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PULP FICTION

Jacques Debrot


Copyright Š 2012 by Jacques Debrot All Rights Reserved ISBN: 978-1-937739-09-6 Published by Deadly Chaps New York, NY 2012 DCs3JD|4| Cover & Book Design by Joseph A. W. Quintela http://www.deadlychaps.com


O

ne (1)

Her face was Inhumanly beautiful and fatal. Those who saw it went mad or blind. From infancy, she wore a mask—a filthy rag—that she was forbidden to remove. Even her husband, a rickshaw-man who’d been bribed to take her off her family’s hands, had, until their wedding night, never seen her without it. But after the reception, he’d held her head down on the wood block where the neighborhood chickens were decapitated and slashed her face 7 times with a boning knife so he could finally look at her.


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T

wo A (2a)

The Ju Ngme Buddhas trace their origin through an unbroken line to the primordial Buddha Tsangpa La. After the death of a lama, the new incarnations are taken in infancy, secluded in Kor Monastery and beaten viciously at prescribed intervals. Otherwise they are treated like gods: worshipped, adored, given gentle lessons in scripture. Like Mount Kailish itself, Kor Monastery is, in essence, a woman’s tit; the gold dome, a nipple touching Heaven where the milk of Paradise flows just out of reach.

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T

wo B (2b)

At daybreak each morning, the Ju Ngme Buddhas are hung by their feet and flayed with whips. In this way, although they rarely live past puberty, they are purified of Demons. Often their growth is stunted. None has ever exceeded three feet. However, parts of their bodies—hands, fingers, tongues, teeth—will typically grow to fantastic lengths. When they die they are hacked apart, ground into a gray paste, and fed to vultures. Crows and dogs finish off what remains. In Tibet nothing is wasted.

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hree (3)

In the intermittent glare of lighting, a severed hand crawls out of an Alabama graveyard. The hand is badly mangled, the wrist jagged with shreds of sinew and tendon. All night it drags itself, spider-like, through the woods to reach its first victim. Pretty and skinny, she’s just thrown on a sweater and gone outside to retrieve a joint from her car. It’s 6 a.m. The moon’s paling in the west and a luminous gray mist hovers in the black trees that look like paper cut-outs against the lighter blur of the sky.

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F

our (4)

In Kyoto you attend a dinner for which you’ve paid a small fortune to eat off the body of a beautiful woman. Like the others at your table, you clap when she’s wheeled in and make hazy murmurs of appreciation until the old scarecrow on your left abruptly lifts a piece of tuna from her throat. Next, a nipple is revealed. A red toenail. Now it’s your turn. For a moment you deliberate, then remove a rose petal from her stomach. The skin you’ve exposed is damp and white. The navel, a small crater on a soft moon.

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F

ive (5)

He’s driving the babysitter home when the traffic slows and thickens under wingbeats of snow. Are you ok? she asks him. But he won’t stop crying. Deep wracking sobs, as if he were choking. While he goes on, she hunts for a cigarette and lighter, then, in a bored way messes with the radio dial. Yes, I’m ok, he finally manages to say as she clears the fogged-in windshield with her hand. A beautiful girl with marigodly hair and vermillion eyelids, her black paste-on nails clicking against the cold glass.

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S

ix (6)

He’s showing off his tattoos. The red Texas bat inked on his throat. The Chinese dragons on his shoulders. He lifts his shirt higher, stretches the skin on his chest and lets her finger the crude wreath of roses superimposed over his nipples. It’s 2 in the morning, the room hot as an attic. She pushes him down on the bed and straddles his waist. Her hair smells like patchouli and pot and when he closes his eyes the room floats a foot off the ground on the hum of the great throbbing ice machine outside.

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even (7)

He fills his lungs and, for the 3rd time, kicks down hard through the water. The lake is twenty feet deep beneath the anchored raft where the missing girl was last seen. Searching in the dark, the pressure squeezing against his face, he stays on the bottom until he’s forced to surface, then comes up gasping. A few new people are standing on the raft now, others in the water beside it. No, he gestures in their direction, then fights to take in more air and dives again, lungs stinging as if he’d inhaled glass.

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E

ight (8)

When the circus disbands, the sideshow freaks are stranded deep in French Louisiana. Avoiding towns, they make their way north through the hidden bayous along the Mississippi. The nights are starry and hot and as they set up camp, the Ice King and the Bearded Lady Midget can hear the big alligator bulls thrashing in the swamp mud, attracted perhaps by the Cuban Mermaid smoking a Lucky Strike at the edge of a buggy lagoon, her scales glittering in the low sun slanting through the hemlocks.

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N

ine (9)

At the river’s edge, we alarm a beehive of moonfaced women bathing in the claycolored water. Immediately, our guide cuts the engine and the small boat turns slowly in a half-circle and stops. Within minutes, the Mayos paddle out to meet us. They have machetes and blowguns. The largest, built like a wrestler, is tricked-out with a monkey teeth necklace. He grabs the gunwale and, as I reach over to placate him with a packet of yerba mate, I see my wife’s ring shining in his drooping earlobe.

