Born in Flames, Cauled in Blood

Normally Tits doesn’t give a hot fuck what happens in the parks, on account of it’s usually empty words and full cocks, but lately something’s set her city aroil like a nest full of hornets. The poets and the socialists are armed to the teeth and there’s a new one dead every day for a month before she figures she has to step in.

“Look,” she tells the sad-mouthed boy facedown in a fountain, “what the hell goes on here? What’s got you kickin’ up, my breaker of words?” Gurgles, mostly, so she hauls him up by his hair and lets him get one lungful in, two, before she slaps his mouth hard on his teeth. “Talk to me, sweet summer’s child.”

“War,” he grins through a copper jawful of blood. “War and fire and new beginnings. Thursday is coming, and he’ll drag you down, all of you down, to the mud and the snakes and a ruby-bright stone.” Useless chatter, so she pushes him back under water and leaves him there till life comes foaming out of his nose.

War, huh. She’s an old hand at war, the bloody spirit of the times, a walking apocalypse already. Let cities and nations fall: she’ll be riding the cycle with a sword in her mouth.

Passionate Intensity

You would expect them to hate each other, but no: Tits fell in love with every peaceable inch of her the moment they locked eyes over the rapidly cooling corpse of Miles of the Ponies. “Little sister,” Tits told her, breathing easy as she tipped gCopaleen’s corpus delicately over the side of the Skunk River bridge, “you got nothing to fear from me. Let me stand you a reefer.”

They got high as two kites, cooling the resinous smoke in their lungs and laughing it out in each other’s faces, Tits blowing hot, Hope blowing cold. Hope told her about her sisters with their pointed virtues, and Tits read her the litany of every mother-loving man she’d killed. Dawn and the police found them still leaned against the rail, so Tits tipped her hat to Detective Mulrooney and took them off to an automat for a cup of coffee and more talk.

“Tits Akimbo’s made a friend,” cracked the streets, agog at the sudden brazen humanity of her. The quietest mule kicks the hardest, and Tits would have had to grass a few valuable connections for talking out the south side of their mouths, only Fisheye made the mistake of peeling after Hope with a boathook. Word got around about the smoking crater Fish left in Hamartia Street and Hope clean and virginal at the dab center of it, and suddenly things were calm as lenten service.

Thick as thieves, those two, and full of sister-love as any blood; one blowing hot, one blowing cold.

Barratry

There’s them that blame it on all the lead in the gas thirty, forty years ago, which frankly Tits finds kind of offensive. She growls just thinking about it, and a column of air goes bubbling up past her mask in disdain. What did they know, anyway? Scientists. She was a fucking god of war emerged naked from the untouched rock, and that was all there was to it.

The water is killing cold but the wet suit does what it is goddamned supposed to do so she’s mostly aware of how cold Byron must be, assuming through some miracle the bottomfeeders have left him enough meat to feel anything with. Byron hated the cold; just the thought of how much he’d bitch warmed the very cockles of her heart.

There’s a ladder hanging off the back of the yacht like there ain’t any kind of worry to have. She lets the Sound take the belt and the tank and she swarms over the side like hell itself kicking down the door. None of Lefty Frizelle’s girls are sober enough to spot her until she’s harpooned Lefty off the roof of the conning tower, all teeth and blood and a giant fuckoff spear.

“Swim for it, you white-legs,” she tells what’s left, “I got what I came for.”

“Christ, Tits, have a heart,” says one, “that’s five fuckin’ miles.” It might have been Peaches Rodriguez before the second harpoon carries her out into the bay. The rest go piling into the water willingly enough; she only has to harpoon two more.

She lets the boat drift along beside them until the cold pulls them all down to keep Byron company, which is just perfect. He’d never cared much for women; just one more thing to bitch about.

Meatwagon

And when she was old and full of sleep she looked up to find her death peering in the window. The shock of it — that fleshless face! those cobwebbed eyes! — ran through her like power lines, like turbines, like water breaking against the dam.

“I have known you,” she said.

“Yes,” said her death, “but will you know me yet again?”

“Always,” she vowed, “always and forever,” and her death gave that half-forgotten sclerotic chuckle and was gone. She took her rifle down from above the door, cleaned and oiled it, hands slow but gaining, and set out to track her down.

For a year and a day she hunted her death through the alleys and the plazas of the city that had once been hers. Broke old friends, old promises, new kneecaps. The old flash was gone, but not the blade; she drew maps in blood on the undersides of tables in rotting bars, traced the letters of an unsayable name among the spindle-legged cranes of the harborside.

Her death was wily, old and clever.

She ran her death to ground at last, pinned her to earth between her shadow and her hair. “Found you,” she growled, knobby finger gentle on the trigger. “When you get to hell, you tell ’em Tits Akimbo sent you.”

“Always and forever,” said her death, and laughs again.

“The fuck you say,” she said, and cored the middle of her empty head open with one beautiful perfect shot. “I’m an almighty god of death.”

Policework

For the most part she’s a specter, a bedtime story the gangs tell themselves to keep shit level but every so often somebody remembers that she’s meat like anyone else and then Tits Akimbo has to remind these jokers how shit gets DONE.

“I ain’t scared of you, Tits,” sneers the latest chucklehead, some hardfaced dropout from Japan. “I’m gonna leave you in so many pieces they’ll have to bury you in a tea strainer.”

“You sweet-talker, you,” grins Tits, and spits the cherry end of the joint out on the floor. A circle opens up in the crowd and the whole bar goes silent except for the yowling of the cats in the pit. “Let’s see what you learned in prep school.”

It doesn’t take very long. She’s a fucking ARTISAN with that knife. She wipes the blade clean on the wreckage before turning back to the fight. Someone else will clean up the mess, and she’s got money riding on the mean tabby. She doesn’t have to pay for a drink the whole rest of the night, though it’s not like she was planning to, anyway.