Augustine Hawking's parents named her for a goddamn saint. A saint who believed only though sin could one achieve sainthood. She felt she was doomed to live up to such expectation. Nothing she did could shock or appal them. When she brought home the guy with a safety pin through his nostril, still bleeding, tonight, neither even raised an eyebrow. She had to fuck him out of spite. Damn laissez-faire Catholicism shit, she said in her head while he, what was his name, grunted and sweated on top of her. She couldn't take her eye off the safety pin, moving so rhythmically up and down in front of her. Time left the room until the pin stopped and she brought her legs up to kick him off her bed.
When he stumbled out the door of the downtown home, swearing at her as she gave him the finger, she slammed the door and walked still naked, into the living room where her parents sat watching the late news. A plane hijacking, septuplets, an earthquake, a merger, a shooting, a stock market dip. Augustine's mother smiled sweetly at her daughter. "He did you good then, honey?"
"Hardly," Augustine replied, "Bugger didn't even need me there. Fuck. I need a goddamn cigar."
Her mother crossed herself before answering, "In the drawer by the phone, dear, but not in the house, okay?"
Anselm Lederman woke Saturday morning to a tingle in his nose and no reason to leave his bed. His cat Jerome must have been sleeping on his pillow again Jesus, he thought. He picked his nose thoroughly, rolled the cat hair and mucus into a ball and flicked it toward the litter pan miles away in the other room. He rolled onto his back and watched the plaster on the ceiling. He felt one day it would come in on top of him. It always creaked; there was always dust on his bed when he crawled in at night. The ceiling was always the last thing he heard before he fell asleep and dreamed of it.
Above him lived Ambrose, though he didn't know her name, a big beautiful woman with pendulous breasts. Anselm often dreamed of those breasts falling and coming through his ceiling. Landing on his face. They would smother him, and he would suckle them both until he died without oxygen. Of course, that was when he woke up, face down in his blankets, pillows, or Jerome. One night Ambrose grabbed him by the back of his neck and pulled him deeper in to those knockers, and she clawed orgasmically at his back, until he came, awake and covered in scratches. Jerome rarely came to bed with him afterward. Last nightwas an exception to the rule, he figured.
Ambrose Higgs lived by herself in a two bedroom downtown apartment on the sixth floor. She stood naked before the bathroom mirror-the only one in the entire suite. The mirror showed her her body from the sagging nipples upward. She focused on her hairy armpits, noticeable though her arms hung motionless by her side. Her three chin's were the most disgusting feature; that, or her ears.Years of heavy earrings worn to draw attention from her chins had left the lobes stretched, skewed, distorted, just hanging there. A feature mirrored by her nipples, brown and spotted and facing the sink that she leaned her abdomen on. She'd long lost the urge to weigh herself. Her only compulsion now was to die the only way she knew how. Alone, she said aloud.
She decided not to bother with any foundation or cosmetic masking today. What did it matter. All anyone saw was fat. Slow walking fat, maybe woman, likely bitch. But always fat first.
She went to the kitchen and plopped two pieces of bread in the toaster, and took out the butter from the refrigerator. She always kept a knife in the butter. Seemed to belong there. Last night she stabbed the new block downward, so the butter knife looked like Excalibur; she Arthur this morning, not Ambrose. Why not Ambrosia? She might have been thin and beautiful if she'd been named better. Ambrosia: sweet smelling, sweet sounding. She stamped her foot, and heard the floor creak. Why had she even bothered getting out of bed today, she thought. She needed groceries. Cookies, to be precise. Wal-Mart was down the block, and they had those chocolate-dipped marshmallows.
Augustine Hawking woke up on the couch under a frilly afghan her mother'made for a craft sale years ago. She'd said she couldn't part with it, it was so "perdy." Her mother never in her life had said "perdy" before, like she was babbling to an infant, condescending to an imaginary grandchild. The blanket did look like it was made to fit a toddler's bed. Carefully crocheted flowers, animals, and letters made up the nine middle squares in blue, red, and yellow. Squares of a cat, a horse, and a bird in a row, like tic-tac-toe. Why not a dog? Maybe the pattern didn't call for a dog, she thought. Augustine threw it on the floor and stood, noticing she was still naked.
In her room she chose her weapons-a white T-shirt that read "No.1," jeans, a plaid overshirt, and white tube socks. She'd got them all yesterday at the Wal-Mart. That's where'd she'd met safety pin man. New approach to her parents. Acquiescence. She pulled her blonde hair into a pony tail and went to the full length mirror outside the bathroom. Respectable, she thought. Forgettable. Antichrist. Perfect.
She found her parents eating fibre cereal at the nook in the kitchen. They'd taken out the Froot Loops for her already. Instead Augustine clapped her hands, said, "good morning," and filled her bowl with the muslix mixture. Her father didn't look up from his page of comics; her mother finished chewing before speculating.
"Are you getting health conscious or is that coming up later?"