Ashley Libey


Jazz runs riotous through the street. The notes rush from the crowded house and collide with one another in the middle of the street, stumbling on the cobblestones before racing forward into the dark night. Trombone, trumpet, bass, a woman’s confident alto. On the other side of the window, people shout and laugh, drunk on alcohol and the intoxicating music.

Danielle stands in the shadows behind a lamppost and smiles. A summer thunderstorm, brief as a love affair, has doused her and her dark, too big skirt clings to her legs. Behind her, water drips from a clogged gutter. Tonight is a good night, but tomorrow, tomorrow night will be even better.


Danielle sat next to the steamy window and waited. She’d opened one of the panes as far as the sticky sill would allow her, but the nighttime breeze did little to cool her cramped apartment. The humid inside air clung to her as though it wanted to share a secret.

Through the crack in the window she watched the crowd on the street below. It was late, almost midnight, but the streets were still full, people moving languidly from one location to another. Danielle wiped a hand across the back of her neck and stretched her legs out in front of her. She wished she could afford a fan.

There was a light tap at the door and Danielle’s heart leapt as she rushed to open it. She flung the door back and there he was. Her Antonio. She felt momentarily breathless, as she always did when he first arrived, and brushed a wavy tendril of hair out of her face, her fingers trembling. His tie was loosened, the first few buttons on his shirt open, his hat pushed back on his head. His grey eyes took her in, traveling from her face down to her bare feet and back up again.

“Champagne for you.” He held out a dirty green bottle.

“Champagne! Oh my favorite,” Danielle gushed. “Where did you get it?” She pulled him inside and quickly shut the door, standing on her tiptoes to kiss him. A wave of heat moved through her as he gently brushed the small of her back.

He shrugged and turned away to hang his hat on the peg near the door. “Just came across it and knew you’d like it.” He was unusually somber this evening. No characteristic crooked grin. No jokes and laughter.     

“How was your day?” she asked. She tugged his hand, leading him toward the rumpled bed she’d just been sitting on. Danielle loved hearing about Antonio’s work. He was a horse seller and could always be found at the racetrack, inspecting thoroughbreds and making deals. He was a man on a steep ascent in the horse world and had built a good reputation for himself.

“Oh, fine.” He waved his hand dismissively and said no more. His grey eyes searched the apartment, seeming to want to look at everything, anything really, other than her. He moved away from the bed and instead took a seat on the rickety wooden chair in the corner, hands in his pockets.

“Are you hungry? I’ve got bread and an apple. Some ham too.”

“No, not really.” He jiggled a knee and sighed quietly.

Danielle set the bottle down on the table she used for eating and folding laundry and crossed over to Antonio in three strides. She perched on his lap and leaned in to kiss him again, but he turned his face away and she caught a hint of something she hadn’t before. He smelled like juniper trees. Like gin. He kept his hands in his pockets.

“Darling,” she began. Shame burned in her stomach. He had never turned away from her before.

“Danielle, we need to talk.” He shifted a bit, as though to move away from her despite the fact that she had entwined her arms around his neck.

“What is it?” she asked, feeling cold all over. “Are you sick?”

“No.” He shook his head and took a measured breath.

Deep down inside her, down in her guts, Danielle knew what he was going to say. She held him closer, feeling his heart quicken. If he said it she would fly into a million pieces. If he said it her world would end and she would have nothing. “Are you going away?” she asked, her voice quiet and weak.


“Are you—“

“For God’s sake just let me talk, woman!” he burst out. He looked at her for the first time since entering the apartment and Danielle’s heart stopped. There was something hateful hiding behind his beautiful light grey eyes.

She shrunk away from him, still perched on his lap. He took another deep breath to compose himself and then addressed her, looking away once more.

“This has been fun and all, darling, but it’s time we end it,” he said simply.

“End it?” she repeated. She’d known it was coming, felt it in her bones just now, but it couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be real. He couldn’t just take it all away.

