LA VENGEANCE DE LEO
Chi Chi was a petty dope dealer, full-time fraudster and occasional
paralegal. She had frittered away all of her meagre inheritance on footwear and frivolous
froth like French designer jeans and lacy bedroom panties. Karl used to say she was a “poster
pinup for the bourgeoisie”. They broke up when she sold his flamenco guitar on e-bay
and she fucked his best friend in the Café Rouge parking lot. She told him while they were
watching a Netflix miniseries on sociopaths. She remembered his big sad eyes like two accusing
at Klub 7: Chi Chi tried to block a platoon
of dark thoughts from clouding her mind as she double-stepped her way to the bar
and sat down next to a flirty old buzzard with
a sexy gold tooth and a sunny laugh. She slipped off her jacket and struck a voguish pose.
Hot Americano legs stole the limelight.
“Can I get
you a drink?”
“Why thank you very
can call me Bob.”
voice reminded her of scratchy nettles.
have a rum and coke, Bob.”
The barkeep sailed in from nowhere, topped up Bob’s glass and set hers on the counter.
Chi Chi spied the hands of opportunity crawl through the twinkle of Bob’s eyes.
“You’re sneaky. You look like trouble with
a capital ‘T’.”
She threw her head back and laughed and it was like uncorking a bottle of champagne. “All
my friends call me Chi Chi.”
chuckled. “You really know how to bust those moves. I’m like a constipated
racoon out there.”
there’s nothing to it, you just jiggle and jive. Somehow it all comes together.”
whiskey-bombed hours later, Chi Chi slunk into Bob’s exclusive beach hideaway. And
when she stripped off, they became two frolicking waves in the ocean of the night.
3:00 a.m. Chi Chi woke up. She could smell the drift of Johnnie Walker on Bob’s grizzled
face. She looked around in wonder. It was like a show house. Straight out of Harper’s
Bazaar. Her silent smile spread into a grin. She stared at Bob and his curbstone skin
all gray and scaly like a map of unfinished endings.
There were all the
signs of a big-ticket life but as she tiptoed around, she knew something was off. She couldn’t
decide if the chemi - trails in her brain were playing cheap tricks on her or if she’d
really heard her mother’s voice. Why?
dug her nails deep into her palms to stop herself from crying.
Mamma? Where are you?”
she felt a cold rush of air. Her nipples
hardened. She crept back to bed and laid
back down next to Bob. His throat hummed as he turned his body towards her. A sweaty
tangle of strangeness and comfort.
She slept until
noon. There was a yellow post-it note on the dresser, it read: Help yourself to champagne
and eggs Bob xo. She hopped out of bed and floated into the kitchen. A vulgar smack
of culinary porn. Big -beamed ceilings and the ubiquitous standalone
island. The refrigerator, a sleek stainless armoire of greedy decadence ate
up two thirds of the room. Slowly she opened the door. Apart from all the crushed ice and
luxe gourmet fare she spied a delicate black box pitted with air holes sitting on the middle
shelf. She picked it up and turned it over.
Probably a fancy schmancy block of cheese
or maybe something a little more exotic.
She held it close
to her ear and listened. It sounded like the chatter of old men praying; A spiritual
mantra of some kind. Ya be Yae. Ya be Yae. A wave of disorientation and a scattering of
stinging light. Terrified Chi Chi dropped the box and on impulse scrambled for the door.
She had a tight dry feeling in her throat. Her
eyes dimmed and the last thing she saw was a fury of red ants dancing
around her ankles as she collapsed onto the cold terracotta tiles.
she finally woke up a slap of green neon enveloped her. It covered the walls, the ceiling
and the barrel of a Glock 43 inches away from her head . She gulped and stole a breath.
This can’t be real …In her mind she rationalised a neo-Lynchian
film of distraction. Soon the three-foot talking blue-haired munchkins would bounce into view and she could catch up on some well-needed sleep.
But instead, she was confronted with the lurid shadow of a woman. Her face hidden by a
creepy theatre mask with the eyes and mouth hollowed out. One side tragedy the other
Chi. Even that name sounds fake. Like a cutesy
liddle Pomeranian or one of those tacky cocktails. You know with a paper umbrella
sticking out the top. Either way, it’s so …You.”
There was something eerily familiar about that greying
voice. A voice sharpened with hate and Pepto
is a beautiful place, eh?”
