Spring 2008, Volume 4

Fiction by Kurtis L. Darby


After the banks of the East and Hudson rivers overran and left the streets in ankle-to-knee-deep water, I think the idea of New York was lost. Some left, but not everyone wanted to abandon the idea of New York including my supervisor at InfoVideo. My girlfriend, Claire, was working on her Ph.D. and didn’t want to transfer for fear she’d lose all she’d work for. So, I went to work, traipsing through a flooded Manhattan. Every morning I’d put on my fisherman waders and slosh through to the bus. The subway system was a goner with an exception of a couple of above ground trains.

I sloshed to work this morning at a slow pace like I did every morning. I didn’t care about being late. The only thing that would make me speed up was when the water about me would splash madly. It was usually an exasperated rat, his fur slicked with wet until you could see his pale pink skin beneath his brown fur. They looked like something terribly, terribly wrong and made me want to leave the city—the state, for a place that wasn’t have such a bad go with the climate change. But, most states were having a bad go.

I got to work at about five after ten. Karol was there already. She had on a bright colored hooded pullover. I remember how nicely she used to dress, even in jeans she was high-heeled shoes and sexy fresh-off-the runway low cut blouses. Now it was loose jeans, t-shirts, sweatshirts, fisherman waders in a large garbage pail by her desk.

“Hi.” She turned her seat around on its base. She had a round youthful face, pretty, with big brown eyes. I didn’t like to look at her face. I didn’t like to speak to her. After I’d ditched my waders and sanitized my hands I locked the door to our office, went to her, unzipped her hood. I pulled her up from her seat, pulled her shirt off and decided I’d leave her bra on today. I was never playful. I went to her body like it was the bread and water, the broth to break my fast. When I had her bottom fully uncovered I took off my tie and shirt, looking at her hips, her dark brown pubic hair on her pale skin. She held a small belly, round but pretty. I hadn’t noticed it before I’d started fucking her. She probably had a six pack before the deluge.

The deluge fucked with everyone’s head. I wasn’t a cheater before. My girlfriend and I had a healthy sex life. We’d go at it pretty regular. Sometimes it was magic. Sometimes it was a hungry screw before work. But, after the deluge she just stopped. I tried to talk to her about it but she would just offer to give me a handjob, maybe a blowjob. But at that moment, that wouldn’t be what I wanted. I just wanted us, having sex like we used to. But, she had given up on sex. I think it was instinct, like the earth was no longer a hospitable environment for procreation so even though we weren’t trying to have children, I think the very act was scratched off her list of needs.

The deluge had the opposite affect on me. I became horny as shit, all the time. I don’t think it was instinct. I think I wanted to feel as much joy as possible before the end finally came. Which this was. It was here. Just no one wanted to admit it.

Karol lay down on her back, legs up as if in stirrups and I began to eat her out good. I gave voracious oral now. It was the bread, her juices my water, my fast broke this way every Monday morning. When she climaxed I was ready to climax too. I pushed myself into her and in a few humps I was done and laying between her thighs. Sometimes she’d touch my head or rub my back, but at that point I usually got up and went to the bathroom.

With Karol done, I sat before my computer to edit educational videos. I was supposed to be a filmmaker. This was supposed to be my day job, my means of survival until I made a great film that would gain me notoriety, a Sundance film festival award. But, along with the deluge, so went my aspiration. It was enough to do this. I should have been out barefoot with my pants rolled up to my knees documenting the city, struggling to stay standing in water, but instead I came to work every day and went home every day.

At about a half-hour into work the power went. Whether at work or at home, the power was always going. It was no longer the cause for alarm it would’ve been in a dry New York. Now it was an everyday event that would happen at some point. It would take a lot of federal aid to fix the infrastructure of this city, to redo the power system, and that aid was slow to come.

Karol lit a candle and a cigarette. We used to have another co-worker, Sharon, in this room with us. An older woman. But she never came back after the deluge. I didn’t give a shit if Karol smoked in here. My supervisor stayed locked up in his office. His eyes had taken on a look of stoned surprise like a stroke victim. He seemed to age by the moment.

I leaned back in my chair and sighed.

“I’m going to Colorado.” Karol said.

I opened my eyes and turned to her. She had her legs folded to her chest.

“Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. ‘What’s the point? They’re always buried in snow.’ But at least it’s not walking around in dirty water.”

