counted the bills, handed them to me and said “Wait here, Trav. I’ll be right back.” He reached up and pulled the screen door open, stepped over the stairs and into the doorway. A moment later I heard a murmur, followed by the sound of Shane beating the old man. Antoni pleaded and pleaded. Then there was a thud and Shane reappeared at the doorway. He threw the door open and walked down the wet steps with bills wadded in his hand. Then he wiped his feet in the grass, and we got back into his truck and left.

Bobbi called me on Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend to tell me that Mom had just fallen down in the store. No hellos, not that there should have been, just “Travis, Nadine just fell.”

“Is she alright? Did you call an ambulance?”

“No, she just scraped her elbow. I think she’s okay.”

“I’m on my way.”

They had Mom sitting in the back at the table where they all ate their lunches. She had gauze taped to her forearm and this ruckled look to her. She looked more like a child in trouble than a woman being cared for. I sat down beside her and took a tender hold of her arm. “Tell me what happened.”

“I fell.”

“So I heard. What were you doing?”

“Packing out the cat food.”

“Uh huh. And how did you fall?”

“Just lost my balance. Was a little stiff and couldn’t catch myself.”

I patted her hand and then kissed her forehead as I stood and took out my phone.

“Who’re you calling?”

“The hospital.”

“I don’t need the hospital. I could work the rest of my shift if they’d let me.”

“I bet you would,” Bobbi said as she entered the back. “There’s only an hour left before we close anyway. You just need to rest.” Bobbi gave me one of those looks along with a sigh, and she didn’t look good herself. She had these small sores on her chin.

“I don’t need to rest,” Mom said.

“You do, and you need advice,” I said, my phone to my ear. “Well, I need it.”

I was able to get one of the doctors who had seen her before, and she told me to load Mom up on vitamins D and B12 between then and her next visit. It would help with her balance along with optimizing all the other medications she was on.

Bobbi helped Mom to her feet, which Mom didn’t like, but she let her do it because that’s just how she was with Bobbi.

“I’ll take it from here,” I said.

“Sure,” Bobbi said and let her go.

We went straight to the pharmacy at Fresh Foods. I parked and told Mom not to run off.

She gave me a look.

I said I’d be right back.

I bought the vitamins, some ointment, more gauze. Didn’t bother with a bag, just shoved it all into the front pockets of my sweatshirt. The pharmacy was down on one side of the store, and exiting right there put you at the far end of the building.

As I walked out I heard a rustling around the corner by the dumpsters. Like a bear or something, or the biggest damn raccoon you could imagine, and that was enough to get me to look. Something to tell Mom about when I got back to the car, something to distract her from her embarrassment. Spray-painted on the wall in bright red were the words MAIL FOR SPOONER with an arrow pointing straight down to the ground. I heard the noise again coming from the far side of the dumpsters, this time accompanied by a grunt. A human grunt.

I peeked around the corner of the dumpster. Two men, one slim and one heavy, both with buzzcuts, stood over Spooner, who lay fetal on the ground with blood-soaked hair. “You see it’s what happens, right? For what you did?” the heavy one said.

“That’s right, motherfucker,” grunted the slim one, who was rocking from foot to foot. “And you should know you can’t hide from that shit, fucking fire-happy junkhead.” The slim man produced a bottle of lighter fluid. “Karma don’t fuck around, does she now, junkhead.” He looked to his partner. “Pick him up.”

The heavy man reached down, grasped a fistful of Spooner’s hair and started to lift him up. The man readied the bottle. As Spooner got his knees underneath him he thrust a small knife into the heavy man’s thigh, and he held onto it as the man collapsed to the ground and started to howl.  

There were three sides to what I was thinking at that moment. First was if this was Spooner’s just comeuppance. If he had set that fire with that girl inside, despite the unsavory nature of these vigilantes—and considering how Spooner was fighting back, it would be hard to argue that he didn’t deserve what he was getting.

Second was if Spooner was actually cleanhanded, and these goons were the culmination of every prejudiced judgment Spooner had ever experienced. If so, this wasn’t going to be a mere beating. They were going to torch him, an innocent. This could end his life. And in my pocket my grip on the bottles of vitamins started to tighten.

Was I serious? What was I going to do with two small bottles of vitamins? No, this was insane. It wasn’t my fight or my place—a reasoning that recentered me and led from the two prior considerations to the imperative third: Mom was waiting in the car. She just fell for God’s sake! She needed me, and she needed me well so I could take care of her. Who knew what would happen if I acted rashly? She was most important, and that was that.

But then something in that bastard’s face as he watched his partner go down, as he started dousing Spooner with lighter fluid. . . .

Spooner pulled the knife from heavy man’s leg and swiped at the slim one, but the guy dodged, and I wasn’t thinking anymore. I charged. Brazen, stupid even, but he had both hands on that bottle of lighter fluid and was off guard. I leapt at him, screaming, and swung my bottle-clenching fists like hammers down onto his head, which didn’t make any sound as they connected. Neither did his body as it crumbled clumsily beneath mine, as though it were a deflating air-filled dummy.

