Modern Fix

Black Shifties

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by Zack Wentz
art by K8

Q: So how long have you been a woman?
A: Slow down, cutie pie. You’re gonna have to buy me another drink before we get into that. I’m not cheap. Do I look cheap?

Q: No. No, not at all. I’m sorry. What’ll you have?
A: Another Scotch. Tell Junior the good stuff. No skimping. You hear me, Junior?

Q: Alright . . . Alright. No problem. A Scotch for the lady here, please. Your best stuff. Ice?
A: No thanks. They make it out of tap water here and frankly, honey, it fucks with my insides.

Q: Understood. Understood. No rocks. Just straight for the lady, please. Is that all?
A: Yeah. Thanks. You’re a sweet kid. Look kinda like the President. Really cute. I used to look a lot like you.

Q: Okay. Thanks. Well, what you were telling me . . . Shall we get back to it?
A: Sure, sweetie. Oh, thanks, Junior. You’re a doll. Just how I like it too. Mmmmmm. Just what the doctor ordered.

Q: Alright. So how long have you been a woman?
A: Damn, honey, that’s a tough one right off the bat. They messed my brain up with so many drugs, isolation chambers, disorientation treatments and God knows what else I could’ve been in transition for . . . over a year, maybe.

Q: Transition?
A: Yeah. All I know is about five years ago I had a bunch of these dreams and all of a sudden I realized I was living in this shithole studio giving blowjobs to chumps and I didn’t even know how I got there. I had never been a little girl or anything. I had some scars I couldn’t account for and a whole mess of weird information bits floating around in my head not every hooker would know . . . But they did a pretty good job on me. Don’t you think they did a good job?

Q: Yes. They did a fine job. You look great. Now what kind of dreams? How do you know you were never a little girl?
A: Oh, you’re a sweetie for saying so. These fakies never sag, but believe me the rest is going, honey. Going. Okay. Well, in the dreams I was sitting on this pool table, only I was small and all these billiard balls were kinda bouncing toward me in slow motion and around the table were all these men in suits with pool cues and I realized one of them was me. Or he looked a lot like me. Like you, kinda. Sorta reddish hair and handsome like. Like the President. Then I’d look at myself in these dreams and I was naked and I looked like the man. I looked like myself. But sometimes I had stuff sticking out of me in these dreams. Like hypodermic needles hanging there or sometimes bottles of pills that’d be halfway embedded in my skin. And then I’d wake up. I had these every time I fell asleep even the slightest bit for over two months. I called them black shifties.

Q: Interesting . . . And about never being a little girl?
A: Well, I never thought too much or too deep back then. It seemed like I had always been in that little room, just doing the same thing over and over. Sucking dick and giving handjobs and the whole works for as far back as I could remember, but I couldn’t really remember that far back was the thing. Anyways, a lotta Johns like to talk about their kids and shit, right? Mostly their daughters if they’ve got ’em. Kinda sick, but I get paid to listen as much as I get paid to do anything else, as far as I’m concerned. So they’d be going on and on about their wife and kids and their secretary they’re fucking or whatever and I’d listen and nod and say, uh-huh and be thinking, whatever, guy. But sometimes they’d get into these real elaborate descriptions of their daughters, right? What their hair is like and how they’re starting to get tits or their period and bitching about the boys they’re running around with or how they’re starting to want too much crap and money and on and on and on. Well, there was a lot of, I don’t know . . . sameness to these kinds of stories and I started to wonder, when did I get tits? What was my daddy like? Did he get pissed when I wanted too much crap or ran around or whatever? And there was nothing there. Nothing. It just didn’t happen. It never happened, see? And this clicked right up with those weird dreams I was having and then I started to remember bits and pieces of what really happened and who I was before.

Q: So what really happened?
A: Well, it had to do with the men around the pool table. I was one of them, but then I wasn’t. Some of them were doctors and some of them were politicians and some of them were just scary motherfuckers who were something else. Real badasses who operated on some other level, see? I was one of them. I started to remember being in fucked-up parts of the world, out in the middle of nowhere, torching villages and raping women and slitting their throats and some real sick shit, right? Then for a while all I did was drive around and stay in rooms and wait for things to happen. I’d ice some guy at a rest area, check him off a list, send a piece of his hair in an envelope back to some address and drive away. Sometimes a few of us would all show up at a certain person’s house in the middle of the night and take them. Take them to somebody else who’d take them away to some camp way out in the sticks somewhere . . .

Q: Wow. Then what happened?
A: Well, one day something went wrong. They sent me out on a trick and when I was closing in somebody knocked me out from behind and it was over. The next part is spotty. I’d be in some room, naked by myself for days. I’d come to on a table with doctors and other guys around me, just staring. I’d be screaming and beating on the bars of some kind of cage hanging in a big dark cavern-like place where you couldn’t see anything any which way and all you could hear was an echo. Didn’t even know what my name was. I still don’t know what my name was.

Q: What is your name, if you don’t mind my asking?
A: Hillary, sweetheart. That’s what it said on a picture in my purse. Only thing I ould find that said anything. It was a picture of this young guy, funny how much he looks like you, and I thought, maybe this is a picture of me. I don’t know, but on the back it said, “For Hillary . . .” and that’s all I’ve got. You can call me Hilly though. Everybody does.

Q: Okay, Hilly. Have you tried to figure out who these people were? Who you worked for? Who did this to you?
A: Well, I figure they probably aren’t the kinda guys I’d wanna mess around with and I guess I’m lucky they let me live, you know? Must not have been my fault, whatever went wrong. After I started to get kinda weird and hairy and figuring all this shit out I went down and saw Skip, the manager of the dump, got him drunk and all turned on so he’d fess up about who checked me into the place. He said it was this pair of real clean, professional-looking guys who carried me in and I was barely conscious. They told Skip I was their sister and I was strung out on dope and the family couldn’t take it any more and they were willing to pay him a year’s rent in advance with a little extra to make sure I was okay. So he took it, of course. Skip’s a sweet guy. But he said after he took the money they told him if he fucked up on the deal or breathed a word of it to anybody they’d come back and cut his eyeballs out of his head. Scared Skip really bad, they did. Poor guy.

Q: Gee. Then what happened?
A: Oh, I sucked him off and we never talked about it again.

Q: Nice. Where are you living now?
A: Well, there was a sweet old lady across the hall who kinda became like my mom and when I wanted to get out of there I just had to take her with me. Mrs. Mall. We’ve got this little place together up on . . . 35th. Pretty close to here. I love my mommy. She’s the only real nice thing that’s ever happened to me.

Q: Wow, Hilly. That’s great. So what are you doing these days?
A: I collect Asian porn and food stamps, honey. Sometimes I feel like I got a hard-on where I don’t got nothin’ anymore.

Q: Interesting . . . What are you going to do next?
A: Oh, I dunno . . . Someday I wanna start a design business. I have these long dreams about fire and it’s like . . . it’s like the truth and I want to do designs around that. Does that make sense? I’m trusting my insides, however fucked up they might be. It feels like a calling, baby.

Q: That’s great. Sounds really good . . . So is that all?
A: Uh-huh . . . Listen, sweetie. You’re a cute kid. Did I already tell you you look like the President? Do you wanna buy me another drink or just go out back and let me suck you off? I’m getting real tired of talking . . .