Dominic “Lover Boy” Romeo, hand in pocket, squeezing his hairy balls tight the way he does when he gets twitchy—talking to Jimmy low so nobody hears. Jimmy listening hard with both ears, staring into his coffee, turning cold as ice.

         “It’s gotta be today. Today!” Dominic whispering loud, poking the table top when he says it. Jimmy’s coffee cup jumps. Jimmy jumps. Jimmy’s scared. Jimmy’s scared shitless. Jimmy’s butt-fucked big time…

         Jimmy owes Dominic large—and Jimmy’s short. Jimmy knows if you owe, you die slow.

         Dominic’s saying to Jimmy, “You do this thing for me today, we’re even. Every fuckin penny. Even.


         “Every fuckin penny. But you don’t do this thing today, you gotta a big fuckin problem. Understand?”

         “But I never hurt nobody before, Mr. Romeo… Not like the way you want me to.”

         “You hurt me, you piece of shit! When you owe me and you don’t pay, you hurt me. When you hurt me, I gotta hurt you. Understand?”

         “But I don’t know if I can do this thing to a woman, Mr. Romeo… Maybe there’s something else I can do…”

         “Let’s make this fuckin simple: I own you, asshole! You breathe because I say you breathe. I don’t want you to breathe, you stop breathing. Understand? You’re like…like a fuckin rat in a trap. My fuckin rat in my fuckin trap! Understand?”

         “Yeah, yeah, Mr. Romeo. I understand,” Jimmy says, smelling cheese, feeling his neck about to be snapped.

         “Use this. I took it off a little faggot owed me large,” Dominic says, sliding the little faggot’s gun under the table to Jimmy. “Hides in you pocket real nice. Light as a fuckin feather. Take it. Take it!”

         Jimmy takes the little faggot’s gun, light as a fuckin feather… but it’s heavy as lead in Jimmy’s hand. Jimmy’s doesn’t feel good holding it in his hand. Jimmy feels sick holding it in his hand. Jimmy wants to run. Jimmy wants to drop the little faggot’s gun and run, but he knows he can’t. Jimmy’s rat-trapped big time…

         Dominic’s twitchy now, squeezing his hairy balls tight, saying to Jimmy, “I gotta know now, can you do this thing for me? Now! Understand?”

         “Ok ok. I do this thing today, you and me are even. Right?”

         “How many fuckin times I gotta tell you. You do this thing for me today, we’re even. Every fuckin penny. Even.”

         “Suppose something happens, it gets fucked-up,” Jimmy says, holding his breath.

         “It gets fucked up, then you and me, we’re un-even,” Dominic says, flipping the table over onto Jimmy’s lap, coffee spilling on Jimmy, coffee cup hitting the dirty floor, breaking in a million fuckin pieces. “Understand!”

         Jimmy looking at the million fuckin pieces, looking at the dirty floor, insides turning to pus, says, “Ok ok, Mr. Romeo. Take it easy. I understand.”

         “I figured you would. Now, like I been sayin, it’s gotta be today. Today! Understand?” Dominic’s hairy balls hurting like a son of a bitch.

         “Ok ok. I’ll do it today. Tell me again, Mr. Romeo. Tell me again about her. What she looks like. You said she’s a heavy woman.”

         “Heavy? She’s a fat fuckin pig. She’s the Goodyear fuckin blimp. Couldn’t hide her in a freak show, for chrissakes.”

         “Ok, ok. And she goes to the park every day.”

         “Every fuckin day, rain or shine, she’s in the park feeding the fuckin pigeons stale bagels. Every fuckin day, same thing.”

         “And you said she’s gotta big tat on her arm.”

         “Yeah. In case you miss her—which would be fuckin impossible—she’s got a big tat on her arm says, LOVE KILLS SLOW.”

         “What kind of woman has a tat says, LOVE KILLS SLOW?”

         “A fat fuck feeds pigeons stale bagels. Who the fuck knows, for chrissakes,” Romeo says, twitchy and squeezing hard.

         “Ok ok, Mr. Romeo.”

         “Now shut the fuck up and listen. I’m gonna tell you how you’re gonna do it.”

         “Ok ok, Mr. Romeo,” Jimmy says, teeth grinding, stomach tight, listening hard with both ears.

         “You’re gonna go to the park today and sit next to her. Throw some stale bagels at the fuckin pigeons, make conversation, whatever. After couple minutes of bullshittin, you say to her real sweet, Mr. Romeo sends his love to Juliet on this special day…”

         “Her name’s Juliet, Mr. Romeo?” Jimmy says, thinking maybe he heard it wrong, maybe it’s a joke—Romeo and Juliet?…Maybe…

         “You gotta problem with her fuckin name, for chrissakes?!” Dominic about to pull both hairy balls outta their socket.

         “No no. No problem, Mr. Romeo. Sorry, Mr. Romeo,” Jimmy says, thinking, Jesus fucking Christ…Romeo and Juliet…

         “Now tell me what you’re gonna say, and it’s gotta be perfect. Understand?

         “Ok ok, Mr. Romeo. I’m gonna say, Mr. Romeo sends his love to Juliet on this special day. I’m gonna say it real sweet.”