“I can’t see you anymore,” he said, his voice stern. He moved as though to stand and Danielle gripped his shoulders. If he left she’d be alone. If he left she’d have nothing. If he left, her world would crack in two.

Danielle licked her lips. Her throat raw and burning. “Why?” In an effort not to whisper it came out too loud, too harsh, shrill almost.

“I’m getting married.”

Three short words. Just three. But not the three she had waited all these months to hear.


“A week from now.”

“Who is she?” Jealousy crept up from her stomach, hot and rancid.

He shrugged. “Just someone.”

“Who?!” she demanded. She stood up and backed away from him, her legs knocking into the bed behind her. For a moment her balance shifted and she almost fell, but she righted herself and glared at him.

“Now don’t get mad. You knew we were just having some fun. I said as much at the very beginning. When did I ever get serious with you?” His roaming eyes landed on her again, hard and uncaring. Suddenly Danielle felt horrified that she’d yelled at him. If there’d been any doubt in his mind that he should leave her, she would have erased it with her crass behavior.

“But, but, why? What did I do?” Danielle pleaded, desperate for a way to fix the situation. “Did I do something wrong? I’ll be better. I’ll change, I promise.” She got down on her knees and tried to take one of his hands from his pocket. She needed him to stay. He had to stay. Danielle had been in love a dozen times in her twenty three years, but there had never been anyone like Antonio. He listened to her. He understood her. He was her shield against the cruelty of the world. Her love for him had come on like a flame in a dry, summertime forest, consuming and instantaneous.

Antonio rose and moved away from her. “Look, you’re getting yourself all worked up over nothing.”

“Nothing? We’ve been together nine months. That’s not nothing.” Danielle could hear the begging in her own voice. Tears spilled from her eyes and she hurriedly wiped them away. He’d always gotten impatient with her whenever she cried.

“It’s all been fun, Dani. We’ve had fun, right? Don’t tell me you thought it was more than that? You knew better. I told you.”

“But I love you!” The words burst out of her and she froze. She couldn’t take them back now. All this time she’d kept them bottled up and hidden away inside her heart for fear she would push him away and now they were loose.

He stared at her, his face an unreadable mask. She wished she could see anything in his eyes, anything at all, even the anger that had been there just moments ago. He said nothing.

Danielle kept talking. If she kept talking he wouldn’t leave. “Haven’t I always done everything you’ve ever wanted? What can I do? Just tell me and I’ll do it.”

Antonio sighed, the furrow deepening between his brows.

“Darling, please, who is she? I can be better than her.”

Antonio stared coldly down at her where she was still on the floor, still on her knees. He used to tell her it was his favorite view of her, but now instead of biting his lip and stroking her hair he looked disgusted by the sight of her. “I’m leaving you, girl. It’s been fun and now it’s over. Get up and stop making a scene.”

Danielle stayed where she was. She dug her fingernails into the splintery floorboards, her mind racing over the past nine months. There had to be something she could say, something she could remind him of that would make him want to stay. He’d see that she was the better choice.

Seconds crept by and Antonio remained silent. Something wavered in Danielle and then flipped over. The shame and despair flooded away and in its place anger rushed in.

“Does she know about me?” Danielle demanded, her voice as rough as the wood beneath her hands. “Because if she doesn’t I’ll make sure she does.”

“She knows.”

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, I’m not. We saw you a week or so ago.”

Danielle felt like she’d been slapped. She’d been seen and not done any seeing of her own. He had said he was getting married soon. He must have been engaged for a while then, but how long? How long had he been planning on leaving her? Since the beginning? She was a fool. He’d told her all the truths he had in him and she hadn’t listened to a single one. Antonio shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

“Well, I must be off. Do try to enjoy the Champagne. Find some ice for it. It’s better when it’s cold.” Antonino lifted his hat off the peg by the door, the peg she’d nailed in especially for him, and silently let himself out.

She was alone.


