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Real Housewives by David Kuhnlein







Kelly’s smile is lashed to her lips. She’s backed herself into every possible corner. Appearing like a shredded element on camera, leaked on lens, gravity has manhandled her. Nevertheless, she eroticizes the distance between her and things, existing better at one end of a phone. Distal as a talking cashew, she remembers Vicky’s challenge: “All this tomboy talk seems fishy.” Everyone else’s kids are gay. There are wilder ways to be robbed of an obsession than marrying your beard. Kelly wants to do an exercise montage on Vicky’s piggy face. Picking up her child-shaped court date, eyeing the teacher through a cracked window, Kelly instills the pins and needles gathered in her somewhere beyond temperature. She’s scratching out the ruins of another season with nail polish. “If I were you, I wouldn’t go within a mile of my lips.”

Her kid is dropped at grandma’s gate, donning an All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset. She’ll stare at the wall of her room and eat Lunchables, a sentient Flintstones Gummy. Installed in sugar daddy’s BMW, Kelly rubs skin on the window’s tint. Her hands flake on the leather. Arms clenched up in a blocky two-step, the bass drum flicks Kelly’s inner ear, popping, caloric, through her. There’re parking spaces galore. Live audiences react to the lights in their palms, as if masturbation could turn them angelic. We’re alive in the rerun.

Through a hallway snaked with cords, under a florescent tundra of ceilings, erupting between steams, Kelly steps. She’s following a trail of blood, but she sees people, not color. A sliver of mirror snaps free in her glove. She grips it like a shiv. “Andy? You okay in there?” 






Bronwyn pulls up her blouse, BodyTite belly flexing, veins wrestling visible. One blue bulge pressed beneath her nail is slid into the shape of a noose. Weekends disappear like dessert. She practices gulping, exhumed from her reverie, face scrubbed clean of makeup. Her attacker’s mouth opens so wide the face points towards the ceiling. Bronwyn ducks the blow and redirects the mysterious woman towards their reflection. The attacker swivels, wormlike, palming an enormous sliver. The body moves, followed by its blood, a pheromonal residue grown sentient.

She lands on Bronwyn, scissoring her neck. Bronwyn looks at herself one last time, before the shard is hoisted, outcrop of a camera crew in the door. Extracurricular surgery is performed. