Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias- A big ass review.

There is gonna be a LOT to unpack.

TL:dr- This is a great fucking book. If you like supernatural, crime and can handle some Spanish get it. Yes amazon link srry.

LONG VERSION. Some spoilers may happen.

I was given a copy of this book a bit after it came out by a dear friend who had read it and decided I HAD to read it.

Zero Saints starts with the kind of wry, first person humor during what builds to be an ass kicking that I like. The first four pages let us know that we’re in for a wild ass ride. The violence isn’t of the sort that is immediate and all the way in your face, Gabino’s style in this book is intimate, we are in Fernando’s skin (at least I am and we’ll get to that) so in the beginning of this book we know a few things. We know Fernando (not his name yet) is in trouble, big fucking trouble.

When I saw the line about Fernando praying to la Santa Muerta, y’alls….my lil woo self got all fucking excited. Following the mention came the first of much Spanish and I have enough Spanish to have gotten the gist of what was going on and this brings me to my first pointed remark. I have seen some reviews (too goddamn many) that make a point to complain about the amount of Spanish. Like…okay I don’t want to quote Junot Diaz but, the quote about folks willing to read Elvish or whatever and who will bitch about Spanish.

There is a lot of Spanish. Personally, I can read more Spanish than I can speak and I am not at all fluent. That said, when I felt like it really mattered, I looked shit up because like most of us I carry a computer in my pocket and the internet exists.

Anyway.

The action picks up very fast and things get real bloody. While the action is revving up, I really love that there is a low key grace in Gabino’s writing. It is brutal, it does go from 10 to 100 and there is beauty there. We know from jump that Fernando is no super badass, his fear is written in a very real way that gives us a glimpse of a well written and rich character.

Details like how Fernando stops being able to really think with everything happening, really grabbed me. This book is a really great example of why I love first person POV so much. Using this POV in this book gives us skin to skin contact, we get to be intimate with the story and with Fernando and that my friends, is my shit.

I don’t want to spoil stuff plotwise so let’s talk about skill and craft.

First let’s talk why I love how Fernando is written and thus love being so close to his skin. Fernando is written as a kind of mysterious type, we get glimpses of a life he’s lived before. he had problems. He has nightmares, he needs oxies to sleep on the regular but in particular during what’s going on in the book. We get this bloody meaty human which in noir circles can be sparse.

Gabino does a few sly little shifts to second person and I am here for it. What makes these so effective is that, the shift slows the eye. We are dragged into the reality of this situation almost gently and then there’s blood and teeth on the floor. Gabino does an excellent job of balancing Fernando’s horrific situation with glimpses into his tender heart.

He has a crush on a girl, this bit when we meet Yolanda is exquisite:

“How do you tell a woman you like that you’re a fucking coward?”

In the context of the things Fernando has experienced, the glimpses of his past we know he is not a coward and this line, just got me. I love a cis het dude with some self awareness and written with tenderness. Yes, this is a violent as fuck book that has a heart. Like most of the noir I love, our main character is someone I want to slap and hug and then put the fuck to bed.

It takes a firm grasp on one’s masculinity and a deft hand to write cis het men with heart. It just does. Especially in noir, especially when there is also violence. Too often, I think a lot of cis male characters wind up being all balls and no heart and that is boring. If you write cis het dudes, read this book.

Now, let’s talk about the super natural aspects of this book.

His use of diasporic spiritual practices is superb. When we meet Consuelo, that is where things get really deep to me. Again, I don’t want to be too spoilery but I do want to mention that, in researching to do this review, I noticed a lot of folks didn’t comment on the loveliness of the spirtuality and how the supernatural is handled in this book. That bugs me.

The introduction of Ogun changes the tone of the situation in this book. When I first read it, I said Oh Shit out loud. The violence and drug dealing by themselves didn’t quite give me the gravity of bringing in Ogun as part of the action. I think other readers, especially those unfamiliar with Afro/Latinx diasporic religions probably missed out on that. I am pretty sure that my familiarity, bred my excitement in this case.

