The Fortune-Telling Doll

by Sakana Sara (魚 サラ)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/62238.html)

illustrated by Sakana Sara

Note to self, I thought sourly, never ever ever go to the surf shop next to the B&N if time is an issue and Ray is with you, not even to buy a single bar of wax.

As usual, we were going to miss the half hour of the day when there were actual waves to surf because Ray had gone and gotten distracted by something shiny. I found him in the Barnes & Noble next door, sucking down a Frappuccino the size of an oil drum and getting wet thumbprints all over a book.

The Hook Man and the Hungry Ghost: Eastern and Western Ghost Stories, read the title on the book in question. Ken Takamine, read the author’s name below that. “Check this out,” Ray burbled, pointing me to a random paragraph and illustration. “The, uh… fut a coochie onna. See, look, they probably called her that ’cause something put a coochie onna back of her head.”

I peered over Ray’s shoulder and squinted at the picture. Futakuchi-onna, the caption said. I had no idea how that was actually pronounced, but I was pretty sure Ray butchered it. “That’s a mouth, Ray.”

“Oh.” Ray seemed disheartened by this for all of two seconds. “But hey. It’s a chick with an extra mouth on the back of her head. She could blow two dudes at the same time, is that not fucking sweet?

I cleared my throat and mumbled an apology and something about Tourette’s to the horrified little old lady browsing quilting magazines three feet away.

This was pretty much standard operating procedure for taking Ray anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the guy. I liked the guy a whole hell of a lot, in fact. Possibly a little more than I should have considering the fact that he liked girls, but never mind that. The point is, Ray was a great guy and I liked hanging around with him and all, but sometimes I wondered if he had been raised in a barn. By the livestock.

To give you some idea of the shit I’ve put up with over the three years I’ve known this guy: he didn’t just “sample” produce at the grocery store, he “sampled” candy, donuts, and soft drinks, and was once caught wrenching a “sample” wing off a rotisserie chicken from the deli. He was banned for life from a local Circuit City for trying to install a BitTorrent client on one of the display computers and download pirated music. He was no longer allowed in any smoke shop in a fifty-mile radius because of that rule where you have to ask for a “water pipe” and not a “bong.” Or, as Ray put it: “hey, I know a dude that can get hydro, I’ll trade you a quarter for this bong!” He seemed to believe that traffic lights, speed limit signs, and the lines painted on the road were just suggestions. He ate peas with his fingers because they wouldn’t stay on his fork. I take back what I said about him being raised in a barn. I’ve seen hogs that were better behaved than Ray Travis.

But in that three years, Ray had also found and kicked the shit out of the asshole responsible for the words jef is a Fag being keyed into my fender one afternoon (I probably would have been less offended if he hadn’t misspelled my name), lent me a surfboard after mine had an unfortunate meeting with some underwater debris, and drove me to work and back for a week while my car was having major surgery. So I can overlook a little occasional petty theft of Gummi Worms or whatever. He’s a good guy. He just shouldn’t be let out of his house without a handler. Preferably one armed with a cattleprod.

“It’s a dead chick with an extra mouth on the back of her head,” I said, swiping the book and replacing it on the rack. “Man, come on, we gotta go.”

“Oh yeah. Course you wouldn’t care about that.” Ray had this one laugh, this little snorting snicker, that always preceded something I would punch anyone else for saying. He did it right then. “Here, give it back. Lemme see if there’s anything about undead dudes. Shit, Japanese guys had to get the idea for all that gay tentacle porn from somewhere…”

I punched him anyway. In the arm, in that “manly bonding punch” way.

*

Fun fact about the Texas gulf coast: the Gulf of Mexico is composed mostly of seaweed and jellyfish, with just enough water to hold it all together. Which is why, an hour after we finally arrived at the beach, I was clearing mounds of twiggy yellow sea crap out of my way so I could sit down, coat my wrist in meat tenderizer, have a Dr. Pepper, and watch Ray make the best of the tiny brown-capped “waves” half-assedly rolling around out there.

I almost didn’t see it; it sort of blended in with the seaweed I was shoving around. But as I was scraping together another pile to move, I saw what looked like a tiny hand poking out of a clump of seaweed.

What the hell?

It was a tiny hand. A tiny plastic hand, attached to a slender plastic arm with a ball-jointed elbow and shoulder, and the arm in turn attached to a bald, naked plastic boy. A bald, naked, eyeless plastic boy, I discovered as I turned it over to look for distinguishing marks. Its limbs swayed just a little too naturally as I flipped it onto its back, then landed in impossible angles.

“Dude, where the hell’d you get this!?” I looked up just in time to see Ray snatch the doll out of my hand. “…oh shit! Oh shit, Jeff, it’s a Dollfie!”

“A huh?

Ray clutched the doll and grinned toothily. “A Dollfie, man! It’s one of those Japanese dolls, chicks pay like two-three hundred bucks for ’em and then dress ’em up and take pictures of ’em bumpin’ plastic uglies and stuff.” He shook the doll at me. “EBAY THIS. I am serious. Take this bitch home, clean it up, and put it on eBay or I will. PHAT BANK, I am telling you.” Yes, “phat,” I swear you could hear the “ph.”

“Are you kidding me!?” I held out a hand for the doll. It was entirely possible that Ray was full of shit, but in the unlikely event that he wasn’t I kind of wanted to have the doll in one piece. “They really pay that much for–wait a minute.” I quirked an eyebrow. “Ray?”

“Huh?”

“Tell me something…” Ah, I was waiting for some means of getting revenge for the thing about the dead chick with two mouths. “…how do you know so much about Japanese dolls and their plastic uglies?”

Ray opened his mouth. Closed it. Cleared his throat. “I saw some stuff on the Internet.”

“Yeah, I bet you did.” Oh yes, this was sweet indeed.

“Look, my sister’s got one, okay? it was a graduation present, I let her use my eBay account, and–man, fuck you.” Ray tossed the doll at my chest, and I busted out laughing.

*

Later that night, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I learned two things about this doll. First, that it was indeed a Dollfie. And second, that while Ray was seriously exaggerating the potential eBay worth of a bald naked eyeless Dollfie, he was right on target or even undershooting the potential eBay worth of a clothed Dollfie with eyes and a full head of hair.

It was in surprisingly good shape, considering it’d been floating around in the Gulf for God knows how long. A little surface dirt that washed off easily, a little sand in the joints that was nothing a shot of canned air couldn’t handle, no problem. In fact, by the time I was done, it looked brand new. It was going to need some eyes, though. This was partly because of the added value eyes would bring, and partly because… well, because those empty eye sockets were kind of creepy.

