I used to ride my bike past Franklin’s Bar every day on my way home from school. Sometimes we’d drive past it in mom’s car if we were going to the grocery store in the next town over, where no one would see Mom purchase large quantities of laxatives.
My best friend Stacy and I would sit on the stoop across from it in the summer, drinking slushies from the convenience store down the street and watching angry wives stomp inside and pull out their hammered husbands by cinched skin.
Franklin dated Dad’s cousin for awhile, so sometimes we’d have birthday parties in the bar’s back room and I would dream of the day I could walk in, sit at the bar, and have fat men buy me drinks.
No, not really. I hated that place. It was smoky and the men reeked of beef jerkey and a mysterious film coated the surface of every table. Franklin was a vile pig who would shove his hand down my mom’s shirt when Dad wasn’t looking and I rejoiced the day cousin Margie dumped him and we went back to celebrating birthdays and promotions and straight As down the street at the VFW.
Back then, if you would have told me that Franklin’s was where I’d meet the man I was going to rape, I’d have laughed at you.
Then kicked your ass.
But something made me go in there that night last week. Something made me pop open more buttons than usual and something made me wink at that traveling salesman sitting in a corner booth with a briefcase and lonely eyes. His breath was malodorous, like a fecal sausage wrapped in garlicky cabbage, and his effeminate hands were marred with paper cuts and hangnails. His once-white clothes now had the dirty yellow hue of coffee-stained enamel and a slight stench of a foreign fishing village wafted from his pits.
Something made me want to try out my new vagina.
In fourth grade, Stacy and I eavesdropped on her older brother and his friends, embroiled in a heated debate. One of the boys had his index finger extended; it was red and swollen under the pressure of a rubberband. Stacy’s brother pulled the slack taut and made to wrap it around once more.
“If you wrap it too tight, it’ll fall off!” his friend wailed, snatching back his hand.
I took the salesman back to his motel room, under the pretense of wanting to see the sea shell clocks he was peddling. He gave off the distinct impression that he was not well versed in the song of sex, averting his eyes any time my cleavage got too close, and emitting a sickly wheeze from his nostrils any time I’d touch him. I think, through his thick Slavic accent, that he was trying to say no, but I stuffed a broken sea shell into his flapping mouth.
I left him laying there naked on the bed when I had finished. Rummaging through my purse, I found the perfect way to cap off the evening.
I wrapped the rubberband tightly around his penis, laughing as he howled.
“They say if you wrap it too tight, it’ll fall off,” I whispered, pulling it back for one last snap. I didn’t stay to find out because I was about to be late for my soup-ladling gig at the shelter.
He never got to find out either, before I shot him in the head.