Short Story
                                      Bleeding For My Sins
                                                                    By Oliver Lodge


    “[H]e does not want to overcome his hostility but rather to become less inhibited or more skillful in
expressing it. Then he would be so awe-inspiring that everybody would rush to fulfill his claims. Both of
these factors put a kind of premium on being discontented. And he is indeed the chronically
discontented person.” –Karen Horney

    “By making man so vulnerable to passion, nature has placed him at woman’s mercy, and she who
has not the sense to treat him like a humble subject, a slave, a plaything, and finally to betray him with a
laugh – well, she is a woman of little wisdom.” –Leopold von Sacher-Masoch


    The pallid light of November sneaks in through a window overlooking a clearing matted with patches of
dead grass. The image is a beige rectangle of daylight hanging over me in my sunken chair. Hunched
over and motionless, I contemplate the complete and utter powerlessness of my condition, my memory
flitting away from me and into the chilly ether of early winter every other second to die alone and unnoticed
in the corners of my bare room. A charcoal sweater with missing buttons hangs off the thinning rack of my
frail body. My neglected beard clamors down my chin and neck in tufts like the paw prints of a dying animal
in the snow.

    The phone rings and I wonder if it's you. It rings for three minutes. As badly as I want to hear your voice, I
keep forgetting to pick it up. It eventually stops. Cut short half way through, the final ring echoes through the
dearth of the dour facility. Perhaps the phone had been ringing in the nurse's station and not my room. I get
confused.

    A visitor arrives at the residence before sundown. She traverses hallways flanked by a scrambled blur
of pastels encased in sterile trapezoids which adorn the walls begrudgingly. Below these pictures sit an
assemblage of aged convalescents in flimsy wheelchairs, their scabrous bowels encased in wrinkled
cadaver pouches of cellulite. The dermal layers of their skin are spotted with clots and bruises; crystallized
needles of uric acid burn through the icy tips of their neuropathic fingers and toes; drool oozes over the
silos of their discolored mouths as they gaze into the abyss of their own imminent extinctions, the eye of
this gruesome chasm lined with the mundane memories of bygone days.

    The overdue chore of scrubbing their feet is communicated to the staff via the smell of melted butter
and crumbled asiago. One resident holds vigil by the exit of the wing, rocking in place and demanding she
be taken to "where it's happy". Reminiscent of a poodle's ears, silver sideburns droop past her jawline; a
pair of coke bottle glasses is plastered crookedly to the bridge of her misshapen nose. Drowning in a
chemical bath of pharmaceuticals, the deluded minds of my fellow patients are unable to register my
teenage guest drifting past them and she is able to enter my claustrophobic domicile without triggering a
hysterical outburst from anyone on the floor.

    She has let herself in without knocking. Wearing a sable double-breasted coat accoutered with black
bearskin lapels from the rugged valleys of Jasper, she stands over me, the trace of a grimace on her
defiant lips. So jaundiced that it glows as bright as an ulcerous sun, her thorax conceals the labored
heartbeat of a pneumonic reptile. The coiled spirals of her braided hair cleave loosely to the sides of her
gaunt neck around which hangs an auburn scarf of vucana silk beaded with topaz tassels. Pressed
against the inflamed skin of her breast plate, the necklace she wears is a tumbling cluster of sparkling
garnets and onyx boulders. Her breath is shallow and her pores exude the acrid scent of doxycycline and
expired mineral supplements. Her exposed legs are speckled with a rash of maroon blotches and rosy
papules. Encrusted with the hot, yellow discharge of conjunctivitis, her eyes are burnished rubies gleaming
with so much scorn that they threaten to spill out of their sockets and onto her ruddy cheeks as she glares
down at me sitting helplessly before her in soiled undergarments, an uncombed crest of atrophied follicles
atop my furrowed head. She manages a perfunctory greeting, adding that she came to see me in a
reassuring tone.

    “You didn’t come to see me,” I respond. I look at her out of the corner of my eye. “You came for my
money.”

    She is already irritated with me. She regrets having come. I can sense that much. She shrugs matter-of-
factly, her thick, magenta lips pressed together in a dodgy smirk. “I came for both,” she says.

    “But I never have visitors. And if I give you money, you will leave.”

    “I’ll leave if you don’t give me money. But if you give me money, I’ll come back. This is how it works. You
never supported me emotionally as a child. The least you can do is help me financially.”

    “But you don’t understand, Slitney. I was never shown affection as a lad. I can count on one hand how
many times my parents so much as touched me. They never said they loved me. It stunted me emotionally.”

