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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Performance evaluation
of my ex-lover, Pearl

Story by L Swartz (Read author interview) September 19, 2022

© Shironosov

QUANTITATIVE RATINGS:

Sexy sex ……………………. N/A

Compatibility …………… ★★★

Passion …………………….. ★★★★

Compassion ……………… ★★★★

Self-loathing ………………★★★★★

Damage ……………………. ★★★★★

Addiction ………………….

Diagnosable crazy ……. ★★★★★

Relationship drama….. ★★★★

Breakup drama ………… ★★★★

 

ANECDOTAL ATTESTATION / LOVE LETTER TO PEARL:

The story of you and me ends where it should begin, that one night we are on a date that I do not comprehend is a date.

What I do know is that you are soft and dangerous, a bruised and raging panda. I am secretly a little bit in love with you. You are obviously a little bit in love with me. I don’t recognize it. So I know and I don’t know we are on a date.

After all, the occasion we are celebrating is your new job at the brothel.

After all, you and I met when you were living with your lover Ted the hemophiliac — years before Ted passed out drunk in a literal ditch on his way home from the bar and bled out before morning — and I was living with my lover Rogue, the drug dealer and meth cook. Our men were friends and so we became friends. How heterosexual is that?

But by the time of my date with you that I don’t know is a date, we have both left our guys. You have just returned from your annual suicide trip to San Francisco, thin from the hospital.

We go out dancing. I fail to dance with you because I fail to realize we are on a date. Instead, I dance for hours with the guy in the red suede suit.

Red Suede Suit takes us to a secret after hours club he knows, which is only Shelly’s Leg, which is not secret. Everybody goes there when the other clubs close. Red Suede Suit and I keep dancing until I tell him I won’t be going home with him that night. I explain he has to call me the next day — my policy at the time.

Red Suede Suit leaves in a huff. I look for you. I think you must be dancing too, but you are missing. While looking for you, I acquire a little guy who doesn’t look old enough to be there. He follows me everywhere while I search the crowded club.

Finally I go to the front door where the pimps and sex workers loiter. I ask if they’ve seen you. Yes, they say. They saw you. She got in a cab and left, they say, but go look at your car. Then they fall out laughing.

So I go look at my car. Sure enough, you’ve ripped off the mirrors and wrenched out the wipers. You’ve tried to kick out the window, leaving a dent in the door. I go back to the club to ask the loiterers how long ago you left, but they are laughing at me too hard to answer.

The little guy is still following me. I tell him to leave me alone. He won’t.

Ready to finally surrender to the abject shittiness of the night, I get in my car. The little guy bangs his tiny fists on my windows when I lock the doors. I start to back out and the little guy leaps on my hood. I keep backing. The little guy eventually falls off the car (unhurt) and calls me a bitch, which isn’t a lie.

Over the next week, I try to call you repeatedly but you don’t return my calls. Then your number is out of service.

The following week, a strange man keeps coming to my door and saying he wants a date. Eventually I figure out he is some john you think is a cop so you’ve sent him to my place. The john or police or whatever delivers the message: I hurt you. I am punished.

I’m young but not that young. I should know better. I should cradle your bruised heart the way I nurture all the stray cats in my life. Instead, in the temple of your beauty, I do not recognize the relic of your matted fur, the true edge of your endangerment. Which I do nothing to prevent.

Now —

I’m sure you eventually succeed on one of your suicide trips. Everybody says they love you. Nobody stops you.

About the Author

L Swartz invents strange stories about intellectually arrogant dragons and shapeshifting ex-lovers in a house overlooking Lazarus Island on the North Coast of Oregon. An earlier version of another review appeared as “Review of my Ex, Christopher” in Autofocus. Floating Bridge Press published L’s chapbook, “Land of Lists.” Minor Arcana Press (RIP) published L’s deck of “Shufflepoems.”

This story appeared in A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly A SmokeLong Summer 2022 — Special Issue
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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.