Exeter

Jacqueline Hampton doesn’t believe in coincidence. When the former biochemist turned high-tech exec discovered she’d worked with not one, but two murderers during her career, she started writing stories laced with poison and humor to remind people that the “things that never happen” – just might.


Exeter

The bottle explodes at our feet, spraying Denise and me with beer too warm for the Boston winter night. Fucking punks almost hit my girls is all Sandy says and he’s gone, chasing their collective asses up Exeter Street.

Denise shrieks when the crowd parts like it’s Moses asking and Sandy stumbles into the halo of the street lamp. Blood to match his anglo fro paints a pattern on his cheek, like a manhole cover. Or a boot sole.

They kicked my ass, Sandy says and twitters like a girl because he’s drunk as us. But I got some licks in. I know that’s right. Sandy is built like a coke machine with a head on it and ready to go old school Chicago street on any punk dare run up on us girls, his girls in a way he doesn’t like.

I wobble into the theater on my stilettos to get help, hot shot of scared pee dribbling down my fishnet thighs. Drive us to Tufts I beg the manager. He says okay because I’m a midnight show regular and he hopes someday I’ll fuck him after I work my way through the other boys. But there’s no end of boys in those days, and that tryst will never happen.

We hit Tufts looking like hooker clowns in our Rocky Horror rigs. Our middle-class upbringings and Ivy League educations out us and we burn brighter than the other people in the ER after midnight. I flash my Harvard med school ID, but we still wait forever until a duffle bag-eyed resident sews Sandy up.

Sandy and Denise coo on the Red Line home like nothing could be sexier than getting the crap beat out of you. That much honest emotion makes me wonder what the hell I’m doing. I stare out the scratched up T window as the tarnished silver skyline runs on. I flash on last week when Sandy pulled me aside and said, I wish you’d quit sleeping with married men. You deserve better. He might be right, but for right now my love life is blowing somebody’s husband in the parking garage. That’s all.

After more years go by than our ages on Exeter Street, I look them up on Facebook. Denise lives in a big house on the water in Maine. Sandy is four years dead. Denise says Sandy kept it to himself when he knew he was terminal, to save her the pain.

And it’s like something exploded at my feet all over again. I think about the punks, probably still alive and well in Southie. Drinking warm beer, same hands as tossed the bottle straining to reach around fish bellies to scratch white guy balls.

Fucking punks almost hit my girls …

My life got better and rolled me from Boston to San Francisco. The loathing and self-destruction stopped. What Sandy said. I deserve better …

… is all he says. And then he’s gone.

 

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