Issue 2: Confession Vs. Mask
A Publication of the USF MFA in Writing Program


Katherine Lieban

She poured the pink champagne and didn’t bother to examine the bubbles floating to the surface. In the past that had been her favorite part. The bubbles had reminded her of snow in those little plastic jiggy things you shook. Now she took a swig of the fizzy, slightly sweet drink and plopped down on the Chinese silk sofa. Pulling her skirt up, she looked at the green and blue bruises on her thighs. The shit she put up with. She pressed a thumb into the shiny surface of the skin. It hurt like hell.

Someone had let the ferret out of his cage. She saw him dart from behind the sofa into the hallway. Raslinokov would not be a happy man when he returned from the fire. The chandelier was missing another bulb. What was today anyway? Wednesday already? That was three light bulbs this week. The room was comfortingly dark. She could be beautiful in this light. Next to her was a large pink plastic bag. She dug inside and found sunglasses. She put them on and the room grew darker. She couldn’t see the bruises anymore. It was awfully warm for November. She detested perspiration. It was best to be naked.

When Raslinokov returned, the first thing he noticed was the ferret shit in the hallway. He set the heavy duffel bag down and fished in his pockets. He pulled out a handful of gummy herring and dropped a line of it from the entryway to the entrance of the toilet. Then he went inside and sat down on the cold porcelain bowl. It was times like this that he missed Tokyo. The heaven of those eternally warm Japanese toilet seats with the fancy computer grids. You could choose a variety of stimulating bidet effects and noises to disguise your bodily functions. He loved Japan, though it was an impossible place for him. He was just too big. But the women had loved him. He closed his eyes and that’s when he heard the quiet snuffling noise. Hector, his ferret, could not resist gummy herring. Raslinokov reached for a towel. Hector bit like a fanged vampire when thwarted.

Veronique awoke to find Raslinokov fighting with a white bath towel. His pants were down around his ankles, which impeded his dexterity. He held the bath towel in both hands and screamed for Veronique to open the wire ferret cage.

“I have him! I have the little bastard!”

Veronique rolled off the sofa and sauntered over to the cage. She watched Raslinokov struggle with the towel a minute, a smile playing on the edges of her mouth. This was her man, the bear. She flipped a lever and Raslinokov tossed the towel into the cage. The ferret sprang free of the cloth and stood, teeth bared, tail up, ready for more action.

“Why are you naked in sunglasses, cabbage of love?”

“And you, conqueror of ferrets, with a bare ass?”

A bulb popped and the chandelier went dark. A quiet snuffling noise was all that could be heard.

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