In chapter 5 and the end of chapter 4, the depth of love Fernando is shown really touched me. Again I don’t wanna be spoilery but, the ritual and the egg, that’s fuckin love y’all. The novenas given to Fernando, the way in the book the prayers are set out in full touched my heart. These moments of love and hope are what balance the brutality of much of the book. I think in a lot of other reviews I read, I was missing the appreciation of as I said above, tenderness.

Ahem.

Before I go much further, let’s kind of ease to the end here because I wanna be super spoilery and I hate that.

The introduction of the Russian was another great touch to me and a perfect example of cross cultural understanding. This is transgressive because there is no push/pull in how Nando and the Russian communicate and come together. That is fucking real.

The thing I love best about this book is that without the tenderness, moments of gentle handling and sadness it would STILL be a good book.

Gabino Iglesias is a bad mother fucker.

WITH the tenderness, love, and tears this is a great book. Like most books I love, this little gorgeous thing is meaty. It is bloody not just in the violent sense but in the sense of it having a pulse, this work has a heart that as you are pulled into Nando’s fucked up life, you feel it in your hands.

And okay y’all, I don’t say this often but this book ended perfectly. Just, y’all it fucked me up in the best way. And like books I love, I want more.

What is greater is that I’m more familiar with Gabino’s work and hustle and I am here for it. This book is on my list of recommendations for actually transgressive work that lives outside of the Great White Western Ideals and does so in shining, haunting, bloody fashion.

Go read it. Read Gabino’s tweeter.

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When I am Too Much

Recently, I had an essay published in one of my bucketlist magazines. See it here at The Offing. I have a story to tell y’all about publishing and what happens when you are in fact too much.

That essay came about because I was contacted by an editor I am familiar with and they asked if I could do a piece about race and gender. The first version of this essay was more dry. It lacked flavor to me and I felt like I was trying to engage too many things when this story was very enclosed to me. The original version had lukewarm feedback and the editor wanted more.

I did this version and to me this is it. I’ve been experimenting with trying to place more literary styled essays in not lit mags specifically. A successful example of that is here at Wear Your Voice.

Editor #1 had reservations. Some of their feedback:

  • I lead with fear of death as a Black Man
  • I refer to my masculine gender expression with a personified phrase “the boy”.

However, the most tap danced around feedback came down to the fact that this work doesn’t engage with gender in the way that they wanted. They wanted Sassy Black Queen and got Terrified Black Femme. The suggested edits stripped specific mention of Blackness to turn it into a #metoo piece without the connective tissue.

A story that is not mine.

I decided not to go further with that editor because the story they wanted was a pastel version of my story with a rainbow on it and not a memory and meditation on a real fear in my life.

I shopped the piece as it appears at The Offing around for a while. Most responses were lukewarm and boiled down to, yes this but not like this.

Much of the feedback was tentative and trying very hard not to say, this is way too Black while saying, this is way too Black. One editor said that they didn’t think it was broad enough. For a memoir based issue of a magazine. I read broad as relatable to White folks and I noped out. The feedback was never about the quality of the piece. Every editor said the work was solid, it was always related to my expression of Gender, Blackness and fear.

The problem here is this. If you are not a marginalized person and you are seeking work from marginalized people, insisting on “broader relatability” backfires. You won’t get authentic work. You won’t get the best work. If you can’t engage with things that aren’t strictly uplift, either mention it up front or don’t seek the work.

This is the same problem I talked about in this entry,  When in the Wear Your Voice piece I talk about being denied humanity, this is what I am talking about. I am talking about the idea that work from marginalized people must be palatable to whiteness is to deny us our humanity. When folks insist that, my story about gender expression and sexual harassment end on a more chipper note, that is a denial of what actually happened.

To demand this shiny version of someone, the happy ending, the creator is turned into a 2d version of themselves and that is erasure and it feels shitty. You can’t ask for the realness of talking about identity, and then say, no not like that. It just don’t work.

Back to the piece at the Offing. Chanda specifically told me they loved it and it made me cry. I’d put it on Etsy for a minute because y’all know that’s how I do. If I can’t sell a piece to a magazine I’ll do that. Or put it on Medium etc. Or tuck it away for later. Here’s the thing.

