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Category Archives: Jake

Jake is fairly transparent.


All roadies are assholes. Jake knows this, so he’s armed with lines for when he needs them, as when Squat catches him coiling cable the wrong way. Halfway through the instant tirade, another roadie cheerfully shouts over “You just made his anus clench!”

“You mean there’s room?” asks Jake. “Around the stick?”

Squat is still mad later, hauling himself recklessly up the light tower. It jangles and chatters under his rough hands, and Jake watches his tight red face. His own arms are twitchy and scared just thinking about climbing like that, and he wonders what Squat’s still trying to prove.


Amy’s either shorter or taller than she’d really like to be. She likes old-school hip-hop but she sings loud bad Aerosmith. She’s embarrassed about wearing sweatpants so much. She doesn’t know she’s extraordinary for using words like “aegis” and “anacrusis” in everyday conversation.

Brown hair, B cup, freckles when she runs. Her only poster is of Jon Stewart. She used to drive fast, but she had to quit.

Writing Amy, Jake’s astounded by how easily she comes into his fingers. She’s like cheating. All that time inventing genius space-spies with the French Pox, and for what? Amy was here all along.


“We’ll tow your swivel chair,” they threaten, and Jake can’t make himself write at the moment so he gives up and agrees.

The party’s at least got a dance floor, and it’s mercifully dark; Deek and Gigi follow him into the thick of it and then out, arms up in crowd-maneuver stance. Jake’s smiling now, sweating a little. He lets himself people-watch: it’s not a bad crowd, Allie looks hot tonight, there’s a

small laugh

her wrist

Things blur. He finds himself upstairs, somebody’s office, page after page of Amy on yellow legal in a hand that’s just beginning to tremble.

The Explicit

Jane shares a coffee with Lucien. Lucien taught the best English class Jake ever took, and Jake used to draw with colored pencils with his father. Jake’s father works in purchasing at the prison where Schultz is serving six years.

Schultz sexually abused Rhiannon when she was eight. Rhiannon shares a cheap basement apartment with Ruth. Ruth sometimes sleeps with Topaz. Topaz never got back the ten dollars she lent Theo, who picked a fight after school one day with Corey, and as we speak Corey is standing alone on a stage, telling a story to

(Okay. Ready?)

(Tag. You’re in.)


Jake’s aware that people have died this summer, but it’s not made fact to him until he finds her, a block from his apartment.

His first thought is Don’t Move The Victim but it’s boiling out and he carries her inside. Her skin is dry and hot; her hair has been cut recently, too short. A silver bracelet gives her name as Holly.

Somehow he ends up riding in the ambulance. She wakes as they start to wheel her out. She’s holding a dirty black lump in one hand. She touches his lips, and the taste is sticky, gritty, impossibly sweet.


Jake stabs blindly, uncovers his eyes and finds the finger-grease print over a “thus.” Can he cut that? He’s not sure. He could replace it with a “so,” but no, this isn’t about letters. He has to trim it somewhere, and random selection isn’t working.

It had seemed so easy, in theory. He’d written whole stories in fifty before, in twenty-five; you just traced lightly and trusted your reader. But the rules here are harder, and he can’t just wait for inspiration anymore. There’s a demand. Every day.

Jake sighs. One hundred and one words is too many, and not enough.


Jake isn’t sure whether to turn his back. It’d be a little weird not to, because she is changing, and it’s not like they’ve kissed this week. But it’d be equally weird not to look: they are still technically going out.

He ends up lamely flipping through her scrapbook again–an excuse not to watch, which turns out to be a mistake.

“Here,” Ruth says behind him, and slips out the one of her on the escalator, hair in her mouth. She’s very beautiful. “I’d like you to have it.”

“Thank you,” he says.

“Wanting you is killing me,” he doesn’t.


“No use!” he repeats, hustling to keep up with Jake. “They read the Bible? Because God ain’t a snitch, okay, God already sees. Sees everything! They say God is love. Not sex. Ain’t nobody ever give me any love, you understand? I’ve had sex, that ain’t love, brother. And you see them with kids–you think that’s love? Huh? That’s repentance! Dependence! That’s just it!”

Jake smiles a little and tries not to make eye contact. The man’s missing teeth and he’s smoking, predictably, but what’s unnerving is his khakis: clean and neatly pressed, with the look of an expensive brand.


When Jake was small he’d always end up on the floor, during attacks. It wasn’t that he couldn’t stand; something about the texture of carpet on his cheek was soothing. He tried to scratch his back on it, too, but that never worked. The itch was on the inside.

Asthma. Old enemy. He sits propped against a stack of pillows and watches the wall like a distant army, but then everything’s distant on low oxygen. Asthma’s a full-sensory experience, and the synaesthesia is taking him back in memory: detachment, his tight chest, dog-heavy legs and the strange plastic taste of albuterol.


Catherine’s eyelashes go from blond to brunette, but her hair is red. She wears L’Oreal Volumizer Darkest Black.

“I tried going without it,” she says into the mirror. “In college. Everyone said I looked sleepy, except the ones who said I looked scary.”

“Moon Baby flashbacks?” laughs Jake.

“Yes! Enough people recoiled from my giant head when I was little!”

And she doesn’t see how bold her eyes are, without it: how cold and brave. She should be on an album cover with a bloody lip. She should be standing on a parapet, rock in hand, fighting to the last child.