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Border-town patois makes these folk-tales glow. That’s what Rosa told him once upon a time. Half a country away from here. Rosa…fuck. Queenan wanted to taste her today. Taste her teenage appetite. Lick her studied boredom. Queenan sucked greedily at his beer bottle and placed it, fizzing, back on the table. He”d had it with these cranks and fidgets. Had it with leaking away in cafes and car-parks. Sick of it all. The man they called Sun, covered with sores, talking through broken teeth. Nonsense spilling from his stained tongue. I didn’t really stab him, just slashed him a bit. The crunch of teeth on asphalt. The busted jaw hanging slack. Is this town half-broken or half-fixed? A tar-pit for ex-pats. One way in, no way out. This is where the dream guttered out. High-rise beach hotels full of low-lives he won’t look twice at. Why should he care? Queenan is not one of these men. He has enjoyed the rewards of dishonest living as much as the next man, and he will enjoy them again some day soon. Three days from now this will all be over. From the balcony, Queenan can see the local police — uniforms worn and shabby trudging up the beach. He re-adjusts his sunglasses and takes another suck of the beer bottle. On the adjacent balcony the young prostitute drapes her damp towel over the railing. She’s wearing nothing but a platinum wig. Queenan raises his bottle as a greeting. The prostitute stares right through him, unconcerned by the blood on his shirt. Strictly hardcore. Trying to maintain her distain. Queenan smiles to himself. There starts the horror.

Tom Leins is from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published in Texts Bones, Open Wide Magazine, Orphan Leaf Review, Interlude and Front&Centre + online at Straight From The Fridge and Crawlspace. He works as a film critic and is currently hard at work on his first novel Thirsty & Miserable. Send love-letters or hate-mail to: tomleins@hotmail.com


First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, June 11th, 2007.