Three Strikes (Kirsti MacKenzie)

He’s a reliable fuck but he’s never once made me cum. Don’t get me wrong, he’s handsome. Broad-shouldered, blue-eyed, scruffy and sandy blond. His suit is strange for this sports bar. Loose tie, razored collar under a clean jaw. Aftershave, lots of it. Stronger than stale beer, sweaty drunks, this popcorn machine. I’m reaching for a basket when he stops me.

“You don’t want that,” he says. “Guy pissed in there once.”

“In the machine?” I ask. “Was it you?”

“C’mon,” he says. “We’ve got wings.”

We met working at a video store. Once we were watching Titanic on break and eyes glued to the screen—Kate’s nipples, navel, thighs—he slipped his knee between mine under the lunch table. Said you know, she kind of looks like you. I used to imagine him bending my back against the DVD shelves, shaking Spice World and Sopranos box sets loose around us. Now we only see each other here, at Batter Up, a dive beloved by hockey bros like his. They have apostolic names like Matthew and Luke and John. Usually they come after scrub games; tonight after a wedding.

“MARY,” they roar when we approach. “Chode-seph and Mary, sittin’ in a TREE—”

The Apostles love nicknames. Batter Up became MasterBatter became the ‘Bater, harhar. His last name rhymes with chode, so Chode-ster and Chode-a-load and you see where this goes. Mary because my name starts with M and they never remember it. One of The Apostles is face down on a scarred table, hugging a pitcher of Molson.

“Paul’s heartbroken,” he says.

Paul groans.

“Paul’s first love,” he explains, “was the bride.”

Maybe three months ago Chode-seph got dumped. Left sad little comments on her Facebook pics but by July Long he’s back on his bullshit at the ‘Bater. Flag cape, cargo shorts, big sloppy ‘D’ painted on his bare chest. The Apostles wanted to spell C-A-N-A-D-A but they’re dumber than they look because I clocked at least four As. He found me bent over a pool table.

“D,” I asked, “as in dipshit?”

“D,” he said, beer-sweaty and swaying, “as in who’s your daddy.” “You’re taking this Joseph thing too seriously,” I said.

He insisted on wearing the cape. Made jokes about poles. Hard to face a naked man in a flag cape and stay horny, so I let him fuck me from behind. Fireworks went pop-pop-BANG outside. He came and collapsed, leaving a sweaty D on my back and bedsheets.

“Who’s the dipshit now?” he giggled.

Me, apparently. Cuz here I am, again, watching him tongue-fuck chicken bones. His lips are thick like Mick Jagger’s. Gap in his teeth. Puck knocked ‘em clean out when he was just twelve. Tonight he’s got a full row of falsies, fancy for the wedding. Kind of charming when they aren’t covered in dip spit. I should look at Paul instead but I can’t tear my gaze away while his mouth works the wings. What I see is potential.

“She married Paul’s brother,” he says.

“He’s in med school,” Paul moans. “Surgeon, one day. Fuck.”

“Paul was best man.” He reaches for another wing. “Poor kid.”

My best friend asked about Chode-seph’s dick. I said it was adequate. Now she calls him Chode-seph and the Amazingly Adequate Peen-Scrote, which makes no sense but bonus points for creativity, I guess. She gave me a ride home after last time. The Apostles run a softball team sponsored by a local butcher famous for beef jerky. Twenty of ‘em show up to the ‘Bater in TBAY BIG JERKS shirts, sloshing beer from a championship trophy. Chode-seph wanted a celebratory beej—pointed to his shirt, get it, bee-jay, harhar—but between all those trophy beers he couldn’t stay hard. Instead I rode him til one tit popped out of my little white sundress. He reached up, honked once, and groaned.

“Motherfucker,” I hissed.

There’s a church a block away from Chode-seph’s apartment. In the morning I parked myself on its steps and texted my friend to pick me up. After a while, the bell tolled. Seniors came, then families in minivans. One little boy noticed me.

“What’s your name?” he asked.


He squinted at me, then up at the church. “Do you live here?”

Help, I texted. There’s a church kid. He thinks I’m the Virgin Mary.

Typhoid, more like, she replied. If you keep letting that moron hit it raw.

Honey garlic sauce coats Chode-seph’s chin. I’ve watched him demolish this whole plate of wings. Mouth catching juicy bits of meat and skin, tongue darting over the marrow. Sucks the sauce from his fingers, smacks his thick wet lips. Yes, there’s potential there. Gotta be. Tonight I’m gonna sit on that sticky mouth and if he does not make me scream for god, with those lips, with that tongue, I will father-son-and-holy-ghost his ass forever and ever amen.

Paul drags his head from the table. Taps one of its scars, so I can see: P + B 2007. Every table in the ‘Bater is carved with laments for ex-lovers.

“One last goodbye,” he sighs.

“What’s his name?” I ask. “Your brother.”


“You don’t say,” I mutter. “How’d you lose her?”

Paul winces.

Chode-seph balls a Wet Wipe, chucks it on top of the chicken bones. Pushes the plate away. “Cheated,” he says. “Riley, Tessa, Sam.”

I give a low whistle.

Paul says nothing, pulls a house key from his pocket to obliterate his past. Chode-seph pulls my chair toward him, pushes one knee between mine. Rough hand grazing my thigh. There’s a bit of sauce left on his chin, settled in the corner of his mouth. I wipe it with my thumb, trailing along his lower lip. When I reach the middle he catches it. Sucks the sauce away, smiling.

“You know what they say,” he says. “Three strikes, you’re out.”

“Speaking of,” I whisper. “Wanna get out of here?”


Kirsti MacKenzie has published in Identity Theory, Rejection Letters, and JAKE. She studied creative writing at Humber College and Memorial University but learned the most from bathroom graffiti in dive bars. She lives in Ottawa and can be found perpetually on her bullshit @KeersteeMack.

image: MM Kaufman