“Hell, girl,” Morrie said, scratching the back of his neck. “I don’t guess I ever thought of nothing like that.”

She rattled the handcuffs and looked up at him from the edge of the bed, where she sat birthday naked, her brown eyes wide and thick bottom lip puffed out. Morrie felt himself stir in his trousers, the heat there. His own eyes darted from the cuffs to her face and back again. He liked her face. It was pallid and unadorned with the clownish makeup the other girls wore, but she didn’t need any. She looked stark and naked and completely unencumbered with hesitation or those hints of forthcoming regret he knew too well. She was his.

“If it’s not your bag,” she began, but she trailed off, those sad eyes sliding down, ever down, to the threadbare carpet under her bare feet. Morrie followed her gaze. He liked her feet, too.

He liked all of her. Inez. She said her name was Inez.

Morrie hadn’t ever seen a Mexican girl so pale. He didn’t mind one way or another. But he noticed. He noticed everything about her. Her full, pink lips—slightly cracked, as if by the dry Texas air, and with a tiny red spot on the bottom one that suggested she’d bitten right into it. Her unusual hairline, jagged and imperfect, but consuming once he got to looking at it. The freckles that dotted her cheeks, almost imperceptible until he was right up on her, like he’d gotten by the pool table at Jack’s when the Boozefighters MC cleared out and opened up the corner for them. They hadn’t really wanted to shoot, Morrie and Inez. All they wanted, from the moment they got to giving each other eyes and body language signals, was one another.

Now she jangled the cuffs some more and he snapped back to her, eyes heavily lidded and lips parted in a half-smile.

Inez said, “So—you like a little control?”

“I’m always in control,” was what Morrie said. He licked his lips and stepped forward two, three paces.

“Then take it,” said the girl. “I’m yours.”

Morrie drew a deep, cold breath through his nostrils; the A/C unit under the motel room window was set as low as it went, and the air smelled and tasted clean for its coldness. Better still, Inez’s nipples stood out like the erasers at the ends of schoolhouse pencils, as best as Morrie remembered any schoolhouse. He focused on them now, small and dark and tight. And he snatched the handcuffs from her waiting hand.

Dolly’s “Jolene” on the clock radio, the low light flickering in the cigarette smoke yellowed lampshade, Morrie pressed her face down against the flat white pillows on the queen bed and cuffed her thin wrists behind her back while the neon motel roadsign flashed red and white through the frayed window curtains. She kept her face down until he turned it up, by her slight chin, gently but with something approaching command. Inez looked a touch sad to him. Those big, brown eyes just a bit misty. He reckoned he knew why, and it sort of made him sad, too, even as he thrust into her from behind.

The copper smell was coming on strong then, like a pile of old pennies or a coil of electric wire hefted from a railcar, and though he couldn’t exactly push it out of his nostrils, Morrie concentrated on the task at hand. He seized the girl’s wrists, both of them with one great, calloused hand, and pulled them back and up until her shoulders strained. And he pumped into her until he was spent, grunting ape-like, and settled in beside her, not bothering to fool around with the keys on the nightstand just yet.

Inez said, “You knew when you saw me, didn’t you? Right then.”

“Sure, precious,” said Morrie. “I done knowed it right then.”

“That I’d be yours.”

“All mine,” he said.

She smiled sweetly. Said, “I like that.”

Morrie tried to smile back, started to, but his gaze fell upon the gray corpse of her husband on the floor between the bed and the bathroom, his blood turning black on the carpet.

Poor bastard, Morrie thought.

But he felt himself stirring again.

~ fin ~

Ed Kurtz is the author of The Rib from Which I Remake the World and other novels. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Best American Mystery Stories and Best Gay Stories. Ed's first short story collection, Nothing You Can Do, is out now from Down & Out Books. Ed lives in Connecticut with author doungjai gam and a very snotty cat. Visit Ed Kurtz online at