Archive for the Novella Category

Bedlam IV: Womanhood In Bloom and A Dying Adolescence

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by JC Cecala

A continuation of Bedlam III: Manhood Like A Weapon. The completion of Bedlam.

The flavor of her still coated the sharp edges of his tongue, the hard roof of his mouth. Sucking last night from his fingers, memory sparked with sensations; her nipples in between rows of reckless teeth. Lips glistening and pressed against an eager mouth. Smirking. Excitement of this newborn recollection concentrated in his loins. Now he was really awakened, sprouting from muddled morning into magnificent mid-day.

Standing over the kitchen sink he doused his face with cold water, slid soaked fingers through unnaturally blonde waves, he was rising. Out of the kitchen window he could see Christ intently grazing on crabgrass. Fingers rattled the glass but his efforts for the goat’s attention went ignored.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

“Fuck you, Christ.”

“Leave him. All you ever does is hurt him, anyway.”

Somewhere between womanhood in bloom and a dying adolescence, she wore a stained lilac, baby doll dress and poorly applied eyeshadow.

“Fuck him,” He said, turning to face her “What in the…”

Laughter. Hesitant at first. Intrusive eventually. Her nose wrinkled up and she crossed her arms.


“You look like a God damn clown,” He straightened his posture and walked towards her “This your idea of pretty?”

He licked his thumb, rubbed it against the falsely red apples of her cheeks.         Twisting her head, she pulled away.


“Where’d you get make-up?”

She tilted her chin down, irises lifting up beneath the arches of brown brows.

“Go wash your fucking face off. Nobody’s gonna want you looking like a fucking drag queen.”

“You’d know, wouldn’t you…”She muttered, beginning to turn away.

“What’d you say?”

Reticent, her spirit withdrew and in her chest there grew a quiver. He crept onto her and hovered, a shadow cast, hand falling onto her shoulder.

“I said, what the fuck did you say?”

Empty air.

“I’m gonna ask you one more time…”

“I…I was just sayin’,” Her voice nothing more than a whisper “That’s what…that’s what Roy said last time he was here.”

“Roy said what?”


Hand remained resting on her arm.

“H, he said he saw you…in the barn. Joey Jr. was crying…an–”


“I saw his busted lip…and Roy said he heard–”

“And you gonna believe that toothless fucker?”

“You’re hurting me.”

He looked at his hand, fingers that he had not added any force to. He released, though a steely expression held on tightly.

“…Go wash that mess off of your face before–”

A knock at the door.


Dashing towards the dilapidated stairway leading to the upstairs, she was out of sight before the knocking came to a pause.

“Hey, Alex.”

Alex leaned into the doorway, folding his arms, a quick head nod in response.

“How ya’ been?”

“Where’s the money, Conway?”

He stared at the lanky fellow dressed in his Sunday’s best which fell short, somewhere between Thursday and Friday. Alex smirked at the sight of his comb over and flicked the checkered clip-on tie he wore.

Anxious were Conway’s leathery hands while digging into his pocket, re-emerging with a wad of crinkled bills.

“Now, Conway…you know I like my money like I like my apples.”

“Yes, yes, I was gettin’ to it.”

Fat, wet fingers gripped both ends of a single bill before pressing the mid-section against the edge of the chipping doorway, sliding it back and forth until it was somewhat smoothed out, semi-curled on both ends. This act was repeated with each bill before they were handed to Alex who counted out loud in front of him.

“Alright,” He slipped the cash into his pocket “You know the routine.”

The living room was dim even with the aged curtains drawn, as the windows were layered in history; a film of dust, dirt, and smudged handprints made it a battle for the full effect of noon to slip through. The carpet was matted and you couldn’t tell if it was originally gray or if it had matured into the shade with age.

Conway eased himself onto the sinking loveseat, straightened his back, placed his hands on his lap and avoided any eye contact. Analyzing the particulars of the non-working television that sat on unkempt carpet; he knew this because he asked if he could watch television while he waited, the first time he was over.

“You get lost this time, Conway?”

“Oh no, not this time,” an uncomfortable laugh “You guys just, you live so far out, the drive is tricky.”

“Yeahhh, yeah it is but you always seem to find your way back, huh?”

“Yes, yes, I do.”

“You aren’t tired of it yet?”

“Say what?”

“I said, you aren’t tired of it yet? I mean,you don’t ever want something new? Something you gotta work at taking?”

He didn’t respond. His expression was curious as he glanced at Alex and as their eyes met his excitement dropped down to his ankles. That memorable smirk was smeared across Alex’s face again.

“I’ll be right back. Make yourself comfortable.”

Upstairs he heard running water in the bathroom sink. As he passed by she was hunched down, splashing handfuls of water onto her face and rubbing vigorously. In his bedroom he could feel the heat rising as he entered, browsed around as if this were his first time there; all of the objects ancient artifacts.

Clothing like litter; wrinkled, stained, not all of it his. Something glimmered, caught his eye and he approached it slowly.

Leaning over he realized it was a polaroid photograph. His fingers were gentle, drawing it nearer to his eyes. A picture of a girl. The diamond shape of her face, slopes of her cheekbones, allure of her stare. He knew her from somewhere. The hair. A kind of reddish color.

His erection became uncomfortable and he shifted his weight onto his right leg, trying to adjust. This was when he realized who he was looking at. His jeans grew tighter.

“Can I have some before you go?”

The shoulders seemed a little broad for a girl, the frame of the body a bit too slim near the hips.

“…Yeah, sure, but don’t get fucking greedy again.”

Thoughts about how his skin felt, how his moans sounded. Throaty and hard? No, no, he was too delicate. Something softer, quieter. Probably just tiny whimpers.

“Did you move it?”

He flipped the photo over. An address– smudged, but he could more or less make it out.

“Move it? No…it should be under the bed.”

He turned to see her on her hands and knees next to his mattress on the floor, the bottom drawer to a senescent bed stand opened and as empty as her stare.

“It’s not in here either.”

“Move,” He pushed her aside, yanking the drawer out completely and throwing it onto the fabric covered floor “Fuck!”

The picture drifted onto the mattress as he shoved the bed across the floor, the sheets tearing away and falling through the air before settling among chaos. Alex kicked the bed stand over, slammed his palms into his forehead, too disgruntled to feel it sting.

“Fucking bitch!”

In a haste, he grabbed a t-shirt from a pile of clothing and a denim jacket hanging from the closet doorknob before silently exiting. She came out from cowering in a nearby corner, her eyes on the doorway as her hand elevated over his mattress, over the picture he had dropped. Fear bubbled, rose up from her gut the same way vomit does. She couldn’t resist and she looked at the moment, the person captured within this glossy, square material. Slowly her mouth opened.

“Marnie!” Conway’s voice yanked her from thoughts.


“Your brother just stormed outta the driveway like a bat outta hell! He has my money!… Can I come upstairs now?”

Tearing the photo into big chunks she walked quickly to the bathroom, the bits sticking to her moist palms. Tearing them from her flesh as fast as she could she flushed them down the toilet, watched them submerge in the rapid swirling, imagined they were going directly to a fiery world nobody could see. Standing there she thought about Joey Jr.

“I’m ready for ya’, Marnie!”

“..C,come on up, Conway.”

Speeding, one hand on the steering wheel, occasionally taking his eyes off of the road to glimpse at the trees, the sun. His trust should’ve been handled more cautiously, he thought. This was the only time he’d ever brought a girl home and her actions secured his intuition as to why he should never.

Completely confident he was going to get it back, he edged her coy grin away and tried to place undivided attention on the road. It was stupid on her part to think she’d successfully steal anything from him and be able to keep it.

“They’re all fucking stupid,” he muttered, peering through his shattered windshield.

The festering emotion rumbled deep in him as he stared at the bladed edges of the broken glass; the surprise he came across that afternoon as he stormed out of the front door. He reached for the radio.

“All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand

But you turned into a lover and

Mother what a lover, you wore me out

All you did was wreck my bed

and in the morning kick me in the—“

Off, off! His muttering morphing into a low growl and then nothing more than pursed lips.

They looked like artifacts, these worn tapestries he hid his body beneath but they were more. His armor, his shield, his fortress, and he lay, contorted into a ball of hot flesh, his anxiety creeping nearby. He hushed his breathing as best he could but with bony kneecaps digging into his little chest and arms twisted around his legs, this was nothing less than an impossibility.

Eyelids shut so tight it felt like the skin on his forehead had stretched so that if he opened his eyes it would hang loosely over his brows, blocking his view. His breathing was still too heavy. Out. In. Out. In. Out…In…Out. In. Out….In. Out…In. Out…

He could hear his little sister from down the hall. Poorly formulated words slipping from her loose tongue and limited word choice. Something about daddy? About candy?

“No, girl—can’t have no candy for breakfast! Go back to sleep.”

She slept in the room with their mother, in a tarnished cradle she had outgrown last year. Mother didn’t want her in her bed, though. She didn’t want her to begin with.

Now in the hallway, his mother, her voice still distant.

Images of a show he had watched at one of his friends house some time ago, conjured into his thinking; he couldn’t recall the names but he saw the face. He recollected the mother and father, Mr. And Mrs. Keaton, and how nice they were to their three children, even though the children seemed to him, undeserving. They were ungrateful. Why couldn’t he be one of those kids so he could have a mom and a dad? He’d love it, coming home every day to a real bed and cabinets filled with food. A mom who asks you questions about what you did today and where you wanted to go. He never saw Mrs. Keaton climb into bed with her kids on Saturday mornings.

He could hear the floorboards moan. The ritual had begun and she was making her way down the hall. Wishing was immediate. He wished they lived in a home with corridors, no, with wings, so this walk would take longer, so it may never end, but her hand on the doorknob left that dream in shambles.

Alex clenched his body tightly, felt his muscles tense, pressed himself as flat as he could onto the worn out mattress on the floor. The body heat beneath this self-made fortress was suffocating and as he desperately yearned to whip the blankets from over his face he allowed himself to be absorbed by the warmth, his body seemingly feeling less heavy, less aware.

What about that orphan girl in that film he saw in that theater he snuck into. A face that only a mother could love, he thought, but she didn’t even have a mother. She kept singing that obnoxious song he grew to hate as the movie progressed, but he couldn’t bring himself to creep into a different screening. Her life somehow shifted with the same ease of his emotion; into something he found himself craving, so intensely that he despised her; her curly red hair, her voice, her freckles, the new clothes she wore, everything. Why was her life better than his? What did she do to earn that?

His fortress was torn apart as the blankets were torn away to expose his stomach, his pelvis, his long, skinny legs.

“Not even twelve yet and already, you’re just like your bastard daddy.”

The air was cool against his skin, almost like a breeze had swept through this cramped, dark room. I wonder if she’s on an island somewhere, now, after making all of that money from the movie.

That wet, warm awkward sensation. Those muffled sounds. He didn’t think he could close his eyelids any tighter as the itchy fabric clung to his face.

Alex took the jacket off and gave it a once over. It was too big to belong to him but as quickly as he realized this, he wrapped the sleeves around his waist, slipped his hunting knife into his right jean pocket, and slowly approached the front of the house he had parked outside of.

The door was opened but the screen was closed.

“Hello,” he called out “‘Scuse me, is anybody home?”

Volume on the television was blaring and from where he stood he could make out the patterns on the faded linoleum in the kitchen, a dining room table covered in newspapers, and empty baby formula containers spread across the counter tops.

“Yes, yes! Who is it?”

Approaching the door at a glacial pace, a corpulent woman with a round, rosy face, a baby squished between her right arm and cleavage.

“Hello miss, how’re you doin’ this afternoon?” He said in his most affable tone.

The tiniest flicker in her eyes. He smiled.

“I’m well, and how are you today, young man?” That scowl she originally sported twisted itself into a grin.

“Oh, I’m well, I’m well. I actually stopped by to see if Mia was here.”

“Mia,” her budding tone withered, went flat “What for?”

“She told me to meet her here. She took somethin’a mine without asking. I may be a little early,” He looked over his shoulder, pretending to search for her “But if you wouldn’t mind, maybe I could…wait inside, Mrs–?” He raised a brow.

“…Miss. Just call me Miss Daphne.”

“Ah, a miss. How didn’t I guess.”

Opening the screen door she shifted her body out of the way so he could enter her space while she held it open. Once inside, he glanced around. Pots, pans, grease stains on the wall behind the stove, a lot cleaner than he was used to.

“Do you know where Mia is?”

“No. That girl’s barely ever here.”


“Mhm, bet she’s probably out and about with some guy.”