Danielle laid on her stomach, the sheets tangled around her, her feet exposed. For three days she had laid in the same position watching the sun rise and set, watching the shadows shorten and lengthen again. It was late afternoon and the heat in the small apartment pushed oppressively down on her. Smothering her. Sweat pooled in the small of her back. She wondered if this was what it was like to be dead, buried and baking in the earth, crushed and hollow inside.

The sun began to set behind the boardinghouse across the street. The shadows once again growing longer. It was time to get up.


Danielle walked slowly toward the club, enveloped in the numbing shroud of her depression and she didn’t care whether she was late or not. She paused at the corner vegetable stand, her stomach in knots. She hadn’t eaten anything since Antonio had left her, felt no desire for food, no hunger at all, but there was still a small part of her mind that reminded her she should eat something. She eyed the apples, small and red, in the very front of one of the tables.

“Well?” the vendor snapped. “Do you want anything or not? You’ve been standing there for a good five minutes.”

Danielle picked up an apple and wordlessly handed the vendor a nickel. He took it and quickly struck up a conversation with a young blonde woman at the far end of his booth.

“My change?” Danielle asked, her voice a croak. She realized that not only had she not eaten since Antonio had left, she hadn’t spoken either.

The vendor turned to her, annoyed. “What?”

“My change?” she repeated.

He waved his hand at her. “You gave me a penny.”

“No, I gave you a nickel.”

“A penny,” he barked at her, waving his hand dismissively. “I have other customers.”

Danielle turned away, anger surging up inside her and threatening to chew its way out. She glanced back over her shoulder and saw the vegetable vendor was still talking with the blonde woman, laughing and holding out a bunch of grapes for her to try. Danielle thought she might scream. She hurried down the street, her knuckles white around the apple in her fist.

“Get the latest!” a young boy cried on the street corner ahead of her. “Papers for a penny!”

Danielle pushed through a crowd of men lingering outside a barber shop. They eyed her, clearly interested, their faces hungry and bodies ready to pounce.

“Get the latest,” the young boy cried. He waved his newspapers in the air. “Third body found! Police fear mad axeman!”

Someone groped her.

Danielle whirled around, looking for the man who had touched her, but all of the men were suddenly engaged in a heated debate. None of them paid her any mind. She had been forgotten already.

“Get the latest! Read all about the Axeman of New Orleans!”

Danielle threw her apple in the gutter, the thought of food repulsive, and turned the corner.


The dressing room stank of urine and sweat and white lightning. There was a dark stain in one corner that had appeared the week before and wouldn’t come out no matter how much the maid scrubbed it. One of the chorus girls had died last week from a bad batch of moonshine, going blind right before she vomited up enough blood to kill herself.

The sounds of the club reverberated through the thin walls. Danielle sat at the dressing table, absentmindedly moving pots of perfume and pomade and powder back and forth. She had one more set to sing this evening and then she could go home. She studied her face in the mirror. The low light made her look like a skull. Her cheeks were white as bone and there were dark circles under her eyes. For a moment she thought she saw wrinkles there as well and she pulled at her temples to get rid of them.

Danielle reached into one of the drawers and pulled out the flask that was always hidden in the back. Strictly speaking the girls weren’t allowed to drink on the job, but the boss always looked the other way if it made them more agreeable. The only time he had an opinion was if one of them got a bit more gumption than she usually had, if she had the nerve to turn down his advances. Then he’d pulled out the contracts and point to the no drinking clause and fire them on the spot. Danielle unscrewed the top of the flask and took a cautious sniff. It smelled legitimate enough. None of the gasoline burn of the deadly stuff. She took a swig and coughed, replacing the flask just as Rafael came in.

He sauntered over to her and leaned against the dressing table. Danielle folded her hands in her lap and didn’t look at him. It was always better to let the club owner say what he wanted, poke or prod whatever he felt like, and take it all in silence. He’d move on faster that way.

