“We’ve had fruitflies,” I said, flicking my hand at the bowl
where two plums sat mashed together under a film of Saran Wrap.
She pulled the shoulder of her blouse up to hide her bra strap
and some lace jiggled at belly level. When she walked, the whole
kitchen set groaned. Yowzah, thought the dog from his time vortex,
up to his muzzle in scrambled-up innards. I’d let her scratch the good spot.
“That’s not it exactly,” I said. “It’s more like I’ve got
fruitflies of the brain. Like I’m walking from cortex to cortex
clapping my hands at them and shouting. My head’s made of frosted glass
and I’m the light trying to squeeze through.” She’d crept up beside
the liquor cabinet, purring: “You’re a poet?” “That’s right,” I lied,
as a drink poured itself on the counter. Get a load of that ass,
the dog added from somewhere in the 16th century.
The sirens were getting closer and the clock on the bomb
read DUCK. “Listen,” she whispered, while the intercom
tracked footsteps up the front stairs. “You didn’t mention me
to anyone, did you?” That’s when I knew that she didn’t know that I didn’t
even know her name. Her hand brushed against my arm
and my heart went off like a carbon monoxide alarm.
Here I was with a smoking dame, the address where the diamonds were hidden,
an email chain leading back to the governor, and it still wasn’t nine in the morning.
A jukebox downstairs belched out Frank Sinatra, and she clutched
me so tight to her hip, I could feel our .45 revolvers touch.
All at once, in a flash, before I could blink, suddenly, and without warning,
I remembered my childhood. I was fourteen years old, walking the dog
along the reservoir, our breath leaving jet trails in the frosty air.
Warming my hands in his fur. Then going home, where
my father would beat me and then stir eggnog
with the same wooden spoon. Hunched over the cast-iron pot, every
night of the Advent calendar, coaxing the rum to bubble
and splash yolk on his flannel shirt. Just watching him was asking for trouble.
But I couldn’t stand there lost in quiet reverie
shining insights into my character. Something was amiss.
Back in media res, the phone was ringing with news
from the police chief – but the lines had been cut. Somehow all the clues
led straight to her: so hot-blooded you could burn your tongue on a kiss,
yet concealing the cold heart of an unreliable narrator.
There was no time to think. The street outside had fallen silent
and my martini was rippling gently on the kitchen island.
“Look out!” I ejaculated, tackling her against the refrigerator
as the window splintered into a hundred thousand pieces.
Her breasts were throbbing so hard, I almost didn’t notice my head spinning
from the effects of the chlorotoxin. I should have seen it from the beginning –
she’d laid out her plan like a plate of artisanal cheeses
and I’d been too slow on the uptake. As I gave in to the dizzy
loss of sensation, her laugh echoed like a face through a hall of mirrors.
Meanwhile, Henry VIII was scratching someone behind his ears.
Goddammit, thought the dog. I was sure we’d see them getting busy.