Hello Kitty chases Dante down an unfamiliar street. She is 20 feet tall, her flesh the whiteness of the whale, and he knows what she will do to him if she catches him. He understands too, that he is chased because he is not chaste. He wakes in a pulpy sweat. Because Evie is coming for her furniture tomorrow, today is a good day to pay Gina back the money he borrowed and return the presents she gave him.
“You and I are finished,” Gina says. He shrugs, palms up, hoping to look non-combative. Big mistake. So displayed, his bandaged hands recall their terror run to the hospital in her truck, both of them screaming all the way, 82 miles from the campfire he had plunged himself into. She pegs a sack of DVDs at his head. Then an ashtray. Then a lamp.
Home in the barcalounger, he swallows just one oxy. Then another. He lays his forearms along the arms of the chair, bringing the flayed flesh closer to the level of his heart, hoping this will calm the thrashing of his pulse in the charred ruins of his hands. The phone rings. Evie. She has been drinking. A lot. Not like Evie at all. She keeps hanging up and calling back. She demands to know names, dates, places; she wants big money, his nuts, the cat. He capitulates instantly on the last three points knowing the first three for fruits of the poisoned tree. When Evie Baudelaire married Marty, her first and Jewish husband, her mother had sewed a fringed satin banner of welcome. It read: “SHALOM.” When Evie then married Rakesh, the Vedic astrologer, Mrs. Baudelaire had amended the banner to read: “OM.” When Evie married Dante, the banner bore a single figure, which might have been the letter “O”. Dante calls his own mother.
“Slower,” she says, “I’m old.”
He explains about the divorce.
“If you don’t watch out,” his mother says, “Evie is going to leave you.”
He lets out a breath, “That’s what I’m telling you Ma. She left.”
“Well, there you go!” she snaps.
Dante slides Drag Me To Hell into the DVD tray, dry swallows another oxy, picks up the remote. On the screen, Mrs. Ganush shakes her fist at him. The sun goes down and robo-sapiens start to creep around. The moon sails over the shadow factory. In the dark, he watches weightless copper-red moon dust coil upward from the impact crater.
Sally Reno’s fiction has been a winner of National Public Radio’s 3-Minute Fiction Contest, the Dr. T. J. Eckleburg Review Prosetry Contest, has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and Best Small Fictions. She is Managing Editor at Blink-Ink Quarterly.