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DG Bracey
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Art by Lee Kuruganti 2015


by DG Bracey


I don’t usually get visitors, so this is a perk for me. Across the table, the kid tries to read me, clumsy with questions, but I’m far beyond figuring out. I play with him. I’m a lion holding a mole’s tail under his paw.

We lean over our drinks, faces framed in shadows from the lowlight of the empty bar. The kid nurses the same beer he ordered when he sat down. I can’t keep enough Guinness in my mug.

He’ll ask a leading question. I’ll boomerang it back, use vague hearsay and misdirection. My answers bash against him like a tide on a shipwreck. Something about his face makes him a good listener, makes me tell him my story. I’ve seen faces like his before – his eyes a void I need to fill. His curiosity kills him. It’s truth serum to me. I pour my guts out. With my big mouth, I let him have it.

I tell him about being a one-percenter, making my living like I do now, doing whatever I want, letting people pay me for it. I tell him about all the men I’ve boot-stomped, how I avoided the head and the vital organs so I could take my time, make the beatings last. I tell him about the drugs, protecting meth labs from rival gangs and spunky junkies. I tell him about chain dragging whores behind my bike when they got out of line, all their pretty being smeared into the asphalt. I tell him everything soft in me has been replaced by scabs and calluses. I tell him about my days spent at light-speeds – snorting coke, waiting for the phone to ring.

The kid nods along like I’m singing a Led Zeppelin song.

I tell him about the perks of my old life. I tell him about riding my motorcycle down an Arizona highway at dusk. What a spectacular fucking sight it is to watch the sun drop below the horizon and scorch the world into an apocalyptic orange. I smoked the best pot with the most beautiful women. I drank moonshine whiskey straight from a still in the hills of Kentucky. I got head-collapsing blowjobs from runaways, looking for a home. I tell him about New Orleans’ strippers with feather-boas wrapped around their necks. I tell him what it’s like to never have to wake up to an alarm clock.

He nods, sips his fruity beer. In his suit, with his vest and pocket watch, he clocks the dirty bar around us through his little round John Lennon spectacles. And with my big fat mouth, I tell him the best and the worst of the life I’ve known. I tell him what it’s like to watch the last breath escape from men I grew up calling friends. I say, “This was when I still had friends.”

I talk and talk and dig my sharpened nails into the weathered, chipped walnut table between us. He studies me – the blue ink of my jailhouse tattoos, the scars littering my hands. My Ta-Moko warrior mask swirls in black grooves around my face. My body hardened and streamlined. I’m made for something bigger than all this petty human shit.

Study all he wants, he’ll never figure me out.

“Once, when I was young, I was as smooth and weak as you…a frail piece of meat waiting to become prey,” I say. I explain to him how I’ve evolved. I’m a modern-day monster, born of pain and bloody denim, with a lust to survive and reach beyond human. I’m hammered sleek. Fuck man, I’m a killing machine.

“How long you been working with ROAR?”  He keeps asking his cute little questions, bush-beating. It’s tactless. He’s digging for graves with a spoon.

So, I open the flood gates and let it flow. I clue him in on his precious ROAR – Regulators Of Animal Rights. I tell him how they claim nonviolence, while I work in the shadows. I say, “ROAR poses for cameras in ski masks, but I’m doing the real dirt. They’re freeing beagles from cancer labs, but I’m slicing the throat of the chemists that designed Beyonce’s new perfume line. While they’re jail-breaking macaque monkeys from their cages, I’m burning chicken farmers alive in their cars. They’re scratching the bellies of minks at fundraisers, while I’m impaling whalers on the end of their jibs.”

Since the late nineties, I’ve been the teeth behind ROAR, the gorilla-sized fist of an organization who despises me and can’t live without me. “They take pictures. I bury bodies,” I say. “They make statements. I make human tragedies.”

His eyes take notes. I let him catch up.