A pair of cheap eyes, eBay told me, would run about five bucks. That wasn’t so bad. Hell, maybe while I was at it I could get it some clothes and some hair. Maybe take it to this guy I know that fixes up old mannequins, surely he’d be able to paint a good face on it. Then we’d be talking serious bank.

It was going to have to wait till tomorrow, though; I was about to fall over onto my keyboard. I jotted down a list of doll-related things to check into, shut off the computer, and headed down the hall to the bedroom.

The doll sat on my dresser for now, lying on a towel to absorb whatever residual water might have drained out of it. I felt a momentary urge to throw another towel on top of it, or at least turn it so that eyeless face was pointing away from me, and felt stupid about it. I needed to do laundry, I noticed. One pair of socks, two T-shirts, one pair of jeans left. Did I have laundry soap? I thought I did, but maybe I needed to make a grocery run anyw–

“Hello.”

I am not a jumpy guy. I don’t make a habit of shrieking and flailing in response to every unexpected sight, sound, or touch in the world. But I am not ashamed to tell you I jumped two feet straight up and may have pissed myself a little when the doll started talking. And I knew immediately that it was the doll, because there is nothing in my bedroom that could or should have possibly said “hello” to me. No radio, no TV, no speakerphone, no talking alarm clock, no nothing else I could mistake for the doll talking. The doll was fucking talking.

“I have seen many things,” it said in an odd genderless soft voice. “Today a boy broke his leg skateboarding in a Whataburger parking lot. Tomorrow small hail will fall for twelve minutes in the afternoon. A man will accidentally set his house on fire while frying chicken but nobody will be hurt.”

I settled down a little then and laughed at my own retardedness. Okay, I didn’t see any listings for talking Dollfies on eBay, but I knew what people could do with electronics these days. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that someone could have implanted a chip in it that made it give a random selection of predictions at a set time. A chip that could stand floating around in salt water for who knows how long, now that was a stretch, but it wasn’t impossible.

“A seagull will steal a bag of potato chips from a convenience store. The winning Texas lottery numbers will be 2, 9, 13, 24, 31, and 40. Good night.”

And that was it.

“What the hell, man!?” I muttered. The doll didn’t have anything to say to that. I picked it up and poked at it a little; there were no switches, buttons, battery hatches, screws, speaker holes, or anything else to suggest the presence of electronic innards. Mentally, I added see what makes doll talk and whether or not that will make it worth more $ to my doll-related do-list, then I climbed into bed and thought nothing more of it.

*

Until the next day, that is.

I was taking care of some errands, which took me to the grocery store four blocks from my place. Since it was close and I only needed a couple of things, I walked. Doing my part for the environment and all that. Okay, doing my part to keep money in my wallet, whatever.

So there I was, walking down the street with a bag of laundry soap, toilet paper, and pretzels, when something hit me in the head. My first thought was that someone had thrown a very small rock at me. I turned around to look for the perpetrator, and it happened again. And again. And again. Rocks? No, not rocks. Little white pellets, somewhere between pea- and marble-sized. Cold little white pellets.

Tomorrow small hail will fall for twelve minutes in the afternoon…

I checked my watch and noted the time as I scooted under the awning of a nearby Stop N’ Rob: 2:31. It wasn’t like we’d never seen hail around here; at least once a year we’d get Icy Death Or Pain Or Annoyance From Above. Still, that was a pretty good guess on the doll’s part, wasn’t it?

The store had its doors propped open, and there was a sign taped on one: sorry, A/C out, buy cold beer 🙂 Further along, a large white bird paced and bobbed, occasionally eyeing the open doors.

I really hoped the hail would stop soon. I didn’t want to be stuck here all day outside a convenience store watching a seagull walk around in circles. A fire truck blared down the street in front of the store, horns and lights and sirens going full-tilt boogie, which gave me something else to watch for a few seconds.

At least, it did until the sound of near-hysterical laughter and a whoop of “Oh lordy mercy, lookit ‘im go!” issued forth from the open doors of the store, followed closely by that seagull I’d been watching. The seagull was carrying something in its beak that looked suspiciously like a small bag of Ruffles.

A seagull will steal a bag of potato chips from a convenience store…

Okay. The hail thing could have been a lucky guess, and besides, whether or not it was right about the duration remained to be seen. But a seagull stealing a bag of chips? A seagull? Stealing a bag of chips!? Either that was a really lucky guess, or… oh shit. Having now seen one prediction come fully true and one come at least partially true, and having realized that there might actually be an honest to God fortune-telling doll sitting in my bedroom, I did the only thing any sane human being could reasonably be expected to do about it.

I flung myself into the store and demanded a lottery ticket RIGHT NOW.

What were those numbers? 2… something… 13… 24 I remembered because it was also my age… thirtysomething… something? Goddammit, why didn’t I write those down? Oh yeah, because after I got done pissing my pants I decided the doll was just parroting whatever was stored in its little memory chip, right. I bubbled in what I could remember, guessed at the rest, and handed my playslip and my dollar across the counter.

While my ticket was printing, the tak-tak-tak of hail on the aluminum awning slowed, then stopped.

The time printed on my lottery ticket: 2:43.

Holy shit.

*

I usually never bothered to watch the news for the drawing of the lottery numbers. Actually, I usually never bothered to care about the lottery numbers. Was I watching tonight? Oh hell yes.

Those three numbers I could remember won me three bucks. And there was a thirtysomething.

*

Damn right I took a notepad and a pen into the bedroom with me that night. Y’know, in case the doll decided to make some more predictions, specifically the kind that involved lottery numbers. You remember that scene from A Christmas Story, where Ralphie’s sitting in front of the radio eagerly awaiting Little Orphan Annie’s secret coded message? Picture that. Except with a grown man sitting in front of a bald eyeless naked doll.

It was a quarter to midnight. I guessed the doll had done its thing around ten ’til last night. Of course I had no way of knowing if it did it at the same time every night, for all I knew it could have made a fresh batch of predictions while I was out getting hailed on. For that matter, I had no way of knowing if it even did the prediction thing every single night. Maybe it was every other night. Maybe it was only once or twice a week. Hell, maybe it was only on the fourth night after the last full moon before the summer solstice or something–

“Hello. I have seen many things.”

Or maybe not! Excellent.

“Today a man on this street broke a water main while digging in his garden.” Yeah, that would explain the strange bit of flooding on the corner and the water people chewing a guy out in his front yard while I was on the way home. “Tomorrow a yak will be born at the zoo. A woman will cut off her finger while mowing grass. You will have sex with Ray Travis. A truck carrying fish will roll over on the freeway. An elderly woman will be arrested for selling illegal drugs. Good night.”

Well, that was anticlimactic. No major disasters, no dog race tips, no lottery numbers, no WHOA WAIT WHAT WITH WHO!?

