Killing Chickens

killing_chickens

As a kid my mother used to make a joke when the McDonald’s drive-thru took too long. This was before they took credit cards.

She’d say, “what, are they killing the chickens or something?”

My brother and I always laughed, or rolled our eyes or both.

We got older, yet still we laughed, rolled our eyes, or both. We started dating. My brother had long-term, strong, targeted relationships. I dated like shotgun pellets in a tree full of birds.

Once, I was dating a girl named Fern; her real name was Kate, but people called her Fern. She didn’t like McDonalds.

We were on our way to the train–it was late. My mother asked if we’d like to stop for McDonalds. I said, “yes.” Fern said nothing, but ordered a milkshake. The line was slow, long.

“What, are they killing the chickens or something?” my mother said.

I didn’t laugh as hard as I usually would have; it was cut short. Fern was bristling, I could feel her heat.

“McDonalds tortures birds,” she muttered to me.

I rolled my eyes. “I know, please, not now,” I tried.

So, she addressed my mother. She went on for a while. I’d heard it before; “it’s barely real meat anyways, they keep them in cages, poison them”–I’d seen the documentary with her.

Fern was practically in tears by the time she finished educating my mother from the backseat. It took so long that we had made it to the window before she finished–out of breath and wet-eyed.

I put my arm around her and sighed. I couldn’t see my mother’s face. The drive-thru window opened. It was a young girl, two nose piercings.

“What, were you killing the chickens?” my mother asked the girl.

They both had a good laugh. Fern took the train alone.

 

The Paris Test

paris_test

We find a Vietnamese place between where I live and Q works. It’s fair since neither of us likes walking too far from where we need to be.

“Why are we getting Vietnamese?” he asks.

I shrug. “I wanted soup.”

“We’re in Russia. They practically invented soup.”

“Yeah,” I agree, “but,” I point to the bowl, “this is the only soup they won’t put mayonnaise or sour cream in.”

Q nods. “I am so tired.”

“Why?”

He sighs, “I went on a walk last night with some racist girl.”

“How do you know she was racist?” I ask.

He shrugs, “The Paris test.”

I choke on a bit of soup. “What the hell is the Paris test?”

“I ask them if they like Paris.”

“So?”

“So, if they say no, they are racist.”

I sit back and try to find some secret meaning in what he said. I don’t. Instead, I say, “what?”

“Well, you know how racist Russians are. If they don’t like Paris, it’s because of the immigrants.”

I cross my arms, “that’s–”

“And,” he cuts me off, “what do they say after that?”

I sigh, “that they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” I mutter.

“That they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” Q repeats, pointing at me. He raises an eyebrow.

I sigh. “Okay, yeah.”

“To be fair, it’s mildly racist for Russia,” he admits, “like the other day, I was playing never-have-I-ever with some Russians and one girl–out of nowhere just goes ‘Never have I ever run down the street with niggers.'”

“Uh–what does that even mean?”

Q throws up his arms. “Who knows.”

“So, walking girl was just mildly racist.”

He nods, “for Russia.”

“Right.”

“In England, she’s an outright bitch.”

We finish our soups in relative silence. When the table is cleared Q wipes his hands on a napkin. “She did say the n-word, though,” he admits.

“So, she’s full racist then.”

“Yeah, full racist.”

“So are you going to see her again?”

He sits and thinks a moment, “it was a really long walk. I don’t think I want to do that again.”

Gvlerbintinkinstry

His name was Francis and he was born with an odd gift. By the time he was twenty, he was still a baby and his mother was dead. They switched him to goats milk and kept him in a cage.

I found him on an app; F4F. I’d been having trouble making new friends in Russia. So, I signed up and put in my information, interests, morals and so on. It set me up on something called a F4Fate.

“It’s a date,” my grilfriend said.

“A friend date.”

She shrugged. “Still a date.”

I went anyways. He was ten minutes late, led in by his caretaker.

“His name is Francis, he was born with an odd gift,” his caretaker told me; her name was Olga.

I was half-way through my second beer. “Hi,” I told Francis.

“Omphlalaa boogle-snarf,” Francis replied, unenthused.

