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Ruffle Bar

Guy goes to a five-dollar hooker and gets crabs.

When he complains, she replies, "For five dollars, what did you expect? Lobster?"

Ruffle Bar by Angel Luis Colón

We were poaching horseshoe crab at Ruffle Bar when Jamie asked, “You ever fuck around with a hooker worth the trouble? Kind of woman makes it completely rational to lose everything over?”

We barely spoke about sex or life. Wasn’t much time to talk about philosophy or belief when you were looking over your shoulder for police spotlights and avoiding the spiky parts of horseshoe crabs. Apparently these little motherfuckers had valuable blood and there were a million hoops the pharma companies needed jumping through to bleed them legally. It was easier to pay a few assholes to troll the beaches and sandbars.

It was stinky, messy, paranoid business. Fortunately, the money was solid for a side gig.

I changed the subject. “You think you can eat these fucking things? Been taking them two weeks now and I’ve yet to think of a single reason to try thanks to the smell.” I picked a crab up by the tail. Ugly fuckers.

Jamie’s eyebrows perked up. “Nah, I think you’d shit your pants for days. Hell, I don’t think a damn thing in this water should be edible.” He motioned out to the water.  “People buy it, though. We’re all too stupid or don’t care enough.” He pointed at me with a broken crab tail. “You know most tuna out there isn’t even tuna? Something called snakefish. Got oils in it that we can’t stomach and can make you leak out the ass.”

“Like those chips from back in the day?” I asked.

“Yeah, what was that stuff called? Olektra?”

“Nah, Olestra. Made people leak out their assholes. Had a friend who had the same problem from too much creatine or something.”

We heard the sound of a boat motor. Jamie and I ducked down and scurried towards the dilapidated remains of a brick wall closest to us. We kept low. I held my breath and said a prayer to whatever God would have mercy on my crab-poaching ass.

“But seriously, you ever fuck a hooker you thought was worth the money?” Jamie had a setup he liked and wasn’t letting go.

I sighed, ignoring the dead fish stench of the filthy sand only an inch away from my face. “Never fucked a whore, man.”

“Really?” The tone was making the punchline obvious.

“Yep. No whores. I’m too pretty. Only crabs I ever had experience with are the ones in our boat.” I slowly pushed myself up with my arms. I kept my legs dead. No police boats. Must have been someone making their way back to dock. I stood up and brushed the sand from my pants. “I feel like you’ve got something to say, man.”

“What makes you say that?” Jamie stood up. There was fury in those eyes—the kind of anger a desperate man with a broken heart likes to carry. “What makes you think I got something to say to you?”

I moved back to the pile of crabs I laid out earlier and started to transfer them onto our boat. “For one, fuck,” I said as I pricked my finger. I dropped the crab that pricked me and its shell shattered. “For one, this is the most we’ve ever spoken. And, as luck would have it, I found out I’ve been fucking your woman just yesterday when you showed me her picture. I’m figuring you found out about me in a similar way.”

Fuck yeah, I jumped ahead. Best way to take the wind out the sails of folks think they got something over your head—you pull the fucking rope attached to the guillotine blade yourself. I kicked myself for sending Viv nudes the other night. Of course she didn’t delete the goddamn things. Couldn’t figure what irked me more, finding out I was working with my side lay’s hubby or that he probably knew which way my dick curved.

Taking control of the big moment seemed to make him smaller. It wasn’t that I wanted the poor bastard to suffer; I just didn’t give a flying fuck about him. We were there to make cash, nothing more. We happened to be on the same team. I wanted to explain that to him; to say that the drive thru cashier doesn’t sit back worrying about the motherfucker mopping the bathroom, but my words had consequences.

Motherfucker pulled a knife. Motherfucker came at me with tears in his eyes and a dwarf star made of hate eating his heart inside out. Motherfucker tripped and missed me by a country mile. Went head over heels and landed in the boat on our pile of horseshoe crab.

The response time after the fall was bizarrely quick. Jamie popped up like a kid’s theater puppet—same slack jaw—and yelped at me. The poor fuck fell in the pile in a bad way. Three crabs’ tails pierced him and those fuckers stayed put. Two in the chest and one nestled firmly under his left eye.

“Am, am I okay?” Jamie asked.

I didn’t have an answer.

He stood there trembling and asked again, “Am I okay?”

I noticed the knife then, behind the crab in his face and lodged in his ear. He still didn’t make a move and his eyes looked vacant—like he didn’t even see me anymore.

“Okay?” This time his tongue stumbled over his teeth and he lurched forward, taking a tumble back off the boat. He landed face first on the sand and lay still.

“Well, shit,” I said, stymied to find the sense of urgency I was supposed to have.

Still, the body needed burying, didn’t it? 


I called Viv a few hours after I’d finished the work. Cut off whatever it was we had amicably while I counted the night’s take. She mentioned she was going to her mom’s house either way. That whatever her plans were didn’t really amount to anything at all and she realized it only after Jamie decided she was something he owned more than valued.

Took the long way home and saw a quick report on the news regarding an unidentified man found dead in Jamaica Bay. Felt bad, drank, showered, and tried to sleep.

Shower didn’t really help. The damn smell clung to me. Couldn’t get a wink of sleep.

Angel Luis Colón is the Anthony and Derringer Award-nominated author of NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, the collection MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES), and the upcoming PULL & PRAY (July 2018). His fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. 

Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife