┬áDUM DUM would like to introduce Jessica Garrison as the first writer we’ve invited to participate in our spankin’ new online serials. Each month, we’ll introduce a new short story by Garrison, serializing short works from her $1 Books series.

 

 

 

 

 

DOWN

I’ve got three fives in my bag. I sit at a cafe, sipping ice water, bouncing my knee up and down. I look at the reflection of my forearm in a mirrored tabletop. A man moves towards me, his hand is out. His hat rounds his head like a cereal bowl.

“No,” I say.

He touches my elbow.

“Bonsai,” he says.

I hand him a five. I place the bonsai in the center of the mirror. I smile, because it’s pretty.

“Wisdom,” he whispers, pocketing the five.

I walk the next block, carrying the bonsai through Chinatown. A bouquet of white daisies, wrapped in silk.

I see a man that I know, dressed in black in the sun.

“Hello,” he says. His voice is soft, like uncut pubes. He holds his arms out. He wraps my neck in his scarf. I smell soap.

“My apartment is there.” He points, his finger hangs in the air, the dried up river behind him.

“Want to come?” he asks.

I nod, gripping my bonsai, making jokes, silently in my head.

“You look hungry,” he says.

I don’t listen.

“You can eat after,” he says, “Let’s be quick.”

“Okay,” I say.

I undress by the window. I know where to stand. He hands me a pickle. I suck on it.

“Look down,” he says, he’s on his knees.

I look at the pickle. I drag my eyes from left to right. White shag carpet, mahogany chair with claw feet, red tape in a cross on the floor.

“Here,” he says. He takes my bonsai.

I hold it against my chest. The ceramic pot is cold, it makes my stomach pull in.

“Down,” he says.

I lower it to my center.

He gestures with his hand. “Lower,” he says.

I hold the bonsai, placing it over the clementine patch between my legs.

“Good,” he says, pulling the polaroid.

“We got two today,” he says, his breath hits me densely on the chin.

Two polaroids dry on his desk. I give him my hand.

He gives me two fives. The bonsai is left on the floor.

As I close the metal latch I hear him. The sound of his belt buckle hitting the hardwood, a needle in the record, heavy breathing.