My experience with gender expression isn’t theirs and yet, they still enjoyed the work. I’ve heard from readers who are White cis folks who felt something and enjoyed the work. Some folks who read the piece thinking it would just be a nice read because they are not Black Femmes and found some part of themselves in the work.

And it is, what it is.

A note for editors.

If you want to feature or highlight marginalized folks, take what they give you. Don’t try and plasticize it or tone it down or make it nice for non marginalized folks to read. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to let your readership be uncomfortable because, isn’t that what art is.

That’s it for now.

 

Hustlin updates and stuffs.

So I know it has seemed bleak but, here’s the thing. When I figure out how to work, I fuckin work.

The method I’ve adopted for now is write like a mother fucker, accept some freelance, submit to literary shits, get rejected rinse repeat.

My other hustle is my Patreon. Let’s talk about that a little bit. I don’t make much at Patreon, a couple of hundred bucks that pays for some bills. It is one of my favorite things. Some of y’all are new so let’s talk bout what I’m doing there. I’m writing an ongoing urban fantasy very queer Black n brown ongoing story. I’m calling each novella length chunk a Cycle and my goal is to just write in this world (a magical Seattle and currently a few other spots) and play.

When I talk about the Daiyuverse this is what I’m talking about. It is where I go to play. I am creating a large magical system, I am connecting POC cultural and diasporic spiritual magics. This is not vaguely European fairyland. It is absolutely Queer and not a White centered world and I just love it. Part of what makes it fun for me is that the curtain is pulled all the way back. We’re into cycle 2 and I’ve left in my own editorial remarks, mistakes, do overs.

This is a naked first draft. This is (to paraphrase Jerry Stahl again) me naked and fucked up at 4 in the morning writing and it is wonderful. I don’t ask for a lot, I don’t do tiered anything. Regardless of how much you are in for, you get usually a little letter and about 3k words of the verse. Sometimes I toss in extras, WIPs, essays or whatever. Once life is settled I’m thinking about doing some Patron only videos about writing or stuff.

It is great.

Now let’s talk freelance. I’ve just made my re-entry into freelance and I am so proud of the piece. You can read it here at Wear Your Voice. CW for racism and some hard shit. One of the reasons freelancing can be the shits for me is that, writing easy stuff is not really my lane. My fluff gets deep regardless of subject matter. I want to write about fuckin eyeliner, I talk about Western Beauty standard bullshit.

As emotionally taxing as my non fiction can be for me to do, it is just who I am as a writer and human. It me. I fought it but, it is just who I am. The same day the above piece went live, I wrote this lil thingy on Medium because some folks were bothering me. I spat it out and kept it pushing which is how I work.

I toss little jokes in with my seriousness because I’m a goofy mother fucker.

One of the things that all the marketing advice for writers in the world won’t give you is that sweetness of connecting with your audience. I know who y’all are and I fucking love the shit out of you. Yes, I do talk about how/when/why my audience doesn’t give a shit but, I know a lot of you do and that’s deeply meaningful to me.

WHen stuff like this column by a fave magical being I know named Misha went live, I read it and got teary eyed at the bus stop because when people tell me that something I said touched them, the fucked up hustling isn’t so fucked up. I’m still poor and not in the best of health but fuck y’all, I do feel the love.

While there has been a pattern of fuckery in my literary world, there is a bigger pattern of when my words do what I want them to and work themselves into another persons heart, that makes it better. When (this happened a while back) a shy young Queer person on the bus, whispers did you write at XOJane about self care to me and when I say yes they light up and say thank you, that is the realest shit. When I get dms saying, yo that poem was fucking fire.

I think a lot of my life has lead me to this point. I’ve made the decision not to play the recommended game. Fuck that game. I’m not going to compromise, I’m not going to shut up, I’m not going to filter myself so I can make money.

I will still freak out about money because I’m poor. I will sometimes write lengthy shit about how much I just want to sell some fuckin stickers or whatever. That said, I can hold that and hold space for doing what the fuck I want to do and writing what the fuck I want to write, because that is who I am.

It me y’all.

My dreams may not be lucrative and won’t buy me new make up but, I believe they will fulfill my soul and that my friends is what I want.

That’s all for now. I love y’all.

