Starving

Ignatius sighed deeply. “Don’t talk,” he ordered. “It’s much better if you don’t talk.” He looked at Marla. “Nice little toy you’ve made for yourself.” He gave the head attached to the purple tuft a little shake. “How old is she?” The girl whimpered and Marla, already pale, grew paler and grayer by degrees.

“Two months,” she said, her voice soft like a fingernail scratching a stone. She bowed her head and laid her hands on her thighs, palms up. The boy did not get up, but adjusted his hips this way and that as though encouraging her to continue what she was doing.

“Two months,” Ignatius repeated. “Pity she won’t see much more. Really, Marla, I do try to make the rules perfectly plain to you. Big girl like you, one would think that your deficits in beauty would be amply made up by an acuity of intelligence.” Randall creeping slowly from behind, lifted his knife, and with a clean arc, brought it down on her bowed neck, removing the head. The purple headed girl wailed like a baby and reached for Marla, but Marla was gone. The boy looked up at the girl-shaped cloud of dust and ash, and gasped. He rolled to his side, his face pinched with choking. Shaking his head he spat on the concrete floor.

“Fuck,” he said, “Was that a fingernail?”
“Shut up,” Randall said.

Bernice and the bartender threw the door open and came thundering down the stairs. A belated cavalry.

“Ignatius,” Bernice said. Her permed, black and red hair gathered at the top of her small head like a dry palm tree. “You slippery little thing. I thought you were well on your way to worming into Randall’s pants and losing me my best manager.”





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