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en (10)

He parks behind a BIA cruiser and hikes into the pasture where two sheriff’s deputies, full-blooded Chiricahua, are waiting. They nod as he approaches, then take him to see the mutilated cattle. A dozen animals, their sexual organs removed with surgical precision. He ties a red bandana across his face and takes photos as the deputies loiter outside the radius of the stench. Two big men, eyes wet from the cold, already a little nauseated by their proximity to the radioactive carcasses.

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E

leven (11)

She collects her estranged husband’s crazy letters—pages and pages crammed with illegible writing—and takes them outside to burn. It’s a cold day, well below freezing, and the wind blows hard little flakes of snow from the roof. She dumps the letters onto the snowy lawn and sets the batch on fire. Bits of paper, the edges glowing orange, float into the air and settle on the snow. Then, as the black ruckus of crow-cackle erupts from the bare trees, she goes back inside for his clothes.

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welve (12)

Between the wars, the twins on Gwyrdd Hill kept a strange creature, half-boy half-hog, tied up in the corn-crib at the edge of their property. Reclusive bachelors, the brothers denied its existence. But at night you could hear it moaning. A sound that might have come from a human child. So it was disturbing to learn later that the brothers had slaughtered it and sold the meat to a butcher in Ffestiniog, saving the sweet belly pork and the rubbery mass of the head, preserved in vinegar, for themselves.

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hirteen (13)

The beach where they wash up is black and coarse as sugar. Half-dead, the survivors collect the ship’s stores, broken on the sand, and drag them above the tide line where the kelp lies twisted in a rubbery rack. Days go by. The weather’s hot, bright; the waves thunder monotonously. After a week they recover a pungent-smelling Victrola on a grassy sandbar. The wood is blistered like a book left in the rain, but it works. Half the men, bearded and filthy, put on salt-stiffened dresses. And they dance. //after bob thurber//

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F

ourteen (14)

Two old men, fanatic bird fighters, are drinking from a bottle of homemade Mescal in the Plaza. It’s dusk now. The cockfight’s ended and a ribby dog is picking at a dead chicken, a brilliant leafy bantam, on the hard packed dirt. ¡Vete! one of the men shouts. A stone sends the dog skulking away sullenly. Then the old men go back to drinking, the cock’s pretty feathers scattered like a disintegrated fan under a date palm strung with Christmas lights.

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F

ifteen (15)

When I found him, he’d been scalped and the blood was running down his neck and into his ears and eyes. I dragged him out of the heat and wiped the blood away with the sulfurous water I’d collected at the spring where I’d camped the night before. Then I lit a fire as he watched. At first he was silent. But then he started raving about a light emanating from his body and about his pony. The animal lay dead ten feet away, its muzzle peeled back like a strip of rotten birch bark. The man kept saying he wanted to sell it.

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ixteen (16)

A searchlight flutters across the 50-foot tall woman’s lean belly, her skimpy camisole. The courthouse and the bank are on fire. Cars of the Eisenhower era strewn in the street like toys. Exhausted and frightened, the fire team crouches behind a wall, lets off a dozen rounds, then hauls ass to a chopper kicking up trash and dust. It’s like a wild wet dream. Heat waves blowing up from the asphalt. Bullets everywhere. The pilot, half-blinded by the holocaust of red hair raging in the rotor’s downwash.

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eventeen (17)

The missionary’s been sick for days. But after leaving Iquitos he’s gotten worse. Now he can’t keep anything down. Even water makes him vomit. During the hottest part of the day, he drags himself under the frayed canopy stretched across the afterdeck and wretches into the water. Agony. He curls himself into a fetal position. The boat seems to have stopped. In the stern, two stunted muscular mestizos lean over the rusty gunwale and watch swarms of small aggressive fish fight over his bile.

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E

ighteen (18)

Breathing from a tank, the Porn King rolls his gold-plated wheelchair out of the shadow of the bathhouse where his young wife is pumping iron. Last set, she calls over the Nine Inch Nails blasting on her iPod. He lifts her bag from the diving board, removes a syringe and a bottle of Deca-Durabolin, draws 50mg and lays it on his lap. Come and get it, he says. She flashes a smile, then lifts a pair of dumbbells to her shoulders, her dark skin shining with points of magic light under the deluge of the sun.

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N

ineteen (19)

He finishes the suicide note, switches off the kitchen light, makes his way to the bathroom and dry-swallows two Dexedrine tablets. Then he strips off his clothes, passes naked through the living room to get his shotgun, and returns to the low-ceilinged bedroom where his wife’s sprawled across the bed. He stares at her as if he’s being forced to remember her. Then he kisses her hair, still sticky to the touch, and sits beside her, the shotgun in his mouth.

