Ben Newell

Sick Joke

Corn or peanuts, he mused. 

Perry had told the joke both ways.  Audience response had been the same for each version.  Laughter, lots of laughter.  And that was all that mattered.  Laughter was everything.  Hell, it was the only thing.  

As a standup comic, Perry lived for it.  Of course he wasn’t a professional.  Not yet, anyway.  But it would happen.  

Perry was a crowd favorite on the open mic circuit.  It was just a matter of time before he was discovered.  He was that good, a legitimate talent.    

“Peanuts,” he muttered to himself.  “She looks like a peanuts kind of gal.” 

Perry bolstered himself with a hefty swig of scotch and went in for the kill.  The smoking hot redhead sat at the end of the bar.  He had to have her.  She’d be the perfect ending to a stellar night, the luscious cherry on his sundae.  Two hours ago, in this very bar, Perry had performed the best set of his life.  His timing had been perfect.  The crowd had been hysterical, inflating Perry’s ego to gargantuan proportions; add four drinks to the mix and he felt downright omnipotent.  

Perry claimed the stool beside her.  The redhead looked at him and smiled.  Perry leaned in close.  Do it, he thought.  Knock her dead . . .   

“Baby,” he said, “you’re so hot I would eat the peanuts from your shit.” 

She didn’t laugh.  Perry sat there with bated breath.  Seconds of silence seemed like minutes.  Finally the redhead responded.  She placed her hand on his thigh and gave it a tantalizing squeeze.  Then she pressed her lips to his ear.  

“Your place,” she whispered, “or mine . . .” 

***

Perry took a piss, washed his hands, and splashed cool water on his face.  Her name was Emma and she was a slob.  Wet towels on the bathroom floor, an overflowing wastebasket beside the toilet, a sink which looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in months.  

He hoped Emma’s housekeeping habits were no indication of her performance in the sack.  If so, he was in for a lackluster experience.  

“Cut it out, Perry.”  He regarded his reflection in the medicine chest mirror.  “Think positive, man.  You’re riding a hot streak.  Tonight’s your night . . .”

He straightened his hair, winked at himself, and opened the door.  

The stench punched him in the face.  Her bedroom smelled like shit, literally.  

“What the hell—”

“I hope you’re hungry.” 

Perry looked at the center of her unmade bed.  She had taken a dump in a cereal bowl, a shockingly massive dump for such a slender young woman.  

“Dig in.”  

Perry was speechless. 

“Go ahead,” Emma said.  “Eat.” 

“Look, baby, I’m not into that sort of thing.  Perry doesn’t get off on poop.  Sorry, but you can count me out . . .”

He started to leave.  Emma reached into her nightstand drawer and produced a handgun.  “You’re not going anywhere.” 

Perry froze.  

“I’m not fucking around,” she said. 

The color drained from his face.  His balls shriveled.  This was no elaborate prank.  Emma was truly deranged.  The bitch was bat shit crazy.

She cocked the hammer. 

***

Perry held the first morsel between his thumb and forefinger; he gagged, eyeing it with much disgust.  

“I can’t eat these.” 

“Why?”

“You shat pine nuts,” he said, “not peanuts.  I’m allergic to pine nuts.  These damned things will kill me.” 

“So will these bullets,” Emma said.  “Now eat.” 

Perry consumed every last one.  Emma drove him to the hospital, left his ass at the emergency room door, then sped home.  Perry pulled through.  He told the young doctor that a waiter fucked up his order.  The truth was far too humiliating.  

And he never used that pickup line again.

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