Story Reprint: "Puppy Love"

flash fiction about a man, a tattoo, and a narrow escape

“Puppy Love” was my first published piece of fiction; it originally appeared in Noneuclidean Cafe in fall 2005. Content warning for discussion of a man murdering a woman.

I liked his tattoo.
You left the bar with a strange man because you liked his tattoo?
It was a coffee shop.
Good lord, Diane, I don’t care what it was. Don’t you realize how stupid that was?
It was a broken heart.
What was?
The tattoo. You know the type, with the jagged break down the center?
Yeah, yeah, and sutures holding it together I suppose.
No. But it had a banner across it. It said "Puppy Love."
Oh my god.
I know, but Liz…it was really sweet somehow. This big, hulking-type guy, and he had other tattoos that looked like he got them in prison, or the Navy or something, and then there’s this one that’s in color, and it’s a broken heart.
I’m weeping.
It was stupid. OK? You satisfied? It was stupid and I’m lucky to be alive and we can all rest easy now he’s behind bars where he belongs.
Yeah, except you don’t think he does.
He said he did it. You were watching the news, you heard his confession. You think he did it.
Do you?
I don’t know.
Fourteen trash bags, Diane. Bits of her body in each one. And he knew where they were.
OK, he did it.
Are you in love with him or something?
Yeah. I’m in love with him.
All right, forget I said that. Sorry. I just don’t get it.
What’s to get? We were talking in the café. He asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I said yes. Because I liked his tattoo.
Yeah, we already covered that part.
We walked along the river, under the moonlight. He swept me into his arms, and—Jesus, get that look off your face. I’m kidding. We walked about five blocks, I said I should get home, he hailed me a cab.
And he shook my hand.
And then he mauled that girl.