I looked down at his face. He was out. I looked over at Spooner, and he was looking right back at me with a face that didn’t say thank you as much as welcome to my life. The heavy guy had stopped writhing and howling and watched as well. I put my ear to my guy’s nose and immediately realized how stupid that was, but I heard him breathing. I said: “He’s alive.” I put the vitamins back into my pockets and then crawled over to Spooner. His head was split wide, he was soaked with fluid, and he looked tired.

I put Spooner in the back seat of the car and drove him over to St. Joe’s for stiches. At the front desk I handed him off to the nurses, and from there I called the cops. We read the next day that they got the two guys. Weatherly boys, and both had priors. Wouldn’t have to worry about seeing them anytime soon.

On the ride to the hospital, Spooner spoke only to Mom, and I think it helped keep him lucid and helped her get out of the funk she’d been in after her fall. Tending to people was where she really felt whole, got her out of herself and immersed in the act of care. It wouldn’t be for much longer that she would be able to continue in that role. That day she consoled Spooner, kept him talking. Mostly he kept saying things like “They were gonna set me, Na. They were gonna set me good. Like a damn candle. They were gonna set me good.”

“But they didn’t, Gary,” she said. “They didn’t set you. You’re gonna be okay.”

“Yeah, but man,” he said, and I watched in the rearview as he closed his eyes in what appeared to be reverence. “It would have been. . .something.”

Chris Cascio’s writing and visual art has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southampton Review, Sand, Northern Virginia Review, Peregrine Journal, Longridge Review, The Loch Raven Review, Litro USA, Mikrokosmos/mojo, Autofocus, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Larchmont, NY.

GET FORKED a Short Story by Judge Santiago Burdon

Punk Noir Magazine

“Johnny wake up man. I think you need to take me to the hospital. Come on, wake up!”

” What ? What’s going on Bigotes? You have Asthma attack? Where is your bomba?”

He sits up in bed and turns on the lamp on the nightstand.

“No Johnny, that crazy bitch stabbed me in the back. I can’t tell if I’m bleeding or how deep the knife is stuck in . Whatever you do don’t pull it out, I’ll bleed to death before we get to the hospital.

” Okay okay tranquilo carnal let me take a look.”

 ” Johnny I’m serious don’t fuck around.”

I turn my back to him so he can get a closer look. 

“Santiago I don’t think it is a knife in your back. I think maybe it is a fork she stab you with. What did you do to make her to stab you with a fork?”

“A fork are you sure? Take another look. Look closer. Johnny turn on the other light.”

He finds the switch for the ceiling light to get a better idea of the wound’s severity.

Yes Bigotes it is a fork not a knife. You should have me pull it out. I don’t know if it is in very deep.”

“Wait, let me think about it for a minute.”

“Santi, tell me why she stab you?”

“She wanted more cocaine and more cocaine and more cocaine. She was acting all strange and sketchy. I told her there wasn’t  anymore, she got pissed off, started screaming at me, calling me a liar. I got up out of the bed, started putting on my clothes to get away from her, then I felt her stab me.  She picked up her shit and ran out the door. Where’d you find that Psychobitch man?”

“She is my cousin from Medellin.

What the hell. Of course another crazy person from your family. I should’ve figured as much. Are all your relatives mentally ill? I thought you were calling her prima(cousin) as a nickname. Like I joke and  call  prostitutes  prima.”

“I know I am sorry. Everyone in my family is crazy with mental problems. I’m so lucky I have nothing wrong with me.”

“Are you serious? You’ve gotta be joking.You’re the craziest, Psychocolombiano, Mentally unstable individual I’ve ever been associated with.”

“Bigotes why you say such mean things to me? I sometimes get crazy in a party way or when I get drunk and stuff but that’s all. Maybe you can get somebody else to take the fork out. You don’t want some  crazy person doing it.”

“Sorry Rico, I don’t mean anything by it. You know I love you despite  your qwerks. I try to apologize. Okay let’s get the fucking fork out of my back and see what kind of damage we’re dealing with here.”

“There is not a lot of blood, Bigotes. But she sure pushed it deep. I didn’t know a fork could be a dangerous weapon. Okay you are ready?”

“No, I’m not ready. But go ahead and do it anyway.” 

“Wait, I think maybe I should have a towel in case maybe you start  bleeding a lot. Then we need to have the cut circlesized with alcohol for no infection. Oh no, I hope you will not need switches the hospital is very far away Bigotes.”

I begin laughing from Johnny mispronouncing words and giving the incident an entirely different aspect. He’s acting so dramatically I can’t help but find it amusing. I don’t remember when I’ve seen him so serious as though he is a Doctor giving me a prognosis. 

“Why you laughing Bigotes? Because you don’t want to cry?”

“No Johnny, I was laughing at the words you used in English. I’m very proud of you J.R. you have come a long way with learning English, but sometimes you say a word incorrectly or mispronounce a word and it ends up being humorous. I’m not making fun of you my friend, it’s just funny.

