THE PLAYER

THE PLAYER
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 This used to be a fun house/
But now it’s full of evil clowns . . .
— Pink

I drift into the shady joint, nothing else to do, and watch a few sharks perform their torque on green felt. Not my game though. I’m partial to pin balls, the older and more wooden, the better. Most are dormant, asleep, ignored by the young punks who opt for ivory or electronic games of mayhem and massacre. Yet two-quarters will catapult these relics into frenzy after all these years and sweaty palms. Little swatches of Las Vegas right here in Nowhere.

Lisa, stalked by identical twins who scream, hiss, and brandish garden clippers, swallows ten mg. of Ativan each day. Uncle George molested his niece Casey when on her fourth birthday he set her on his lap. The god Pan makes love to Rhonda, Rachel and Ashley, who turn to lithium, Wellbutrin, Prozac, and kill sex with chemicals. Vanessa smells dead babies in the earth. Kathleen watches blood trickle from her nostrils, eye sockets and ears. Kelly describes her night sweats and tremors as just punishments for a wicked life. Luci has befriended Christ and can talk of nothing else. Christ is an ice cube in her non-caloric sweetened tea. Suzy has lost twenty pounds. Her teeth spin like the blades of a propeller. Stephanie has been exorcized by a voodoo priest in New Orleans.

These reports, some whispered in the dark, some broadcast over PA systems at rallies, have little effect on our lives. We weep perhaps and stagger through each new day like drunks. We have problems of our own. We have inherited the women, our mothers, daughters and lovers, and yearn to seal them in capsules which not even a single microbe much less bands of despoilers can puncture.

Yet safety too is abusive and cruel. So we shrug and bear impotent witness as the ball rambles where it may.

We flip madly, curse, pound the worn sides of the machine, until, inevitably, it slips through, thuds into a hole. The lights and buzzers screech TILT. We drift away, nod to a rare next player who drops silver into the hungry slits. Outside, in the glare of this lean street, Eve leans against a light pole. She is scandalously clad and stricken with flesh. We want her and we don’t want her.

Louis Gallo

About Louis Gallo

Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination and Status Updates. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth, Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination and Status Updates. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

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