Envy. He could hear it through her allusion, her passive lie. Mia hadn’t slept around. The droplets of blood on his sheets that morning told him so.

“Say, you know where she is now?”

“No, I don’t know where she is now.” The frustration in her tone was as blatant as her contempt.

“You know when she’ll be back?”

Focused, he drowned out the sound of her babbling, listened through the television that seemed to be shouting now, through her heavy breathing, through the insects chirping out back, he listened intensely to the hum of the house, for creaks, for footsteps. None.

“No, God damnit, I ain’t her God damn keeper or–”

The wall made a solid thud as her head slammed into it, his forearm pressed into her neck, six silver inches glistening in strips of sunlight slipping through the screen door.

The baby began to cry as it squirmed on the floor and as Daphne’s arms flailed in terror, her eyes bulged, big white circles amid reddening flesh.

The tip of the knife dug into the side of her neck, a pool of blood seeping to the surface, slowly.

“Listen, you fat fuck– where the fuck… is Mia? I’m not playing games, I will open you like a deer and leave you here. STOP…moving.”

Shock was instant, welled wet in the corners of her eyes. He didn’t know if they sprouted from fear, from lack of air, or a combination of the two, but he lessened the pressure of his forearm so she could speak.

Gasping, her initial reaction was to put her hands on his arms, dig her nails into his skin, but she was stunned and all too aware of his power. All she had was feeble trust he’d allow her to catch her breath, to speak.

The crying hadn’t stopped. The infant wriggled and occasionally shrieked but couldn’t crawl very far, couldn’t do much other than make noise.

“Please, please don’t hurt me,” She coughed up “D,don’t hurt me.”

“Answer the question,” he held the blade in place.

“I told you, I, I,”  They came flooding from her eyes, the tears “I don’t know…I don’t know where she is. She don’t listen to me, she don’t listen t,to anybody.”

“So,” He leaned into her “That your final answer?”

“Oh God, God, I swear to–” that pressure into her neck again, but briefly this time.

Stepping back some, he looked at her, back against the wall, hair disheveled, the right strap of her flowery sundress hanging off her slouching shoulder.

On her breasts she could feel his hands. Her eyes shut and her crying slowly became uncontrollable, her and her baby’s sobs bursting from their lungs in a horrible harmony.

Hot breath in her ear, she turned her head away but it did no good.

“Mama,” a child’s voice carried down the stairs.

“S,stay upstairs, Jude! Stay upstairs! Go to your room!”

“Mamaaa,” His voice was lowered, sad as it trailed off, the sound of a door closing cutting the extended ahh sound off.

Teeth gripped her lobe hard, tugging, she yelped.

“Say you love me,” He whispered, rushing to tug the hemline of her dress upward.

“Wha, wha–”

“I said say it!”

“I–I,” choking on her own breath, unable to swallow everything that was becoming reality “I love you…”

“I know you do. I know you do.”

The night preceding that morning was a blissful haze with moments of pain dispersed through out. Fangs plunging, he ate her. He ate her self-control, her better judgment, her worry, her questions, her body; all of Mia had been devoured and her feelings, like the dust that follows a wild stampede, had not settled.

At certain moments she believed she was relieved that it had happened; she finally got it over with. Shortly thereafter the overwhelm of disgust, of contempt and anger colliding with one another in her chest, in her core.

There were horror stories other girls had told her. Blood soaked sheets, awkward rhythms, and cutting pain—but for the most part, she hadn’t experienced much of that. The real red hadn’t been spilt until he told her to leave that morning. Not that she had expected to stay, but it was his clumsy choice of words, his nonchalant approach, as if she were no longer of use to him. Intrigue she once had mysteriously diminished.

Question after question materialized from cluttered thought as she trekked beneath umbrage, heels in one hand, brown bag in the other. What about him was so enticing, sucked her in even when she knew better? This uncanny magnetism she supposed. The same way Pink Bikini Top was seduced by him, the same way all of the guys at the trailer park, younger and older, clamored for his attention and acknowledgement, like children who just learned a new trick they needed to impress their parents with.

Mia wasn’t like the others. He came after her. She allowed him to do so. She let herself become caught up in his rapture. This was not ego, she assured herself, but simply how the series of events unfolded. To suddenly be regarded as some prosaic creature did not sit well with her.

No strong hands slipping over her shoulder, cradling her out of slumber. It was an abrasive yank of the arm, back and forth, that pulled her into the new day. Clothes tossed atop her blanketed lap and no exchange of words. Perplexed, quietly she slid off of the bed and slipped into the same attire from last night, every so often stealing peeks of his shirtless torso and stoney face. She wasn’t there to him, or he wasn’t there with her, either way the absence was palpable.

Gone. His footsteps down aging stairs. The sound of each step penetrating her, solidifying the distance growing between the two who were intertwined just hours ago.

Scouring the disheveled room for her heels as her search extended her agitation increased. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. On her hands and knees she crawled, pushing soiled socks and loose leaf pieces of crumpled paper aside, and eventually she spotted it. Underneath his bed, immersed in unwashed jeans and empty liquor bottles, a brown paper bag.

It was loud, conspicuous even, because unlike everything else in that home, it was unharmed, untainted. The folds were crisp and even, there was no wrinkle to be found on the smooth, light brown surface. Leaning inward, arm extending to the point of discomfort, her fingertips rubbed it, pinched the top. When pulling it forward she discovered it to be far heavier than expected.

Looking to the doorway, she paused and listened for anything stirring nearby before opening the bag. She released the smallest gasp.

 There has to be at least two ounces of coke in here.

Folding the top of the bag back delicately, she continued to search for her shoes. Oddly, she now found them with ease after this new uncovering. Her heels were on and she was down the stairs and out of the front door without being noticed.

Face to face with that car, sitting beneath the shade of a black oak tree like the bad omen it was. Instincts told her not to get inside, not to be anywhere near it, but the gleam of that metal, like the gleam in his eye, proved too persuasive. Not a cotton cloud in the sky and still it looked like a vehicle that could drive you to your grave.

Standing there, the anger became more than she could contain. The brown, paper bag hit the ground once she eyed the biggest rock she could find.    Storming towards the vehicle she thought about the fantasies she had been fed last night, about souvenirs her mother would leave behind, about the litany of disappointments she had been forced to nurse into resentment, and Mia’s aging rage was released once that jagged rock was hurled. Like a bullet it cut through his windshield and as it shattered, she remembered just moments ago, him standing there in his bedroom, shirtless and stoney. Broken just like the tinted glass sparkling on the cushions of his front seats.

Nearing her sister’s house the usual sight she was greeted by seemed peculiar.  The blinds were drawn which was odd given the time of day and the door was closed. Even more unusual was the clothing scattered about the front porch and as she climbed the creaking steps she processed that these skirts, shoes, this make-up, it all belonged to her.

She pulled at the screen door’s handle. Locked.



 Knock knock knock knock–

The door opened but only enough to see a sliver of Daphne’s face.

“You get. Get away from my home–NOW.”

“Daphne, what the hell?”


“What do you mean go? Why is my shit all over the porch, what the hell is your problem? I didn’t do anything!”

Mia’s confusion was sincere and as she looked hard into Daphne’s only visible eye something in her shifted, became uncomfortable. She’d not seen a look like this before, even during the middle of a battle of words or a physical tug-of-war.

“Trouble follows you everywhere you go, little girl. No good ever comes from you. You’re smart, you’re beautiful, but that isn’t enough for you. You gotta destroy every single thing you get in your mitts.This the last straw, and I–”

“What is the last straw? I haven’t done anything!”

“You,” Daphne screeched, a glossy look coming over her eye “You…get the hell away from here and don’t you dare come back!”

With that, the door slammed, the front porch shook. The hard metallic cling of the lock. Standing in the remnants of the moment that had passed, What in the hell?

A chorus of chanting birds were close by, making him a little less worried about the decision. Sitting on a tree stump behind his home, Saint clutched the train ticket, re-reading the words on its front as if they could dissipate at any given time, reverting this pass to a new world into useless paper.








11 OCT 92

The train was scheduled to depart the next night, Sunday, October 11, just five days prior to the day that would mark his sixteenth year. His father would make a big deal of his arrival and they’d throw a jubilant bash celebrating his birthday, the way they had done years ago before his mother drove him off.

He’d have to venture out of the state to get to the nearest station in Bellows Falls. It was how he obtained the tickets, the night before. Hitchhiking wasn’t something he enjoyed but doing so was nothing strange to him. He had done it every so often since he had turned twelve because some places were just too far to get to with your feet on the ground.

Bible on his lap, he had been reading and praying simultaneously, for forgiveness. Yesterday he lied to the ticket seller when photo ID had been requested.

I was visiting my mother, she’s been ill. I lost it…but I have to get back to Poughkeepsie soon, I’ve already missed too much school. There was a softness to her as she stood behind the counter listening attentively. Saint felt all the more terrible for using deceit, but he promised himself, promised God he’d change once he arrived in Poughkeepsie to be his father’s son again.

 I wonder if he’s still at the address on the birthday card from when No temptation has overtaken you that is I turned fourteen I could maybe not common to man God is faithful, and he go to a police station and tell them I need help and he will not let you be tempted beyond why did she do this? It isn’t fair I feel guilty for going to him leaving her your ability, but with the temptation I can’t stay here selling myself afraid of her this fucking failed court system he will also provide the way of escape, that what if he moved I can’t come back here be able to I won’t endure it.

Wings passing through air, the birds let out high pitched twee-twee-twee-twee-twee as they fled from wavering tree branches. Startled, squinting at the sun in his eye he tried to catch them cascading against azure that made sky but they had gone.

“Hey, Saint. How ya’ doin’?”

His body reacted to the sound before processing the words and he leapt from the makeshift seat, his bible spiraling before thumping onto dirt and matted grass. Hand tight around his key to a new life he quickly shoved the ticket into his back pocket.

There stood the boy from the marketplace, but not as a boy. With posture so stiff, the way the shadows cast by tree branches and turning autumn leaves, dripped into the curl of his upper lip, the slight bags under his eyes, perhaps he was closer to being a man.

Repeating himself, he walked nearer and Saint’s words were not offered but thought over thoroughly and selected with great detail in case they were necessary at any point soon to come.

“You’ve always been shy, huh? Say, you know, uh, you know Mia, don’t you?”

Nodding, as this body drew nearer it repelled Saint, like similar magnetic poles, and he began to back up.

“Well, I’ve been looking for her all day and I, I can’t track her down,” That simper flashed “Do you know where she is?” He came to a stop.

Saint was unsure how he knew the two knew one another and the more he pondered, it became clear that he had no idea how this man found out where he lived.

“Why are you here?”

“I told you…I’m looking for Mia.”

“Did she tell you to come here?”


“Then…why are you here?”

He tightened the denim jacket sleeves around his waist, sent his fingers briskly through those tousled, bleached tendrils.

“Are you scared of me?”


He darted towards Saint, watched his eyes bulge, color leap from his face, as he gasped and backed away as quickly as he could with horror-stricken limbs. Alex stopped, laughed a little, rubbed his thumb against his bottom lip.

“Ya’ sure seem scared of me.”

An uneasiness spread along his collarbone then to his neck, his belly, his shoulders, his legs and hands. Like he had swallowed fire, a heat permeated from his bowels, sent discomfort into his stomach, a burning along the back of his throat. Beads of sweat decorated the corners of his forehead, the palms of his hands. His feign of confidence was crumbling with every slam of his heart against his chest and though he tried his best, he couldn’t keep concealed the terror that followed Alex, that was scorching through him.

“So, you don’t know where she is…Guess I’ll just wait here till she comes.”

“…Go away,” was frail, shaky.

“What’s that?” Alex chuckled “Say, while I wait. I saw a picture of you. I didn’t know it was you at first but then I remembered…I saw you walking the day before in that same white dress. So I look at this picture, I look at it and says, isn’t that pretty girl the fag I see all the time.”

Widening, nostrils, he could feel them sucking in as much air as his lungs could hold, trying to calm his body, to create some sense of ease. He could scream, but Mama might not hear. Run! But he seemed much faster, looked much stronger. Mia wasn’t there. Mia isn’t here!

“Mia isn’t here.”

Lurking closer he said “I know, little girl.”

“…I’m not a girl.” He managed to spit out, glaring at the odious creature before him

“No, but you like to wear dresses. Put on make-up. Bet you like to do other things girls do too, huh?”

His head felt as though it might detach itself from his frame and float to the skies. A rumble in his forehead, thudding, like all of his ideas and worries and dreams were being rolled over by his thinking of what he should do, what he should do right now.

“Where’s that dress, huh? Why aren’t you wearing that dress?” His footsteps were faster.


