“In the 19th Arrondissement” by Mitchell Grabois

“I’ve kidnapped the high school girl with the dirty mouth, and she asks if she can share in the profits. Actually, I didn’t kidnap her. She came with me willingly”


I couldn’t find my migraine pills, couldn’t find the secret sauce, could not find the formula. My migraines were killing me, like communists kill capitalists, or want to.

I kidnapped the counter girl. She was a weak high school student. I figure she’d know the formula. She claimed she didn’t, claimed only the Big Bosses knew. She said you could fuck the manager and he still wouldn’t tell you the formula. You could fuck him every day for a month, give him blow jobs during breaks, and he wouldn’t tell.

You got quite a mouth on you for a high school girl, I said.

She explained that everyone had been trained like CIA agents or Seal Team 6.


Liz Taylor’s pubic hairs are holy relics, as is a damp condom in a sandwich bag which my new friend Gustavo claims was Richard Burton’s. I have no reason to doubt him. He clutches it very tight. He keeps looking over his shoulder for gangsters who might want to steal it.

Take me to the Esfartios Unidos, he beseeches me, and we will put these priceless treasures on E-bay. Together, amigo, we will enjoy the good life.

I’ve kidnapped the high school girl with the dirty mouth, and she asks if she can share in the profits. Actually, I didn’t kidnap her. She came with me willingly, why I don’t know.

I feel guilty and decide to go to Mass. I tell her: Wear long pants to the Cathedral so you don’t offend the Catholics. Your legs would distract the Mexican men, take their minds off the Virgin Mary, set ajitter the international lesbians who drift across the globe like tides and who sometimes spin like clothes in a washing machine.

Then come back to the motel, smoke a joint, stand in the doorway and extend your leg like Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky, I’ll be Tom Cruise, I look a little like Tom Cruise, I have two eyes and a nose, and a mouth with teeth that can charm when I smile.

She inherits a lot of money. My kidnapping was well-timed. God must be looking at me with favor, partly because I’ve maintained my regular church going, from the time I was an olive altar boy.

In Vallarta we drink champagne ‘til I’m sick of the sweetness and feel like barfing in her mouth. She pulls me onto her new private plane where I sleep it off and wake on the runway in Paris. She’s very quickly developed amazing confidence in herself. In Paris, we drink tequila until my head spins. She leaves me there without my passport. I think I’m in the 19th Arrondissement, but I may be elsewhere.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois‘s writing appears in magazines worldwide. Nominated for numerous prizes, he was awarded the 2017 Booranga Centre (Australia) Fiction Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and as a print edition. His poetry collection, The Arrest of Mr. Kissy Face, published in March 2019 by Pski’s Porch Publications, is available here.

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