My first reaction was to laugh until I wept. My second reaction was to loudly declare that complete and total bullshit; even in the extremely unlikely event that Ray did lean that way, he was supposed to go to Dallas for some work training crap. I wouldn’t see him until Friday at the earliest.

My third reaction… well, thanks to my third reaction, I had to jack off before I could even think about sleeping.

*

The next morning, I was awakened by my cell phone going off. It was my boss, telling me not to bother trying to come in to work till at least ten or eleven because an eighteen-wheeler full of fish rolled over and lost its load on the freeway and it was going to take hours for the highway people to clean all that up.

*

In truth, they were still cleaning up no-longer-frozen and very, very smelly fish as I was driving home half-listening to the news.

“…officers seized over two hundred pounds of marijuana from the home of seventy-nine-year-old Edna Mae Sherman…”

I turned the radio off and tried very hard not to think about any of today’s other predictions.

*

I’d been home about an hour, with no word of baby yaks or severed fingers, when someone knocked on my door. Probably one of the assorted surf buddies Ray and I tended to run around with; it wasn’t unheard of for one or several of them to just sort of invite themselves over (or, in all fairness, for me to invite myself over to their places). So I didn’t even think to check the peephole to see who was standing out there before I opened the door to Ray’s smiling face.

“‘Sup!” He brandished a six-pack and a stack of dollar-store horror movies at me.

“What the hell are you doing here!?” I sputtered. This didn’t stop me from accepting the offerings thrust at me. “Aren’t you supposed to be in Dallas or something?”

“Nah.” Ray took my acceptance of his offerings as an invitation to come in. “They cancelled it at the last minute. Like, I was putting my shit in the car when they called. They’re sending me next week instead, something about the lady that teaches the thing getting hurt mowing her yard or some shit.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

“…what?”

I shook my head. “Nothing.” I headed off past Ray to drop the movies on the sofa and put the beer in the fridge. You will stay asleep! I told my dick. You will not hijack my brain’s blood supply and make me do something stupid like molest my straight friend! Is that understood?

I got the impression of a begrudging fine, whatever in reply.

*

I snuck a peek at my watch halfway through the third movie. 10:02. Yeah, I was a little antsy about the time. Number one: I wasn’t sure if I wanted Ray to be around when the doll did its nightly thing. And number two: there was this little voice in my head, some kind of passive-aggressive message my dick wished to pass on, keeping up a countdown to midnight and occasionally pausing to point out how good Ray looked all draped over his chair, or how that bit of throat right above the neckband of his Sublime T-shirt would be awfully fun to lick, or how he might very well be just the right height to comfortably fuck me over the back of the sofa and honestly, as many times as he’s been over, how could I have not noticed that yet?

I made a point of ignoring the little son of a bitch.

“So,” Ray started, popping open a beer. “You get that doll all cleaned up and ready for eBay yet?”

I choked a little. “N-not yet. I was thinking maybe I’d get more for it if I fixed it up a little first, y’know, at least give it some eyes.” Which wasn’t entirely untrue. I was just kind of skipping over the part where it predicted the future and might give me some more winning lottery numbers if I held onto it long enough.

“Uh huh,” Ray said. “Hey, maybe you should–”

Okay, look. There’s one more thing you need to know about Ray. Most people have a sort of quality control inspector between their brains and their mouths. If something inappropriate should come down from the brain the little inspector pulls it off the line, stamps “REJECTED” on it in great big red letters, and throws it in some sort of thought recycling bin. Every once in a while it misses something, but for the most part it is alert and vigilant and culls out the really embarrassing shit before it hits the vocal cords.

Ray’s little quality control inspector spends sixteen hours a day smoking gigantic Cheech & Chong joints and reading Hustler. The other eight hours of the day are the ones when Ray is asleep.

So at any other time, it would have been business as usual to hear him finish that sentence with “–get another one and dress ’em up like you and me and take some pictures of ’em in a sixty-nine! Bet you’d make a shitload off a pair of ’em!”

This time…oh, Christ.

I could practically hear the triumphant shout of ten-HUT! from the front of my pants as all my blood drained from my head directly to my dick. Not good. Not good at all. All the lights were on, I was wearing sweat pants with nothing underneath, there was not a single throw pillow in reach, there was nothing in the current movie I could blame for triggering a hard-on, and there was no way to camouflage or bullshit my way out of this. So I did the only thing I could do short of jumping Ray’s bones.

I cleared my throat and hastily excused myself to the bathroom as casually as I could (not very), only half-hearing the bewildered call of “…Jeff? Dude, you okay?” behind me.

I shut the bathroom door. It doesn’t lock. This will come into play in a moment. If I’d been thinking a little more clearly I would have leaned against it, but the thought that Ray might actually enter a bathroom he knew was occupied didn’t cross my mind. It sure didn’t occur to me that Ray might mistake my sudden exit for offense or even physical illness and barge in anyway.

Which he did.

In retrospect, I guess he was expecting to see me pissed off or in tears or talking to Earl on the big porcelain phone. It’s probably safe to say that the last thing he was expecting to find was me leaning against the counter with my sweat pants shoved halfway down my thighs and my dick in my hand.

Which is exactly what he found.

“…Jesus Christ,” Ray wheezed. Which is a hell of a lot more eloquent a reaction than my deer-in-highbeams stare.

Have you ever heard the expression, “he wanted to curl up in a ball and die?” You cannot possibly truly understand that feeling until you’ve been caught in the act of jacking off by the very person you’re fantasizing about while you’re doing it. I literally wanted to curl up like a tiny doodlebug, roll under the bathroom counter, and die.

Oh God, I thought, here it comes. He’s either going to tell me he’s leaving and not to ever speak to him again, or else he’s going to laugh and mock. Either way, God, if Your plans for me include death by massive brain hemorrhage just go ahead and send that down now, if you don’t mind.

“You, uh…” Ray cleared his throat. I still couldn’t move or speak or make any noise that didn’t sound like a dog whistle. “…you need some help with that?”

What?

What!?

There’s a word: “jammer.” It’s used to describe a person who messes with one’s gaydar. There are two kinds of jammer. There’s the false positive… and then there’s the flier-under. I knew Ray was fond of the boobies. It never once occurred to me that he might also be fond of the cock.

Was he–oh God. Oh God yes. I tried to nod. Still frozen. The best I could manage was an airy little squeak of “Yes, please.”

For a moment that went on entirely too long, Ray didn’t move. I was just starting to fear that he wasn’t serious about that offer after all when he crossed the threshold into the bathroom and reached down to wrap one big hand around my cock. He was rough and a little clumsy but it didn’t matter. All it took was two quick strokes and I was coming, coming hard in Ray’s hand… and all over the front of his jeans.

