UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
Ouch, Sammi says, as I grab her bruised wrist.
She canít wiggle away. I crush her against the dusty aluminum siding like an
Come on, baby, I say on her doorstep. Let me inside.
I press my lips to hers, squeeze her in a sloppy kiss. She fumbles with her keys
Slow down, Julian, she says, looking up all shy at me. But I donít listen.
You wanna hear some music? she asks, sliding out from under me and
How about the Meters?
She drops on ĎIím Gonna Put Some Hurt On Youí then sits down beside me,
Chase, she says, has been bothering me day and night.
Chase, I think, that Fubu-wearing creep.
Didnít you two break up? I ask.
We werenít really going out, she says. I came here for school but he stayed in
I look at the answering machine, red bulb blinking like a paddy wagon.
Heís such a stalker, I say. Keeps calling.
Heís a slow reader, she says.
She shouldíve had enough self-respect not to get caught up with a back alley
Did he hurt you, Sweetheart? I ask, caressing her wrist above the tender bruise.
Donít sweetheart me, she says, pulling her arm out of my grasp. Chase is my
Heís still an asshole, I say.
Look, I donít want to talk about it, she says. Iím leaving town anyway. Iím
Who cares where sheíll be in a year? I just care about tonight.
Whyíd you drop out of art school? Sammi wants to know. As if I could even
I liked your paintings, she says. Hasty, yes, but they had a lingering presence.
I kiss her again to shut her up. Her tongueís sweet, a memory of Triple Sec and
Donít answer it, Sammi, I say. I slide my finger past her underwear, over a
Not so fast, Cowboy, she says and grabs my wrist. The phoneís still ringing off
My time, too, baby.
Of the month.
And thatís it. At least she doesnít answer the goddamn phone. Sheís gripping
Youíve reached Sammiís. Leave your digits and Iíll get back to you.
Leave it be, I say.
Why do you do this to me? That panty waste whines from the machine.
Sammi pushes hard, stands up, and lifts the phone out of the cradle.
Iím here, she spits into the receiver. Chase, why do you keep calling?
She turns her back, so I canít even admire her tits lift and drop as she exhales
I look around the tidy room. Itís amazing what she can do with a couple cinder
Chase, Chase, Chase, no. I didnít go over to Julianís. He just walked me home.
Sheís pulled her blouse back on and lit a Newport. Again I notice that violet
Hasnít stopped drizzling, just pissing out the plum sky. Might as well roll
My jacket smells like wet cardboard. My Sauconys are soaked by the time I get
Chase was in here looking for you, he says. That dudeís come untangled.
I just smile and hope he remembers me leaving the bar with Sammi.
Watcha drinking Tommyboy? I ask.
Two Knob Creeks. I toss down a twenty. On me, I say.
Cheers, he says, tipping his glass. And your change.
Thanks, he says. Tell ya what. Get that lousy drunk out of here so we can blow
Gotcha, I say.
I swallow the shot. I realize Iím fucking blitzed when the whiskey doesnít even
Last call was twenty minutes ago, you greasy vagrant.
Soon, the dirty drunk says. Both his teeth are dabbed in yellow.
You heard me, Lambchop, I say. Leave.
His purple eyelids close over yellow corneas. I throw him off the bar stool. The
You remind me of me, boy. His voice has the timbre of an unoiled
He clocks me square in the left eye then flees in a drunken stutter step. For a
Lock that door, Tommyboy says.
He draws two tall Rolling Rocks from the tap and cuts out two fatty lines of
Thank you, I say.
Least I can do. Youíre gonna have a black eye tomorrow.
We snort the uptown. Straight to my head and Iím clear as Brita water. He
Iím about to throw my carcass-black eye, bruised ego and all-on the couch,
The fuck are you doing here? I ask.
He pulls out a half-empty bottle of Mad Dog and chugs at it, leaving a
Yo dawg, Chase begins, hiccups, swallows and begins again. The fuck happened
Got suckerpunched by a bum.
Chase laughs and asks, You looking?
Spent my last coupla bucks down at the Four, I say.
I thought you was down at the Four tonight, Chase says. Too bad you ainít got
He pulls a little Zip-Lock from deep in the pocket of his South Pole jeans and
Yellow, he says and snorts it through the Lincoln memorial. He continues,
Just trying to save up a little money. Maybe get out of town, move to
Chase, I say, I need some sleep, man.
Itís raining, dawg, he says.
That repugnant motherfucker takes another slug from the Mad Dog and
Donít you got anywhere else to go? I ask.
Sammi locked me out, he says.
He mustíve showed up at her place crying and she told him to bounce. Wonder
Have you ever loved a woman, Julian? He asks, cutting another line on my
Donít know what you mean, I say.
Not a bitch, but a woman? He says. Cause I have. In fact, Iím still in love.
Thatís nice, I say.
Is it now?
Course you would, he says.
The shriveled fucker swallows some more swill and slams the bottle on my
What were you doing tonight in the Four? he asks. He wonít stop staring into
Just drinking a couple beers and chilling, I say.
Saw her there.
Donít feed me no bullshit, he says. You left with my female, didnít you?
Thatís not fair, my friend, Chase says.
Not fair to walk a lady home?
A lady? That bitch? He stands up and says, Unfair to me, dawg. You feel me?
She doesnít belong to you.
Chase overturns the table and shoves me to the ground.
Iíll show you property, motherfucker, he yells. Iíll put my chrome to your
He lifts his jersey to reveal the white pearl handle of a nine millimeter. He
Frightened, I look down at my hand. Sammiís bloodís crusted under the
Iíll show you property, Chase says, as he wraps his fingers around his piece.William Haas lives in Portland, Oregon
© 2007 Underground Voices