SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

Mice Getting the Points

Story by Robert Lopez (Read author interview) March 16, 2006

Blind Betty says it’s Sunday night and all of us are poor. She says this sometimes when we are in the cafeteria trying to eat. No one here likes Blind Betty which is why no one answers when she says things like this. What the blindsters do instead is keep eating and hope she doesn’t say anything else which almost never happens. Whenever no one answers Blind Betty will talk about her mother the traveling minstrel or her retard brother and the underground world. Everyone here knows these stories backwards and forwards so I don’t think anyone listens anymore. Pregnant Janie keeps feeding herself chicken and potatoes and Pity Jimmy keeps shaking his head like there’s a gnat flying in his face which is why I think they’re not listening. Out of all the blindsters that don’t like Blind Betty it’s Pity Jimmy that don’t like her best. Pity Jimmy used to would get Blind Betty drunk on white wine and scotch but that almost never happens anymore I don’t think. I’m with Pity Jimmy day and night it seems so if he was still getting her drunk I’d probably know about it. I never knew where Pity Jimmy got the wine and scotch and he never told me neither. Time was all Pity Jimmy said about people is how and when they were born but ever since he said something about protein he talks like regular people now. My job here is to walk these blindsters around to keep them from cracking their heads open. They never said nothing about keeping the blindsters from drinking or keeping them from getting pregnant. They gave me what for when Pregnant Janie turned up pregnant. This is not what we pay you for is what they said but I haven’t been paid by them once yet. I think what it is I do here I do for free and I think there’ll come a time when I’ll sneak off at night when everyone’s asleep so I won’t have to do it no more. I don’t know how I’ll get home because I don’t have any money which is probably why I haven’t snuck off yet. I figure sooner or later they have to give me some money otherwise they might get in trouble. I think what it is they do to me here is illegal. I asked Blind Betty if what they do to me is illegal because Blind Betty fingers all the Braille books on law and order but what she said back was curse words. Then she said that illegal was a sick bird and there wasn’t a hospital for miles. Thing about Blind Betty is you don’t know what she is talking about half the time. Like when she says it’s Sunday night and all of us are poor it’s because she bets money on football games. So in this case everyone includes only Blind Betty herself. I think I heard her on the telephone one time placing a bet. She said something like give me Chicago twenty times and then the person on the other end said something and then Blind Betty said thank you Danny and hung up. I think the Danny she was talking to on the phone was the same Danny who came by to fix the compressor last month. How Blind Betty knows Danny is she’s friends with Danny’s girlfriend. Danny never said he was a bookie when he was here fixing the compressor but I don’t think anyone asked either. Blind Betty says someday I might have to shoot her in the back of the head for her own good just like George did to Lenny after he killed the rabbits. She says if it ever comes down to it I should take the mice getting the points because men never cover the spread on the road. I don’t know what she means by the mice or the points or who George is and why he shot Lenny but I decide not to ask questions. I tell her that is not what they’ll pay me for when they do finally pay me. This is when she’ll call me a fay gaggot and I’ll tell her that some of us are poor and can’t help it but what I’m thinking is she probably doesn’t mean for me to shoot her anyway.

About the Author

Robert Lopez has had fiction in dozens of online and print journals, including BOMB, American Letters & Commentary, New Orleans Review, New England Review, The Barcelona Review, 5_Trope, Nerve, etc. Other “Blindster” stories can be found or will turn up in Unsaid, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Small Spiral Notebook, Elimae, Eclectica, and FRiGG. He teaches an experimental fiction workshop at The New School and is co-editor of SleepingFish.

This story appeared in Issue Twelve of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twelve

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

The Hybrid Flash: How to Dual-Wield Genre

Book Now!

The Hybrid Flash with Erin Vachon

In this webinar/workshop, you will harness the experimental power of hybrid flash. You will discover the intertwined history of hybrid and flash, and read published flash crossed with image, poetry, and creative nonfiction. You will learn the rules of each genre, so you know how to break them.