    The young lady becomes flushed with an outbreak of rosacea from the larynx up. Thinner blood could
not have been generated from an overdose of acetaminophen. The turquoise saucers of her irises are
capsized by a deluge of burst capillaries. “Why does it always have to be about you? All you ever think
about is yourself,” she complains. “You’re the protagonist and everyone else is a co-star playing second
fiddle to the soundtrack of your pathetic life. Do you ever think about me? Do you ever think of ANYONE
other than yourself?” She points to the infected uveas of her swollen eyes. “If you weren’t too cheap to take
me to a specialist, the doctors would have figured out that I had this disease and treated it before it was
too late.”

    “But that’s not true. We brought you to the clinic, didn’t we? Upstate…”

    I lose my train of thought. Damn this dementia! Since its onset and progression my short-term memory
has degraded considerably, but much of my older memories have withstood the scourge of this wretched
disease, thereupon becoming a source of inner refuge for me in the chaos of my newfangled predicament.
Now aspects of my anterograde memory have become either distorted or lost altogether - a vexing
development that causes me to suffer unending shudders of anxiety.

    “You brought me to our family physician. The clinic was after it was already too late. That’s what
happens when you get old, Dad. Your brain trims away all the bad memories and you only remember the
good ones.” She has had enough. She removes her scarf in a huff and thrusts it into a crocodile handbag
polka-dotted with scabs of raised leather. She finalizes the dispute by stating, “I have to get going. My cab
is waiting. Thanks, anyway.”

    “Children are a curse,” I mutter once she has traipsed out of the room. Mimicking the viscosity of
strawberry jam, the trail of viscera she has left behind is interspersed with the pink and crimson pulp of
macerated organs – evidence that our argument has caused her to hemorrhage. Under a hazy dome of
brooding clouds, I sit entranced beside the adjustable bed trying to make sense of the exchange, my
personal narrative reduced to a jumble of corroding fragments falling over the ridge of my frontal lobe at
the plodding gait of trash being shoveled into a landfill during a dreary shift at a seagull-infested dump.
Was that really Slitney who had come and gone, leaving nothing save for a trail of blood to remember her
by? How does a child harbor so much animosity for a parent? Was I really such a terrible father?

    I regret that she has left so many of these questions unanswered, but at least I have been able to hold
on to what little money I still possess. And I retain my dignity when I hold my ground. That is all I have left so
I must stand firm when it comes to this one particular matter. I must be unflappable in the face of adversity.
I would not have made it this far if I had not remained adamant on this point.

    Money has taught me that people will eventually give in to your demands when you have it. The keeper
of financial privilege retains the right to withhold or withdraw the assurances of security that his cunning
has entitled him to safeguard; the needy party will suffer the inevitable consequences until she accepts this
point of view. No action against others need be taken, no words be said. Money speaks for itself. It
separates the intelligent from the ignorant, the honest from the treacherous, the vanquished from the
victorious.  

    I prepare myself to check on you before the office closes. With no one in my room to witness my
transformation, I quickly unleash my secret powers, actualizing a dramatic metamorphosis by changing
from a human being into a tiny fly within seconds. The cells and molecules that comprise what is left of my
enfeebled body collapse into one another until I have taken on the minute size of the infamous insect. The
detritus of my former shell evaporates into musty puffs of steam. They dissipate the instant I flap my erudite
wings.

    By way of a fire exit that an absent-minded social worker has left open for a second too long, I buzz
through the sulfuric fog of the broken septic system permeating the ground floor of the nursing home,
zipping downtown to my old workplace where I find you sitting behind my double pedestal desk with black
and cherry veneer - a dependable block of Carpathian elm that I had designed according to my exact
specifications by a renowned craftsman from Denmark. Too tiny and inconsequential to be detected, I am
able to spy on you from the opposite wall, gripping its surface by means of my pulvilli and the multiple
claws of my lower tarsi.

    The phone is cradled between your ear and your shoulder. You’ve been put on hold by one of our
subsidiaries. With subtle shades of flaxen light, your ginger hair remains just as lustrous as a zen garden
from the Muromachi period. You have retained the same youthful figure you had when you were still in
school and working part-time for me as my secretary a little over a decade ago. But though your
appearance is what compelled me to hire you originally, it would be your ability to make money that would
bring me to my knees. You were a master chef in the art of cooking books, a renowned magician when it
came to making debts disappear, and a pro athlete skilled in the craft of dribbling funds from one
overseas account to another in the flick of a wrist, leading authorities to one dead end after the next at
every corner. Your talent for turning losses into profits was nothing short of spellbinding.