Olga shrugged. “He doesn’t speak English. He’s been alive for, hm–” she looked away, “a few thousand years at least. We felt like he needed some social time.”

I frowned at Francis, he didn’t seem too interested in anything, especially me. “I–uh, I don’t speak Russian very well,” I told her, or him, or both.

Olga sighed. “He doesn’t either, we don’t actually know what he speaks, a dead language presumably.”

She seemed bored.

“Humble-gruff!” Francis cried. Olga checked her watch, then nodded. She held out her wrist to Francis, he kissed it. When he did, her wrist glowed a bit. I frowned.

“It doesn’t hurt,” Olga reassured me. “He just takes a little life now, keeps him able.”

I leaned away from the pair. Francis did look old, but not frail. I ordered another beer.

“Umgfrlumpus!” he said, pulling his lips from Olga’s wrist.

I shrugged and ordered him a beer too. Olga declined. We sat in silence for a while. This is what I get for looking for friends on an app, I thought. Francis hummed to himself as he drank. I wondered when I could leave without running the risk of having my life wrist-kissed out of my body. To pass the time I had a go at Francis.

“So, what do you like to do?” I asked him.

He grunted. “Inklifundershuck.”

I sighed, then frowned, thinking.

“Inklifundershuck?” I said. Francis looked up at me. He raised an eyebrow.

Then, he smiled. “Jusflrunhcter,” he said.

“Klimblginter,” I replied.

“Vlimpsitsfik!” he cried.

I leaned toward him and held up my finger.

“Tlipl-shfffter.”

He followed suit, saying it softer, “Tlipl-shfffter.”

At this we both burst out laughing. Francis turned to Olga and held out his finger. ” Tlipl-shfffter!” he spat at her, “Tlipl-shfffter!”

He had to put down his beer he was laughing so hard. Olga looked from him to me in a confused sort of horror. She looked at her own finger.

“Tlipl-shfffter?” she asked, “what–what are you guys talking about?”

I shook my head, catching my breath. “Absolutely nothing,” I told her, feeling as though I’d finally found a friend I understood.

 

You Wouldn’t Want to Float to China

china

I was nine when I found out people could fly. It was simple. Just two steps to the left, then up.

A girl in my class taught me. Her name was Kelly. She had bangs.

“Just like this,” she said, before showing me. I frowned.

I followed the motions. I froze. Like a bubble in cola, I floated. I began laughing as I floated. As I rose, my stomach sank. I started to panic, flail.

“Just calm down,” Kelly said, floating up to hold my hand.

“I want to get down,” I told her.

She shrugged. She held my hand. She began to blow upwards. I followed her lead until suddenly our feet struck grass. I fell, even though it wasn’t a hard landing. I stood up, red faced. Kelly laughed.

The shock hit me all at once. “Why don’t people do this!” I asked Kelly.

“My mom says it is useless. We don’t move any faster and it’s not like cars can fly,” she made her voice more shrill, mimicking her mother. “plus, it’s dangerous. If you don’t pay attention you’ll float off to China. And, they eat dogs in China, you know?”

“They do?”

She nodded.

I thought of my dog, Squeaks. I shuddered.

“I don’t want to go to China,” I decided.

Kelly nodded, approvingly.

“Can everyone fly?” I asked Kelly.

Kelly nodded. “I think so. Mom said she can. My uncle said that people in Spain do it all the time but he said that is because they are lazy and don’t have anything better to do.”

I didn’t know anything about Spain. I suspected Kelly didn’t either. I didn’t say anything.

I really wanted her to like me.

But she didn’t and I grew up. I checked the internet for her the other day, just curious. She is living in Spain, working for Microsoft. I worked up the courage to message her, asked if people in Spain really fly all the time.

She never got back to me.

Sexy Seat Heat

seat

I don’t like to listen to people who speak at tables next to mine.

That is a lie.

Well, I don’t try to listen to people who speak at tables next to mine.

Wait–no, that is also a lie.

At the very least, I have a bad memory. But, some conversations I hear and they just can’t help but stick around; a mosquito in my bedroom as I try to sleep.

“It is wrong,” the man said.

The woman sitting beside him held his arm. She said something too soft for me to hear. She was wearing a nice dress. They were both older, both had thick accents.

