by Chris Erickson

YETUNDE WAS STANDING in the room, holding baby Paco; he had on just his diaper. Yetunde said, “Where’s your uncle Marty-Neil?” Paco looked. “Where’s Uncle Marty-Neil at?” she said. Paco pointed at Marty-Neil standing there; Marty-Neil gestured to him. Yetunde said, “Where’s baby Mustafa?” Paco moved his arm and finger and pointed at Mustafa being held by Henriette Lightbody with one arm; Henriette looked at Mustafa; he had on a blue, hooded suit. Yetunde put her finger on Paco’s palm; he squeezed it hard and made a triumph sound with his mouth.


JOHN DINGER ON A DAVENPORT, knees sticking clear out in the room.

His uncle Milgotz was in the chair; Aunt Era was in the other chair. They were happy to have John over even if they didn’t know him that well.

Johnny Carson was on; Michael Landon was on there. They looked great. Landon said something to Johnny and looked at the audience; Johnny looked at the surface of his desk, then at the audience.

Era’s little dog Ryan was standing by the davenport, vibrating; he had on his red nylon harness he wore all the time.

When John Dinger moved, Ryan looked and moved. When Dinger got up and went to the toilet when it was commercials, Ryan started vibrating uncontrollably.


PACO’S BIOLOGICAL WAS OVER his woman’s taking his wiener indoors; the collaborators’ skins stuck together and peeled apart on the different pumps.

Subsequent to withdrawal, he walked down Lula Mae Street with a can of beer and a Kent cigarette. He was bare-chested and when he passed under street lamps you could see his stomach for the soft, slickery brown area it was.

He went up Sixth till he come to Lamoille Park. He stood by the monkey bars. He put his hand on a bar and, feeling it wet, slid his hand along it knocking water drops down. He put his beer on the ground by his foot and tried to raise his thigh up to dry the bar on his cutoffs, but it was too tall to him. So, he undid his cutoffs, took them down, and stepped out of them. He wiped the monkey bar with his cutoffs. His wiener kind of joggled around in the darkness a little bit while he did do what I’m telling you about.

He wiped his mouth, stomach, and undercarriage with the cutoffs before putting them back. He got up his can of beer and walked down Ethel toward Bearing’s horse stable on the west of town.

He felt his way from the road through the weeds to Bearing’s woven wire fence and put his forearms on the top of it. He saw two little horses standing together. He didn’t know if they were mares or geldings or what; he didn’t know because he couldn’t see.

Paco’s biological looked beyond the pasture, across the bean field toward Polk Plastics; he could see the little orange lights way, way out there. The big male horse was standing by the fence ten feet from him.


LADY BUTTON CHIPPED ICE off her driveway with a snow shovel. She had a half dozen clear dildos strapped on. And a few red ones, too; Christmas was coming.


GLORIA-HALF-OF-SOMETHING MURDERED Mandu Fam Lam Bartlum on a day in 2002. She ran him down behind the Park Tavern at Mineral, tore his head open to one side, pulled out his eyeballs, and cored out his rectum. She walked it over and placed his rectum in the parking lot. You couldn’t tell what it was; it wasn’t in the right context, and it was all kind of stretched out.

It was Queen Mother Brard with her male helper in front of the post office; they were standing holding their mail and communicating with each other; you could see them. Mandu Fam Lam went by on his nice dirt bike. He looked, and now Brard and them were looking up the street the other way.

Mandu Fam Lam Bartlum came to Uncle Forrey’s visitation. He was standing near the casket looking at Forrey. Mandu Fam Lam had on a beautiful blue sweater; there was fine embroidery all on it. He looked very beautiful to the family; they could never be through looking at him.


ON ONE NIGHT IT WAS BAD WILLIE SLEMMONS in aisle six of the Star Market looking at frozen meals.

“Like an old fool angel he looks,” thought Hwang the night manager, looking at Bad Willie Slemmons. Hwang was literally standing holding a mop in his hands.

Bad Willie Slemmons was a crippled individual: Had he two little decrepit arms, no elbows or hands, and only one gnarl finger growing straight out of his right wrist. His dukeless arm—that was his left—appeared to be a vast, uncut wiener on the droop.

