The woman in the back of Fritzel's
keeps a scalpel in her purse.
She dips a finger in her gin,
pushes the lemon to the bottom.
She's sat through four bands
on open-mike night, four versions
of "Piece of My Heart." She's waiting
for a traveler, someone with a suitcase
and a charge card to settle
her long bar tab and take her
back to his room. One man
woke in his bath packed in ice like a fish,
a telephone and a note near his hand,
'Call the hospital or you will die.'
He went to the mirror,
found two long slits like gills
on his back. He thought of his last
Bloody Mary, the strange woman
who pulled the covers over him
like a net. Afterwards, her body
curled and hard, a baited hook.
Tomorrow, he will learn
that even kidneys are bought and traded,
that you could live with just one.
If he sleeps, he will dream of water,
of moving through treacherous seas
and arriving almost intact.
Copyright © 2002 Jamie Wasserman
Jamie Wasserman's poetry and fiction have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Weber Studies, Flesh and Blood, Vampire's Dan Story Emporium, Magma, Clay Palm Review, frisson, and dozens of others. His poem "Why I Believe in Ghosts" received an honorable mention from the 2002 Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthology. For more about him, visit his website.