Sugar-Plum Fairy leaned in the shaded doorway of Blade Runner Apartments. He’d intended to get his cock out, then urinate, but he forgot the first part of the manoeuvre. Standing there, he relieved himself until the warmth stopped flowing down his leg, then stepped out into the neon-lit street.

Across the road, someone in a trench coat called out, “Still looking for the confused fuck-up who killed your wife, Sugar-Plum?”

It was Bubba, standing in the middle of the wet, cobbled road, a “Fantasy Girls” neon sign flickering above his head.

Sugar-Plum took a few seconds to reply, thinking this gave him a certain gravitas in the exchange, but it only advertised his diminishing mental capacities. “Yeah, and how do I know you’re not the confused fuck?”

“Because you’d be too damn confused to work that out.” Bubba flicked a cigarette onto the wet, cobblestoned gutter. “You know, you used to be a nice guy. A regular nine–to–fiver. Wearing a suit, paying taxes. What the hell happened to you? What happened to the David Renkwith we never used to notice? You’ve become a monster.”

A prideful smile threatened to reveal itself on Sugar-Plum’s face. Frowning, he growled, then spat down at the pavement, which only resulted in a long strand of mucus hanging from his bottom lip. Casually, he wiped it away. “What’s that to you? I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses.” These words came easy to his mind, and Sugar-Plum assumed it was some literary quote he’d picked up.

“You been in that gay club again, big man? What’s it called, the Man-Joint?”

Sugar-Plum’s eyes lit up red. His hand shook in his raincoat pocket, beside a gun.

“You know us detectives don’t look kindly on that sort of thing. You’re giving us a bad name. That tool of yours is for vulnerable dames only.”

Sugar-Plum flinched. A memory limped briefly across his mind. The image of a vulnerable Mrs. Renkwith: the tenderness of a previous life. “Shut it, Bubba. Or you’ll get one in the mouth.”

“Don’t be putting anything in my mouth, Sugar!” Bubba taunted. “Why don’t you go play in the back rooms of the Man–Joint: see if you can keep burying all those memories of yours. Shit! You used to be a decent accountant. Never let a detail go by. Now look at you! Spending your whole life running from one simple fact.”

Glowering, Sugar-Plum stepped forward. He tried to sound indifferent but his voice was shaky as he asked, “And what fact is that, Bubba?”

“Why don’t you look at the files? For ten years you’ve been avoiding it. You’ve invested everything in becoming a fiend. Face it, Sugar, Mrs. Renkwith was scissoring another woman when you walked in and got confused. Then you…”

Sugar-Plum’s shoulders tensed. He grabbed the gun in his pocket and started shooting wildly.

Bubba tried to jump into an alleyway behind him, but he slipped on the wet cobblestones and fell, smashing his front teeth.

Sugar-Plum strolled coldly across the street and stood over the face-down Bubba. He tried to recite a film quote that he thought sounded cool, but flubbed it. He tried to remember the first word again, then gave in and pulled the trigger. A bullet passed through Bubba’s head, dragging the back portion of his brain through to the front, where the bullet exited his face to leave behind a mush of neurons spinning in the skull’s cavity.

Sugar-Plum put his gun away and walked off down Godfather Trilogy Avenue, adopting an awkward cool.

Entering Angel Heart Café on Carlito’s Way, he threw an incomprehensible remark at the diners, but everyone was too busy chatting. Sliding into an unoccupied booth, Sugar-Plum pulled down his trousers, shat on the menu, then wiped his arse on the corner of the table.

Doing his belt up, he pissed himself a little: his bladder was fucked. A decade of noir sensibilities had destroyed most of his bodily functions: his liver was the definition of cirrhosis; his lungs were dry, ash-strewn cavities; his brain a candy store full of puke; and his heart a distant stone. He could neither belch nor fart without producing blood.