Despite his disability problems with his arms, he was pretty good with a knife, he said. At regular hand to him was his eighteen-inch Jim Bowie that a Danville cutler customized with a leather strap and fingerhole in the handle. When Bad Willie took and belted the weapon to his wrist, he had to make sure to pull the strap with his molar teeth on the right side of his head-mouth. His other teeth he had (few) were liable to come out; the looseness was caused by negligence and by chemical habits. He said he would belt that thing to his arm and chase after somebody if they got smart with him.

He would have liked to really doll that knife up in a man’s gore but, of course, civilization says you can’t do that, even if you don’t murder your opponent. Bad Willie Slemmons understood that. So, to keep out of trouble he worked around civilization’s rules in two ways:

1) He threatened people with the knife, without touching his victim with the blade

2) He introduced the knife into the sex act

Let it be said that Bad Willie Slemmons did not substitute knife for his regular wiener or cut down a sex collaborator during a coitus; all he did was point it at his collaborator and yell at his collaborator while he got pumped. That’s not to say yelling isn’t hurtful to a collaborator; but my deal is, if you have to use a blade in your sex act, you should get permission from your collaborator before you do so, or at the very least, warn your collaborator. But, as you know, I am not Bad Willie Slemmons and neither are you.

Hwang looked, as he drew up to Bad Willie, at the young man’s severely deformed person, which I have already described to you.

“It’s—right now—it’s between meatloaf and chicken breast right now,” Bad Willie said; spit flew off his mouth onto the glass door of the freezer. “Which ones you be eating?”

Hwang thought Bad Willie had the most high, beautiful voice. Hwang looked at the freezer and said he likes Healthy Choice brand meals. “The entrées taste wonderful.”

Bad Willie leered at Hwang: “You be working out?”

Hwang was looking at Bad Willie’s arms. Hwang invited Bad Willie to take his time in selecting a frozen meal. “They have many flavors to choose.” Hey that was Hwang—customer care was first to him. He goes, “I am simply going to finish mopping,” but he stayed put, looking at Bad Willie’s wrists.

Bad Willie squared up to his man. He looked upon Hwang’s business district for longer than you would expect. He was looking right there. He pushed back his glasses with his finger. His brain was communicating with his body capsule. His autonomic nervous system performed its office: corpus cavernosum—look out!

A thoroughgoing report on what you would have seen on a journey into Bad Willie’s front left trouser pocket at that moment would have had to include the word movement.

Bad Willie’s mouth filled with spit. His head moved forward nine centimeters; his arms moved.

Hwang wondered on the side: “In the grand scheme of things, what does it mean to want to hold this young man down and study his arms and his finger? To want to try gripping his arms tightly and loosely to see what the difference is? I will make notes about him in my private journal. Maybe I could take a shot at a poem.”

Bad Willie went with a Healthy Choice brand meal, like Hwang said to. But since the registers had been counted, Bad Willie couldn’t pay—not even with his personal debit card. Hwang told him, “It’s completely OK with me to take the item. You can come again tomorrow and pay. Maybe at this same time. What do you think? It’s OK with me. I will be here regardless. I am closing again regardless.” Bad Willie was standing there just taking it all in.

Next evening same time, Bad Willie showed up and got a bunch more Healthy Choice brand and paid via personal debit card. Hwang had already let Liza the checker go early; she was asking to go early anyway.

After a little standing around, Hwang and Bad Willie went for a bunch of coitus in the back office. It was heavy duty but Bad Willie brandished his knife not. All during, he kept making this weird whiny noise. Meantime, Healthy Choice brand meals in the bag thawing out.

Hwang had trouble gripping the floor with his loafers working on Bad Willie. So he took them and his socks off so he could, you know what I mean, grip a little better on his different pumps, leverage his man better.

One point I do want to say is that when Hwang bent down to set his loafers and socks aside, Bad Willie’s bare moneymaker was right there. Right, right there.

Cramped but organized accommodations. Everybody did OK. Stand-up deeds mostly.

Hwang did his gripping experiment on Bad Willie’s wrists and finger; it was great but, remarkably, Hwang didn’t go on to record his findings in his journal.

Chris Erickson is from Decatur, Illinois. His work has appeared in The Hobo-Tramp Voice and Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. His novel-in-progress is Henrytown. He is a graduate of the UC Davis creative writing program, and still lives in Davis.