She nodded and tried to squint away all the sickly green.
“I don’t understand …Who ..?”
The woman laughed through her mask. “You were always trying to be niceeee. So nice.”
“Please. I … Where’s Bob?”
The woman slithered closer and laid her gloved palm
across Chi Chi’s cheek.
Chi Chi flinched
and tried to back away, but she was hemmed in from all sides. Could that
be Bob’s wife or …
you what do you want from me?”
that’s a start. That’s what I expect from
a wannabe lawyer.”
slipped off her mask with theatrical panache. “Now do you remember?”
Her face was a
complex trail of unhappy yesterdays.
Chi Chi could see
all the misery of the world caged in that face.
tried to place her, but all she could think of was Swedish fish and milk balls. Her stomach grumbled as she let out a short
grinned, and revealed a mushy purple gum line. “You left me with nothing. I should have been sipping Mai
Tai’s on Coco Beach. But here I am working
as a maid for Bob. On my hands and knees
scrubbing his toilet clean. Mopping up dog piss. Washing walls, clearing cupboards
etc.” She shook her head. “Rich people can be so funny. They’ll spend
4 million on a house and buy a cheap vacuum for 20 bucks. Go figure.”
sarcastic laugh. “As for me, I get just enough to keep my Fico score alive and a
stack of pancakes at Denny’s every Friday.”
narrowed her eyes. “I‘ve been trailing your cheating ass for months. Just waiting
for my chance. Then fate came knocking…And in a stroke of synchronicity, well, here we are.”
tea-coloured wheeze landed on Chi Chi’s thigh.
Chi Chi flashed back to a sunny day in June. Elizabeth
Rawlins, a sixty-five year-old widow had walked into the office and trusted her with every
penny she had. And now a year ago to the day Chi Chi, aka Cameron Bell sat face to face
with her conscience.
Mrs. Rawlins had a surprisingly steady hand, but her
voice was shaky. “When you forged the deeds to my house and stole it from me, they
burnt it to the ground. Leo was inside.”
Mrs. Rawlins started to sob. “Leo was more than just a cat. He was family.”
She didn’t think the old woman would do it, couldn’t
believe she was capable of pulling the trigger but that weird light in Mrs Rawlins eyes
Chi Chi screeched
and jumped towards her. Mrs. Rawlins toppled backwards and dropped the gun, Chi Chi made
a scramble for the stairs but tripped on the third one. Mrs Rawlins limped forward, grabbed
her ankles and tried to drag her back. “I’m gonna use every last breath …”
Chi Chi kicked her away crawled to the top of the stairs,
unbolted the front door, and ran…
Mrs Rawlins gathered herself together and left the apartment clutching
Chi Chi’s smashed ankle chain. On her way home she felt a gravitational pull on her
energy and immediately dialed Maryanne, a practicing witch. For the next few days, Mrs. Rawlins immersed herself in magic rituals with Maryanne, involving the sacrificial slaughter of
dead mice and Chi Chi’s broken ankle
chain. They made little paper aeroplanes and wrote their wishes on them. Mrs. Rawlins spat
on hers then they released them into the East River .
Chi Chi sat alone, sipping
a Mai Tai cocktail watching the ruby crown of the sun sink beneath restless skies, when
a stray tabby climbed into her lap. At first demure and coy she rubbed her head against
Chi Chi’s thigh. Then with a snooty hiss suddenly sprung round and swiped her left
cheek with her wet paw. A scratch of red. The seams of Chi Chi’s mouth slanted down
as she tried to push it away.
Too late! It sunk its claws deep
into the side of her face ripping open the corner of her left eye. Milky globs of red pus
oozed to the bottom of her chin. Chi Chi let out a long piercing scream like a fire whistle.
Blood slabbered from the cat’s mouth, her misshapen teeth chunking down on slivers
When it was over, she licked the blood from her whiskers and
dropped her tail down as she slunk into the gloom. The skies were clotted with
purple clouds, and you could hear the chatter of old men praying over the wind.
Saira Viola is a poet, fiction novelist, and short story writer. Her work has featured
in magazines and journals, including Vautrin Magazine, MÜ Magazine Gonzo
Today, and International Times. Viola is a Pushcart Nominee and was
nominated for Best of The Net three times. Fiction Jukebox Crack Apple &
Pop (Published by Fahrenheit Press).