“If a woman sits on a seat and then gets up, it is warm,” the man continued. “So, a man should not sit on that seat. He should wait ten minutes.”

It was at this moment, I knew I was not going to stop listening. I leaned closer.

“Why?” the woman cooed.

“Well, because he can feel the woman’s heat. From her body. That is sexual, far too sexual.”

I openly stared at this point, neither seemed concerned with anything but each other. The woman stroked the man’s arm, a big hairy one.

“So, he broke the rules,” the man said, with authority.

I waited. Nothing followed. They pet each other and drank wine. Finally, I stood up.

“What?” I cried. “I’m sorry, but–what!”

They looked up at me, wide eyed. The woman held the man tighter. He stood up. I backed away a little, he was a big man. He held out his hand to the woman, she stood, looking back at her warm seat, worried.

The man patted her hand and said “it’s no bother, no bother.”

He led her away. As they went she kept looking back from me to her warm, sexual seat, over and over till they rounded a bend.

 

 

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Strip, Baby

strip

I got a text from Steve.

“Got a guy here, he wants to see you naked. He’ll pay you 200 bucks.”

Steve was one of those people who texted with decent grammar. I showed Alice. She laughed.

“Do it,” she said. I shrugged, but couldn’t text a shrug, so I texted back, “where?”

“At my home.”

I knew where it was. I’d been there the week before. He’d given me 100 dollars to have a chat with him about doing solo porn for his website. I’d said I’d think about it. I needed money. I worked at a mall kiosk so I had nothing. I’d also met Steve at that kiosk where we worked together, so where he got one-hundred dollars, God only knows–no, I think maybe God doesn’t have an interest in this sort of thing.

“Wait in the car?” I told Alice.

She shrugged, “I’ve seen you naked.”

I knocked on the edge of the door, it was one of those metal-mesh screen doors that always seem to have a split in them, somewhere.

Steve came up, he was wearing sweatpants; he didn’t look at me.

“This way,” he said. I followed. To the back. A hall, a door at the end. Steve leaned on the door frame.

“Uh,” he said, still not looking at me. “So, my friend left.”

It is quiet.

“So what am I doing here Steve?”

He shrugged. “Would you do it for me?” he mumbled.

I smiled, softly. “Sure, Steve, sure.”

I walked past him, into the room. There was a bed. I stood next to it. Steve stepped into the room, only slightly. He shuffled his feet, like a child being punished. I started taking off my shirt.

“You alright, Steve?”

He nodded at his own hands. I turned my clothes into a folded pile on the dresser. I scratched my arm; it didn’t itch. I frowned.

“Steve?”

He looked up. He looked me up and down. I scratched my leg this time.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

He didn’t respond right away, he didn’t look at my eyes. He hadn’t shaved in a while, I noticed. He was thirty but looked older. His eyes looked sad, sunken.

“I have this thing about power,” he whispered. “I like to control people with money,” he said, even softer.

I nodded, the back of my ear itched–even though it didn’t. I waited.

“Can I touch you for four-hundred dollars?” he blurted out.

I stepped back a little. “Alice is kind of waiting for me, Steve.”

“Just a moment.” He stepped closer. I shrugged. “Okay.”

I thought he’d be warm, but he wasn’t–his hand wasn’t. He put it on my chest. I could feel his breath. It was warmer than his hand.

“I’m sorry,” he said; his breath really was quite warm. He stepped away.

He turned his back while I dressed. When I was dressed, he turned back around. He put four-hundred dollars in my hand.

“Thanks, Steve,” I smiled. He didn’t.

He let me out the split metal-mesh door. I never did see him again.

 

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Something To Do With Sitting at the Bar

pink_drink

Sitting at the bar is no different from sitting at home. Sitting at the bar is no different from sitting at home, but drunk. Sitting at the bar is no different than sitting at home, but with people. Sitting at the bar is no different than sitting at home.

There is another person sitting at home, at the bar, on the end, she is crying. I watch her, curious. She is crying into something pink. She doesn’t look like the type to drink something pink; doesn’t look like the type to cry.

She turns.

She dries.

She walks towards me. I look ahead.

“Do you want to fuck me?” she asks, close enough for me to hear.

