Morana and Vladimir

Here is the game they played.

Photographer: M2ATK

She'd get all dolled up in a tight, short skirt of some sort of soft, almost translucent material through which you could barely see a hint of black or red panties.

Three or four inch heels.

Lots of cleavage.

She was soft as warm butter, yet toned. It was difficult to describe, really. She was soft and hard at the same time.

And feminine in an almost magical way, as though so permeated with estrogen that it rose like a vapor from her sexed up little body and wafted up the nostrils of those around her.

Casting its spell.

You'd instinctively sniff the air when she walked by.

Sniff it like a redbone hound, then take another long, dreamy gander at those legs, tanned and smooth as glass.


Perfectly soft thighs. Perfect calves. Perfect bare feet, you knew, in little black pumps winking a peek of toe cleavage at you.

She had a thick mane of auburn hair that hung just above an ass that looked...delicious. That was the only word for such a mouth watering ass -- for an ass that demanded, as hers did, to be lovingly caressed and pampered in shameful, secret, unspeakable ways.

And, I swear to God, you had to look.

Had to.

Because you’re a male and your biology demanded it.

You couldn’t help it.

You’d stare. You’d question your own eyes.

“My God,” you’d think. “She can’t be real.”

And it was weird because it would actually hurt to look at her, and yet it would be difficult to pull your eyes away.

It hurt good.

So you’d linger, gawking at her, absorbing her while endorphins spewed geyser like from your pituitary and jockeyed through your bloodstream, forcing a big, stupid smile upon your lips.

And then he was there.

He’d been hanging close by, waiting and watching.

And he’d ask in his thick Slavic accent, “What’re you lookin’ at?”

At first you weren't even certain you'd heard him, because you were lost in reverie, staring at her, at the filmy silhouette of her panties or perhaps at her nipples, which were visible behind her skin tight top and seemed to be standing tall atop her perfect breasts as though she was aroused, and the voice came from far away. But when he asked the second time you heard it loud and clear.

Because his face was only about an inch and a half from yours.

The smell of cigarettes and garlic was almost overwhelming.

He looked angry.

And any answer was the wrong answer. I mean, there was no way out.

You couldn’t say the right thing.

If you said “Nothing,” he’d want to know if you were calling his wife “nothing.” If you said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare,” He’d say, “Damn right you’re sorry. You’re one sorry asshole.”

If you just kept your mouth shut -- just stood there pretending to be mute -- he’d stay right there, in your face, demanding a response until you came through.

Your mind would race, trying to find a diplomatic answer to his question which, though spoken quietly, seemed incredibly threatening.

Witty, you thought, would be the wrong approach.

Honesty -- that’s the best policy according to the ancient adage you unconsciously memorized as a child.

“She’s beautiful,” you might say with that timeless bit of wisdom in mind. “I couldn’t help myself.”

Famous last words.

He wasn’t a big guy. Five ten maybe. Hundred and sixty pounds. But there was something about him that told you that if the two of you were in the same prison cell he would be the big fish and you -- that's right...big ol' you -- the guppy.

His gal pal.

His go-to guy.

A lot of guys would, because he was tough.

He was tough, and he loved to fight. If you wanted to call it fighting. The word “fight” was actually seldom included in the accounts of those who witnessed these events. “Beat” was a word you might hear. “He beat the shit out of him.” You’d hear that a lot. Or: “He beat him so bad he’s in the hospital.”

It was the rings.

That’s what you’d think after you’d been there several days with your jowls wired shut and some yellow stuff being pumped through a tube temporarily surgically implanted in your belly.

“Complete nutrition,” the nurse would tell you. “Until you can eat.”

Your head would be a clearing a little by then, if it cleared at all, and you'd remember those rings. They were big, heavy rings, like college rings, and he sported one on every finger of his right hand.

Brass knuckles, really.

They could do some damage.

Your best friend--Rick or Carl or Bubba or whoever the fuck it is--would come to visit, and he’d tell you he’d heard of the couple you’d encountered.

How they’d go to bars. Or, weather permitting, a park.

Even a mall parking lot.

A grocery store.

They knew how to do it, he’d say.

Who to pick.

It almost didn’t matter who they picked. The guy was just that dangerous.

“You didn’t stand a chance,” your friend would say. “He’s a world champion street fighter.”

It sounded like bullshit -- that part about world champion street fighter. I mean, what the fuck? Does he have a championship belt with that engraved on it? A trophy setting on his mantel? It seemed wrong to legitimize such thug-like behavior with something like a championship, and you just didn't think it possible such a thing as “street fighting” could be somehow sanctioned.

But then, you couldn't think about it anymore. About him. You just had to get better. That’s all. Mend. Get back to work. Especially now. You had no health insurance. You had bills to pay.

So you tried not to think about it, though you had nightmares.

Little fucker pounding on you, his fist like a goddamned jackhammer.

Him taunting you while he pureed your cheekbones with those friggin' rings.

"Look at me, motherfucker," he'd said. "Look at my goddamned ass like you want to fuck it."

But you just wanted to block that out of your mind -- to focus on healing. Doc said it wouldn’t be long -- you’d be walking again.

Anyway...Morana and Vladimir...that was the game they played.

F. Michael LaRosa is a writer who lives in Gaston, SC. His work has appeared in a number of print and online publications over the years. Look for his short stories in upcoming editions of Yellow Mama and The Battered Suitcase.

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