We’re pleased to publish an excerpt from Jennifer Fliss’s new collection The Predatory Animal Ball. Ramona Ausabel called it “a raucous, wondrous event of a book,” and Tyrese Coleman noted that its stories “use style and format to showcase all the ways in which an animal tale is always about our inner human instincts.” Read on for a foray into Fliss’s fiction.
The fine people who live on Sex Drive are often seen as a wanton lot. The road ends in a cul-de-sac, where whispers and gossip collect, in front of 1960 modern – not so modern anymore – houses.
They should not be blamed for taking advantage of a real estate market that allowed them to purchase a small lot with a large house, much larger than their needs. They would not have been able to get into this neighborhood otherwise.
One thing to note: her sex drive is not the same as his sex drive. She sees oaks and maples and the peeling paint of the house across the street. He sees that the wife across the street mows the lawn in very short shorts and that their lawn is very close cut.
The mail man, the milk man, the gas company reps; they stop into Sex Drive and they leave behind eyes behind curtains behind perfectly clean windows. Peekaboo to the children and to each other. The curtains are heavy, damask with a trail of gold swirling through the fabric. Lacquered nails trace the pattern, if not bitten to the quick.
A tired worn block in a tired worn suburb outside a tired worn city under a halcyon sky.
After a big rain, the gutters are useless. The puddles become ponds become small lakes. You might consider them water features. If you look close enough, you can see up the neighbor’s skirt as she brazenly tromps right through the iridescent oily water. But you don’t have to do that since you can see up her skirt any old time. That’s the thing when you live here.
Oh! The townspeople laugh, a glint of jealousy in their eyes, you live on Sex Drive, do you? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Except that last one was not a nudge, but a pat on your thigh, no not a pat, but a rub, a caress. Is it wanted? Is it wonted?
They come to parties, to dinners, they leave a little less sure of their own place on Evergreen Lane and Willow Creek Trail.
The fine folks of Sex Drive have created a neighborhood watch. They watch, they listen, they salivate at the thought of being watched and listened to. So do you, don’t you?