>>> The Lady's Shave
By staff writer NG Hatfield
April 3, 2008

« Back to Part 4

Out on the street, it felt to still be a pleasant night. The air was so temperate it felt nonexistent, like I was moving through a vacuum or in a light pool of placenta. My heart was racing, but slowing down to its usual beat.

I swore a little and made my way to the light where I had seen the crackhead two days before. Nothing, nobody was there. I kept walking through Louisa’s neighborhood until it was late and cold. Finally, I heard somebody ask, “You got change?”

It was a bum. Some tiny black guy with this massive bush of a beard. He was wearing a bright orange trucker hat and a thin New Jersey Nets jacket.

“I got twenty dollars,” I said.

He licked his lips and rubbed his hands, both very vigorously. “Really?”

“But for twenty bucks. I want your jacket.”

“My jacket?”


“Why?” He made possibly the most quizzical face I’d ever seen on a person.

“I’m a Nets fan.” I ignored the inherent comedy of the bum’s reaction, drew the money from my pocket and held it out. “You could get yourself a much warmer jacket for twenty bucks.”

He snatched at it, but was very far away and too drunk to come close.

“Ah!” I said. “Not until I get that fucking jacket.”

He took it off and held it up.

“Now toss it on that grass over there.”

He obliged.

I grabbed it and handed him the money.

He thanked me, giggled, spat, then ran off into the night, clutching the money with both hands. Like a squirrel holds an acorn.

I had a shitty time hailing a cab, so I thumbed a ride with some drunk redneck to Louisa’s parent’s house. His name was Dale and he asked me a load of stupid fucking questions: “Why you out so late?” and “You drunk as shit?” and “You ain’t going to go killing anybody are you?”

I pretty much said fuck no to everything he asked and our ride progressed in a calming silence. It was awkward and I’m sure he didn’t like me. But, I did tip him my last four bucks for the ride. He thanked me and squealed the tires as he pulled out of the Klein’s driveway. I flipped him off for announcing my return to the house. In the darkness, I knew he couldn’t see me, but I was still drunk, horny and a little angry.

The house had spotlights cast on it. It looked taller, more majestic than when Louisa and I had made our visit. I tried to pick out the room where Karen and Doug fucked. The bedroom.

I looked around and saw nothing new. As my arms swung, the jacket began to itch. It felt sweaty and reeked of piss. A smell I felt accustomed of, or at least, felt drawn to.

I took it off and slung it over my shoulder. The nice, straight brick pathway caused my boots to thump with each step as I approached the doorstep. I got there, grabbed the big handle of the brass knocker and thumped it seven or eight times, as hard as I could. A light above the door came on. I tossed the jacket to the bottom of the door, bent over, removed my blue lighter from my pants and lit it on fire. It caught, slower than I expected. But when it did, it was really burning.

I heard steps, through the foyer, and I ran, hard, feeling my legs chug in a drunken rhythm until I was far enough in the darkness to watch, but not be seen. It was easy; outside the Klein’s spotlights, the neighborhood was very dark and silent.

Doug opened the door and was trying like hell to stamp out the fire with his bare foot. He was wearing a white robe that stretched to his ankles and made him look fatter and effeminate.

I sat in the dark and watched him extinguish the flames, all the while hoping that one flame might grab hold of his robe, that he might go up in a blaze of sizzling fat and melting pennies. But it never happened.

When it was over, Doug looked around the yard for a few minutes and peered out into the darkness. He examined the jacket, then left it charred and wounded on the step. He seemed angry, but not concerned. It was just a mean trick played by some pranksters.

I saw him go back inside and I watched as the lights of the manor blanked out. After a few minutes, I figured Doug was in his bedroom, fucking his beautiful wife.