Tom Ryan, 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow

Tom Ryan, 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow



[Applause] so this is a scene from a recently completed trashy serial killer thriller somebody's watching me we walk into a smoky kitchen two women are playing cards at a table one of them long red hair in a tracksuit is probably in her late 30s the other one short black hair type denim shorts and bikini top isn't much older than me across from them heavily tattooed guy with a leather vest over bare chested rolling joint on the other side of the room sitting in that rocking chair next to a wood stove his hand out to scratch the top of the lazy greetings head is jr. Berlin he's as huge as his brother is tiny muscular arms and shoulders and a broad chest that presses against his tight t-shirt a shaved head and a bright red beard then there's the eye there are a lot of rumors about how jr. Merlin lost his left eye everything from a bar fight to a cigarette stuck out at an acid fueled frenzy but whatever the case is chosen the gruesome replacement a blood-red glass of water as we walk in behind aunt and Carrie the room goes silent the girls look up from their cards joint growler pauses in his task the dock space perks up to attention and junior Merlin lifts his chin stares straight at us bringing some friends around it gasps and a thin reading voice the question sounds almost conversational as if he's asked what his brother had for dinner but the tension in this voice is obvious this isn't the kind of place where people just you're gonna want to see this June nurses am to be ignoring the question he turns to me go ahead and show up every eye in the room is on me as I walk over and hand the backpack to Jun here he takes one long look at me then grabs the backpack and holds it out in front of them shaking it slightly is it trying to gauge its weight what the is it he asks his voice is slippery is it it's coming through on a bad connection just open it and says aunt Junior drops the bag onto the floor in front of him then bends over concepts of how she takes it over for a long drawn-out moment he stares into the bag and the rest of us collectively hold our breath what is it junior the redhead asked finally he doesn't answer her instead he reaches into the backpack and pulls out a mid full of Ziploc bags variously full of pills and powders and dried up clumps but he holds them tighten his fist and stares at me where the did you get these he asked quietly i blips my reflection in his eye a tiny terrified conehead and a miniature funhouse mirror I illuminate all the speed that no sound comes out and steps forward is it to explain on my behalf the tuner holds out a hand toward palm forward tell them to be quiet I want to hear about it from him he says and his finger jabs at me so certainly that I almost feel it in my chest I swallow it from somewhere I gain a rush of confidence this guy's a drug dealer and he might be dangerous but he's not stupid and he's not gonna hurt me in front of all these people I glanced back at quilt I can tell by looking at it that he's nervous but ready to pounce that he needs to behind him Carey is standing against the wall her arms crossed in front of her chest and her face squinted up in an expression Oh light she's pissed and I know that she isn't pissed at you here she's pissed at me for putting myself in this situation kid says jr. and I was rising from his chair slowly I'm not going to give you another chance to tell me how you ended up with my he yells the last word and it rolls me out of my days I found it I say I found it in one of those abandoned cottages on the other side of town a cottage she repeats as if he doesn't believe me yeah I say one of the wandering served guest cottages on a Castle Road I was there with mine I swallow again then turns gestured words quill of my chin with my boyfriend the guy in the leather vest snorts and junior lives a hand and flutters his fingers in front of his mouth your boyfriend trills as a funky slab will be guilty how worthless so you're telling me that you and your boyfriend just happened to be poking around an abandoned cottage and he just happened to find a giant stash drugs that just happened to be stolen for me last year I know except we didn't just happen to be there I paused wondering how much I should give away I was there looking for clues I said into the catalogue killer there's a long and ominous silence that seems to stretch out forever I sure as hell hope you aren't suggesting that I had anything to do with those murders junior says well I say forcing myself to eat his heart greggy's I guess that's what I'm here to find out

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