RALPHIE, THE GOODS, AND THE CONSTRUCTION WORKER

I.

Annie walked into the saloon called Johnny’s Place, where everybody in South Philly hung out. Coming out of the bright afternoon sun, she had to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. She hated the sunlight. It hurt her eyes, gave her a headache, and made her freckle, and she fucking hated freckles. She wore her good denim skirt, a tank top, and a pair of sandals. She thought now maybe she should’ve dressed up a little more, but her black skirt, the one she wore to her mother’s funeral, was the only dressier thing she had, and that wouldn’t have looked right, not in the middle of the afternoon.When her eyes adjusted she looked around and spotted Ralphie sitting with his friends at a table. She walked over to them, trying not to hurry, trying not to look like she was in a hurry. They laughed and joked, and she knew they’d been drinking. They didn’t even seem to notice her standing there.
Ralphie’s friend Quentin told a story about his little brother. His little brother was a retard, and Quentin told a funny story about how the kid stuck a knife in a light socket, how he shocked himself and yelled out in this funny retard way.
“You should’ve heard him!” said Quentin, and he imitated his brother yelling.
Everyone laughed hard.
“When he stuck the knife in the socket,” said Pete, “did he have smoke coming out of his hair, the way they do in cartoons?”
Quentin stared at him a moment. “Don’t be stupid,” he said.
Annie spoke up, saying, “Ralphie? Ralphie, can I talk to you?” and her voice sounded too eager. She fucking hated her voice when it sounded like that.
The guys went on drinking and joking, and Ralphie seemed to ignore her. She walked over to his side of the table and put a hand on his shoulder. “Ralphie? Can I talk to you a minute?”
Ralphie drank the whiskey in his glass and belched.
Pete nodded at her and said, “Ralphie, Annie wants to talk to you.”
Ralphie looked over at him like he’d said something stupid.
“No kidding?” he said. “How’d you fucking figure that one out?”
Quentin laughed out loud, and spit flew from his mouth.
Annie bent down close to his ear. “Ralphie, can I talk to you?” she said, this time in a warm voice, making sure he could feel her breath on his ear and neck. She fucking loved her voice when it sounded like that.
He looked up at her. “What about?”
She looked at Quentin and Pete. “It’s kind of private,” she said, using that same voice again.
He kept looking up at her, and their eyes met, and she felt his hand touch her leg. His hand slid up the inside of her leg, under the denim skirt, and she didn’t move and didn’t let her eyes move away from his. When his hand slid all the way up between her legs, he realized she wasn’t wearing any underpants and he grinned.
“Okay,” he said, taking back his hand, and he scooted away from the table.
They walked together across the room, to a table away from the others. He held onto her arm, leading her as they walked. They sat down across from each other. Annie looked over at Ralphie. He was thirty or so, with red hair, redder than hers, buzzed short, and he had pale blue eyes and a full mouth. She found him very handsome. The only thing that detracted from his looks was a thick scar over his left eye, and that made him look rugged more than ugly.
“Carol beat up Cathy again,” she said, referring to her husband and her oldest daughter. “He beats me up all the time, and I don’t really give a shit anymore, but I just can’t stand it when he hits the kids.”
“Does he hit Linda too?”
Linda was her other daughter, the younger one.
“Yeah, he beats them both.”
Carol hardly ever hit Linda, but she wanted Ralphie to think he did.
“Why don’t you stop him?” he said.
“I try, but he’s so much bigger than me, Ralphie.”
She felt herself starting to cry, and she was glad that she was. She hadn’t even tried, it just sort of happened.
“Why don’t you leave him?” Ralphie said to her.
“I would,” she said, sniffling. “Only he said he’d kill me, he’d kill all three of us, if I did.”
Ralphie sat back in the chair with his hands behind his neck. “You think he’s serious?”
She nodded and wiped away a tear. “I know he is. He told me he knows a guy, and this guy drives a tow truck. What he does is, he follows you around, and when he gets you some place kind of isolated, he shoots you in your car, then takes your car to the pound and they crush it all up, and you’re never found.”