“Come on, I’m just kidding,” more speed to every step “Come get in my ride.”

“No!” Saint backed up, slowly at first, then quicker as those sunken eyes got closer, seized him.

In a blur that big body became too close and as trembles ate at him, he turned away, turned to face where the sounds of singing birds were moments ago, and he pushed his body forward, away from the wickedness too close behind.

On his back, eyes staring upward, the face of his father gazed back. A face with features woven together far more delicately than he had remembered, with a mouth that did such a poor job at hiding a smile. Saint could feel him, his comfort wrapped tightly around his little body and it reminded him of when he was seven years old and his mother warned him to bring a jacket, it would be chilly on the Halloween hayride.

Disregard was all he had for what she heeded but eventually he found the breezes rubbing against his tiny arms and neck and the little quakes that trailed his extremities caused his hands to ball into fists, his shoulders to raise towards his ears.

It was an identical sensation, that safety, when those strong, sturdy arms scooped him up and held him closely, that Saint felt at this moment lying there with him. He hadn’t said more than a few words but no more were needed and as the two basked in the presence of one another, Saint could not keep the wet in his eyes from spilling down the hills of his cheeks to valleys of his jaw. Father. Father, I found you.

Mia left the bag of cocaine and her dust covered clothing in the shed out back. Nobody ever used it but her and she knew even if Johnny stumbled upon her he’d keep his lips tight. He knew better.

She had been walking down this dirt road for what seemed to be some of the longest hours she had ever endured, unsure if she’d ever been to this removed part of town. She passed a house about a mile away, she guessed, so the house in the near distance had to be it.

Not accustomed to the world of selling drugs she thought How hard could it be? The quaint house became more vivid. Something silver, reflecting the sun, was in the windows. Once closer, she assumed it was foil which she found to be odd.

Maybe I can bring Saint. Maybe we could go away together. Now that she had all of that white powder she felt like her options had no end. Yes, she’d have to be careful, but she had a lot on her side. More than most around those parts.

Wailing. Sobbing. Throaty screeching. All in the distance. Standing by the house she noted there was certainly foil in the windows. The cries were louder as she moved farther, past the front door, to the side windows, to behind the home, she heard mumbling, moaning.

“They did it, they did it, they did it, they did ittttt!”

A disfigured lump lifted and twisted itself, tangled black hair being the first thing Mia spotted. With more movement she could make out bouncing shoulders covered in reflective, aluminum foil, a slim back covered in a mahogany fabric and gray sweatpants covering a backside that now stuck out.

It was a woman. A black woman hovering over something. To the right of her, a pair of mangled jeans and an off-white tennis shoe, dirt caked to the bottom.

Nearer now, Mia moved to the right to get a better idea of what she was looking at. Immediate was the woman’s stillness, her ability to become mute.

“…Excuse me. Excuse me, are you alright?”

No response.

Mia was closer. Close enough to see the mole growing on the side of her neck, loose strands of her hair clinging to moist, puffy cheeks. Close enough to see that beneath this woman posing as a shapeshifting mass, lay a motionless boy, a much too large denim jacket stained with wet crimson was inside out and draped over his torso.

“They did it!”

Startled, Mia flinched but did not look away. GIBLIN could be read even with this bold red seeping through. His bottom half protruded from beneath, bare, limp, like a separate entity undeserving of modesty.

 Giblin…did this?

She had grown used to the wild red hair which was now calm as it spilled out onto the grass.Tranquility of his face more present than it had been the day before. Yet he wasn’t moving and there were no cat ears sprouting from either side of his head. No questions being answered timidly or with the shrugging of shoulders. Slowly sinking into reality, the sight before her was heavy with mood and as it weighed down she couldn’t bear the sight, the tinnitus sibilance, or unfamiliar pang that slit through her.

Face to face with the house, its shiny, metallic windows reflecting the day, almost in mockery. She mumbled something to the grieving stranger but it was lost in the chill of a breeze.


Bedlam III: Manhood Like A Weapon

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by JC Cecala

A continuation of Bedlam II: k-u-n-t

Stiff. Tight. Sore. Fingers digging. A dim ember glowing in her neck, expanding, shrinking. Subtle sting. Bold throb. Calm. She had slipped into slumber the night before, a lump discarded on the dirt floor of a rickety shed. Awakening, her senses were numb, thoughts diffusing like ripples of a disturbed puddle. Chasing the dragon never lingered into the next day like this black tar had.

Today everything between her chest and chin reminded her that she spent the night on the ground while everything in her head hid on the edges of her mind, everything but Alex.

She strolled into the empty school, overcome by dull waves of ache. Desolate hallways that didn’t seem to stretch far during hours of ongoing academia were never-ending.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, The Lamb

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

Standing by her locker she gripped the knob on the lock and hesitated. 7. 6. 2.  Before twisting to the first number a voice in the distance crept over her shoulder, a tickle in her ear. Her first assumption? A teacher. Heavy murmurs, the sort that were meant only to be heard by the other half of the conversation. Easing toward the far-off words she noted the door, slightly opened, that had allowed the conversation to slink into the outside world.

“Was it something I did?”

A pause.

“Just tell me,” The man’s voice again.

“There’s nothing to tell…I just don’t want to anymore,” Was gentle, young.

“Saint, please, please don’t do this.”

“I have to go.”

“I give you money, I buy you gifts, and this is the treatment you show?”

“You’re no saint.”

“Yeah…well you’re no saint either.”

“Let, let go of me,” A ferocity to this voice as it grew stern, solid.

“You can’t do this to me. I won’t let you!”

The door sprung open and out popped a slender creature with freckles. Air stuck to her lungs and Mia gasped. Skittishly she stepped back, hands clumsily flopping onto her chest. In the same instance a man walked out revealing the source of that heavy voice she had been listening to. Their eyes met and the hard creases in his forehead and fury permeating from his beady brown eyes diminished.

“I, uh..yes, so, don’t worry about the assignment. You can hand it in tomorrow.”

Saint glanced over to the teacher, unamused, then back to the girl before him.

The man disappeared back into the classroom, a thud echoing through the halls when the door slammed. Thud. Cli-clack. Locked.

Swallowed and digested by a shared awkwardness, the two tossed hollow words into their sea of silence simultaneously.

“I’ve seen you–”

“I was on my–”

“–I’m sorry, go…”

“Way to my locker…I need my walkman.”

“You like Madonna?”

Her nod was reluctant and Saint read the skepticism building behind her expression.

“…I heard you listening to her in the hallway yesterday…on your walkman.”

 That’s where I saw him she thought.

“I know your face.”

No answer from him. Just those little, bright eyes fused into Mia. Light brown with rings of green and specks of gray gleamed with undeniable innocence. But something about his demeanor was distant. Only a few feet away, he seemed absent. She was having trouble figuring out whether he was one of those people who was genuinely unaware of all of the fucked up things going on in the world or one who simply mastered the guise.

“You wear those weird cat ears.”



“They’re lion ears.”

The muscles in her face moved around, adjusted, and the gesticulation it gave was one of question.

“Where in the hell do you get those?”

“Part of a costume…Halloween. My dad bought them for me.”

“But why do you wear lion ears?”


“What? No, I don’t know Spanish.”

“It’s…it isn’t Spanish. It’s a name in Hindi.”

“Well I don’t speak that either. Who the fuck is Narashmata?”

Narasimha. In Hinduism…he’s an avatar. Half man-half lion. He is the protector.”

Her face lit a bit. Hinduism? A religion or something, that people on the other side of the world practiced. Mia had heard of it and seen a few images in a book or two. Blue animal looking things with two heads and sixteen arms. Maybe he was from somewhere across the globe.

“Weird shit, Red. Weird-fucking-shit. Are you from over there or something?”

He shook his head.

“What are you?”

“I’m a person.”

For the smallest moment her eyes squinted and the thought of shoving him crossed her mind. I’m a person initially registered as some slick tongued remark, but when she realized his genuine amiability, the sincerity, she caught herself.

“Well where are your lion ears now?”

“I had to put them in my bag…Mrs. Henderson made me during fifth period.”

She looked him up and down, from the much too big denim jacket to the immaculate looking shoes he wore.

“Fuck that dusty, old cunt. Put your ears on.”

Gray clouds wafted through the kitchen, offensive to Saint’s lungs. Hand firmly over mouth he followed Mia who led him further inside. Peering at dishes that clamored the sink, countertops like a necropolis for cutlery, half eaten meals, and baby paraphernalia; bottles, soiled bibs, rolled up diapers, and the like.

From the way she carried herself he had never guessed this to be the sort of environment she called home, but keeping judgements to a minimum he came to a stop as she stood blocking the entrance to another room. Extending his neck, over her shoulder he noticed the clouds at their thickest in the living room, where four round-bellied women sat, sinking into slouched cushions and sucking soggy cigarette butts.

Their chatter trailed like the squawks of big-breasted birds, daytime television overshadowed by their cutting caws, the actresses dialogue of mediocrity serving as nothing more than background noise.

“I told Judy, but she ain’t wanna listen.”

“Mhmmm, and now her daughter’s knocked up by ’em.”

“Oh, I don’t knowwhat I’d do if my Abigail ever came home talkin’ ’bout I’m pregnant by a nigger.”



Is what it sounded like.

“I’m sure you’d just die!”

“Not before I killed her!”

The biggest bird had finally laid her egg and the clucking was at full force as the laughter erupted.

Saint could see that in the arms of one of the chickens was an infant and a sinking feeling dug into the pit of him. Ashes drifted from above the helpless creature and nestled onto its forehead.

“Could you get the baby?” He whispered.


“The baby,” he made a small gesture then pointed “Right there. Could you get it?”

Mia rolled her eyes as she fanned the fumes from in front of her. Like a storm she tore into the room, her hair gliding behind her, reminding Saint of a cape, the kind superheroes would wear.

“Gimme’ the baby, Daphne.”

“Girl, what?” Her sister looked up at her, a bit startled “Where’d you come from?”

With no resistance she relinquished her newborn before adjusting her breasts and taking a deep drag.

“Hey Mia,” one of the women projected before taking a swig from the beer can she clutched.

She gave a dry smile and a weak “Hey” before turning away and heading back to the doorway Saint hid in.

“She filled out somethin’ nice, that girl did.”

“I was just thinking! Her ole’ itty bitty waistline.”

“No, girls, don’t go gassing her head up. I’ve seen prettier. She already thinks too highly of herself.” Daphne’s voice followed as Mia headed up the stairs, Saint close behind.

“Hey! Mia, who’re you bringing into my house!?”


Mia’s bedroom was much bigger than his and as he stood in the middle of it his vision drifted. Loud. Screaming. Everywhere. Blue and white striped wallpaper resembling prison bars. Toys decorated the floor the same way the stains on the carpet did. A crayon colored rainbow trailing the walls that were filled with the torn pages of coloring books, scribbled over relentlessly.

“Wh-who’s that?”

In the far corner of the room, a little boy, his squinty eyes glazed over.

“That’s my nephew.”

“You’re an aunt?”

She shrugged “I guess. That fat one downstairs– well, they’re all fat. The one that was holding this baby, that’s my sister. She’s a lot older than me.”

“Oh…what’s wrong with him?”

Saint continued staring. He knew it was considered rude, his mother used to scold him about it, but as he got older he decided since everyone stared at him, he deserved the same right.

Something about the roundness of his jaw and the deep slant of his eyes seemed peculiar. He had never seen anyone with an aesthetic remotely similar to this boy’s.

“He’s a retard.”

The boy giggled, smacked stained hands onto the width of his forehead.

“You foun’ me!” He exclaimed “I was, I was hidin’!”

“…How old is he?” Saint looked him over, no shirt, soiled pants, and dirt smudged bare feet “Did he…did he go to school today?”

“He’s like, five or six,” With little concern she placed the baby down at the foot of one of the two twin sized beds in the room “And probably not. She doesn’t send him to school a lot on account of she doesn’t think he’s a retard but the school puts him in special classes. She doesn’t like that.”

A soft exhale. Dainty hands grasped at nothingness and Saint stepped close to the infant. Eyes closed, mouth gaping, the most gentle of yawns drifted into the air. He lifted this delicate creature into a flesh-made cradle, gently blowing the ashes away before kissing its forehead.

“You like babies or something?”

He nodded, entranced by the innocence he held “I love babies…they’re untainted.”

“Well, if she starts crying, you’re gonna have to deal with her since you wanted her upstairs.”

The little boy in the corner popped up off of the floor and jumped onto the unkempt bed across the room, rolling around in peach-colored, stained sheets, like gangrene on fair flesh.