She left her drink where it was.

I look at her then down at her hands. Her nail polish is white–chipped.

“No, I tell her chipped nail polish.

“Then what are you looking at?” she accuses me.

I shrug. “You were crying,” I say. I wait, she doesn’t respond. “I felt bad,” I add.

I don’t know what her face looks like in the moment, I don’t check. I just hear her say, “that’s worse.”

“That’s worse,” she says, again.

Then, she leaves. I look over at her pink left drink. I don’t know if she paid or not. I don’t know where the bartender is. I walk over and drink it in one. No one else in the bar seems to care. I shuffle back to my seat, the bartender still hasn’t come out.

I finish my own drink and go home.

 

 

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Behind the Kitchen Door

kitchen

Sometimes it is only after I have said something to someone that I realize, I actually said nothing at all.

“What?” Harriet asks.

“Huh?”

“You looked like you were going to say something,”

I shake my head. “Sorry, just drunk.”

“Sh!” James snaps.

We all start giggling.

“They are fast asleep,” Harriet consoles James, patting his arm.

He smiles, “remember when we were teenagers, in your mom’s basement, snuck those girls in from Holy Trinity.”

I laugh, quietly. I nod.

“Sh!” Harriet says.

“They made quite a scene when they left, huh?” James says.

I remember, I nod. “Yeah. Well–yeah, they weren’t too happy.” I look at Harriet, almost by accident. James points his beer at me, I cheers it.

I lean back. “And here we are again, this time hiding from your kids.”

“No trinity girls this time, unfortunately,” James says.

Harriet smacks his leg. He pulls her close, kisses her ear. I don’t say anything.

“When are you going to get married and have some kids?” Harriet asks.

I shrug. “I’m not the parenting type, I think I’ll probably just die alone.”

Harriet shakes her head, James grunts and finishes his beer in one, he throws his arm around Harriet.

“Don’t lie, you’re jealous,” he says.

I smile, “Of Harriet? Who wouldn’t be.” They both laugh.

He gets up and pulls open the fridge, gently. He shakes a beer at me, I nod, killing the swill at the bottom of mine. He opens one off the other, it foams.

“Shit!” he holds it over the sink.

“Shhhhh!” Harriet and I say.

There is a noise from the hall. A creak, or maybe a pitter-patter, or both. James stops. He places the beers in the sink, finger to his lips. He starts toward the door. Harriet reaches out and grabs his hand. He pulls it away.

The door closes behind him.

“Carey!” we hear through the door. Then, “what the fuck are you doing out of bed at this time?”

I look at Harriet, she is picking at some plaster on the edge of the kitchen table.

“What did I tell you about leaving your room at this time of night!”

The kitchen door rattles a bit. There is some more noise from behind it; a scuffle, or maybe a pitter-patter, or both.

 

Robot Nipples

robooo

We’ve been standing at the window of the hotel for fifteen minutes.

“Those two towers over there look like boobs.”

“What?” my brother asks.

I look away, “nothing,” I mumble.

“You’re twenty-eight.”

“I know.”

“Really.”

I sigh. “I miss my girlfriend.”

He shakes his head, “no excuse.”

I take out an electronic cigarette, puff away. We continue looking out the window; Ohio. Even the sky looks bored. My brother points.

“Those two buildings over there.”

“Where?”

“There,” he points again.

I nod, “ah. what about them.”

“They look like robot nipples,” he says.

I frown, “what?”

“Robot nipples.”

“But–” I start.

“It’s robot nipples,” he says, firmly.

“So?”

“So, it’s different.”

I tug extra hard on the e-cigarette.

“How?”

He shrugs.

The bathroom door opens, “What are you guys doing?”

“Nothing.”

Our mother comes over and stands at the window with us.

“Those two buildings over there look like boobs,” she says.

We nod. My brother points, “and robot nipples.”

Our mother squints out at them, “Huh, you’re right.”

She turns to me, “did you see what the continental breakfast is?”

I nod, “hard-boiled eggs and white bread.”

She groans, the sky groans with her. “Let’s get the fuck out of Ohio.”

 

**My sincere apology to those from Ohio, it’s just–hm, yeah.