         “Yeah. You say it real sweet—then shoot her two times in the face with the little faggot’s gun. Not in the belly. With all that fat who the fuck knows where the slugs’ll end up. Understand?

         “In the face only. Two times in the face only,” Jimmy says, stomach flip-flopping like a fish with a hook in its eye.

         “Just two more fuckin things.”

         “What’s that, Mr. Romeo?”

         “Number one, you fuck it up, I’ll blow your balls to shit. Number two, change your fuckin pants. Looks like you pissed yourself, for chissakes. Understand?

         Jimmy looking at his pants, coffee soaking his crotch, turning cold as ice.

         Dominic watching Jimmy close, knowing Jimmy’s trying to figure a way out of this thing…but Dominic’s got Jimmy by the hairy balls—and he’s squeezing tight.

         Jimmy wearing clean pants now, in the park now, watching Juliet, fat-fuck ugly, sitting on a bench, slats under her ass about to break, feeding pigeons stale bagels.

         Jimmy fingering the little faggot’s gun in his pocket, fingering the garlic bagel in his pocket, feeling sick, going over and over it in his head: Mr.Romeo sends his love to…to…two times in the face…in the face only…

         Jimmy’s shaky, wondering if he can do this thing, crushing the stale bagel in his pocket, moving towards her…

         Jimmy sitting on the bench now, looking at her, big as the Goodyear fuckin blimp he’s gotta pop pop…two times in the face…

         Jimmy looking at her tat: big heart, knife sticking thru it, blood dripping down, says LOVE KILLS SLOW under the heart, capital letters.

         Jimmy’s looking close, thinking, Jesus fucking Christ.

         “What you lookin at?” Juliet says.

         “Nuthin,” Jimmy says.

         “I saw you lookin at my tat.”

         “Oh yeah. I was. Nice tat.”

         “Can’t you read asshole. Says: LOVE KILLS SLOW. Nice tat?

         Jimmy looking at her when she says it, her eyes gray as nails, pounding holes into his head.

         “Sorry,” Jimmy says, looking away, not knowing what the fuck to do next…

         “Stick to the plan,” he thinks. “Feed the pigeons first…then Mr. Romeo sends his love to…to…two times in the face…”

         Jimmy reaches in his pocket for the bagel…feed the pigeons first… and the little faggot’s gun falls out. The little faggot’s gun smells like garlic… and…lilac powder and sweat. Jimmy gags. Jimmy can’t breathe.

         Juliet’s got Jimmy in a headlock. Jimmy’s suffocating in her armpit.

         “Who the fuck sent you?” She says, squeezing Jimmy blind.

         “Mis-ster…Row…Me…Oh…,” Jimmy choking out the words.

         “Lover Boy sent you? I knew somebody would be comin for me today, but not a stupid motherfucker like you—with a squirt gun couldn’t kill a fuckin fly.”

         Juliet’s holding the little faggot’s gun now, laughing loud, fat jiggling hard. Jimmy’s seeing stars, smelling garlic, lilacs and sweat.

         She lets go of Jimmy. He falls down. She puts her foot on his chest. Jimmy can’t move.

         “Why did Lover Boy send you of all fuckin people?”

         “I owe Mr. Romeo large, and he said I shoot you, him and me, we’re even, every fuckin penny, even. It’s what he said.”

         “It’s me Lover Boy owes large! Should be me shooting him, for chrissakes.”

         “I don’t nothing about that. I don’t know shit.”

         “Then I’ll tell you about it—then I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do about it,” she says, foot on Jimmy’s chest, crushing his heart. Jimmy trying to breathe, thinking, Jesus fucking Christ.

         “To make a long fuckin story short, on this day, on this bench, ten years ago, me and Lover Boy meet. He’s feedin the pigeons like me. We start talking. He tells me he likes big women. He tells me I’m beautiful. He tells me a lot of shit. One thing leads to another, we get married. The marriage is good until it gets bad…real bad, real fuckin bad…It’s so bad he won’t touch me anymore. Do you know what that feels like, being a woman like me, not being touched anymore? It’s like having cancer. It’s like dying slow,” she says.

         “THE MOTHERFUCKER BROKE MY HEART!” Her voice cracks like ice when she says it, like glass when she says it…

         “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” Jimmy says, catching his breath, putting the pieces together. “You and Mr. Romeo are married? You’re Juliet Romeo?”

         “You gotta fuckin problem with my name, asshole?” She’s frozen over and frosted again…

         “No, no problem…Except Mr. Romeo wants you dead.”

         “I won’t divorce him is why.”

         “But he wants you dead, you don’t divorce him.”

         “I tell him it’s because we’re fuckin Catholics. I tell him ask the fuckin Pope, for chrissakes. But the truth is I won’t divorce him because I hate the motherfucker. HE BROKE MY FUCKIN HEART! Understand?”

         “But he wants you dead!”

         “You keep sayin that, asshole.”


         “But nuthin. It ends today. You’re gonna end it…today. And this is how you’re gonna end it today,” she says, pulling a gun, size of a cannon, color of a tombstone, outta her pocketbook.

