The Mink by Denis Woychuk
Giulia sat at the vanity table in her room. She wore red stilettos, a lush mink coat, thong panties and not much else.
“You look cute, honey,” said her mother. “All acts of love are truly blessed.”
“When I told Simon I didn’t like the first coat he bought, he ran out and got me the one I wanted. Just like that—now that he got money.”
“That shows he loves you. He’s willing to drop some coin.”
Giulia stood up, admiring herself in the mirror. “Georgi,” she said, “he in a fix now. Nine months of lock-up, he gonna be crazy. I don’t care.”
“He lay a finger on you and… I’m thinking Simon got this but we got back-up if we need.”
Giulia looked at herself and she thought about this class she had taken and how everybody at Brooklyn College night school pretended that violence was horrible—they were so full of shit.
“Oh don’t give me that,” she had wanted to say to her classmates. “Violence IS exciting! Everybody know that. And the most exciting thing? Two men fighting over one girl. I kinda told Georgi he should take his time getting out, I wasn’t that lonely. You shoulda seen the look on his face! Hee hee. That was worth a million bucks. He don’t say nothing, not at first, goes all quiet and shit, and then he turn all red, first his neck and then his ears, his cheeks, his eyes on fire and then he blows his top, starts screaming and pounding on the glass between us like he killing somebody. He thinking it’s Tony, you know, my first husband, but no, it’s not Tony, I say; it’s nobody you know. You don’t know nobody else, he screams, but by then them guards are dragging him away and I’m just wishing I had a video of the whole thing.
“Say, you don’t suppose Rikers would give me the recording do you?” she asked her mom. “I’m sure they got one. I’d like to show him what a idiot he is.”
“And he is a idiot,” said Mrs. DeLuca. “Nothing come easy. Ya got to go out and take what yours. Georgi ain’t gonna lay a finger on you. I got friends. It’s better if they don’t get involved, but honey, you got family.”
There was a knock on the door. “Who is it?” called Giulia. “Simon.”
“Ooooh! it’s The Earl!” said Mrs.DeLuca “Open the door for him Giulia.”
Giulia pulled open the door, teetering on very high heels, swathed in his gift mink. “Hello handsome,” she purred. “Good-looking in Brooklyn. I just love love love my new mink!” She embraced him warmly, letting the coat slide open.
“Honey,” Mrs. DeLuca said to Giulia, “go downstairs and make us some coffee. I gotta talk to Simon private-like.”
“I don’t feel like making no coffee.”
“I don’t care if you feel like it. Go make us drinks then. We be down in a few, after we talk.”
“You don’t gotta be so bossy. I’m a grown woman.”
“I’m your mother! Now, GO!”
Giulia gave a quick kiss to Simon and skittled down the stairs.
Mrs. DeLuca took Simon by the hands.
“That was really nice time we had,” she said, “me giving you those pointers. Truth be told, I’m kinda jealous. No. Not the coat. Coats is a dime a dozen. I mean, not the mink, that ain’t cheap, the mink you gotta pay for—that what makes it valuable. I’m talking about that little tumble. You did real good. But a mother sacrifices for her kid—puts her kid ahead of herself. Otherwise I’d keep you for me. You and that nose. But that ain’t how it gonna be, so she don’t ever have to know nothing about what happened between us, not a word. The apple don’t fall far from the tree; I tell you, she gonna be a wild ride.”
She pulled Simon into her arms and it was so nice, she thought she would cry, and, after a moment, she did. “Why,” she cried, “why must I have these circles under my eyes, these hideous black circles?”
“No, Mrs. D.,” said Simon, “you are the hottest mother of a grown child that I have ever seen.” But he looked at her eyes and saw, for the first time, that she was partly right; under her eyes were faint grey circles. “Why,” she cried, “why does my skin wrinkle and belly turn to fat?” She pulled open her wrap-around dress and she was actually quite trim—for forty-two she was astounding. But Simon was twenty-three.
Simon looked at her skin as if for the first time, and sure enough, her skin was slightly wrinkled and her belly had a light layer of fat. “Why,” she cried, “why must I be old?” Simon reached for the back of her bra where the catch was, anticipating the tumble out. She slapped him.
“What’s the matter with you? I told you a mother gotta put her kid before herself and now you trying to seduce me? Just be careful you don’t fuck things up! Just remember: Every dog has his day. You don’t chose who you love. God does that. Just make sure you protect it. A satisfied man don’t stray. If he well-fed and well fucked—he is well-off.”
There was a knock on the door. Mrs. DeLuca quickly pulled her dress closed and tied the belt around her waist. “Come in,” she called out.
Miss B, Simon’s younger sister, entered the room. “I can’t believe you did that. It’s summer. I just saw Giulia downstairs. She’s wearing a mink. What’s the matter with the three of youse?”
Mrs. DeLuca ignored her remark—Miss B was just an ignorant child who was not going to control this conversation—and went back to her earlier topic. “These men, they ain’t like us,” she said to Miss B. “If they don’t get enough, they look for it somewhere else.”
“If I don’t get enough, I look for it somewhere else, too,” said Miss B.
“Enough what?” Simon asked. He was still thinking about how that coat slid open. Mrs. DeLuca wanted to say ‘pussy’ but she couldn’t bring herself to speak that way in front of Simon. It was too fresh.
“Money,” said Miss B.
© Denis Woychuk, 2017
Denis Woychuk is the founder and principal owner of KGB Bar. He has published two children’s books and a memoir, Attorney For The Damned: A Lawyer’s Life With The Criminally Insane, which is presently under option for a TV series. He has an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College, a J.D. from Fordham University, and has been both a judge and a floor mopper for local 32B, the office cleaners’ union. He’s been around.
The Rachels was read by Kristen Calgaro, with music by Travis Tench, for the Brooklyn Book Festival on Wednesday, 13th September.