The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Red Pennies

Len Kuntz

The girl is Evening, or Dusk, or maybe she’s Night just after the clouds have all huddled on each other’s back for a sleepover.

Sometimes it’s hard to know.

If you’d prefer, you can call the girl Black or White, but please don’t call her Blue. She’s supposed to be a happy thing.

Blue is, of course, blue, though once in a while it turns cruel, a different hue: blueberry, bruised-blue.
But that’s not her.

Oh sure, a knuckle can be hairy or it can be a knife when parlayed. You should see it slice!

And a knot is a cord is a swelling is a golf ball egg-sized thing on the noggin for, “Talking back.”

“Never again,” is {…}

“Never again” is a stripe of light, like an illuminated siren, beneath the morning bedroom door when she’s spent a night on the couch.

“Nothing,” is nothing.

Nothing is natural about this.

“Nothing” is fair.

“Nothing” is unfair.

Tonight she is a siren dressed in a negligee and heels, bejeweled with bangles, baubles, and bracelets, wearing perfume clouds. She clinks and clatters like a rusted cowbell.

Something shatters when he tells her, “I said, ‘Red!’”

Crimes against humanity are usually acts of insanity. She read a version of that in a stall at the Chevron station when she was bolder and considering fleeing.

“Aw, come here. I won’t hurt you. Massage my back.”

Some people live their whole lives with a crooked spine, giving them back pain and reasons for retribution, they believe.

“Lower. Harder.”

Her Daddy was a bitter man, but not this.

“Damn it!”

Blood is a bold color. Especially when fresh, still warm, running down the bridge of the nose like a loose bolt of lightning.

Sometimes it runs right off, spackling the floor in bright bombs, a dozen or so red pennies, a Pollack painting, a plea, a marker, evidence of the butcher that this man–her husband–is.

About the author

Len Kuntz lives in Washington State. His work has appeared in lit journals such as Juked, Word Riot, Ghoti, elimae, and Mud Luscious.