OH yeah new loveletter later today about trusting your process and taking a leap. Come sign up. No spams. All love for your hams.

Side Hustle Thoughts.

I’m in a mood. Buckle in.

I’ve been (as always) looking at my hustles.

Before I dive in here is my view. I still don’t like freelancing that much. I’m not a fan of wading through new bullshit with usually White editors who mean well but ultimately exhaust me and I wind up doing a lot of emotional labor I don’t get paid for. I also don’t like publications that let their readership go fucking wild on authors and just delete the posts but not the articles.

There are a small group of editors I trust and some opportunities I’ve been extended. Some of the problem with that for me is, I do not have the ability to do what equates to a bit more than a part time job especially when the pay is not commensurate with an actual PT job.

Okay.

The essential going advice is pretty much Field of Dreams- If you build it they will come. Most advice talks about offering the good content, promote it, make it available etc. I do that and unfortunately as I’ve said and experienced for like a decade, it just does not work for me.

Again, recently at the behest of some folks who were super hype, I reopened my Swag Shop.  And again, not ONE of the people who asked shared it, looked at it or purchased anything.

I know my price points tend towards beyond reasonable. At one point I was offering up about 110K words of fiction, non fiction etc for 11$ and only one person bought it. I have a TON of content I offer for free via this blog, medium etc. I am always very specific about how folks can help out. Even if you can’t drop a dollar, I always ask that things are shared.

This does not work for me.

Quite frankly, I get the most support if I’m having a public internet meltdown about not being able to pay for something and frankly doing the I AM POOR AND PANICKING dance is humiliating and exhausting.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and every time I try with the side hustles it comes down to this. I do a thing, write a bunch of shit or whatever and after a few days when there are zero reads, no shares etc, I feel completely devalued.

I am a Black Queer non binary femme person. I have to deal with being undervalued constantly in my life. From my dayjob to engagement with people, to the thousands of hours of emotional labor I’ve put in around meatspace and the internet, it is something that is just a shadow in my life.

For a few years now I have tried really hard to believe that if I provide the good shit, the good shit will flow back in return. I had a come to Odin talk with myself and really examined my pricing and whatnot. On one hand, folks have told me to charge more for stuff, that I am worth so much more than the few bucks I ask for.

Yet, the proof is not in the pudding.

Here is what I have come to believe now. It doesn’t matter what think I am worth. It doesn’t. The thing is, I can’t pay myself. I also can’t keep getting my hopes up. I am a terribly sensitive flower. I want so much to believe that the work I do can help sustain my life and do some good in the world, when there is just zero interest or follow up it just crushes me.

On one hand, having started in short literary fiction I am primed for rejection. When I’m in submission mode, I eat rejection. But, that rejection is not the same. It isn’t the build up and then nothing. That is the thing that is wrecking me over and over again.

The truth is, like a lot of other marginalized folks, the people who have shown that material support, who have bought my echapbook and stories and whatnot are in the same position I am.

The truth is, I’m not the beloved type of Black person with opinions so the people in the position to do the most, don’t.

They don’t.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about strangers. I’m thinking about people in my immediate circles who I’ve seen elevate other people, triple funded vacations, therapy everything and I can’t get a share of a link?

Y’all.

Real talk?

It fucks me up. It hurts my heart, it hurts my wallet it makes doing the shit I’m good at harder. And to have the idea reinforced that if I provide, others will provide so jammed down my throat, it hurts because obviously that is not for me.

I have to make a commitment to myself that is loving and preservative of my sanity and feelings.

I cannot give space to the whole woowoo idea that the universe (or my community) will do shit for me unless I am doing my poverty dance. I can’t.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of my work and how I offer things. I may just go to submitting only and freelancing a little and trying other avenues of revenue that aren’t writing.

I dunno. All I know is that I can’t keep working so hard and trying to hard and winding up with a deficit of both coins and good feelings.

That’s it for now.

When Old Comforts Bite.

I’m anxious today and as is my habit I turned to an old fave audiobook for comfort. If you know me you probably already know that the Gunslinger is one of my favorite worlds and I put on the audiobook as done by one of my favorite narrators.

