Night 1: Wednesday

Kai stops. Kai stares long and hard from his porch. There is a man, a white man, standing under a streetlight staring at his phone. The man, the white man, is not paying attention. Slight-built with glasses in loafers, slacks, and a button-up white oxford shirt, the man looks lost.

Kai calls his friends, D-wan and Marcus, out of the house.

“You see this fool here?”  Kai nods his head in the man’s direction.

“Yeah yeah, some rich motherfucka, don’t know where the fuck he is,” Marcus says.

“Oak Grove niggaz show him where he at. Do some polar bear hunting, yo?” D-wan adds.

“Yeah yeah, game’s come to us, easy,” Marcus says.

The phone screen fixates the man. The three tall men stride towards him.

D-wan speaks first, “Hey, yo! Lost?”

The man looks up startled, “U-u-uh…”

Kai chirps in, “Man asked you a question, got shit in yo’ ears?”

A leering smile breaks across the man’s face, eyes gleaming, “No.”

“No ‘what,’ bitch?” D-wan says.

“‘No’ to either question, nigger,” the man says.

“What? MotherFUCKER!”

“Ooooh, bitch.”

“Yeah, yeah. Big mistake, white boy.”

Unlimbering, the man swells and answers in a growling voice, “You heard me. I assume you know the word. You’ve probably fucking heard it 500 times a day every day of your life.”

D-wan lets out a “Pfffft,” and shakes his head putting on a laugh, “oh man, I’m going to fuck up yo’ monkey ass.”

“Yo, D-wan, fuck this bitch up,” Kai says, waving his fingers around in signs that are supposed to rep the gang.

The man, taller now, steps up to D-wan. Eye to eye, he says, “Right. First punch is yours. Bitch nigger.”

D-wan swings a powerful looping haymaker. The man steps into it, head-butting D-wan’s fist.

D-wan’s arm falls back limp. “FUCK!”

“Skull, harder than the fist, the wrist. And a diet of Micky D’s and Doritos doesn’t build the strongest bones. My turn.”

The man spreads his arms wide, palms open, and claps them together faster than the eye can follow, crushing D-wan’s head in a shower of blood and brains.

Kai’s hand dive for his gun. The streetlights blink out, plunging them into impenetrable darkness.

“It’s just us three now. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide,” the man’s voice sounds off at an inestimable distance.

“Man! My phone ain’t working. Kai! Kai! What about you? Yeah, yeah?” Marcus screams, giving way to panic.

“Lemme get it,” Kai feels his phone and taps the power button; no light. “I got shit, yo!”

A voice whispers in Kai’s ear, “Do me a favor, Kai. Just kill yourself.”

Screams and a wet crunching sound in the blackness.

Marcus falls to his knees clutching the ground, just to feel something solid.

“It’s a nightmare, just a nightmare, some bad shit I smoked. Shit ain’t real, shit ain’t real. Yeah, yeah.”

It doesn’t hurt at first: just a massive squeezing feeling followed by a red hot blossom of pain in his abdomen. Marcus clutches his stomach to feel slimy loops like uncooked sausages. Warm, sticky, uncooked sausages.

Old Tonya down the street looks out the window when she opens it to let in the summer night breeze. She notes the streetlights at the far end of the block are out, leaving a void.

“Damn city will never get to fixing those,” she says.

Night 2: Thursday

The late afternoon sun shines through the living room blinds. Ava wakes from sleep coughing, nose raw. Using a Kleenex to blow her nose, it comes away red tinged.

Damn, just the fuck what I need, to come down with some shit. I gotta work the club tonight.

She heads to the kitchen, an oversized T-shirt covering her bare café au lait skin, the same nakedness the patrons at Cherries throw bills on stage to see and pay her more for a bump and grind on their laps in the private rooms.

Ava percolates some coffee and gets a bottle of aspirin when a knock comes at the door.

Please God, don’t let it be D-wan, his punk ass been coming around since Trey got killed a month ago.

Ava checks the peep hole, undoing the deadbolt and locks. “Hey, Violet, you here early. It’s a few hours before we start our shift.”

“Yeah Ava, I know. I just figured I’d come early and ask if you heard the news. D-wan, Kai, and Marcus are missing. You hear from D-wan at all?” Violet asks.

“I don’t know. I just woke up,” Ava says, tussling her long dark locks, “with a shitty cold on top of a hangover, and haven’t checked anything. Not like I give a fuck. But I’ll see if he’s been blowing up my phone again.”