“But this life has its perks too.” I lean into the light for effect. Let the glow cast my face in shadows. I lick my chops. Stroke the ornery stubble of my goatee. Scratch my sideburns like I’ve got fleas. He looks a little bothered. I wait for his face to calm before I say, “I’m a hunter by nature. I was wild and aimless. But I’ve cultivated over time.” I chug the remains of my Guinness. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those hunters with a pussy orange vest and a thirty-aught whatever. No, I hunt with every piece of me.”

His fingernails are polished, cuticles even and squared. He recently had a manicure. He drops his hands to his lap. His shirt is an unnatural cream, button-down. His suit is pinstriped. Tailored, it all fits him so well.

I say, “I’m a weapon. My hands crush bones. My fingernails are carved into claws. My teeth shaved to points. I follow a linebacker’s workout regime. I eat what animals eat. I drink what animals drink.  Anything that gets in my way or impedes my maximum potential, I erase from my life.”  I let my big mouth tell him what I am. “Yes sir, I’m a Hybrid.” 

The veil slips. I expose myself as the specimen I am. But he doesn’t get it, at least not completely. He wants more. In his eyes, I see his cattle prod, poking at my psyche to make me move down the ramp. I see his gears turn.

There’s a tickle in my throat. A tiny convulsion in my gut. I want to vomit every truth on the table between us. But the urge u-turns back down my throat as the one waitress of the bar appears at our table.

She slides a new mug of beer in front of the kid to take the place of the warm piss he pretends to sip. She takes a pint of Guinness and a glass of water from her tray and winks as she sets them down in front of me. She says, “You sure that’s all you need?”

I smile my sharp teeth and nod. She walks away and the kid says, “I think she’s flirting with you.”

I tell him, right before he got here, while I was waiting for him, I fucked her in the stock room. His lips shake into a smirk. One of those smirks young men get when they think they’re hearing a line of bullshit.  So I tell him, “I took her from behind, manipulated the pressure points in between her thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth vertebrae, pierced the pockets of tension between them with my fingernails like acupuncture. I say, “The pressure caused convulsions in her pelvis. The convulsions caused spasms in her kegel muscle, the muscle expanding and retracting caused her to have weak-shaking orgasms. It was a goddamn biological domino effect.”   

He thinks I’m full of shit until the waitress turns around by the bar. Tiny red dots bleed through the back of her white tank-top like points on a map. The kid’s face looks like a child drinking soda for the first time. Figure that out, I think.

I pull a small vial from my jeans’ pocket. Shake it hard between my fingers. Unscrew the cap and pour a gob of dried paste in my glass of lukewarm water. I let it spread, dissolve into flake and floating gel.

“What’s that?” He asks.

“Jizz,” I say. 

“Say again?” He says.

“Jizz,” I repeat. “You know, cum? Sperm?”

His smirk is gone. He squints and cocks his head, “You plan on drinking it?”

He asks, so I give him the scoop on my jizz. “This isn’t your run of the mill jizz. This is fresh from the mountains of the Congo, newly squeezed Silverback Gorilla jizz. This is sixty-thousand-dollar-an-ounce, fuck-you-with-power jizz.” I toss back the jizz-filled glass of water.

It’s an addiction, like being drunk with power. I can’t describe how tangy the gooze of a Namibia Cheetah is or how stout the load of a short-horn bull is or how bitter the spunk of a Botswana Plains Gazelle is.

I let my big mouth blab. “I have hundreds of animal chromosomes mixing with mine.  I’ve shot it in my veins with needles, stuck it up my ass with suppositories, rubbed myself down with creams.” I take a gulp of beer to wash down my jizz and say, “Your system rejects it at first. You puke. You gag. You have severe stomach cramps. But after awhile, your body learns to accept it.”

My skin tingles. My heart pumps with purpose. I’m changing. Not like some sci-fi bullshit where you morph into some giraffe-headed puppet. No, it’s more than that. All the wasteful shit I was dependant on falls away. Any drugs or rule of society – it’s all laughable. I live to eat, to hunt, to romp, to fuck. I suck up the world and devour it, spit out what I don’t need.

He doesn’t ask, but I tell him. “I’m done numbing myself. I feel every moment for what it is. Not what people tell me it should be.”

