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Today's Story by Benjamin Wachs

I was less inhibited than I’d ever been in my life. I slipped the skirt off, right in front of them.

The Fix

I hadn’t eaten all day so that I could fit into the leather skirt.  I’d had to buy the right shade of lipstick just for this purpose.  It looks like blood and tasted like stale milk.  I’d never wear it again.

Deciding that I had to do it was the hardest part:  I’d never thought of myself as that kind of girl.  And if I was going to do it, it had to be done right.

I put on the highest heels I had, unbalancing open toed pumps.  I put a silver charm bracelet with a skull around my ankle.  It was a gift from my sister, who I think had found it on the floor after her wedding.  Nothing about that had made sense.

I picked up my keys.  I only needed one more thing.  The bolt cutters were on the kitchen counter, picked up fresh from Wal-Mart today.  Just as heavy as they looked.  I picked them up and snapped them a few times in the air, just to feel it.

I picked up my keys and got in the truck.  My housemate was out for the night, so getting out of the driveway was easy.  I put my foot on the gas and kept it there.

40 Caliber is not a nice bar, although it’s worse on a Saturday than a Thursday.  Thursdays are just a three fight night.  Rubes park in the front, regulars in the back.  I drove the truck around back and left it running, because I didn’t belong.  I knew this would have to be quick.

The lot was empty.  Jason’s bike was in its usual spot.  If someone was there I would have done exactly what I did with them watching me – and maybe I would have felt more powerful, or maybe I would have been terrified.  But I had dressed up, and I still would have done it.

The juke box inside was playing something nasty and the parking lot light was flickering as I got out of the truck and opened the bed.  I lowered the detachable ramp down.  I walked over to the bike and hefted the bolt cutters.  I snapped the anti-theft device in two.  I put the key he didn’t know I’d had copied months ago in the ignition, and pushed.  Once it was in the bed I tipped it on its side – that’s all the protection it needed – and detached the ramp and closed the back.

I got back in the truck and drove away.  So easy.

I was at Hermano’s by 10:30.  The shop was closed but he was waiting for me.  He whistled twice, once when he saw me and again when he saw the bike.  We wheeled it out and he replaced the wheels and swapped out the handle bars and mirrors and painted it pink and white.  Then we loaded it back up on the truck and I drove away.

I was at the Klassy Kat Lounge by 1:00.  I got in free because they don’t charge women, and sat in a booth drinking a ginger ale until Lilly had finished her set.  I got lipstick all over the glass.  Then I waved her over.

“Wow,” she said.  “Look at you!”

“Come out back,” I told her.  She went and got a robe and then we walked out into the parking lot.

“How are you holding up?” she asked me.

“You got it worse than I did,” I told her.  “That’s why I wanted to do something for you.  For us both, really, but you most of all.”

“He’s a cocksucker,” she said.  “Such a fucking pussy.  Fuck.”

We got to my truck and I climbed in the bed and wheeled the motorcycle back down.

“Oh my …” she gaped. “ Ohmy … holy shit … that’s not … is that?”

I held out the key.  She started laughing.  “Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod.”

“It’s yours,” I said.  “You’ll have to get your own fake papers … sorry about that … I don’t know how to do that, but, I hope you drive it around.  It gets great gas mileage.  It feels great between … well, you know.”  She was still laughing.

She grabbed the keys.  She grabbed me.  She tried to make out with me, but, I’m not like that.  “God I love you right now,” she said.  And I hugged her because I think I knew how she meant it.

“He had it coming,” I said.  “He so had this …”

She started laughing again, and we agreed to get together sometime.  I got in my truck, smiling like the queen of the world, and drove back home.  I put the radio on and rolled the windows down and sang along.

Stacey was back, it was hard to get back into my spot.  I opened the door and saw her there with her sister Amanda.  They saw me and their jaws dropped and Stacey started laughing and Amanda said “You’re a goddess!”

I kicked the shoes off.  Those fucking shoes.  I saw they had a fire going, so I picked them up and walked them over to the fireplace and threw them in.  They started to melt and it smelled terrible.

“What the fuck?” Stacey said.

I was less inhibited than I’d ever been in my life.  I slipped the skirt off, right in front of them.  “I’m getting rid of these clothes,” I said.  “I have to.  I’m not this person really, I can’t … I can’t go back here too often.  It’s like … I’m so amoral right now.”

I unbuttoned the top and took it off … right in front of them.  The top and skirt both went in the fire.  The spirit started to vanish.  “I’ll …” I stared at them.  “I’ll … put the underwear on the fire in a minute,” I said, and started to walk to my room.

“Wait!” Amanda shouted to my back.

I stopped and turned.  I tried to place my hands appropriately.  I wondered what she was looking at.

“Can I …” Amanda hesitated.  “Can I have the anklet?”

“What?” I’d forgotten all about it.  “I … I … what do you want to do with it?”

“I don’t know,” she said softly.  She was so young, I realized, and I was still in my 20s.  “But I … I, if you’re going to destroy it anyway … I think I want to keep part of this.  Whatever it is.  Can I …?”

I bent down right in front of her, probably for the last time I was every really comfortable with my body, and unpinned it.  I walked over and handed it to her and then ran back to my room.

I stopped thinking about Jason the next day, and soon I barely remembered him.  I saw Lilly riding around on that bike all the time – it was great.  Once a friend of mine said “Do you know Jason thinks you stole his bike?  He’s gone, like crazy paranoid.”  And I knew I’d won.  I’d fixed it.

I haven’t seen Stacey much over the last few years … I think maybe I’ve seen Amanda once.  I don’t know what happened to the anklet.  I didn’t ask.  But I like to think it makes its way from hand to hand, and that there’s a goddess inside who can do what needs to be done.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media, Playboy.com, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at www.TheWachsGallery.com.

Read more fiction by Benjamin Wachs

This piece was read as part of the inagural production of “Action Fiction!”, sponsored by Fiction365 and Omnibucket.  Other pieces in the series include:

Die Brizl, by Scott Lambridis

The Rape Parade, by Carolyn Cooke

Sculpture Garden, by Ben Black

Look at Murphy, by Cary Tennis


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