“I never heard of that,” said Ralphie, sounding impressed. “I wonder who it is.”
“I don’t know, but I know he’s serious—Carol, I mean.”
Ralphie nodded, still with his hands behind his neck. “So, what do you want me to do?”
Annie looked around, and in a low voice said, “I want you to kill him for me.”
Ralphie stared at her and leaned forward, putting his elbows on the table. “What makes you think I’d do something like that?”
“Oh, Ralphie, everybody knows about you,” she said. “I mean, you got a reputation. People in South Philly know how bad you are.”
Ralphie nodded. He seemed pleased with what she’d said. “All right. I’ll kill him, but I’m doing it for the girls.”
She smiled at him. “Thanks, Ralphie. Thanks a bunch.”
“It’s going to cost you, though.”
She nodded. “I figured that.”
“Can you get out tonight?”
She frowned, thinking about it. “I don’t know. Maybe. I might be able to use my neighbor as an excuse.”
“Well, see if you can. Get out tonight and come over to my place, and we’ll start working on that payment.”
She smiled and felt herself getting moist and warm. She would’ve fucked Ralphie for fun or for no reason at all. Making like it was a payment for services made it seem dirty, and that excited her even more.
“If you can’t get a sitter, bring the girls,” Ralphie said. “We can find something for them to do.”
Annie nodded. She liked the fact that Ralphie liked her kids. She didn’t care anything about his reputation. So long as he liked her kids, he was all right with her.
She pushed away from the table, stood up, and walked across the floor. She hoped he was watching her, but when she reached the door she turned back to look at him, and he was already sitting at the other table with his friends again and wasn’t paying any attention to her.
Quentin and Pete had ordered more whiskey and had drunk theirs but left Ralphie’s sitting by his empty chair. Ralphie sat down at the table and took a drink.
“What’d she want?” said Quentin.
“She wants me to kill Carol,” said Ralphie.
Pete whistled.
Quentin said, “Yeah? You going to do it?”
Ralphie sighed. “I don’t know. I told her I would. He’s a real asshole, so why not?”
Pete whistled again, then said, “How you going to do it?”
Ralphie frowned at him. “Don’t ask stupid questions, Pete,” he said, and Pete shrugged.
Quentin said, “Hey, while you were over there, look what walked in,” and he nudged Ralphie and pointed over to a man a few tables away.
The man was small, in his fifties, and he had small features. He was balding on top, and he had a little moustache, glasses, and he had little girly hands with several rings on his fingers. He wore a denim jacket over a faded red t-shirt. He sat at the table by himself, sipping a drink and reading a book.
“Yeah, so?” said Ralphie.
“He’s funny looking, ain’t he?” said Quentin.
Ralphie nodded. “Hey, you’re right, he is.” Ralphie called over to the bartender. “Hey Charlie, come here a minute, will you?”
Charlie the bartender came around the bar. He wiped his hands with a dishtowel as he approached the table. Ralphie nodded to the funny-looking man. “Who’s that?”
Charlie glanced over at him, then looked back at Ralphie. “Never seen him before.”
Ralphie frowned. “Stranger, huh? What’s he drinking?”
“Coke with a lime in it,” Charlie said.
“Coke with a lime!” said Pete.
Both Quentin and Ralphie looked at him.
“You’re really stupid sometimes, Pete,” said Ralphie.
“Yeah, but Coke with lime in it?” said Pete in a hushed voice. “There’s something wrong with that.”
Ralphie nodded, like he agreed with Pete now.
“Let’s just go have a talk with this guy,” he said, and he stood up.
Pete and Quentin stood up with him, and Charlie went back to work behind the bar.
The three of them walked over to the other table and examined the little man. For a moment they stood there, and he kept looking at his book. Ralphie looked down at his glass to see that, sure enough, he really was drinking Coke with a lime in it. Finally, the man looked up at them and closed his book, marking his place with his finger.
