Alice, hey.

Who told you?

I’m okay. I’m roughed up a little bit but nothin like last time. I still got all my teeth.

Jesus, I’m sorry.

I know.

I know. It wasn’t funny. But somethin’s gotta be funny tonight because the drugs they got pumpin through me sure as shit ain’t doin their job.

No. Stay there. Stay at home with the baby. I don’t need you down here frettin over me.

Listen, Al, I love ya, but you can be stupid sometimes.

Yeah, and I was selfish. We’ve covered that. Why won’t you—

Babe, I swear, you pick up those keys, I’ll get my brother down there to slash your tires. I ain’t kiddin. Jerome’s been lookin for an excuse to use that new bowie knife of his.

Don’t cry.

Please, don’t cry. I’ll be okay. I ain’t lied to you yet. I’m tryin to stop too, you know that. But man, Al, you don’t even know what the rush is like. When you sit in that chair, cuppin a hand around your cigarette as you light it, lookin at each guy’s face and wonderin what their tell is….Do you remember Matt Perkins? From Slidell? He always bit his bottom lip when he had a straight. The point is, these guys, tonight, they were so easy. Too easy. And the truth is, I was fuckin dumb. Okay, so look. You wanna know the story don’t you, so listen. I finish up, walk out of there with five Gs. Three blocks down I start pukin on the sidewalk. That’s the last time I drink Schlitz. So the guys catch up with me, they’re right in the middle of sayin, good game and all that congratulatory shit, when I double over again, and this time, the goddamn ace falls outta my sleeve. Then this big guy with a cauliflower nose goes through my pockets and finds the rest of ’em. I don’t remember much after that. I think I gave a streetlight a hug, before I hit the ground, but that’s about it.

If it’s the same old shit every time then why don’t you leave?

Oh. Okay.

Right.

I love you too.

Jules lives in Arizona. She likes to smell old books and drink red wine. Her chapbook ALL THE GHOSTS WE’VE ALWAYS HAD is available from Thirty West Publishing.

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