The bed they stood near was neatly made, pillows tucked tightly beneath a lavender comforter whose stitching was becoming unraveled on the edges. Throwing herself atop it, she bounced a bit before settling and looked up at Saint. A smirk spread over her face.

“Take off that big jacket, stay awhile.”

“Is there somewhere to hang it?”

“Just toss it anywhere.”

The denim dropped to the floor, inside out, and on the label inside she could make out a capital G, a B, what she believed to be an L, and an N. Her assumption quickly became fact.

“So, Red, how do you know Mr. Giblin?”

The warmth behind his eyes fled in that instant and his lips tightened as he glanced towards a small shelf filled with mostly doll parts.

“…My math teacher.”

“He’s your math teacher?”

A nod.

“Why were you at school so late? Getting extra help or something?” She prodded further.


Sitting up, she leaned back on her elbows, her breasts propped up under her chin like perfectly round balloons lodged beneath her shirt. Something about her uncanny beauty and brusque demeanor entranced and frightened Saint. Being drawn to her as she swayed and sang quietly to herself against the backdrop of mustard-colored lockers the day before, he felt the need to know her. He wanted her so badly to like him, to care for him, and something small and painful within ate away at his soul for lying.

“You’re really pretty for a boy.”

Excitement pervaded his spirit.


“Yeah. I thought you were a girl at first.”

Unsure of a response, he let his smile sit comfortably.

“So, what are you? Like, I thought you were white at first, but then like…you’re kinda tan and your lips are kind of round. You’re too tall to be a beaner and you don’t look like a–”

“I’m mixed,” His response ended her ongoing questioning “My mom’s black, my dad’s white.”

She raised her head “Oh. Your dad’s into black girls?”

“I guess.”

“I know a couple white girls back where I used to live liked black guys. They say they’ve got big dicks and are good at fucking. Never heard of a white guy into that, though. Is your mom pretty?”

He shrugged.

“Do you look like her?”

“No…not really. Not at all. I look like my dad.”

“And your dad’s the one that gave you those ears, right?”

That face, the one his replicated, danced through his thoughts. The thoughts that led him to the decision that this weekend he’d go. After tomorrow, he’d go to his father and start all over. Be reborn. No more lies about his mother. No more sex for money; sex at all. He’d pray for forgiveness, cry for the cleansing of his spirit until his vision faded if he had to. His father, he’d be thrilled to have his son once again. Saint could see it all as vividly as he could see Mia, or the baby he clutched.

“Are you a queer?”

Stumbling over her question, elation was fleeting. Nerves twisting, beads of sweat. He pretended to be completely focused on the baby, yet it proved futile as Mia repeated the inquiry. He remained still, imagining himself to be translucent.

“That boy you were talking to at the market. Do you know him?” She rolled onto her side, flipping hair over her shoulder, watching every expression crossing that delicate face, “Is he a queer?”

That boy from the market. He was the same boy in the hallways. The same boy that tried following him home twice before; asked to come inside. Saint was quite familiar with his presence but despite this he remained a complete stranger.

Sometimes he’d be polite, even thoughtful. That day at the market, when the downpour raged, he offered Saint a ride home. Another instance was when he walked into the cafeteria on one of those irradiated meat days and tossed him a burger from Lloyd’s Diner. Other times he was downright unpleasant.

To his relief Saint rarely saw him at school, but when he did, he was pushing him in the hallways when no one was watching. He spray painted FAGGIT on his locker; he just knew he did. He’d corner him in the boy’s restroom. Mutter profane and vulgar lines towards him, smirking and winking like this made it alright. Saint was clueless as to what any of this meant.

He had no clear understanding of him. It was difficult to decipher whether he liked or hated Saint. He just knew that his gut told him to keep away. Far away.

Again, Saint answered her with the up, down motion of his shoulders.

“You don’t know him? Or you don’t know if he’s queer?”

“I…I don’t know him.”

“Oh,” She fell onto her back and looked at the ceiling, recollecting the frame and build of the brute “He didn’t… look queer.”

“…How do you know if you’re queer?”

“You like boys?”

“No. I like being around girls more.”

She chuckled “No, I mean. You look at boys and think about how their skin feels? What their lips taste like?”

Did he? Images of boys were far and few in his mind. He didn’t even like the way Giblin felt on top of him. His kissing was violent and wet, and he used his manhood like a weapon.

“…Not really. I don’t think I like sex.”

“All boys like sex.” She said matter-of-factly as she arose and walked to the only dresser in the bedroom, the dingy white paint chipped off around the loosening wooden handles.

The boy who had been sprawled across his bed was now following her and clung to her thighs tightly, brimming with enthusiasm.

“J, Jude! Get the hell off of me!” She exclaimed, mashing her opened hand against his face.

He gripped tighter.

“I missed you, Mia. I missed you! Can I have a hug?”

A throaty sigh and she was back at trying to separate herself from him.

“I’m looking for something, Jude, now let go!”

“I’ll give you a hug, Jude.” Saint said quietly as with every bit of care he placed the baby down on her back in the middle of the bed.

In the peripheral of his vision he could see Mia, a clear glass bottle pressed to her lips, head titled back.

Blue eyes bloomed big and the boy hesitated, cautiously releasing the legs he held captive. Like a timid fawn he crept towards Saint who dropped to his knees and spread his arms wide. Suddenly, trotting giddily towards him he collided into the stranger and hugged him heartily.

Regaining his posture Saint held the boy close and laughed.

“I missed you!”

“I missed you,” Saint responded.

“Jude, go away!” Mia tore the two apart and gave a shove to Jude “Get on the bed,” she directed Saint.

The mattress was worn and gave a painful squeak. She lay an array of make-up brushes, bronzer, concealers, pencils, and the like next to him. A bit disillusioned, his brows burrowed over as she sat next to the make-up and turned his face towards her.

“You’re wearing make-up?”

“No, just some mascara. My lashes belong to a fucking dwarf, they’re so short.”

Relieved, he let his shoulders relax. He examined the natural appeal of her face while Mia did the same to his.

“You have the most amazing bone structure. I fucking hate you.”


“Pfft, no you’re not,” She took her hand from his jaw and started fingering through her options “I’m going to put some make-up on you, okay?”


“You have a funny complexion…odd undertones, but I’m going to do my best.”

Still. She swished a brush tip in a beige-ish powder then a sort of tan powder. Bristles glided across his skin, smooth circles and soft sweeps. Sitting there he watched Jude precariously hover over a half made puzzle, his sticky fingers tracing the scattered image of some sort of furry, white creature.

“So…I was reading this magazine article about models in all of these big cities. Maybe you could be a model.”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Yeah. You could be, maybe, like…one of those really weird, different kinds. Like, a man and a woman at the same time. Like, androgyny.”

“You could be a model.”

“No, I’m not tall enough. I’m only 5’7″.”

“What do you want to be?”

Mia continued creating her masterpiece, bit her lip, wondered if she should share that secret for the first time.

“I’owno…what do you want to be?”

“Not sure. One day I’m going someplace better than here, though. Some day soon.”

“That…that sounds nice. Maybe I’ll go with you.”

Eyeliner etchings and mascara applications later and Mia stood back, observing the masterpiece she had crafted. The slick shine of oil across his forehead was no more, and his already defined cheekbones dipped sharply away from popping hazel eyes towards pouty bubblegum lips. If ever he had straddled a gender line he now fell onto one side.

Being forced into the bathroom down the hall he half expected to look like those old women who wore too much rouge and caked on dark blue eyeshadow. As his eyes met the gaze of his reflection a warmth rose from his stomach, filling him completely.

“Well?” She waited.

“I…I look so–”


Gorgeous. The young man he was used to seeing within the confines of a mirror was missing. He looked harder yet still, that familiar face was nowhere to be found. Instead there was a fascinating wonder that stirred fervor. Was this what it felt like? Was this sensation vanity? The feel of sin? He couldn’t avert his attention from this strange girl he had just met, living inside of the glass. Her smooth, freckle-less skin, enticing eyes. So much about her he had not seen in himself nor noticed of his face.

Mia pulled him back into the bedroom she shared and swayed him into slipping on a white and red polka-dotted, petticoat dress. Ruffles flared at the bottom and the strapless number accentuated Saint’s broad shoulders, the only feature aside from his flat chest that could expose what was between his legs.

 Flash. Vreeeeen.


 Flash. Vreeeeen.


“I’m loving it. Come here, we’ll take one together.”

 Flash. Vreeeeen.


The door swung open.

The pictures were thrown onto the floor behind her.

“Mia, God damnit, don’t you hear me–” Startled, her sister paused, taken aback by the girl sitting on the edge of Mia’s bed “Oh, who’s this?”

“A friend.”

Red coils cascading. Cat-eyes looking through her. Skin that brought the taste of butterscotch to the taste buds.

“You need something, Daphne?”

“I…what’re you doing with the baby?”

“Mama!” Jude yelled as he hopped up, puzzle pieces sailing.

“Shush, boy! Shush!”

“I was watching her, but since you want to be so nosey, here.”

Mia handed the baby back off to Daphne who was struggling to keep her vision on anything but Saint.

“There’s a boy on the phone for you, downstairs.”

“Alright,” Mia hesitated “…Okay, bye!”

The door eased closed, Jude reached for the knob, Daphne hollered no, and it slammed shut.

“Sorry. She’s as annoying as she is wide. I’ll be right back.”

Mia pushed Jude to the side and made her way out, closing the door behind her.

The two looked at one another deeply. Into faces. Into eyes. Saint could not understand why they treated this boy so poorly. Why he remained rejected and ignored. He seemed genuine and gentle, untainted like the infant he wanted to protect so badly.

“You look like an angel!” Jude said loudly, merrily.

Mia returned.

“Sorry Saint, you gotta go. I’ve got somewhere to be.”


“Uhm, here write your number down on, um, here! Use the back of this photo,” She tossed one from the floor to him, along with an eyeliner pencil “Your name too.”

“O,okay. That’d be great.” His voice lit up.

“Alright, come on, come on,” She picked up his jeans and t-shirt and handed them to him, snatching the picture back, shoving it deep into the pockets of her denim skirt “I’ll walk you out. Jude! Stay put.”

“My ears.”

“They’re in your backpack.”

“B, but the make-up, and the dress, and people–”

“Fuck people, Saint. Fuck people. You look better than most of the girls in this hick town. You like the way you look in the dress and lipstick, right?”

Again, that nod.

“Then fuck ’em. Fuck those haggard bitches. Where do you live?”

“Down on Neptune Road.”

“Is that far?”

Solitary footsteps down a dirt road. The adrenaline rush went from scorching to tepid within the few minutes that had gone by and as he adjusted the straps of his book bag all he could keep thinking was how odd it must look for him to be wearing red tennis shoes with this dress.

Dresses were for women and girls or so he had been taught. Yet he didn’t feel out of place wearing one. It was as comfortable as a pair of denim jeans or khaki shorts and each time a breeze swept by and ruffled his hemline he felt enchanted and caught himself posing for imaginary cameras.

Mia thought he was pretty, gorgeous. Someone as bold, and exciting, and beautiful as she, actually complimented him, the alien. She didn’t even care that he liked to wear his lion ears.

Wrapped up in the sweetness of his fantasies about the two of them growing into more, sharing stories they hid from the vultures and crows of the outside world, he had been unaware of the jet black car bolting down the road in his direction.

Tumbling from the clouds consuming his head, full attention landed on this vehicle which sped by him then came to an abrupt stop, dust spraying, lifting. He paused. Slow was his turn as he looked back to the car stalling in the middle of the road. He could hear the dirt crunching beneath its wheels before he noticed it backing up and not completely sure why, Saint was flushed with fright. He tried to process his thoughts, use logic, but his body had no time for this and shaking with emotion, it ripped his feet from the spot which they stood and sent him bolting full force.

From the porch it didn’t look so terrifying. Creeping up the gravel driveway, the little stones chattered beneath rubber. 


Clenched throat. Wet palms. 

 Honk! Ho-honk!

Tinted window eased down, his white skin luminous amidst the twisted metal, the charcoal fabric.

The first step bent beneath her weight as it always had, but the moan it let out sent a jolt along her neck, through her skull, to the ends of each strand of hair on her head; lashes, eyebrows and the like.

Mia wasn’t completely sure why she called him that afternoon before heading to the school. She woke up with tingles in her lips; his square jaw and penetrating eyes lay the new foundation of her  recent reveries. Magnetic. Some strange pull dragging her thoughts and ideas back to their exchange of words the day prior.

