Don Johnson Is Not Your Man
Kara Vernor

Stephan works at the cookie store in the mall. It's how he gets gas money and chicks. He has a Honda CR-X with a spoiler, but he almost never gives me a ride, even when mom tells him to. Sonny Crockett would not work in a mall, I tell him. He grabs me by the collar and rubs his armpit all over my head.

Still, I ask him questions when I have to because who else can I ask? Yesterday I asked about how you can't smell vodka on the breath. Myth or fact, I wanted to know. Today I'm thinking of asking if boys like to have sex with girls on their periods. But maybe I'll think of something else.

Stephan has two white blazers he wears with pastel t-shirts. I tell him pink only looks good on black guys, and he tells me to shut up. What do you know about black guys, he says. I found a bottle of self-tanner in his gym bag but gave him a break on that one. Cincinnati is no Miami.

The nice thing he used to do for me was bring home cookies. My favorite is chocolate chip, no walnuts. But now that he's selling cocaine too, he doesn't remember about the cookies.

The other night he came home drunk, which I could tell because he talked wrong. He threw a wad of cash into the middle of my room and told me I could have it. I don't deserve it, he said, but it sounded like I doan jasurve it. Then he lay down on the floor and didn't get back up. It was my brother passed out on all this money.

I don't know what he was thinking those nights we watched Miami Vice. Crockett and Tubbs were cops, not dealers. It reminds me of how he walks around singing that Dire Straights song like, "Baby get a pistol on your little finger/Baby get a pistol on your thumb." It's maybe, not baby, I tell him. Blister, not pistol.

Kara Vernor lives in Napa. She's a recent recepient of the Estelle Frank Felllowship for Short Fiction and has stories in or coming from Hobart, Necessary Fiction, The Los Angeles Review and others.

Detail of art on main page: from Roy Lichtenstein's "Pistol" (1964).

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