by Yuka Hughes

Lucille, yes sir. She’s a beauty. With name like that, you know she’s born to sing, yes? But she’s no sissy-ass Catherina the soprano
Prima Donna, and she’s no Viton trotting teen-idol Melissa either, ‘cause she’s a dangerous lady-- you can just tell those things you see?
Lucille born with rhythm beating in her veins and sultry voice thick with warm honey. Lucille in sick black, standing on the tired bar
stage singing ‘bout rough men in gray and sad love and Moet et Chandon. Fogs, satin, perfumes and match light, they all belonged to
her; she has to be a blues singer with constant whirl of cigarette smoke in her background, a real live Killer Queen.
Beneath the pink and blue and green of the Christmas lights, surrounded by a cardboard Rudolf and cotton balls (which, I suppose,
can look like snow balls if you were blind or drunk enough,) she stood.  Like proud angel among lowly mortals, I present to you,
Lucille. Lovely Lucille in black n’ white, accented by gold. Lovely Lucille with curves to make any woman jealous. Lovely Lucille with
long, slender neck that reminds you of a high-fashion model from Paris, the one whose name you can’t pronounce if your life
depended on it. Lovely Lucille who made me stop and stare every time I passed by this window-- I always wanted a gal like her.
“Too good for your holiness the Pope, damn it. I love you B.B. but I’ll kill you a thousand times over for her.” Muttering that out
loud, I chuckled, surprised at the sound of my own voice. Or amused yes, oddly amused as my voice left a patch of white on the frigid
display glass, clouding Ze lovely Lucille. I scrubbed the glass with the hem of my coat, in neat circles now, just like how your Momma
taught you, wiping it away.
There! Windex clean! You’re too beautiful to be hidden away baby; you know how they used to say: If you have it, flaunt it. Doing my
best impression of a charming wink at the window, feeling just how cold and wet my eyelashes are, I let out a hoot of laughter. Drunk?
Yes, maybe (Some bottle of whisky or two to give off that hardboiled adult male smell. Ladies beware.) What’s a middle aged man to
do on the Christmas Eve Night? Walk home drunk and alone from a local bar filled with couples on cheap dates, then have a chat
with lovely senorita through the show-case glass of Steve’s Music on the way home, that’s what. Just like every other night! How damn--
Sad. I thought as I stared back at those tired drooping eyes in the window. If I could see well enough, I’m sure I’ll find those eyes
bloodshot and glazed, maybe I’ll find a new wrinkle or two around them too. Remember when wrinkles seemed like a thing as foreign
as China to you? Suddenly, I became very aware of the reflection on those glass. In my youth--with head-full of hair styled and gelled,
clad in my very best on my waxed 1978 Harley (with a giggling Jen in my arms, yes always), I would’ve spat at the man I saw in the
reflection: Try getting a job and maybe you’ll get laid old man!
Who would’ve expected it? Mr. Prom King, Mr. Hardcore, Mr. All-girls-want-to-be-with-me-and-all-guys-want-to-be-me, turning out to
become a sad old drunk? Ol’ Mister Loser, yes sir that’s me!   Rudolph’s smile just got few inches wider, certainly not me, he seemed
to say. Looked just like Jen he did, yes sir. You’re nothing!
“Well yeah? Fuck you Rudolph! and Fuck you too B.B.! I would like to see you do half the things I achieved in my life! Shit!“
Stomping at the snow that surrounded my fake leather boots, I shouted to the December night, suddenly in a drunken rage. Just what
DID I achieve? I asked myself then, kicking at the foot of the window, regretting it soon after as the pain slowly climbed its way up
my frozen-numb toes. Even Rudolph’s leading a sled full of toys by now. Good job champ, you’re a superstar! Every goddamn kid in
the world is singin about you now!
