Matthew Licht

dd3 girl2

A Hard Case (Part 3)

I hadn’t been exactly straight with the client. I had a hunch where his wife was. There aren’t too many places a busty woman with no head for figures and less than a thousand bucks in her purse can go.

So I drove over the hill for a slog through Topless Los Angeles.

Doris Frawley could get bar patrons to order cases of champagne with a whisper in the ear. I showed her picture to managers, bouncers, and sweaty women on their breaks. “Hell, she’d put most of us out of a job,” one of the topless ladies said.

Nobody on Western Avenue had seen Doris Frawley.

Sunset Strip looks like a glittering step up, but it’s only further West, with parking lots for customers. And the dancers go all the way.

They serve ginger ale at places like the Tits Mahal. Nude women and alcohol don’t mix, in that part of the world. Doris Frawley was another blank in Nude Los Angeles.

High-dollar soda-pops turned to gold when I headed back to the Valley. Some former Sheriffs Dept colleagues had set up a roadblock on Cahuenga Pass and were administering the Breathalyzer. Sheriff Johnson Brown leant his beer gut against my car door.

“Hot damn. Ned Sloane, the lawman who thought he could go it alone. Check the car. Check the clothes. You were doing better when you wore a badge. And now: have you been drinking, sir?”

“Not me. I’m working undercover. Wave me through.”

“What kinda case you on? Lost pet?”

“A woman ran away from her husband.”

“What’s she look like?”

“Blonde, big in the chest.”

“Like, how big?”

Brown whistled when he saw the picture. Sheriffs Dimshaw, Pettet and Cluskey shambled over.

“I’m gonna turn in my badge and gun tomorrow,” Cluskey said.

“Take it easy,” Brown said. “Sloane was spotted in several titty bars earlier this evening. He’s unemployed, got nowhere else to go. Soon as this sobriety check bullshit’s over, I’m gonna investigate whether he exposed himself to any strippers, or behaved otherwise indecently.”

He waved me through with an obscene hand signal.

A gesture in a rearview mirror sparked intuition. Doris Frawley had hardcore appeal. That sort of talent leads to X-rated movies, which mean big bucks to those who produce them. Adult entertainment comes from North Hollywood, these days.

I was headed there anyhow.

Home.

 

DD3 girl

A Hard Case (Part 1)

A Hard Case (Part 2)

 

J.J. Campbell

from the god they prayed to their entire lives

the fourth of july
has come and gone

no fireworks around
here

too many people still
dealing with the fallout
from the memorial day
tornadoes

souls still in shock
waiting for a check

from the insurance

from the government

from the god they
prayed to their
entire lives

each passing day
is another nail into
the coffin

of course, the local
news will find the
crazy woman who
has the same ceiling
that has collapsed twice

once from the tornado
and once from all the rain

she’ll smile into the camera
and tell everyone it’s going
to get better, we just need
to stay strong

i believe they call that
the definition of insanity

Joshua Jordan

Girlie Games

Games are my thing
I could go all night
Yesterday, lube and beads
Today, its handcuffs and keys,
What do you think,
want to bite?
I must warn you though
If you fail to meet my needs
There are consequences
You definetly will not like
Okay then, get ready to play
here are my rules
They are really quite simple:

Keep your eyes on me
As I spread myself wide
Watch my pussy dripping wet,
isn’t it gleaming?
My hand descends
As I separate the folds
Sticky juices are inviting you in
See my fingers that work with skill
I play myself
As if a priceless violin
Jerk it, come on jerk it you fuck!
Then just before, stop yourself from spilling
And then stick it right in

How long can you hold yourself back
Once my cunt swallows your dick?
Wait first for my explosion
If you want any chance at satisfaction

Play my game, play with me
Can you be a man and not cum
Until told?
While I tighten on you and lock you in
You attempt to hold it back
You don’t want to be like a teen
Your body wants to betray you
As I game you so wickedly
Your torture makes me high
So I cheat just a little
It’s like you are meditating
As if you are trying to sustain
When suddenly a finger pierces
your ass, sliding up to your surprise
My nail finds your button
massaging you to a frenzy
I laugh, oh how I shriek
As I watch your face betrayed
It’s so far beyond priceless!
You cannot hold back now
Your seed will scatter wide
But as you prepare to shoot
My foot pushes you back
And out of me
just before you can complete
I watch in delight as you spill
Not inside of me as you planned
But just there on the sheets
To bad for you, it doesn’t feel nearly as good
When you cum on a mattress instead
of my insides
What a disappointment
You are no man