Rafael sat against the edge of the dressing table and began to play with her hair. “Your earlier set was particularly heartfelt this evening. But you don’t seem very happy,” he said. He ran a loose strand of her hair between his fingers.

“I don’t feel well.” She pushed his hand away and instantly regretted it. His touch made her skin crawl but she couldn’t afford to lose this job, not anymore. Before she’d always thought that if she lost her job Antonio would take her in. She no longer had the luxury of standing up for herself.

Rafael laughed softly and leaned in, the reek of his cologne washing over her. “I don’t think it’s just that. I think you’re on your own again. I think your horseseller is no longer in the picture. How else to explain all the heartfelt lovesick songs tonight?”

Danielle froze, only for a moment, but it was enough. Rafael smirked. He’d figured out that Antonio was gone and now she was in trouble. She’d only been able to fend him off before by playfully telling him she was a taken women—he’d respected the idea of another man’s property far more than he’d ever respected her refusals.

“I could help you feel better,” he whispered into her ear.

“I don’t think you could.” Danielle rose to leave, sure she would be sick at any moment, but Rafael wrapped an arm around her waist, resting his hand on the small of her back.

“Danielle, Danielle,” he breathed into her neck, his breath reeking of cheap bourbon. He brushed her hair back and kissed her neck. She turned her face way, panic fighting its way up her throat. “Do you have any idea what you do to me?” he murmured.

“I don’t do a single thing to you. I ignore you whenever possible.” She tried to step away. He held tight, his hands moving down from her waist to her hips.

“You drive me wild,” he told her.

“What does your wife think of that?” Let him remember he was a married man and God would surely judge him one day.

Rafael rolled his eyes at the mention of his wife. “I have no idea. She and I don’t talk anymore. She’s frigid, cold, but you, you have a fire inside. You could keep a man warm at night.”

Danielle tried to pull his hands off of her. The man was sticky as a spilled drink. “There’s no fire in me.”

“Oh, but there is. I see it every time I look at you.” He kissed her neck again and Danielle flinched, finally managing to squirm out of his grip. She turned toward the door and Rafael quickly sidestepped her, blocking her path and leaning against the door with his shoulder. He towered over her. Most men did and Danielle generally didn’t pay much attention. But in that moment, with Rafael looming over her, trapped in the dressing room, she felt small, bug-like, like something that could easily be crushed.

“You’re in the way,” she said, her voice as weak as she felt.

“Why do you torture me so?”

It was too much. “I ought to leave and go sing somewhere else!” she burst out. “Then where will you be? If I leave, the people who come here especially to hear me will leave too. They’ll follow me to wherever I work next and you’ll lose customers. You’ll lose money.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he laughed confidently. “You can’t leave.” He reached out and grasped her by the wrist.

“Don’t touch me!” She slapped him and froze, head down, waiting for him to hit her back.

He didn’t. Instead he frowned. “Be careful, Danielle. I could end you. One conversation with me and not a single other club owner will have anything to do with you. They’ll believe anything I tell them. You’ll be blacklisted, out on the street, trying to find another way to make a living. And we both know what way that is.” He straightened and adjusted his vest and bowtie. He smiled again, but this time it didn’t reach his eyes.

“I know how you can make this all up to me,” he said. “You should let me walk you home tonight. Or better yet stay with me. You really can’t be too careful. They say there is a mad axeman loose in the town. Three murders so far.” Rafael pulled her into an embrace, smoothing his hand over her hair, his hand coming to rest on the back of her neck. “What do you say, dear? My wife it out of town until tomorrow, and I’ve just received a case of Champagne from Paris.”

Danielle’s heart slowed almost to a stop. There was a roaring in her ears. The room seemed to become brighter and colder at the same time. He had given her the pretext of a choice and she wouldn’t be allowed to refuse.

“Danielle?” Rafael pulled away and looked at her, frowning.

“I’ll go home with you,” she murmured.

