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A Woman of Good Hard Hands-Poem by Otto Burnwell
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

82_ym_womanofgoodhardhands_tbutler.jpg
Art by Terry Butler 2020

Woman of Good Hard Hands

by Otto Burnwell

 

There was murder in the bag
carried by the woman of good hard hands.

Getting on the downtown bus,
she rode the whole long way to Chelsea.
Passengers who bothered looking
saw her hands were fit for hardy work,
hands that must have seen a lot of use.

They couldn’t help but notice
the silky lingerie and hair
in the shopping bag between her ankles.
A wig most likely,
dropped in without much thought,
on a purple bra and panties,
and shoes, like black stilettoes,
an ice-pick heel poked through the side.

It made the other riders
wonder at a woman
who would carry her possessions
in such a careless way.

An aging hooker, maybe,
too tired and long in her profession
to care about the get-up
she’s worn so many nights?
Perhaps a weary nanny,
carrying a costume
for an absent-minded student
in a progressive school for girls?

One guy got it right,
but that was accidental,
guessing they were trophies
from the body of her rival
to confront a faithless husband.

None of them could ever guess
the way she spilled the contents
on her husband’s office desk,
announcing how she dumped the body
outside a nameless little town
with a picture and his card.
Someone’s sure to find it,
unless the local cops are morons.
Or—he can get there first.

Now the husband spends his nights and weekends
prowling all the side roads
between Manhattan and Coxsackie
for the body of a missing lover
who may or may not lie strangled
by the woman of good hard hands.


 


Otto used to be a legal assistant (before COVID-19), living in a densely populated, urban area, where people nowadays ride buses and subways with suspicion and overly active imaginations. This piece came out of that.
He writes to stay sane, uses a pseudonym to stay employable, and changes enough detail in what he writes to stay welcome at the family’s holiday gatherings—in some future to be named later.
He’s recently placed pieces with Horror, Sleaze, TrashFiction on the WebThe Stray Branch, and Yellow Mama.

Terry Butler lives in the country, near a small town south of San Jose, CA called Hollister. He used to write steadily, publishing both in print and online as Terence Butler, but after some health issues, the energy needed to write seemed to dissipate somewhat. He has been a professional photographer and a painter/collage-assemblage maker for most of his working life, so painting and photo art have taken the place of genre fiction as an outlet. Recently the story “Fire Man” appeared all as a piece in his mind so he simply wrote it down. He sent it to Cindy, and in the ensuing back and forth. They somehow discussed using some of his visual art, too. Cindy is simply the best, and a real stalwart in this little world. She has a big heart and a deep love for animals, too!

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020