I started up the Drawing of the Three (*amazon affiliate links in the house) and for a while enjoyed it.

Until as with so many of Kings other books, somebody had to go on a nigger rant. In audio it’s fucked. There was another of the series I was listening to and it was a good solid five minutes of nigger nigger nigger and y’all. I took a deep breath and turned it off.

This is the type of moment when being a fan of color really fucking sucks. This is something a lot of fans, especially White fans just will never know the depth of pain this brings up.

With King in particular, almost anytime there is a Black character magical Negro or not, somebody has to be a racist. The constancy of this across his books is tiring.

I wish Uncle Steve had stayed in his fucking lane. Yes, we know there is racism. Yes, we negros even us magical negroes know that since time immemorial, some angry White person is gonna go on a slur filled rant. We been living it and we really don’t need it in ALL of the stories.

This is also why way back when, I had such an issue with the GOT books. How many times do we need to hear that Brienne needs to be raped or somebody needs dick or someone else needs to be raped, or that the Brown people are spicy or whatever.

I reviewed some edgy horror book a while back and part of the big scare was the unnamed scary Hood Negroes.

As  get older, my coping mechanisms get fewer and far between. My tolerance for the lazy reliance on racism whether overt or not, or true to a region or not, or “historically accurate” (cause dragons=totally real, not being racist=whoa there) is shrinking with every disappointment. Every revisit to something I thought I loved and that I realize yet again, these aren’t worlds I am allowed to sink into without being put in my place.

I have some things where I can find some comfort. I’m just finishing the amazing Children of Blood and BoneI have authors I follow, I save their short stories on my Kindle, I listen to some great fiction podcasts.

And yet, even with all my savvy I can’t always avoid these sinkholes of pain.

And I fell in one today and now I’m just sad and tired.

 

OH…hi. I am here and shit.

Hello friends! It has been a minute and I return to say holy shit.

Y’all we got moved. Shit was awful. Everything went wrong and I cried a lot, had a lot of panic attacks and almost got in a fistfight with an irresponsible shitbag “mover”.

So here we are.

I did a new loveletter yesterday and talked a lot about stuff what is changing.

I’m getting back into a daily writing routine and that feels awesome except um…………..apparently I’ve forgotten how to write some stuff? Or is that anxiety being a lying ass liar?

I am feeling some type of way about writing words that aren’t related to the Daiyuverse or poetry. I keep having to remind myself that prior to movepocalypse, I also didn’t totally know what I was doing and so nothing has really changed.

I feel like I need to remember who I actually am.

I’m a perpetually freaked out anxious bag of shit who pretty much writes things and sorts it out later. I don’t have to know how to do shit other than what I know I can do.

I had this whole plan on hitting the ground at speed and diving back into freelance work and SCLAB AND AND AND WRITE ALL THE MOTHER FUCKING THINGS AND……..well I don’t work that way.

So I’ve been writing like a mother fucker. I wrote this #metoo related thing. I’m figuring out how I do think pieces again.

How about a bite of some weirdish fiction?

I had no one close to me. And how many people wear red? I left.  I am afraid. I am not here. I am afraid. I am not here.  

Now, I skulk around my apartment and have learned to tolerate my invisibility. I pay my rent online, I read forums and feel known in bytes and cartoon avatars. Instant messaging has become, my favorite thing. 

Invisible_Rainbow99: Hey, how are u doing? 

I am not here. I am afraid. I am not here. I am afraid. I am not here. I am afraid. I am not here. I am afraid. I am not here. 

Chronicthepoopdog: not bad u? 

Invisible_Rainbow99: Okay I guess. Weird day. Think I might order some food and work from home. Feel….. 

Chronicthepoopdog: ?? 

Invisible_Rainbow99: like I am not real. Anxiety probs. U know how it is. 

YES the thing that pops out I did on purpose.

I’m figuring out how I’m recoverng from the move emotionally and physically. I’m figuring out what I want to write.

I think I’m gonna be all right.

OH and my swagshop is reopened. I’ll be adding some new stuff soonish.

First draft funsies. CW VIOLENCE. SERIOUSLY.

No really. Violence, allusions to sexual violence. Murder.