Approaching as if at any moment the black beast would lunge, devouring her in a single pounce, his white teeth peeled pink lips open.

“Aww, don’t tell me you’re still scared of my hearse, are you?”

“No,” She spat “I’m not afraid of anything.”

He yanked his head back, nodding towards the passenger seat and she noticed a bruise beneath his left eye.

“Get in.”

The trailer would have been out of place had it not been for the others assorted in the distance. The surrounding clutter was vast and the big box-like homes looked like large decorative pieces among crushed beer cans, plastic bags filled with trash, empty food cartons, dilapidated chairs, and man-made fire pits.


Twisting her neck to the left.


Pressing her head into the headrest.

The driver’s side door eased open. Out stepped Alex who briefly stood still, observing the group of people lazing about in front of the trailer. Mia herself was now observing the bulge in his denim, more apparent at this angle.

He opened the passenger side door and she eased out of the dark confines into the open world. There in front of her was where the popping noise had come from. Two teenage boys, maybe a little older than her, stood over matted fur, detached limbs, and a blood-stained torso, BB guns in hand.

“Aye, Alex! Aye, guys it’s Alex.”

Sitting in a lawn chair was an older man, Mia guessed in his thirties, his arm up, hand opened.

The BB gun boys looked up from their mutilated project just as another boy stepped out from the trailer, covered from neck to toe, with a sunburnt face for all to see.

“Hey, Marty,” Alex responded, motioning for Mia to follow as he neared the group, “Hey guys.”

Scowl in place, Mia remained a few feet behind once Alex was united with these strangers. Almost instantly all of the attention was hers, though she didn’t desire it. Each of them raring to say something, all except the sunburnt boy who stood by the trailer. She put her hands into the front pockets of her cut-off, black denim skirt and with her index finger, stroked her pocket knife.

“Who’s this lovely creature?” BB-boy one asked, gap-toothed smile taking up half his face.

“Oh, this here is my new friend, Mia.” He stepped to the side, his arms theatrical as he lifted them to display her entirely.

“God damn,” the old man muttered “Best thing I seen in years.”

“Hey,” Alex said, voice heavy with bass, a warning in his eyes.

“I,I’m sorry, Alex…sorry.”

“Hi, Mia, it’s nice to meet’chu.” BB-boy two said.

Reluctantly she gave one big wave, awkwardly glancing away to the spindly looking trees surrounding the site.

Out of the trailer came two women, definitely older than Mia, maybe in their early twenties. Both barefoot, they sported fluorescent string-bikini tops and loose-fitting overall shorts whose straps kept slipping from their reddened shoulders; Each with a white lilly in their hair.

As they approached, Mia couldn’t help but notice the boy with sunburn and the look on his face, a face that focused intensely on Alex. It was one of contempt and hurt, his nostrils big as he slowly inhaled and exhaled. His lip was swollen as was the flesh above his right brow.

“Alex, Alex!” Hot Pink Bikini squealed, dashing to him, arms wide.

Her embrace was tight, eyes drawn over with thick, blue eyeliner, squinching freckled nose wiggling like an eager bunny. She pressed her mouth onto his and Mia couldn’t help but notice his lack of resistance.

His hands fell onto her hips before sliding into her back pockets. When he pulled them out, there was a small, black plastic bag in his right hand. He transferred this into his pocket.

“Thanks, sugar.”

“Welcome. I can get you som’or. Boy, I’ve missed you. Haven’t seen you in a dog’s age! Me and Molly was jus–”

Their eyes met. Mia could feel Neon Green Bikini’s vision searing into the side of her face, but she had no time for her. She was the side-kick, the beta-bitch, all attitude and no action. Mia wasn’t really sure of her intent, if she even wanted Alex, but she was sure as shit that this woman was not going to disrespect her. Her familiarity with these types was not brand new.

Mia could sense it, the way her irises slid up and down; sizing her up.

 I wish this back swamp Barbie would.

“Alex,” she put a hand on hip, “…Who’s that?”

“That’s my friend, Mia. She’s a cool chick.”

Again with the looking up and down.

“Hm…what’re you wearin’, girl?” She giggled, and so did the beta-bitch, as Mia had expected.

She looked down at her heels, the sheer knee-high stockings. The cut off skirt. Her form-fitting, long sleeved turtle-neck, clinging to her torso; all of the varying shades of black, and the fake gold bracelets and necklaces. Wrapped tightly around her waist was the blue denim jacket Saint had forgotten, in case it got colder later on.

“…This is just my look. I’m sorry,” she said gingerly “Alex didn’t tell me the dress code…had I known, I’d have worn something as tasteful as that get-up you’ve got on. Those overalls really bring out your eyes.”

Alex grinned.

“Ya’ll go grab the brews. Let’s get this fire goin’!” The old man hollered.

Crackling. The bon fire danced, devouring the popcorn bags, tree limbs, and old clothes used to make it. They all lounged about like lazy cats on Sunday afternoons or Tuesday mornings, both Bikini Tops passed out, leaning onto one another, BB-one hovering nearby with the carnivorous eye of a vulture patiently waiting to taste carrion.

Alex sat near the flames, Pink Bikini’s white lilly in hand. Mia watched his eyes flicker with the same intensity of the fire before her; he had been ripping petals from the flower and throwing them into the burning yellow, orange shades. Devoured. Lost. One left. Attached to the stem. He became present. The hardness in his face softening, his dark eyes meeting Mia’s. A grin, and into the fire went the torn flower’s remains.

She felt her body heat rise. Wanting to believe it was the alcohol in her system, maybe the LSD he had given her, the bitter taste of the blotter paper still faint on the back of her tongue.

“Let’s get out of here.” He spoke quietly into her ear.

The sensation of warm breath on her neck, waves of trembles crashed down. Mia arose, entranced by the the field of stars hanging overhead, the scent of smoke thick and heavy as it slipped into her nostrils. She looked over and he seemed  far. She reached out, grasped at him, catching handfuls of warm, heavy air. Suddenly near, behind, her hand on his black t-shirt, rubbing the chest it cloaked. Smooth, solid, hard. She dug her nails in. Moved closer. Snorted his scent; sweet and woodsy.

Through out the night she had collected questions she had wanted to ask. How’d he get his car? Does he live in a trailer? Why hasn’t she ever seen him in school? Does he work? But she seemed to have misplaced them all, one by one, as the night swept over her. Or rather, she knew the answer to all of those questions were in the little black baggie snatched from Pink Bikini’s back pocket. She chose to ignore it.

“Standing here in the dark, you can really see what’s beautiful about you.”


“Stop what?”

“Your flattery.”

“It’s not flattery. It’s truth. I don’t flatter, ‘specially women.”

“Why?” She quirked a brow “You prefer flattering men?”

Eyelids and lips tightened and in the wild bon fire light, shadows caught the hollowed spaces under his eyes and the dips in his cheeks; a horrible sight that gripped Mia tightly, squeezing air from crippling lungs. A strong wonder expanding inside of her head; was she facing something baleful? She thought about retracting her statement when he suddenly smiled, and she let out a gentle exhale. Inhaling him once more. Comfortable there in the darkness with him.

“Every woman that’s beautiful knows it. If she says she don’t, she’s lying. Are you a liar?”


“So I’m not flattering you, am I? Just reminding you of what you already know,” He nodded towards his car, “Come with me.”

That black, brooding box sat there in the background. Sleek grill grinning, metallic fangs luminous beneath the soft, white moon. Headlights like eyes peered, watching her walk wearily towards it. That car was laughing at her, she just knew it.

Palm on the small of her back, she could feel Alex guiding her gently and as she glanced over at that intriguing face she let herself be led.

Bedlam II: k-u-n-t

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by JC Cecala

A continuation of Bedlam: FAGGIT

Her nipples grew erect, rubbing against the soaked cotton shirt which was dry when she opted to wear it that morning. Droplets of water slipping from the sky felt as though they were being hurled by an angered God, colliding onto her bare arms and thighs, clinging before forming diminutive rivers trickling down flesh-made banks of elbows, hips, and shoulders. A faded and worn out denim jacket played the role of umbrella, hovering overhead, shifting heedlessly in attempts to protect her from nature’s hostility.

In the near distance was that familiar wooden sign painted white with red lettering: Old Farmhouse Market. I can wait inside until the storm lets up. The idea of remaining even semi-dry crumbled just as quickly as she wrapped jacket sleeves around her waist and knotted them loosely. Her sprint became a jog, her head tilted back and the rain consumed her.

Parked outside was the usual prehistoric grey lump; a 1980 Ford Granada, its paint chipping and donut wheel for a front right tire causing the car to tilt. A black car took up space right next to it and as she neared the door her pace began to slow, staring in a mix of intrigue and fear she found herself at a standstill. The pronounced hood stretched out, wide and long, as if it were reaching to touch, and with menacing eyes for headlights the tremors carving into her could no longer be denied.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, middle

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, middle

Ringing of a bell as the door closed. Eye contact with one of the male teenagers standing behind the registers. She recognized him from school but couldn’t recall which class. Trevor?…Tyler? Tay, Tay, Taylor? Yeah, that’s probably right. Taylor. His smile was instant as was her scowl.

Their gazes fused into her body while she walked by as if these boys were as alive as the cash registers or loose pennies around their feet. Her body was saturated, sopping wet; exposed. Every curve and dip that weaved together to make her shape was pronounced. The curvature of her backside and bust were screaming beneath drenched fabric and eager eyes feasted on every sway and movement; devouring her, tasting with their lascivious imaginations, their hard-ons rubbing violently against tightening denim jeans.

“Hey.” One called.

Her response was a hair flip, beads of moisture sprayed like bullets into oil slick faces of longing. Peering down the nearest aisle she glanced over her shoulder; they were talking to one another excitedly. Moving out of sight, browsing glossy, multicolored packages lining the shelves, fingertips poked at plastic tubes and bags half filled with potato chips.

She grabbed a few Slim Jims and bent them in half before wedging the jerky snacks into her right front pocket. Stopping, her hearing strained in search of any nearby footsteps or low volume voices. None. Meticulous hands tore into the wrapper of a honey bun and brought the sticky, sweet contents to salivating lips.

Aimless were her eyes as they continued to scan, fluorescent lights, sleek packaging, tarnished refrigerators mostly empty of the beverages that should have been, all before she noticed him.

Standing by a shelf of baking products, a specimen that piqued her curiosity. His dampened hair had been bleached with no remorse and she could tell by the patches of short, brassy, brittle hairs on the nape of his neck. His taut, milky skin was reminiscent of the lumpy buttermilk her mother used to mix with mayonnaise, sour cream, and paprika in failed attempts of making salad dressing.

Something about the width of his shoulders and broadness of back stirred a heat within; something she had left discarded for quite some time because as it rose from forgotten chambers she found herself startled. He had to be at least six feet tall, and all that covered his torso was a worn out tank top one size too small, and wet from the rain. The jeans he wore draped over his lower half as if tailored specifically for him and there were rows of horizontal tears starting right beneath his backside and trailing to his knee pits. Upon further inspection, they looked as though they had been cut by hand.

She edged nearer, noticing he was speaking with someone. Someone smaller than him. A girl with wild, red hair and a face that was unusual but not new. No, not a girl, a boy. She had seen him somewhere before but struggled to remember. Focusing in, the blond was grinning, his body relaxed as he leaned onto one of the shelves and continued to talk. In complete contrast, the redhead read uncomfortable; clutching several rolls of aluminum foil, eyes shifting from side to side as his mouth moved so slightly she was uncertain if he was actually speaking.

Moments later those auburn locks were bouncing by her and she twisted her neck, watching him squeeze by and scurry towards the front of the market. Before he turned and made his way out of the aisle he threw a glance in her direction and for a moment their eyes connected. Then he was out of sight. She shoved the rest of her snack cake passed her lips. Swallowing hard, the faint scent of lilies trailed from him and she couldn’t help but notice that he was bone dry, as if God’s downpour had spared him, peculiar cat ears sprouting from tousled curls and all.

Yes, that’s where I saw him and those ears.

“Hey,” a thick tone swept her from the thoughts she had been tinkering with.

Crumpling the honey bun wrapper she tossed it behind an organized row of Chips Ahoy! cookies before turning, and there he was. Colossal he stood before her, little droplets of water collected along the brim of his collarbone and bends of eyebrows. Eyes dark, deep-set, and demanding. Demanding of response. Demanding of attention.

“The rain caught you too?”

She shook her head “Barely. I was about a half mile away when it got bad.”

“Looks like barely didn’t keep you dry,” his pink lips curled upward.

He was handsome in the way a brute was. Everything about him was strong; The build of his frame, features shaping that intriguing face, his presence.

