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by Kyle Hemmings

Biff can’t shake off his imaginary lovers. Three to be exact. Nor can they all live harmoniously under the same roof. When he worships at the temple, the greedy redhead named Sasha whispers between his ears that sex is better than God, worth the castration and exile from the Garden of Subterranean Delights. Then she undresses down to her painted toenails, taunts him like an incestuous sister. She professes that love at best is an overcooked scheme. Someone always gets scammed, knocked up or down. “Only if you don’t love me more than yourself,” she says striking a sultry pose during an imaginary safari in someone’s heart of Congo, “can you get me down-streaming.” At times, she’s a mermaid squirming through his thoughts.

At yard sales, the eldest one is elegantly-curved and reticent in her grey-scaled sexuality. She reminds Biff of so many of his mother’s friends in his stunted youth, their fierce ambivalence to commit a crime of passion, fights with the others as to what is valuable and what is not. Her name is Queen Q. She likes used jewelry, even the tarnished, because it can be brought to life with a polish and paste of baking soda. She also loves Pyrex, oven-proof glass, bamboo serving bowls and wicker baskets. She jokes about cooking her demons. He asks her if she would like to cook his balls, but poof! Her timer has already rung; she is gone somewhere under or beyond him. It explains why at times he feels so flat and empty.

The third one, Betsy Sue, is the least passionate about sex, sees it only as a duty, and loves to watch with him the old black and white movies with stars like Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck. Sometimes she gets all worked up when Barbara Stanwyck plots a murder with Fred MacMurray. That Barbara could seduce a whole town of insurance adjusters with nice suits. In a playful mood, Betsy Sue sometimes jokes that she will materialize in a visitation and seduce Biff with some hard greasy moves, then kill him in the afterglow. The other two, who were listening in, kill her by throwing her down a well that becomes an abyss. Biff listens to the vanishing borders of her wails, her echoes. He convinces himself that two is good company. It is enough.

Actually, they could all be their own reality TV show if they could fit a camera inside his head.

He goes to sleep on the living room couch. In the morning, he wakes up with a pain in his gut, an unexplained feeling of leftover sadness, an acute thirst for water, as if, like a diabetic mistaking reality for insulin, he’d had too much sugar in the night.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, SmokeLong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. His latest collections of poetry/prose are Future Wars from Another New Calligraphy and Split Brain on Amazon Kindle. He loves ’50s sci-fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the ’60s.