In His Clutches

by Dee Nelson

He asked me what name I wanted to sign on the hotel registry; we wouldn’t be using our own. For fun, he said.

Lizzie Borden, I wrote.

I watched for a clenched jaw, a flared nostril, a twitch, an erection. But he signed his name “John Smith” and reached down for his duffel bag and nothing more.

When he commented on my feet during the elevator up to our room I thought maybe—in the neon glow of the Dirty Bird—I hadn’t recognized him after all. Maybe he wasn’t the one from the news, the last one seen with the pretty American girl before her body hit the ocean floor. But when he tugged his cap down as we passed the security camera and used his sleeve to turn the doorknob to our room, the downy hair on my arms bristled.

The room smelled of cigarettes and Pine-sol. Fitting that these would be the last odors to surround me,  given my mother’s chronic abuse of each.  He pulled something from his duffel bag, tucked it into his shirt, and locked himself in the bathroom.

I slipped the spaghetti straps off my shoulders and let my sundress drop to the carpet. Too pudgy for my bikini, I’d kept on my clothes when I’d combed my section of beach. My arms were bronze, but my torso lily white. I stood in the middle of the room and studied my pasty pooch belly in the mirror, wondering how it would look when he opened it with his knife.

Or maybe he strangled. Less messy. I tilted back my head and gazed at the reflection of my sunburned neck, soon to be purpled or snapped in two. A blow to the head, perhaps? The lamp on the nightstand would cave my skull like overripe melon.

Anything but a gun. Where’s the fun in that?

I heard the shower run, and I wondered what was taking him so long. I lay down naked on the bed and bit my lip until I tasted copper, and I hummed to myself, imagining how the eggshell walls would look awash in my blood.

I was ready.


Dee Nelson would be a plus size model if she was fatter and prettier and knew how to pose. She writes most of her stories in invisible ink.
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