2015-2016, Short Story


Featured in the 2016 Spring Issue of Rambunctious

By Julianne Bazydlo, ’16

Grit stabs his scars as he sweeps the shards clear. Tucked into his front pocket and he’ll work another night.

Little dainty couldn’t finish her salad. Balsamic dressing on the side. Bits of cold ham stuck in a chewed cloud. Quiche Lorraine. He’ll call her Lorraine.


The bone shows signs of teeth. Big nasty apparently couldn’t live if he left a sliver of gristle behind. A bit of fat that Leo would prefer had made to the back of his throat. Emptied cups of butter. T-bone doesn’t need it.

Leo curses every relative and dead ancestor to Hell. The greasy ones make his fingers disappear.

Stained porcelain rains over the floor and slurries into the swamp Leo settles into every night when 6 pm hits. He could be in a men’s locker room in Florida in 1850 and his neck still wouldn’t be as slick. Breathing is sipping water through his nose. Abrasive water that feels like bits of sand and life on his palms.

He could use a moment of bliss.

He scrubs at cooked blood and sugar and emulsifies fat with every sweep of his mangled plastic friend. The screaming and clicking and clattering grate against him. Pressure builds. Leo checks the imaginary clock. The gaps in his body fill with noise and need. Turn Leo into a plate and have him wash himself. He’ll be in pieces on the floor in a second flat. Release. An explosion in the back but who cares, order’s up, hustle, I need a teacup.

And then they complain the tea tastes like dishwater. Leo would love to meet the plant that steeps out the flavor of Dawn and his sweat. He’ll cultivate acres and swim in cash when the artisans find him.

Take a moment to dream, and crash. Just when the countdown started. If they find he broke one again, they’ll add an hour. Another hour without the carton of love tucked into his shirt.

He picks up the pieces. Into the pocket just in time. “Leo, let’s go.”

Leo could cry when the spark hits paper. Under the awning, he fills his lungs with sickly joy and exhales. He tucks his favorite between the raisins at the end of his fingers and points his gaze at the midnight playing above his head. Shining lumps swish about a broth of murk and smog, bathed in a spray of moonlight. He blows a ring into the air. Leo’s garnish.

Enjoy your meal.