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T

wenty (20)

There were air raids that mid-summer. The enemy had targeted the factories and the boy would lie on his back as the planes passed overhead. The vapor trails extended for miles, but the bombers were barely visible. They flew above the antiaircraft fire, hundreds of small explosions that opened up like red paper flowers unfolding in a water glass. The boy would cup his hands into a pair of make-believe binoculars and watch. The sky, steep and empty. The weight of it pressing down until he was breathless.

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wenty-one (21)

The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was pulling off the highway and stopping near a field of refineries, endless rows of huge numbered tanks. Hours later, when he came to, he was standing in front of a sink in the men’s room of an all-night service station. The water was running. Blood on the mirror. Gray-brained, he backed away unsteadily. The air reeked of urine and disinfectant. From a vandalized toilet stall he could hear the strangled noise of someone violently retching.

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wenty-two (22)

He drives past the house, Transylvania clouds blowing across the moon, and quick-counts 2 Harleys and a banged-around gold Cadillac. He goes another 20 yards, pulls over, gets out, shotgun against his leg, hammer cocked. A car passes in the street. Another. He walks to the house, stands on the porch, breath hanging in the air like misty cauliflower. The house is horrormovie quiet. Slowly, he puts a hand on the door, raises the shotgun to his waist. Braces himself for the imminent shitstorm.

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wenty-three (23)

There’s something in his eye, perhaps a cinder from the train on which he’s just arrived at the hot-springs inn. He wets his handkerchief in a wash-bowl and holds it up to his face. May I see? the geisha asks him. Her voice has a strange, powdery quality, as if it were an expression of her stark white makeup. Taking his chin in her hands, she brings her face close to his. He can smell alcohol on her breath. Don’t move, she tells him. Then gently, with the tip of her long, thin tongue, she licks his eye.

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wenty-four (24)

Deep in a forest at the end of the War, a boy discovers a dead soldier lying beneath a fern crawling with bees. Gripped in his hand is a creased photo of a woman, beautiful, but with a perfectly round indentation in her chin. The boy takes it. Years pass. A man now, he never marries. The war’s damaged him. But if he’s in a crowd, he’ll inevitably find himself looking for the face in the photo. Of course she must have changed by then. But the indentation on the woman’s chin, he reasons, should be unmistakable.

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wenty-five (25)

The two men are sweating heavily in their hazmat suits. Everywhere they look, bodies frozen in rigor mortis have locked themselves into fetal curls. Patiently, they stop to take photographs. Already their respirator hoods are fogged with the condensation of their breathing. At the end of the block, they scan the houses, then check their oxygen. Maybe an hour’s reserve. A hot breeze tugs at their oversize suits. The sun is white, blinding. No sound except the shell to ear static of their headphones.

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wenty-six (26)

At first, they were only rumors. Horror stories about the outbreaks in China and Vietnam. But soon the sickness—if that’s what it was—spread west along the ancient plague route. Hysteria, is how the media characterized it. And yet our children had begun to frighten us. The way they watched us. As if someone—or something—else was looking through their eyes. Of course we should have gone away. Left before we started hating them. But by then it was too late. We’d already begun to kill our children too. //after l.r. bonehill //

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wenty-seven A (27a)

The American barely survived the night. But at dawn, the river was on his left, shining like a vast mirror. At midday he crossed the Nepalese border. He’d heard the villagers hung bodies in the trees as a warning to outsiders, but saw none himself. The old man who’d told him this had shared a bowl of yak’s blood with him. The blood, still frothy, had steamed in the cold air. Later, he’d brought out a flute carved from his dead wife’s thighbone. His house smelled of yak shit. Stray dogs copulated in the yard.

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wenty-seven B (27b)

Following a worn ice track, he finally caught sight of a litter of mud-brick houses. A dozen peasant women were stamping uphill with stones on their backs. He approached, hands in the air. One of the women shouted at him—a warning perhaps—but the wind took the sound away. Then another woman threw a rock in his direction. It was hopeless, but he was very cold. Hands still raised, he struggled to catch his breath in the thin air. A second rock missed him by inches. A third struck a gnarled tree near his head.

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wenty-Eight (28)

Two chairs. One perfectly ordinary. But the other is, in reality, a woman—your lover—whose body can take the shape of anything she touches. Which is she? It’s a game the two of you play. The chairs are identical. But sitting in the second, the one striped with sunlight, you slowly discern the almost imperceptible rise and fall of your lover’s respiration; the human heat of the velvet that turns pale and dark again when you run your fingers across it, like the surface of a lake shifting color in the wind.

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A

bout the Author

Jacques Debrot received a PhD from Harvard University. He currently chairs the English Department at Lincoln Memorial University in the Cumberland Mountains. His stories, poems and artwork have appeared in over fifty magazines and anthologies.

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Pulp Fiction  

Pulp Fiction by Jacques Debrot is part of the third series of summer chapbooks presented by Deadly Chaps Press

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