“Yes?” he said, and he had a squeaky voice.
“What you drinking there, stranger?” said Ralphie.
The little man looked down at his glass, then back at Ralphie. “Coke,” he said.
“Yeah, but it’s got a lime in it!” said Pete.
The man looked over at Pete. “That’s right, it’s got a lime in it,” and his voice was squeaky and high-pitched, making him sound like the cartoon mouse on TV.
Pete laughed. “Why the hell do you drink it like that?”
The man shrugged. “That’s the way I like it.”
Pete laughed again, louder this time.
Ralphie tugged on Quentin’s arm. The two of them turned aside and took a step away from the table.
“I tell you what,” said Ralphie. “That ain’t no man.”
Quentin frowned and glanced back at the little man. “What d’you mean?”
“I mean, that’s a woman.”
Quentin frowned harder. “You’re joking?”
“No,” said Ralphie, “I ain’t. That’s a woman.”
“He’s bald and has a moustache,” said Quentin
“She’s one of those transsexuals,” said Ralphie.
“Get out!” said Quentin.
Pete joined their huddle. “What’re you guys talking about?”
“Ralphie says this guy’s a transsexual,” said Quentin, hooking his thumb back over his shoulder.
“You mean he likes to wear women’s clothes?” said Pete.
“No,” said Ralphie. “I mean this is a woman who had a sex change operation to become a man.”
Pete laughed. “You’re crazy,” he said. “She’s bald and has a moustache.”
“They take hormones,” said Ralphie. “The women take male hormones and that way they can grow moustaches.”
Quentin said, “Hey, that’s right, they do.”
Pete whistled. “No kidding?”
“Yeah,” said Ralphie, “and you know what else? If you’re a man, they cut off your dick, but if you’re a woman they make a dick for you and sew it on.”
“No shit!” said Pete.
“What do they make it out of?” said Quentin.
“Hell if I know,” said Ralphie. “Rubber maybe.”
“Why don’t they take the dicks from the guys and sew them onto the girls?” said Pete.
“Don’t be stupid,” said Ralphie, but then he thought maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
“Why don’t we check it out and see?” said Quentin.
Pete nodded. “Yeah, I’d like to see what her dick looks like, if they made it look real, or what.”
Ralphie said, “Then it’s agreed—we need to get a look at her dick.”
The three of them turned back to the little “man” sitting there. He’d gone back to reading his book, but he had a nervous look about him, like maybe he knew what they were going to do, or had even overheard what they’d been saying.
Ralphie said, “Excuse me, sir—” and all three of them chuckled, “but we’d like to have a look at your goods.”
The little man frowned, and his mouth dropped open. “What?”
“Yeah,” said Pete, “We’d like to get a look at that homemade dick of yours!”
The man dropped his book and made a scared move like he might try to run, and the three of them caught him and dragged him out from behind the table, upsetting the Coke with lime in it. He yelled to the bartender in his high-pitched voice, and the three of them laughed the whole time. They started dragging him kicking across the bar, and finally they lifted him off the floor and carried him towards the men’s room. His glasses fell of his face and broke against the floor, and he kept crying out in his cartoon voice for the bartender to do something.
When they got to the men’s room, Pete said in a loud voice, “Hey, maybe she ain’t allowed in here!” and they laughed harder.
They pushed open the door to the men’s room and carried him inside. Pete kicked the door closed, and they laid him down on the dirty urine-stained floor. He yelled and kicked the whole time, and he got his arm loose and punched Quentin in the side of the face. Quentin stopped laughing and drew back and smashed the little man in the mouth, and his head snapped back and hit the tiled floor hard, and he went limp. He looked dazed and didn’t fight any more.
Pete and Quentin unzipped his fly and pulled down his pants. He wore white jockey shorts, and they were little like a boy’s, like they were boy’s sized.
“Okay,” Ralphie said, standing over them. “Pull his shorts down and let’s get a look.”
Pete giggled and grabbed the elastic and pulled down his shorts, and they all three got a look at the goods. He had a little scrotum and a perfectly formed little penis that was circumcised, both nearly hairless.