“What’s that?” he asked, cupping a hand to his ear, his eyes crinkling in amusement. He had heard her perfectly; he just wanted to make her say it again.

“I said I’ll go home with you. Champagne is my favorite.” The edges of Danielle’s vision darkened and she grew cold all over, but this was what she had to do. This was how she would keep her job and still have somewhere to live next week. This was what she had to do.


Danielle laid awake, moonlight streaming in through the gauzy white curtains. The space between her legs was sore and her stomach felt tight. She held perfectly still, trying to feel the beat of her heart against the hard mattress, but it seemed not to exist. Beside her Rafael snored, one of his arms across her torso, heavy and hot. The smell of him hung in the air—cologne and sweat and bourbon. Panic stirred inside Danielle. She felt trapped.

Danielle slid slowly, ever so slowly, out from under Rafael’s arm, anxiety prickling across her skin like needles. What if he woke up? She had no doubt what he’d want to do again if that happened. When she was free she searched frantically for her dress and pulled it on, not bothering to do up the buttons before slipping as silently as possible out of the bedroom. She tucked her shoes under one arm and padded down the hallway, pausing when she reached the kitchen. She had intended to let herself out the back door and then slip down the alley. Instead she paused, transfixed by what she saw in the corner.

There, leaning against the stove, gleaming in the moonlight, was an axe.

A new one judging by the sheen of the blade and the polish still clinging to the handle. Danielle wavered. She should just leave, just let herself out the back door like she’d planned and go home, but something about the axe called to her.

She set her shoes down on the kitchen table and lifted the axe with both hands.


Danielle studied herself in the gilded mirror, detached and clinical, numb. Her face was a wash of deep red streaks and splotches, her hair a mess of sticky tendrils that clung to her neck. She looked down. Her dress still hung open in the front from when she hadn’t buttoned it, but now it was saturated with Rafael’s blood. A little trickle ran down her collar bone toward her sternum. She should have taken her dress off while she did it. It was foolish of her not to think ahead like that, but she’d never been very good at thinking about the future or planning ahead. Perhaps if she had been Antonio would have taken her more seriously. Perhaps he wouldn’t have left her.

Shame and envy twined themselves around her heart before fading away, the thought of Antonio momentarily stinging her out of her numbness. Danielle pumped some water in the spotless porcelain sink and rinsed her face, forcing thoughts of Antonio away. She needed to think straight; she had to leave and she couldn’t do that looking like she currently did. Danielle drained the red from the sink and filled it again, running icy water over her face and hair. She repeated the process until she looked like her normal self, then peeled off her dress. Some of the blood had soaked through and she delicately ran a finger over her torso, tracing a white streak through the scarlet there. Only an hour ago Rafael had touched her in the exact same way and now he’d never be able to touch another woman again. Danielle wetted a hand-towel and wiped herself clean, then returned to the bedroom to look through the armoire. Surely there would be something that belonged to Rafael’s wife that would fit her.

She dressed quickly in a dark blouse and skirt that was too long, ignoring the scene in the bed behind her. Someone would find Rafael soon, probably in the early evening when he failed to show up at the club, but they would only know it was him because he’d be discovered in his own bedroom. No one would be able to identify him.

Danielle returned to the bathroom, bundling her ruined dress, careful to keep the sticky front of it wrapped toward the inside where it wouldn’t be seen or dirty her pilfered clothes. Fear flickered up inside her. They would catch her. Someone surely would have seen the two of them leaving the club together. They’d put two and two together and then that would be the end of her. She’d be hanged for what she’d done. Danielle shoved the thoughts down and descended the stairs, dress under one arm, the axe in her free hand. She was careful to keep the blade away from her stolen skirt and replaced the axe by the backdoor where she had found it. It gleamed wet and red in the moonlight.


The next night Danielle sat in the dressing room, attempting to powder her face, but the stench of urine and sweat was almost more than she could take. In the corner behind her, reflected in the mirror, the chorus girl’s stain looked darker than it had before. The deep maroon of the damask walls felt like an accusation. She reached shakily for the pot of rouge on the table and noticed something on her neck, just below her ear. Danielle scratched at it. It felt like a scab. She studied her nails; something rusty and brown was caught there.