This is some srs business.

If you’ve known me for a long time, you know I love a good Dark Violent Femme revenge crime story. The first one I ever wrote way back in 2011 is here at The Flash Fiction offensive. Yes, for real content warning. That shit is violent.

What I’ve put below is a pure first draft. I was noodling and wanted to play.

I had some very specific aims here but, to find out about it you’ll have to wait until Saturday where I will do a follow up and deconstruct what I was doing, how I might edit it, etc.

SO AGAIN

LAST CHANCE BRO.

THAR BE VIOLENCE AHEAD.

About 1600 words, unedited. Right from my brainpan.

#

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 3 AM. High summer.  

~ 

She always sits on her stoop late at night in the summer, a book in one hand, coffee cup at her elbow and a steady chain of cigarettes until she’s done or tired or whatever she does. She knows He prowls. He’s new, not one of the hood dudes. Not one of her neighbors or somebody’s cousin. Not the him she waits for at night. 

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He makes his approach She sitting in her usual spot, in her usual cute booty shorts, her Timbs unlaced, cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, lookin’ like a whole ass snack.  

“Hey, how you doin’-“ 

She shakes her head, not bothering to look up from the book in her hand. 

“Nah man. Go on.” 

And so, He is curved and salty about it but, like any apex predator he’s patient. He can wait. He’ll shoot his shot another time. 

Days and nights pass.  

He is swift enough to understand that She is a night owl. He can see that his opportunity will come.  

He skulks. 

He creeps. 

She knows. 

She ready. 

He knows from asking around that she ain’t strapped. A few men give him vague warnings about her being crazy but, it doesn’t matter. He knows how to handle a woman.  

Tonight she’s posted up, no Timbs this time, pajama shorty shorts on and flip flops. She reaches to her left and her long fingers grope, then flutter on a soft pack of cigarettes. That drags her attention away from her book and she looks down at the empty pack like it insulted her Mama. 

“Fuck.” 

He smiles. 

He waits. 

He is ready. 

She rises, leaves her coffee cup and book. He watches her walk, her booty almost claps and he wants her right now. He waits. Nobody is around, the bar is closed, the baseheads are all off having basehead dreams. The only light around the corner is the little bodega, the mouth to the alley is ready.  

He is ready. 

The thing about not being from the neighborhood is that, you don’t know shit. Not where the drop pieces are, not where the head stash is, not who might be up and who might not be.  

She knows. 

She ready. 

He sees as she exits the bodega, she throws a peace sign over her shoulder and calls back. 

“No fuck you Gordo. You still owe me ten from the last time. Man, don’t make me tell your Mama.” 

The whisper of profane Spanish and Gordo’s laughter trails her as she walks back up the block. He waits in the mouth of the alley, rubbing his fingertips together. He can smell her, cocoa butter, smoke, coffee, Black girl deliciousness.  

He is fast, not basehead fast but fast enough to grab a handful of her braids just as she passes by. He holds the knot of hair at the back of her neck like a guide and turns her into the alley. 

“Don’t be so rough.” 

Her voice is raspy tonight, husky. Her breath is warm, she likes her coffee sweet and it makes him feel good.  

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

SETTING: Alley. The witching hour. She is looking up at Him. If he were a smart man, or a film man he would recognize the look. The villain emerges through a downturned chin, upturned eyes and the prettiest wet pink flicker of plump tongue. 

He sees the wet on secret wet and thinks, yes. He turns her loose and she walks further into the alley. 

She doesn’t turn around while she tucks her cigarettes into the waistband of her shorts and peels off her tank top. She lets him admire her back as she walks deeper into the shadows.  

He is hard. 

He ain’t ready. 

He is too busy following the idea of a tramp stamp riding her lower back to see what she’s doing when she bends over and reaches under a pallet.  

She moves like a shark. This is her night, her hood and the bat in her hands feels like home. She is Queen Bitch and she plants her feet and swings from her wide hips.  

By the time he registers the low arc of the bat, his right knee explodes and he folds like a paper bag. The pain is enormous, it radiates from his knee to his hip to his balls and he howls.  

No one comes.  

She ready. 

She smile. 

