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Hellraisin Trilogy Preview


The box sits on the table next to a drink the fluorescent green of antifreeze. Probably absinthe. Gleaming, glinting gold, it is. The box, not the drink. I just said the drink was green. Pay attention. It is unbearably hot in the shop. Outside the window, the scene is busy with shoppers and businessmen on their way to somewhere that is not here. Probably someplace they could score hookers or drugs. Or both. It is unclear what country they are in since some of those outside the window look Chinese or Japanese, and some of the darker ones are wearing turbans. What? Oh. It’s Morocco.

“What’s your pleasure, Mr. Cotton?” says the Chinese shop owner at the table.

“Haha,” Frank says, squinting his eyes until they are tight slits. “Wass yowa presha missa cotton? Haha. I yike some-a pawk fly lice.”

“Excuse me, mister,” says the Chinese man. “This is not a food restaurant.”

“Haha,” Frank says. “Diss a no foo lestawant. Haha.”

“Are you going to make fun of my accent all day, Mr. Cotton? Or are we going to get down to business?”

“Jeez, take it easy. Gosh, you’re no fun.”

“Perhaps I could interest you in a raisin?”

Frank looks at the shriveled fruit the shopkeeper had set on the table, bewildered. Slowly, he looks up at the man. “Umm…no?”

“Very well,” says the shop guy, putting it back in his pocket.

“How about this here box? I mean, it’s here, on the table. Obviously, you want to sell it to me or something. What’s the deal?”

“Ahh, this is a very special Chinese box. Full of secrets. Take years to master how to open,” says the Chinaman, then whispers: “You put your weed in here.”

“Hmm. Interesting.” Frank plays dumb. He knows what the box does, and it is certainly more than a marijuana hidey-hole. He slams a wad of Ulysses S. Grants on the table, his fingers oddly dripping with sweat, nails caked with dirt. He could have at least taken a run under them with the crud remover on his nail clipper. A fleck of mud falls from his index finger onto Grant’s upper lip, forming an interesting mustache. Grant was a throwaway president that no one remembers, which is why his visage is plastered on a denomination that no one uses (the dreaded fifty-dollar bill, for you foreigners).

The Chinese man knows all about U.S.G., as well as dirty fingernails, and it is making him nauseous. He puts a sugar cube in his absinthe, which is now, for some reason, no longer green. Perhaps I am wrong about it being absinthe. Maybe it’s tea. His own fingernails aren’t so much dirty as they are purple and bruised. Not underneath them, but the nails themselves. Impossible to bruise a fingernail, you say? Not in Morocco.

Frank’s dirty fingers slam another stack of bills, this time Benjamin Franklins, down again on the stack of fifties and push it over toward the shop owner.

“Take it,” he tells Frank without bothering to count the money. “It’s yours. It always was.”

Frank grabs the box and stands to leave. “Then why did I just slam a bunch of Franklins and Tafts down on the table and push them over toward you?” he asks. “Can I have them back? If it was always mine, I shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

“Mmmm, no,” says the shop owner. “I keep the money.”

“Whatever, Jack.” He gets up to leave. “Have a sweaty day,” he tells the shopkeeper as he exits.


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