“Hm,” she smiled “Barely. Sort of like you’re barely wearing anything?”

A smirk as he looked away “Nobody’s telling you to look.”

Rolling her eyes she couldn’t stop the chuckle that eased out of her.

“You think the rain let up?”

“Doesn’t matter. I drive.”

“…That’s your car out front?”

“The black one, yeah.”

“It looks like a hearse.”

“It’s a 78′ Eldorado.”

“But it looks like a hearse.”

“Want to feel like a corpse?”

The intrigue of orange and lavender hues strewn across the sky morphed simple glances into deep fixation. Clouds like cotton candy stretched from one corner of the heavens to the other. The afternoon thunderstorm blew through with ire but left a path of ease and serenity. Those mysterious sounds that only approaching nightfall could make swirled into an eerie lullaby so she basked in it for as long as it would allow.


Heaving the sigh that crowded her lungs she rolled her eyes, slouched further back into the rusting patio swing.

The screen door swung open before slamming against the house, releasing a high pitched squeak of hushed agony as it slowly retreated back to the doorway. There her sister stood, nose high and hovering overhead, wide set pelvis and protruding, round stomach blocking her view of the heavens.

“You’re just getting in?”

Arms folded, vision shifted to the side before up to the plump, pale face staring downward.

“Girl, answer me when I’m talking to you.”


“Where you been?”


“Out where?”

“Out where you’d know had you been invited.”

“I’m not doing this shit with you today, Mia. Now this morning there was money missing out of JJ’s wallet.”


So?…So Mia, did you take the money?”

Another strategic eye roll was given.

“Mia, where’s the money?…Girl, I am not,” She reached out and grabbed her shoulder, yanking with thinly veiled frustration “Playing with you!”

Pulling away violently, Mia was on her feet and inches away before shoving the woman into the patio railing.

“The hell is wrong with you!” She screamed, regaining her balance “I’m pregnant you asshole!”

“Keep your fucking hands in your husbands pants.”

“Where’s the money, you little shit? I know you took it!”

Glares were exchanged and briefly after, Mia turned her back and made her way inside. The angered woman wasted little time following.

“Mia, I’m talking to you,” She gripped her arm “Hey!”

Spinning around, the ends of long locks tickled the pregnant woman’s forehead before they swooped back, hanging languid. Tearing away, she stopped moving and looked at her sister like she wanted her dead.

“Mia, I told you, I love you but I’m not doing this with you again.”

“Good…because I don’t even want to be here.”

“Oh? And where do you want to be?”

Mia bit her lip, burrowed her brows.

“Hm? Other than here with me being a k-u-n-t.”

Heavy was the hand of disbelief that flung across her face. It wasn’t the actual vulgarity of the term that made her eyes bulge or her mouth snicker. She was more offended by the poor spelling if anything and the facade of ignorance in regards to where she wanted to be.

“With mom! I’m just staying here till she comes back for me.”

The woman stepped back. The corners of her mouth pulling up as her eyelids tightened, tiny crows feet crinkling in the corners. She then released a throaty noise. It started as a hesitant chuckle before blooming into something greater and eventually erupted in a gut-wrenching cackle that slowly dwindled as she wiped teardrops from round cheeks. Face rose red, flushed from the absurdity of it all.

“Mia, mom isn’t coming back for you.”

“Mama!” A small child called from the living room.

“Hush up, Jude! You’ll wake the baby!”

Snarling “You don’t know that, Daphne…she is, she said so.”

“She said that last time…last time and the time before. And you’re stupid as a box of rocks if you believe it.”

“Me, stupid? Said the 8th grade dropout…Fuck you, Daphne.”

“No, fuck you, ya’ ungrateful little bitch,” She retorted under her breath “Now go change Jude to some clean clothes. Make yourself useful.”

“Make yourself useful. That boy’s seven and he still shits on himself. You’re at home all day doing what? Too busy watching Sally and Geraldo? It takes a lot of energy heating up three Lean Cuisine’s and parking your ass on the sofa all day, doesn’t it?”

You don’t know what I do and don’t, don’t tell me how to take care of my kids, you hear me?” Daphne’s voice raised “I swear, girl. You’re gonna end up just like your mama.”

Brushing by, Mia walked back towards the flimsy front door before pausing.

“Hey! Where you going?”

The door was pushed open and she darted out, leapt over the five front steps onto the dewey grass and broke into a run around the house to the backyard.

Thick air slipped in and out of her, sticky and warm against her skin. Loose strands of hair clung to her temples and she wiped them away as she slowed down. A few yards ahead was her little sanctuary, tucked beneath umbrage and the darkening sky.

Closing the shed door behind her she flicked the lights on. One bulb had burnt out so half of the small space was consumed by black while the other was dimly lit with the glow of a dust covered bulb. She latched the lock shut and made her way to an old desk against the wall on the brighter side.

Bending onto her knees she pulled the bottom drawer open. Inside there was a music box. Made of wood, on the top was the picture of a young girl with a cherub-like face, blowing a dandelion. In her hands, she gripped it tightly.

She had been promised a boombox on her thirteenth birthday. Mia’s mother had been working extra shifts at the diner and the pre-teen just knew it was so she could get her that boombox. The rectangular electronic was all she could think about. Its sleek black body pulsating beneath her as she’d sing along with Ian McCulloch and Siouxsie Sioux, the melodies and rhythms twisting and swaying through her veins.

April had finally arrived and the twenty-seven days leading up to Mia’s birthday staggered. That morning arrived and she awoke in her self-made pallet in the tiny room she had once shared with her older sister before she got married and moved out. Wiping sleep from her eyes she felt her heart fluttering but remained as composed as possible. After all, she still had to make herself breakfast, go to school, come back, make dinner, and her mother probably wouldn’t be off of work until well after 10pm. Rolling over, she grabbed her pocket knife before climbing to her feet.

Tip-toeing towards the kitchen she was stopped by that same dark, raspy voice she’d spend so much time avoiding.

“Well someone’s up early.”

He lay sprawled out on the sofa in nothing but boxers, right arm dangling to the ground, left arm twisted behind his head.

“Morning.” She said before continuing with her routine.

There was little in the refrigerator which was nothing new; milk on the verge of expiration, leftover fried corned beef hash from a week or so ago, maple syrup, and some cottage cheese that had gone bad months ago; so she grabbed a few packets of butter and jelly her mother would bring home from the diner and smeared it on a slice of white bread.

“Gonna make me some too?”

Standing in the entrance of the kitchen, his figure was imposing while he looked down at her leaning onto the countertop.

“No.” Was sharp as she bit into her breakfast.

“Oh, now Mia, you’re too sweet to act so salty.”

Shoveling the rest of the condiment slathered bread into her mouth she opened the cupboard and reached for one of the small emptied jam jars they used for drinking. His arm shot out over her and snatched the intended before she could. Thin, pursed lips stretched and bent into an ugly smile as he handed it to her.

“Here ya’ are.”

She turned, walked out of the kitchen.

Johnny was a phenomenal pain in the ass. He was there more than at his own place but never pitched in for food or electricity. He was loud when he was fucking her mother, louder than any other man Mia had heard screwing in her home. He was proving to be far more obnoxious than the others.

Harold had been a two-timing slut, Larry possessed an abusive streak, Donald was lazy as a sack of cow shit, but Johnny was what Mia imagined Harold, Larry, and Donald would’ve created if they got together, fucked, and had some science fiction baby that was raised by ravenous perverts.

She’d never shower when it was just her and Johnny at home. The only reason she felt moderately comfortable being left alone with him is because someone was usually in the downstairs neighbors’ place in the split level house.

Quickly grabbing handfuls of water she slid eager fingers through matted hair, trying to smooth out the tangles as best she could. While brushing her teeth she captured him in the corner of her eye, again, hovering in the doorway.

“I wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”

She spit “Thanks.”

“Is it exciting?”

“Is what exciting?”

“Discovering womanhood.”

Shrugging, she spit again “Was it exciting?”

“Was what exciting?”

“Discovering fire.”

Rinsing her mouth out she was rough as she wedged by him and walked back towards her bedroom. The muttering of little brat slipped as easily out of her awareness as it had slid in.

Changing her underwear and bra she saw something brown on the bedroom wall. She knew what it was before she even looked. Instinctively she grabbed an old tennis shoe from the floor and slammed it with force onto the creature. Dropping the shoe, its smeared remains stuck to the wall and she took a moment to wonder what that had felt like for the roach. How it feels within that instant where life meets death.

Mia rummaged through the crowded closet, eyes eager to fall upon the saffron colored fabric used to make her favorite dress. She slipped into it like a second skin and glided her hands down the front before angst began suffocating her. It had to be zipped up from the back. Mama wasn’t home.

“Fuck it,” She mumbled while twirling, eyeing the ruffles as the folds spread, reminding her of daisy petals blossoming in springtime.

Squeezing into her jacket that she had outgrown in the seventh grade all Mia had was hope that she looked presentable. The only mirror in their home hung high above the toilet and wasn’t big enough to give a view of her entire body. She’d usually sneak into the girls restroom before first period class and make any necessary adjustments to herself.

“Have a nice day at school, snotty bitch.”

Turning to Johnny she looked him up and down, slow, intense. From the enormity of his feet to the baby-beer belly starting to form, to the hair spreading across his chest, to the aging face she had grown to despise.

“Johnny…just go. Go home to your knocked up wife. Go to hell. Go back into the womb you came from, come back out, and try again. Go crazy. Go fly a fucking kite. Go anywhere. But please, Johnny Wright…just go.”

Opening the music box, there was no cylinder or spring motors, all inner workings had been removed. The current contents were an empty Visine bottle and crumbled ball of aluminum foil. Taking the bottle, she untwisted the cap before placing it down on the desktop.

The foil in her hand, she took time unwrapping. Inside were several small, black, pebble-like chunks. She dropped all three of them into the bottle before unlocking the shed door and entering outside.

Nearing the back of the house she made her way to the water hose and carefully unraveled it before turning on the water, just enough that it dripped out in a thin stream. Holding the hose steady she slipped the neck of the bottle beneath it and watched it fill to the brim. Biting her lip, Mia turned the water off, carelessly dropped the hose, and walked nimbly back to the shed.

Propped up on the desk, she shook the little bottle and waited until the liquid inside was a deep brown, the small pebbles dissolving completely. Eyelids slid downward and did not open as she titled her head a bit and slid the squirter into her right nostril. She pinched the Visine bottle and sent the liquid up her nasal passage, inhaling slowly and holding it there, making sure it did not slide down her throat. She repeated this act four more times until bare was the recycled bottle.

Heat soaked into the skin on her face and she slouched back into the wall, monitoring this intense sensation while it spread across her cheeks into her neck, down her breasts, wrapping around her areolas, seeping into her belly and dripping down her listless legs draping over the edge of that old desk.

Fingers through hair lips softness dark black reds into purple the air is heavy pressing down grin tongue birthday cake party hats laughter mama staring into eyes stroking hair please hold me mama why don’t you let me stay alone beneath blankets thinking about rainbow sprinkles I never got to taste balloons polka dots clowns with doofy grins I sing and sing and sing and I can’t stop if I stop I’ll explode and I talk but nobody listens prayers unanswered fuck God why won’t you love me

 A knock on the door. The room was a blur and it took her a moment to focus her vision.

“Whaaaat?” was drawn out and breathy as it sagged from her tingling lips.

“S’me. Open up.” A familiar husky baritone.

Hoisting herself off, she stumbled, regained her balance quickly, and walked to the door. She cracked it open slightly, peeked outside. Night was upon them and she was surprised to see how dark everything was. When did that happen?

“Come on now, move.” He said as he pushed the door open and closed it behind him.

“J,J,Johnny…Johnny what?”

“How long you been out here?”

Hearing the question, she was having trouble formulating a response. Partly due to the fact that her tongue felt fuzzy, mostly due to the fact that the concept of time seemed foreign to her. One hour? Three hours? So she poked her lips out and gave the most nonchalant of shrugs as her final answer.

“Important question, old man. W, where’s my stash? And not… this cheap, black …Mexican shit. I want the powder like you normally get me.”

“Money’s tight right now. I couldn’t get it today. That’s what I was coming to tell you. Can you wait till Friday?”

Squinting her eyes she looked over her shoulder then back at him “Are…are you talking to me? You think I can wait that long? I just finished off what, what I had…not to mention, you’re interrupting my high.”

“Listen, money’s a little tight right now and Daphne’s been on my ass about new stuff for the baby.”

