4 min read

Sad + Nuts

Sometimes we forget which parts of our lives are real and which are made up.

Previously: We wrap up the flashback of Batya and her food truck and the wondrous wicked music box. She no longer owes the interest on her bad-idea loan but still owes, you know, way more money than she has (which is zero). Now we return to the present day, a crisp October afternoon in the year of our Lord [YEAR REDACTED].

— 31 —

The Hull sisters are perched at the end of Thrill Pier, feet dangling, finishing their crab sandwiches. Batya hurls the last bit of sourdough at a looming gull.

“Did you really cry yourself to sleep?” Mina says.

“No,” Bat says. “I just wanted you to feel bad for me. Did you feel bad for me?”

“I did.”

“I might’ve made up a couple other parts too.”

“The music box?”

“Music box was real. The song it played for me, Meanie, I can’t...it was so sweet. I wish I could…I can barely remember it now. It’s making me sad and nuts.”

“Twas ever thus. And you actually had your own taco truck?”


“Because, see, to me, that is the single most improbable part of your story.”

“What, I can’t do something different with my life?”

“Batya, you can’t cook. You’ve never cooked in your life. It certainly would’ve been a handy skill to have all these years.”

“Well, mulitas ain’t too tricky. I learned the basics from the gal at the chicharrón joint. Anyways most of my customers were plastered, as long as it had cheese and grease they were into it.”

“I can’t even picture you holding a…a what. A spatula? Did you use a spatula?”

“Yeah man I used a spatula. Sometimes I’d flip it around in my hand like my stiletto.”

“I find this all profoundly upsetting.”

“What about Kuniko? Upset about her?”

Mina starts to say something then seals it behind her lips. Then: “Yes. She was a cold piece of work. I’ll miss her.”

“Her dying words were to say she loved you.”

“Don’t ever joke about someone’s dying words,” Mina says, getting to her feet. “Let’s go. We have two more jobs on the docket this afternoon. And it sounds like you need all the cash you can get.”

“Yes ma’am.” Bat stands up, dusts dried bird shit from her slacks. “Found a greeting card in my motel room this morning.” 

Mina freezes. “The Hand?”


“Dammit, Bat.” There’s a quick flash of rage across her face and then it’s gone. “I suppose a warning’s better than a house call. I wonder which kneecapper he assigned to you.”

“Clerk said someone scary. I should hope so, otherwise my feelings might get hurt.”

“You better take this serious. You know Hillers. All the work we’ve done for him? Our loyalty? That all goes out the window if you don’t pay up. Really wish you’d gotten your moronic loan from someone who didn’t know us so well.”

“He was very supportive of my plan. Equipped the truck and everything.”

“Of course he did, you twit. He wanted you needy. You know how this works. You just broke a guy’s fingers for not paying up.”

“Nobody else helped me. Nobody else cared. I was all by myself.” 

“Yes, so was I.”

Bat has a bewitching vision of snapping her sister in two over her knee and flinging the halves into the drink. “No, Mina, you were with your new cronies at your new gig, forgetting all about me until you wanted something from me.”

Mina leans against the wooden railing, watches the waves curling green. “What I wanted from you was for you to save my fucking life. Hawthorne has not been friendly. There’s been a bad eye locked on me all week. Margaret wanted me gone. I couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking what it’d feel like to have my throat slit.”

“She wouldn’t do that.”

“No. She’d hire someone to do it.”

Bat’s face goes blank. She looks at a trawler heading into the harbor but doesn’t really see it. “I don’t like thinking about you by yourself at the bottom of the ocean.”

“So don’t think about it.”

“No one slits your throat but me. We’ve been over this.”

“I know,” Mina says. “I was fine.”

“No you weren’t.”

Mina puts her arm around her. “I’m better now that you’re around.”

Bat feels a tickle of weepiness but swallows it. She wants to tell her sister how she’ll never let anyone threaten her again, how she’ll jump in front of any stupid secret recorder dagger, how she’ll tear apart anyone or anything that comes at her.

But she doesn’t. Instead she says, “Good. Now tell me what you asked Cha-Cha’s dick.”


This has been Chapter 31 of Chokeville, a novel by Josh Fireland.

Next up: The Hot Pillow Joint