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Post-coital Tristesse — Word Count: 5,044

“I — I lost my job today,” Elizabeth said, her voice shaking. At any moment, she was sure she was going to burst into tears.

“You did what?” Jessica screeched. “Do you know what this is going to do to my bikini line? Not to mention my career?”

“You’ll just have to work harder, Jess,” Elizabeth said quietly. She looked up at her sister, whose face was contorted in rage. “You know, help out a little bit around here.”

“You want help? Here you go,” Jessica said dismissively, reaching into her purse and pulling out a fat roll of cash. She threw it toward her twin.

“What’s this?” Elizabeth asked, her eyes wide as she unfurled the roll and started counting the money. “Jessica, these are all one-dollar bills.”

“Well of course they are,” Jessica snapped. “How do you think str- I mean, models, get paid?”

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth admitted. “I just assumed they used direct deposit like everyone else.”

Jessica stood up, placing her hands on the table and looking directly into her sister’s eyes, her own blazing. “I’m going to be nice this time, Elizabeth,” she said through clenched teeth. Elizabeth swallowed hard, suddenly looking more fearful than sad. “I will give you exactly one week to get a new job. Do you understand me? One week.”

With that, Jessica picked up her bags, turned on her heel and swept out of the kitchen, pausing at the door. “You could always ask your BFF for help,” she said derisively, not even bothering to look over her shoulder.

Elizabeth nodded, even though she knew Jessica couldn’t see her. Maybe Jessica is right, she thought to herself. Bruce did become a pretty nice guy somewhere around 2003 or so.

* * *

Bruce Patman sat behind his desk at the Patman Canning Factory, the family business he had taken over from his father several years before. When he’d dreamed up his hostile takeover plan, he had thought it would be fun to be the chief executive officer of a company that packaged and sold green beans, but it was just one problem after another.

Like all that bullshit last week with the ground glass that somehow found its way into the canned peaches, Bruce thought with disgust, absentmindedly doodling giant breasts on the pad of paper in front of him. I can’t believe I actually had to hire Ned Wakefield to settle that class action lawsuit for me.

A knock sounded at his door. “Come in,” Bruce said glumly, barely looking up from the erect nipple he was sketching.

His cousin, Roger Barrett Patman, stuck his head around the door. “We might need you out here, Bruce,” he said anxiously. “I’m afraid there’s going to be mutiny on the assembly line!”

“Can’t you deal with it?” Bruce snapped, irritation evident in his voice. “I mean, assembly line work is in your genes.”

“You know that’s not completely true,” Roger admonished. “Assembly line work is just on my mom’s side of the family.”

Roger was the product of a scandalous affair between one of Patman Canning’s minimum-wage employees and a midlevel manager — who just happened to be Bruce’s uncle. Roger had only found out he was a part of the Patman lineage sometime during his junior year of high school. Orphaned and alone, Roger had been taken in by Bruce’s parents and raised as his cousinbro.

“Whatever,” Bruce said, sighing loudly. “Anyway, can’t you see how busy I am?”

Roger sighed heavily. “Vaginas or boobs this time?”

“Boobs,” Bruce mumbled. “Who knows, I might get creative and draw a chick with a dick.”

At the mention of the word creative, Roger’s eyes took on a faraway look. “Remember Olivia Davidson?” he said softly. “She was so creative. In fact, I bet she could have drawn a really realistic-looking chick with a dick. And put Ken Matthews’ head on it.”

“Olivia who?” Bruce asked, confused.

“Olivia Davidson,” Roger said patiently. “Total stoner, artistic, wore records in her hair, crushed and killed by a refrigerator…”

Bruce snorted. “Sounds like a total loser.”

“Olivia and I dated in high school, Bruce,” Roger said, shocked at his cousin’s lack of compassion.

“Oh yeah, now I remember,” Bruce said thoughtfully, shading the nipple with his ballpoint pen. “Definitely a total loser.”

Roger shook his head as if to wake himself from a bad dream. “You know what, never mind. Can you just go out there and talk to them or something? Everyone’s getting kind of crazy out there, saying they’re going to go on strike.”

Bruce looked up from his work. “Do you know why I was kind enough to hire you as my executive assistant, Roger? So you could take care of shit like this and I wouldn’t have to. Or just let Winston handle it when he gets in,” he said.