As you sit there humiliated
Crying in silent grief

Don’t fret little baby
Here’s my consolation
Shove my soaking panties
In your mouth, taste what you couldn’t receive
Then slip them on you girlie girl
Your journey towards becoming a pussy
Is now complete
remember, love, remember
I warned you at the start
Games have rules
and you already knew
That in my bed
I like to play
And my amusements end
The way I desire
In this case
With you losing
Your most precious
masculinity

 

Rev. Jonah Howell

Thicc-Timely Meditations

At first I’d intended to write a poem about the State of Things.
I’d even begun to write said poem, rhyming my way
through a French-pressed pot of lapsang souchong when,
just as I’d pulled my foreskin back over my penis after
a nicely hydrated, nearly clear piss, one of our dear boys in blue
bolts in the bathroom, badge brandished,
says, “Oy, some blokes got a patent on ‘the State of Things.’
Best bugger off back home, or I’ll rock you, sock you, an’ Novichok you!”
At this, he spit and shook his fist and hissed a bit, and I said,
“Righto, coppo,” and put up my dangling dick and split.
And so I pressed the State of Things from my mind and went for a walk.

Upon first entering a town sometimes I think time runs straight there, like there’s a person down that road now there’s not, but no: Time sits on its unmovable thicc ass wherever you look, and it remains sitting wherever you have looked until once you’ve given a town the whole once-over, the full walk-around, then not just time but Time’s thicc ass is simultaneously touching all of it but hasn’t moved: This is the greatest problem geometricians have ever thunk up. Pascal himself said the “most fearful sphere” is the one whose “center is all places and whose circumference is nowhere.”

The only solution to said problem is that time gets thiccer at exactly the pace that you walk. Said thiccening of immobile, immovable time is called, the apparent interconnectivity of the town. Each person creates just such a thiccening as they walk the town, and the whole mass of those independent thiccenings we may call the composite thiccness of time, or the social interconnectivity of the town.

This framework can explain most everything about small towns. For example, why does everyone in Buttfuck-Egypt, Tennessee know everything about everyone else? Because Buttfuck-Egypt, Tennessee is tiny, and so everybody that lives there has seen every corner of it: Time there is therefore triple-c thiccc. This also explains why the South is famous for its slowness: The stereotypical South is a small town, and time in this small town is thiccc, and so it’s tough to march through it so quickly as one might in a thin-timed city. Southerners move with plenty force. They’re just moving through temporal molasses.

Now I’ve walked through Wagonnville many a time, so as I sauntered out the loo, leaving my blue-suit badgy boy behind to poop another party, I walked very

slowly

because I saw a great multitude of things. For context, know that this loo out of which I just stepped is the westmost point of Wagonnville, the Gog to which the Wagonnville Mall is Magog. Beyond these two points in either direction time becomes thin, stringy, like undercooked asparagus or bad knitting or a hairball pulled from the drain in a retirement home’s shower, coated in denture-cleaner and useless cum: Any of these three comparisons could be the correct one, and so one does not go there, beyond Gog and/or Magog, because one is never sure what one will find.

I began from the loo which is called the Mountain Gog and as I walked I saw a multitude of things. The first thing I saw was a tree that had more flowers on it than it had had the previous day, and regardless I still knew it immediately as the “tree with very few flowers,” and I likely always will.

The second thing I saw was a friend. I saw her just as she was to walk into her house. She had stopped on her front porch step to swallow a pill. When I waved to her the movement startled her and she fell against the door but put her hands behind her back as if she had just done something wrong and said, “You surprised me! I was just taking a vitamin and am now going to meditate in nature.” And she walked into her house, and a light came on, and I walked very close to her window because I thought something was the matter with my friend and I stood just beside the window so that I could see her but she was unlikely to see me and I watched to see what was the matter. She looked at her cell phone for a while, and I became bored but still couldn’t tell what was the matter with her, and so I continued watching her. One of her neighbors came by and yelled at me for standing under the window but I softly shushed them and told them I was only watching to see what was the matter with my friend, and the neighbor began to call the police, and so I ran. I looked back as I ran and saw that my friend had smushed her face into her cell phone screen until it had cracked, and she had kept smushing it and some of the glass shards turned back toward her though she was pushing them with her face and they cut her on her cheeks and especially in her eyes and on her lips, and they stuck in her face so that when she stopped pushing the phone was stuck to her face and covered her eyes, but in any case they must have been so thoroughly stuck with glass shards that she wouldn’t have been able to see anything even if the phone hadn’t covered her eyes. She swallowed another vitamin and was very tough and didn’t cry even though glass shards had filled her face and eyes, though I don’t know if she could cry anymore with the phone’s glass sticking in her eyes. Then I had to stop looking back because I had come to an intersection and had to cross the street.