Halfway down Scarface Drive, Sugar-Plum stepped in a dog’s corpse, oblivious to the entrails that emanated from its huge wound, the sort of wound tigers dream when hungry, a wound not even Jesus would heal; in fact, he’d probably puke at the sight of it.

Sugar-Plum entered Zombie Holocaust Apartments. His room was at the back of the building, next to the septic tanks. A stale apartment of flaky paint and dusty, torn brown upholstery. He’d not seen it for a while, having gotten caught up in his usual chance wanderings in and out of the lives of others: solving a case here, ripping the head off a dog there. He was a busy, solitary freak around town.

Throwing his gun on the bed, a dildo was set vibrating beneath the covers, but Sugar-Plum didn’t hear a thing: years of letting off guns had given him the auditory sensitivity of an dead fish.

Opening his bathroom door, he was thumped in the face by a stench he couldn’t smell. He did feel something in his lungs, but assumed it was phlegm. But then, glancing in the bath, he realised there was a rotting corpse: that ugly transsexual he’d fucked about a month ago, the one with the deformed anus.

A memory slithered its way across Sugar-Plum’s porridge-like mind: vague images of fucking the transsexual freak, freaking out, and then killing it. Oh yeah, and then dissolving the body in acid, but that hadn’t quite worked. “Yeah, that definitely hasn’t worked,” Sugar-Plum repeated to himself as he looked at the mulch of body parts in the bath.

Just then, Kyhzer Sozhe, the dwarf from upstairs, scampered enthusiastically into the bathroom behind Sugar-Plum. “Back then? You been gone four weeks. Jeez, what’s that fucking smell, Sugar?” Sozhe staggered backwards holding a hand over his face.

“I don’t know, Sozhe.” Sugar-Plum began portentously, “I just don’t know anymore.” He leaned against the door frame—gazing into the distance that was the other end of the room—and continued, “The stench of life is grinding me down. This existential desert rips at my soul.” He shook his head solemnly. “Damn it! I used to care. I used to go into bars and be interested in vulnerable people: caring about their troubles, looking to help. Not anymore. I’ve become a sack of empty impulses and stylised posturing. I’ve inflicted monstrous freedoms on my life that I can hardly endure. I don’t know why I carry on in this, this…”

“Hey, big man! You’re going off on one again.” Sozhe snapped. “I was only asking about the smell. Lay off the existy–drivel, whatever that crap is.” Grimacing and holding his nose, Sozhe poked his head ‘round the bathroom door to see the rotting, part acid-burnt, and hurriedly hacked carnage in the bath. “Jeez, Sugar! What ya doing with the broad? Making moonshine outta her?” He gestured at the mess, then cautiously leaned in to take a closer look, “That is a broad, ain’t it?”

“’Of course it’s a broad!” said Sugar-Plum, then noticed the remains of a penis beneath the scorched French maid outfit. “Hey! Look over there, Sozhe, there’s a bat!”

Sozhe turned to look at the far corner of the room, while Sugar-Plum grabbed the remnants of the cock, ripping it off and hurriedly sticking it into his trouser pocket.

Sozhe turned back, “Don’t see no bat.”

Sugar-Plum’s face slowly became contorted as his hand started burning from the acid-soaked cock he’d just ripped off. A second later, he felt the same burning sensation in his pocket, dangerously close to his own member.

“I need a huge dump!” Sugar-Plum shouted, then pushed the dwarf from the bathroom and slammed the door.

A few minutes later, Sugar-Plum emerged, his hand shoddily bandaged in toilet roll.

Sozhe was standing in the kitchen, fixing himself a whiskey. “What happened to your hand?”

“I shat on it, and I can’t be bothered to clean it right now.”

“Jeez, you’re lazy. Did you wipe your arse?”

“Why you so interested in my arse all of a sudden?” scowled Sugar-Plum.

“Us dwarves are like dogs. We sniff arses to identify people; it’s quicker than shouting up to ask names. So it’s pretty offensive when you giants haven’t wiped properly: that’s the only reason I ask.”

