Harold Jaffe's fiction

Straight Razor
by Harold Jaffe

from Straight Razor
(Black Ice Books, 1995)

You know I work out of Quentin, right? Eight days ago, I was faxed to go up to Washington, prison outside Seattle where--probably you heard--that female terrorist's reprieve petition was turned down. Well, she squirmed some--fought the rope's how we put it--but she's sucking earth now.

Her body was pronounced dead at 5:18 a.m. At 6:10 I was in my train compartment going back down. You ever ride the express train up or down the coast? It's squalor in Technicolor--fast food franchises, tattoo parlors, cyber-cells. And graffiti. Graffiti everywhere. Coded shit--I don't know what any of it means. Who cares? Riding the train's like watching TV, especially if you ride first-class in one of those compartments.

That was my deal, and I was alone in the compartment, stowing my gear, settling in. One of the things about the "dawn express" was very few stops, so that once the train got going you could sleep without folks barging in on you.

I remember I was leaning back on the cushioned bench, sort of dozing, when the conductor came in, punched my ticket and left, pulling the heavy door shut. Again I closed my eyes, I was tired--I hadn't been sleeping good, and when I did sleep I had those weirdo dreams which sap your spirit. I felt the train lurch-- once, twice, then get under way, gathering speed.

I awoke with a start--someone had swung the door open with a jolt. A blonde girl with a Mohawk, done up in punk, tossed her backpack into the compartment, then was talking and gesturing to someone in the corridor. The conversation, which I couldn't make out, went on for several minutes, a nasty draft blowing through the compartment the whole time. Finally another young female, with a blue Mohawk, entered the compartment. Both sat down across from me without acknowledgement, without closing the door.

I got up, pulled the heavy door shut, then sat down again. When I glanced at them, the blonde had her left, black, steel-tipped work boot off and was examining the sole of her bare foot. The other was leaning back with her eyes open, as though looking at the ceiling. They looked alike, sixteen or seventeen years old, all in black, one with a dyed-blonde, the other with a dyed-blue Mohawk, both with pronounced eye makeup, jeweled nose rings, tiny silver rings up and down the rim of their ears--but not both ears. Left ear for the blonde, right for the blue.

The girl examining her foot looked up at me suddenly, a kind of hostile irony in her direct gaze. As if on cue, the other girl turned a hard expressionless gaze on me.

I nodded to them, but neither responded. The blonde went back to examining her foot while blue tucked her steel-tipped shitkickers under her and began to talk. With the train noise I couldn't make out what she was saying.

I closed my eyes again, though a bit uneasily.

Why, given everything I've been into, would two slim, punk-styled teenage girls make a grown man with thick strong hands uneasy?

I couldn't tell you.

In any case the swift, even hum of the train countered my uneasiness and I was dozing, dreaming vividly, when I felt something very cold at my throat--I opened my eyes.


"Shut the fuck up or you're a dead asshole," the blonde said, bent over me with a straight razor at my throat. I saw that she had a chain of skulls tattooed around her wrist.

Blue, standing by the door, was pointing a gun at me, a Glock 17L 9mm. I could tell by the plastic stocks.

"Okay, take off your pants, asshole," the blonde said.


She actually exerted pressure and I felt the razor draw blood from under my chin. "Take them off and shut up or you'll be barfing red. Do you like the color red, asshole?"

I took off my pants.

"Your shitty drawers, also. Off."

I didn't hesitate. She kicked my shorts under the bench.

"Stand up."

I stood.

She backed up, squatted at the backpack in the middle of the floor, and removed a canister of shaving cream and a long strip of leather. She attached the leather strip to the overhead luggage railing and began to strop the razor.

"What are you going--"

"Shut the fuck up," blue interrupted, her Glock still pointed at me.

For the first time I noticed a panzer-style motorcycle helmet on the floor next to where they'd been sitting. It had water in it.

The blonde sat down on the edge of the bench next to the helmet. "Over here, asshole," she ordered.

I shuffled over to her. She motioned with the razor for me to come closer. I stood above where she sat, the sharp edge of her razor against the inside of my thigh.

My scrotum and penis were shriveled from the drafty compartment and the . . . fear. I admit it. I mean if it was just the girl with the razor I could have disarmed her. But the one with the Glock . . .

"You're trembling, asshole," from the blonde. "You think I'm going to cut your evil little dick and balls off."

"You want money?"

"You have money, asshole?"

"I can get--"

"Asshole says he can get money," the blonde announced.

Blue: "How much, asshole?"


"Don't lie to us," the blonde said. "Or else you'll be a dick-less, ball-less asshole."

"I'll need some time," I said.

"We don't have time," the blonde said, her razor still against the inside of my thigh. "Do we look like we have time? Do we look like people with a lot of time?"

"I can--"

"If we had lots of time do you think we'd be farting around with evil little dicks like you?"