The door opened and the new chorus girl, the replacement, came rushing in.

“Have you heard?” she asked, all sparkles and curly red hair, practically bursting with the gossip she was about to share.

“Heard what?” Danielle asked. She scraped her nails against her sequins, trying to dislodge the evidence of her sin.

“He’s dead! They found him late this morning!” The chorus girl beamed. She had crooked teeth.

“Who’s dead?” Danielle thought she could hear the ocean.

“Rafael! He’s dead! They say the Axeman did it.”

“The Axeman?” Danielle’s heart stuttered and the roaring of the ocean died away. The police thought someone else had done it.

“Yeah, silly. Haven’t you heard of the serial killer around town? The police are sure it was the Axeman because it fits with all the other murders. Can you imagine? I wonder what Rafael did to get himself killed.”

“Yeah. I wonder.” Danielle fought back a laugh. She’d gotten away with it.


A week later Danielle lingered in the alley, leaning against the back wall of the club, sure that at any moment the grimy cobblestones were going to come spinning up to meet her. She had just taken four shots of whiskey and the world seemed to wobble on its axis. She took a drag from a cigarette she had bummed from Felix, the floor manager and ignored the nausea, she had felt for the past week. The notes of the club drifted into the alley where they mingled with the low rumble of passing motorcars and the voices of people walking by.

One voice suddenly stood out from the rest. A raucous, boastful voice, full of life. He was laughing uproariously at something. Danielle stuck her head around the corner of the building.

Antonio was coming toward her, a woman on his arm. Danielle’s throat clenched. Her whole body burned and then just as quickly went cold, ice creeping up to take hold of the back of her neck. She watched the two come closer. They were both laughing hard and trying to talk at the same time. The woman had light brown hair that she had pulled up into an elaborate twist. Her face was flushed. She was tall, almost as tall as Antonio. And she was pretty. They had their arms around each other and were coming closer to where Danielle stood in the dark alley, unaware of her presence, unaware of anything but each other.

Danielle ducked out of sight behind an overflowing garbage can and watched as they passed by. They hadn’t noticed. She rose and peeked around the edge of the club, the damp wall behind her wetting her shoulder. Their arms were still around each other and Antonio was playing with the girl’s hair at the base of her neck. Danielle yelped and dropped her cigarette, scorching her skirt in the process. It had burned down without her noticing and now her skirt was ruined.

She stuck her tender fingers in her mouth, anger coursing through her. She felt cheap. Antonio had played with her hair the exact same way, hundreds of times, but it had meant nothing to him and everything to her. He’d used her and when he grew tired of her he’d left her. Danielle turned sharply on her heel and headed back inside to find the flask in the dressing table.


Danielle staggered down her street, almost home. Felix had kicked her out of the club, declaring her too drunk to sing and warned her that if she showed up drunk again tomorrow she’d be out of a job. Danielle took a deep breath and tried to let the nausea fade away, but it kept crawling up her throat. She had only another half a block to go and then she’d be home. She told herself she could make it. It was no good. Danielle leaned against the lamppost just a door down from her stairs and was sick into the gutter. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and looked over to the see the vegetable vendor shaking his head at her. He was pulling the awning down to cover his booth.

“Drunk whore,” he muttered, loud enough so that Danielle could hear.

“What?” Danielle called after him. How dare he? He was nobody. He couldn’t talk to her like that.

“You’re a drunk whore! You ought to be ashamed!”

He shook his head again and entered a side door, limping as he went. Danielle studied him. She had never noticed his limp before. A few moments later Danielle saw a light come on in two upstairs windows. He must live above his booth. She watched his silhouette pace across the room several times, his gait more exaggerated in silhouette.

