next room, Paulie heard her, rifling through his drawers.
Oh, Trish, he thought,
Same shit, every
day. Looking for money, in all the wrong places. It was in the kitchen, in the
Folgers coffee can under the sink.
The kitchen, he
thought at her. The kitchen.
“I leave her money
to steal,” Paulie had told Red, the barmaid. “I’ve got to. Or my whole paycheck
goes in the stem.”
“She stole my purse!” Red said.
“Nah. S’not her style. She just takes
wallets.” Lovesick Paulie was so in denial. “Crack is poison,”
he said, teary-eyed.
A real killer.
As Trish tore through the closet, boots
and shoes went flying. Almost super-human strength, she had, these days.
The coffee can, Paulie thought, fists
clenched. Under the . . .
In the doorway, he smelled her. He shut
his eyes, pretended he was invisible. Still, he felt her eyes on him. Sweat
poured down his back, into his shorts.
Finally, she went away.
He’d just got to work when the call
came. “Your wife . . .” His boss had that knowing look.
“Is she sick?”
“Oh, it’s a
disease, all right.” Smiling, the boss handed Paulie the phone. “But she
doesn’t have a fever, or cancerous tumor.”
You fuck, Paulie
thought. Of all days to be out of cell phone minutes.
“Yer wife,” a strange guy told
him. “She won’t
leave. Did all my shit, drank my booze . . .”
Stole your wallet.
“Come get her, dude.”
“Be right over,” Paulie told him.
“And stay there.” His boss had stopped
Paulie himself was a three-beers guy. Had
never done drugs.
“So what,” his friends asked, “do you
see in her?”
This lanky thing,
with big, scared eyes. A wounded bird, she was like, huddled under his blanket.
Almost shy, after sex, but just with him.
“Trish?” one guy
grabbed his own cock.
would say, in this distant voice, “I need . . . help, don’t I?”
He held her close, her bones nearly
cracking. “I’ll help you,” he said.
But he didn’t.
He was that scared of losing her.
By 2 A.M., he was past three beers. A
pint of Jack, he’d found, in that closet. Skynyrd on his iPhone: “Needle and
the Spoon.” Words from the wise . . .
But no needle
killed her. And no stem did, neither.
A speeding truck took her from him.
Chunks of Trish
struck parked cars, a mailbox. Intestines smeared the streets and sidewalks . .
underwear drawer . . .
Over Skynyrd, he heard her come back. A
shuffling, and scratching, like rats.
Smelled that smell, like a zillion dead ones.
He turned up the music till his ears
If she hadn’t been high, she would’ve seen
If he’d’ve helped her, she wouldn’t have
“The kitchen!” he yelled. “Look in—”
But what she was here for, money
Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks
like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so
needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants. She’s been
published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A
Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E,
Dark Dossier, and Rock and a Hard
Place. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama.
She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.