         Jimmy’s looking at the cannon, color of a tombstone, almost seeing his name carved in.

         “Take it!” She hands the cannon to Jimmy. “You’re gonna pay Lover Boy a visit today. You tell him you did it, that I’m dead in the park with the fuckin pigeons. Then you tell my last words were words of love. You tell him I said: Juliet sends her love to Mr. Romeo on this special day…”

         “But..but…That’s what he said I should say to you…”

         “I guess we’re both fuckin romantics at heart. Now tell me what you’re gonna say. It’s gotta be perfect.”

         “I’m gonna say: Juliet sends her love to Mr. Romeo on this special day. I’m gonna say it real sweet.”

         “Yeah. Say it real sweet—then shoot him two times in the hand.”

         “In the hand?”

         “In the hand.”

         “Which hand?”

         “The hand that’s in his pocket squeezin his hairy balls. You shoot him two times in the pocket with that cannon, the slugs’ll go right his hand and blow his hairy balls to shit.”

         “Jesus fucking Christ, Mrs. Romeo. I don’t know if I can…”

         “Let’s make this fuckin simple: I own you, asshole! You don’t do it, it’s your hairy balls blown to shit. You do it, you owe nobody nuthin. Not a fuckin penny. Understand?” She stares at Jimmy cold. Jimmy shakes and rattles.

         “Ok..ok…I’ll do it, Mrs. Romeo. Two times in the pocket, blow his hairy balls to shit. I’ll do it today,” Jimmy says, head spinning, rat-trapped again, rat-trapped big time…

         “One more thing,” she says, taking her foot offa Jimmy’s chest. “After you shoot his hairy balls to shit, you wait. You watch and you wait until he stops breathin. He’s gonna beg. He’s gonna cry. He’s gonna bleed all over your shoes. He’s gonna flop around like a fish. He’s gonna turn blue. He’s gonna turn grey. You’re gonna do nuthin but watch and wait. It’s gonna take a long time, but you wait until he stops breathin…until the motherfucker stops breathin. Understand?”

         “Jesus, Mrs. Romeo, you musta loved him a lot to hate him so much.”

         “What the fuck do you know about it, asshole?”

         “Nuthin, Mrs. Romeo. Nuthin at all.”

         “That’s right. You don’t know nuthin about a woman’s love—and you don’t know shit about a woman’s HATE!” She’s spits all over Jimmy’s face when she says it. The spit is hot like tears, like blood. The spit burns Jimmy’s eyes.

         “Ok ok, Mrs. Romeo. Take it easy,” Jimmy says, spit-burned.

         “Now tell me what you’re gonna do before I blow your hairy balls to shit.”

         “I’m gonna watch and wait until he stops breathin,” Jimmy says, trying to catch his breath.

         “No matter how long it takes."

         “No matter how long it takes, I wait,” Jimmy says, turning blue, turning gray, trying to breathe.

         “Like the sign says.” Juliet’s pointing to her tat, smiling. Jimmy reading it one more time: LOVE KILLS SLOW, capital letters.

         Jimmy’s walking away now, cannon in his pocket, still feeling her foot crushing his heart—like his heart was nothing at all—like he was nothing at all.

         Jimmy all of a sudden feels crazy, dizzy crazy. He’s thinking: LOVE KILLS SLOW… He’s thinking: Mr. Romeo sends his love… He’s thinking: Juliet sends her love… He's thinking: Butt-fucked… He’s thinking: Rat-trapped… He’s thinking: I own you asshole…I own you…

         Jimmy’s thinking he’s gonna take the fucking cannon and blow Juliet’s face off…blow Mr. Romeo’s hairy balls to shit…

         Jimmy holds the cannon in both hands, heart beating fast—too fast. Jimmy’s thinking, re-thinking. He tries to stop thinking but can’t stop thinking: You do this, you’ll be even, every fuckin penny… every fuckin penny…You don’t do it, I’ll blow your balls to shit…to shit…to shit…

         Jimmy’s insides explode. Blood shoots from his heart to his hands to the cannon. He tries to throw it away, away from him, far away—but he can’t.

         He raises the cannon above his head and shoots it four times into a goddamned perfect blue sky—two times for Romeo’s hairy balls, two for Juliet’s fat fuckin face. Jimmy’s smiling when he does it, when he shoots the cannon, when the bullets fly free—and up and away—far away…

         People around Jimmy scream, run for cover. Jimmy’s smiling wide.

         He’ll wait for the cops now, to grab him, throw him in a cell so he’s safe for awhile—for awhile.

         Jimmy drops the cannon. He feels cold—like ice. He shivers. He looks down. He’s standing in pigeon shit. It looks like snow. It looks like fresh snow—clean, fresh snow. It reminds Jimmy of Christmas Day. Jimmy laughs, thinking, “Christmas Day.”

         Jimmy hears sirens, sees lights flashing like Christmas lights.

         Jimmy’s waiting for the cops now, thinking about Christmas Day, laughing, shivering, remembering it clear…remembering how Christmas Day was a good day, a great day—the best day ever.

William J Fedigan writes about who he is, what he knows, where he’s been. Contact: wfedigan@aol.com

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