    For the sake of understanding the motives behind my hiring practices, allow me to digress for a stint by
stating that women are inferior to men by nature. Science has made this undeniably clear. Females are
genetically inferior to males because an additional process must take place in order to accomplish the xy
chromosome, a process that differentiates men from women by making them stronger, larger, and more
aggressive than his lesser counterpart, enabling the masculine sex to reap considerably more success in
virtually every sphere of life save for domestic responsibilities such as rearing children or preparing meals.

    Ever since Simone de Beauvior argued that girls were raised to be less aspiring than boys, that bane
upon the Earth called the feminist movement would contaminate the moral fiber of society from the inside
out. Women whine for equal rights but are the first to cry victim the moment a situation does not go their
way, playing the damsel in distress in need of rescuing in the most venal display of manipulation
imaginable, the saddest part of this being that revolting appeals of this nature have come to be viewed as
socially acceptable and even praiseworthy by the namby-pamby masses. But make no mistake about it,
women have been riding on the backs of men from the dawn of time. They are little more than parasites.

    Having considered it my God-given mission to put women back in their place where they belong, I used
the fortunate circumstance of being my own boss to employ only attractive, young ladies where I worked. I
derived enormous pleasure from putting them under relentless psychological pressure from the start of
their very first day at my firm, subjecting them to a battery of trials that would make the toughest paralegals
squirm throughout their year-long probationary period working under me. I allowed myself plenty of private
chuckles when afforded the delight of watching my interns buckle under the stress and break down into
tears, desperately seeking recourse for the injustices perpetrated upon them before realizing that they
were completely helpless within the socioeconomic fortress of my salacity.

    After all, just a few comments from me on their poor performance at my firm to any future employers in
the field would translate into certain ruin to their careers without a second thought. The mentors assigned
to them would be the very women who had suffered through the same hell. But rather than falling into the
arms of a sympathetic and instructive sister, the rookie would face the wrath of yet another extension of my
cruelty, her mentor often outdoing my diabolism in terms of underhandedness and outright cattiness. My
feedback during a review would be conducted every two weeks instead of the traditional ninety days, the
reason being how important it was not to make the slightest mistake in such a competitive profession.

    While destroying what self-esteem my intern once possessed by accosting her with a litany of her
mistakes, never missing a single detail of every infraction and accepting no excuses for the slightest
derivation from my way of running the show, I’d contemplate what must go through a coyote’s mind when
faced with the ultimatum of either chewing off its own leg or perishing after getting caught in the jaws of a
conibear trap.  

    The possibility that sex would loosen the reigns on their crushing servitude proved persuasive enough
for dozens of aspiring businesswomen to acquiesce to my advances. You were a case in point. I still
respect that in you after all these years. You inspired me to be more creative in our game of cat-and-
mouse. Knowing full well you would read them, I would surreptitiously leave letters addressed to my wife on
your desk beside your files. In them would be passionate confessions describing how smitten I had
become with another woman, the identity of whom I made pains to omit, purposely avoiding various details
about her like how we knew one another and where she worked, but mentioning certain characteristics
that could be traced back to you. I spent hours drafting each letter, imagining the reactions they’d elicit and
furnishing excuses which I would have at the ready should you or anyone else question me about them.

    When this strategy failed to raise so much as an eyebrow on your part, I became ever more reckless in
my attempts to procure your affections. A total overhaul of my office was assigned to you for the sake of
our being left alone together. I’d keep you for stretches of time spanning as long as thirty hours of overtime
a week, paid in increments from my private account to avoid further scrutiny from the auditors monitoring
my every move back then. If that wasn’t enough, I spent every second outside of work in anticipation of
when I’d see you again. The scent of your hair became a source of infinite comfort to me. It eluded me that
something as banal as a brand of shampoo could hold the same power as cocaine dissolved in a water
bottle being administered to a rat which has chosen to endure a gamut of electric shocks so long as he’s
permitted one more drop of the wondrous elixir, but the analogy fits the gravity of my irrational fixation with
you and the ecstasy you produced through a mysterious symbiosis of chemistry and olfactory sensations. I
knew that I should have been able to replicate the same effect by going to the hair products aisle of any
supermarket, removing the bottle from the shelf, holding it up to my nose and smelling it.

