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Jordan Castillo Price grew up in the steel mill warrens of Buffalo, New York, spent some formative drinking years in Chicago, and migrated north to small-town rural Wisconsin once she realized she was going to kill the next person who bumped into her with a shopping cart. She did a six year stint in art school, and played bass in a punk band that crashed and burned just before their first CD was pressed.

Jordan has a weekly show on erotica writing tips and techniques at www.packingheat.net. She suspects some of her listeners aren't much interested in writing, and just tune in to hear her say dirty words.

jordan castillo price


As he pressed his ear to the cracked concrete slab and listened, One thought, not for the first time, that people didn’t realize how easy they had it. If they wanted a new vocation, they could simply open their newspapers and select a different job. His kind had to keep an ear to the ground.

Being a Building Settler had seemed like such glamorous profession at first, with its gleaming array of picks and prybars, and the creative freedom it afforded for improvisational sound. One had always loved music. Early on in his career, he had discovered the best boards to pull to cause the long, drawn-out squeaks that sent shivers up people’s spines, and that precussive pops could be used to great effect in moments of quiet stillness.

There were no new jobs. One strained to see if maybe there was a murmur of a different building in need of a Settler, but no, it was just some Seers discussing how much prickle at the back of the neck was overkill.

And maybe his building wasn’t even the problem. One glanced up at the exterior wall. A patch would probably do wonders for his working conditions. But the Settler’s code strictly forbade him from modifying the physical properties of the building himself, and his supervisor was notorious for losing upgrade requests.


It must be some quirk of human nature that causes people to stick their fingers into things. Pay phone return slots. Vacuum cleaner hoses. Nostrils. But the hole in the wall on 15th and Avenue A was an unlikely place to stick one’s finger, if ever there was one.

Logically, there couldn’t be anything good inside -- a gum wad, a crumpled wrapper. Or something much, much worse. And yet that hole seemed to sing the siren song that lured men... well, if not to their doom, then to something more often unpleasant than not.

At least with a pay phone, there was the remote chance that an abandoned quarter might be discovered. Not the hole on 15th and A. And yet, at least once daily (if not more often) someone stuck his finger in it.

The hole pierced the cracked foundation of an old factory that was now housing surplus pallets of ugly plastic seasonal goods in the off-season. Maybe the hole saw so much traffic because it was situated at just that perfect level -- a height that fell, on an average person, between elbow and shoulder. Larry Jenks was just such a person. Average height, average weight, though maybe a bit greedier than average. Maybe even more than just a bit.

Jenks wasn’t a lucky man by nature, but he was always of the opinion that a man made his own luck. If a waitress’ back was turned and her tip made its way into Jenks’ pocket -- luck. If a lily-white suburban high school student didn’t know the difference between crack and crushed Excedrin -- well, that was luck, too.

Jenks whistled as he rounded the corner of Avenue A, wishing he had a chain hanging from the belt of his off-colored chinos, just so he could twirl it. He’d just quit smoking, and he couldn’t figure out what to do with his hands.


One sulked, and stared at his wall. He knew Other didn’t believe him, so he invited Other to come and see for himself. So they sat, their flat black eyes riveted to the tiny, circular hole in the wall, and watched. The sun arced over the sky, riding low now. And they waited.

“Supposing what you say does happen,” said Other, drumming his fingers on his knee. “What difference does it make to you?”

“It’s an intrusion. A coarse, vulgar intrusion.” One knew that once Other saw it, he’d understand.

Other shrugged. He needed to cast at least three more disturbing, half-seen reflections in shop windows to meet his daily quota, and pretty soon the downtown shoppers would start heading home for the night. “Can’t you just hang something over it? A painting, maybe.”

“You know that’s against code.” Shadows flickered beyond the hole, and both of them stopped talking and drew in their breath. One grabbed up his sharpest woodpick. “Just you wait. I’ll make sure we get a good look, and then you can tell me how I should simply ignore it.”

One raised the pick as a nicotine-stained finger wormed its way through the hole.