“Listen baby.” 

She licks her lips and lines up for another swing. He swears he can hear the bat whistle as it goes over her head and crashes down onto his hip. He can see her bounce of her pert, chubby little titties and the titanic jiggle of her thighs as she hits him.  

When the pain registers, it is a raging ball of fury that takes his breath and makes him cry for the devil. The pain obscures her fine titties and the idea he started with. The pain rolls through his pelvis like lava, dripping into his balls and making his bowels loose and his asshole clench. His teeth chatter and he can hear sound coming out of him but can’t identify it. 

He is watching her watch him, her head tilted, glossy lips screwed up. 

“You an old head, you know what they say.” 

She swings again and his ribs, dear Jesus his ribs. The breath runs out of him as if fleeing the pain. He can’t breathe, he can’t speak and all he wants is for someone, anyone to save him. 

We could have saved him, had he been a wiser man. 

“Don’t start none.” 

Another blow, she breaks his arm.  

“There won’t be none.” 

She steps back and her pretty face is lit from within. Glee and malice give her a glow under the fuzzy dim light. He sees her teeth, she’s smiling. Everything is going to be fine. 

For her. 

While he writhes he manages to get through his pain and tears to speak. 

“Please, I got money.” 

He paws at his pocket, he’s got a roll. He had planned on treating himself to a bottle after they were done, maybe breakfast later. A little for rent and a few other necessities. She nudges him onto his back and he wails, she squats with her thighs wide open. 

Her shorts pull tight into her crotch and the plump outline of her pussy is clear and close.  

“Go ahead and look. That’s what you wanted.” 

He looks, even in his state of extremis he has to look. 

“Listen, I ain’t gonna kill you.” 

His relief is shaky and he starts to cry.  

“Thank you, I ain’t mean nothin, I was only playin.” 

She laughs, sweet and high and joyful. 

“Oh I know. But, I still don’t like it.” 

She straightens up, drops the bat and pulls her shirt back on. Grimacing she rolls her left shoulder, lip curled. 

“Softball injury. Well, bye boo.” 

He relaxes. He knows once a little bit of shock sets in he can crawl to the bodega and maybe get some help. That is not to be. 

We know what her whistle brings. 

It is late, but not late enough for all of the night creatures to be in bed. We know that the worst of the worst of night dwelling. She knows him, everyone knows him. He is fucked up, a walking burn mouth corpse but, he is from their neighborhood and knows his place. He eases out from behind the dumpster, jiggling foot to foot. 

“Hooo boy you fucked with the wrong bitch boy, I tell you what.” 

He whimpers, confused and uneasy. She looks at the stranger. 

“I was nice once. You got this?” 

The man, the new man, the scabrous oily creature with the perverse gleam in his eye nods.  

“For real?” 

“For real.” 

They smile at each other.  

We see that the man with the evil smile, is the thin burnt version of her. Her smile is not quite that evil, hers has an edge of fun. Mischief. Prettiness. 

“Yeah. I can keep the money?” 

“Course. Get rid of this shit and I’ll see you at home. Come home today. I’ll make you chicken and waffles.” 

She opens her cigarettes and they smoke together while he begins to understand. Let’s watch him, he knows he has met his death. He should have stayed home. What we know, he is learning. Too late, of course.  

She walks away, her booty almost clapping. Holding her dirty hands away from her still clean tank top. The man on the ground looks up at the Grim Reaper. 

“I-“ 

The Grim Reaper shakes his head, we shake our heads, around the corner Gordo shakes his head and she walks into her house smiling. 

“That’s my fuckin’ sister man. My. Sister.” 

His eyes close.  

Our eyes are open. 

What he should have known, we know. 

~ 

Two things. Had he been smarter, there would be no story. Second thing, the wrath of a woman with ideas about behavior modification is truly a beautiful thing. Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

Our players: 

She: Brown. Braids. Lip-gloss. Booty shorts. Books. Cigarettes and a mysterious coffee cup. 

He: Brown. Bald. Tragically unaware. Lacking game. Doomed. 

Grim Reaper: The one she waits for at night. 

Setting: Quiet street in the hood, around 4 AM. High summer.