“Holy shit,” Ray wheezed. He choked out a soft laugh. “Oh man, my clothes…

I looked down, saw the extent of the damage, and wanted to do the doodlebug routine all over again. “Oh God, I’m sorry… I’ll wash ’em for you.”

Ray snickered a bit. “Didn’t bring anything else to wear,” he said. “And all your shit’s too small. What, you want me to run around naked or something?” The way he quirked an eyebrow at that made me suspect he thought that was an excellent idea.

*

“Hello. I have seen many things.”

I never got around to telling Ray about the talking doll, and I’d lost track of time after I threw his clothes in the washer and got him into the bedroom. So it’s probably a good thing that when the doll started talking, I had Ray’s cock in my hand and not in my mouth.

“Jesus Christ!” Ray sputtered, jerking halfway upright. “What the hell, man!?”

I craned my head around and peered over at the dresser. “Oh yeah,” I said. “It’s the doll. It, uh… it does that.”

“Today a busy street was closed off due to a gas leak.”

“Holy shit,” Ray gasped. “Dude, I saw that, they had Center blocked off for like six blocks with fire trucks and shit all over the place! How the hell does it know?”

I gave Ray’s dick a gentle squeeze, trying to divert his attention from the doll and back onto the task at, er, hand. “It does that too.”

“Tomorrow the owner of a Mexican restaurant will be arrested for tax evasion, and the restaurant will be closed in the middle of lunch. Two dogs will enter an elementary school, steal several childrens’ lunches, and leave.”

“What the hell?” Ray repeated. “Does… does all this stuff really happen?

“Far as I know.” Okay, since the hand wasn’t sufficiently keeping Ray’s attention off the doll, more drastic measures were necessary. I let go and started scooting down towards the foot of the bed while the doll droned on about tomorrow’s predictions.

“Huh,” Ray said. “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t sell it after all. Y’know, in case it starts giving lottery numbers or some–oh fuck, Jeff–”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him it already did that once. Besides, I had better things to do with my mouth at the moment.

*

Things were pretty damn awesome for about the next three days. Ray would show up with beer and sometimes movies at around 8:30, we would wander off to the bedroom at a quarter till midnight to see what the doll had to say, and then we would have a lot of toe-curling hot sex until we passed out or one or both of us had to get up and go to work.

But to be honest, the doll was starting to creep me out. When it made its predictions, it kept sandwiching cute little tidbits of fluff like you’d see in the “bizarre” section of your favorite news website between predictions of death and suffering. And that voice never changed its tone between the two. It was like watching a news anchor cover a massively fatal plane crash, a serial killer, and the annual wiener dog races one after the other, all with the same brilliant smile. Maybe it was time to spring for some eyes and a wig and throw it up on eBay.

Ray still wanted to hang onto it, though, on the off chance that it might cough up some more lottery numbers or tip him off to someone accidentally dropping an envelope full of cash somewhere or something like that.

But then one night, things took a turn for the really, really fucked up. We were sitting there, as had become the norm, watching and waiting for the doll to do its thing. Which it did. Hello, seen many things, today so-and-so happened, tomorrow such-and-such will happen…

…and then it popped off with “Ray Travis will have sex with Gary Fillmore.”

I knew the guy. He was kind of on the outskirts of our circle of surf buddies. Tall, tan, blonde, wiry, and had always registered good solid blips on both my gaydar and my asshole proximity sensors. I didn’t care for him. Not my type, and as far as his personality went… well, picture Ray and his social retardation. Except with Gary it wasn’t so much ignorance as outright malice. I couldn’t stand him. I could stand the thought of Ray fucking him even less.

But Ray… just for a second, he got that distinct look on his face, that twinkle in his eyes and ever-so-faint smile, that look that’s got no shit!? Awesome! written all over it.

And then I guess he realized I’d caught it and was giving him the hairiest eyeball in the history of hairy eyeballs. “What?” he snapped, that pissy, defensive what? of someone who knows he’s been caught doing something he shouldn’t have. “Man, don’t tell me you’re jealous.”

I shrugged. “Well, yeah. I kind of am.” Which I admit was kind of dumb of me, okay? We’d been doing this thing for less than a week, it wasn’t like we were about to hop a flight to Spain and get married or something, I wasn’t thinking of him as my boyfriend or me as his. But goddamn, was it too much to ask for him to, y’know, not already be fucking around on me?

I probably shouldn’t have said that out loud.

“Whoa! Whoa! Ray flipped the ever-present notepad for lottery numbers and such over the edge of the bed and glared back at me. “Dude. Settle down. You’re getting all bitchy about something that hasn’t even happened–”

“–yet–”

“Dude!” Ray flapped his hands around a little. “Are you–you can’t–are you seriously telling me you believe a damn doll over me!?”

“Well, it hasn’t been wrong yet,” I snapped back. “I saw that look on your face when it said–”

“I don’t believe this.” Ray rolled his eyes and slid off the foot of the bed, reaching down for his shirt. “Maybe I will fuck him, then! If that’s–” He must have seen the look on my face and heard the oh HELL no! getting ready to come out of my mouth, because he turned ghostly white and bit off the rest of that sentence. “Okay. No. I didn’t mean that, Jeff. I’m not gonna do it. Okay? Okay?” He huffed out a breath. “You know what, I’m just gonna go home before this gets any uglier.”

I nodded. “Good idea.”

Ray made some kind of snotty snorting noise. “I think you’re right. Maybe it is time for that fuckin’ doll to go.” And with that, he threw his shirt back on, stepped into his flipflops, picked up his movies, and went out the front door, slamming it behind him.

I sat on the bed glaring at the doll well after I heard Ray’s car pull away.

Then I stood up, picked the doll up, carried it outside, and flung it into the trash can on the curb. Phat bank be damned, and good riddance.

*

Around nine the next night, the doorbell rang. I checked the peephole. Ray. I figured he’d be along sooner or later, since he went off and left his wallet on the dresser the previous night and would surely start missing it.

“Hey,” I said as I opened the door, as casually as I could manage.

“My wallet over here?” That was it. Four words, one question.

I jerked a thumb in the direction of the bedroom. “On the dresser.”

“Thanks.” Ray brushed neatly past me, slipped into the bedroom and out again, and headed back to the door. He paused there. “I didn’t fuck him.”

I snorted. “Look me in the eye and tell me that.” As if he would.

He did. Oh shit, he did.

“I didn’t fuck him, Jeff. Didn’t even see him. Swear to God.” Not a blink, not a twitch. I believed him. Opened my mouth to say so. Nothing came out, so I just closed it and nodded. “See you when I get back from Dallas, if you get rid of that goddamn doll.”

“I threw it out after you left, you ‘tard!”

