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February 8, 2014

Small scars, half an inch or so wide and ridged.  Pinkish white, the color of unhealthy gums and in rows rising from the wrists; three rows starboard, port and amidships on the dorsal surface of each arm to the elbow on the right arm and a third the way on the left.  The scars were carefully spaced both individually an eighth of an inch apart, and by rows, these spreading to match the contours of the limb.  Their uniformity eased the shock of their existence.  They looked tribal.
“You should have laid down.  They would have kicked you a couple of times, then let you go.  You should have just stayed down.”
As she spoke she looked fiercely around the room and fingered her scars.
“I know it,” Ladykiller said.
“Stupid getting back up.  Four fucking times you got back up.  Jesus.  Stupid old fuck.  You piss those guys off too much, they’ll kill you.  What’s the matter?  You too fucking tough to lay out?  Too mean?  Got to show your stuff?”
“No, I don’t know.  Once in a while you have to stand up, just to see if you still can.  Anyway, I was drunk.”
“You’re still drunk.”
“No, not now.  I’m pretty much sobered up and I don’t like it.  Excuse me.”
He pulled himself up by the couch’s back, up from where he’d been laying as she talked to him, she sitting in the big recliner.  He got into a sitting position, then leaned on the short, long table between the sofa and the tTV.  He noticed she’d turned the TV on – some homosexual was discussing window treatments – and his knees still worked.  Levering himself erect, he took the three steps to the refrigerator in his little kitchen alcove, was happy to see there was a six pack in there and part of a fifth of Old Yellowstone bourbon.  He needed a beer first for his mouth and head and then the whiskey to shore it up and then he could look in the mirror and decide how much work he need to do so he could go over to the Koreans’ for the night’s booze without someone calling an ambulance.
“What the hell were you trying to do anyway?”
“Just trying to help.”
“Help.  Dumb fuck.  I don’t need your help.”
“Looked like it, just then.  Beer?” he said, setting the six pack and bottle on the coffee table and falling back to his seat at the end of the sofa.
“No thanks.  I’d take a drink though, you got anything to mix it with.  That shit out there was nothing, just fucking around.”
“My mistake.  Might be a coke in there.  There’s water.”
     “I can’t drink it without a mixer, not this shit.”
He was lighting a Lucky, said, “Might be something.  Go look.”
He could only see out of one eye and the cigarette felt huge on his swollen lip.  The back of his head hurt and his belly and sides and left leg.  Both hands were aching and stiff.
At the refrigerator  door she said, “Shit.”
“There’s a little store on the corner, you want to go.  You want to wait, I’ll go in a while.”
“Let me see.”
A chest of drawers with a little mirror on top stood by the door and she checked her reflection there.
“Let me wash my face, I’ll go.  I’m not as beat up as you.”
Ladykiller pointed.  “Bathroom’s there.”
She carried a little duffle rather than a purse and took it with her.  Through the plywood door Ladykiller could hear her digging in it, then water running.
He gave her a fifty on the way out and she came back with beer, more Yellowstone, a six pack of Cokes and a bottle of some blue liquor.
“I only got a twelve, hope that’s enough.  I’m not dragging a case up here.”
“That’ll do for now.  Any change?”
“A little.”
“You got any money?”
“I’m broke.”
“Hang onto it then.”
“What you think that’ll get you?”
“Nothing.  I don’t want anything for it.”
“Man, have I heard that one before.”

“I bet,” he said as she passed on her way to the little kitchen
“What is it with Koreans and those little stores?  Why do they always open those little stores?”
“Don’t know.”
“I’m Korean myself, half, but I don’t understand what they want those little stores for.”
“You’re Korean?”
“Yeah.  Adopted when I was two.  You know, mom’s a hooker, dad’s a GI.
“Me too.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.  How you like being adopted?”
“It was okay I guess. Can’t remember anything else.  Just the way it was.  Kind of strange, they had their own children.  Wasn’t that they couldn’t have children.  Adopted me to do their bit for the downtrodden.  Instead of donating to the United Way, they took me in.  Family portraits were a trip, all these big, red faced people and little dark me.  I did feel a little, out of place.”
“How about you?”
“I never really stuck anywhere.  Every family I was in split up.  Then from one foster home to another.”
“I prefer the street.”
“I guess it’s just what you’re used to.”
“What’s your name anyway?”
“Ladykiller?  That some sort of Indian name?”
“Just an old nickname.”

“That’s right.  I used to hear about you at the VA.”
“About me what?”
“Oh, you know.  That you were in some wild shit in Nam.  You know, one of those crazy little teams wandering around and having high casualty rates.  What were you?  Force recon?”
“No.   Just a marine.”
“One of those secret things huh.  It still classified?”
“Really don’t know.”
“So why were you on two north?  For the booze?”
“Me too.”
“You?  What?  Desert Storm?”
“No.  I never made it through training.  I was assaulted.”
“Oh yeah?”
“This DI, got me in his office when the barracks was empty.  Gave me a shot in the solar plexus, grabbed my hair, put his Gerber to my throat and his dick in my mouth and I bit it off.”
“Bit it off?”
“All of it, the fucker.  Didn’t even leave a stump.  Would have got his balls too, but he cut my throat.”
“He what?”
She pulled back her scarf, showed him the scar.
“Cut my throat.  Screamed, bled and cut my throat, but he fucked it up.”
She smiled.
“I live.  Must be frustrating, no dick.  Serves him right I guess, poor guy.”
“Poor guy?”
“Not really his fault.  He was just being a guy.”
“You think that’s the way guys are?”
“Know it for a fact.”
“What are you doing here with me?  I’m a guy.”
“Shit, you’re old.  Over the hump.  Dick probably doesn’t work anymore.  Guys sometimes become real people, they get older.  And I’m pretty sure, it comes to it, I can kick your ass.”
“You got some place I could change?  I could use getting into clean clothes.”
Ladykiller pointed.
“Bedroom’s there.”


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