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  Table of contents Issue Seventeen UZO AND BUNNY



zo looks over his kit: a lockable ball and gag (still in the packaging), black nylon rope, padded hospital restraints, a lock pick kit, a Bowie knife, a pair of faux leather gloves, and a weathered book on Japanese rope bondage. Uzo figures he has little chance of pulling off a hogtie on Bunny, so the hospital restraints serve as a backup.

He inhales the noxious aroma of Chinese plastic as he rips open the packaging of the ball and gag. The internet features a surprising array of products whose sole design concern gagging the human mouth. He took his time and chose with care. Uzo’s selection features a non-toxic, heavy-duty, red silicone ball approximately two inches in diameter. The idea behind using silicon is that it’s meant to prevent an unwanted chemical taste in the mouth. And it shouldn’t burn. If it burns then it’s considered defective. It has a classic look. A classic ball and gag. There’s a black belt that wraps around and locks in the back. The trick will be to get Bunny to embrace the gag. Uzo kisses the red ball like a lucky charm, hoping for a bit of beginner’s luck.

Uzo stuffs his hit kit into a leather shoulder bag and climbs out of his rusted red 94’ Volvo Station Wagon, pulling down his black hoodie enough to nearly cover his eyes. He worries more about picking the lock than going through with the performance. Once inside, he’s confident he can subdue her. His digital watch reads 11:08 in the p.m. Bunny finishes her bar shift around midnight on Tuesdays. If she has drinks with her coworkers, she could return home as late as one a.m.—possibly one-thirty.

Uzo shoves his hands into his pockets, feeling a pair of pantyhose in his left hand—the texture of the nylon along his fingertips excites him. The wind slaps his face, and his cheeks are eczema red. It’s a cold night in New Orleans.

Uzo maintains a quick gait—short, determined steps. The energy of the walk warms him. He approaches Bunny’s shotgun house and vomits in a leafless bush. His stomach is all butterflies and nervous energy. He dismisses second thoughts and makes his way to the back of the house.

It’s a basic pin-and-tumbler lock. He fishes out his gloves, pulling them tight to the fingers. He senses they’re a size too small. He lays out his pick kit, selecting the snake rake and torsion wrench. He slots the L-shaped wrench through the plug of the lock, applying a slight tension toward the right as if using an actual key. Uzo has little hope of picking each individual pin, so he uses the snake pick to rake the pins. The lock gives and he fumbles the wrench onto the concrete steps. His chest tightens, squeezed in by some unnameable, mysterious force.

Uzo feels nauseated again as he leans over to pick up the tool. He shakes his head, disbelieving that he’d worried so much over picking the lock. The lock should’ve been the least of his concerns, yet he’d obsessed over it. He speculates now that if he’d failed at picking the lock, he might’ve had an excuse to back out.

Uzo walks in and gently shuts the door behind him.

It leads into Bunny’s kitchen. He opens the refrigerator and finds nothing but V8 juice and romaine lettuce. Uzo hates tomato juice but drinks it anyway. He walks down a hallway in the dark. He passes a small bathroom and discovers Bunny’s bedroom. He wants to get into character, so he pulls the magenta pantyhose over his head. It fits tight and flattens the tip of his nose. The feeling of the pantyhose against his face arouses him. He rifles through the top of Bunny’s chest-of-drawers and finds a pair of cotton panties with a floral design.

Uzo sniffs the panties and feels an erection coming on. He wants to masturbate but doesn’t. He can’t decide if he wants to hide behind the shower curtain or in the bedroom closet. Behind the shower curtain is too cliche, he reasons. Then again, so is the closet. There doesn’t seem to be an original place to hide. He walks into the living room and considers hiding behind the couch. She’d be entering into the living room. He could surprise her if she sat down to watch TV. Who wants to crouch behind a couch for two hours? Besides, he might stiffen at the knees. A possible handicap, he imagines. The closet it is. He takes another whiff of the panties and prepares to wait, shoving the underwear down his pants.


Uzo sweats behind his nylon mask. He imagines his face is Bunny’s thigh. He thinks about a faint reservoir of sweat enveloping the fleshy part of her inner thigh. He is the thigh. He is the sweat. The sound of the front door opening interrupts his fantasy.

