© 2023 by Ben Stower

The Test of Who We Might've Been

She crashed into that corner store,

the boots, the dress and 16 bullets through her chest.

For him she’d been anonymous

The damsel of whatever fantasy he could afford

Until the dreams became a drudgery

But she’d never promised more.

 

Fuck me, hit me, treat me like a whore

but for god sakes put that ring away

Pick your knee up from the floor

The tan line from the last one’s still fading

and I’ve got my clientele list

Thirteen gents, I can’t keep waiting.

 

The clerk behind the counter called for someone

who might better

be equipped to find a body through his window.

Three digits had him well-connected

with a voice resemblant of his mother’s

that insisted he play statue,

til the right devices could arrive.

 

Take your balls out of the vice

The chastity of marriage is far more overrated

than a thousand-dollar flat rate for two holes.

And why would I say yes?

I’ve been the Sherpa to your Bent Tourist

And I have no desire

for a husband who comes before his wife.

 

A touch of morbid curiosity makes it harder to obey

the general guidelines of humanity

when no one is around.

He stayed behind that counter

for a time most would respect

Reading the brands of cigarettes and

eating candy from the jars.

But the best of us will wonder

in the spectacle of death,

if it’s really all that evil

to listen more to curiosity than any common sense.

 

Pay me triple if you want

I’ll be your wife for tonight.

To cook and clean and rub your tum

and maybe stroke your cock

when you’ve sweetened me with jewellery,

tossed out those filthy DVDs.

She smirked in mock reproach

Held out her empty glass.

 

There’s an outline of her lipstick

Still apparent on the rim

And that stain holds fast like plaster

Like the voice inside his head

As he turns to find the wine

Pulls out his old man’s pistol instead.

Her voice never abated

He popped eight straight in her chest

Reloading, she repeated, all her reasons for rejection

Eight more should do the trick

And in fact, it did.

 

She’s soaking in the rug now

Cannon fodder for the psychedelics

A kaleidoscope of his regret.

When the numbness starts dissipating

There’s just panic in the end

And this really ain’t the medicine

For a man with all the evidence

And little room for bright ideas.

 

Six storeys from the bitumen

she falls like any human would

in a tumbling disarray of limbs

her hair painting what blood was left

down the neighbours’ windows

who might’ve heard the gunshots anyway

for all he fucking knows.

 

A feeling overcomes the clerk

This need to see her face

And he creeps out from the counter

Stands with hands behind his back

In her eyes he finds a woman

He’d served two weeks ago

And feels a tweak of guilt when remembering his joke

As he scanned her test for pregnancy

Told her he hoped it wasn’t his

But still, he reasons in the end,

She smiled, didn’t she?