Daddy got her and the other stable wifeys the new iPhone 6. To stay au courant, he said….
Though strictly out of pocket, what she was doing, browsing while strolling in the light rain beaded with sunlight, Daddy had caught him a case, so she was on automatic.
That didn’t mean, though, she wasn’t looking out for Bottom, who, y’know, worked the track for Daddy when Daddy was away. Nor did it mean she wasn’t on the
qui vive. That’s another French word Daddy taught her.
She knew more French words, that she taught herself. Still, that was her favorite, “qui vive,” being on the alert—for shoes, belt buckles, key chains for handcuff keys—the usual giveaways for undercovers.
Always be on the qui vive, Daddy told her. He was good like that, Daddy, even if he did act like he hung the moon. Claws sharp, always teaching her things, Daddy was, about how to be fancy shmancy and survive on the stroll.
So, there she was, browsing on her new iPhone 6, but keeping an eye out just the same, when the story about a white pony dressed as a unicorn popped up.
Seems a pony named Juliet, which happened to be her name—well, “Julie” was what it was officially, but Daddy said “Juliet” had more class.
Seems this Juliet unicorn pony had grown tired of making “a lot of dreams come true for little girls,” ’cause she just threw up her head and yanked the rope out of her owner’s hands—
“Okay, okay,” she thought, growing impatient with the details, “cut to Hecuba.”
That was one of Daddy’s favorite expressions when one of the sisters was prattling on and on or being total askholes or going all Emo. “‘Okay, okay,” Daddy would say, “‘cut to Hecuba!’”
So, here’s Hecuba: She made a run for it, this Juliet unicorn pony did, with her owner chasing behind on a horse named Shady, figuring, the owner said, that as soon as she saw Shady Juliet’d follow him into the pen. That’s not how it went down.
“The unicorn,” she read, “is still not in custody.”
Whoa! If that didn’t slap her upside the head, the word custody, ’cause, y’see, Daddy was always using it.
“Yuh in my custody,” he’d go, meaning, she guessed, in his care and protection, like, she liked to think, something like a guidance counselor. Like he got her back. Which, she supposed, was a good thing when you’re out on the track.
But here’s the thing—the big thing, you could say—, she wondered: “’F it be sech a good thang,”—“custody” she meant— “how come dis un’corn pony make a run f’r it?”
With unfamiliar inwardness and cloudy uncertainty, she meditated this calmly and, so doing, she began to feel the first itch of desire, the strengthening pulsebeat of liberation. Was it time for a change? Time to square up?
The possibility of getting out of the game made her shiver.
“WTF,” she then thought with fresh courage and imperturbable defiance,
“Daddy’s gonna be on duh bitch when he gets out ’cause he always is. An’ I’m sick o’ ’m tellin’ me I’m either a pros’tute or a whore ’cause, he say, you either sell it or give it away free.” Then, in a way that gave her body the flesh creep, “‘I could sell yuh
f’r a nickel,’” followed up with a thwack of a hot hanger on her legs, ’cause, y’know, he didn’t want to spoil her face. He could be considerate that way, Daddy could.
Then he went and raised the quota, and wanted her to turn tricks at truck stops.
“Truck stops!” she protested silently. Then, brooding over every syllable, “No way dat putain de mac gonna make dis Juliet a lot liz’rd. No wayzee!”
Then, after a pause and with a shaking voice, “Even if I been in the life, I’m still— I’m still—still bootylicious enough for duh blade.” Then, flaming, “Uh-huh, proper!”
Bottom had just laughed and laughed when she told her, and said, “Girl, ain’t no thang but chicken wang,”—meaning truck stops—, and thinking about that, well, it
threw her off the qui vive is what it did.
Otherwise, she’d have cast a sideward look at the two po-pos rolling up silently on mountain bikes.
But she did hear the blaring voice crackling over the radio, “Unicorn still not in custody,” and she thought— her large, moist, lynx-like eyes joyfully suffused with hope—she thought, “I’m jest shinin’ like duh sun tru duh rain!”
Vince Barry has been published in many places including Writing Tomorrow Magazine, The Write Room, Blue Lake Review, Crack the Spine, Pure Slush, The Tower Journal, Friday Flash Fiction, Fewer Than 500, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Midway Journal, Literally Stories, Corvus Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Bull, Dime Show Review, The Vignette Review, Rivet, and Zetetic.