He stopped in his tracks, eyed me over his shoulder for a minute, and did that snort-laugh-headshake “you’re full of shit” thing. “Very funny. Bye, Jeff.”

“Dude! I–”

Too late. He was gone.

I wandered down the hall to the bedroom to see what he was talking about. What the fuck? I threw the damn doll in the trash. Outside. I saw the trash truck pick it up. It was gone. Gone. It was–

It was sitting on the dresser again.

*

Over the next couple of days, I tried four more times to lose the doll. I threw it in the trash again, it came back. I threw it in the water (twice, once in a bayou, once in the ocean), it came back. I threw it in the incinerator at work and pushed the “flame ON” button myself, it came the fuck back.

I couldn’t get rid of it. Every time I tried, I’d find it right back on the dresser the next day.

Clearly I was going to need some help with this. From someone who knew about weird shit like creepy-ass fortune-telling Japanese dolls, and it wasn’t like you could just look in the phone book for stuff like that. I needed to–

Wait. Japanese dolls.

That book Ray had been snickering at that day, the one with the fut-a-coochie-onna… okay, it was a long shot, but I was just about out of options at that point and this plan was just stupid enough to work.

I suppose I could have just written him a letter care of the publisher, but who knew how long that’d take? Fortunately, my Google-Fu was strong that day. Mr. Ken Takamine, writer of books about weird shit, had a LiveJournal. A LiveJournal. Unbelievable. But that meant he also had an e-mail address I could write to. Score.

And so, I sat down and composed what is probably the most embarrassing e-mail I have ever written to anyone anywhere.

Dear Mr. Takamine,

I’m writing to you because I have a problem and if anyone knows what I can do about it, it’s probably going to be you.

I found a doll at the beach the other day, and since it looked like one of those really expensive Japanese ball joint doll things my friend suggested I take it home, clean it up, and sell it on eBay. Would you believe me if I said it started making crazy psychic predictions every night? How about if I told you they all come true (as far as I know, I haven’t checked the one about a flasher getting beaten up by a 14-year-old in Austin)?

It was okay until it predicted some personal stuff I don’t think you want to know about, and said friend and I got into a huge fight that ended with him basically going “the doll goes or I go” and leaving. I tried to throw it away and it just came right back.

I know you’re probably really busy, but please tell me how to get rid of this doll. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Jeff Parker

I added my address at the bottom, hit “send,” and felt like a dork.

*

Two days later, I woke up to the lovely sound of someone ringing the hell out of my doorbell.

Now normally, when someone comes ringing my doorbell at a single-digit hour of the morning, I’m not real happy about it. Sometimes I don’t even open the door. Or even better, if I do, I don’t bother putting clothes on first. Serves ’em right for waking me up. But this time… oh, thank God I put some clothes on, I think I may have died of embarrassment on the spot if I hadn’t.

“Hi,” the gorgeous guy at my door said. “Does Jeff Parker live here?”

I opened my mouth. Something that sounded like “buh?” came out. Me? He was here for me!? I cleared my throat, decided maybe God did not hate me quite as much as recent events would have me believe, and tried again. “Um. Yeah. That’s me.”

“Oh, hey. I got your e-mail.”

I cleared my throat. “E-e-mail?”

“Yeah, about a doll? Some kind of fortune-telling doll, right?”

It took about five seconds for that to sink in. And then I think I may have actually said “are you fucking kidding me?” out loud.

In my defense Mr. Ken Takamine didn’t have his picture in his book or on his LiveJournal anywhere and I kind of had to guesstimate how old he might be and what he might look like. I’d had this picture in my head, this mental picture complete with a little brass plate that said “Ken Takamine” along the bottom of the frame. It was a picture of a reedy old guy with thick glasses, thinning hair, and a pipe; he kind of looked like a cross between that little nerdy time-travel guy from Heroes and Lieutenant Sulu.

Which looked nothing like the guy standing outside my door.

He looked like he belonged in one of those Japanese goth boy bands, I swear to God. His black T-shirt (I see dead people, it said) was half a size too tight in a few critical places, and the strap of his messenger bag might as well have had “please stare here” embroidered on it where it crossed his chest. His jeans fit like he’d been dipped in them. His hair was short enough to stand up a little up top and long enough for spiky bangs to brush the frames of black John Lennon sunglasses. There was a piece of purplish-blue stone or glass or something shaped kind of like a fat stylized number 9 strung on a leather cord around his neck, a strand of jade beads around his left wrist, a braided hemp thing with wooden beads around his right wrist, and a silver ring with what I guess was some kind of Japanese writing engraved on it on his right ring finger. All he was missing was some eyeliner, some hair product, and some fishnet arm hose or whatever.

Oh, and my gaydar was clanging like a fire alarm. Jammer? Maybe, but damn.

What’d he say? Doll? What? …oh, right. That doll. “Um,” I said. Words. I had words once. Where? Gone. Words all gone. “M-Mr. Takamine? Oh my God. You. Um. You actually. Yeah. It’s, uh…”

“Ken’s fine.” He grinned. “Actually, normal people call me Kenny. You mind if I come in and take a look at it?”

“Yes, please,” I said. To this day I’m not exactly sure whether I was “yes, please”-ing for him to come in, go to the bedroom, and check out the doll, or just “yes, please”-ing for him to come in and go to the bedroom. I realize how retarded I was being about this whole situation, okay? Especially considering I’d called him out here for help with the doll in the first place because it was messing stuff up with me and Ray. Yes. I know. Just–look, if you liked guys and you’d answered your door to find him standing in front of it asking to come in, you’d be getting a little retarded too. Trust me.

“It’s, uh, in the bedroom,” I said. “Door at the end of the hall there. It kind of kept showing up there every time I tried to get rid of it–”

Mr. Ta–Ken–Kenny stopped in mid-stride and gave me a look I didn’t like.

“Oh shit,” he said. Which I really didn’t like. “Which was how many times, exactly?”

“Five. And the next day, it just shows up on the dresser again. I threw it in a damn industrial incinerator last time, swear to God, and it–”

“Oh shit.” He shook his head and started walking again.

When I got to the bedroom, I found him sitting on the bed pulling stuff out of his messenger bag. Laptop, jade pendulum, little handheld meter of some sort, little digital audio recorder, digital camera, and a bunch of crap I couldn’t identify. “God. Of course it’s gotta be a Dollfie. I don’t even like these things when they’re not cursed or haunted or whatever, and I apologize on behalf of my native land for its creepy-ass dolls.” He twiddled some switches and stuff on that little meter, passed it over the doll a few times, and made a face I really, really didn’t like. “Daaaaamn,” he said, putting the meter back in his bag. I had the feeling that if I asked him to tell me what that meter was and why its reading was “daaaaamn”-worthy I wouldn’t understand a word of the explanation, so I didn’t bother.

