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Thomas Sullivan
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Art by Mike Kerins 2010



Thomas Sullivan



“Oh, yeah, baby, we’ve got us a winner. This one should be easy to roll. Jane! C’mere, check this out!”


          Jane scampers up, puts her head next to mine, and looks at the screen. I catch a whiff of her breath, which smells like something died in her mouth. She laughs as she reads the Craigslist ad out loud.


          For sale. 24-carat diamond wedding ring. excellent condition. must sell due to husband’s recent death. $500 obo.”


          “Awww, that is so sad.”


          Jane smiles through crooked teeth and slaps my shoulder in congratulations. She scoots over to the kitchen table, grabs her sunglasses and a roll of duct tape, and shouts “Party time!” I jot down the address and grab a baseball bat before joining her.


We shuffle out of our decaying shit-box of an apartment, descend the creaking stairs, and fast-walk to the Econovan.


I hop behind the wheel, say a quick prayer, and turn the key.




I curse, pump the gas, and try again.




The van shudders to life. We squeal away from the curb and start heading for the other side of town. The good side. Ten minutes later we leave behind the pawn shops and payday lenders and enter a leafy suburb on the edge of downtown. Jane directs me to the right street and starts scanning addresses. She finds the correct one, points toward a house, and commands me to pull over.

We sit for a moment, staring at a small yellow bungalow with a perfectly-manicured lawn. A small stone squirrel sits playfully next to a bird feeder and a pink flamingo. I look at the porch and see a horse pulling a wooden cart filled with flowers. I laugh.


“Oh yeah, this is how we like it.”


We exit the van and march up to the front door. I stand on a flowery welcome mat and ring the bell. From behind the door I hear a frail, high-pitched voice yell, “Hold on, I’m coming.”


A moment later the door swings open. I gaze into a living room filled with knickknacks before looking down at a four-foot-tall woman gripping a walker.


Sweet Jesus, we’ve struck gold.


I work up a serious but kind voice and say “Hello ma’am, we’re here about the ring. Sorry to not call first, I hope this time is okay for you.”


The old woman pivots the walker and starts to creep back toward the living room.


“Come in, come in . . . can I get you two a glass of milk?”


Jane jabs an elbow in my ribs and smiles as we enter the musty house.


“No, but thank you. We won’t be long.”


Jane closes the door. The woman swivels the walker and looks at us. I reach behind me and grab the bat from my belt.


“Give us the ring, bitch.”


The woman flashes a startled expression.


“Young man, what on earth are you doing?”


She starts trembling. Then suddenly she stops trembling and gets perfectly still. She points a bony finger at me and starts laughing.

What the hell.


The woman smiles and says, “Ooh, this should be fun.”


She claps her hands and screams, “Boys!”


Three enormous pit bulls burst out of a bedroom and race toward Jane and me. They jar to a halt two feet in front of us and start growling. I stare at the animals and raise the bat, preparing to fight.


“Young man, if I were you, I’d drop the bat . . . if you want to keep any of your leg meat, that is.”


I look at the three sets of enormous, dripping teeth and drop the bat next to a wicker basket filled with old copies of Ladies Home Journal.


The old woman grins and stares at Jane and me. She digs a hand under her shawl and brings out two trackball headsets. She tosses one to Jane and one to me.


“Put these on if you want to get out of here alive.”


We start complying.


The woman reaches into her pocket. She drags out a dildo and attaches it to the cross bar on her walker. Then she drags out a second one and snaps it onto the bar at the other end.


She commands us to drop our pants and turn around.


As Jane and I are turning, the woman starts pushing the walker towards us. She flashes a toothless smile and chuckles before saying, “And to think that I used to have to pay for this.”




Thomas Sullivans writing has appeared in Underground Voices and 3AM Magazine, among others. He is the author of Life In The Slow Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education. For info on this title, and to view more of Thomas’ writing, please visit his author website at

Art by Christopher Lee Stine 2011

How Can I Help You?



Thomas Sullivan



“Robert Johnson speaking, how can I help you?”


“Hi, Robert. My name’s Ray Clark, calling from Paradigm Info Services.”


“Okay . . .”


“I’m with an expert-networking firm here in New York. How’s the weather out there in Silicon Valley?”


“Uh, pretty good, what’s this about? I’m pretty busy right now with the quarterlies coming up.”


“Sure, sure, understand. I’ll be quick. As you probably know, we recruit consultants from various industries who can provide timely information to large-scale investors who . . .”


“And you’re interested in bringing me on board?”


“Well, in your role at AMD you are privy to timely market data.”


“That is correct. So . . .”


“So we’d like to offer you the chance to become one of our consultants. On a quarterly basis, for a significant sum of money, of course. Your former boss, Ray Wetstone, said you were a discreet fellow and might be interested.”


“Definitely. Is this straight pay or commission?”


“Straight. Once per quarter for information delivered two days before company results are made public. We’re prepared to start at 100, but that amount can certainly rise with performance.”

“Okay, sounds good. Truth be told, it’s been a while since I’ve had a decent raise. What’s the next step here?”


“A Richard Bloomfeld from Inspirada Capital will call you later today. I’ll fax over an agreement right now. Do you have a private, secure line?”


* * * *


“Robert Johnson speaking, how can I help you?”


“Hi Robert, its Richard from Inspirada.”


“Oh, hey, how’s it going? Still digging out over there?”


“Jesus, tell me about it. Horrible time for a fucking blizzard. I actually walked to work. So Ray filled you in on the deal?”


“Yup, got the fax, sent it back. Just need to know what exactly you want and in what format. I’m poring through it all right now.”


“Looking good?”




“Okay, we need Units Shipped, Average Price Per Unit, Estimated Profit, and any one-time charges or write-downs you’re aware of.”


“Piece a cake. Got it right here. Excel spreadsheet okay?”


“Sure, sure. I’ll send along my email address and we’re good to go. So it’s looking good, huh?”


“I think you’ll be surprised.”


* * * *




“Robert Johnson speaking, how can I help you?”


What the fuck is your deal?”




“Very funny, asshole. What kinda game you think you’re playing?”


“Oh, Richard, it’s you. Yeah, tough luck on that one. When I saw the headline ‘Investors Disappointed By AMD Results,’ I thought, I know one sucker for whom that’s probably a big understatement. So how much did you guys lose?”


“I cannot believe this shit.”


“C’mon, no spilled milk, how much?”


“Listen, pal, and listen close, you do not want to screw with us.”


“Too late. I already did.”


“We’ve got ways to make your life hell.”


“Too late there as well; it’s pretty much hell already. But if you could stop breathing into the phone for a second, I’ve got some very valuable information for you.”




“Well, Richard, they sell these little devices at Radio Shack that let you record calls. Small thing, only $19.95. Pretty slick, you guys should definitely look into the company that makes them. Anyway, I recorded both of your calls. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, soliciting non-public info is a big no-no. Insider trading is a serious offense.”


“Fuck you.”


“You’re welcome. Do you look good in stripes? Anyhow, unless you want the recordings to find their way to the SEC, I’d advise you to forget this whole little affair.”


“Screw you, you signed with Ray. You’re part of this now.”

“Nope, never signed, just shredded. And the info I sent you, guess what?”




“It was from 1998. Whaddya think I am, stupid?”




“Hey, you have a great Christmas. Gotta go.”




Thomas Sullivans writing has appeared in Word Riot and 3AM Magazine, among others. He is the author of Life In The Slow Lane, a comic memoir about teaching drivers education. For information on this title, please visit his author website at

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