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She Whispers, Nudges, Mumbles Something
by Kevin Sampsell

She felt like she was getting sick when the bass kicked in. It was the low, crunchy, beneath-your-feet kind of buzz. She moved away from the blast of the speaker. A tall, broad-shouldered man in an orange hunting jacket was her shield. She held on to him for security. He squirmed as if surprised but he shouldn't have been surprised. He knew she was looking at him. That she was easy and bored and changed her hairstyle all the time because of this boredom.
    This was a dirty band they listened to. They had a song called Republican Bathhouse. They had two bass players, two keyboard players, clothes that were terrible in all the right ways. They crossed lines and expected people to follow.
    The man in the hunting jacket turned around and said something to her but there was no hope in hearing the words. She held him tight for an amount of time that didn't seem too long or desperate or bold. Her grip loosened and by the end of the show she had a single finger hooked into the belt loop on the back of his jeans. She pulled on the jeans playfully and looked at his ugly underwear. She had the urge to let a drop of spit out, to watch it roll down his spine, into the gutter of his ass. Instead she blew on his peach fuzz there. She imagined a field of dead grass blowing in the wind.
    They walked out to his car with their ears buzzing. Everything sounded like it was muffled by a pillow—their footsteps, people talking, cars backing up on the gravel. She let go of his belt loop and walked to the passenger side of his car. She looked over the top of his car and saw her standing there. He looked shocked as if noticing her for the first time. He accidentally smiled at her before getting in. He paused after putting his seat belt on and then leaned over and unlocked the passenger door.
    She got in and didn't put her seat belt on. He started the car and the stereo was playing a CD by the band they just saw. It seemed like too much. She told herself that she wouldn't want to listen to this band again for a while. She felt like she just endured something.
    He turned down the radio and looked embarrassed. He said something that she didn't quite catch but it sounded like, "I live with my mom."
    "That's okay," she said. She rolled her window down halfway. Electric windows.
    "I like your hair that way," he said.
    She looked at him sharply when he said this. She mumbled something to herself so he couldn't hear her. She knew that the ringing of his ears was probably to her advantage. So she kept mumbling and whispering and smiling at him. She liked that simply playing with the volume of her voice made her words like a foreign language that he struggled to understand, grasping only fragments. He was too polite to ask her to repeat herself. She whispered, "I live with my mom too" and looked sad. She smiled again quickly, poked his side with her elbow, and said a bit louder, "But she's deaf, so she won't hear us."
    He laughed and said, "I know. I'm totally deaf right now!" He put his hand on her knee and said, as if making a rule, "Let's not talk any more tonight."
    She pointed him to her home. The buzzing between the two of them turned to silence and the cool, quiet sensation of everything else began to overtake them.

About the author:
Kevin Sampsell is the author of Beautiful Blemish (Word Riot Press), the editor of The Insomniac Reader (Manic D Press), and the publisher of Future Tense Books in Portland, Oregon. His new book of short fiction, Creamy Bullets, is due out this spring from Chiasmus Press.

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