Ex-mercenary Hank Mitchell is doing five years hard time for stealing a tubful of women’s underwear. In the prison library Mitch re-discovers the novels of Genet and the Marquis de Sade and is inspired to write his own story–a saga of family deception, sexual obsession, and contract killing. But now his family wants him out and back in the killing game, a game where the rules are about to change…
© by Jack Remick 2010
Excerpted from an early draft of “Blood”.
It’s hot in the laundromat. Hot and moist as the inside of a woman’s mouth. Sitting on the hard-backed metal chair beside the door, I wait for the red-headed woman to return. The magazine, an old issue of Car and Driver splays open on my lap to an article on the Audi R8, a street version of the machine that re-wrote the history of racing at Le Mans making it the perfect vehicle of the upward bound young man with two hundred thousand dollars to burn on new wheels. But I’m not interested in the R8 or the Audi record book or anything to do with wheels. I am interested in the contents of the red-headed woman’s dryer. The huge dryer spins to a stop.
I check the wall clock: 11:30 PM. Maybe she fell asleep at the TV. Maybe her lover called. Maybe they are having phone sex, their words burning up the cell towers. Maybe he paid her a surprise visit and their moans are scorching the walls of her apartment.
Standing, I close the article on the R8 and look out the window at Third Avenue at 11:30 PM. It is gray with mist and the vague complicated shadows of moonlight and sodium based street lamps with their yellow glow and orange tinge. I look again at the dryer, see the whiteness in the glass door, see the strip of white panties forced against the door, the hooked strand of a bra strap buried in the waist band of the panties. I check the clock again—11:33. I feel the itch in the palms of my hands, that dry rancid anxiousness in my mouth. The door opens. I turn. Cool night air pushes in. I expect to see the red-headed woman, but instead two men, wearing Chargers jackets and carrying duffel bags, enter chatting about sports and scores and one of them tackles the duffel of his friend and they both laugh, ignoring me standing at the window. Their reflections in the glass move like ghosts. They dump their duffels into side by side washers, pour in Tide, too much detergent for the size of the loads and then they search for quarters. Click, clang, click, clang and then one of them says,Shit, I’m short and he looks at me.
Hey pal, he says, you got change for a few bucks?
I point at the change machine on the wall. He follows my finger. Grinning.
Right, he says. The change machine.
Slipping dollar bills into the machine, he scoops out quarters and then, glancing at me, he pumps the quarters into the washer and then he and his friend walk out of the laundromat.
As the door whishes closed, I run to the red-headed woman’s dryer, open the glass door, unhook the tangled bra strap from the white lacy panties and, reaching into the still warm body, feel the heat of the mass of white. My heart beats faster and I stuff the still warm underwear into the sleeves of my jacket, feel the heat radiate through me, my heart hammering. I empty the dryer, close the door, feel the heat of the white hot metal hooks of the bras against me. Ready to run, I hear shoes shuffle on the concrete floor. The red-headed woman stands glaring at me. She wears tight black pants, a red sweater. Her hair, curled up in ringlets, shimmers in the light. Beside her there are two large men in uniform. Policemen. Big grins on their faces. There is no way out. Not through them, not over them, not away from them.
The red-headed woman pulls a pistol and shield from the back of the black pants and she says:
We’ve been waiting for you, you son of a bitch.
She smiles. She approaches me. I watch the gun hand, watch the hands of the men and I let out a long breath, one I have been holding for years and years and I say:
You’re a cop.
I’m a cop, she says. And these are my cop friends.
I didn’t expect it to be you.
Perverts never expect a woman.
The two men in uniform close on me, I know that they have no experience in close combat. They are careless. Loose. Laughing, they joke about catching the Underwear Bandit, the Panty Pervert, the Braless Bandido.
I know that once the red-headed woman holsters her pistol I can take them—all three, take them down and leave them gagging, bleeding, perhaps dead—but instead I hold out my hands, palms up. I say:
Are you going to cuff me?
In my apartment, on Third Avenue, high up on the eighth floor, the light is dim in the hallway. The carpet is plush blue, not too plush, not too blue. Silent, not too silent. I watch the two men open drawers where my cache hides—a thousand pairs of white panties—lace panties, silk panties, crotchless panties, hip huggers, thongs, panties with little red hearts embroidered on them. Panties with the days of the week emblazoned across the pubic bone—all of them white.
Out come the bras, D cup, C cup A cup DD cup—strapless, with straps, with clear plastic shoulder straps all white. Then the assortment of slips and half slips, body stockings, leotards in all sizes from mammoth big women down to tiny size three, all white.
As the men stack up the booty the red-headed woman says:
I’ll be a son of bitch.
That’s hard for you to do, isn’t’ it? I say.
Metaphorically speaking, asshole.
Why do all you law enforcement people call men like me assholes?
Because who but an asshole is going to be stupid enough to hoard this kind of shit. You know something, smart ass?
She holds up a white bra. She says:
I never wear white undies.
So what’s your color? Red?
Emerald. Red-heads look good in emerald.
I should have known, I say. All that white and you a red-head.
White or no white, we’ve got you asshole, she says. You shouldn’t work the same gig every night.
I had my reasons, I say.
Listen to Jack Remick read excerpts from his novel Blood:
Blood runs clear – Promo video created by Dan Oles and posted on Youtube – Jack reading Buenaventura 2, with cover images and background music.