I read this story at The National Young Writers Festival this year, during the Late Night Reading event. It was such a super cool event. Clitfingers can also be found in my book A Man Made Entirely of Bats which is coming out in March 2015 through Spineless Wonders.
‘Seen her? Yeah, I seen her. That is to say, I saw her. Dame was six foot sexy, with legs all the way from her hips to the floor. Yeah, legs like a newborn deer, like Pinocchio on stilts, ya dig? What was she wearing? Little red number that clung to her like a thirty-year-old nerd to his parent’s basement. And shoes – stilettos you could trim cheese with. What? You know, trim some cheese to put on the little round salt plates? Crackers? I call them salt plates. Was she wearing gloves? Yeah, she was wearing gloves, black satin gloves from her fingers to her elbows, real classy. Why you asking? She owe you some money?’
No, she didn’t owe me money – more like the entire State of New York. But this latest clue means I’m getting closer, tracking her down, zeroing in. And when I find her, it will be time for her to pay the piper. And by the piper, I mean the First Bank of New York. She’ll also have to account for all the hours and gastric pain she’s personally cost me.
That last witness I talked to worked the 4 am shift at the local casino, meaning I that was trekking through the streets as the sun rose sluggishly over the city. I know how you feel, pal, I said to the sun, on the account of how tired I also felt. The sun didn’t answer – but does it ever?
By the time I got back to my shitty motel room, my mind was buzzing with everything I knew, buzzing like a swarm of bees who had been evicted from their box thing, the box where they made their honey, like bees that had been evicted from their honey box. Yeah, buzzing like that.
There was no point even pretending to sleep, and I felt that my relationship with the bedbugs had grown a little one-sided, so instead I sat at the desk looking at photos of her and chewing on coffee beans.
A few days later, I’ve left New York entirely. I’m standing in a bank somewhere in North Carolina, confused and whispering sweet nothings to my ulcer. ‘You be cool, ulcer,’ I murmur. ‘Just, calm down and I’ll buy you something nice.’
The bank manager, who looks like he would have had a pretty cool solo song about domestic duties in Mary Poppins is mopping his forehead with a big bunch of tissues. ‘It was her. It was Clitfingers. She’s the only one who could have cracked our safe so easily.’
I grimace, as I have to concede his point – the crime does entirely match her MO. But why here? Why this stupid little town in the middle of nowhere, NC? Frampton barely had enough people to warrant a bank, let alone the kind of trappings that Clitfingers was accustomed to. No penthouses, diamond shops, high society laundromats or fat pig livers delivered directly to your home. There wasn’t even any frozen yoghurt, only politely affluent suburbia complete with high schools and movie cinemas a decade out of date.
‘Don’t worry, sir,’ I mutter to the bank manager, straightening my tie. ‘The FBI has their best man on the case.’ I was talking about me.
Three weeks later and Clitfingers has disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m drunk in the kind of shitty bar that families bring their children to. There’s way too much light everywhere. People are giving me sidelong glances, even though I’m just sitting here, nursing my coconut rum. I’m thinking Clitfingers might have lured me to North Carolina on purpose. I’m thinking that my quest to bring her to justice was doomed to fail. I’m thinking that I don’t like the smirk on the bartender’s face every time I order another coconut rum.
‘Howdy,’ asks some open-faced, friendly guy who has taken a seat at the bar next to me. He is clean-shaven, and has wholesome wrinkles around his eyes – the kind you get when you smile at children or pick hay from a field. He is perusing the menu. ‘Jimmabel, darling, I’d like a … hmmm, I’ll have a small beer thanks. How’s your mama? Good, excellent.’
I rolled my eyes as he conspicuously enjoyed his tiny beer. I loudly swilled my rum.
‘Say, Jimmabel, you know who I saw the other day? Tina Fairchild, you know, old man Fairchild’s daughter. Didn’t you go to school with her?’
He looks across at me because I have just dropped my glass. Clitfinger’s real name is Tina Fairchild.
Later on, everyone is gathered around me, listening to the biggest gossip this town has ever had.
‘So you’re saying little Tina is a world renowned thief now?’ asks a local farmer called Teddison.
I’m sure that hearing about a former resident who’d become a notorious bank robber was making for a better story than whatever usually passed for news around here.
‘There more than that,’ I interrupted, tapping my glass lightly. ‘You see, we were once partners at the FBI together.’
‘The FBI has partners?’ questioned Jimmabel.
‘Yeah, like Mulder and Scully,’ I explained impatiently. ‘Anyway, we were the best, solving crimes left right and centre. But more than that – we fell in love. And love has a way of making things go twisty, twisty twirly. Anyway, long story short, there was an explosion that blew all the skin from her fingertips, making them one thousand times more sensitive, and now she uses her sensitive fingertips to break into safes. They’re so sensitive they can feel the minuscule clicking that the safe makes.’
The bar fell into a shocked silence, and I realised I’d done that thing where I’d told the story way too fast to make it seem plausible.
‘Umm, well yeah, anyway, that’s why she got the name Clitfingers, because her fingers are as sensitive as a clitoris.’
‘It sounds like you’re chasing her … because you’re in love, boy,’ said Teddison.
‘No, I’m chasing her because she betrayed me,’ I grumbled darkly. ‘It’s revenge.’
‘All love is revenge,‘ said Teddison sadly.
Later that evening, I stood atop the roof of the local school, my gun pointed at Clitfingers, aka Tina Fairchild’s, aka my wife who I hadn’t seen in over five years.
‘Tina, you bitch! You bitch, I hate you!’ I screamed into the wind. It was raining fitfully and only a nearby streetlight provided enough illumination to see her. Her face was shadowed and a long trench coat billowed around her. I’d practiced this speech so many times, developed the perfect pithy one liners, but now, here in the moment, all I could do was swear incoherently at her, screaming into the night sky. I wanted to tell her how unfair it was, that yeah, I might have cheated on her, one time, but that didn’t give her the right to ruin me, to get me fired from the FBI, to leave me without even saying goodbye. I didn’t care about the fact that she was an international jewel thief. All I cared about was the shame.
‘Tina, we’re going to talk about our relationship now,’ I said, motioning with the gun.
She sighed and languorously removed her gloves. Pink light glowed from her sensitive clitoris fingers as she levitated into the air and flew away with a sonic pop.
I didn’t know clitorises could do that.