Outside. Night. Rain. An empty street. Latin jazz plays. Muted.
Distant. Pushing and pulling, like a river, like a samba, like a woman
on the loose, like a man on the run.
Inside. Brown bodies dancing. Music explodes like angry traffic. The
dancers are a sea of people. The women tease and the men anticipate.
Asses and breasts and muscles and beer and promises and maybes.
The musicians glisten with happiness. Johnny Saturday strains into a
trumpet. His suit is neglected, his hair is convenient, his age is that
no man's land between his first piece of ass and his second marriage.
Sweat. Tits. Stella. Everything she is is there. Her body her heart
her lies her needs. Her lips are a smoky invitation, her eyes are a
warning, her flesh is as white and cool as snow, there's no bra under
her tee shirt and her nipples are as dark as coffee stains.
The dance floor is packed, Carnival in Rio. It takes a few moments for
Johnny to realize Stella is by herself. Men offer themselves to her but
she just dances away. Then she smiles and she moves toward Johnny.
Johnny smiles back. "My dad always told me that the difference between
a flirt and a fuck is the size of the lump on your head. And Dad was
Stella laughs as she dances away. Johnny can smell the smoke, he can
feel the heat, he just doesn't want to believe there's going to be a
A different club, a different night, a different music, a different
people. Mostly young and white. Out of the crowd, like a ghost passing
through a wall, dances Stella looking for Johnny.
He points his horn at her and plays dirty sounds, then gestures he wants
to talk. She doesn't say yes or no, just disappears back into the
Johnny told Sam the Redman, "She's like one of those exotic cars that
goes two hundred miles an hour."
Sam said, "If that doesn't kill you, there's always a guy with a badge
waiting down the road who will."
A Mexican wedding. The families are poor, the booze is cheap, the
laughter is rich. Johnny and an accordion player are the only two
musicians. The bride and groom perform the Mexican Hat Dance. The
guests clap out the beat. Suddenly Stella is there too, looking at
Johnny with her body. This time he knows it isn't an accident and, well
that says it all, doesn't it?
Night. An aluminum Gypsy village made of several old trailers sits on
flat tires and blocks of wood and is sandwiched in between two concrete
walls. An old brown man sits under the stars and watches a kung fu
movie on a portable TV. Johnny and Stella share a bottle of vodka as
they stagger and stumble under the Jacob's ladder of wires supplying
"Sam the Redman says I've got the mark of the X on me. My bank account
is an X, the motor in my car is an X, my apartment is an X," Johnny's
voice and the Asian chatter from the TV are muted by a jet plane taking
Stella spins in a circle, looks up at the sky and yells. "What is this
place? Where the hell are we?"
"You're in a borrowed trailer, at the north end of Burbank."
The ruins. Johnny doesn't bother to turn on a light. The moon sneaks
in the trailer's one window and shows what they need to see. Books, a
microwave, dirty laundry, a bed. Stella raises her tee shirt over her
Johnny watches her breasts sway freely. "I'm sleeping on sheets stolen
from an X girlfriend. Sam the Redman says..."
"Sam the, Red, who is...?" She grabs the vodka bottle from him, takes a
long swallow then drips some on her breasts.
"Sam the Redman, he's my..." Johnny wrestles off his shirt. "He's my
With her free hand she begins struggling with his belt. "I had a
conscience, I figured out the difference between bad and good when I was
five years old." She pours the vodka down his throat, and then down her
own. "Even back then, I knew that bad was going to be more fun than
She plants her mouth on Johnny's and they fall backwards. The trailer's
small bed can barely contain them. Their limbs thrash, their voices
grunt, their breathing comes in gasps and hisses and whimpers and
growls. His hands are slow and sure. She likes it on top.
The same place. Morning. The empty vodka bottle lies on the floor.
Bursts of morning sunlight ricochet off the glass and splatter on her
naked body lying spread-eagle across the bed. She sleeps like a tiger
with fresh kill in its belly.
Excerpted from "BAD EGGS: two L.A. Novellas" by John Ireland. Copyright © 2017 by John Ireland. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.