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  1. SuperbAvalon


    Nov 14, 2012
    Hey, fellas! I'd like to ask you your opinion of this short story.

    It Begins

    “Such a pure thing,” El said staring at her dead body. Her body was shielded from the street by an old knotted pine fence. She was in a dress, blue with what might be red flowers. El remembered the dress. It had looked good on her. But he couldn’t remember if the red shapes were flowers and it bothered him.
    A bird chirped somewhere close by, though the moon still hung in the night sky, a. And the breeze pushed in from the sea sending black strands of hair into his face. He brushed at them absently. He found he didn’t want her body discovered until the sun was up.
    “You combed her hair,” Bruises were scattered up and down her arms. Some were old, many were more recent. The faint smile touching the corners of her mouth was the hardest for him. The tin grin. The drug had taken her.
    “Was always like that. She kept at it with that bone comb she had,” the tin head said. The embroidery on the sleeves of the tin head’s dirty cotton shirt caught El’s attention. The pants, though, were only dark brown wool held up by a cord of rope.
    “Tell your story,” El said. He pulled his worn grey cloak tighter against the breeze.
    “Here?” the tin head said glancing around.
    El sighed.
    “Okay, okay. She was nice to me,” the tin head said. “I figure someone like that is worth something. She wasn’t like me at all. She was good, you know, in her heart. Like when things were ugly, she was still good. Shared with me even when she was shaking. Don’t ever see that once the grin sets in.”
    El didn’t answer.
    “Guess you didn’t expect the grin on her.”
    “Use her name,” El said.
    “You sound like one of them, a prick. Use her name.”
    “Oh, a prick, huh? Yeah, okay.” He exhaled loudly. “They got her hooked. Like they always do, you know? Not me. Them.”
    “Miska.” El turned to stare at the tin head.
    “Yeah, fuck. Miska, okay?” the tin head said. El looked back to the body. “I know her name. She mentioned you a time or two, you know. Seemed sweet on you. I was jealous, course. Don’t know why. She was with me, right? Why should I be jealous?” He scratched his arm viciously.
    El said nothing as he stared at her.
    The tin head shrugged. “Thought you would want to know is all.”
    El wondered why people like her died so easily.
    “She said you would do it. Miska said.” He emphasized her name. “She said you do things like I’m asking. Kill people.”
    “She did?” He said. Her eyes stared right through him.
    “What else did she tell you?”
    He scratched his arm again then said, “She loved you. That’s why she said you would do it.”
    “But I didn’t love her.”
    “You wanted to though. That’s what she said, not me. You wanted to love her so bad, but you couldn’t. And, well--” He stopped short.
    El felt the tin head’s eyes roving over his body. It raised the hair on the back of his neck.
    “She said you were a Regent,” the tin head finally said.
    El stopped breathing for a fraction of a second, then wondered if the tin head had noticed. Of course he had, it’s why he had paused, so he could watch for a reaction. “Do you understand what the Regency is?”
    “Not really.”
    “What is your name again?”
    “Jiro. Third time you asked me, you know.”
    “Tell me her story, Jiro.”
    “Well, we was here—house was abandoned—it’s 6th house, right?” Jiro said pointing at the house. El nodded to keep the story going. Jiro went on, “Had a good bit of tin because she, uh, she, well--”
    “She’d sold her body,” El said.
    Jiro dropped his eyes, said, “Yeah. I argued but she was stronger than me, you know? And we needed it.”
    “She did?”
    “Yeah, I guess so. I mean, yeah. You don’t know what it’s like.”
    “Just tell the story.” El studied the boarded up house. It was small, like all the others on the street, though it was the only one boarded up. There was a patch of ground between the doorway and the gate. Not enough room for a garden, his mother would have said.
    “Anyway,” Jiro said, “when this fucking guy showed up at the door it was really weird. How’d he know we was there? I mean it was a new squat. Nobody knew it was there. I found it myself, the loose board on the second floor back window. She was the only one I told, so when he come knocking on the door loud as the Duke of Fiiron’s man hisself, I looked at her confused. She’d told him. Admitted it.” He said it like a sulking child.
    “You don’t like to say her name.”
    “Miska,” Jiro snapped. “It’s not like I don’t know it. What’s it matter if I don’t use it every second?”
    “She told you how to find me.”
    “Yeah. You don’t use her name, either, you know.”
    “I didn’t love her.”
    “But she loved you.”
    “So you keep saying. What was the guy’s name?”
    “Who? Her dealer? I don’t remember.”
    “Try.” El said, knowing Jiro had been waiting to say it.
