Dating Today


She had the body of Nikki Minaj, but the face of a Latina warrior. Hot lava poured from her scalp and draped itself over her mountainous bosom. To Charlton, who’d been around and Googled everything that hadn’t come around, it was the most beautiful hair color he’d ever seen. Bottled or not, he loved it. The woman sauntered across her bedroom wearing only black panties and those no bigger than a shoe string, while flicking her cell. She scrolled right over and over again.

The princess pursed her full red lips while looking thoughtfully at the screen. She’d spent more than ten minutes on her makeup. It would be a night of selfies and sexting, basically the new American pastime.

Women today, Charlton thought. They sure had a lot to keep track of. Between social media, dating, and their trippy Craigslist flings, some women barely had time to keep a nine-to-fiver nailed down. The princess made her money from her looks, not to mention a good chunk of alimony on direct deposit. Her bank statements made it clear how much money she made without having to punch a clock.

She’s the real deal, he’d told the boys down at the Shadowbox one night. This was a woman he’d consider killing forever with. They laughed. Charlton? The notorious dating machine? Stay with only one woman until he died of wrinkles? No way.

Charlton had been around. The boys, all married save for Neil (who’d never so much as seen anyone other than his big sister naked ), cherished his stories. The five of them would settle onto the bar, letting the velvety darkness of the Shadowbox settle over them like a warm blanket, salivated when he shared his exploits.

“I know chicks,” he said. “They may talk big, but they all want to be dominated by guys like me. Deep inside, they want a dude to take care of them.”

“Bro, you don’t read the news, do ya?” Joe muttered with a snort.

Manny elbowed his buddy. “News schmooze, keep talking, Chartown!”

“Fake news ain’t my news,” Charlton said.

Joe laughed, but kept his mouth shut. He liked Char’s goofball chick stories as much as anyone.

Princess had the goods, Charlton told them, the whole package. Did he mention she could slap together fifty tamales like no one’s business? And they were good as Hell. Green, red; it didn’t matter. Tuesday he stood in front of her fridge, buck naked, door opened, and chomped down five with hardly a breath. If she noticed he’d broken her rule about eating tamales before noon, she never said. Charlton heard her tell her girlfriends about that rule enough times it had practically burned a damn hole in his brain.

“I haven’t felt like this since forever. It’s like my heart is as big as Costco.”

“Have you told her?” Joe asked.

“Not yet, maybe tonight.”

The skinny lady killer imagined how it would be later. How would she react if he told her? It was hard to know. The lady was a horn dog, but not a romantic. Would that bubble of lust grow or burst if she knew she wasn’t alone? He’d been close enough to smell her perfume, alone in her house long enough to masturbate on her bed and eat her tamales, and spent hours under her bed while she paraded around in her panties. He knew what she liked as well as he knew the window locks in her bedroom. He’d been on similar dates throughout Seaside. Dating today was complicated and his buddies wouldn’t get the nuances of it. Joe might even do something stupid, like narc to PD, if he knew the details of Charlton’s love life.

Manny snickered with a Coors at his lips. “Just maybe? Dude, if you like her, you gotta man up! That’s what I did with Mona.”

“Manny up,” Joe said, the hint of a smile on his lips.

Charlton shrugged. He’d tell her tonight. Maybe bring a pizza and knock on her front door. He’d keep a knife on him in case she said no.

~ fin ~

P Whitehurst headshot

Patrick Whitehurst writes fiction and nonfiction, the latter of which includes the books Haunted Monterey CountyMurder and Mayhem in Tucson and the forthcoming Eerie Arizona. He’s written three Barker Mysteries novellas and his short stories have appeared in Punk NoirShotgun HoneyHoosier NoirMystery TribunePulp ModernGuilty Crime Story FlashDark Dossier, and elsewhere. He’s been featured in the anthologies Bitter ChillsWild Violence and recently in Trouble in Tucson. Find him online at