Article: Religious Debris


  • There’s this guy who does art installations in Miami who everyone calls Freddy Nine Fingers. He used to have all ten fingers until his girlfriend broke up with him and moved to New York. For Valentine’s Day he stabbed off his left middle finger and mailed it to her jacketed in bloody newspapers. She keeps it in her freezer. The couple always loved going to Van Gogh exhibits together.
  • Debutante Margaux Martindale went to the gynecologist because her cat bit her on her vagina. Lying on the examining table she fell into such a deep conversation about orchids with Dr. Epson that she hardly noticed her pants weren’t on. After inspecting the laceration between her legs and applying ointment to the area, he declared he couldn’t see her within his role as her doctor. They went on a date and three months later, after the scar had healed completely, they got married. In the wedding photo that was printed in the Atlanta paper, her eyes were unfortunately closed. After the honeymoon had ended, her cat scratched her on the arm, but his inspection of the cut wasn’t as thorough as she’d had hoped. She tried again to have the cat damage her in different places over her body, but both the doctor and the pet rapidly lost interest. At a country club luncheon, a member of the garden group cornered her and asked if she was being beaten, citing the scrapes on her face as a cause for concern. She fell into such a deep conversation with the florist about medical salve that they carried on a steamy lesbian love affair that made front-page news in the city’s paper. In the photo snapped of them on their knees using pruning shears in tandem, Margaux’s eyes were unfortunately closed.
  • All night long the lead singer of underground hardcore band Extra Virgin was hawking a thickly eye-lined female at a bar in Philly. He was so charming in his bare chest and leather jacket that when the bar closed it was inevitable for her to invite him home. As they pulled into her long driveway he found out that she was the heiress of a successful potato chip company by way of her salty mansion with lots of half walls and beams and an organic garden outside. He climbed the lattice onto the roof and she ran inside to play peek-a-boo through the skylight above her kitchen. Crawling on all fours, he leaned heavily onto the glass and it shattered. She took cover on the other side of a half wall and he crashed onto the stove, hands hitting the gas burners first. Glass shredded his face like confetti and his hands and wrists were mangled. The heiress called the ambulance and paid for facial reconstructive surgery but his hands are still totally fucked up. His fingers constantly flutter around like live wires; they never stay still. It looks like he’s violently tickling the air all the time and when he talks to you his fingers almost hit you in the face because he’s very expressive. Even on stage it’s creepy, but he’s so charismatic that people just shrug it off. Usually he’s out of town by the next day anyway. If he’d ever learned to play the guitar it would have been a real shame or really good, because he can move his fingers really fast.
  • This woman in Houston named Susan held an after school pottery class for children who physically can’t do math. “They can’t count, but they make the most beautiful ashtrays,” she explained. Before her accident, shelves that displayed their works of art lined her hallways. When she went skiing with a Baptist from across the street and jabbed her eye out with the ski pole during a fall on the slopes, she had to don an eye patch and wound up taking the shelves down because she kept scraping her face on the unfinished wood slats. The kids’ pottery projects ended up scattered on blankets all over her house flea-market-style for a short while but they collected dust quickly, so she offered a chunk of them to the Baptist. In return, he gave her a glass eye from a ventriloquist’s dummy. She started having the children do ceramic reproductions of the glass eye. The parents slowly started to pull the children out of the after school program until no one came at all. Because she was half blind, one by one, she accidentally stepped on and smashed all the amateur ashtrays and eyeballs until there was nothing left except a collection of dust and broken pieces. At home, all alone, she cried half as many tears as she could have.
  • I met an Australian at a dive bar in Oregon who told me kangaroo meat was tender. Banking on my appetite for destruction, he knew just how many quarters to save for the jukebox after getting me thoroughly drunk. Seven. At my house in the morning we were both naked and he didn’t look at all like the movie star I thought he did. I was pretty repulsed so I lied and said I had to go to work early. We put on our shoes together and I noticed he didn’t have a big toe. He had a nub instead. I asked how he got the nub and he was very defensive but said it happened when he was about seven and tried to climb a fence. I think he was lying though because once that night he said he was a construction worker, and then later he said he owned a bar that made Eucalyptus Bloody Mary’s. Also, he told me not to tell anyone about not having a toe or how it happened. As I was pushing him out the door, he managed to stuff his phone number in the breast pocket of my button down — 863-3825. Mysteriously, the numbers spell “toe fuck” on the dial pad.
  • The summer Krazy Ron wished cystic acne on his sister was the same summer he developed a list of tried and failed suicide attempts. He couldn’t enlist in the army because of fallen arches and the rejection was unbearable. Other attempts included, but were not limited to, sleeping naked in a snowstorm, shooting himself, and falling asleep at the wheel, which was much harder than he expected. For his latest endeavor, he decided to bike to death. Straddling his Schwinn, he headed to the Southwest from his hometown in Detroit, vowing not to dismount until dead. He biked and biked until somewhere in the desert he got heat stroke and keeled over. Like a just roasted weenie in a bun, Krazy Ron, baking in the sun, swaddled in sand, relished the success of death. “I did it,” he thought drifting in and out of consciousness, “I’m dying. I rode my bike to death.” Then, out of the dusty horizon, a Native American woman came across him passed out and piss stained. Being very strong, she hefted him onto her shoulder and carried him all the way to a Days Inn where he resentfully accepted the cool air conditioner until the concierge came with a bill, which he paid with his mother’s credit card he kept stashed in his shoe. It wasn’t until he hopped a bus back up to Detroit and tried to slide into a window seat sideways that he discovered his outer leg muscles had atrophied from riding the bicycle and that he can never walk sideways again. Perhaps next he’ll try to walk the plank.
  • Gary had a red birthmark on his right forearm that he was self-conscious about his whole life. He listened to a lot of Metallica. When he turned eighteen the first legal tattoo he got was a pin-up girl carelessly holding a towel over her naked body. She was just an outline, but the pigment of his imperfection colored in the towel. By the time he turned twenty-eight, and had carved himself a reputation as the best guitar tech in the Lawton, Oklahoma region, Gary’s heavy metal values had adopted undertones of revelatory Christianity. In the form of tattoos, scripture covered his body the way Post-It notes cluster to a secretary’s computer frame, mixing with older tattoos of cloven-hoofed beasts and fallen angels. Locals whispered that he looked like the crazy man from the movie Memento. Despite all the praying and dedication to his music and faith, he was still lonely. His little pin-up girl looked lost among the jungle of religious debris, and as he studied her, he began to think his birthmark was a curse of Cain. One night Gary sat, tired, on his brown bachelor’s apartment couch, littered with Krink markers and guitar picks, staring at the immodest girl on his arm. He picked up a Krink, drew angel wings on the girl, murmuring, “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he begins to sound, the mystery of God will be finished.” But he knew it never would be.

Hallie Elizabeth Newton lives in New York where she writes stories, interviews, music reviews, and screenplays. Photography by Ninja Hanna and fashion by Hanna Holmgren. Photography by Ninja Hanna, fashion by Hanna Holmgren, hair by Sherin@Linkdetails, make up by Johanna Sylvan@linkdetails and modeling by Lovisa@NischManagement.