Read an Excerpt
“Is that why they fired you?” the therapist probed. “Because you called your supervisor a bitch?”
Dulcie shrugged. “That and the fact that I was totally fucked up on crank.”
The therapist tried to catch Dulcie’s eye, but she wouldn’t look at her. She was too busy chewing on her cuticle. “Were you still living with Mike?”
“Was he abusing you?”
She nodded again.
“But you didn’t see an out?”
Dulcie shook her head, her eyes shiny with tears.
“So, you OD’d?”
Dulcie shrugged and sucked the blood off her bleeding thumb.
The therapist patted Dulcie on the knee. “Thank you, Dulcie.”
“Hey, Dulcie,” Ty said. “Fuck him. Fuck that fucker. Just fuck that motherfucker.”
The therapist smiled at Ty. “Thank you, Ty.” A chubby guy with dark beady eyes giggled. The therapist glanced around the circle. “Does anyone else have anything to add?” She looked at Flynn, who was trying to catch Dulcie’s eye. “James? You seem very quiet today.”
“Maybe because I have nothing to say.”
“You have nothing you’d like to share with the group?”
“I’ve said it all, haven’t I? And no one is listening. While we sit here blabbering away, our enemies are making plans. And what do we do? Nothing.”
The chubby, beady-eyed guy enthusiastically nodded in agreement.
The therapist smiled at the man. “Bob? Is there something you’d like to say?”
“I know what they’re planning. I know what they’re making.” Bob motioned for everyone to lean in and when they did, he whispered, “Turkey Loaf.”
A slab of turkey loaf covered with gelatinous beige gravy plopped onto a plate next to a perfectly spherical scoop of mashed potatoes. An elderly cafeteria lady with a hairnet handed the bland-looking meal to James Flynn, who set it on his bright blue tray next to a tiny bowl of creamed corn and a stale dinner roll. Flynn moved down the line, grabbed a Styrofoam cup and filled it with ice and Diet Coke. After grabbing his plastic utensils, he scanned the cafeteria for a friendly face and spied Dulcie alone at a table. As he moved towards her, he saw O’Malley put his hands next to her plate and lean down right by her face, his big ugly mug invading her space.
“You know you want it.”
“Fuck you,” Dulcie said.
“That’s right. I know you want to. I can see how you look at me. You must be horny as hell, a hot little piece of ass like you.”
James stepped between them, put his tray down and sat next to Dulcie. “Mr. O’Malley, may I make a recommendation?”
“Get the hell out of here, Flynn.” O’Malley whispered.
“Perhaps you should try a different approach?”
“What did I just say?”
“A little subtlety, a little romance, less penis and more panache.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Unlike us men, who prefer getting to the point, women require a little more finesse.”
O’Malley grabbed James by the tie and pulled him to his feet. With his other hand, he grabbed James by the balls. Flynn’s eyes went wide with pain and surprise, his voice tight, “An interesting technique.”
He grabbed O’Malley’s wrist and casually turned, twisting it back, using his weight and momentum against him until O’Malley grunted and released Flynn’s package. Flynn continued to twist the man’s arm up and back, forcing O’Malley to gasp.
“However,” Flynn added. “I would recommend starting with something more subtle.”
Barker, the other beefy orderly, suddenly appeared. “We got a problem here?”
“Not at all.” Flynn released O’Malley’s arm, the burly jerk’s face now red with fury. “I was simply instructing Mr. O’Malley here in the finer points of seduction.”
O’Malley pulled out a pair of plastic handcuffs. “Grab his arms.” Barker nodded and reached for Flynn who effortlessly evaded him. Both orderlies charged forward, pushing Dulcie out of the way. A small Hispanic man stepped between them, grabbing Flynn by the arm.
The man was in his early twenties and wore the lime green outfit of an orderly. He was short and stocky, verging on chunky. His kind face and warm smile belied skittish eyes. “James, what are you doing, man? Are you annoying these gentlemen again?”
“Actually, Sancho, I was about to offer Mr. O’Malley a few tips on how to talk to women without making them lose their last seven lunches.”
Barker and O’Malley moved forward, but Sancho put up his hands, holding them back.
“James is just having some fun with ya, man. He knows you two don’t need no tips to get lucky.”
“Absolutely,” Flynn agreed. “What these two need is major plastic surgery.”
Barker shoved Sancho out of the way just as Dr. Nickelson walked by with a tray.
“Sir, I see you’re trying the turkey loaf,” Sancho said, offering Nickelson a smile. “You’re a brave man.”
“Indeed, I am,” Nickelson said. “Good afternoon, gentlemen.”
O’Malley and Barker mumbled greetings as Sancho grabbed Flynn by the sleeve and pulled him away. Dulcie quickly followed. They pushed past the cafeteria line and outside into the commons area.
“That O’Malley is a menace,” James said.
“So, don’t mess with him,” Sancho said.
“How he made it into her Majesty’s Secret Service is a bloody mystery.”
“You okay brother?
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Sancho smiled, shaking his head. “No reason, man. You take care, okay?” Sancho headed back into the cafeteria, leaving James with Dulcie.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Dulcie demanded.
“I just thought—”
“I was handling it. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“Of course you can.”
Angry tears filled her eyes. Flynn pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. She wiped her tears and noisily blew her nose. When she went to hand him his hanky, Flynn recoiled, holding up his hands. “Consider it a gift.”
“There you go. That’s better. You’ll be fine. You just need to mingle with a better class of gentlemen.”
“You can say that again.” She looked at James with real affection. “It’s too bad you’re such a loon.”
Her smile faded into something sad. “You’re almost the perfect man.”