Kent Killmer
Red House   Fiction. Perhaps.

Upside down. He was suspended in the chair and hanging upside down. Held in place by the small dolly lift, which was keeping his nose but two inches above the incoming sea, he had been left to dangle, inverted in the chair, upside down. Discarded without ceremony, he had been abandoned to cough, spit and choke—choke on the water that was becoming deeper each minute as the foaming tide rushed in.


Had they given up? He wondered. Were they simply going to drown him? Pain. Dull, throbbing pain in his right lower jaw. An aching nausea overcame his every fiber. Had they roughed him up some more while he was out? The acrid ammonia odor from the capsules they'd used repeatedly to revive him still filled his sinuses. Throbbing—he turned his head to its maximum ability and looked down and out the corner of his eye in the direction from whence the ache came. There was a half inch-thick, steel cable with six flat, oblong hooks that could slide freely up and down. One, however, had been pushed up and through his chin, up through the bottom of his jaw, alongside his teeth and then back out of his open mouth. A stringer. They had put him on a stringer.

Like a fish.


*  *  *


Ali's daughter's name was Happi—Happi Woo. She had just turned five when she met Scotty. Happi was an adorable little thing—a "wee poppet," as her Scottish neighbor called her. She frequently wore dog ears. Her long, blue black hair draped her shoulders like her mother's and bounced as she walked. Happi possessed the same large, black, button eyes as her mom and she surrounded those beacons with an extraordinarily large, circular pair of black, Wally Cox meets Andy Warhol set of glasses. This, drew even more attention to her already beautiful orbs. As custom had it for young Asian girls, she wore the cramming, frenetic mash-up of competing plaids layered over garish stripes with alarmingly bright, knee-high stockings. The style was outrageous, yet at the same time, it worked. She looked like she belonged on a key chain.


*  *  *


"My people have no flexibility on this, you understand."

"Neither do mine. And neither does our boss's boss, who is about

to be anointed."

"It's gonna happen? He's the chosen one for this town?" asked U.

"This town and all towns. The franchise is expanding. It's been over three

decades since we've been this close—had an opportunity like this. We're

going global."


*  *  *



"If he tells you to go to hell, you'll look forward to the trip."

U chuckled. "And quite dah salesman I bet."

"He could sell you a white black bird."


*  *  *


A master of appearances, deception and distance, Mr. Key allowed few to become acquaintances and no one to become close. When not working, he found comfort sandwiching his apparel and styling in that natty niche between über-casual and squalor that is best known by young men in their teens and wharf rats.


*  *  *


She whisked behind him brushing her torso ever so gently against his arms—arms linked to hands, which were finger-laced behind his head. The brush was so masterfully slight it could be confusing to the uninitiated as to whether it was deliberate or not.


Key, on the other hand, was anything but uninitiated. He had lost any degree of ambiguity as to her intentions some six brushes ago. Promptly following the veiled touching arrived a wall of aromas—a plaid smorgasbord of odors, which was an elegant blending of Lysol, DDT and the finest perfume offered up on aisle sixteen at the Dollar Store.


*  *  *


Key harkened back to his childhood. He recalled the omnipresent goldfish that lived in an opalescent bowl, centered upon a dusty doily on the dark walnut nightstand, right by his bed. Over time, the bowl had etched a small ring into the furniture. The fish had been his little buddies. The bowl's pungent, brown green moss-laden, oppressive odor which wafted heavenward, had the moist night air spiriting it into his nostrils as he slept. It was eerily reminiscent of the cleaning lady's breath. Yes. She had aquarium breath. It was a deal killer.


*  *  *


Wentworth was a small, unassuming figure. It was difficult to guess his age. He was somewhat rotund, always overdressed and prone to profuse periods of sweating. Sartorially resplendent he was draped in an all black wool garment. He had slicked-back, oily, thinning, blue-black dyed hair and he wheezed when he spoke. Infected black ingrown hairs on large moles upon his face made one never want to get too close. These tended to offer up a malevolent hue when he rubbed his face with both hands, which he was prone to do.


On balance, he was quite reminiscent of a high sheen, large oily beetle, draped in an Armani suit. Adorned with thick, yet exceedingly small diameter, black, horned rim glasses that rested prominently on the end of his nose, Wentworth had the habit of licking his lips after most statements. You could almost visualize two large beetle-esque pincers preening small mites and saliva away from his mouth to make way for a cleaner next bite.


*  *  *


Key opened the door for Ali, directed her to the sofa and brought her a warm brandy. She took off her four and a half-inch spiked heels. Her jeans were so tight you could read the dime's date in her back pocket.

"Nice shoes," said Key, admiring her hoof wear.


"Louboutins? Manolos?"

"Nope. Casadei. My favorite."


"Nope. Italian. Via Zappos—my personal Goddess." She then opened her third roll of Mentos that evening and threw the first in the series high in the air, leaned her head back and caught it with her open pouting lips.


*  *  *


It was 3:05 am in the Six Mile area of Detroit. Only fools or individuals looking to do those same fools harm would loiter here. The fences had two parallel curly queues of razor wire atop and the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise had bulletproof glass. Most dogs were mottled pit bulls and the cops didn't come this far down. A relentless mist was saturating all things still. The ground's spalling concrete was uneven and littered with broken glass, bits of trash, feces and needles.


*  *  *

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