Uzo shuts his eyes to envelop the moment. There’s no door to the closet, and he’s camouflaged behind a rack of coats and sweaters. Bunny stirs in the living room, turning on the TV and the lights. He winces at the shift in light, though his eyes are shut tight. Her shoes thud and creak against the wooden floors. There is nothing but Bunny’s acoustic projection and the black of his mind. He doesn’t see her but senses her nonetheless, mapping out her shape and location with nothing but sound and reverberation.

Bunny walks past. Uzo lurches out of the closet, accosting her from behind, wrapping his left forearm around her neck and clasping her mouth with his right hand. Bunny squirms in his grip, throwing elbows into his torso and gnashing her teeth. She can’t slip the powerful headlock. She can’t find flesh to bear her teeth into.

Bunny convulses wildly and shifts her weight to the floor, pushing down and back, driving with her legs. Uzo feels his right foot catch, entangling with a coat. He bungles the capture. The intertwined pair wrestle as they plunge onto the wooden floor of the hallway. Uzo gains his footing and drags her to the living room, mounting her thrashing figure.

Bunny subdues under the pressure of two hundred pounds of human mass. Uzo exploits this brief moment of submission and brandishes his Bowie knife from his shoulder bag. When Bunny sees the blade, she freezes.

“Please don’t kill me,” Bunny whispers. She looks up at the menacing face, obscured by the purple-red pantyhose. Uzo places his left index finger over his lips and holds the Bowie knife to her throat with the other hand.

“Please,” she whispers.

She appears to black out, then regains consciousness as he flips her body over, belly to the floor, strapping a red ball into her mouth. He pulls it tight against her mouth and locks the strap into place at the base of her skull. Bunny thrusts her hand into his face, trying to sink a finger into one of his eyes. Uzo rips her hand away, clutching her forearm and squeezing the flesh. He bends the arm behind her back and grips her throat. He lets go of the arm and wags his index finger in a sort of mock warning.

Uzo places the flat part of the blade against the back of her neck. Bunny flinches. The knife is cold and sharp. He runs the tip of the blade along the column of her spine, tracing the curve as if using a feather.

Uzo retrieves his bag and rifles through the hit kit. He starts to go for the rope, but he knows he’s no good with knots. As he reaches for the padded hospital restraints, he curses himself for not buying handcuffs. The restraints are somehow more theatrical, he argues.

He begins with her ankles, carefully removing each shoe, fastening the restraints. Uzo opted for the “institutional hobble padded restraint,” which means the two ankle cuffs are linked together with a thick leather strap at a distance of nine inches. He questions whether the strap will hold under significant stress.

He turns his attention toward her hands, securing a restraint over each wrist, pulling her arms behind her back and joining the cuffs together with an ordinary padlock. Her arms behind her back make the shape of an imperfect V. Bunny lets out a muffled protest as he tugs at the lock. Regular handcuffs would’ve sufficed, he thinks. No matter now. The subject is subdued.

Bunny is clad in her typical bartender attire: black skinny jeans with a white double pocket tank top. Uzo considers dragging her to the bedroom. Too much trouble, so he works the knife under her shirt until he finds the bra. He slices up, snapping the bra and ripping a hole in the shirt. He tears the rest apart with his black-gloved hands. As he scans the jeans, he wishes he had brought scissors. The Bowie knife works well as an instrument of terror, but it’s also cumbersome and awkward. Nonetheless, he cuts a slit into the jeans at each ankle, shredding the cotton-polyester material with enough precision not to lacerate or graze the skin in any way.

Uzo stands and looks down at Bunny’s bounded frame—her mouth gagged, wearing only a pair of mauve, see-through, lace underwear. He fixates on Bunny’s panties and remembers the cotton pair he’d shoved into his pants only hours ago. They have become wrinkled and damp with sweat. He shoves them against his nose and lips, drawing in a deep breath, feeling both nauseated and aroused.


“Whatta you want for dinner?” Bunny says, gathering the shredded bits of her clothing and changing into an oversized shirt and pajama bottoms with pictures of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

“I’m not hungry.” Uzo gathers up the various items of his hit kit, sitting on the same couch he’d considered hiding behind earlier in the night. He puts his forehead into his palm, rubbing back and forth. His breaths are shallow. He sweats and notices a slight tremble in his right hand. Some kind of residual adrenalin left over from the simulated violence, he speculates.

“You OK?” Bunny opens a drawer and leafs through the to-go menus.

