portion of the artwork for Jeanann Verlee's fiction

Jeanann Verlee

for and after Eboni Hogan

As legend would have you believe, she has massacred no fewer than fourteen thousand men. Skinned each alive with her teeth. Feasted. Detangled their bones by hand, sucked the marrow, then burned what remained in an old camp stove she kept hidden under the sink.

There’s tell of six hundred shades of lipstick in her medicine cabinet. Her armoire, crammed with charm bracelets strung with the toes of past lovers, and in her closet: enough pairs of lace-up shit-kicker boots to shoe an army. They say she keeps cages of live fowl (peacocks, parakeets, wild turkeys) just to have fresh-plucked feathers for her hair.

Read somewhere that she tattoos herself—sewing needles dipped into the ass-ends of ballpoint pens—because, she says, it tickles. They say she sometimes douses herself in bourbon, sets her dresses aflame, walks the streets of Ft. Greene at night like a beacon for young girls with broken hearts. Tells them, burn reminds you that you’re living. Found seventy-five spent butane lighters in a tin under her bed, a pile of charred silk stashed behind a bookcase.

Recently rumored to have migrated to the Midwest, after the epidemic of New York City cab driver mutilations abruptly ceased. Seems each refusal for Brooklyn earned a severed ear. Or tongue. They say she once twisted a driver’s head clean from his shoulders, loaded his parts in the trunk, and drove herself home. Say she painted the cab mermaid-green, welded gold fins to the roof. They say you can hear his bones rattle from the back each time the car hits a pothole.

Read in the Times that she was spotted in Chicago five weeks back. Some open mic, listening to friends recite love poems. When a cell phone went off, she leapt the room in one pounce, removing the culprit’s eyeballs with the toothpick from her martini. She swallowed the orbs whole and calmly excused herself. Hasn’t returned.

Last report, she saved some girl in Queens. Some silly young thing, playing with straight razors, slumped over in a tub with her neck opened wide. How she broke in through the window, sutured the wound, bathed the girl by hand with hot sponges, handed her a cigarette. Say the two toasted over glasses of Scotch, started plotting the murder of a Los Angeles man. Some rumor of backtalk.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 41 | Summer 2013