Blue snorted a laugh.

"Maybe we'll even let you keep your evil little dick and balls," the blonde said. "Depends on you. You see this water, right? You see this shaving cream? You know what this is?" She pointed to an empty Styrofoam cup near the helmet.

"It's a Styrofoam cup."

"That's right, asshole. What I'm going to do is use this straight razor to shave the hair around your evil little dick and balls, and drop the hair in the Styrofoam cup. Comprende?"


"Comprende?" She exerted a slight pressure on the razor and bled the inside of my thigh.


"If you move, if you fuck around or make it hard for me in any way, your balls and tiny evil dick are history."

I heard one of the doors in the corridor open then close.

"Yo," blue said, motioning with the Glock.

"Sit down fast," the blonde said.

I did and she draped my jacket over my waist and legs.

When, fifteen or twenty seconds later, the conductor passed by and glanced in, he saw me sitting next to the blonde with blue sitting across from us, the Glock pointed at me through her pocket.

Seventy seconds later he moved by in the opposite direction, opened the door and passed out of the corridor.

Blue got up and looked through the door.

"Clear," she said.

"Stand up," the blonde said to me. "Let's get this slasher flick on the reel."

Again I stood over her. She used the Styrofoam cup to splash the helmeted lukewarm water on my belly and genitals. Holding the razor in her right hand, she dispensed the cold shaving foam with her left and roughly spread the foam over the area.

"Stop trembling, asshole. If this razor slips, your evil little dick is kaput. And we know how you middle-aged assholes cherish your dicks."

She shaved the hair on my belly, depositing it in the Styrofoam cup. Holding my penis with the thumb and forefinger of her left hand, she shaved the genital area. Finally, she cupped my scrotum and shaved under it. Though I held my breath and stood as still as I could, her rapid, careless strokes drew blood.

When the Styrofoam cup was about half-filled with brown belly and pubic hair she picked up the helmet and dowsed the shaved area with water.

"Okay, asshole, sit over there," motioning to my original seat on the opposite side of the compartment.

I was bleeding. When I reached under the bench for my shorts to stanch the blood, the blonde said:

"Don't touch those shitty drawers."

Meanwhile, blue sat down on the bench alongside the blonde, with the Glock still leveled at me. Leaning toward her from the side, so as not to get between the gun and me, the blonde, who had closed the razor and stuck it into her jeans pocket, was doing something to blue's face. Gluing the hair in the styrofoam cup to blue's face. This went on for five or six minutes.

The conductor announced that Tacoma would be the next stop.

With glue and deft fingers, the blonde had given Mohawk blue a pubic brown mustache and strip of beard.

Blue, still pointing the Glock, stood and slipped off her black cutoff jeans. She was naked under the jeans and what I saw next about floored me--between the slender tattooed thighs were male genitals! A long uncircumcised penis and heavy scrotum.

"Kick over those pants, asshole," the blonde ordered.

I kicked over my olive cord pants, which blue put on. They were large on her--him. But he used his belt to pull them tight. He looked like a young androgynous punk with a blue Mohawk and pubic beard.

The train was slowing down for Tacoma.

"Do you trust this asshole with his evil little dick?" the blonde asked blue.

"No, I don't," blue said in his girl's voice.

"Look through his gear," the blonde said. She took the Glock and pointed it at me while blue unzipped my bag.

"Lookahere," blue said. "A rope. Thick and long."

"How come you travel around with a thick, long rope, asshole?" the blonde said.

I didn't respond.

"Tie the asshole up with his own rope," the blonde said. "Or do you think we should cut his evil little dick off?"

"How about we shoot him in the balls with the Glock?" blue said in his girl's voice.

"Nah. Let's not waste a 9mm round on the asshole," the blonde said. "Tie him up with his rope. Fast. So we can get the fuck out of here. Maybe he'll bleed to death from those shaving nicks under his balls."

I let blue bind me to the bench and overhead luggage railing. Meanwhile the blonde had reached into the backpack and removed a camera--a slim little Nikon--and was taking photos of me naked, shaved and bound with my own rope. She clicked rapidly, ten or a dozen times from every conceivable angle while blue watched expressionless.

"Tacoma, Tacoma," the conductor announced.

The train screeched to a stop and the two punks with their backpack, Glock, slim Nikon and panzer helmet scooted out of the compartment, pulled the door halfway shut, and got off. Anyway, I assume they got off. The blonde with her dyed-yellow Mohawk and the other with his dyed-blue Mohawk and pubic beard.

Well, it was two or three minutes before the conductor spotted me and got me untied. I said I'd been assaulted without giving him all the details. When he left to contact the police, I stanched the blood with my shorts and put on another pair of pants I had in my bag. My black "work" pants. I wound the rope carefully and stowed it with my gear.

About eight minutes out of Tacoma, the conductor came back in to see how I was doing and to report that the Washington state police were on the case.

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