“Merry Fucking Christmas everyone, laugh all you want!” Exhausted, I let my already alcohol-crippled leg fall beneath me, ignoring the
half-melted sludge of snow that steadily seeped through my pants. Leaning heavily against the brick wall, feeling the rough winter chill
on the back of my head, I regretted not wearing a hat. My ears must be as red as Rudolph’s…
Go home sugar, you’ll catch a cold. Lucille told me then from within her transparent cage next to my head. Go home and have a nice
warm cup of coffee, you had a rough day. And what kind words those were! I could’ve almost cried. Sympathizing with a stupid drunk
like me with that nectar-sweet slur of hers that did a better job of warming me up than any bottle of whiskey ever could. So unlike all
those guys that mocked and jeered at me, so unlike fucking Rudolph and Jen. She understands.
Tomorrow, I thought as I got up, cursing as the icy water at the seat of my pants trailed slowly down the underside of my thighs. I‘ll
get myself a Christmas present. Wait for me Lucille, we’ll have a Christmas Party just you and me baby. With that thought, I leaned
over to kiss the showcase window. Smack, smack. Left her my mark, nearly freezing my lips off.
By New Years Eve, Jimi won’t have nothin on me! Another hoot of laugh, and I was on my way home, leaving a trail of black on
white snow.

They  found her in the showcase window of Steve’s Music, blood turning the white of cotton puffs red like some bizarre tie-dye

Nothing ever good comes from Christmas, yes sir it’s true. They should’ve gotten an idea when poor Joseph got himself a pregnant
wife without any recollection of fucking her, no welfare in the first year of our lord either, har har. I guess being questioned for a
crime I don’t remember committing may place me in a little better position than that of my dear boy Joseph. I can be cleared of all
charges, but you’re stuck for good Joseph, I sympathize with you man.
But well, before I go bound free, I had to be brought into the station first of course. Had to do my part as a good citizen to help out
the community y’know? I wasn’t a bad sport, but wasn’t exactly the key contributor who cast the light on the investigation either. What
can I say? I was piss drunk that night. All I could tell them as they shined that bright-ass light in my face was, (Couldn’t believe they
actually do that, it isn’t just in the old detective shows I guess,) “No officer” “I don’t remember officer” “No idea officer” “I was
drunk officer” They even had those two-way mirror things on the wall of that room! Isn’t that hilarious? It’s just like in the T.V.! Why
don’t they just write “I’m watching your every move sucker” next to the mirror for me? Make it a little more obvious for the stupid
drunken bum. That day, they asked me everything from what I was doing last night to my mother’s maiden name (hell if my e-mail
account was hacked, that‘s my secret question). Those inspectors can write a biography on me with all the info I gave ‘em (Name it A
Little Man Who Thought He Could.)
The week following was hell. I could already tell they assumed that I was the killer. Hell, I’ve never even seen that girl in my life. I just
had to be in the front of that store that night, touching the window all over, and even kissing it too! Shit, I seem to have all the luck in
the world these days don‘t I? What will happen next? Major case of hemorrhoids perhaps? The suspense is killing me. In the end I lost
my nerve, told them it was old Rudolph who‘ve done it.  I saw him officer! Went ahead and had his way with that girl! Like hell they’ll
believe me. Even if it was Rudolph, he’ll influence the higher ups and get it off the files. He’s a superstar after all (Rudolph’s smile just
got few inches wider, certainly not me, he seemed to say.)
Then one day, they suddenly decide to let me go. Found new evidence they said, no apologies or anything I swear. Fuckers got another
thing coming, this is what I get for working my ass off to pay the tax for those damn federal police force. By the time they stopped
following me around to the little boy’s room, it was midway through January. So much for Jimi Hendrix by the new year’s damn it, but
promise is a promise, my baby’s waitin.
Turning the corner, I could see the display window of Steve’s Music amidst the red-brown of the brick walls. No trace of the crime
anymore, no sir. Even the diligent little police boys were nowhere in sight, and was I glad. Returning to the scene of crime Mr.
