And Then I Cursed This Motherfucker

This Motherfucker, he turned his face toward me, with his slightly receding hairline and his upper-lip sweat, and he sneered at me. His face melted from well-to-do into feral beast. “Listen lady,” he said, “I have as much right—”

“They’re not a lady,” my daughter interrupted.

Good Girls

—they had long blonde hair I found it everywhere—on the porch or in the yard or on the sidewalks or buried in the grass—I rolled in it and it stuck to me—

—it better not shit on the lawn one of them said—that was the first thing they said about me when they saw me squatting near the front door—I didn’t shit but I did piss on it when they weren’t looking—

Dangerous Man

I say, You are a very dangerous man, and he nods and says, It’s true. I am.

I say, Only you can’t be that dangerous, because you wear that cap. And you have eyeliner dripping down your face like black tears and your jeans are so ripped it looks as if your legs are sharp. And if you were a dangerous man, you would attempt to look less dangerous, in order to better do dangerous things.

The Instruction

There is not much to say about the building. Two stories. Shaped like an L. Siding painted Atlantic Ocean gray and each identical apartment door painted a dour winter blue. I was eighteen. He was twenty-four. We held hands. We were in the kind of love people only are when they just don’t know any better.

The Briefest Recess

Despite good-faith efforts of both parties (Elliot Suarez and Misha Suarez [nee Jackson]), the Agreement of Legal Separation made on January 3rd of this year has proven nonviable. By mutual covenant, it is hereby dissolved. 

Unmentionables

We arrived at the gilded department store, quiet on a mid-week morning. We darted around bored salesladies contouring shiny noses. Tested mists of oxygen-activated serum. Examined rose gold sunglasses stacked in rows. Smelled exotic candles in ambers jars, scents like Thistle Tundra and Whisper Noir, scents we couldn’t distinguish, sweet, spicy, hints of burnt orange, dashes of sage.

@meaculpa

I’ve created him, but I’m not satisfied. He has a long, fleshy snout, flecks for eyes, and dust-colored pleated-front pants, but he still lacks something, so I re-open the drawing tool and stain his groin with a generous splash of red.

Sweaty Duvet

Today she is not getting out of bed. She is not lazy. She’s not tired. She’s not interested in sex. There’s no one else in her bed. She’s not heartbroken and she doesn’t have a cold. Still, she is not getting out of bed.

Five Types of Horses

Upon parental request, surgeons attach a fifth leg to your horse body. They sew it into your chest so that you have three front legs and two back legs. Your blood fuses and accepts the extra limb. It is invisible to the rest of the world but it is there.

The Wrong Sort of Woman

PAPER DARTS SHORT FICTION AWARD WINNER: Men used to be explorers; they used to hike a county over just for ink. Like my favorite Neanderthal with his pat of ocher. He mixed his own paint with animal fat and blew it through hollowed-out bones. He was thinking of posterity—of us—as he tossed hair out of his eyes and inked a row of horses on his wall.

Straight Lines

Each question got closer to the point: Was she a bad mother? Phyllis couldn’t think of any traditions. They didn’t go to church. They celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving, sometimes colored Easter eggs, but those seemed too generic to be considered cultural traditions.

Don’t Have a Threesome with Uncle Sam

Don’t have a threesome with Uncle Sam. Believe me—I should know. My boyfriend had just moved to the US—for us—and we were celebrating the end of long-distance when Sam sidled up to me at the bar. He was all Uncle Sam wants you, so I gestured to my partner and said, “I have a boyfriend . . ." But that line didn’t work on him. He said he liked my boyfriend too.

Find Me at the Bottom of a Pool

There’s a girl in our swimming class who’s always angry. She was probably born that way. Bristling, we mean. Even our instructor, Ben, doesn’t look her in the eye. Ben is big and blocky and we stare at him like he’s a rare but gentle animal.

Bloody Good

“Bloody Good” the article’s called, and in one picture, sparse sprigs of feathers hold blood to the light. Grim crease of mouth beyond hooked black beak, stern raise of brow above the eye. Their necks long, hooked and humble, as they fly. Serengeti gothic. In another: wild dog with wrinkled nose, teeth drawn, hackles raised over its shoulders like a hood. Caught in a deep-belly snarl over a picked-clean carcass and its drone of hovering, crawling, biting flies at a grimy vulture with beak left a crack open in surprise. Jackal sounds like cackle, as in, teeth that could laugh a throat right off.

Father

I know the knife is going to enter my child when I feel time slow. I know there will be an accident. The spatula slipping a little under the cutting board, the placing of the pan down on the pot holder, the levering of the spatula, the launching of the blade, Japanese-make, little dimples in the steel, loosed by the dumb circumstance of the world that got all of us to right here.

Nice Twitter

Anyway, around this time I read a story about a professor who got fired for his tweets about Israel. The college world is supposed to be leftist, supposed to be progressive, and I was in the process of applying for jobs in academia. My Twitter feed was just politics, Batman, the Milwaukee Brewers, and jokes.

What An Asshole

You said, “I love scallops but not shrimp,” and I thought what an asshole; I must sleep with him. You wore a blue shirt and pants too tight and those stupid-ass shoes and I drooled, I ached.

The Second Star

Marcus was plugging in our new alarm clock when I noticed his tattoo. He was wearing a thin white T-shirt and I could see the star, small and blue, through it.  

“What’s this?” I asked and swept my hand over his back.

“I’ve had it a week,” he said. He pushed the nightstand back against the wall. The new alarm clock still flashed twelve.