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Sex and Violence | The Nation

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Sex and Violence

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"Come on, Cynthia, that's absolute bullshit." Stepping from the bathroom, Desdemona Valdez pressed the wet washcloth against her bruised cheek. She looked over at the sleeping billionaire Mace Gilmore. "Huh," she huffed, "motherfucker's sleeping like he doesn't have a care in the goddamn world."

About the Author

Gary Phillips
Gary Phillips's short stories have appeared, most recently, in Los Angeles Noir (Akashic) and in Full House (G.P....

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In this last episode we mostly wrap things up, but leave a few strange matters for earthly or cosmic interpretation.

Breakfast turns violent, more is revealed, and while a decent president gets elected, there's no rest for Congresswoman Kang.

Kang said, "He does, Des, he's dying."

"Not soon enough, it would seem," the plainclothes detective noted sharply.

"You're so bloodthirsty," her lover teased.

Valdez puckered a kiss at Kang. "So now what? Do a pre-emptive strike and totally discredit this chump before his book drops?" she suggested gleefully, nodding her head toward Gilmore, sound asleep thanks to the opiate he'd imbibed. Initially the concoction had made him compliant, but it eventually overtook his taxed system and sent him to slumber, as the one referred to as a bruja knew it would. But not before he told the Congresswoman why he'd been focusing on her.

Kang was standing with her arms folded next to the couch where Gilmore snored lightly, frowning. She then reached into the back pocket of her jeans and brought out her Razr cell phone. She punched in a number and looked over at Valdez, who took a seat as the witchy woman returned to the converted bedroom.

"Chet, how're you feeling?" She asked her recuperating chief of staff. She listened and added, "Right on. Because I've got something that will help you get back at these bastards." She exited the room, rehashing her recent conversation with Gilmore about the tell-all memoir he was preparing to have published--after he expired.

"Yeah," she commiserated, "it's pretty friggin' weird, but what else is new about the ruling class?" The two chuckled dryly while Kimbrough expressed disgust and disbelief at hearing that Gilmore was seeing the witch. "I guess because he doesn't like the answers he's getting from his docs," he'd said.

"More like trying to lay the path for the next world, it seems," Kang said.

"Shit," Kimbrough retorted. "Like he's going to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Doesn't he know you can't take it with you?"

"Must be he figures the book will absolve him," Kang observed. "Look, I've got some names and dates he shook loose before he went beddy-bye."

"I'm more than ready, Cynthia."

"You sure? It's a hell of a thing you were put through."

"At the risk of sounding like a one-note Steven Segal character in yet another of his direct-to-DVD epics, being beat, hogtied and left to shrivel like a prune only makes me stronger."

"Okay, Friedrich," she only half-joked, already feeling guilty for relying on him so soon after his kidnapping, but also glad to have him back on the job and not dwelling on the incident too much. Kimbrough wasn't much for expressing emotion, but you didn't have to be Dr. Phil to grasp the trauma he'd gone through. She gave him the names and information Gilmore had given her, consulting her notes.

"And you don't think he was messing with you about this?" Kimbrough asked.

"Oh, it's all part of some head game on his part," Kang acknowledged. "Only at this stage of his disease, he seems to be into pitting the various forces one against the other."

"A regular Dr. Doom," Kimbrough cracked. "And I mean the Marvel Comics dude, not the economics professor Roubini the New York Times was lauding for foreseeing the home mortgage crises. Though I guess there's a lot of both in Gilmore"

She liked hearing Kimbrough getting his swagger back, as her former baller boyfriend used to say about dreading training camp then finding his groove for another season of cheers and anxiety. "What the point of having money if you're not going to build your own sandbox and say who can play in it?"

"To strain the metaphor, let's see what we can do about rocking that sandbox."

"No cowboying," she blurted.

"A little late for all that, isn't it Cynthia? We're in it to win it."

They let a silence descend, the import of his words sobering them. They then went through some other particulars and Kang severed the call. She'd stepped from the back room because she didn't want the witch to hear her. When she'd propositioned her to meet with Gilmore, the woman--both had been sitting--casually put back her head, started chanting and went into a trance..

Then like an old church sister getting the Holy Ghost, the bruja got out of her chair and danced around it, arms out, hands gesticulating. She then ceased this display and sat back down and calmly answered she would do as Kang requested. She offered no reasons why, though the Congresswoman had expected her to say that some spirit guide had directed her to do so. Nor did Kang ask her to elaborate.

Valdez joined her in the hallway, coming up behind her, putting her arms around her waist and kissing her on the side of the neck. "What's the black magic woman going to do with Gilmore?" the cop asked.

"She's not going to hold him prisoner, if that's what you're implying."

"Hmmm," Valdez said. "He could overdose."

Kang turned to face her. "Girl, please. I'm still an elected official."

"Like Dick Cheney or Condi haven't ordered a few hits?"

Kang smiled and they stared at each other amorously.

Valdez said, "I know this might upset your oh-so-correct sensibilities, my dearest, but there's something about kicking a goon's ass that gets me all hot and ready."

"Sex and violence."

"Primitive of me, huh?

"Very." As they kissed, back in Gardena, a small municipality in the South Bay of the greater Los Angeles area, Cynthia Kang's brother Cyrus was in his shop refinishing a surf board. Using a fine grade of sand paper, he had the radio on and he felt like this was as it was meant to be--just him and the board and the summer that never ended. He ran his hand over the curved surface, prideful that its finish was like a machine had accomplished the shape.

"You used to touch me like that, Cyrus."

He turned to look at Cenine Gilmore, looking fine in hip-huggers and a top exposing her taut midriff.

He removed the paper mask from his mouth. "Where's your psycho boyfriend?"

"Oh, him, he's dead," she said, matter-of-factly.

To Be Continued...

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