Dirty Headlines by L.J. Shen Read Online (FREE)
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On her deathbed, my mother said the heart is a lonely hunter.
“Organs, Jude, are like people. They need company, a backup to rely on. That’s why we have lungs, tonsils, hands, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, nostrils, teeth, and lips. Only the heart works alone. Like Atlas, it carries the weight of our existence on its shoulders quietly, only rebelling when disturbed by love.”
She said a lonely heart—such as my lonely heart—would never fall in love, and so far, she wasn’t wrong.
Maybe that’s why tonight happened.
Maybe that’s why I’d stopped trying.
Creamy sheets tangled around my legs like roots as I slipped out of the king-sized bed in the swanky hotel room I’d been occupying for the last several hours. I rose from the plush mattress, my back to the stranger I’d met this afternoon.
If I stole a glance at him, my conscience would kick in and I’d never go through with it.
I was choosing his cash over my integrity.
Cash I very much needed.
Cash that was going to pay my electricity bill and fill prescriptions for Dad this month.
I tiptoed across the room to his dress pants on the floor, feeling hollow in all the places he’d filled in the previous hours. This was the first time I’d stolen anything, and the finality of the situation made me want to throw up. I wasn’t a thief. Yet I was about to wrong this perfect stranger. And I wasn’t even going to touch the one-night-stand issue for fear my head would explode all over the lush carpet. I didn’t normally do one-night stands.
But I wasn’t myself tonight.
I’d woken this morning to the sound of my mailbox collapsing from the weight of the letters and bills crammed into it. Then I’d failed a job interview so miserably, they’d cut the meeting short to watch a Yankees game. (When I’d pointed out there was no game—because, yes, I was that desperate—they’d explained it was a rerun.)
Defeated, I’d stumbled my way through the cruel streets of Manhattan, the early-spring rain loud and punishing. I’d figured the best course of action would be to slip into my boyfriend Milton’s condo to dry off. I had the key, and he was probably at work, polishing his piece about immigration healthcare. He worked for The Thinking Man, one of the most prestigious magazines in New York. To say I was proud would be the understatement of the century.
The rest of the afternoon played out like a bad movie piled with clichés and reeking of bad luck. I’d pushed Milton’s door open, shaking the raindrops from my jacket and hair. First, low, guttural moans seeped into my ears. The unmistakable visual followed immediately after:
Milton’s editor, Elise, whom I’d met once before for drinks, bent over one side of the couch we’d picked out together at my favorite flea market, as he relentlessly pounded into her.