“So what you think I’m funny? Funny like what like a clown? I what, I make you laugh? How am I funny?”

“Now that’s hilarious Johnny! You remembered that from “Good Fellas.” You do it better than Joe Pesci, very good.”

I’m laughing hysterically,and I start applauding his performance but it causes the fork to move around and I instantly become uncomfortable .

“I always want to do that. I’m happy you laugh. Tell me what words I say wrong when I get back with a towel and some alcohol. I think we can use Tequila. Is there still some Patron left?”

“Yes it’s in the freezer. Good thinking Johnny.”

He returns drinking from the bottle of Tequila. 

“Now we are ready, you think? Yes?”

“Let’s do it!”

The fork was stuck in my left lower shoulder in the ancestis, the spot on your back that you’re unable to reach to scratch. I still had my shirt on with the fork having been stuck through it. Slowly I took off the shirt so Johnny had quick access, it just hung there on the shaft.

“Bigotes I don’t know if I can do it.” 

“For Christ’s sake J.R. just pull the God Damn fork out. Do it! It won’t hurt. In fact, give me the bottle of Tequila. I need a drink.”

“Maybe you should drink more to not feel pain.”

Good idea again buddy. You’re really showing your smarts. Ooh, you know what, I have some  Vicodin in my  jacket. Can you grab it for me please?”

Johnny returns with my jacket in hand sporting a huge grin. 

“Look what you have in the pocket. Here are the pills, look what else you’re hiding, a small vial filled with Cocaine and two puros that we forget to smoke at the beach. Now take your medicine and when you feel no pain, we will take out the fork.” 

It was 3:45 in the morning and it’s not like I had to go to work or anything. Plus I’d been wounded in action and could lounge around all day. I think it’s Saturday anyway and I don’t have any appointments on my calendar, so here we go.

I swallowed a couple Vicodin, snorted a cap full of Cocaine, then Johnny passed me the bottle of Tequila. I took a long swig.

“. Now let me explain why I was laughing earlier. I think you meant to say sterilize but you said circlesize which sounds similar to the word circumcised which has a totally different meaning.  Circumcise is when a doctor cuts the extra skin off the penis of a baby boy.”

“Why they do such a thing?”

“It was started by the ancient Egyptians then practiced by the Jewish people and on and on.

I’m not going to get into the reasons.”

“So you have circhimsize? I see your pene is different from mine. I am no circhimsize I still have the skin.”

“Ya I know Rico, I don’t want to be talking about our Dicks, okay?” I quickly changed the subject. 

“Stitches are what the doctor sews you up with when you have a large cut. I think you said switches. You understand?”

Johnny lights a joint and passes it over to me.

“I have a question. Why you always call Marijuana Trisumman? Why does it have that name?”

Again I start laughing.

“Hey, now I am going to get very angry, you laugh at me more.”

“Sorry Rico, I’m saying, “try some man” and you put all three words together. Guess I say it too fast and it sounds like one word.”

Johnny now finds the humor in what I’m saying and begins chuckling.

We sat there talking and joking with Johnny doing all sorts of imitations now that I had been amused by the Joe Pesci he did.

They weren’t very funny but I laughed anyway I think because I was a little drunk, Vicodin high, coked up and stoned. Then we were startled by banging on the front door. I looked at the clock and it was 5:20 and I still had the fork in my back, although feeling no pain.

” Who the hell do you think that could be?” I whisper. “You think that bitch called the police?”

“I don’t know but I will go to the door and see. Okay? Just relax, I will take care of it.”

“Thanks Johnny.”

He staggers to the front door and I take cover around the corner of the front room within hearing distance.

” Quien es acá?” ( Who’s here?) Johnny asks.

I don’t understand why he just doesn’t look out the window on the side. I hear a woman’s voice but not well enough to know what she’s saying.

” Esperame uno segundo.” ( What a second.) I hear him answer.

He walks back in the bedroom shaking his head and chuckling.

“Bigotes it is my cousin again. She has no money for Taxi or bus and wants to say she is sorry to you.”

“What do you think? Does she seem normal to you, not all weird?”

“I’m not sure. You make the call.”

“Okay let her in but don’t let her come near me.”

He goes to the door swinging it open but stepping back out the way. She struts in and walks straight toward me.

“Hey Rico, you better get over here.”

“Don’t worry Santiago, I’m not going to do anything to you. I want to say I’m sorry and to make it up to you. I didn’t hurt you real bad, did I?” 

“You stabbed me in the back with a fucking fork! Here, take a look.”

I turn my back to her,  so she can see her handy work.

Then I feel her hand grab the fork and with a swift motion she pulls it out.

“I’m so sorry baby let me make it up to you.”

She drops her dress on the living room floor, grabs my hand leading me into my bedroom.

“Make sure she has no scissors in her purse. She might try to circumcise you.” Johnny yells.

“Thanks for watching out for me Johnny.” 

“So you have some more cocaine?”