Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell


You’d never write, “must be devastatingly handsome” in the job description, but Don found it useful nonetheless. He’d guess he had screwed half of the women he visited, and this was after telling them he was repossessing their television or dryer or sewing machine. Tears would well up and they’d say something about their deadbeat boyfriend, followed by, “but you wouldn’t understand, a big handsome fella like you.” Before he knew it, he was consoling them with a quick, emotionless lay, sometimes bent over the very thing he was about to carry out of their home.

This didn’t work with the guys, but even they seemed cowed by his looks, unwilling to challenge as he Slim-Jimmed his way into their cars and hotwired them, perhaps afraid he’d take their girlfriends, too.

Knowing he could have it made him want it less, so he started to build challenges in for himself. The first time he was downright mean, telling a woman that losing their sectional was part of a pattern of defeat brought about by her homely looks. It didn’t work, and he was left to explain a certain fresh-looking stain to the store when he made the return. The next time he berated the temporary owner of a used 2007 Camry, questioning his manhood in hopes they guy would throw a punch. Instead, the guy went inside to weep while his girlfriend balled Don in the Toyota’s backseat.

Then came Heidi at the Java Hut. She was batting her eyes and licking her lips before he’d even reached the counter. She was a bit overweight, but there was something about her that he liked.

“Let me guess: you want a tall, dark and handsome,” she said with a smirk.

“Nope. I want that,” he said pointing to the espresso machine. He pulled a sheet from his back pocket and read, “La Pavoni Bar Star Series Commercial Espresso Machine, brushed silver. Three thousand, four hundred and twelve owed. Six months late on payments.”

Heidi nodded. “Don’t suppose I can work it off?” she said, batting her eyes again.

“Sorry,” Don said. “With all due respect, I’m guessing you don’t have three thousand dollars worth of tricks behind that apron.”

“You might be surprised,” she said. “Anyway, can I get you something? Might as well get one last use out of it.”

Don smiled. There it was: capitulation. He’d get a latte and a lay, and then carry this beast out and be done for the day. She went to the back and came back a moment later with two big ceramic mugs. She made the drinks, then grabbed a stirrer and swirled it through the foam to make a design. He’d seen leaves and snowflakes and even a snowman around Christmas. Heidi had something else in mind.

“Here you go,” she said. Floating on the foam was a drawing of some aroused block and tackle. He looked at hers and saw a rather obvious open flower. He glanced up at her and she raised her eyebrows.

“Takes awhile for these to cool down,” she said. “Give me a sec to straighten up and then meet me in back.”

He waited a moment, then went through a set of saloon doors, down a long corridor narrowed by stacked boxes and into the kitchen where she stood clad only in the apron. She grabbed his belt buckle.

“May I?” she said.

He expected a quick rut, but she took her time, clearly enjoying it. When they finished, she said she wanted to freshen up and ducked into the bathroom. He was still buckling his belt as he came through the saloon doors and saw an empty space on the counter where the espresso machine had been. A beefy guy stood on either side of the void.

“Have fun with our sister, pretty boy?” the taller one said as he smacked a wrench in his palm.

“She was right,” said the other. “You are awfully handsome. Must be hard for a fella like you to keep ’em away, huh?”

“Where’s the machine?” Don said, smiling. He’d never dealt with brothers before, but figured it wasn’t much different than a boyfriend.

He figured wrong.

~ fin ~

John Kenyon is an Iowa City-based writer and editor. His short story collection, The First Cut, is available from Snubnose Press. He also edits the crime fiction magazine Grift, and its website at He has published widely, including Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, Pulp Modern and elsewhere.