“Yeah.” Uzo realizes the magenta pantyhose, now damp and itchy, still clinging to his forehead. He rips it off and stuffs it into his bag.

“Fuck,” Bunny says. “It’s too late. Everything’s closed.” She pulls her black hair into a ponytail and taps out a Marlboro Red, patting against her body for a light. “I shouldn’t be eating this late anyway—you gotta light?”


“Be honest,” Bunny continues, finding a match and lighting her cigarette. “Did my face look fat with that big, red ball stuck in my mouth?”


“I bet I looked like one of those fat roasted pigs. You know, the ones with the apple shoved in its mouth?” She inhales and coughs out a plume of smoke.

Uzo shakes his head from side to side, closing his eyes and looking down.

“Fuck, I paid like 70 bucks for those jeans.” Bunny holds up the shredded garment between her thumb and forefinger. “It was worth it,” she says, releasing the rags to the floor.

“I’ll buy you some more,” Uzo says and finds the bottle marked Valium, taking four 5mg tablets without water.

“Give me one of those,” Bunny says, plucking a pill from the palm of his sweaty hand. “I’ve never seen you sweat so much.”

“I’m sorry.” Uzo sighs and tries to calm himself with a meandering internal dialogue: it’s OK, it’s OK, you’re OK, it was consensual, you’re not a rapist, you’re not a rapist, you’re normal, you’re normal, you’re normal . . .

“We should’ve taken pictures.” Bunny says. “Maybe not. Might be difficult to explain.”

“I agree,” he says while continuing to think, I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK . . .

“What took you so long anyway?” Bunny sits cross-legged on the floor and cracks open the front door, holding the cigarette close to the crack, exhaling into the cold night air.

“You said you wanted it to be as authentic as possible.”

“How’d you break in?”

“I picked the lock.”

“No way. That’s fucking tits.” She wrinkles her brow, saying, “I didn’t know you could pick locks?”

“I imagine there’s a lot you don’t know about me.”

“You imagine?” She cocks her head to the side.


“I learn all I need to know about a person in six seconds. I knows a creep, when I sees a creep.”

Uzo glances back and says nothing.

Bunny goes through his bag and puts on the red mask, hoisting the Bowie knife with two hands like a sword, waving it around. She puts on a gruff affect, hunching her shoulders. She tries to imitate Uzo, speaking with a low-pitched hiss: “Come here, little girl. I wanna sniff your panties.” Her eyes open a little wider and take on a sinister glow. She puts away the blade and pulls off the mask, straddling his lap. “You’re a dirty, little pervert,” she says and winks.

“What does that make you then?”

“I have no fucking clue.” Bunny rolls her eyes. “I guess I’m just as bad. I guess we’re the same kinda bad.”

“I don’t know,” he says and studies the tattoo along her forearm: a simple line-drawing in blue ink, almost crude, detailing a small, empty cage with the door swung wide and open. Could’ve been a jailhouse tat. Maybe she did it herself.

“What time do you have to get up?” She yawns and falls to his side, reclining into the couch, poking his ribs with her feet.

“Around six.” He feels the Valium creep into his head, noticing a fuzziness and realizing he’s utterly exhausted.

“I could never be a nurse. Illness totally freaks me out.”

“It’s not so bad,” Uzo says. His eyes get heavy as his mind gears down and the obsessional thinking wanes.


Nine months later Uzo drives around the Ninth Ward looking for the purple house. He finds it, parking his Station Wagon four houses away. It’s too hot to shut off the air, so he lets the engine idle, the AC blowing hard against his face. He’d been stalking this nurse for close to two months now. She’s not due home for another two hours. She’s the one with the beautiful, red hair. Uzo wonders if it’s natural. He takes out his smartphone and opens YouTube, finding the interview with Dennis Rader.

“Which one is he again?” Bunny says, peering at the screen.

“He’s the BTK killer.”

“Right, I remember now. Bind, Torture, and Kill. He’s not my favorite, but he’s definitely interesting.” Bunny digs through the hit kit. “Did you remember to bring the cuffs?”

“They’re in there somewhere,” Uzo says, turning up the volume on his phone and hitting play.

The BTK killer says, “I can’t stop it so the monster goes on.”




Joseph Kees lives in New Orleans, LA and makes music with Dimestore Troubadours. Previous publications include Slipstream, Paris Atlantic, Bathtub Gin, and Milk and Honey Siren.

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