He says something but I’m preoccupied with my erection. I rub it through my pants, both my hands escape under the table. He asks me if I’m enjoying myself. He’s been trained on how to show indignation.

“Man, you should try mixing rhino horn into your diet…or congealed shark fin,” I say. “That stuff makes your dick double in size. Or you can rub jackal bile on your cock. It’ll stay hard for hours. Fuck Viagra.”

I’m thinking about whipping out my member to show him, but he puts his hands on table, makes a move to stand up. He says, “Alright then, I’m going to leave you and your little hybrid down there to work things out.”

He’s funny. I say, “Sit down. Show me what you got.” When he sits, I say, “Buck up, kid. Live a little, don’t take everything so serious. I’m not looking to fuck you.” He pulls a folded envelope from his inside pocket and I say, “But your tongue looks a little like a landing strip though.” I laugh.

The kid ignores me, tosses the envelope across the table. It’s sealed. The kid’s face is smooth as marble, without emotion. He says, “What’d you think is in it? More powdered-jizz?”

“Don’t know, don’t care. But I’m pretty sure it ain’t spunk,” I say. “It’s probably another someone to get rid of or another something to burn up.”

“You shouldn’t tell me your business,” the kid says. “I don’t need to know about it…or your lifestyle.”

“Yeah?” I say.

“Yeah,” he says. “You don’t know me. It’s just not a smart thing to do.”

“Guess you’re right,” I say and look him in those eyes. A glimpse of my reflection stares back at me from his glasses, and I say. “You have one of those faces. One of those confessional faces. Anyone ever tell you that?”

“Yeah, I guess,” he says, takes a sip of beer.

I slap the envelope on the table. Inside, there may be another animal lab to destroy, another murder to be covered up with a car crash, another arson made to look like an insurance job. I look at the dark circles floating in the gooey white of his eyes and say. “Favors and perks, that’s all I am to people.”

“I don’t know what that means…favors and perks?” The kid leans back now, out of arms-reach. “ROAR talks about you like you’re the boogey-man – the devil they made a deal with.”   

Oh, the things he says when he speaks.

“I’m no boogey-man, no devil. I’m just a freak that wants to be with my own kind,” I say. “Did they tell you why I do it?”

He shakes his head.

I use my deadliest weapon, my big fat mouth. I open up and drop the dime on myself. I tell him about the other freaks of nature, about the hybrids, about the last two centuries of zoologists cross-breeding animals to measure results, about man-made abominations just like me. I say, “They are all I have left to conquer. I’ve hunted, killed and consumed all of nature’s true killers. They bore me. But the freaks fight for their existence. They battle for their spot in evolution’s chain. I need that. I need to bleed in the kill. I need to mix my blood with theirs.”

He doesn’t say a word, sits there and crosses his arms.

I lean closer and say, “Not far from here, on the other side of Bogalusa, I’ve got a fenced reserve, two hundred acres of flatlands and swamps. I made a deal with ROAR. I do a job for them, and when I get home, somewhere out in my reserve is my perk. That’s ROAR’s sacrifice to the devil.”

The kid’s brain has to be burning trying to put it all together.  

I tell him about splitting the skull of a coywolf with my bare hands. “I stomped the life out of wackals, half-wolf/half-jackal. I squared off and outlasted a beefalo, half-bull/half-buffalo. I out boxed a chorilla, half-gorilla/half-chimp. I bear-hugged a pizzly, half-grizzly/ half-polar bear. I mercy-killed a tigon, half-tiger/half-lioness. She laid there like a housecat while I ripped her apart.”

His eyebrows arch. His tongue is frozen between his teeth. I smell the sweetness of his sweat.

I consider telling him that this envelope probably contains ROAR’s beginning negotiations for one of my favors in return for male and female ligers, half-lion/half-tigers. I’ve had my eyes on them for awhile. They’re schizophrenic and severely aggressive, twelve hundred pounds, apiece, of pissed-off, lunatic cat. Plus, it’s mating season and they’ll be fighting for survival. But I throw him a curveball instead and say, “Why are you here again?”