“You serious?”

“Fuck you, Sugar! Fucking moron dispenser.”

Sugar-Plum looked around confused, then changed the subject. “Fix me a drink while you’re there. A large whiskey, then I’ll get on with flushing this guy’s…I mean, this broad’s corpse down the toilet.”

“Janitor’ll be pissed, you block the drains again. Especially if he finds human remains. He’ll tell the landlord. And fuck knows who he’ll tell.”

“Like I always say, Sozhe, if anyone starts to give a fuck, it becomes something about which people give a fuck. So let’s not get riled about stuff.” said Sugar-Plum in a gruff, ominous voice, then downed a whiskey.

“It’s illegal having bodies in your drain. Especially dismembered ones.” Sozhe gazed at the big man, then glanced at the big man’s crotch, then quickly back at the big man’s sagging facial features.

Sugar-Plum gazed out of the window at a brick wall opposite. With awkwardly timed gestures detracting from an attempted gravitas, he said, “Only observed crimes are crimes. The rest of human behaviour is just that: behaviour.”

“Jeez! How long since you went to law school?” Sozhe barked. “That ain’t true. Law interferes. Cops’ll be down here like rat shit down a chimney.”

Still staring through the small bathroom window, Sugar-Plum ponderously grumbled, “The law, to a creature like me, is not an easy matter. It can be done: but it’s inappropriate.” Giving these last words an overblown finality, he then started flushing body parts down the toilet.

Sozhe took a seat on the bed to watch Sugar-Plum work, then noticed something vibrating behind him under the covers. “What the fuck’s this, Sugar?” Sozhe said, pulling a dirty sheet aside to uncover the mouldy, shit-covered and vibrating dildo. “Jeez, what you into these days? This been up your arse?” Sozhe crossed his legs, hiding the slight tumescence beginning in his pants.

“None of your business, Cherub. Toss that over here.”

“I ain’t tossing nothing nowhere. It’s covered in shit.”

“Switch it off then.”

“I can’t see no off switch. Anyway, I ain’t touching it.”

Sugar-Plum stomped angrily out of the bathroom with his bright green rubber gloves. “You have to bite the end.” Sugar-Plum chomped impatiently on the shittiest end of the dildo, then threw it dismissively under the bed.

“Fuck sake, Sugar! You got no hygiene standards?”

“Yeah, I got some in the kitchen drawer.”

Sozhe figured this weren’t humour—just deafness—then continued, “Where you been the last few weeks?”

Sugar-Plum didn’t answer and continued lazily singing, “shitting and ejaculating, all over my ma. Doing the same, in front of Pa,” in a gruff, rock–strewn voice.

Sozhe sat quiet for a few seconds, then another burst of enthusiasm overtook him as he asked, “You go to Angel Heart Café? Bet you did. You always go there. How’s the menu?”

“I don’t know. I put food in one hole, it falls out the other.” Sugar-Plum replied as nonchalantly as he could, while trying to flush another hand down the toilet. “I give food as much attention on the way in as I do on the way out.”

“You play with your food as well, then?” Sozhe quipped.

The porridge-brain in Sugar-Plum’s head attempted to sort the meaning in these words. Finally, he looked ‘round and seeing the laughter in Sozhe’s eyes, concluded it must have been a joke, and made a knowing grunting noise.

Used to such slow responses, Sozhe continued, “Don’t you worry they’ll poison you? You spend half your time shitting on their tables.”

“I know of this word ‘worry,’ but I don’t know what it means. It doesn’t seem to relate to anything in me. I’m guessing worry is something to do with a human need for submissiveness, but I can’t submit myself to anything.” Sugar-Plum frowned as memories of bending over for the transsexual wended sluggishly through his mind. He shook his head a little, and the movement seemed to clear it. Portentous, he continued, “I don’t submit to external systems, so I’ve nothing to fear.”