Ava checks her phone, “Nothing since yesterday afternoon, honey. I swear, if I got another dick pic I was going to cut it off.” Ava sneezes hard using a Kleenex; it comes away with dark red clots.

Ava shows Violet, “Shit, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go in tonight.”

“Aww, looks like you got some of that shit that’s been going around since last night,” Violet says.

“I thought it was just me.” Ava pours some coffee and swallows an aspirin. “Want some?”

“Sure, baby girl. Yeah, like I was saying, everyone in the hood has some weird bug. Started last night. My brother woke up with some bad sweats and a fever. Denitra ran off to the clinic with a nasty nosebleed,” as if to emphasize the point, Violet dumps half and half into her cup of coffee, “and quite a few others, not as bad. But yeah, everywhere I go, like a masma.”

“Miasma,” Ava corrects her. “Sounds like Ebola.” She laughs.

“Yeah, whatever. But I got some oxy. That’ll get you through the night,” Violet says.

Ava gets up. “Save it for later, I’ll probably need it then. I’m sure I’ll feel better with some coffee in me. You know, I should soak for a while before I get ready.”

“Alright, pick you up at nine?” Violet gathers her purse and moves to the door.


Ava shuts and locks the door.


Jon struggles with two weeks’ worth of garbage down the alley behind his apartment building. Hauling five nights worth of party trash consisting of beer bottles, empty handles, ladies’ bras, discarded pizza boxes, and used condoms is a bitch. The Oak Grove set likes their bitches and booze. He would’ve gotten to it sooner, but the parade of sluts willing to fuck for some of the coke he is holding held him up.

He gets near the dumpsters when he hears a scratching sound.

Something big.

He reaches into his waist band and pulls out a Glock 19.

Gun shaking in hand, Jon shouts, “I know you there, motherfucker! Come out.” He looks crazy shouting at a dumpster.

“I heard you moving around! I ain’t no bitch ass gonna get suckered taking out the trash.”

“Hey mister, could you help me out. I don’t know where I am, it’s dark and stinky,” a little kid’s voice says from the dumpster.

“Hey, who are you?” Jon says as he throws back the lid to only be confronted by a full dumpster. “Yo, what the fuck?”

“I can’t move,” the kid’s voice says.

Then Jon sees it: eyes reflecting with a greenish cast sitting astride a sharp aquiline nose, just above a smile filled with daggers.

Jon moves to shoot, but taloned hands snatch his wrists and drag him into the refuse. The only sounds are the snapping of bones and heavy squeals.

Night 3: Friday

Officers Tolten and Martinez cruise Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Two hours in and it already sucks.

Tolten comments, “Fucking heat, and we’re already getting swamped with calls.”

Martinez says, “No shit, I’d almost prefer the usual fights, domestics, and D&D calls. Instead, we’ve gotten a bunch of welfare checks and EMS escorts for some weird bug going around, and rat bites.”

“Animal control must be busting their fat asses tonight,” Tolten says.

Tolten suppresses a shudder remembering the apartment of one panicking old lady that must have had a dozen rats in the bathroom.

“We might want to stop at a Walgreens; I want to pick up some V8. Whatever this bug is, I don’t want to be laid up,” Martinez says.

“You think V8 is enough?”

“Can’t hurt on top of our face masks and nitrile gloves.”

A half hour goes by with no calls; street activity is almost nil.

“Must be an early night,” Martinez says.

“One can hope,” Tolten responds, adding, “weird though, like the Twilight Zone.”

Officer Tolten watches the road; Officer Martinez is the first to see it. A man crouches on a street light, waving an arm at them.

A severed arm.

“Holy shit! Brad, stop the car!” Martinez shouts.

Tires screeching, Officer Martinez jumps out, gun drawn, covering the figure perched twenty feet above the boulevard.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Tolten says when he sees it, keying the mic he calls into dispatch. “Car 34, we’ve got a possible violent suspect on top of a street light on MLK Boulevard near Lincoln. Requesting additional units.” Turning back to Officer Martinez, Officer Tolten says, “Body cams on. Shit, no one’s gonna believe this.”

“Evening, officers!” it says.

They advance on it past their patrol car, each drawing a bead.

“Come down now, as slowly as you can with your hands in view at all times,” Officer Tolten orders.

“In a moment,” it says as it takes a huge bite out of the arm’s bicep before throwing it at the officers. It impacts the pavement flopping like an eel.

The officers’ pistols blast out a salvo of double taps.


Closing in on the space beneath the streetlamp, there is no one there. They scan the area forward of them.