“Okay, so…” He picked up the camera and took a few pictures. “…there is a story in Japan about a fortune-telling doll, and it matches your situation pretty much exactly. Someone finds the doll in or near some water and takes it home, it starts telling fortunes, and it won’t stay gone if it’s thrown out.” He poked something on the camera to put it in “look at your pictures” mode. “There’s a few different versions of it, and none of them agree on how many times you can try and chuck the doll out before it starts wrecking your life. Holy crap, would you take a look at this,” he said, angling the camera so I could see the screen on the back and the picture of the doll it was displaying.

Where the doll’s face should have been in the photo, there was an amorphous doll-flesh-colored smear. The empty eye sockets, however, showed up just fine. Same on all the photos. “Holy crap,” I echoed.

“Yeah, you’ve got the real thing here.” Kenny tucked the camera back into his bag. “Anyway, I’ve never heard a version that gives you more than five shots at ditching it.”

“…hence the ‘oh shit,'” I supplied. Kenny snorted.

“Yeah, exactly. After that, it–” He looked sideways at the doll. “…you know what, let’s go somewhere else and talk about this.”

I eyed the doll as well and pulled a face. “What, you think it can hear us?”

“Oh,” Kenny replied, “I know it can.”

*

“…so basically, I’m stuck with the damn thing.”

Kenny shook his head and held up a hand–wait–and swallowed his mouthful of brisket sandwich.

I know this is going to sound really, really racist of me or something, but when Kenny suggested discussing the doll issue well out of its earshot and further suggested doing so over lunch, my first reaction was to start naming off sushi places I’d heard were good. My second reaction was to realize I was being a tool and shut up. I guess he was used to that, because it didn’t seem to offend him. And then he suggested barbecue instead. We took his car; he drove a little green Beetle which, I was not at all surprised to note, had a small rainbow flag sticker on the rear bumper.

Which I was totally not thinking about. And by “totally not thinking about,” I mean “thinking about and thinking about and thinking about some more with an occasional break to mentally remove pieces of his clothing and an occasional break from that to remind myself why he was here.”

“Most versions of the story say there’s only one way to get rid of the doll,” he said. “Basically, you take it to a body of water, make like you’re playing with it, put it on a toy boat, and ‘accidentally’ get distracted and ‘accidentally’ let it float away. That way it thinks you made an honest mistake and it doesn’t hold it against you. Which is probably why you found it on the beach.” He took another bite. “God. I am so glad it washed up here. You can’t get barbecue like this anywhere else. Anyway, the problem is, that won’t work for you now. It knows you want to get rid of it. It won’t fall for it, and if you try it it’s just going to show up on your dresser again. And that’s going to be the least of your worries.”

“You said something about it wrecking my life.” As if it hadn’t already started, I thought. “What’d you mean by that?”

Kenny fidgeted with the bun on his sandwich for a second. “It’s going to keep doing its little nightly predictions, just like it’s been doing. But it’s not actually going to be predicting things anymore. If you try to ditch it one more time, it’s going to start causing things. Bad things. All around you and the people close to you. Believe me, you don’t want that.”

“So again,” I said, “I’m stuck with the damn thing.”

“Maybe not.” Kenny hauled his messenger bag onto the seat beside him and rooted out a manila folder. He licked his thumb (oh Christ why did I have to be looking right at him while he did that!?) and flipped through a few pages. “Aha. Here you go.” He passed a few stapled sheets across the table.

I read.

I reread.

“Holy shit,” I said. “In this one–”

“Yep. The doll dies.

I swallowed hard. “And you think this might work.” I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it at the time, but somehow I wasn’t sure it would.

Kenny grinned. “Worth a try, huh?”

*

So there I sat, at a quarter to midnight, having a staring contest against a doll with no eyes. Now with my luck, from now on all its predictions would be shit like natural disasters or things involving famous people I had no chance of coming anywhere near or things in Australia or something. And then I would have to go to the kitchen, get the cleaver, chop the doll into tiny pieces, set the pieces on fire, stomp on the charred bits until they crumbled into a fine ash, sweep up the ash, pour the ash into the toilet, piss on the ash, flush the ash away, and then find this little motherfucker back on my dresser ready and eager to completely shit up my life but hey, at least I’d feel better for a few minu–

“Hello. I have seen many things.”

No matter how many times I heard that, it still gave me chills and goosebumps.

“Today a man fell off his roof while installing a satellite dish and broke his left arm. Tomorrow an elderly woman from Humble will win five thousand dollars and a new oven in a pie-baking contest in Dallas. Bus number 34 will break down in heavy traffic. A man in a green jacket will attempt to rob a convenience store but will forget to load his gun and be caught.”

My mind raced. Would I have to scour the Internet and newspapers for pie-baking contests, make an emergency road trip, and swap the contents of some little old lady’s sugar and salt canisters? Call in a bomb threat on bus 34 to keep it out of traffic? Preemptively beat the piss out of anyone in a green jacket I saw coming near a convenience store? Shit. This was going to be easier said than done…

“A small white dog will steal a newspaper on this street. Ray Travis will have sex with Gary Fillmore, after which he will not speak to you again.”

Bingo!

Ray was supposed to get back into town sometime tomorrow, wasn’t he? Now how was I going to handle this? Hit Gary over the head with a folding chair, tie him up, and stash him in a closet? Tell Ray about the plan and insist that no, this wasn’t just a ploy to–

“Ken Takamine will be killed in an automobile accident.”

…wait, what!?

“Good night.”

Oh God.

I’d like to tell you I had to think very hard about that. Hanging on to a dear friend, versus the life of a guy I hardly knew other than through one meeting and one book. I’d like to tell you I agonized over it all night and still wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision when it happened. I’d like to tell you how difficult it was, how I moaned and wailed and cursed cruel fate and all that melodramatic shit.

I’d like to tell you that, but I can’t. Because I didn’t even have to think about it.

*

Fortunately, it was a lot easier to get hold of him this time. He’d left me his cell number in case I needed any more help with the doll.

Two rings. Three. Come on, I thought, pick up your phone, pick up your damn phone–

“H’lo?”

Oh thank God. I must have woke him up, and he was probably going to be pissed, but I didn’t care. “Um, hi, Kenny? It’s Jeff.”

“Oh, hey.” Maybe it was just my imagination, but he sounded a lot more awake all of a sudden. And not pissed. “What time is–gaah. Everything okay?”

“Not exactly,” I said and man, that was an understatement. “I kind of need to talk to you about it in person.”

“Sure,” he said, and I could hear noises in the background that sounded like getting-dressed noises. “I’ll be right ove–”

No!

Silence. Even the getting-dressed noises stopped. “O…kay?”

Well, I thought, that was smooth.

