from The Book of Freaks
by Jamie Iredell

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This Story Is A Mystery

Jon is the killer. The woman’s body is found in the living room. The clues that led the hero to these discoveries are the following: a Bowie knife; the blood smearing the blade; a single hair, curling like a worm, deposited on the woman’s backside; the tablespoon of semen. The hard part was going home where his wife’s arms flapped like immensely thick twin flags while she stirred the ground beef in the frying pan. The daughter in her bedroom, kicking up her heels while telephoning her girlfriend, some freckled Anna. The inevitable sound of the daughter’s water pick for the bits of nightly meat she squirted from her braces. The uneasy sense that what these people needed was a murder mystery, that nothing about their lives is safe, that at any moment, the pine in their front yard might wrench from the earth, igniting in the subsequent electrical fire, that the pine falls to crush them, that their flesh will burn away.

Armless Wonder

Her feet snip scissors through a sheet of cardstock, rectangling out a plane. Her feet ink her signature, lilting in whorls, smooth, seamless as her face. She is Venus—not the goddess, but the planet—a star so bright it blinds, a star with phases: whole, waxing, waning, gone. Her feet caress her husband’s skin. Her toes stream his tears, which stream his cheeks when onlookers look on. “It’s okay,” she whispers. To the starers her feet strike a match and spark her cigarette, tipping the end to the ashtray, butt gripped between big toe and the next little piggy. Her father had called her toes that, and she laughed and rolled helpless when he pinched a toe in those wondrous digits about which she knew nothing: fingers. Father sang: “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home. . .”

The guitar licks came in college.

This Guy Was A Vampire

A volume of something stupid sweated in the sweat of his fingers. I think it read “a novel” on its cover. I breathed my garlic breath at his pores. I bought him a Silver Bullet, and he gagged. I remembered he said “vampire,” not “werewolf,” and that only frat boys like Coors Light. I’m only speaking the truth that dangled from my crucifix. This man said my Jesus was quite beautiful. He sweated holy water. The bar splinter, driven into his chest by leaning for the Jameson, did nothing. He said, “If I bite you, will you become me?” I said, “Hopefully.”

The Man on the Train

leaned into my book-pointed face and screeched: I should shut the fuck up. My eyes were surprise. My book’s title spelled out the word “holy”, also “holes”. I upped out of the seat. But this man—the Polo aftershave and Phillies reek reeked off his Polo shirt—swung and the braking car rocked me back, eyebrows clear of knuckles. My forehead destroyed his nose. His nose became a rose that rolled upon the train’s flooring leaving smears of rose all over the cheap plastic-ness. Fingers found their way into roses. My Chuck Taylors kicked at the roses. Then the doors wheezed open, and I never saw that man again.

My wife says I’m a baby.

In My Fantasy

novel the wizards are middle-aged instead of young or old, and they always stay middle-aged. They masturbate instead of having sex with their husbands and wives, and they’re always dropping their kids off at wizard school, and saying every afternoon you will be staying with either your wizard father or your wizard mother, and no goddamit you cannot come over because it’s wizard daddy’s or wizard mommy’s night, and that’s his or her responsibility, goddamit. In my fantasy novel the knights’ names are all “Night”, so when someone lurks through darkened mines plagued by creatures fowler than the stench of this prose, everyone screams Night, watch out! And Night screams back, I can’t see anything! And the princesses are cheerleaders, and the princes are frat boys, and their fraternity is called the Royal Fantasy Novel Nonesuch, and the cheerleader princesses scream yay for the frat boy princes to throw them down and fuck them in their princess cheerleader-cheerleading uniforms, and the magic is called god, and the lesser magic is called god also.