“Surely using words is submitting yourself to all them word rules?” Sozhe suggested, then felt proud of this uncommon piece of mental dexterity.

“That’s not submission! It’s a temporary concession: like answering your stupid questions, I give in for convenience and some peace of mind. Language use is a passing indulgence, a pretence at being part of this human shit-storm.” Sugar-Plum hacked a lump off the corpse’s leg.

“Where the fuck you get this philosophy shit?”

“It’s not philosophy. It’s experience. I’ve seen the bottom end of this life. I know my way around.” Sugar-Plum reached his rubber-gloved hand around the U-bend of the toilet to help a lump of flesh on its way.

“You should write a book: how to make shit sound pompous and shit—a Sugar-Plum trick.”

“Pomposity is a stance. Without it, I cease to exist. Life’s empty, emptier than you can imagine, and if I don’t enforce an identity in this void, I’m nothing. A human can’t live on a sense of numinousness alone,” he stated with the utmost self-importance.

“Christ, you must have been fun at school! Dunno how you live with that bullshit. For me, life’s a playground. I see a drug, I take it. I see a butt, I fuck it.” Sozhe sneaked a glance at Sugar-Plum’s arse as it wriggled enticingly over the toilet.

“You don’t wish to see how it really is, little man.” said Sugar-Plum, his voice echoing in the porcelain bowl of the toilet. “To see, to really see, requires a steady gaze and a broken heart. You’ve not been there. You’ve not looked beyond the gates of that playground of yours. Real experience comes from seeing too many worlds. You’ve not seen your world come to an end. I’ll tell you, the first time it happens it feels like it really is the end of the world. Later, you get used to your world collapsing. After that, you even become thankful for it. Then you just get bored of the world continually changing and collapsing around you.” Sugar-Plum’s sense of grandiosity reached such a high pitch that he had to clear his throat to remind himself where he was. Then he continued pushing a severed foot down the toilet.

Glancing under his armpit, Sugar-Plum noticed what he thought was sadness on Sozhe’s face. Interpreting this as dread of the truth, he said, “It’s okay Sozhe, we all have our limits. It’s just that yours are tiny.”

Sozhe jumped from the edge of the bed and stood firmly on the floor. “My reality is as big as yours, you dick.”

Sugar-Plum stood up in the bathroom’s battered and flaky green doorway to face Sozhe. “Things are only as real as your mind allows them to be. The limits of our reality are where your fear kicks in. It’s panic that stops you falling into the infinite void of confusion that lays beneath us. It’s that fear that saves identity from being torn apart. You are full of fear, little man.”

“Ain’t fucking scared!” Sozhe lifted his head and put his hands on his hips.

Sugar-Plum dropped a couple of ears onto the bathroom floor, then began pacing across the room with a clenched rubber-gloved fist toward Sozhe. Sugar-Plum accelerated the fist toward Sozhe’s face, stopping just short of his nose. Sozhe winced and fell to the floor.

“Yeah. You ain’t scared of nothing.” said Sugar-Plum. “For me, fear never kicks in. That what makes my reality infinite in all directions. I see more than you can imagine, little man. I see so much that I have to prevent myself getting lost by adopting a persona. That’s why I’m who I am.” Sugar-Plum announced, then felt the need to continue: “And who I am needs not excuses.”

“Yeah, that’s one explanation!” Sozhe whispered as he got up and walked toward the sofa. “By the way, Bubba came by about a week ago. Said he was worried about you. He dropped some files off.” Sozhe lifted a pile of papers from a cushion. “Some old case. Said you’d be interested. The murder of a Mrs. Renkwith. I had a flick through: boring case. Husband, as usual.”

Sugar-Plum snatched the file and tore it in half.

“You look scared, Sugar. What is it?”

Sugar-Plum threw the file angrily toward the bathroom then snatched the gun from the bed. Sozhe ran from the apartment.

Slumping to the floor, Sugar-Plum sat as scared and lonely as any monster that lives within fleshy detritus.