    But it was my association with your ravishing image and how you embodied the green apple scent of
this formula in so many mystical dimensions that enslaved me to you. When gallantry wore out its
welcome, I resorted to intimidation at an even baser level than what your colleagues had undergone. You
never shed so much as a single tear in my presence, but I came close to making you crack on one
especially hectic afternoon. I could tell that you would have chosen to coalesce with oblivion rather than let
me see you falter as you sadly alphabetized the insurance forms I had just thrown at you in a fit of rage.
The way you lowered your eyes to look down at your work at that moment struck me with a sting of pity so
intense that I have hitherto never felt such a terrifying displacement of my sensibilities; it was as if a million
eyes in the sky were suddenly glaring down at me in all my guilt.

    Soon after that incident, it got to the point where I could no longer accept no for an answer. I wound up
taking you against your will on the newly carpeted floor. I must say, it surprised me how little you resisted
the first time and how easy it would be to initiate subsequent encounters of a sexual nature with you from
that day forward.   

    I took liberties with you from the moment I arrived at the office, twisting you into every position
imaginable, leveraging you against the desk and every chair along with anywhere else I could lay you down
or bend you over. Your seraphic scent, diamond glance, and boysenberry lips incited a passion in me that
I had not experienced since I was a fourteen-year-old boy, with the persistence and stamina to prove it.
These flights of intense euphoria seemed to know no bounds until one morning, my ardor came to a
grinding halt after removing my eager hand from your panties to find it coated with your sticky menses.

    Shyly, you apologized to me. Despite your incommodious visit from Mother Nature, you even submitted
an appeal for a recommencement, your dopaminergic eyes acting as twin bailiffs instructed to retrieve the
defendant and approach the bench in the Courthouse of Lust. While diligently washing my hands under the
sink, I explained to you that that would not be necessary. You excused yourself shortly thereafter as I
fumbled awkwardly with some CRA forms on top of one of the cabinets.

    Henceforth, I encountered the same crimson culprit every time I tried to seduce you at work. Before I
was ever given a proper explanation for your recurring period, I was overtaken by an overpowering
delirium which rendered me incapable of taking care of myself, let alone my company which was
beginning to flounder. What I thought was gingivitis at first quickly escalated into an ordeal representative
of what a hemophiliac must suffer during the end stages of his condition. Trying his best not to appear
baffled by my sudden turn for the worst, my physician diagnosed me with early onset Alzheimer's disease
and I was institutionalized.

    But before I was admitted to the home of your choosing, you convinced me to hand the firm over to you.
In return, you assured me that I would be taken care of well into my final days. I would have never imagined
such a scenario playing out in my wildest of dreams. But my wife had left me since our affair. With help
from a private investigator, she wound up taking everything. Were it not for my senility and having no other
friends or family to take care of me, I might not have relented so easily. These factors coupled with your
impressive business savvy - a talent you displayed to me time and again under my supervision -
convinced me to sign the necessary documents that would place my livelihood in your care.

    There is a knock at the door at the same time you are finishing up on the phone. To my astonishment, I
immediately recognize my daughter Slitney’s brazen stride when she’s ushered in by you.

    You hang up and exclaim, “My goodness, Slitney! The Weil’s disease has made butcher scraps out of
you. You’re tracking blood in, my poor dear!”

    “I will attend to my toilette and administer the proper coagulants, but first I wish to share my conquest
with you and celebrate with a kiss from my beautiful partner!” she announces. With a carefree grin she
holds up her pilfered winnings – a wad of cash and credit cards I instantly recognize as my rightful tender
by the money clip embossed with my initials holding them together. My outrage is temporarily nullified by
my own shock when the two of you lock mouths. Having difficulty trusting the disorienting vision of my
kaleidoscopic eyes in the face of such scandal, I move from the wall to your shoulder to get a closer look.
The office, which has always been set to 17.77 degrees Celsius, turns hot as your lips melt into one
another’s with hypnotic abandon, the slosh and bubble of your shared saliva resonating throughout the
pulsing chamber.

    “I need to taste you!” my daughter pleads. There is a peculiar desperation in her tone.

    You pull away slightly though your eyes remain shut. “I can’t,” you sigh. “It’s that time of the month again.”

    Using your chin as a turnstile, Slitney gently moves your head to face her. “I am not my father, Gashley. I
am proud to don the Red Badge of Courage.”

    You need no further convincing. Sitting on the edge of the desk with your legs spread apart, you hike up
your polyester skirt. Your heavy breathing makes the walls moan. It pounds against my dizzy head as I
watch the two of you.