“I’m here to give you that.”  He points at the envelope like I’m a fucking moron.

I shake my head, drop the knowledge. “This is all usually done with want ads.”

“What?” He says.

 I want to rattle him now, so I explain the codes and the classified ads. I tell him, “ROAR usually doesn’t send people to me. And usually, means never. Like you said, it’s just not good business for do-gooders like ROAR to be seen with swamp monsters like me,” I say.

The ads always have the header, A Triumph Spitfire is needed for 2nd Childhood. There’s a letter code we use for the content of the ad. My big mouth gabs on, “Know what, who cares? I appreciate this exception. The conversation was nice. I got to meet a new friend.”

The kid should be sweating, but he’s not. His eyes sink under his brow, dart around the room. His mouth sags a bit. His gears smoke inside his head. His tongue thumps against the back of his teeth. I could almost hear his nerves ping across his synaptic gaps. He smiles, plays it cool, says, “Is that right?”

I don’t smile anymore.

He says, “I guess I was curious to see the legendary boogey man who gets paid with animals.” The kid has a contagious smile, but I’m immune.

He shifts in his seat and says, “I got to piss.” He’s acting out of character for his suit. He jumps up, crosses the empty bar, hesitates just past the dart boards, a few steps from the exit, a few steps from the johns. He takes a few lame strides to the bathroom door labeled, Men, and disappears behind it.

I pick up the envelope, rip it open, dump the contents on the table. I finger through the notes and pictures, space it all out in front of me. Most of it is misdirection. Photos of empty factories, notes of nonsense words and senseless phrases – Jackson duckweed Katrina Pompeii – The classifieds for the Triumph Spitfire cut out in a square. I work the code like I’m bilingual. The answer makes me laugh. I knew it, as soon as he walked in the door, since I woke up this morning. Sometimes, you catch the scent in your coffee. The code reads, Kill him at Birdy’s Bar. Birdy’s address followed, like I needed it.

My adrenaline pumps until it plateaus, until the calmness comes over me. I trail his path. The waitress is out back, smoking with the bartender. I open the bathroom door slow, without a creak.

The kid stands at the urinal, mumbles to himself. He turns to face me, like he knew I was coming. As I reach to flip the light switch off, silver glints in his hands – two blades?

The room is absolute black – no windows, not even a sliver of light. He tries to move. I hear him clumsy in the dark, skates across wet tile. I wait for him and slide into his path. He flails at me. His arms may be trained, but no more than an angry child, a macaque monkey to me. He connects only with the dank air. All my senses alive, I hear him slip, tumble. I snatch him mid-plunge, pull him close, into a bear-hug.

He fights. His elbows strike. He squirms, gets space. I release him a millisecond, enough to sink my index and forefingers on both hands into the soft meat between his ribs. I yank them up and he rises.

But then I feel his bite. The blades of what must be two billhooks slice like reapers through my midsection, tearing skin and organs, making me really spill my guts.

I dig deeper into him, lift him like a hand puppet. But I’m getting weaker and my muscles twitch. We gasp together. I feel like letting go, but he twists the hooked blades and pulls more of me out.

“The envelope was mine,” the kid whispers. “You’re an old, sloppy animal…a fucking dinosaur…This is a mercy kill.”

My fingers search beyond his ribs for his heart. But his blades dissect me. I lose more of me by the second. I gather all my strength – jam my fingers into him as far as they’ll go.

He lets go a low guttural groan.

I lay my weight into him, my head on his shoulder as we fall against the wall of urinals, sliding slick to the floor. Buried under me, he gasps. His bones snap.

Across my hardened tongue, between my clinched razor teeth, I push the last word I’ll ever speak over my parched and cracked lips – “Perks.”          

DG Bracey is a teacher, a student, and a freelance writer from the Carolina coast. He's published short stories in various journals and reports for a weekly alternative press. To keep up with him, like DG Bracey on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and if you see him around, give him a wave.

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