The third thing I saw was a large leaf. Beside it sat a crying toddler. Cute kid, but her parents looked dead-ass tired, and so they smushed phone screens into the toddler’s face until her eyes were so grievously gashed she could no longer see. Then she was so shook that she stopped crying.

And I saw an old hobo get tazed because a group of high schoolers walked by him, and one of them took a hit from a huge vape, and he guffawed, “Looks like you’re suckin’ on a dick!” and old hoboes should not speak of sex organs, lest some more genteel personage be forced to think that the old hobo has sex organs or could even have sex himself, because nobody wants to have sex with old hoboes, therefore for him to have sex he would clearly have to rape someone, and so if he makes a joke about sex organs he makes people think about rape and that’s not OK so he got tazed.

Then another high schooler shot that group of high schoolers right in the vape and a police officer shot the high schooler that shot the other high schoolers and then the police officer shot someone else because their kombucha looked like a gun. This happened a few hundred more times, then I saw a small bird. It hopped on all the people that had been shot by schoolchildren and the police and it looked inside the holes the bullets had left in them and cocked its head sideways like this and it looked up at me and said, “If you fuckers actually cared about national security you’d start dropping bombs on goth kids and pigs instead of ragheads.” And then it hopped on some more kids’ corpses and then it ate a small worm.

Eventually all these bodies will generate maggots, more birds will come to eat the maggots, and the street will be covered with birds, all of them taunting the passersby with their horrendously tone-deaf military advice.

But until then the street still bustles, corpses warming in the sun, creating but small ripples in the thicc ass of time as the burnt-plastic of crack smoke wafts in from alleyways, parking decks, the sticky spots behind dumpsters where all the drugs in the world combine to form an obscene type of silly putty, obscene because it sticks to shoes and blackly calloused toes and tells you who’s been puffin’ good-good, it’s that guy, his glazed red eyes peeled back, surprised, because his special silly putty will only slurp the bad words from the newspaper, the fuck shit cunt and nothing else, and so he peels the paper and putty from his shoe and pastes them over a poster by the pop-shop, casual incognito, hiding behind a pack of 20-somethings all disinterestedly snapping pictures of a yoga poster because “We should totally go, like it’s so good for you,” and as she shakes her head for emphasis the elephant charm on her Buddha necklace makes soft tinkling sounds against the hamza charm behind it: You can hear the pan-spiritualism, the sound of all the wisdom of all prior cultures coalescing into one soaring wisdom, enlightenment in a thousand yellow Etsy envelopes, and if you get all the charms then download our app we’ll toss in a free week-long meditation retreat so you can tell the people at your eco-internship you’re not all show.

And then a high-school-age policeman–the most deadly species ever discovered, even more deadly than a tiny rattlesnake–shot them too and he walked away and

the little birds all shook their heads and tweeted and ate the worms that ate the clovers that ate the grout between the sidewalk sections that Jack built as people walked and cracked their knuckles and chewed their fingernails and pulled the strings on their hoodies and fiddled with the hems of their shirts and chewed the insides of their lips and finally put their hands in their pockets and watched whether they stepped on the groutless sidewalk cracks, because their mothers have all started a new fad diet to keep up their back health and they don’t want to sabotage such desperate efforts.

The birds, though, take no fad diets. They simply eat some worms and their backs are healthy. And if the Lord does so much for the birds of the air, yea even for the beasts of the field, how much more for you, his chosen species?

But then, looking out at this street covered in childrens’ corpses and snickering birds and crack and obscene silly putty and cracking knuckles can I believe that we’re God’s favorite?

Fuckin’ roflcoptr. We’re not even our favorite.

