The Quotable


One of the guys snatches her hand from the cluster and yanks it to him. And a moan—ecstasy, or grief—rises and falls, then mutes. You believe she sees the white light the dead see as one, two, maybe four (you’re unsure of how many) guys gloom around her; this woman, this girl being taken in the street. Her body isn’t bone—stiff, hard, and breakable. No. Her body is melting cartilage. Friction generates heat, heat that you can cup in your palms, squeeze between your fingers, cooks her inside out. You can taste the waft of gristle. A slick smell suckerpunches your nose, like days-old gym clothes, a stale sweat that makes you choke. There’s a rise against your zipper as you think of lace and skin under your fingernails. But you can’t even see her anymore under the Three Card Monte shuffle of guys. Others watch, too. Not just guys, like you with jeans slung low and a tall t-shirt curtaining over your waist, but also hair-curler ma’s and snot-crusted-on-their-upper-lips kids, thinking nothing of it. Everyone knows—snitches get stitches. And the girl says nothing. Just takes it. It’s not over (even though there will be an after that takes over the before this), this will never be over. You’ve heard, you’re nobody ’til somebody kills you. You know, it’s your turn soon. Think about the invisible no-man’s-land separating one gang’s territory from another. This is the guttural line: Are you more than nobody? Maybe, you’re nobody ’til you kill somebody. Now. Set your features: wipe the chill off your face, cracking your teeth in a grin. Get ready to gnash. Step up.


Chris Wiewiora mainly writes nonfiction, but his fiction has appeared online at A cappella Zoo,, Ghost Ocean Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, and The Planet Formerly Known As Earth. He works at a pizza place in Orlando called Lazy Moon. Read more at

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