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by Jesse Rawlins

Black Friday falls this year on Dillion’s twelfth birthday. Downtown traffic chokes me — as tolling bells chime six at night. A bank of dank-dark fog shrouds New Bedford harbor — the same harbor that brazenly spawned Melville’s Moby Dick. Though perched high on Johnny Cake Hill, I can barely espy the fishing fleet … Two dozen anchored boats: bobbing in black water; butting against the docks. Like a pack of junkyard dogs — jerking at their leashes.

Out front of Seaman’s Bethel I finally snag a spot that will amply hold the Rover. I step into the street — and that fucker Old Man Winter doesn’t waste a second. He lustily grabs my tits, tweakin’ the nipples good-n-hard. Then slams a fist into my kidneys, which scream at me to pee.

While my boot heels strike the cobblestones, I record these details on my iPhone. And like I have for the last ten years (but only on Dillion’s birthday) I stride through the Red Room’s door—

Inside I spot the guest of honor. He’s been driven here from New York. Flyin’ him on a plane would’ve attracted too much attention. But just as I’d imagined, the guttersnipe I’d rescued at the end of last September has certainly cleaned up nice.

I scrutinize three cameras mounted on carbon-fiber tripods. Then scornfully jam a sea bag into Michelson’s chest: “He wears these. So get him dressed—”

“And dim the lights — they’re too damn bright.”


Naked I now hang — suspended by a chain bolted to the ceiling.

“Your safeword is cake,” jeering Michelson tells me. But I match him sneer for sneer: “Don’t fret that ugly ass — I will fulfill your wish.”

His sneer becomes a leer when he wedges a ball-gag in my mouth. But the ball is undersized. And I can easily spit this bit when I choose to do so.

My childhood priest has also joined us. Though not of his free will. He stands shackled against the closest wall … six feet to my left. Without effort or volition the words of the ancient ritual spill like summer rain on the meadow of my mind.

Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.

I cannot constrain my glee as tears snake the puffed-red veins of his alcohol-addled nose.

It has been thirteen years since my last confession … and these are my sins—

I fucked a priest out of wedlock: and became pregnant with his child.

The priest did not want me — and I did not want a baby.

So I taxied to a clinic. Where they sucked the child away …

We prepped tonight’s boy for nearly two months. Showed him films of what he’d witness. But having seen his parents stabbed to death back in New York City this must have seemed like child’s play.

Time loses meaning. And I barely find the strength to finally spit the gag — and whisper my last line … While I stare into the eyes of my surrogate son—

Kiss me goodbye, Baby …

The tears that stain his cheeks wash my pain away.

Addicted to tawdry tales (that sometimes make her blush), Jesse’s trying to craft her own. Red Fez, Shotgun Honey, and Flash Fiction Offensive have graciously published her stories. She lives alone in Parts Unknown (across the pond from England). At the time of this writing, she hasn’t killed anybody yet. You can learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/Jesse-Rawlins-Fiction-Writer.