Bogdan Dragos

you cannot kill a poet

young people,

they think nobody has the
same thoughts as them
they take great pride in some made up
originality

as if really nobody ever thought up
scenarios of themselves descending
some rope from some helicopter and
dropping in the middle of enemy forces and
starting to shoot around, all movie like ‘an shit
and killing all the bad guys while not
taking one bullet
One man army

or there’s those other thoughts
of being simply the greatest at some
sport and being admired and envied for it

also, the thoughts of sex in all its forms

the thoughts of mindless violence

of saving the day

of being somewhere else and doing something else

all kinds of thoughts
and all the minds who think them label them as original

but they’re not original

they’re every young person’s thoughts

and me,
I also have thoughts I consider original

I think of how it is to be old
pretty much every damn day
I think of me being old and dried up and weak
and waiting for death

it’s not a very pleasant thought
especially for someone in their twenties
but it’s my way of labeling my thoughts original

maybe in some wheel chair
with a nurse pushing me from behind no kids
no family
no fortune
no achievements
a life wasted
death watching from above
mockingly

and myself looking up at it
smiling
Motherfucker, you think you got me
but little do you know that
while I was able, while I was more lively than
a rotting carrot
I defied you by ripping apart pieces of me
that will stick with the world
long after I’m gone

Oh, they might not be great pieces or even good ones
but behind they remain as you take me away

and all of them branded with my name
It’s through them that I am
immortal

and there’s nothing you can do about it

great, good or bad,
you cannot kill a poet

 

Kristopher William Locke

A DISGRACE ON DISPLAY

Sit / Let me hear you wheeze / Don’t blurt
words that mean diddly to me / Give me
the growl / Noises from within / What do
you reckon when you gaze this face? This
map of creases / A display of disgrace / If
I proclaimed that I wasn’t afraid to put my
hands in the dirt, to love until it hurts, would
you believe me? If I told you the reversed
was true, would you still hang around to see?
See, I’ve been wearing these tattered wears for
years / Countless times they have betrayed
me / Controlled by some ill-fated compass /
Moving up, south, right, west / It’s a dangerous
game to go with the brain instead of that silly
thing inside yr chest / And yes, I know / This
hat / It’s really not destined for me / But if
I can be him for a minute or two then surely
I can become closer to you / Don’t bother
trying to tally the rings rung under these two
tired eyes / I’m merely on memoir eight of
the promised nine lives / If only you weren’t
too slow to recognize / That these tales I
tell are only tall stories / A series renewal of
short white lies / Still, I am thankful / For yr
stupidity / And my simple histories / I hope
you shut up and lay down with me / Because
the coffee is weak / And so are the knees.

Judge Santiago Burdon

Do The Time Standing On My Head

The best part about hearing a police siren when you are in jail is that you know they aren’t after you. Of course, then you must deal with the fact that you are already incarcerated.

Los Robles prison near Punteranes, Costa Rica. I’ve resided in gray bar hotels in a few states back in the U.S. and enjoyed the hospitality of jails and prisons in more countries than I’d care to admit. Taking all into consideration, this place was better than most foreign prisons. And much better than San Sebastian, near San Jose.

So fucking hot here, though. My body melts into the plastic-covered, three-inch mattress beneath me. Sweat pools in the indentations left by my arms, legs, head and ass.

The chant, “Offi agua Offi” (water, Officer), is constant and relentless. The guards turn on the water in the cells twice a day without warning, blasting it from a pipe in the wall with force. Each time it flows, there’s a mad dash to collect belongings from the floor, and we all scurry for plastic jugs and empty bottles to fill. The spewing spigot also serves as our shower. And I have been caught more than once, all soaped up when the water was shut off. Then I am forced to use my drinking water to rinse. The others laugh and comment with words devoid of encouragement. They call me Carapicha, Naco, and Gringo Tonto.

I’m sharing the confines of this luxurious twelve-by-twelve cell with five other guests. Three Ticos, one Nicaraguan (or Nicas, as the Costa Ricans refer to them with contempt), and a Honduran who is biggest man I’ve ever met. I call him Lenny, after Steinbeck’s character from “Of Mice and Men”.

Screaming and hollering suddenly fills the place, echoing loudly from the ceilings and the walls. A fight has started, just another exhibition for your daily entertainment. This time, from what I can see, it appears to be some M13 Salvadoran boys mixing it up with Los Negroes de Limon. There’s only two guards on duty for eighty to one hundred inmates, and they don’t seem to be in any hurry to end the violence.

It’s nearing lunchtime and I’m fucking hungry. I’d traded my breakfast for an opportunity to pull outside work detail. Now lunch will be delayed, or most likely never served, due to the disturbance. So, while I have still yet to murder anyone in here, this has now become a distinct possibility in my future.