Lawrence? I can just see the sneer on the inspector’s face, that face was made for breaking, a one-two punch. He’ll be all red and
pulpy by then baby, they’ll have to put me in a cell to keep me off of him. Walking closer, I imagined his face after I gave him what he
deserved. What now officer? I think you look better than befo--
“Well fuck me, this is great.” Twenty steps from the window and I could already see that Lucille was gone. Off and was sold to
another man, that whore! I strolled through this fucking cold and she’s been sold to another man. Strange type of anger welled up on
me. Maybe it was the cold, or the stress of the investigation. It felt like a betrayal, really. Walked through the cold from two miles away
‘cause my car’s junked, even got the cops after me for you baby, and you run off with another man! Har har. Maybe a mysterious
murder case was a good publicity for this run-down music store! In a little town like this, a murder case like this becomes bigger than
The Beatles doesn‘t it? How many boys were watching you baby? Countin their money to buy you?  Great marketing technique!
Limited offer! Hurry while the corpse is fresh! Go on Stevie-boy, chop-chop-chop that girl in the corner, sell those guitars! Yeah, you’
re really livin the life now baby.
The window looked just as it did on that night, seems Stevie-boy’s too lazy to put away his Christmas decorations. Except Lucille was
gone of course, only Rudolph’s in that ice-cold cage now, smiling his celebrity smile (Good job champ, you’re a superstar! ) Smiling
away like nothing ever happened, smiling like that girl isn’t dead. Smiling like Lucille isn’t sold away to another man. Yeah? What’s there
to worry about, you’re a star man! Beer’s good, a girl’s dead, and god’s in his heaven. All’s well in the world! You’re a cold guy
Rudolph, real cold, stone-hard son-of-a-gun, let me light your cigar man.
Now what to do with all that money in my pocket? Money I had to buy Lucille (who’s sold to another man)?  
Let’s go get  a drink Dan, forget about the bitch, said Rudolph. And of course, Rudolph knows best. He’s a superstar after all.

One, two, three. The bottles seems to increase every time I look at the table. Funny thing, I don’t remember drinking them. How can
they tab me for it if I don’t remember drinking? Back, back to the bar where it all started. Back on the same stool I sat that night.
Wouldn’t have been caught up in that mess if I didn’t get drunk here in the first place. Now take it easy fella‘, blame the bitch for
dying there. Here have another, it’s on me. Don’t mind if I do, thank you sir!
Now that I think about it, that girl was a looker, the girl that died I mean. Beautiful blonde hair with a pretty face, though with sharp
features which made her look slightly irritated. Looked a bit like Jen did when she was younger… yes that’s who she reminded me of;
felt a bit eerie when I looked at the photo they gave me. Before she ruined her good looks with a little too many bottles of scotch and
a broken marriage, I reminded myself. Who was she married to again? An unlucky sap named Daniel Lawrence that‘s who! I started to
laugh, downing another glass. Here take another.
Good riddance! Good riddance! Leave marriage to old Joseph. Looked just like Jen, she did, the girl that died I mean. Bet she acted
like Jen too! Always nagging at me, Woo look at me Dan! Listen to me! You’re nothing! then goes off with another man! She deserved
what she got!
Just like Lucille?
Why yes it’s true!
And here I took another gulp of whiskey, and the pain that shot through my eyes as it burned down my throat and rested easy on my
stomach seemed to reveal a hidden truth in me. Sudden epiphany! Everything made sense all of the sudden.
“Fuck, it wasn’t Rudolph after all. It was Lucille who was Jen!” What a twist! Who would’ve expected it? Sorry for blaming you buddy!
Now, why would I do that to you Daniel? (Rudolph’s smile just got few inches wider, certainly not me, he seemed to say) I’m a
superstar! And you’re my pal Dan, here cheer up and listen!
Then I heard it, the music. Sultry blues from the corner of the bar. Casting my eyes sideways, I saw her, putting a quarter in the juke
and playing ol’ B.B. King, swaying her hips lightly in a half-drunken way. The dark, enigmatic type of girl that’ll look good in black and
white, with smoke in the background.
She was beautiful.
There’s your girl. Rudolph seemed to say.
