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Funny Valentine

By:Sienna Mynx

Chapter One

“That dirty dog-rat bastard!”

The cleaver landed with a solid chop, slicing through the gills. Red, yellow,

and grey ooze squirted out. Veins and bones were completely severed. “Low down

dirty-dog maggot-ass-bastard!”

My sister’s grip on the worn handle of the gleaming kitchen instrument was

unnaturally tight. Her light brown eyes were dark, with amber sparks of mounting

rage. She had a fierce, determined line to her lips that thinned what men would call

a voluptuous pair. We call her Margie but her name is Margene and she is the

oldest. Earvin Jackson, whom everyone refers to as just Jackson, had five daughters

and we were raised by him alone, since Mommy died in childbirth with daughter

number five. Of course, I was only three at the time, so Margie is and was the only

mother I’d ever known.

And Margie, approaching fifty fast, is the prettiest of us all. Well, to me at

least. My sister has what some black folks call ‘good hair’. It’s long and wavy in

thick dark ringlets, which when pulled straight, reached to the middle of her back.

Whether wet or blown-out, her hair always had a vibrant shine and soft bounce to

it. But she didn’t care for it much. Normally you’d catch her with it pulled up in a

messy mass of curls that kept falling forward into her face, or pushed behind a

headband, wild and free.

Yes, to me, Margie is the pretty one. And I love her dearly. Except when

she was a raving, cussing firecracker. Like now.

“You know,” Margie said, grabbing the tail of the newly-skinned 12-pound

seabass and flipping it on the cutting board. She tossed those curls that covered her

brow and leveled her eyes on me. “I should have Chuckie find him and kick his

ass! What-chu think?”

Chuckie. That’s her husband. He’s damn near more intimidating than my

sister. What she said wasn’t an idle threat. Chuckie could bring a man to a

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

stuttering mess of apologies and excuses with just a look. Once, Lucille’s––our

family restaurant––was robbed by a teenaged hood, a junkie with red-rimmed bug

eyes. Scared the crap out of us. I was there, with Margie and my sister Alicia, until

Chuckie stumbled on the scene and disarmed the fool with a backhanded slap, and

grabbed the gun.

The meat cleaver came down again. A wet smack split the fish evenly down

the middle. “That’s what I oughta do, have Chuckie kick his ass,” Margie


“Calm down.”

“Calm down?” she snorted.

What else could I say? This was my fault. I’d messed this one up, big time.

Well maybe not entirely my fault. I told the lie to make them happy. So they

wouldn’t worry about me. Okay, let me explain. First, his name was John. Trust

me, I struggled with the plain name thing, but sometimes you gotta go simple, and

hell, I had to think on my feet.

John, for my sisters, is my imaginary boyfriend that they were all going to

finally meet at my little sister Sherry’s wedding. Margie in particular had been

looking forward to this fantasy event.

She turned on me in an apron stained with fish guts and unidentifiable

muck, hands reeking from the messy business of Today’s Chef Special. Her mouth

opened as if she wanted to say something, but fell shut, and those pretty features––

age touched only the corners of her eyes––were twisted into an angry mask. She

shook her head. She ran the flat blade cleanly under the shiny silver-black scaly

skin of the bass and separated the pink meaty flesh.

Tomorrow was the biggest day for the restaurant. Lovers from every

neighboring county would come to dine at the place named for our mother and run

by her husband and oldest daughter since her death. We’ve even been featured on

the Food Channel, which has business crazy now. Dinner reservations have us

busting at the seams. And still, Margie runs this kitchen, just like she runs our lives.

I love her, though.

Funny Valentine by Sienna Mynx

Oh, back to the little white lie: John. I came up with the idea right after

Sherry announced her shotgun wedding at Thanksgiving dinner. A girl had to think

fast or be subjected to ‘poor Tia’ for the rest of the holiday.

“I have something to say! Hey, everybody, listen to me! I have something to

say!” Sherry’s squeaky voice rises just above the clinking dinnerware, the joke

telling, the fussing children, and daddy groaning over the turkey looking dry as he

cut into it and doled out slices.

As soon as she begins, I know something is up. For starters, her boyfriend

and indentured servant—don’t ask, I’ll explain later––had been whispering and