3 min read

Oh Yeah Mulitas!

Just trying to serve up some grub when the dark specter of the past shows up.

Previously: The sisters have a nice crab lunch on a pier. Batya feels bad about how much she enjoyed breaking that shipbuilders hand, then admits she recently tried a new line of work that was relatively violence-free. Smells like a setup for a flashback to me!


— 26 —

This happened about a month ago:

Batya is frying up meat in a dilapidated food truck, parked in the almost hilariously menacing neighborhood called the Holler. Smoke rises from the vents into the night sky. A song by The Lash plays on a transistor radio. The bar across the street just closed—imploded is maybe a more accurate word—and the drunks made a beeline for her truck, as Bat had hoped.

She sticks her head out of the service window, paper plate of food in one hand, grease-slick cleaver in the other. She’s wearing latex gloves and a thoroughly stained t-shirt that reads Oh Yeah Mulitas! above a wee prancing mule.

“Number five!” she says, and one of the sots reaches up for the plate. She’s about to disappear back into the smoke when she spies a woman emerging from the darkness.

Bat purses her lips, runs her thumb along the edge of the cleaver. “Next,” she murmurs.

The woman steps up to the window, studies the menu scrawled in Bat’s shitty handwriting. She’s sleek, scarred. Hand resting against the buttons of her tailored blazer.

“Kuniko,” Bat says.

“Beef cheek any good?” Kuniko asks.

Bat gives her a level gaze. Then: “Yeah beef cheek’s good, everything’s good.”

“You have a second to talk?”

“Kinda in the middle of something.”

“Batya, please, one second.”

“One Mississippi.”

Kuniko gives her a strained smile. “OK, how about one minute.” She shows Bat her hand. It’s covered in blood. “That’s all I have left, anyway.”

⚓︎

Bat drags Kuniko into her truck, gingerly lowers her to the floor, presses kitchen towels tight against the bullet wound in her gut.

“Quick favor,” Kuniko whispers.

“Name it, stupid,” Bat says.

“Delivery. Tonight. Now.”

“Always tonight now.”

“If I had more time, I would’ve gone to one of the good goons. Unfortunately, you were the closest.”

Bat looks at her tenderly. “Rude as hell, right to the end.”

Kuniko reaches into her coat pocket, winces, pulls out a small black item.

Bat snaps off her latex gloves and takes it. An engagement ring box, newly stained with a bloody fingerprint. “This is all so sudden,” she says. She starts to open it but Kuniko stops her.

“Don’t. You’ll wish you hadn’t. Just take it to Sunshower.”

Bat’s curious expression turns sour. “No.”

“Fraid so, junior.”

“Me and her, we’re quits.”

“Grow up. No one’s quits.”

Bat sighs, pockets the box. “I’m guessing there’ll be other interested parties en route?”

“Always are.” Her laugh is ragged. “Who you think plugged me?”

Bat gently holds Kuniko’s face in her hands. “Oh honey. What’s it feel like to be dead?”

Kuniko slumps against Bat’s shoulder. “Not as beautiful as I’d imagined.”

⚓︎

This has been Chapter 26 of Chokeville, a novel by Josh Fireland.

Next up: The Hot Crimson Haze


Fun Fact: If you’ve been reading this publication since its early, pre-novel days, you might recognize this chapter. It was originally the beginning of an unrelated screenplay I never finished, then I uh upcycled it for Newsletter Content, then I fleshed/flushed it out into a whole story, which I then realized could work as some much-needed Bat context, so here we are. Point being you might find the next few chapters hauntingly familiar, though of course endlessly rewritten coz Chokeville’s gonna Chokeville. I’m sorry / You’re welcome!

xo josh