THE TOWN THAT ATE SOULS - MARK JOSEPH KIEWLAK
Don’t try to flush the toilets in this town. They don’t work. I learned that early on in my rookie season on the force. The whores all laughed at me. That’s what whores are for. The city bus-faces rode by, indifferently blank. I started to scratch in places my mother didn’t know about. Thompson thinks there’s hope breathing like new skin under these scabrous streets. He hauls in every drunk and counts up the car crashes that didn’t happen. All I want is flowers in the restroom, maybe in a vase. There is no penalty for loving whores. So I partake. I trained my mind to be a detective. The rest of me does as it pleases. Halloween isn’t far off. It never is. The town puts on true-faces and the semen count rises. It’s easy to stare into the sidewalk cracks and wish they would widen. I’m not here for ice cream. Thompson has three teen-aged daughters then takes one back. A divine miscount. She turns up in an alley facedown, this plucky school reporter of his. Some girls aren’t allowed to age. Thompson eats bullets for breakfast. I count up one whore that didn’t happen.
It isn’t so bad, the way they make love in this town. They just want their dessert first. Hey, I only report the news. Yesterday I was twelve. Today, sixteen. Greedy eyes swallow parts of me I barely know. My father tells me not to get drunk, to avoid an accident. He’s like a traffic cop for my bedroom. I experiment with kindness, fail. The city-hall-faces ask me to be a whore. I’ll think about it. The rookie wears his costume year-round. Halloween is never far off for him. He asks what my father has taught me. I don’t report this news to anyone. The front page is reserved for bake sales and pep rally announcements. No one wants the desperate truth polluting their eyes.
One night we explore what’s under the covers in her bedroom. Facedown likes it facedown. Her heat warms my deepest hollows. Her inward smile penetrates where no one ever has. After the wet release I smell something like flowers in a restroom. She won’t report this news to anyone.
He ran the stop signs, Daddy. My mattress tells you I had a bad accident. One of us will be left on the curb for trash pickup. I wonder which one. I slip into fishnets and leave my undergarments showing, just in case. He whispers the I-love-you code just like you did, Daddy. He unlocks confessional secrets and gives me something worthwhile to repent on Sunday. The gun is a fatal lover, Daddy, without milk to wash the bullets down.
I have a scoop for my ice cream girl. We meet in a darkened alley just like the movies tell us to. There are patterns in the bricks that only the winos can decipher. Delicate hieroglyphics elusive to the everyday mind. I swing my sledgehammer intellect and her beauty gets in the way. So sorry, elegant Facedown.
He paints a bloody crack like a crooked grin on the back of my skull. I watch him with my heaven-eyes afterwards trying to solve his crime. He looks everywhere but in the mirror. The city helps him at last, its window glass and puddle reflections showing him the bad guy. He tears loose the pages of my reporter’s diary, tries to flush the evidence. But the toilets don’t work in this town.
I just wanted something more than vanilla. I just wanted my dessert first. Her chalk outline gets up to follow me home. Halloween midnight strikes and masks fall from their owners. A drunken car swerves in my direction. The sidewalk cracks widen and swallow me whole.
BIO: Mark Joseph Kiewlak has been a published author for eighteen years. In recent times his work has appeared in more than thirty magazines, including Hardboiled, Plots With Guns, Pulp Pusher, Thuglit, The Bitter Oleander, Disenthralled, Clean Sheets, and many others. His story, “The Present,” was nominated for the 2010 Spinetingler Award: Best Short Story on the Web. He has also written for DC Comics (FLASH 80-PAGE GIANT #2).
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