The Manchester Review
Jim Quinn
Men in Love
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              “All I said was, I like you’re tan all over.”

              I walk to the table, kiss the back of her ear. She shrugs me off. Her hair’s red, tied in its own knot to hold it up, white rings show in her neck. She cries. I kiss a white neck ring. She talks down into her arms.

              “I go to the beach at down. See why I hate America? You say sun down when sun goes down, and down again when sun comes up. I take off my bikini, nobody is there, I tan. American women naked look scared.” She means dawn when she says down. She means scarred when she says scared. She’s right. Pale strap scars on shoulders, ghost bras, diaper-shaped crotch and ass patches. They look like sleek spotted eely brown-and-white puppies. We’re in Wildwood-by-the-Sea, New Jersey, which has, check any atlas, more hyphens than any other town in the world. I was born here. It’s our second night together – second morning, we work the Boards all night. Her husband works days and sets up his scam at 5 a.m. The Boards are the boardwalk, we’re shills.

              She looks up at me, happy or almost. “My husband will kill me when he finds out.”

              “You think that because he’s your first husband. Husbands never kill anybody, not even themselves. They cry. Husbands forgot how to be jealous, like they forgot how to be in love. They cry remembering what they forgot. Only their lovers kill wives.”

              “In my country, but I don’t know where is my country, they kill. Everybody kills. Even the wife would kill.”

              I call her Rose, can’t pronounce the name she can’t spell in English, it doesn’t sound like a name, just crashing teeth noises. She speaks English almost without an accent, slightly African-American. She learned it from rock songs. It’s meanings she gets wrong, ideas, attitudes.