“Wow,” said Pete, “that looks real!”
Ralphie straightened up. “You dimwit,” he said. “It is real.”
“What? So they did like I said and cut this off some guy and sewed it on her?”
“No, stupid,” said Quentin. “This ain’t no transsexual.”
“Huh?” said Pete, standing up too. “I don’t get it. How’d she get this dick to look so real?”
Ralphie smacked him playfully on the head. “It is a real dick—don’t you get it? It’s a man!”
“Oh, shit!” said Pete, laughing. “I guess he’s allowed in here after all!”
Quentin and Ralphie started laughing with him, and then Ralphie said, “Okay, pull up his pants and get him up off the floor.”
Quentin and Pete did what Ralphie said. They pulled up the little man’s pants and picked him up off the floor.
“He okay?” said Ralphie.
Quentin tapped him on the cheek. “Hey, you okay?”
“He’s okay,” said Pete.
They walked out of the bathroom, Quentin and Pete carrying the little man. Ralphie picked up his broken glasses, and they took the little man back to the table where he’d been sitting. When the little man started to come out of his stupor, he began to cry.
“Charlie, get the guy another Coke with a lime in it, will you?” said Ralphie. And then he added, “You know what, I’ll try one of those myself.”
And Pete said, “Oh, man, that’s fucking gross!” and the three of them laughed even harder.
II.
Annie was preparing the kids’ supper, when she heard a knock at the door. She warned them to eat their weenies and baked beans, and walked out of the kitchen, across the living room and opened the front door. Ralphie stood on the porch. He grinned at her through the screen door, standing there in the yellow porch light.
“Ralphie, Jesus, I didn’t expect to see you!”
“Well,” Ralphie said, “you going to invite me in, or what?”
Annie turned her head, like there might’ve been someone behind her listening. She lowered her voice. “Carol’s going to be home pretty soon.”
Ralphie shrugged. “I don’t care.”
“Well, okay,” she said. “Just for a few minutes, I guess.”
She pushed at the screen door. He opened it the rest of the way and walked in. He’d been to their house a few times before, but always in the afternoon when Carol was working. He looked around at the mismatched furniture, at the sofa with the holes in it, and at Carol’s stupid picture of John Wayne hanging on the wall.
Annie wore a faded pair of jeans and a pink t-shirt that had a picture of a teddy bear on it. She had a fresh bruise around her eye that she was glad Ralphie got to see, but she wished she looked better for him. She wanted him to want her.
“Can I get you something to drink?” she said.
He shrugged again. “What’re the girls doing?”
“They’re eating, having their dinner.” She paused, then said, “You want to say hi to them?”
“Sure,” Ralphie said. He’d always liked Annie’s girls. They were cute, and both of them were smart.
The two of them walked into the kitchen. The kids were fighting over a spoon. Annie said, “Hey, girls, look who’s here!”
They both looked up and grinned at Ralphie standing in the doorway to the kitchen. “Hi Ralphie!” they said together.
Ralphie walked over to the table. “How are you girls?” He put a hand on each of their shoulders and gave them a squeeze.
“Fine,” said Cathy, the older girl. She had shoulder-length straight blond hair that was almost white and bright blue eyes. She was eight now, and very smart. She said things you wouldn’t expect an eight year old to say. “How are you, Ralphie?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” he said to her. “What you having for dinner?”
“We’re having beans and weenies,” said Linda. She was six, and just as cute as a little girl could be, with dirty blond hair that was naturally curly.
“Sounds good,” said Ralphie. “Say, me and your mom want to have a little talk.”
“Okay,” said Cathy, going back to her supper.
“So you’ll be all right in here by yourselves for a few minutes?” Ralphie said to her.
“Of course we will,” said Cathy. “We’re not babies!”
“No, you sure aren’t,” said Ralphie, and he tousled her hair.