    “Slap some clown paint on me, baby,” Slitney whispers before disappearing between your thighs.

    When I witness her embed her face into your delectable sex, I yearn for a taste of those succulent
emissions, wishing I had the ability to morph into the form of a female mosquito instead of a fly. This would
have afforded me the chance to pierce through your shoulder pad with my proboscis and syphon off the
resplendent juices cycling through your body during the ovulatory orgy.

    Regret overcomes me when I contemplate having never experienced such a cocktail - a potent nectar
made from the balm of disintegrating embryos and the rich lining of your uterus. My labella and maximillary
palps moisten with a regurgitated amalgam of sugar and acids as the tonguing grows hotter. Clouds of
humid air absorb and discharge the voluptuous smell of a Haddock au Gratin dish left out to broil in the
sun. Mixed with crunchy platelets of blood, the musky aroma of estrogen and pituitary spittle overcome my
senses in rhapsodic wafts; a sensation sweeter than a cherry crumb square drenched in corn syrup travels
down my esophagus; and exfoliating fallopian tubes trickle over me like leaves shed from golden boughs.

    It is shortly after my daughter has come up for air that you say, “We carry the same cross as Christ
because we bleed for the sins of mankind. Surely you are the new messiah, Slitney. For you bleed more
profusely than any mortal and it is through your blood that I have been liberated.”

    Her face covered in menstrual fluid, Slitney chuckles, “Perhaps Jesus is my brother. After all, both of our
fathers are bastards.”

    “But if it were not for that demented coot than you would have never come into existence and we would
have never found one another,” you point out. “By supplying me with your blood I was able to keep that
conniving predator from having his way with me every day. Planting a pint of your blood inside of me on a
daily basis was one of your many brilliant schemes, Slitney. I am not exaggerating when I say that it
brought about my salvation - that and drugging your father’s coffee with arsenic, of course.”

    My grown child and you burst into laughter following this last statement.

    “My daughter and mistress are heathen dykes!” I gasp in horror.

    Rather than hearing these words, an annoying buzz near your ear is all you can discern. You swat at me,
missing me by a hair.

    Feeling thoroughly used and mortified, I race back to the skilled nursing facility. Once I have taken my
place on the side of my bed, I switch from my dipteral denomination back into human form. My hand
temporarily disappears inside the drawer of my nightstand - a sad excuse for a piece of furniture that can
only be described as a caulk shoebox erected by four grub-eaten twigs. Shortly thereafter, I have
withdrawn my precious wallet - a frayed but dependable repository for meticulously accrued wages. My
heart sinks into the peptic cauldron of my stomach when I see that all of my cash is missing along with my
ATM card and other means of access to monetary trusts.

    I grit my teeth and yell, “Damn you, Slitney! Gashley! You ungrateful, little bitches! You have gone and
taken what’s rightfully mine! Both of you tramps have literally bled me dry!”

    The cleaning lady has come into my room without having alerted me first. Her face is a chilibomb that
has made impact, the beefy skin of which is the pigment of spitting tobacco. Raised on a steady diet of
paint chips and turpentine fumes from an early age, the inbred goblin from the ghettos of Abbottsfield
scolds me, her reprimands issuing from a fetid hole that was carved into her face by our slothful Creator on
one of His off days. “Mr. Fiore! What are you carrying on about? Gashley don’t want nothin’ to do with you.
And what you got for her to take? You ain't got no money. You ran that business of yours into the ground.
Thank God she took it over. Women always did have better business sense, if you ask me…”

    “That little bitch made off with my daughter! It’s a lesbian conspiracy! They stole my money!” I scream,
opening my empty wallet to the hair-lipped trollop as if it was an anatomically correct doll and I were
spreading its legs apart to show the jury where I had been violated.

    With pursed jowls, she reacts by saying, “Staff keeps all that stuff locked in the safe. You been here long
enough to know that. You got a daughter? Ain’t nobody come to see you in years. You best to calm your
ass down before you give yourself a stroke!”

    Lickety-split, she empties the trash and is gone, leaving me alone to boil in a metaphorical sitz bath of
my own impotence. The sun has set behind the ashen hills. A phone begins to ring in the distance. I am
unable to make heads or tails of where it is coming from. I wish I could cry. I would break down into tears if
I could. But I forgot how to do that a long time ago.
About Oliver Lodge

Oliver Lodge is a writer
who lives in upstate New
York. He has been
published in “Yellow
Mama” and “Body Parts
Magazine.”
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