Loopholes

 

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Three stories from Loopholes

Monoculus

He held his new glass eye up to the light. I like it, he said. It has boldness. Depth.

    He fitted the eye and set its gaze on her, penetrating, unwavering.

    She said, Don’t look at me like that.

    I can’t help it, he said. It’s the eye. It has boldness, depth. I can’t change its expression.

    Then buy another one, she said. I can’t stand being looked at like that all day.

    It was the last one in the shipment, he said. I’d have to wait three months for another selection. They’re not easy to obtain.

    I can wait three months if it means I get an eye that looks at me tenderly. Can’t you order a tender eye?

    I don’t think they make tender eyes.

    Well, what are the options?

    Bold. Cruel. Distant. Unfathomable.

    Can’t say I like any of them. How about you just take it out and we live with empty for a while? Empty. Yes. That could work.

 

Hold-up

Rain scuds the late-night servo. A van in a parking bay, bearded driver asleep. A car at a pump. In the shop, Mrs Mac’s pies sit in the warming box. A man in a hoodie thumbs through girlie mags under the white light. As the car leaves the pump, he fronts the counter. The attendant’s palms rise. Empty the till, says the hoodie, waving his pistol. Okay, says the attendant. It’s not. Is it? Davo? Morton Primary? Shut up and give me the money. Okay, says the attendant. I remember now. Fish paste sandwiches. When I didn’ bring me lunch, ya’d share. Ya had the best sandwiches. Meanwhile the van driver wakes, rakes his beard. Climbs down and heads for the glass doors. At the sight of the gun he backs off. Whattaya need it for, Davo? the attendant is saying. Ya hungry? I can give ya a pie. Take a pie, Davo. Go on. As the van driver pulls out his phone his hi-vis vest gleams. It catches the hoodie’s eye.

 

Rear Window

He wore a suit well, she thought, despite his bulk. She left him where he lay on the floor and took her martini to the window seat. Time enough to dispose of the body. All she’d need was a stout suitcase or two. She sucked the olive off the swizzle stick and chuckled at the idea: Ding-Dong. Avon calling! Heck, that dancer was at her practice again, thump-thump-thump. She inclined an ankle this way and that, admiring her new sling backs. How peaceful it was in the apartment without his incessant carping and his dark moods. She certainly felt a whole lot better. The woman on the balcony above was reeling in her yappy dog in its ridiculous little basket. Her eyes moved up to the apartment across the courtyard. Heck, there he was at the window – the photographer with the broken leg and fashion-plate girlfriend and nothing better to do than spy on his neighbours. She switched off the lamp and lit a cigarette. When would this heat break?

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Julie Chevalier

I love these stories. Targeted is one of my favourites from Loopholes. It make me squirm, the way some of Elizabeth Strout's stories in Olive Kittredge do.

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