Ralphie looked at Annie, and she gave him an uncertain, worried glance. He nodded to her, and they walked out of the kitchen. Out in the living room, he grabbed her by the arm and directed her to the master bedroom. He closed the door behind them.
“Ralphie!” said Annie. “I’m telling you—Carol’s going to be home any minute!”
Ralphie pushed her up against the door and grabbed the front of her shirt. “Do I look like I’m worried?” he said, and he tore at her shirt until it ripped in half, right through the teddy bear. He pulled it the rest of the way off and tossed it to the floor, exposing her chest and the black brassiere she was wearing.
“Oh, fuck,” she said, getting very excited. “Oh, fuck.”
Ralphie grabbed her by the waistline of her jeans and pulled her into him. Their bodies met, and he stuck his tongue in her mouth. Annie shot her hands down his hips, then across his groin, feeling his cock, his very large cock through his trousers. Ralphie pulled away from her and pushed her over to the bed, face down. He reached around and unzipped her jeans, and pulled them down around her ankles. She wasn’t wearing any underwear. Annie arched her hips, and Ralphie unzipped his fly and took out his cock and mounted her from behind. He began to pump her very hard, and she moaned. She was very wet, very excited, and Ralphie came quickly, and Annie yelped when she felt him coming.
Ralphie pulled out of her and stood up. He grabbed her t-shirt from the floor and wiped his dick with it, then put his cock away and zipped up. Annie rolled over onto her back on the bed.
“Mmmm…” she said, her eyes closed. She was running her fingers across her breasts. “God, Ralphie, I love the way you fuck me.”
Ralphie pointed to her bruised eye. “Did Carol do that?”
Annie nodded. “Yep. Yesterday. He said he didn’t like the way I was talking to him, like I was giving him lip or something, so he hit me.”
“Well, you won’t have to worry about that anymore,” said Ralphie.
Ralphie’s cell phone rang, and he pulled it out and looked at the display. “It’s Marcie,” he said, and answered it. “Yeah?”
“Where are you?” said Marcie.
“Nowhere,” said Ralphie. “And I’m busy. What do you want?”
“Are you with someone?” said Marcie. “Are you with another girl?”
“I’ll see you at home later,” said Ralphie, and he clicked off the phone.
“I think she’s jealous,” said Annie.
“I know she is,” said Ralphie.
From the other room they heard the front door open.
“Oh, shit!” Annie said in a whisper. “It’s Carol—he’s home! Shit, what’re we going to do?”
“Relax,” Ralphie said.
“You got to hide!” she said, sitting up on the bed.
“No fucking way,” Ralphie said, smirking.
“Ralphie!”
“Hey—you want me to take care of things, right?”
Annie looked up at him. “Tonight? You’re going to do it tonight? Now? Right here?”
Ralphie shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
“Ralphie! The kids are here!”
“That’s okay,” Ralphie said. “I brought my silencer.”
He drew his pistol from its holster, then reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out the silencer. He fitted it onto the end of the barrel and screwed it into place.
“The kids won’t hear a thing.”
“Fuck, Ralphie! Fuck,” said Annie, as she went to the dresser and pulled out a new t-shirt, a yellow one that had a picture of a baby duck on it.
The doorknob turned as Annie pulled the t-shirt over her head, and the door swung open. Carol stood in the doorway. Thin and muscular, he had dark brown hair, and he was unshaven. He wore a sleeveless white t-shirt, jeans and work boots. Carol did construction work, and he was strong.
Ralphie stood against the bedroom closet with the pistol behind his back. Annie tried to get herself straightened up, smoothing her hair and zipping her jeans.
“What the fuck’s going on here?” Carol said.
“Hey, Carol,” said Ralphie.
“What the fuck’re you doing in my house?” said Carol. “What the fuck’re you doing in my bedroom?”
“Nice to see you, Carol,” said Ralphie. “Me and Annie were just having a little chat.”
“Get the fucking hell out of my house!” Carol said.
“Shhhh,” Ralphie said, putting a finger to his lips, the pistol still behind his back. “You’re going to scare the girls.”