In contrast to how us men are treated by the carceral system, Costa Rica has very strict laws concerning the treatment of women. You can book an all expenses paid vacation to one of their seven luxurious prisons just by hollering at a woman in public. If you publicly humiliate her by calling her a whore, slut, or bitch, or any derogatory expression, you get added time. Now strike or hit a Tica, you just got yourself a mandatory ninety days.

In my case, Veronica had gotten upset that I was displaying (what she felt to be) more affection to the other woman involved in our threesome. In the middle of our fucking, she attempted to stab me with a knife, which I luckily deflected without much harm. After I’d wrestled away her weapon, she continued with a screaming tirade and blows to my head and chest. Kimberly finally assisted in subduing her. I was enraged but thwarted my anger from reacting with physical retaliation.

Kimberly quickly gets dressed and makes a rapid exit, holding her shoes in one hand and $75 in the other.

“Nos vamos mi amor,” she says on her way out.

“Amor! You are her amor!” Vanessa screamed. “How many other times have you fucked her? You carapicha! I saw how you were fucking her. You didn’t want anything to do with me!”

There’s just no defense I was able present, true or embellished, that would have aided in my exoneration in that moment.

Meanwhile, the cut on my arm is bleeding worse than I thought, and I’d begun to bleed from where she’d beaten me in the head as well. She comes at me again with her fists, but I stave her off with my right arm, knocking her back in defense.

“You hit me. Tu me golpeas! Quieres una guerra (You want a war?) Okay, mi amor!”

I wanted no part of a war or battle or even a mild skirmish with her. I knew any confrontation would be one I was unable to win.

“Mi corazon. Listen, please, I’m sorry if you…”

I attempt to explain. Instead I hear her voice in the kitchen.

“Hello, give me the police!” she cries into the phone. “Hurry, my husband is beating me and won’t let me leave the house!”

She returns with the most evil grin I’ve ever observed and displays her middle finger as a victory salute. Within fifteen minutes, the Costa Rica Fuerza Publica arrive like hounds searching for a fox. I am in the bathroom attending my wounds when they encounter me. Without questions or explanation they take me into custody, placing me in “esposas”, the Spanish word for handcuffs, which ironically translates to “wives” in English.

Understand, I am a guest in this garden of wonderment they call a country, which I have learned to identify as actually a disguise for it’s true identity, a jungle of indifference. I have no legal rights, and I am not allowed a hearing with a judge while she swears out her “denuncia” complaint. Her explanation is only version that is ever presented.

I am first shipped off to the hospital, which is actually a circus of disaster manned by clowns posing as doctors. I wait for triage while bleeding out what I imagine is my entire body’s blood supply, still in esposas. I’m without explanation for this phenomenon, but it is a common practice in every country in Central and South America I’ve ever visited or lived in, that the residents have no sense of urgency or any ability to address a situation with immediacy. There’s words in Spanish pertaining to exigency, “apurate” or “rapido”, but they’re seldom expressed and rarely heard. After an hour and a half, a doctor finally tends to my wounds.

I receive four stiches in my arm and seven in my head. Total of eleven, a number that’s only advantageous in craps or blackjack. It supposedly represents a spiritual visitor.

My shirt, back, and face are drenched in blood by this point, but no attempt is made to clean away the crimson plasma that has oozed from my lacerations. I am herded off in a police paddy wagon for a four-hour excursion to my new home here in Los Robles.

Day three has come and gone without my mandatory hearing. The prosecuting attorney asks if I would like a representative from the United States Embassy. I answer, “For what purpose?”

When I was arrested once before, for shooting an invader in my own home with a crossbow, I waited four whole days for my embassy liaison to arrive.

“Hope you can afford a good attorney…”

That was the extent of my assistance from the U.S. Embassy here. That stuff you see in movies, where the embassy liaison shakes every tree and searches under every rock for a resolution to your incarceration, is just total bullshit. After all, it is only in a movie.

The prison rumble diminishes as 40 to 50 police in riot gear enter the fray with shields, helmets, and fucking gas. I make a dash for my towel, which I douse with water and tie tightly over my head and face. Lenny notices my defensive measure to lessen the impact of the gas and does the same. I lay back as I hear cell doors being slammed and the screams of those being beaten by the officers with their clubs and batons.

“I wonder what we would have had for lunch?” I muse aloud to Lenny.