“Miss me?” a voice calls behind them.

Whirling around, the officers see it standing on their squad car.

“I’ll cover, flank him,” Officer Tolten says.

Officer Martinez moves in a loop towards the squad car.

“Don’t move,” Tolten says.

“Mmmm…there I was enjoying a meal when you two assholes so rudely shot at me.”

Officer Martinez closes in as Tolten moves forward.

It dives off the car into Officer Martinez, driving his skull into the pavement with an audible CRACK flatting his head, twisting the cop’s gun out of his grasp.

Officer Tolten fires.

One shot.

Two shots.

Each round finding its mark at center mass. In a split second, he sees a muzzle pointed directly at his face, a yawning cavern before his eyes swallowing his sight.

A barrage of rapid fire erupts from Martinez’ duty piece.

Two minutes later, backup units are on scene. They find the headless bodies of Officers Tolten and Martinez, their patrol vehicle stripped of weapons and the police radio.

Night 4: Saturday

Cherries on a Saturday evening, the premiere strip joint in the city, fully nude with private and champagne rooms. It has enough stage space for over a dozen dancers scattered throughout. Competition is fierce; only the best performers, the most sensual.

Ava displays her stuff on a stage in an alcove, nothing but a pair of red pumps on. With frenetic energy derived from anger, she swivels her hips dropping down into a squat to twerk her mound in front of a group of eager old businessmen. “C’mon studs, momma’s hot for you.”

Always the old white guys. Must be the ones who don’t dig the idea of getting freaky with some white girl. Too much like their granddaughters. Or their flat asses can’t make their withered pricks hard.

For all I know, one of these guys could be my grandfather. Fuck it, give me the money, you old honky fuckers, Ava thinks as she shakes her D-cups on some old fart’s nose.

The house music pounds deeper into Ava’s head. She downs an oxy with a beer and rests between sets in the darkness, letting the smooth waves wash over her beer buzz. Figures dissolve into a pantomimed slowness. She becomes entranced watching Sarah, a stacked redhead, work it on the main stage with her body decorated in a mosaic of Day-Glo colors fluorescing under the black lights. A serpent of neon oranges, greens, and yellows winds from the ankles and terminates at Sarah’s neck, hot pink lips floating on an indistinct face.

Damn, I need to get me an act like that.

Her thoughts are interrupted by a voice from the barstool next to her that was empty a moment ago.

“Can I buy you a drink?” says a white man in his late twenties, chiseled features framed by wild locks of light brown hair, the business casual shirt and slacks failing to conceal his hard lines. His look was completed with a gold Rolex.

“Sure, babe, you can buy me anything. A beer, flowers, a diamond ring. What’s your name?” Ava smiles.


“Well Peary, I’m Ava.”

The beer arrives, they talk, and she traces her fingers along his large hand.

“So you want a private dance?”

“Wouldn’t mind.”

“Tell the bartender, give him the money. $30 for a song, up to five songs.”

Three fifties are passed across the bar. Ava takes Peary’s hand and leads him to a private booth. Dark purple gives way to subdued red light as they get to the back rooms.

Good looks, good body…for a white boy. Ava glances back at the man. Tall, too, better than bouncing on some fat fuck for five songs. Thrown in if he tips worth a damn and this night won’t be complete shit.

In the darkness, she straddles his muscular thighs grinding crotch to crotch and buries his face in her bare breasts. Breathing into his ear, she says, “Daddy’s got some serious meat.” She pushes her knees inside his thighs, spreading his legs and reverse-pressing her ass into his cock, guiding his hands over her tits. An electric feeling pulses through her body as hard fingers press into supple flesh. He nuzzles her hair, drawing in long sniffs of her perfume.

On and on the ritual of the lap dance continues for 15 minutes. He sits there silent, stoic, a man of marble. Ava sees the burning hunger in his eyes, a bottomless pit of carnal desire drawing her in. The fifth and final song plays.

“Was that good, babe?”

“Yeah, hot like I’ve never had,” Peary says.

He pulls out a money clip thick with cash and peels off two hundreds.

“Listen, my shift ends in a half hour. There’s a bar a block south of here, Twister’s. We can meet there ‘bout midnight?” she says.

“Sure. But how do I know you won’t just blow me off?”

“Just save some of your folding cash and show a girl a good time. I’ll find you.”


“The witching hour,” he says.

“You bet, stud.”

Leaving, Ava socks away her cash heading down the main passage shimmying her hips. When she turns back, the booth is empty.

“Motherfucking white boy better be there.” She says to herself.


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