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  • Today His Name Is Keith
  • Toni Halleen (bio)

His name is Keith.

That’s his name today. Other times he’s had different names: Marc, Alex, Steve, Vince, Dan, and other names. He’s been Mr. Peterson, Mr. Holt, Just-Call-Me-Jimmy. He’s my boss, my manager, the boy next door, the intruder, my client, my colleague, the guy I beat for the job, the busboy, the guy walking down the street, the boy who asked me out, the man in the parking lot, the guy I thought was my friend, the stranger, my on-again off-again boyfriend, or the guy on the bus. And today, his name is Keith.

Keith whistles at me. Says, “Atta girl.” Calls me “sugar lips.” Tells me he’s gonna need to jerk off. Laughs in my face. He glares at me when he passes by. Tells me to get my beauty rest. He glances at my breasts and checks to see if I noticed. He stares at me during class. Says he can’t go out with me cause something better came up. He advises me to stop wearing perfume because he can’t concentrate. He puts a dead frog in my purse. Shows up at my part-time bakery job and pelts me with stale donuts. He borrows money from me and spends it on porn. He spanks me when I walk by. He says I should wear tighter clothes because I have a great body. He drags me up the stairs and forces my face onto his penis. He tells the other boys I’m no good in bed.

He says he won’t pay me back the money because I wasted his time. He tells me other girls got him excited and he needs me to give him relief. He asks me to bail him out of jail. At the end of my shift, he makes me kiss him before I can leave work. He traps me in the walk-in freezer and tells me I have a nice smile.

He asks for directions and winks at me. He pulls up my skirt and sticks money up my underwear. He uses my computer to find girls online. He [End Page 273] uses a fake name. He walks past me as if I’m not there. He tells jokes about rape. He watches the Pamela Anderson sex tape and recommends it. He sends me an email of a woman giving oral sex to a horse and vomiting.

He laughs about sex with a “hole” and asks, “Oh wait, was that inappropriate?” He kisses me in the elevator. He says I led him on. He says he’s married but it’s over. He chases me home from school. He follows me home from work in his pickup truck. He calls me a bitch through my car window. He says I don’t have any right to be here. He says I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t add value. He looks past me and laughs.

He tells me to make coffee, make copies, make reservations. He hands me his keys and his dirty mug. He asks, “Where is the file?” and screams, “Goddammit!” He says, “We’re done.” He gets drunk and leans on me all the way back to our room. He gets in a fistfight. He asks me to marry him. He threatens to take my son away. He sends his assistant to bring me to his hotel room.

He returns my card in the mail. He leaves a box of all the stuff I left at his house on my back steps. He shows up unexpectedly. He lies. He sends me a video of himself jerking off. He throws a telephone across the room and it almost hits me. He punches a hole in the wall.

He breaks up with me by email. Or in person on Christmas Eve. Or after he eats the meal I cooked him. Or after we have sex. He tells me I ruined his life. He says loosen up, lighten up, come sit on my lap. He asks if I’m on the rag. He...


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pp. 273-274
Launched on MUSE
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