    “I think she said his name was Sixheur. He come in talking about how good he took care of his girls, showed her the tin, said he brought her some extra on account of she was so pretty. He had flowers, too. Fucking flowers. I was furious at those flowers. ‘You’re a fucking asshole,’ I said. He laughed at me! I was so mad I said it again. Asshole!”
    A fly landed on her eye. El didn’t like flies. Never had. Death seemed so peaceful until the flies gathered. He wondered if the flies ever feasted on his own remains. “What happened then?” he asked.
    “I left.”
    “You left him there with her?”
    “Yeah,” he said. “I guess so.”
    “That the last time you saw her?”
    “You still think the guy is a fucking asshole?”
    Jiro looked at him sharply. “Hey!” he said. “I tried to help her. She didn’t want it. Fucking pimp was charming. Asshole.”
    “Again with the Miska shit!” He took a deep breath and silently mouthed something. When he was calm he continued, “I fucking loved her, I’ll call her whatever I want. We had each other till that asshole showed up.” He stared at his feet.
    “So you come to me?”
    “Yeah,” Jiro said sullenly. “You kill people don’t you? You can do something about it. I can’t.”
    “It’s morning.” El nodded his head east. A thin strip of blue light had appeared at the crest of the distant hills. The sun would be up soon.
    “What are you gonna do?”
    “I was waiting for morning.” They stood staring at her body in silence awhile as the light crept over the city.
    “You’ll do it then? For her?” he said, turning to face El. “For Miska?”
    “She was right.” El said as he glanced down the street.
    “About what?” Jiro said. He glanced down the street as well.
    El’s hand closed on Jiro’s shoulder and pulled him into the knife. The tin head doubled over as El pulled it out and drove it in again. Jiro fell to the ground. El looked up and down the road again from habit. It was empty.
    “Fuck, man,” Jiro sputtered. He pulled up his hand, it was covered in blood.
    “You ever see a tin head bleed?” El said. “It’s slow. You wouldn’t believe how slow it is. Not like yours. You’re bleeding fast. You’re already pale.” Jiro tried to sit up. El put his foot on Jiro’s shoulder and pushed him back against the ground. “You shouldn’t have tried to use her. She didn’t deserve that.”
    “The fuck are you talkin’ ‘bout?” Jiro managed to say.
    “You used her.”
    “What? No--”
    Jiro screamed as El pushed his foot into the wound. “You killed her just for this, just to try and turn me against your enemies. She didn’t deserve that.”
    Jiro was gasping. “I didn’t—dint—fuck man—didn’t kill her, ahh. Fuuuuck. Red. Red. Not m—m—me.”
    El lifted his foot off the wound. “You still furious at those flowers?”
    Jiro smiled revealing blood in his teeth. “Too much? Eh, um, I, uh, I thought it was poetic.”
    “It was.”
    Jiro tried to laugh, but the blood in his mouth turned it into a cough. “I’m goo—good.” Jiro managed through the coughing. “The bessss—fu—ck—the best.”
    “You weren’t the best. You know nothing of tin. I can smell the tin in that house. A tin head couldn’t have stopped himself from sniffing at it. You should’ve known that. Those scratches are on the outside of your arm, but tin heads go at the inside, where the veins are. The way you were scratching, you went up and down the whole length of your arm, tin heads dig at one spot.”
    Jiro grimaced. “Details, right?” he said. It looked like he was trying to smile through the pain. El grabbed his arm and dragged him into the small yard leaving a trail of blood. Jiro let out a cry and then fell silent. El let him fall to the dead patch of ground inside the fence.
    “Who’s paying you?”
    “Nob—nobody,” Jiro said through clenched teeth.
    El pulled out a bag from a pocket on the inside of his cloak. He dumped its contents all over the wound, threw the empty bag to the side. The tin was quickly absorbed by his blood. The wound quit bleeding.
    “The fuck!?” Jiro spat.
    Jiro screamed.
    “Tell me.”
    “Why? You said you didn’t love her!” He moaned in pain.
    “Tell me!”
    “Wh--why do you care?”
    “She loved me.”
    “I’m a—a—a professional.” He squirmed as the tin infected blood made its way into his body. El had felt the effects himself, the tearing of blood vessels as the tin caused the blood vessel walls to constrict as the blood expanded.
    “Feel that? That’s what tin does. It slows the blood, stops it almost, but expands it, too. Tears you apart, slowly. Weird thing is, on a wound it doesn’t give you the haze until it gets all the way up to your head, which it won’t, not for a long time, cause it’s slowed the blood so much. I’m going to start cutting on you until you tell me what I want to know. You’ll tell me, too, ‘cause the fucking tin won’t let you die.” El leaned down and extended his knife.
    “Don’t. Puh—lease…” Jiro managed to say.
    “Who do you work for? I won’t ask again until you’re done screaming.”
    A fly landed on Jiro’s wound and then took flight as the knife got too close. El hated the flies.