“I don’t think the power of Winston’s jokes is going to work on them this time,” Roger said, clearly worried. “They’re really angry out there.”

“Winston’s jokes have to work,” Bruce said. “I appointed him official canning clown!”

“Bruce,” Roger said softly, moving toward his cousin and placing a firm hand on his shoulder, “Winston doesn’t even get here until around 1 o’clock.”

“Well, then, I guess you’ll just have to do it,” Bruce said, shrugging off his cousin’s hand and giving him a cold smile.

* * *

Enid Rollins had a headache — the kind that accompanied a three-day meth bender. Still, she remained at her post beside the window, looking for any sign of Elizabeth Wakefield. Every now and then she’d catch a glimpse of a curtain across the way fluttering in the breeze. Todd Wilkins, she thought with disgust. Why am I always competing with him for Elizabeth’s attention?

True, Enid had moved on somewhat, drifting from man to man for unprotected sexual encounters, but she knew she would still go bi for Elizabeth Wakefield in a second.

A high-pitched scream from one of Enid’s children cut through her reverie like a sharpened knife. “Mom, Brandi’s bugging me!”

“Nevaeh, shut up!” Enid yelled back, choking on the smoke from her Misty Ultra Light.

Six-year-old Nevaeh ran into the room, drawn by the alarming sound of Enid’s coughs. “Mom, are you OK?” she asked, her eyes wide with concern. “Do you need me to call the ambulance again?”

Enid shook her head vigorously, getting rid of one last cough. “Now what did I tell you about calling 911?” she said sternly, her voice hoarse. “You only call 911-”

“When the piece of shit has had too much to drink and hits Mommy,” Nevaeh repeated dutifully. “I know, Mom.”

Enid sighed and ruffled Nevaeh’s dirty hair. “You’re a smart kid, you know that?” she said, sucking on her cigarette. “If you keep it up, maybe one day you’ll have a best friend just like Elizabeth Wakefield.”

“Who’s Elizabeth Wakefield?” Nevaeh asked, picking at a scab on her elbow.

“You know who Elizabeth Wakefield is,” Enid said, her voice sounding far away and dreamy. “The nice lady who lives in that condo Mommy is always staring at.”

“Oh!” Nevaeh said, recognition dawning on her freckled face. “The one where there are two ladies who look the same!”

“That’s right,” Enid said warmly. “You are smart! Those doctors were totally wrong; you don’t have fetal alcohol syndrome after all.”

“Mommy? Is Elizabeth the lady who always wears her hair in a ponytail? Or is she the one who dresses like the ladies Billy — I mean, Daddy — brings over when you’re not home?” Nevaeh asked.

Enid snorted. “You mean, you can’t tell the Wakefield twins apart? Everyone in Sweet Valley knows how to tell the Wakefield twins apart!”

Nevaeh looked like she was on the verge of tears. Enid pulled her oldest daughter onto her lap.

“It’s very simple,” she said softly to Nevaeh. “Elizabeth always wears a watch. And she’s not a complete bitch.”

There were other things, too, Enid remembered. But there would be plenty of time to teach Nevaeh as she got older: plenty of time to tell Nevaeh about the tiny mole on Elizabeth’s shoulder, plenty of time to tell her about Elizabeth’s love of writing and of Mr. Collins, plenty of time to tell her about the passion that had been brewing between the two of them for years.

Passion still unfulfilled, Enid thought sadly. But is it possible I could change all that?

* * *

Jessica set her bag in her locker and gave herself one last look in the mirror, fluffing her bangs.

“Perfect!” she said to herself, grinning widely. She turned to get a better view of her ass, clad in nothing but a purple g-string. Purple had been the official color of the Unicorn Club, an exclusive group of middle-school bitches Jessica had joined in the sixth grade.

The DJ’s voice boomed over the club’s speakers. “Next up on the main stage: Gemini. Gemini to the main stage.”

“Oh, fuck,” Jessica said, leaning forward and readjusting one of her false eyelashes. She had accidentally smeared her purple glitter eyeshadow, too, but she’d just have to make the most of it. Tottering on her clear heels, Jessica ran out of the dressing room and vaulted onto the stage.

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11 2010

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