He doesn’t miss a beat in responding. “Dry chicken, overcooked rice, and stale bread with warm Kool-Aid.”

“Sounds delicious!” I say.

“I know, yo se,” Lenny agrees.

We both burst into a laughing jag as the chaos continues around us.

Earl Javorsky

TulipsDeluxe

It looked like a flower, but its petals felt like skin and were warm to the touch. Kevin Peterson stood in the corner of his father’s bedroom and, with his thumb and index finger, gently stroked the downy green stalk. The flower had a strange shape that he couldn’t quite identify, something like a pair of lips oriented vertically, slightly parted, as if breathing, or ready to speak. The lips were pink and pouty, the outer petals more delicate and pale.

Congratulations on your purchase of TulipsDeluxe™ Model VI (v3N031206)! This genetically enhanced botanical creation is guaranteed to provide beauty and pleasure. Pheromones and other personal aspects of your loved one are represented in this unique creation by means of state-of-the-art gene-splicing techniques. Proper feeding and care of your TD-6 must be scrupulously maintained. Please refer to the next section.

Wayne Peterson, CEO of QNET Enterprises, enters his bedroom and locks the door behind him. He pours a glass of scotch and downs it in a single swallow, but his hands still tremble slightly, his forehead is damp, and beads of perspiration have gathered on his upper lip. He stands by his flower, bending to admire the slender neck, the beauty of the pistil with its voluptuous, fleshy stigma. The tank is itself a work of art, sturdy plex with a polished maple veneer, filled with porous urethane beads and a constantly circulating nutrient flow. Wayne vacillates for a moment—should he stand, or sit on the edge of the bed? He chooses to stand. As he unbuckles his belt, the flower begins to stir, the slightly parted lips widening now, thickening as if engorged. Wayne drops his trousers and shorts. The flower rises and undulates like a cobra and then strikes home, suddenly large enough to accommodate all of him, his shaft buried as the plant begins to ripple in a steady peristaltic motion.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! It is imperative that all instructions are followed without deviation!

The next day, after school, Kevin returned to his father’s bedroom to look at the plant. It drew him to it in a way he couldn’t understand, as though it were calling him, and he had been thinking about it since he woke that morning. He had seen this kind of flower before; his friend Eric’s father had one in his office at their home. Kevin and Eric had wondered what it was, since Eric’s dad didn’t care much about plants. That flower didn’t have any effect on Kevin at all. Eric’s mother had also died—though not in an accident like Kevin’s mom—and the flower showed up about two months later. It was Eric who noticed the interesting serrated shape of the leaves and decided that they might be worth smoking. The boys were thirteen now and had been blasting reefer for almost a year.

Kevin pinched a single leaf and stuffed it into the little pipe he kept stashed in a flashlight that he had rigged to work on one battery. He sat down in his dad’s chair and fired up the pipe. He sucked in as the leaf ignited. The smoke was smooth and tasted sweet and familiar. He swayed slightly to the left, then overcorrected to the right until he was leaning at an uncomfortable angle in the chair, staring at the flower. He thought of sitting back up, or leaning on the armrest, but he couldn’t connect to the action. It wasn’t important now, anyway, because he couldn’t see. A blackness enveloped him, deeper than blindness could ever be, his head roaring with sounds he couldn’t decipher, and his penis felt like it was ready to burst through his pants; it was taking over all other sensation, it was all there was and all that mattered. Now the blackness had brilliant points of violet, like dark stars in an alien universe, and the points began to arrange themselves into a form. Kevin recognized the contour of the flower, and he understood its shape. He tried to bring his hand to his zipper, but couldn’t bring the command forth with sufficient strength, and now the roaring in his ears began to differentiate into a moaning sound—his own voice, he realized, though he was powerless to stop it—and a woman speaking. First he could only make out his name, “Kevin . . .” and then, “No, Kevin, Oh, no, no . . .” It was his mother’s voice, and he saw her now, sitting on the polished wood edge of the planter.

“Sit up, for God’s sake.”

“I can’t.”

“Fine, don’t then.” She was naked, her breasts hanging powerfully, her lips bigger than he remembered, and her hair cut short like when he was little. “Do you want to help me?”

