Latest Flash

Stars in Her Hair

There are some who will tell you that we're all made of stardust...

But I'm guessing they're pretty much full of shit too...

Stars in Her Hair by Jesse Sublett




The artist kept seeing her face, that tricky thing she’d do with her eyes and her long, red hair, full of glitter and sparks. Every night she floated through his dreams, using the Milky Way for a headscarf. She belonged to the sky now, but she'd always had stars in her hair, even the first time he saw her.

She was an astronaut, a crew member on the space shuttle. One last mission. They had an argument the night before. He woke up late, she was gone. A note in the kitchen:

Hi. I don’t love you. I’m not coming back.

That was it. No “Let’s be friends” or “Fun while it lasted…” Nothing.

So that was the day the space shuttle blew up. Happened right after they made geocentric orbit. Fuel tank exploded, right about the time he was reading her note.

One thing really bothered him. In those last seconds before her body imploded in the vacuum of outer space, did she think about him, or one of the other guys she’d been fucking?

The artist thought about her at night. He’d look up to the sky and say, “Hey, how’s it going up there, baby? You got stars in your hair?”

*

Biff the bartender had a question. “Why’d she hate you so much?”

“I have no idea,” the artist said.

“It’s like a sickness with some people,” said Biff. “They hook up with you just so they have somebody they can treat like dirt.”

“It’s cruel and weird, but you can’t hate ’em, it’s just the way they are.” He shook his head, sadly. “She used to call me ‘an elegant loser.’”

“Elegant loser? What’s that even mean?”

“Hell if I know. I thought it meant she liked me.”

Biff didn’t say anything.

The artist threw a little black book on the counter. “Check it out.”

The book was open to the incriminating page:

ARTIST: fucked him twice, then moved in. Elegant loser.
REFRIGERATOR REPAIRMAN: fucked him on the kitchen counter. Hairy-chested romantic.
FOLK SINGER: blowjob in back of Alibi Lounge. French kisses like no tomorrow. Paper-thin troubadour.
SOLDIER: three hours in turnpike motel room looking at the top of his head. Beard stubble like a cheese grater on my crotch. The face invader.
TAXI DRIVER: saved money on fare from Liberty over to South Town. Horizontal tip in back seat. Alligator wrestler.

“How’d you find this thing?” asked the bar man.

“NASA packed everything up from her motel room,” the artist said. “There was a knock on my door, some asshole from Fed Ex. Blue eyes, good teeth, broad shouldered, boots that looked too small for a guy his size. Like a Spanish cowboy.”

A man walked into the bar. Tall, wearing a uniform. Badge and a gun. His eyes looked thirsty but he wasn’t there to drink.

As the cop took him away, the artist threw his head back and said, “Baby, you’ve got stars in your hair.”

***

In a small room at police headquarters the detective asked questions.

“How many did you kill?”

“Just four,” said the artist. “Bought a snub nose .38 for fifty bucks.”

“So you went and killed all the guys on the list who fucked your girlfriend?”

“Basically, yeah. Except for one. The cab driver, the alligator wrestler. I couldn’t do it.”

“Why’d you let that one go?”

“I started wondering, you know, what if there’s more? You can’t kill the whole world just ’cause they fucked your girlfriend.”

The detective yelled down the hall: “Can we get a transcriber down here?”

While waiting, he took another look at the list:

ARTIST/elegant loser…
REFRIGERATOR REPAIRMAN/hairy-chested romantic…
FOLK SINGER/paper-thin troubadour…
SOLDIER/face invader…
TAXI DRIVER/alligator wrestler…

“Hang on a second,” said the detective. “You’re the artist, and if you didn’t kill the cabbie, that’s only three victims. You said four.”

The artist shrugged. “The last guy isn’t in the book. I found a note she wrote about him in the trash.”

“Some random guy she fucked or what?”

The artist studied the floor. “I don’t feel like talking about it anymore.”

The sound of the detective’s open hand hitting his face rang like a snare drum.

Then the impact of a closed fist. Cough, gasp. A tooth ejected between torn lips. Blood painted a map of a red country on the artist’s white shirt.

A girl wearing an eye patch walked in the room. “Got it right here,” she said, reading from a pink notepad. “Remains of Fed Ex driver located. Identification verified despite rodents having eaten victim’s face.”

“So that’s number four,” said the detective.

“Excuse me.” The girl with the eye patch held up the note as if it were a penalty flag.
“Cause of death...loss of blood due to gunshot wound…in region of genitalia. 38 caliber.”

A low whistle from the cop.

“She used to fuck him on Friday nights,” said the artist. “I had a weekend job at the carnival. She said she was taking care of her sick mother.”

The detective bowed his head, wrote something in his notebook. “Uh, one more thing. What’d she say about this Fed Ex guy? Was it Overnight Delivery?”

“No.”

“Well?”

The cop looked like he was sorry he’d asked, but it was too late now.

“Oversize package,” said the artist. “Deliveries use rear entrance.”

“Affirmative, Lieutenant,” said the girl with the eye patch. “Having viewed body of the victim, I can describe said penis as abnormally large, estimated length approximately—”

“Luisa,” interrupted the detective, “how about getting Reyes down here to transcribe this young man’s statement?”

“Yes, sir.”

The detective sighed and stared at the floor. He wondered how he ever ended up with such big feet. Shoes like a pair of tug boats. Vaqueros and bull riders would’ve laughed at him.

“Kid, I’m sorry,” he said. “Let me get you some ice for that lip.”


Jesse Sublett is an author and musician in Austin, Texas. His most recent book, Grave Digger Blues, is available for Kindle. Jesse was a founding member of two pioneering punk bands in Austin, the Violators and the Skunks. He continues to play blues, intertwining music in his crime fiction and nonfiction. James Ellroy has described his memoir, Never the Same Again, as a "harrowing, wrenching, spellbinding work of great candor and soul." Much more info on Jesse can be found at his blog at www.jessesublett.com