But the doll hadn’t mentioned a time. And technically, it was “tomorrow.” For all I knew the accident could have been slated to happen while he was driving over to my place. I cleared my throat. “I mean, uh, I’d kind of like to talk to you about it away from the… uh, you-know-what and I could be an axe murderer for all you know and I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting me in your hotel room but–”

“Whoa, okay, whoa–” Was he actually laughing? “I get it. No problem.” He cleared his throat. “I know you’re not an axe murderer. Best Western, room 302.”

*

“I’m really sorry about this.” And that wasn’t entirely untrue. I was sorry about waking Kenny up in the middle of the night. I was sorry I was basically going to be holding him hostage in his motel room for twenty-one hours. And I was so, so sorry I’d made a point of packing condoms in my backpack in case drastic measures were necessary to keep him off the road. Ray was a lost cause. If the doll was right and so far it always was, he was about to dump me not only as whatever we were in those few days between the bathroom handjob and the argument, but as his friend. I knew that. I was ready to deal with that. Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty.

“No, hey, it’s cool.” Kenny shut and chained the door behind me and waved me towards the sole chair in the room. “So… the doll did its thing tonight?”

“Um, yeah,” I replied as Kenny liberated two Dr. Peppers from the little fridge and waved one at me. I took it gratefully.

“And it made one you think you can…”

“Um,” I repeated. “Yeah.”

“And you need me to help you with that?”

Oh boy. “Um, yeah.” Well, on the bright side: at least he was handling the really awkward parts of this conversation for me. Good thing, because my vocabulary was pretty much shot.

He sat down on the foot of the bed and popped his Pepper open. “And you need me to do …what?”

I took a deep breath. “I need you to not get in a car tomorrow,” I exhaled. “At all.”

Kenny blinked a couple of times. “O…kay.”

“Or a bus. Or anything that goes on the road. Or what if someone runs off the road and goes up on the sidewalk or–”

“So, uh…” Now was it just my imagination, or did Kenny seem vaguely amused by all this? “…basically, you’re telling me not to leave this room until midnight tomorrow?”

“…um.” Back to that, are we? I silently asked whatever part of my brain handled vocabulary. It didn’t answer. “Yeah. That’s… that’s about it.”

“Uh huh.” Kenny took a long pull off his Dr. Pepper. “And you’re here to make sure I don’t, right?” One corner of his mouth twitched upward. “Your boyfriend won’t like that.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “He’s not exactly my boyfriend.” I fidgeted with the label on my Dr. Pepper. “And that ‘really personal stuff’ I was talking about in that e-mail? That thing that set off the big fight? It said he was going to sleep with this other guy. It said it again tonight.”

“Oh. Shit. Sorry.” Kenny frowned a little. “Wait. Did he?”

“He says he didn’t.”

“You believe him?”

I did, at the time. Now, in light of the plan and all, I wasn’t so sure. And how many times, this naggy little voice in the back of my head reminded me, have you had to drive a girl home or play Nice Gay Guy With Crying Shoulder after Ray wandered off and found something else to stick it in? It wasn’t that Ray actively set out to fuck around on his girlfriends but like anything else, he had a way of getting bored with what he had and getting distracted by shiny things like a better pair of tits. How sure are you that he wouldn’t do the same to you?

“I, uh…” I coughed. “I’m not sure now.”

“I hope he did.” Kenny opened his mouth to say something else, shook his head quickly, and scratched at the back of his head. “Sorry. I know that sounded pretty shitty, but…”

“Yeah, I know.” I laughed a little and looked over at Kenny. He’d traded off the second skin jeans for a pair of sweat pants hacked off at the knees and the I see dead people T-shirt for an older, looser Ghostbusters logo T-shirt. “It’s okay.”

“Hm. Okay.” He mulled that over for a minute, then brightened up and clapped his hands together and reached for the TV remote. “Well! I’ve got five hundred channels here, let’s see if we can find something that doesn’t suck!”

*

The TV landed on Sci-Fi and stayed there a while. It appeared that Kenny was a fan of bad horror movies. Or, more specifically, he was a fan of mocking the way various supernatural things were handled in bad horror movies. It was like watching TV with Crow T. Robot. This, by the way, was not a bad thing. And to his credit, when the “coming up” screen said Child’s Play was on next, he quickly changed the channel. Normally I have nothing against that movie, but I’d had my fill of creepy dolls for a while.

At some point I’d moved from the tiny chair to the empty side of the bed so I could see the TV a little better, and Kenny gladly scooted over to give me room to park my Dr. Pepper and the bag of microwave popcorn he’d gotten out of the vending machine outside.

Around three in the morning I glanced over at Kenny. Still wide awake, flipping around looking for something that wasn’t an infomercial. “Um… sorry about all this,” I said.

“It’s cool.” He laughed and found a Family Guy rerun. “I woke you up this morning, right? Guess I had it coming.” He dropped the remote back onto the nightstand. “I mean, I figured that was why you were all flustered and stuff.”

I discovered the hard way I couldn’t breathe popcorn. “Well, uh, sort of,” I said once I managed to not choke to death. “That and you were kind of not what I was expecting.”

“Oh yeah?” Kenny looked over at me, eyes twinkling. “What were you expecting?”

“Someone old,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Brain-to-mouth quality control inspector dropped the ball, there.

Kenny just grinned and helped himself to some more popcorn. “Yeah, I get that a lot,” he said. “‘S why I don’t have my picture in my books. Nobody’d take me seriously.”

I thought briefly about Ray pointing and snickering at the futakuchi-onna picture and felt a brief urge to find him and deck him on Kenny’s behalf. “How’d you get into all this stuff, anyway?” I asked. “I bet you could write a hell of a novel.”

“Nah.” Kenny shook his head. “My uncle could write a hell of a novel. I’m not good at making shit up.” He was kind of quiet for a minute. “He disappeared. Went up to this old haunted mansion to do some research for a book and never came back.”

“…oh.” Shit. “Sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. It was a long time ago.” Kenny drained his last Dr. Pepper and tossed the empty bottle in the direction of the trash can. It missed. He didn’t make any move to pick it up. “That was what got me interested in ghosts and curses and weird shit like that, trying to figure out what happened to him. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gotten into that stuff. I wouldn’t have written that book. You wouldn’t have asked me to help you with your doll. And you wouldn’t be here right now.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that. No, actually, I knew exactly what I wanted to say to that. I wanted to tell him that I very badly wanted him to kiss me.