Each day that passed from then, I looked around for her in the bar. She was a regular, I just never noticed, alcohol makes you blind y’
know? Shame on you Daniel, where did the old playboy go? Letting a beauty like that go unnoticed! Every night she came, alone to the
bar. One glass of the good stuff, then she’ll sway to the Jukes. It’s always the blues, and B.B. was her favorite. At the dark corner of
the bar, she feeds the machine her quarter, and the whole atmosphere of the bar changes; it’s suddenly the 1940’s.
She’s  certainly a classy girl, mysterious type that you just can’t take your eyes off of you know? Suddenly I’m not coming there just for
the drinks, no sir. I’ll even say I’m drinking less-- as I said, alcohol makes you blind. Every night, I watched her sway, wondering what
kind of a girl she is, until one night I mustered up my courage and asked the bartender to mix her a drink, on me, before she ordered.
She smiled! Oh, that smile! Her vexing full lips, bright red, curving ever so slightly as her eyes, dark as the night and twice as seductive,
set on me making me speechless. Suddenly I‘m certain that she is my girl, no doubt about it. Of course, Rudolph knew best. He’s a
superstar after all.
I knew it was her!
“Thank you,” she said then, and I melted. Her voice was just as I imagined it’ll be (but how else will it be? She‘s my girl after all.) The
rose petals of her lips moved in my mind, as if in slow motion over and over, as sweet music that was her voice flooded into my ears.
Smooth as a liquor, soft as velvet, rich and sweet as nectar.
“Nico” she said, as she extended her pale hands to me. Nico, like The Velvet Underground.
“Daniel, it‘s a pleasure” I finally managed.

That night, on the way home, I sat in the front of the showcase window of Steve’s Music and discussed Nico with Rudolph. That
empty showcase where Lucille has been doesn’t feel so empty anymore. Who needs Lucille? She sold herself to another man said
Rudolph, and it was true. He was a superstar after all.
But Nico, she’s the real thing man, I can feel it Danny, he said. And I was grateful. Because Jen was gone and so was Lucille, but Nico
was all mine. My mind whirled as the events of the day repeated itself in my mind. She was mine, and mine alone. She said so!
“Thank you”
“Go home sugar, you’ll catch a cold”

Lack of progress is a frustrating thing. Every day, I watched her from my stool. Every day I smiled at her. I’ll buy her drinks at times,
greet her with a hello. But all she gave me in return was small talk and an occasional smile, everyday, it’s always the same! The
chemistry between us seems so apparent, yet I just can’t seem to step it up a notch.  Why doesn‘t she notice? How can she deny the
undeniable? Routine which made me jump with joy in the beginning was losing its sparks and all that left me with was the thirst for
more and an infinite time to think.
Surely she likes me. Sure, she was popular alright, all eyes turned on her when she entered the bar, many will greet her and try their
best to talk to her. But I was special. I was the one who she smiles to with that spark in her eyes. I’m the one who she shook hands
with uttering “Nico” with that honey dipped tongue of hers. She was perfection, a girl of my dreams. She can have all the men in the
world, but she will choose me because this girl was made for me, just like Lucille was made for good old B.B. King. I always wanted a
gal like her.
How do you do it Rudolph? How do you get the girl? I ask him over my glass of whiskey. But he didn’t want to answer, he’s a
superstar after all. He won’t share his secret with just anyone, not even with Danny boy whom he shared so many drinks with. Now,
Rudolph, he was a real man. He had Lucille in the glass cage all year with him, then when he got tired of her he traded her in for Jen
(and she was younger too, before she lost her beauty to the scotch and the broken marriage with that unlucky sap named Daniel
Lawrence)! Bang her then leave her! Then chop ‘em up to sell the guitars! He had girls lining up for him. Man, Rudolph, how do I
become a superstar like you?
..     “No trouble with the ladies hm? Not you Rudolph” Rudolph’s smile just got few inches wider, certainly not me, he seemed to say.