I was thinking nothing of the sort. I wasn’t thinking. My mind was fairly blank. Sex was the only thing that I could think about these days. First thought in the morning and it lulled me to sleep.

“You can come with me.”

That woke me up a little. I looked at her face in the candlelight. We’d never had sunlight in this office. No windows.


“Come with me?”


She just shrugged her shoulders, the left side of her mouth.

“What about Bryan?”

She did the same shrug. I turned away from her and into the little flame’s reflection held steady in the center of my dim computer screen. I sat silently like that, anxious for the power to come back on. The days it did come back on were easier to get through.

“I love you.”

I sighed. “God. No you don’t. You don’t even like me.”

“That’s not true.” I heard the tears in her voice.

“You don’t. Before this shit all started you thought I was obnoxious, overly thoughtful, moody and a bad dresser. You barely even looked at me.”

I could hear her crying full on now. I didn’t feel sorry for her. I was annoyed. I decided if she didn’t stop soon I’d wait for my lunch in the break room. I heard her get out of her chair.

She was beside my desk. “You don’t know shit about women.” And she pushed my monitor to the floor. It clunked on the carpet and fell on its side. She’d left the room, left me staring at the screen on the floor.

The power was back on after lunch. Karol didn’t come back to the office. I’d hoped she had hopped a plane to Colorado, but most likely she was in the break room hiding from me. She wasn’t going to Colorado. But a bit of panic gripped my throat. What if she did? Where would I get my sex?

After work I took the overcrowded bus to Moron Bar to meet Claire. When I got downtown I was feeling a little angry already. Agitated. A pack of rats swam by me and made me so angry I stomped like a child and even felt the heat of tears behind my eyes. The kind of behavior that didn’t even blink an eye post-deluge.

When I got to Moron Bar, Claire was sitting at a table in a high-stool with a woman with short gray here. It must’ve been her advisor, Sybil.

“Hey, baby.”

Not a word in reply. She remained focused on a stack of papers.

“Hi. I’m Sybil Greene.” I shook her hand and went back to Claire.

“What’s wrong?’

Nothing. Not a word. She just continued shuffling papers. I stood there for a while looking at Claire. Sybil Green looked at me awkwardly. I didn’t’ know what I had done aside from cheat on her. But, she didn’t know about that. Did she? I hadn’t been bad about it. No phone calls or dates to meet Karol. It was just a thing I did at work. It hadn’t altered my schedule.

When I had started with Karol, I used to shower when I got home, but now I washed up in the sink. Still had she smelled her on me. Something was wrong. Something serious. I saw a tear fall to her papers before her. Then she did know. That had to be it. At that moment all I could wonder was why she even cared. She didn’t want to fuck me.

“Nice to meet you.” I said to Sybil Greene and walked out without another word. I stood outside for a moment watching the currents about my ankles. The door opened outward. It was Sybil Greene.

“Good you’re still here.”


“You shouldn’t just walk away.” I looked at Sybil’s wrinkled face. I had not met her in all these years and I determined I wasn’t missing much.

“She’s hurting.”


“You shouldn’t just walk away.”

“Yes.” I said, but that’s not all I said. I hiked my messenger bag up on my shoulder and began to walk. I got to a building with an inner walk. These began to be built all across the city. A group of stores occupying one building. It was convenient. You could do clothes, food, and electronic shopping in one building, without water. They weren’t quite malls, just a random group of stores with a slightly higher elevation than the water outside.

I walked on the slick rubber mats just enjoying not splashing. I didn’t want to buy anything. I just walked through the walk to the next street. When I reached the outer door I saw something moving on the floor, pink and brown. It was a rat. Something was wrong with him. He was weak, dragging his nose as he walked.

I nudged him with my foot, surprised at myself. I was surprised I could get so close to him. He skidded a little, regained his footing and began walking again. I nudged him again and again. Each time he continued walking though in different directions if my low kicks spun him. I kept doing that for a while. People walked by and looked at me strangely. A group of young women yelled and ran off laughing. I just kept kicking him like that until I decided it was enough.

BIO:  Kurtis Darby is from Harlem and has lived in Europe. He graduated from Hunter College, where he studied English and theatre. He was a featured performer at the original Buffalo Reading in New York http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_readings. His Poems have appeared in Halving the Baby and Origami Condom.