I made a mental note later to ask him if he was some kind of psychic or something. Because not two seconds after that thought formed in my head he pushed up onto one elbow, leaned over me, and did just that. The first one was soft and sweet, just a lingering brush of his lips across mine. The second one introduced me to Kenny’s tongue. I was pleased to meet it. Since my mouth was a little too busy to express that properly, curling my hand around the back of his neck would have to do. There was a soft rustling noise at my hip–Kenny’s knee sliding up along the outside of my leg and sneaking around to nestle between my thighs. He was hard against my hip, very hard, even through my denim and his worn fleece, and that made my own dick respond in kind. I slid my hand down, got a good handful of his ass, and told him by way of a not-so-subtle tug that I wanted him on top of me. He didn’t have to be told twice.

It was amazing how fast Kenny learned and responded to all the little nonverbal cues I tend to give. Ray, I had to tell in so many words “touch me here” or “let me kiss you there” or “take that off.” Kenny… I was starting to think he really was psychic. I gave his hand the slightest nudge, it went exactly where I wanted it. I nuzzled at his jaw, he craned his head back to let me at his neck. My hand went under his shirt, he sat up to pull it off. And before I even realized I was rubbing against him in earnest, he held me back with a hand on my hip and mumbled something into my shoulder about not messing up my jeans.

Ironically, we didn’t use those condoms I’d taken such great care to bring–neither of us could be bothered to get off the bed long enough to fetch them. He rolled off me just long enough to get his mutilated sweat pants and my jeans, shirt, and boxers off and grab the tiny bottle of lotion on the nightstand.

Fun fact: the miniature lotion bottles they put in motel rooms hold just the right amount of Vaseline Intensive Care to prepare two penises for frottage. Whether that was by design or accident, I don’t know. I made a mental note to e-mail the manufacturer someday to ask. If nothing else, it would be something amusing for some plant employee to tack up on his office wall.

Kenny pitched the bottle over his shoulder, empty save for a thin film of lotion coating the inside, towards the trash can and this time got nothing but net. I would have congratulated him, but I had more important things to concentrate on. Like the warm, tight, and now slippery press of bare skin against my dick as Kenny rolled back on top of me and picked things up where they left off. I bucked upwards against Kenny’s hip, now unfettered by my second-to-last clean pair of jeans. In return he ground down against mine, whispering things like God and Jeff and so good into my ear and punctuating each whisper with a flick of his tongue right against one of those mysterious bundles of nerves that connect the ears directly to the dick.

And that… that was more than I could stand. “Kenny,” I gasped, clutching at his shoulder with one hand and his ass with the other, “I’m–fuck, I’m–”

“Yeah,” he gasped back, and bit.

I don’t think I’d ever come so hard in my entire life. I may have blacked out for a second. When I came back to my senses my legs were tangled up around Kenny’s, my fingernails were dug into his hip and his ass, my teeth were buried in his shoulder, and some asshole next door was pounding on the wall.

I’d barely had time to register that last (let alone pound back) when Kenny got a handful of my hair, pulled my head back, and crushed his mouth hard against the side of my throat to muffle his own impressively loud orgasm noises. If there was any dry skin left between my hip and his before, there sure as hell wasn’t now.

How long we lay there in a tangled, sweaty, sticky lump before either of us could move again, I don’t know. I do know that by the time Kenny picked his head up and blearily blinked down at me, I could see a sliver of gray sky through the curtains.

“Unh,” I declared. Kenny grunted in agreement. And snickered.

“Well,” he said, “at least now we’ve got something to do till midnight…”

*

We did end up using those condoms after all.

*

“Here we go,” Kenny chirped, hunching over his laptop. “Fifteen seconds ’til midnight.”

“Are you sure?” I rested my chin on his shoulder. “I mean, I doubt it’s synchronized its watch with–”

“No worries. Atomic clock.” He grinned and kissed me on the cheek. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, aaaaaaand I’m not dead!” He seemed way too amused by all this.

“The doll,” I started. “Do you think it’s–”

“Won’t know for sure till we head back to your place,” Kenny said. “Tomorrow. But right now? There is a Denny’s right over there and I could kill for some bacon.”

I couldn’t argue with that.

*

Having stuffed ourselves with French toast and fried pork products, we returned to Kenny’s motel room to resume screwing like little bunny rabbits. But when we entered the room and Kenny turned the lights on, my eye just sort of tracked straight to the dresser.

I probably would have screamed like a girl if I could have drawn enough air. A weak little whimper of “Kenny!” was all I could manage.

“Jeff?” Kenny turned around and took me by the shoulder. “What? What’s wr–” He noticed where I was staring, turned, and hissed “shit!” under his breath.

The doll was sitting on the motel room dresser, with its head and empty eye sockets turned directly to face us and one plastic arm raised to point an accusing tiny plastic hand in our direction.

“Hello,” the doll said. Its voice had changed. Lower in pitch. Rougher. Angrier.

Kenny swept me behind him with one outstretched arm. “Wait,” he murmured. “Wait…”

“I have seen many things. Today…” An odd choking noise came from the doll. “Today…” It began to vibrate, rattling against the veneer it sat on. It’s pissed, I thought, the plan didn’t work and it’s pissed, it’s–

“Today… I… was… WRONG!”

The doll seemed to implode then, crumpling in on itself, collapsing into a tiny wrinkled nugget of plastic on the dresser. There was a quick flash of blue flame, and then even that was gone.

It took a few minutes for me to realize what’d just happened, during which I clung to Kenny’s back like a barnacle. And then once it sank in I realized there was something very important I needed to do.

I fumbled my cell phone out of my pocket, scrolled to Ray’s number, and hit “send,” taking no small degree of malicious pleasure in the fact that I would be waking him up at two in the morning on a work night. “Mnrflwhat,” came his answer after three and a half rings.

“Hey,” I said, trying to sound as casual as possible. “It’s me. Doll’s gone.”

“Wha… oh. For real?”

“For real. It’s dead.” I raised an eyebrow at Kenny. He realized what I was about to do and clamped a hand over his mouth to muffle the soft snrrrrk! noise that brought on.

“No shit?” Ray laughed a bit. “What’d you have to do? Pour salt on it and set it on fire, like on Supernatural or–”

“Nah.” I grinned. “I just had to make one of its predictions not come true.

“Oh, sweet. That’s–”

I swear I heard the ding! of the light bulb coming on over Ray’s head… and the blood draining from his face as he realized what that meant.

“Oh,” he said, a lot less enthusiastically. “Oh. Oh shit. Jeff. Dude. I-I didn’t actually fuck him, ‘kay, he just sucked my dick a couple times, that doesn’t really count as sex, ri–”

Bye, Ray.” I hung up on him.

Kenny just stared at me for a second, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. “That son of a bitch!” he finally said. “Fuck him.”

“Nah.” I grinned and reached for Kenny’s belt buckle. “I’d rather not.”

Well then,” he said, and pulled me back down onto the bed.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinteresttumblrmail
Share this with your friends!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *