Katrina Monroe's The Rack
It’s hot as balls in here. First the roof, now the a/c? Makes a girl wonder if the Lords and Ladies upstairs decided they’d rather play than watch. A smart person would wave their contract like a Jolly Roger and declare war on the Man. I, however, sort of set up shop without anyone’s permission. No contract. No rules. No a/c.
Bunny has an eyedropper of water over my guest’s mouth, letting teeny droplets fall onto her cracked lips one by one. Her dark hair clings to her forehead, drenched in sweat. Bunny learns fast. But even I’m not that cruel.
“Give Kaz some actual water, please. Don’t want her dying before the first spin of the ol’ wheel.” My glance falls on Miss Kazimer. “I can call you Kaz, right?”
Her eyes tell me no, but I’ve never been one to listen.
Bunny pours into Kaz’s mouth from a dirty pitcher. The woman drinks greedily, water sloshing down her neck and drowning the table beneath her.
“Funny that, being a former private investigator, you still agreed to this interview,” I say.
Kaz swallows what’s left of the water and cranes her neck to look at me.
I continue. “Do you still find yourself digging into people’s lives, even though you’ve ‘moved on’ in careers?”
Her eyes glaze over for a long minute before answering. “Sorry, I missed your question. I had my head in your medicine cabinet. Nice assortment by the way.”
Medicine cabinet? I shoot a glance at Bunny who turns away, cheeks red. She’s been hiding the good stuff from me. Bitch.
I shrug. “That’s all right. I’ve got plenty more.”
As though on cue, Bunny wheels a cooler from behind the rack. While she prepares its contents, slip into a pair of protective gloves—teal, my favorite color—and give the wheel a test spin. Kaz’s arms lurch upward and clap against her head. She cries out in surprise.
I circle the table. “Some people might be upset to learn that you killed Cinderella. I, for one, am fucking relieved. Why did you go with Cinderella, though? Sleeping Beauty might have been an easier target.”
“Bitch wore glass on her feet,” Kaz says. “She was too dumb to live. However, you’re right about Sleeping Beauty. What kind of stupid do you have to be to take a nap in a forest? Hasn’t she ever heard of animals? It’s like falling asleep on the subway (vehicle not the sandwich. The sandwich is pillowy, the train, sort of rapey).”
Bunny opens the cooler and a waft of cold air drifts over me. You can only buy dry ice in large blocks, so Bunny spent the morning cutting through it. Nothing compares to the scream it makes when touched by metal. I test my gloves and then pull a block the size of a ring box from the cooler. Steam billows from the block.
I hold the dry ice close to Kaz’s face. She battles between craving the cool touch of the ice and what she knows it’ll do to her skin.
I roll my eyes. “Don’t struggle. It’s silly. Now tell me, what made you decide to trade low-grade espionage for coffee stains and up-all-night editing sessions?”
Mesmerized by the ice, she doesn’t respond. I lift the hem of her shirt, just slightly, and press the dry ice to her flesh. I can almost hear the sizzle.
“Owwww! That’s my liver! Formerly I wrote reports about real people and the shit-show their lives had turned into. Now I write about fictional ones, with fewer issues. Plus, I don’t have to pee in a bottle anymore. Not unless I want to.”
Not wanting to lose the moment, I continue. “What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?”
“This interview. It’s amazing what a little torture can do for one’s writing.”
I slide the dry ice down her skin, making a trail of third degree burns on her side. Kaz’s body trembles and she tries to shrink away. I nod to Bunny who spins the wheel, forcing Kaz to lie flat.
“Least favorite?” I ask.
“My fifth grade essay on Why My Mommy Likes My Sister Better. The teacher gave it an F. I was homeschooled. My sister got an A+.”
That explains the evil queen.
I move to her other side and hold the dry ice over her neck. It’s little more than the size of a half-dollar now, but it’ll still get the job done. “What do you think of the Once Upon A Time TV-show?”
Kaz’s eyes swivel between the ice and my face. “Honestly? I managed to watch 2 episodes until I was like, really? The scenery is gorgeous. The outfits fantastic. It’s quite beautiful. But the story…Where is the fun? The serial killer that Storybook (totally lame name) so richly needs?”
She has a point. To reward her, I replace the ice in the cooler and spin the wheel instead. Something in her arm cracks and her face turns an ugly shade of green.
Sweat pours between my shoulder blades and dots my upper lip. What I wouldn’t give for a downpour and a three-foot hole in the roof. “Is there a fairy-tale you’ve been dying to parody but haven’t yet because of that unshakable fear of failure we writers like to roll around in?”
Her breath comes in short bursts. I nudge her shoulder—it’s obviously dislocated—and she gasps. “Not really. I’ve pretty much parodied every fairytale and nursery rhyme I could find. But I wouldn’t mind taking a shot at more current icons. Ronald McDonald needs to be knocked down a peg or two. Happy meal, my ass.”
Noting the red swell of her nose, I crank the wheel, slowly, pulling the shoulder as far as it’ll go without her passing out. Her eyelids flutter and I slap her face. “What’s the biggest difference between your Deadly Ever After series and your F***cked Up Fairy Tales series, which take place in the same fictional universe?”
Kaz smacks dry lips. “Deadly Ever After is darker. The worldview is more noir. To me, the F***ed-Up Fairytales are more fun. The characters not so desperate. Whereas in the Deadly Ever After, while there is humor, the hero, Blue, is also quite messed up, wondering why he’s cursed with the ability to fry anything he touches. Or anyone. I mean, the poor guy has to wear rubber gloves and electrical tape to get laid.”
Bunny trots over carrying something in her hands.
Kaz’s eyes widen. “Hey, now. What are you doing with that tape?”
I shake my head. “Not today, Bunny.”
Crestfallen, my minion trudges back to her desk.
I can barely breathe for the heat and Bunny’s tiny frame is soaked. Time to wrap it up. “What are you working on now, and why should I care?”
Kaz opens her mouth to speak, but only raspy breath comes out. I dunk my hand into the water pitcher and splash her face.
Her eyes narrow. “And this is where the whip is in the other hand. My turn to torture you. Yep, here it comes…I’m working on a romance series about service dogs. And not like that, you freak. Not a fairytale in sight. But don’t fret, I am also finishing up the next book in the F***ed-Up Fairytale series, CUFFED: A Detective Goldie Locks’ Tale. As for why you should care? I kept notes on just where you keep your dirty little secrets. And your porn stash. That’s some twisted shit.”
Threaten me? In my library?
I crank the wheel and both arms crack, the sound almost as loud as the animal cry that spews from her mouth. Her knees dip inward and one of the burns on her side tears. Blood dribbles, mingling with the water on the table.
Kaz passes out, leaving the library in quiet.
Then, a hissing noise grabs my attention and a soft, cool breeze caresses my body.
J.A. Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO.
When Kazimer isn't looking for the perfect place to hide the bodies she spends her time surrounded by cats with attitude and a little pup named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants and reading missed connection ads in search of the one who got away.
Kazimer spent a few years spilling drinks on people as a bartender and then wasted another few years stalking people while working as a private investigator before transitioning to the moniker of WRITER. You can find her online at jakazimer.com.