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Black Wax

August 2023, no. 456

Black Wax

August 2023, no. 456

They met by the smashed call box at the intersection of Homan and 16th, as proposed in her perfectly spelt text message earlier that night.

Her name was Artesia, which Harry would later learn she wrote on her mailbox as ‘Tease ya’. Harry might have guessed that the moment he saw her.

Full-body leather. Tattoo of a honey bee on her neck. A my-body-my-canvas vibe that suggested she had more ink, way more carnivorous, other places too. Most unpromising of all: the Fleetwood Mac T-shirt. (Flamingo-coloured brassiere peeking through, but by this point he was just glad she was wearing underwear at all.)

Harry’s face must have fallen, because Artesia said, ‘Yo, what.’

She had a voice that sounded like she’d been smoking for half an actual century. Maybe that’s why, on the phone, Harry had assumed he was dealing with someone considerably older. In fact, Artesia was in her early twenties, same as him.

Harry didn’t quite meet her eyes, tried to make this as impersonal as possible.

‘Look,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry, but my ad was ... serious, you know?’

‘Uh-huh,’ she said. ‘And I seriously hauled it out here to meet you.’

‘I’m hiring a secretary? For accounting and administration?’

‘I heard you on the phone. I can do that.’

‘Like, your buttoned-down type of secretary.’

Artesia assessed herself. ‘You see any buttons up?’

Zips and rips, that’s all Harry saw.

From the New Issue

Comment (1)

  • Loved it. The language, the plot and the characters. It is very satisfying to read a story with guts (and gutzo) instead of the dreary internal relationship anecdotes that often fill our literary pages these days.
    Posted by Harley Carter
    04 August 2023

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