My brother places the boom box and turns it on loud, positions the hat on the cobblestone street. We move together in studied precision and dance irritably, both jonesing badly, needing to fix. He slides his hand down my backside and fingers my ass and I tell him to stop but he says it's part of the show and we need the dough, and his hand slips lower and his fingers probe deeper and we turn our heads right and we turn our heads left, one-two-three, one-two-three, kick-kick-kick, sidestep, sidestep, a stomp. At the end we dip deep and dramatic then he whirls me up close, fills my mouth with his tongue, palms my breast hard and pinches my nipple, and if it weren't for the crowd now gathered and leering, if it weren't for the cash filling the hat, if it weren't for the bravos and bravas, the olés and whistles, if it weren't for the gnaw and the greed and the need, I'd bite his tongue so it bleeds; I'd spit the blood in his face.
The Painted Bird