“F, fuck that…and fuck Daphne too. You know Daphne was, was a nymph of fountains…and, and streams and springs in mythology. But my sister Daphne is too big to fit in a fountain or a stream so…because…um…”

“Mia, how much did you have?”

Turning her back to him she took her time walking back to the desk and climbing onto it. She leaned her head back against the wall and let her legs dangle over the edge as they had been before, her legs spread, eyes closed.

Not a moment had passed before she could feel his calloused hand on her thigh. It seemed heavy, as though it would leave a bruise or fracture a bone but her reaction was delayed as it moved upward. She sprung up and her arm flail was instantaneous, a wild hand slamming into his right eye.

“Ahh, God damnit, Mia!”

“What the hell is wrong with…?” She yelled, anger festering from her eyes, her chest rising and falling with intensity.

He held his eye, looked at her with befuddlement all over his fourty-five year old face.

“You know what…you’re one grade A piece of shit, Johnny. You ruined my life. You did. You’re fucking selfish. Because I wouldn’t fuck you and your old man dick, you made sure my mama didn’t buy me that boombox.”

“Again with the boombox, Mia?” He shouted

Yessssssss, again with the boombox, Johnny! That’s all I wanted…instead, I got this cheap piece of shit music box,” She hurled it at him and he twisted his body out of the way so that it sailed by his head, slamming forcefully into the wooden wall “because you convinced her to buy your drugssss for you. What, what kind of fucked up person does that to a thirteen year old? Huh?” Her voice was sharp as she catapulted her words his way.

Silence consumed the quaint shed and she slid down off of the desk-turned-perch.

“I wasn’t dumb enough to fuck you when I was twelve, so why do you think I’d do it when I’m seventeen?”

“Because you’re high as a fucking kite.”

“And you’re lower than a fucking snake…you’ve got until tomorrow to get me more, you geezer.”

Daphne’s voice carried from the front of the house and the two stood within that small space, within that hostile moment, staring at one another while her words penetrated.

“JJ! JJ, baby, I need you to fix this damned handrail! It’s loose again!”

“…You hear me, JJ? Tomorrow.”

She could see the resentment bubbling beneath his collected exterior and as he began to leave she said “Oh yeah, and if you go crying to your wife again, about how I took money from your wallet, I’ll have to cry to her about how you were fucking our–”

“I didn’t tell her anything, damnit,” He spat “She’s money hungry and monitors every dollar I make.”

“Whatever, Johnny. Tomorrow.”

Once more Mia was in complete solitude but this was nothing out of the ordinary. She was always alone whether by herself or in a space filled with people. The music box did not break and as she dusted it off a part of her wished it had.   Returning her Visine bottle inside she crumpled the foil and tossed both it and the box back into the bottom drawer of the desk before kicking it closed.

Her body was still burning from the inside and she wished it could last the rest of her days. Slumping to the ground she rolled onto her back and stared upward at the bulbs on the ceiling. Digging into her pocket she pulled out one of the jerky snacks she had stolen earlier and bit into the wrapper, ripping it open and chewing on the salty meat inside. A gentle feeling on her chest, she placed her hand near her collarbone and felt a wrinkled piece of paper.

Holding it up to the light it dawned on her what she was looking at. It read: 603-624-1950 Alexander

 The boy from the market she thought, remembering his dark eyes and toned body. Chewing vigorously she took another bite as she closed her eyes and wondered how big his cock was. A giggle slipped out of her after the thought came and went and she shook her head, embarrassed that she even had allowed it to cross her mind. Smiling to herself she clasped the paper in her hand and stuck it back into her pocket.

Finishing her food she threw the wrapper aside and started to scratch her ribs. There was trembling that trailed her limbs and her stomach was beginning to feel peculiar. Running her tongue across chapped lips she was succumbing to feelings and delusions that began to flood her and she could feel her mind slipping back into a dreamlike state.

“Under blue moon I saw you…so soon you’ll take me up in your arms,” her voice was soft, hushed while she sang to herself “Too late to beg you or cancel it…though I know it must be the killing time, unwillingly mine.”

Nestled between consciousness and fantasy, for a moment, Mia swore she could hear mama telling her to pack up her belongings and come back home. Visions of ruffles on that pretty saffron dress lingered though she lost it somewhere within the confusion. The violent chaos that strung together eight moves, petty theft, stints in foster care she had made since she turned twelve. That’s when the pillar of mental anguish melted from her eyes and stained her flushed face.

Bedlam: FAGGIT

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by JC Cecala

He pulled his dick out, wrapped with a slick latex, and pressed it against Saint’s lower back. He stood up. Saint rolled over. Stared. Watching while he pressed his index finger and thumb firmly around the base of his member, still filled with the excitement spilling over from just moments ago. Sliding the transparent, forest colored condom off, a familiar drippy white pattern cascaded down its insides.

Feet heels riddled with powdery dead skin pushed off of the ground, balancing two hundred pounds of bodyweight on their calloused balls and toes, distal edges like claws. Stretching, what little body definition this stout man had accentuated beneath the wild brown hairs coating rosy flesh. A twist of the neck, a grunt, pelvis poking out, he sucked in what seemed to be, as far as Saint could tell; all of the air his lungs could accommodate before exhaling. Mr. Giblin morphed back into the portly, short man he was during the pre-calculus lessons he instructed, adjusting the wire frames of his corrective lenses and transporting the beads of sweat consuming his forehead onto the backs of veiny, wide hands.

“Now remember,” Giblin gripped an imaginary key in his condom-free hand and put it against the side of his mouth, giving it a gentle twist.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

With eyes slowly shifting to the side and lips twisting into an annoyed pout, Saint pretended the gesture was unseen. Each time they did this it was the same old cautionary motion, same doggy style position within the same old eight minutes of heavy breathing and erratic thrusting. Repetition in its finest form.

Saint’s clenched fist blossomed with expectation into an opened hand, palm exposed and dewey, slender fingers distancing from one another.

“Oh, right.”

Giblin became inanimate, another item amongst the moonlit background as Saint counted the crisp dollar bills. Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, one hundred, twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, two hundred dollars. Two hundred dollars in less than ten minutes. Not bad as far as he was concerned.

The flick of a switch and light spread from the ceiling, consuming the room. Coiled ringlets of vibrant copper hair were prismatic beneath its intrusive gleam and as he approached the corner of the bed where Saint was standing, slipping into a mint colored t-shirt, Giblin succumbed to urges of curiosity. Sweat soaked digits glided through the untamed forest aflame growing atop a delicate face. Saint recoiled, etching a scowl over features that were usually gentle and demure.


“You’re just so exotic. Like an alien…and your hair.”

The reflection captured within the rectangular frame of a mirror hanging on one of the walls in that quaint, humid bedroom was still. Not even its chest moved as musk, sweat, and desperation tainted air slipped in and crept out. That boy trapped in the mirror followed Saint through lingering days and never ending nights. He was odd. Oddly wedged into the uncomfortable space between adolescence and adulthood.

His appearance was odd. Brownish red hair, thick eyebrows, burning ferociously against deep olive skin. Freckles dusted across a face that straddled the gender line. Eyes; bright amber circles seemed to burst out of their sockets with an eager naiveté, amidst all of this physical confusion.

Perhaps it wasn’t confusion. He certainly didn’t feel confused, giving his slim, toned physique a once over. Pronounced collar bones leading to sleek, strong shoulders. Trim waistline, hip bones just barely protruding. Flicking his flacid penis, he had seen enough dicks to know he was well above average. Twisting his torso he admired the definition in his supple thighs and round calves.

Sometimes he loved the young man in the mirror. Other times he hated that boy trapped inside.

“Alien,” was soft and low as it slid off of his tongue.

The car rolled slowly as it came to a halt and from where they were parked Saint could see diminutive squares glowing amidst an opal backdrop off in the distance. His mother was still awake and that realization sunk into his pores, like melted lead, and suddenly dread hung heavy from his heart. Ideas of disappearing into the surrounding black flitted across his stream of thought but they didn’t stick. They weren’t solid enough.

“I wish you’d at least let me drive you closer. I hate droppin’ you off so far away.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m a lion after all.”

“You know, you sound batshit crazy when you say stuff like that.”

There was a slight creak when the passenger door opened. Climbing into the night, Saint noticed that the moon was looming, hanging low and close to the treetops.

“I’ll see you in class tomorrow.. Don’t forget about your spherical coordinates assignment. Oh, and here, take this.”

He stuck his head back inside, Giblin’s stocky arm extended, a dangling denim jacket in hand.

“It’s chilly.”

Saint didn’t bother closing the door and the “Mhm,” he responded with was lost in a breeze, carried away from Giblin while he watched the silhouette walking away from his vehicle, slipping into the oversized  jacket he gave him moments ago.

Pinching his right pocket he felt the crumpled bills. He had checked to make sure they were still there several times already and that feeling of money beneath denim eased his worry. Looking over his shoulder, the space Giblin’s car had occupied seconds ago was now empty; a patch of dirt road with a new memory.

Within that small piece of time between getting out of Giblin’s car and walking towards his home, Saint felt something. It crawled into him slowly before growing into a notion that made his thoughts rattle with wonder. What if he wanted to make this arrangement with Giblin into something greater? Underneath it all, perhaps he wasn’t as terribly bland and unamusing as he seemed? Could there be, hidden beneath vapid speech and argyle vests, someone with the capacity to understand Saint? Keep his secrets and flaws a private matter and protect him from the arrows and daggers of the outside world? No, probably not, he thought. The man slept with a stuffed walrus and collected Magic: The Gathering cards. I wish I could gather everything wrong about Giblin and magically make it disappear. If not for purposes of morphing him, physically and mentally, into a man he could become enamored with, at least so the eight minutes of sex they engaged in twice a month could be enjoyable and maybe…last longer than eight minutes.

He couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the barren space existing somewhere within him. He just patted his pocket, stargazing with hungry eyes and a starved spirit.

His left hand pressed flat on the doorframe while with the right, he gripped the knob and twisted as slowly as he could. Cautiously he slipped his head into the house and shifted his vision from left to right of the small living quarters. He eased in with stealth and and twisted the inside door handle so that the latch wouldn’t click when he closed it.

There wasn’t much space inside of the one floor home. Saint often found himself frustrated by the screaming plaid sofa, languid geraniums, and ancient coffee table crowding him. Busy patterns, oversized house plants, and out of place trinkets suffocated his thoughts, berated his concentration, so he never spent much time outside of his room.

From the kitchen came the sound of drawers slamming and monotoned ramblings. A high pitched giggle split the air and then the home returned to being quiet. Saint was reticent, easing towards the hallway leading to his bedroom.


Still. He stopped breathing and listened for the sound of creaking floorboards.

“Penny, is that you?”

Creak. Silence. Creak.

 She’s coming.


A slender, brown-skinned woman peaked from behind the dining room wall. With eyes more opened than any Saint had ever seen, he stared into those gaping black pits and felt himself slipping, helpless.

“Hey mama.”

“Did you see ’em?”

“See who mama?”

“You know who…you know who.”

“…Naw, mama, I didn’t see them.”

She glanced around, this woman, before cracking a wide smile. Her head disappeared back behind the wall and just as quickly, she reappeared in her entirety.

Her tiny torso was wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, her massive breasts being held up by her bra and spilling over the silver, self-made corset. Wild tufts of black hair looked as if they were pulling away from her skull as she stood there, tugging at the wrinkled ends of her lilac dress.

“Good, good, good, good..good,” She nodded quickly “I’m almost out of foil.”

 That’s because you wrapped yourself up in it all to look like a fucking Salvation Army tin man.

“I’ma need you to buy more tomorrow, I’ma need you to buy more.”

“Mama, did you take your medication?”

Fidgeting fingers froze along the hemline of her hiked up cotton dress. Her sharp chin sunk into her neck as she averted anxious eyes to different areas of the living room.


“…You didn’t, did you?”

“I said yes, God damnit!” Lanky arms flailed, her right foot stomping the hardwood floor.

Taking a step back, Saint kept his vision focused on her. At sixteen he still wasn’t used to this colorful behavior but he had gotten much better at pretending to be and masking the fear it often evoked.

“Mama…you don’t have to yell,” He said softly “Remember? We talked about your yelling.”

“I..I know, Penny, sweetie,” A loud clapping noise could be heard as she clasped her hands together “I just…I get so riled up trying to keep them away all day long and I-I..I get so damn angry.”

He nodded.

“You know?”

“I know, mama…but that’s why,” there was a brief pause as Saint smiled, nodding in sync with her “That’s why you’ve gotta take your meds.”

“No,” was sharp as she spat it out of her mouth “No! I don’t like them meds, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! They got to ’em!”

“Mama, no, they didn’t. I picked them up myself.”

“No!” She gripped handfuls of her hair “No, Penny! They’re trying to turn you against me too! They’re gonna hurt you!”

Legs beginning to tremble, his heart slammed around its prison of bone, begging to escape. The same way Saint begged God when he was alone at night.

“Mama…mama, please. Nobody’s turning me against you. Remember, it’s just you and me,” He crept towards her  in the way one might approach a rabid animal, hoping this would assure her of his sincerity “You and me against the world.”

“You and me, my sweet Penny,” Her hands dropped and she chuckled “That’s right.”

“Come on. We should…we should go to bed, huh?”

“Ohhh, no, no, no, baby, you go…you go to bed. I’ve got to cover the windows in the kitchen. They keep trying to get in through the kitchen.”


“See! Shhhh…you hear that? God damnit! I gotta, I gotta,” Trailing off mid-sentence, his mother dashed back towards the kitchen “No!”

Pots rattled and a chaotic song consisting of cabinets opening and closing, foil tearing, and a one-sided conversation seeped through the house.

Retreating to his bedroom, the clamor slowly faded as he closed his door. The noises were still there, shaking up his thoughts and taunting his emotion, but they were dull, fading from piercing red to soft pink.

Saint’s room was small. No more than 10 x 10 feet, and there wasn’t much to it. He had no posters taped to the bone white walls, no television or decorative pieces. There was a neatly made full sized bed and next to that, a little cherry oak nightstand with a small framed picture and lamp. Despite the modest size, his closet was more than spacious. In it he stored his laundry hamper, clothing, and books upon books upon books.

Bending onto his knees he opened the singular drawer of his nightstand revealing it to be empty of anything but a pair of costume cat ears and a rosary neckless. He slipped the rosary around his neck, the golden ears on over his red mane and adjusted them before closing the drawer. Digging deep into his denim pockets he pulled out the money he had earned earlier that night and took his time straightening each bill before lifting his mattress. In the moonlight he could make out the outline of a neatly aligned rectangle spanning the length of his box spring; the money he had collected over the last year. He placed the new additions on top of what he had already acquired, gently placing the mattress back down.

 I’ve got to count that at some point.

Not completely sure of the total amount he had saved up, Saint had been procrastinating. He was guessing he had a decent stash of cash but he didn’t like to think about it. Mostly because he knew what he’d do once he had enough. He wasn’t even sure if enough would actually be enough. So he continued to push the festering idea beneath the excuses of homework and reading and guilt and everything else he could conjure. Just for now. Just for a little while longer.

As he stood up a glint of light ricocheted off the corner of the picture frame beneath him and before he realized, he was looking at it yet again. Holding it in his hands he glided a thumb down the pewter frame, going over the engraving spots made up of bunnies, kittens, and kites with whimsical tails. Inside of this frame was a park on, what Saint imagined to be, a spring afternoon. Perhaps during May or June. In this park was a four year old on the bench of a wooden picnic table. A mop top of curly, wild, fire red hair and a smile made of incomplete rows of tiny teeth. He clung to the woman  beside him, whose eyes were gentle while she gazed upward at the man sitting behind her on the table. She was wedged between his athletic, beige legs and his hands were placed on her shoulders. The man looked down at the woman, lovingly and seemed to be saying something.

The contrast of her cocoa skin against his was sharp, and the boy’s curls were reminiscent of the blond waves pouring from the mans tilted head. Saint used to look at that picture for hours, entranced by the different skin tones and hair textures, wrapping himself up in the variations of beauty he found.


That beauty that maybe wasn’t to some people. A sight that not everybody understood. He used to ask his mother about it. Why he didn’t look like anybody in his class. Why she was so dark and daddy, so light. Why nobody else had the same shade of hair as he did, and where did freckles come from.

“You black, Penny” She once told him, when he was nine “You black, just like me. Don’t you feel it?”

He looked at her long and hard. The chestnut complexion and thick, graphite colored hair. The fullness of her lips and the broad width along the bridge of her nose. Being completely honest within his thoughts, he acknowledged that no, he did not. He didn’t really feel anything. What was black supposed to feel like? If it had anything to do with how he appeared to his own eye, he certainly didn’t feel it. Looking at his mother he sometimes wondered how he came out of her as their resemblance was non-existent. He had seen pictures of his father when he was a boy and that was more or less what he saw when he passed by a mirror or caught his reflection in a pond. In fact, when his father got a bit of a suntan, they were the same color.




“You feel white?”


“Well what do you feel like then, I’d like to know.”

He shrugged.

“You don’t know?”

“I just feel like a person.”

The sound of metal on ceramic tore Saint from his reverie he had succumbed to. He could hear the lid of a pot spinning on the floor, speeding, a metallic discord, increasing in harshness before calming and then coming to a complete stop. He placed the picture back down and backed away.

Opening his closet door he stepped inside. Curled fingers like claws swiped around in the darkness and he grazed the pull string. A tight grip and light tug. Easing some of his hanging clothes to the side, behind them there lay rows of books and pens and loose leaf paper pinned to clipboards. There was a small, worn out wooden matchbox on top of an off-white clipboard. Sliding it open, inside was a pair of ear plugs he slid into either ear.

Snatching up a book he had been reading he sat on the floor before tucking himself into a corner. Flipping to where the bookmark was wedged he picked up on the line where he had left off.

 “Den they’d tell me not to be takin’ on over mah looks ‘cause they mama told ‘em ‘bout de hound dawgs huntin’ mah papa all night long. ‘Bout Mr. Washburn and de sheriff puttin’ de bloodhounds on de trail tuh ketch mah papa for whut he done tuh mah mama. Dey didn’t tell about how he wuz seen tryin tuh git in touch wid mah mama later on so he could marry her. Naw, dey didn’t talk dat part of it atall. Dey made it sound real bad so as tuh crumple mah feathers.”  

They congregated in the hallways, selling stories of the night before, stringing together the real with the make-believe so that they might be deemed interesting. So someone would like them even if the person they liked didn’t exist. Leaning on lockers, hands cupped around mouths spreading rumors like a cancer. This is what Saint assumed anyhow as he made his way through his peers.

He always felt heavier when he was at school, well, with so many eyes on him, weighing him down, how could he not? Every now and then he’d overhear someone speaking of him, almost always in a negative light. But before school let out last year most of the name calling and harassment had dwindled to passive aggressive muttering and locker vandalization. Despite being painted over, when he looked hard enough, he could still see the word FAGGIT beneath the new burnt orange coating.

He arched his thumbs, hooking them behind the black straps of his backpack to relieve some of the weight from his slouched shoulders. A sound; one that was familiar and exciting. Saint stopped, mid-step and strained to listen. A song he had heard before and enjoyed. Turning to his right he spotted the source. A stranger to his recollection stood at her locker, a walkman attached to the waistline of black acid washed jeans and the sound of percussion and saxophone blaring from the massive headphones that devoured her ears. Soft brown tresses poured along her back like a chocolate fountain as she swayed her head back and fourth, hips popping from left to right.

“Don’t go for second best, baby, put your love to the test,” Saint could hear her singing under her breath before closing her locker and twirling around.

Their eyes met and the movement that trailed through her body ceased. Saint was right. This face was one he’d never come across in these hallways, in town, or anywhere for that matter.

With a heart shaped head, her slanted brown eyes sat atop angled cheekbones and were sparsely covered by the long, straight bangs sweeping across her forehead. The loose fitting t-shirt she wore was jet black and had: bauhuas in neat, white print placed beneath a picture of what looked to be a bat or something of the sort that he couldn’t quite tell. It looked as though the sleeves had been torn off along with the bottom of the shirt, as the slightest bit of her flat midriff was exposed.

Saint couldn’t decide what was most fascinating about this girl before him. Her milky skin was without a flaw. Not a blemish or a pore could be seen. Eyebrows, pronounced and arched to perfection, lips full and nude; it took him a moment before he realized just how long he had been staring and just how twisted with what looked to be disgust, her face had become.

“What the fuck?” She said loudly, rolling her eyes and walking in the direction Saint had come from.

A small group of onlookers were staring so he gave them his back. Rubbing his left cat ear, he continued down the hallway, hoping his embarrassment would settle before he got to class.

In the back of the class, the desk closest to the window, he sat. There was dialogue being spun between teacher and some nameless student in the front of the room about Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men. This was the current English assignment that Saint found no interest in. He had read the book twice; once at age twelve, again at thirteen. Listening to people his age, some even older after being held back, stumble across the synopsis didn’t interest him in the least.

Beyond the confines of a window decorated with oily fingerprints and crevices caked with dust, were stagnant clouds stretching across a slate sky. He hadn’t brought an umbrella with him and hoped that if it were to rain it would do so after he made it back home from the market.

“I think everyone was sort of, like…chasing the American dream.”

An uncertain statement or perhaps question drew him back indoors. He looked down at the blank paper beneath him, where notes should’ve been scribbled. He had enjoyed Of Mice and Men both times he had read it, but it reminded him of a space in time he tried not to think about.

Most of the colorful details had grown wan and Saint did nothing to try and breathe life back into them. They were living in a different town, Durham, and at the time he was happy, or as in reach of happiness as he had been for some time. It was around the time his mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he didn’t fully comprehend what it meant. She started taking pills regularly and acted in a way Saint hadn’t seen before. Her movements were sluggish, and at times there was a listlessness to her.

It was May, no, it was June, because they were getting ready to take finals. Saint was told that he needed to go speak to the principal.

“…For what?”

“I wasn’t informed. I was just told that he needs to speak with you.”


Before he could gather his thoughts, his teacher tapped his shoulder.

“You should probably get your things from your desk.”

“I’m not coming back?”

She hesitated. Lips pursed together, she fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger before eagerly smiling.

“Well, we just don’t know how long it’s going to take, that’s all.”

The interior of the office was reminiscent of a museum. From the gold gilt picture frames hanging on the walls to the wooden floors creaking beneath his weight. The moment stalled for quite some time before the principal finally entered the office. He closed the door and turned to face the adolescent.

“Saint Goretti.”

He nodded.

“You…may be wondering why I called you down here.”

Saint’s eyes stalked the giant in a charcoal suit as he stepped behind his desk, towering over him like a tidal does, impending before the crash.

“A, uh, a very serious matter has been brought to my attention and I thought it’d be best if I asked you about it before it goes any further.”


“Your mother is on her way to the school, she shouldn’t be long.”

“You called my mom?”

“Because of your age it’s most appropriate that she be here.”


“Saint, you know Mr. Wall, yes?”

A lump in his throat.



“How well do you know him?”

“He’s a teacher here.”

“He’s your teacher, correct? Sixth period, English?”

A hesitant nod. A knock at the door.

“Yes?” Called the principal.

The secretary opened the door.

“Mrs. Goretti is here to see you, Principal Sweeney.”

Before the woman could step aside, Saint saw his mother push by her, bounding into the office. Her body language was lacking in refinement and she did nothing to mask the contempt on her hardened face.

“Mrs. Goretti, thank you for–”

“I want him fired!”

The secretary quickly closed the door. Saint stared up at his mother, who threw her purse to the floor and stood across from Principal Sweeney.

“Do you hear me?”

“Mrs. Goretti, please, I understand your concern but there are channels we have to go through before any steps can be taken.”

“I send my son to school and this is what happens?”

He lowered his head and stared into his unzipped backpack, reading words from the covers and spines of different textbooks. Repeating the titles of them in hopes that he’d come across as too preoccupied with what was in his bag to be bothered with the world around him. Glencoe, McGraw-Hill, Algebra I. Of Mice and Men. Holt Science & Technology, Physical Science.



“Answer the man!” She gripped his shoulder and he felt the agitation pulsating through her.

“Have you ever spent time with Mr. Wall outside of school?”

“…Mr. Wall’s a good person.”

“But have you spent time with him outside of school?”


“Do you know it’s not permitted for teachers to spend time with students off of school grounds?”

“No,” He was losing his composure to rattling nerves, this sinking feeling trying to birth itself through his chest for the world to see.

The air that seemed to be smothering him with an unbearable, thick heat “No, I didn’t know that.”

“You’re supposed to go straight home after school. Straight home! Why would you go with this man to his house?”

“Mrs. Goretti, I think it’d be best if we remain calm about–”

“Did he threaten you? Did he force you to go with him?”

The boy sitting in front of Saint passed him back a sheet of paper; homework questions for the chapters they were expected to read. He carelessly slipped it into his bag, looking around as everyone started getting up from their desks. He followed suit and made little eye contact as he exited the room, cat ears in hand.