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Fiction #175
(published April 15, 2004)
The Remorse of Willy O'Ryan (parts 1, 2, 3 of 6)
by Barry Blumenfeld


Nina was pretty, but she only had one breast. The first time I saw her, with Lucinda, I thought it was cancer, but no. It was a crash. Cocaine, Nina driving, and her little girl Shandreena, who is not so little, in the back seat, not strapped in.

She nearly killed Shandreena. The way it turned out was, I killed Nina. Contrary to appearances. That was an accident too.

Pretty. Black hair, blue eyes, pale skin, full lips. Short (an obsession of mine.)

I love my obsessions. I love them short. It excites me, right away.

God, it was hot. Muggy jungle kind of heat, like inhaling fucking soup every minute of the day, all fucking summer long. Hate that. Made me want to die, except that I didn't want to really, I only liked to think about it. Fantasy of escape, I guess—from my self, of course of course of course of course.

Back then, outside, when my anxiety peaked, the thought of dying relaxed me immediately. Here, I don't like it. Big yuk.

Apres moi, fuck you.

So fuck you. Time to sleep.



I drowned her, in a pond on a tobacco farm, way out of town, far as I could drive before daylight. Full moon. Fan of black hair and her face in the center of it, staring, floating, bright. Bright.

The sky and the water, same blue. Almost black, just a breath of dawn. A light. A sigh. Spirit of God looking us over.

Naked. We ripped her damn clothes off when she choked on her vomit.

She made the water ripple when I pushed her out into the reeds, under the weeping willows or whatever leaning over us, masses of darker darkness, but with a coolness, and stood there up to my waist freezing, which I liked, actually, and gave her a big shove. She was still and waxy. Just an abstract Nina, so to speak. Everyone's seen it. Can't mistake it, so I thought, anyway. Eddies caught silver off the moon. Little fairies for her little body. She was sweet, I loved her. Anyway, used to. So it was sad.

It was peaceful, it was sad. It was godawful, too, of course. My heart was banging. Biff-o-rama. And my breathing, I could hear it. In, out. In, out, whistling. I was praying, don't even know what for.

She was floating out there dead, I thought, and naked. Black hair on the water. White face. White under the water. I was cold. I felt like she must be cold, too. And I was right, little did I know.

I wanted to watch until she sank, but after she got to the center of the pond she only turned a little, lazy like, on the surface. After a while I was shivering horribly. Teeth clacking like goddamn castanets. The sun was rising. Gold seeping into the blue. Color in the trees. I didn't want to look any more.

I got out and stripped. I drove back to Raleigh naked as anything. Hope nobody saw me, I wasn't much to see. I put the wet stuff back on just to run inside. I slept for nineteen hours. They didn't find her for a month.



I was living with Lucinda. She was lovers with Nina. That was hard to assimilate. I'm not given to jealous fantasies. I was so madly in love with Lucinda then.

No room for that lovers idea, when my only idea was her body. When I wasn't with her, I was just sleepwalking.

I got no pay in the summertime. We were broke, except for what she brought in dealing cocaine. I'm not counting the pennies I made at Blink's in the Tuckabuckaway mall. Ice cream joint. That was just to preserve my sad little honor.

I biked home at night, and all I'd see was her body as the streets whizzed by. And that was all she let me do, you understand, God damn her, was see it. Look at it. At her breasts through her nightgown. In the morning, the sun coming through it, the long wavy goatee—just the silhouette.

She was on Demerol. She had boils on her armpits. She had cancer of the cervix. She had a three year old son to take care of asleep in the back room. And me to deal with. The white-hot virgin.

People give themselves permission. She wasn't lucid, don't you know. I'd roll in, lean the bike on the wall. TV be on, she'd be lying on the couch, prone, her nightgown riding all the way up to her waist. No panties. Moons so white I can't forget, no doubt heavenly soft for licking and snuffling, and brown soft hair in between.

I'd crouch by her. Beast of prey. Pray. We'd ramble on about nothing, and I'd try to breathe quietly. Or, if I was bold, I'd say, "Let's talk," and she'd mumble some narcotic ambiguity.

Then she'd turn over and get up. Blinding gold slash. I wasn't sure what it was, the first time.

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The Next Fiction piece (from Issue #176):

The Remorse of Willy O'Ryan (part 4 of 6)
by Barry Blumenfeld

The Last few Fiction pieces (from Issues #174 thru #170):

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by R.A. Lubow

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By Michael P. McManus

Borrowed Time
by Ann Hite

Working Nights
by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz

Dancing Lessons (part 8 of 8)
by William Starr Moake

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