Backhand Stories: The Creative Writing Blog

“Harry Johnson. Harry Wang. Just Wang. You know, wang. The little soldier. Willie. Captain Winkie, One eyed monster. Of course, Cock. That’s obvious, but he gives me the—whuddayuh call it, the genealogy of it. Says, ‘Roosters is known for getting up in the morning.’ Wink wink, he does, like I’m in on some big fucking secret with him. What else? Morning Wood, that’s another one. Summer Sausage. The wild bologna pony. The head that thinks for me. My little pony.”

“Never heard a that one.”

“Yeah, well. There you go. Guy’s a dick thesaurus.”

Scalisi fumbled through his suit pocket and came up with a small notebook. He downed the rest of his now watery scotch on rocks, signaled the bartender with a gesture that was second nature. He found the page he needed.

“Package,” he said. “Unit. Tool. Power Drill. Jack Hammer.”

“Dick,” Morelli said.

“Sure. Dick. Schlong. Weiner. Franfurter.”

“Ok. Yeah. Jack-in-the-box.”

Scal considered it. It worked.

“That’s a good one. You’re a quick learner. Not like that last guy I had. Believe you me. Caught a bullet in the skull not listening to what I had to teach him.”

The bartender placed a new drink on the bar. Took the spent tumbler. Knocked on the wood and walked away.

Morrelli said, “Noodle. Magic wand.”

“Ok. See? The snake. Mr. Johnson. I mean this Francisco knows ‘em all. He also knows I know he’s stalling, I got three of his fingers broke already. And I know this guy ain’t gonna roll over. He’s in a lose-lose. He gives up to me, Valantropo buries him. He doesn’t, I do. But it’s amusing. Fascinates the hell outta me, what a guy will say he’s under the gun. So I listen. Take notes. Hose. Magic wand. Joystick. Salamander. I’m thinking he ain’t gonna run out.”

“Uh-huh. Sure.”

“The Snake… But then he does run out. I see he’s thinking, but that’s it. I can tell. Just like that. Fresh out. And he says, ‘Well? don’t you get it?’”

“Get what?”

“That’s what I said. ‘Get what?’” Scalisi drank deeply.


“What’s in a name.”

“What’s in a name?”

“That’s what he says. ‘Same thing, whatsyou call it. But giving it so many names, makes a thing bigger than it is.’ See? Philosophizing, this guy. Says Americans got more fucking names for dicks than Eskimos got for snow.”


“Yeah. And he asks me I think that means something about American Society? Lotsa dicks walking the streets, he means maybe. Least how I take it. Then he asks me, he says, I- me we’re talking about- he says I must feel pretty fucking special cause I got more names for me than the Eskimos got for snow and they’re buried in the shit.”

“Meaning what exactly?”

“Meaning he’s calling me a dick. Fancy-like.”

Scalisi gave Morelli a few seconds for it to settle in.

“That’s pretty good,” Morelli said.

“Yeah, pretty good. I thought so.”

“Whachyou do?”

“Eh. I lit him on fire.”