I was on my third glass of whiskey when I lifted my head to the sound of the opening of the door. It was her. She was splendid as
always, today more so as she strolled flawlessly in the bar, dressed in a form fitting black dress which made her look like a femme
fatale who stepped right out of a Bond Flick. Okay, let’s go Dan, work your magic on her! Come on baby, you got this. Just as I raised
my hand to greet her, a man walked in behind her, his arms around her waist. Not being able to withdraw my hand fast enough, I
stood motionless as she greeted me, walking over with that man in tow. Slow motion now, it repeats in my head. She smiles, blinks,
looks back and opens her mouth to call to hi(ME!), then turns back, her short dark hair swishing in the air as she walks towards me,
his hands still on her waist, but she’s walking over to me (It‘s true! She is mine!). SHE’S TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM HIM!
Get your hands off of her. I thought I shouted. But my ears did not pick it up, nor did anyone else’s. Only Rudolph seems to be able
to hear my shout, smiling his celebrity smile (Good job champ, you’re a superstar! ) Smiling away like nothing ever happened, smiling
like that girl isn’t dead. Smiling like Lucille (Nico?) isn’t sold away to another man.
Lies, lies, lies.
“Daniel, this is Ryan, the one I told you about” she said as she flashed that fake smile (All fake, all except the ones she gives me) that
lures men in to be eaten. (Her vexing full lips, bright red, curving ever so slightly as her eyes, dark as the night and twice as seductive.)
Eaten like that girl (Jen….Lucille?), dead on the street. Chop-chop-chop, great marketing technique! I looked down at Rudolph and his
grin only got wider.
“I’ve heard great deal about you from Ni..(LUCILLE)” the man said, and his face was smiling, smiling, smiling! And suddenly, I was
smiling too! I get it now! This is why he sounds so familiar!
“I’m engaged” she told me one day. “His name is Ryan, and he’s a wonderful guy, you’ll love him.“ How clever! I thought then. What
a wonderful joke! I started laughing, and she laughed along. Because we both knew she belonged to me, and me only.
It’s hilarious! He actually believes she’s his! I thought, but I did not shout it out for the sake of the joke. To think I almost ruined it in
my drunken slowness! It’s all a lie boy, she’s mine! I thought. And yes, why will she take him when she has me? Rudolph gave her to
me, and he’s a superstar! And surely he’s never wrong! Rudolph’s smile just got few inches wider, certainly not me, he seemed to say.
Looking at the poor sap before me, grinning ear to ear thinking she actually liked him, I could only hold myself from laughing. It was
almost tragic, how well this cruel joke was progressing. Every new sentence was another joke, such mock act of happiness! She was a
real actress that girl. And why wouldn’t she be? She’s the girl of my dreams!
In the best of my mood, I called forth to the bartender, ordering three shots of the best the house has to offer.
“Here’s to the new couple, may your love last eternal!” I shouted, lifting my glass. The couple lifted theirs as well, and we all drank in
unison. As the liquor slid down my throat, my face never strayed from the widest of smiles, because I knew the finale to the joke was
coming. The big tragedy! Here to the horrible truth!
My smile slipped away as I saw Ryan kiss her.
Surely a lie. I looked down to Rudolph.
“You’re nothing” he said, his wide cardboard grin replaced by Jen’s grinning face.

They  found her in the showcase window of Steve’s Music, blood turning the white of cotton puffs red like some bizarre tie-dye
I, Rudolph the Superstar, sat at her side as I saw Steve, his face twisted in horror (“First the girl at the street across from the store, and
now the showcase! It must be a curse!“) lose his breakfast all over the floor. The distant siren of the police car soon followed after.
I’ll get away with it, I’ll just influence the higher ups and get it off the files, I thought nonchalantly. It’ll be simple, I am a superstar!
Besides, the lying bitch deserved it.
I knew from the beginning that Nico was Jen, or more accurately, Lucille. Wearing that stupid mask didn’t trick me, no sir, I peeled it
right off of her. Now she was back where she used to be, in this icy cage, ready to greet me in the cold December nights with her kind
words (“Go home sugar, you’ll catch a cold.“). Mine, only mine.
Dipping my cardboard nose into the puddle of scarlet collecting nearby (Rudolph is a red-nosed reindeer after all!), I faced her, on my
mouth a grin as big as the one on the mask, mimicking her words.
“You’re nothing”