“I don’t give a fuck—!”
“Hey!” Ralphie said, whipping the pistol around and pointing it at Carol now. “I told you not to fucking yell!”
Carol’s eyes bulged at the sight of the gun.
“Now close the fucking door,” Ralphie said.
Carol did, he closed the bedroom door and turned back to face the two of them.
“Good,” said Ralphie, and he aimed and shot Carol through the bridge of the nose. Annie screamed, and Carol tumbled to the floor in a heap.
A smear of blood and maybe brains remained on the white bedroom door about the height where Carol’s head had been.
“Shit,” said Ralphie. “I was aiming for his eye, but I got him right through the nose.”
There was a knock at the door. “Mommy?” said Cathy’s voice. “Mommy, what happened? What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Ralphie said through the door. “Nothing at all. Go back to your dinner, sweetheart.”
“Is Mommy okay?”
“I’m fine, honey,” Annie said. “Go on back in the kitchen.”
They heard her little feet padding across the living room floor and into the kitchen. Ralphie unscrewed the silencer from his pistol and put them both away. He walked over and nudged Carol’s body with the toe of his shoe.
“He’s dead,” said Ralphie.
“Oh, Ralphie,” said Annie, stepping up beside him, her hand to her mouth.
“Yeah? It’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
“Sure…sure it is. I’m just, you know, a little freaked out now, looking at him laying there like that.”
Ralphie reached over and grabbed her hand then, and placed it on his cock.
“I don’t know why,” he said, “but killing somebody always makes me horny.”
Annie rubbed his swelling cock through his trousers, while she stared at the body on the floor. Ralphie got her attention, and put a hand on her shoulder and eased her down onto the floor, on her knees. She was kneeling now beside Carol’s dead body, and she unzipped Ralphie’s pants and took his penis out. She stroked it with her hand, as she stole another look at the body.
“Oooo… Ralphie, there’s blood on the floor,” she said, pointing with her free hand.
“That’s okay,” he said. “You can clean that up later.”
He grabbed the back of her head with his hand and turned it to face him. She opened her mouth then and took his penis and started sucking it.
Annie knew how to give a good blowjob, and Ralphie got very excited. He didn’t like to come standing up, though, so he pulled his dick out of her mouth and turned her around, and knelt down behind her. She was facing the dead body now, Carol’s dead body, laying inches in front of her on the floor in a pool of blood. Ralphie reached around and unzipped her jeans again and pulled them down around her knees. He climbed down on the floor on top of her, and mounted her once more. Her pussy was even hotter and wetter than it was the first time, like killing her husband had excited her, too. Ralphie started thrusting into her, pounding her, the both of them looking at that dead body, and in a moment they both started to come. Ralphie could feel her coming, feel the contractions, and it made him come, and they both made little noises and came together.
Ralphie gave her a few more strokes and pulled out of her. His knees felt weak now, and he laid down on the floor beside her. They both had their heads resting against Carol’s dead body.
“God, Ralphie,” she said. “That was so good. I haven’t been fucked like that in a long time.”
“Carol wasn’t giving it to you, huh?” he said to her.
“No. You know that little slut, Lisa Miller? I think he was fucking her.”
“Lisa Miller?” said Ralphie, like he couldn’t believe it. “Jesus, you’re way better looking than she is.”
“You’re so sweet, Ralphie. Carol would never say nice things like that to me, at least he hasn’t for a long time.”
“Well, I’m not saying it to be nice,” he said. “I mean it. You’re hands down better looking than she is. I mean, you’ve got a great little body, and she’s fat if you ask me.”
“She’s a goddamned hippo,” said Annie.
Ralphie laughed. “A hippo—that’s a good one. I’ll have to tell Quentin and Pete you said that. A hippo. Shoot.”
Annie reached over and kissed him on the cheek. “Anyway,” she said. “I think you’re sweet.”

[An earlier version of this story appeared on PlotsWithGuns.com, #27, Jan./Feb. 2004; and on theroguereader.com]

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