Antonio is happy to live in a romantic angst set off by his busy days at the legal aid office. He plans to go for a beer with the boys after work. The receptionist, a platinum blonde with big tits, comes around with ice-cream but he remembers what an old client said in a chance meeting, that Tonio was looking prosperous. He settles for an apple. “How's your wife?” his client had asked and Antonio was evasive. She had been glad to see him go even though her last postcard had said poetic things about the heartland.

They usually allocate the migrants to him and his last client for the day is a man who beat his wife for wearing short skirts. The wife is at college part-time and has begun to get 'cojones', the man says; he even tracked her down to a pub recently and when he told her to come home, she told him to get fucked so he slapped her. Then she got up and socked him in the jaw. The man wants compensation because he has now got brain injury and he wants Antonio to make his wife behave properly.

“I understand,” Antonio tells the man. “But this is life. We are the men and we have to learn new things so we can hold onto our women. We have to make them respect us again.”

The others laugh at these men, demented by the loss of their wives, but Antonio respects his people for being angry, for being able to fuck up badly. He is good at helping them back on their feet. His co-workers admire his methods and someone said he should write a book. He opens his top drawer to get some coins and sees that his water pistol is leaking. At first he reads it like a message then he realizes his water pistol is leaking.

About the author:

Published in Agni 61, Boston Review, a Visible Ink anthology, and online at elimae, Opium, Zoetrope All-Story Extra, Margin, Front Street Review, Temenos and Pig Iron Malt. New fiction forthcoming at Salt River Review and Word Riot.