Category Archives: Hector Duarte Jr

Backstage

Joey didn’t need money, he needed proximity. When the boss asked if he wanted to work the night shift, he jumped at the chance. With Halloween right around the corner, the park pulled in hundreds of thousands more each weekend by turning some lots into themed haunted houses for the adults who would spend much more on booze and black and gray t-shirts.
+++++These scary nights at the park had started two weekends back and that was when Violeta swept into his world. They were both working the section where extras were dressed in rubber masks, brandishing fake chainsaws like that movie where all crime is legal for one night. They were part of a fifteen minute bit where a white van parked at a different spot every hour and Joey chased Violeta, caught her, and dragged her inside the back of the van. She begged the audience to please help, call the cops, “somebody do something.” She pulled that line off each time with such sentiment, Joey wanted to drop the fake knife and kiss her.
+++++The crowd cheered as he held the knife to the soft spot of her throat and Tomas, also dressed as a vandal, closed the van’s doors. The crowd ate the scene up like a pumpkin pancake special at the local greasy spoon.
+++++Joey and Violeta talked that night and ended up at JB’s brewery, open until 5 a.m., catering to the hospitality crowd. She drank the nut brown ale. Five beers in, she admitted to having a thing with Tomas for a few weekends up until last Saturday when they all went out and he brought his fiancé.
+++++Violeta looked at Joey with moist eyes and whispered, “Why didn’t you go?”
+++++“Nobody invited me.”
+++++“We barely know you,” she laughed, slapping the edge of the table. “Nobody knows who you are, but they should. Because you’re such a nice guy, everybody should know a guy like you.”
+++++She asked if he could drive her home because she was “beyond tipsy.” He laid her on the couch and she pulled in for a kiss. By sun up, they’d had sex four times. After the last, she hugged him, kissed his shoulder, and whispered how happy she was; much more lucid than hours before.
+++++This made him happy. He kissed her forehead, hugged her, and they went out for a pumpkin pancake breakfast.

******

Violeta felt bad about the thing with Joey but she just needed company for that night. Tomas had been a real shit for embarrassing her. Who fucks around with someone else for almost a month and doesn’t mention one thing about a fiancé until he brings her to a work gathering where everyone knows their dalliances? Violeta needed something to erase it all and she hated drinking alone. When she brought Joey back home and made him smile ear to ear, it made her feel better for him and for her.
+++++Joey brought her flowers the next day. He was pretty low key about it but she knew a guy who brought flowers that quick was the type to linger. She didn’t need—want—that in her life.
+++++“I hope we can still remain friends,” she said. “I’m hung up on someone that doesn’t love me. You’re a good guy. You don’t need someone like me in your life.” She motioned to hand back the flowers but he insisted she keep them.

******

The crowd cheered as Joey pierced the soft spot under Violeta’s earlobe and made a smile of an incision across to her other ear. Blood spurted from her throat as she hit the ground. A couple guys at the front raised over-priced beers in the air.
+++++Tomas looked down at the floor and muffled through his rubber mask. “What the fuck?”
+++++Joey pulled the gun from the small of his back, aimed it at the middle of the infidel’s forehead, and squeezed out two shots to be sure. This time of year, they ate the stuff up. A month later, they’d sit around their ample dinner tables and thank the Lord for such an abundance of food and one more year of good health.
+++++As Joey brought the gun to his chest, a woman at the front covered her small daughter’s eyes and yelled, “She’s gurgling. He really cut her.”
+++++Faces became confused staring at the two bodies in the van. Some at the back, who had to tiptoe to watch the scene over taller heads, shouted for more, amazed at the convincing effects. Some at the front dropped their beers. A man at the middle pointed at Violeta. “This is bull shit. Look, her stomach’s moving,” he said, trudging off to the nearest beer cart.
+++++Some watched Joey press the barrel over his heart and pull the trigger. The spray of red commanded a roar of elation from the crowd.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Vanessa fell to her knees in tears, gripping Enrique’s jeans. “I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry,” she said.
+++++“He followed you?”
+++++“I managed to lose him at a light but he caught up to me.” Vanessa pressed her forehead into the floor and wept. The same way she wept when the affair first started, droning on late into the night about how dissatisfied she was; until she became tired—physically and emotionally—and gave in sexually.
+++++All Enrique wanted was sex with the hottest woman in the office, who had an ass shaped liked the apple Adam bit into. Someone supposedly inaccessible but who was quick to respond to his flirting in the break room, and once told him, “You can get anything from me if you’re persistent enough.”
+++++That got him so hard he needed five minutes before walking back to his desk. But nothing comes free and now her jealous husband was pounding down his door. A few more kicks and it’d break from the hinges.
+++++Vanessa ran into the bedroom where she once told Enrique she wanted to stay forever, forget about Marco, and turn the page to a new chapter in her life.
+++++“There’s a gun at the back of the sock drawer. It’s loaded,” Enrique shouted to her.
+++++“When I get in there, I’m burning the place down, you infidel fucks,” Marco shouted. Another kick and the door caved in, closing off any hope of escaping the house without having to go through him.
+++++Marco’s bulk filled the door frame as he turned an aluminum baseball bat in his white-knuckle grip, zeroing in through blood shot, puffy eyes. “This is what you cheated on me with?” he shouted and laughed. “Watch how easily his head cracks open, cunt.” Like an All-Star swinging for the fences, Marco cocked back—the bat level with Enrique’s head—when shots popped off from the room.
+++++The bat hit the floor with a clang. Marco hit the floor with two holes in his heart.
+++++“Holy shit,” Enrique said before collapsing to the floor a vomiting mess. He’d fucked plenty of chicks before. All with baggage as temporary as a cab fare, a friendly hug, and a promise to keep in touch. But the body and blood on his floor would linger forever.
+++++Vanessa walked over and gently ran her fingers through his hair, massaging the crown. “Don’t worry. Now it’s just the two of us for tomorrow and tomorrow. Forever. I’ll clean up the mess after I make you some tea so you can relax,” she said.
+++++Vanessa smiled back at him. There wasn’t enough oxygen coming into the room as his eyes ping-ponged between Marco’s body and the gun. “Two of us?” he said, pointing at her dead husband. “I mean, like you but this is just. . . I just thought we were–”
+++++“What did you think, Kiki? There’s no thinking. We talked about this: the two of us together, with no one in the way. No interferences, remember? Look,” she said pointing the gun at Marco, “I made it happen. It’s done.”
+++++“Are you serious? There’s no way we can do this now after–”
+++++Enrique hit the floor with two holes in his head.
+++++“Sorry, Kiki, I can’t settle for something half-assed. I don’t need that kind of shit in my life,” Vanessa Solis said.