No, he didn’t want to help her, she was dead, killed in a car wreck that his father had miraculously walked away from, and Kevin had finally accepted that she was gone, but he couldn’t shake his head, and he couldn’t deny his mother, and his voice said, “Sure, how?” And she told him. When she was through, the blackness returned, and Kevin felt fingers deftly unbuttoning his pants, pulling down the zipper, reaching through his shorts; he felt an exquisite softness and warmth, his back arched as he thrust forward and exploded in a wet streaming rush, and then he collapsed into the comfort of his father’s leather chair.

WARNING! Feed only with AminoTD™ nutrient solution. Do not place tank near open aquarium or terrarium. Do not leave solid foods within vicinity of your TD-6. This finely tuned creation is extremely sensitive to non-prescribed organics. Your warranty will be void if feeding instructions are violated.

Kevin spent the next weeks following his mother’s instructions. Every day when he got home from school he fed the plant. When the nutrient solution was gone, he raided the refrigerator. The flower would appear to be normal in size, but each day he had to scoop more of the plastic beads out of the tank, and each day when he placed food on the smooth wood ledge of the tank the flower would rear up and inflate alarmingly and then swoop down upon its meal. Baloney, butter, ice cream, steak: these were his instructions, instructions given to him each afternoon as he sat paralyzed in his father’s chair. And then he would be rewarded for being such a good boy. On the eighth day he was told to be a hunter.

“A hunter? What does that mean?”

“You know what it means. Get me something alive.”

“That’s gross, Mom.” Calling her Mom was even grosser, but she seemed to require it. Of course, he was not about to deny her. He spent his allowance, then stole money from his dad, and bought mice, then rats, then a fat guinea pig at the pet store. A damaged pigeon, the neighbor’s yapping terrier, and, finally, a cat with four kittens that had been offered for free (to a good home) in front of the corner market.

On Friday, at the end of a bad week at the office, Wayne Peterson storms into his bedroom, locks the door, and pulls the cork from a bottle of Remy Martin. He drinks from the bottle as he undresses, then sits on the side of his bed, facing the plant, and says,

“Honey! I’m home!”

The plant begins its slinky dance—it seems bigger than usual, but Wayne doesn’t care—and snakes up and toward Wayne, suddenly enlarging and towering over him. When it strikes, it engulfs him like a boa constrictor swallowing a rabbit; by the time he screams he is already inside and suffocating.

Kevin’s father had been missing for two days. Kevin hadn’t visited his dad’s bedroom during that time; his mom had told him his work was done after he had brought her the cat family, which was just as well because he was sure he couldn’t bring another living thing into that room. Nor were curiosity, desire, or loneliness enough to overcome the revulsion he felt. But on the third day he heard his name being called from the bedroom: “Kevin . . . Kevin dear . . .” This after a morning of thumping and clattering noises emanating from beyond the closed door, which now opened even before Kevin touched the knob.

Inside, standing at the end of the bed, was his mother, far from the nutrient tank. She was wearing his father’s striped terry cloth bathrobe, and though her hands looked right coming out of the sleeves, when Kevin looked down to where feet should be all he saw were two undifferentiated root-like masses.

“Mom!”

“I’m leaving now.” She pointed back to the tank. “I left you a little sister.”

Kevin looked at the tank. The plastic beads had been replaced, and there, small and frail, was a new green shoot and a flower.

He stared hungrily at the serrated leaves on his sister’s slender stalk.

Matthew Licht

A Hard Case (Part 2)

Doris Frawley was my kind of case. In one of my client’s home photos she was being measured for a new brassiere:

DD2 girl-tape-hst

Frawley wrung his gnarled hands. She’d left him with barely a dime, he said. He still had to make payments on the car she’d driven off in, still had to pay the rent, and take care of his elderly mother. I scribbled down where his wife went shopping, who her friends were, etc.

“Did she have a job?”

“Part-time stuff—waitressing, usually. She made good tips.”

“How much did she take? Is it possible she has a bank account you don’t know about?”

He shook his head. “She has no head for finance. And less than a thousand, I’d say. But it’s all I had.”

“When did she leave?”

“Two days ago. I kept thinking she’d be back.” His eyes welled up.

“This doesn’t look good,” I said, and spelled it out for him. His runaway wife had a car and plenty of gas money. Frawley had waited over 48 hours before he took action. She could be almost anywhere in the USA.

I told him to go home, and I’d do what I could.

“Leave the pictures of your wife.”

From my second-floor office window, I watched him walk away, eyes on the pavement, shoulders hunched, hands in his empty pockets. I felt bad for the guy.

As soon as he was out of sight, I spread the pictures of Doris Frawley across my desk and did what I could.