The vegetable seller’s apartment went dark and Danielle realized she had been gripping the lamppost with both hands. She let go. Her knuckles were purple from cold.

She looked up at the vendor’s window again. The dark windows stared accusingly at her. Without thinking, Danielle crossed the street and tried the door the vendor had gone through. It opened easily. She climbed the dark stairs quietly and slowly, determined. She would show the vegetable seller he couldn’t talk to her like that. When she reached the top of the stairs she paused, each breath coming to her in a shallow gasp. She couldn’t quite seem to catch her breath as she tried the handle of the vegetable seller’s apartment. The door swung open silently and Danielle stepped inside the dark room. Just inside the door stood a small wood stove, a pile of kindling next to it. And beside that, an axe.


Danielle jerked awake the next morning, disoriented, her head pounding. Outside the sun had just begun to rise and people were shouting. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, trying to make out what they were yelling about, but everyone was talking at once. She pushed the window open and leaned her aching head against the frame, letting the cacophony wash over her. After a few moments she heard it.

“The Axeman! The Axeman was here!” a man in dirty trousers yelled. Somewhere nearby a woman screamed. “Send for the police!”

Danielle flopped back down in the bed, her head pounding, memories of last night shimmering to the surface. After she’d killed the vegetable seller and come home, she’d been momentarily afraid that she would be found out, but then she’d come to her senses. As she’d burned her dress and scrubbed her body clean, she’d told herself that no one would ever suspect her. After all, they’d blamed Rafael’s death on the Axeman. Nobody would ever think that she, a woman, could commit such a heinous crime when there was a mad axeman on the loose.  

 Danielle pulled the pillow over her head to muffle the sounds of the outside world and felt her heart splinter. It smelled like him. She flung the pillow away and fury washed over her. How dare he do this to her? How dare he use her and then say it was her own fault for being upset? She clenched her eyes shut and grew disgusted with herself. It had been almost two weeks and he still had power over her, still had the power to split open her warped heart every time she thought of him. Danielle clenched her fists, feeling her nails bite into her palms. She lay still until the rage drained away, then uncurled her hands and studied them, four perfect red crescents etched into each palm.

“It was the Axeman!” Others outside had taken up the cry.

Danielle traced the little half moons made by her nails and realized it would be easy, so easy. Antonio had hurt her, was still hurting her even though he’d left, but there was a way to make it stop. Rafael and the vegetable seller had each hurt her too, in their own ways, and now neither one of them would ever hurt her again. It would be easy. And everyone would think the Axeman had done it.

Danielle smiled and watched the sun rise over the boarding house across the street, the early morning rays filling her small apartment with a fiery orange glow.


Jazz runs riotous through the street. The notes rush from the crowded house and collide with one another in the middle of the street, stumbling on the cobblestones before racing forward into the dark night. Trombone, trumpet, bass, a woman’s confident alto. On the other side of the window, people shout and laugh, drunk on alcohol and the intoxicating music.

Danielle stands in the shadows behind a lamppost and smiles. A summer thunderstorm, brief as a love affair, has doused her and her dark, too big skirt clings to her legs. Behind her, water drips from a clogged gutter. Tonight is a good night, but tomorrow, tomorrow night will be even better.

She watches from across the street, practically invisible in her dark clothes. She can see Antonio through the front window of his house, as well as his soon to be wife, looking lovely in pale blue. They are having a booming party. Gin and bourbon are passed from hand to hand. Everyone laughs. Most everyone is dancing.

Antonio’s laughter floats out to her, riding on the back of the riotous music.

Danielle breathes deeply, her head clear for the first time since he left her. Tonight is a good night, but tomorrow, tomorrow night will be even better.



Ashley Libey received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Western Washington University in 2011, and has been published in Aphotic Realm. She currently mediates an online writing group, writes editorial book reviews, and slushes writing contest entries. Ashley resides in the Pacific Northwest and can usually be found dancing tango, drinking good bourbon, or crocheting yet another blanket.