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Convoluted (Clever?) Short Story

 

It was the kind of thick, driving rain that made you uncross your legs in the backseat in hopes that you could walk again after the accident.  Every time the car dropped seven or ten miles per hour in a second and Nylons was jerked forward into the driver’s seat, their eyes met. Only for a tenth of a second: enough for both of them to get uncomfortable with the other’s acknowledgement. Nylons tries his best to stay silent and stare into the book he’s attempting to disassociate himself into.

In the trunk is someone’s worst day of their life. Their nastiest nightmare and their pride and joy all wrapped up into a thirty-two-inch half-zipped black suitcase.

Lighting the fourth cigarette in fifteen minutes, another distraction from the bathtub highway, Ski Mask says to the rearview mirror, “you told me it was money.”

Nylon’s book, another distraction from the highway bathtub, is reduced to tan filled with black smears. His eyes, fixated on smears in the rear-view mirror, say “he is money.”

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            “Victoria?” she spat. “Is this a fucking joke?”

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            Robert Owens pulled up his black Canterbury dress socks the same way every morning, exactly seven minutes after he has finished buttoning his Joseph Jos. A. Bank dress shirt (give or take a few seconds). Thirty-five seconds after his David Donahue stud cufflinks are in place, Robert is downstairs sipping a black cup of coffee from a #1 Dad ceramic mug still smelling of “Lime Surge” Dawn.

            Exactly three days after the mug would stop smelling of Dawn, Robert Owens would be dead.

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            Behind Twin Pins Bowling, James (and only James, he no longer mentioned his last name), worked in the alley from eight to eleven-thirty p.m. each night  asking, “how much do you need?.”

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             Lynda Carson had seen the same Ken Dolls walk past through her squinted eyes for an hour and a half. After each time she groaned and lifted one elbow and then the other to relieve her skin from the crunching pressure of sand, sighing as the next Beach Ken slow-walked by.

None of these men could even use the muscles they work so hard to market. Another Ken Doll. This one a Tropical Beach Ken in a lime-green Speedo. That’s it. Wiping the sand off her deep-red elbows, leaving tiny little craters, Lynda decided to walk too far into the crashing tide.

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            There was more blood this time.

Not even using a tear of toilet paper to shield his skin, Roy Flayer flushed the toilet of the Westborough Methadone Clinic’s banana-tile bathroom and made his way towards Cleveland Street. Behind the Korner Store, Roy picks up half a newspaper from the last week, a fresh boot print blotting out the price of the Mattress Palace’s mark-down. A chunk taken out of D4 has all the “down’s” of a Wednesday cross-word puzzle. Lost somewhere in black trash bags and broken bottles of beer. Ripping away the torn, the soggy, and the crumbled, Roy smiles yellow and red at the “Continued from A1…”

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            Robert wondered if Perrier-Jouet champagne still smelled after dry cleaning. Around him were cap-toothed penguins with glittering chandeliers attached to them, high heels accentuating their gleaming crystal legs. Gleaming white asks, “How’s it feel being a millionaire?”

            Staring at hanging banners displaying CPUs and motherboards, pulling Lynda Carson closer to his penguin waist, Robert fakes, “amazing.”

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            They just switched the paper punch-cards to plastic slide-cards with your picture smeared on the front. Pushing open the peeling door (not unlocking, the super was "much too busy" for "minor repairs"), James throws his utility knife and safety glasses into his steaming steel-toed boots. He lumbers over to his tiny wooden desk and slumps with a thick slap into a white plastic chair. The same blank sheet from the last two weeks staring back at him, James sighs to the clock. Two hours and he’ll need to get in bed so he doesn’t die on the winders, the flannel shirt he sleepily forgot to tuck in sucked into three hundred miles per-hour of spinning death.

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            If you drink more than one part of salt water to three parts fresh water, you won’t re-hydrate. If you’re sweating or peeing, it takes less. Lynda Carson wasn’t peeing or sweating, but she was unintentionally drinking her fill. Her limit.

            Exactly forty-three seconds after she decides this was pointless, Lynda wakes up to feel the crushing pressure of sand on her back, the back of her arms, her legs, her head. A haloed silhouette asks her from above, “What we’re you trying to prove.” She can feel the grin. Possibly cute.

            Pulling herself onto her elbows, tiny craters appearing on her back, her biceps, Lynda smiles, “I was bored.”

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            Outside a three-hundred dollar a day daycare, a pink-cupcake of a woman rolls to the flat of her right foot, slaps a pancake hand on her knee and heaves with all her Pillsbury might to a standing position as the blue care-bag slides to the pavement. A Ford Pinto is already three blocks away by the time she notices the blue carriage is empty.

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            Once he had half a bottle of Coke in his squirming stomach, he didn’t feel so clammy. The needle's buzzing finally silent, the blood streaking down his arm didn’t seem so bad. Wiping away the blood to reveal an eternal Rubik’s cube, the man continues, “I wouldn’t tell you, dude, if I was shitting you. The guy doesn’t touch the stuff - he just paints all fucking day and has at least three hundred grand in his closet. . The world isn’t made to have people like you and him, dude. Sometimes you’ve got to fuck with the system.”

            James smiles a weak smile that begs for the punch line. The guy, taking off his gloves, looks him in the still-watery eyes and says, “I’m serious.”

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            Robert Owens wipes rain drops from his Fioravanti suit and unties his Berlutis before he can feel her glaring from the kitchen table. “You had enough balls to charge the motel to our debit card?” she shakes.

            He loosens his Satya Paul tie before asking, “does it really matter?”

            Lifting a pistol in her right hand, Lynda Owens asks, “I just want to know why.”

            Before the mug that hasn’t smelled of “Lime Surge” for three days is splattered with blood, Robert Owens says with a familiar grin, “I was bored.”

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            Clutching a torn-out half-article from last month’s newspaper, Roy walks behind Twin Pins Bowling and starts fumbling out dirty fives and tens. Biting down on half of the yellow wafer, bitter dust filling his mouth, Roy hand the article to the dealer. The dealer reads aloud:

Continued from A1…2 ounces, making Jessie the lightest heir to a billion-dollar estate this side of…

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?” James asks.

 

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            It was a beautiful spring afternoon on a blanket on the grass, spent naked, months before Lynda and her Ken Dolls existed on the beach that Robert thought of when he said “Victoria. I think we should name our daughter Victoria.”

 

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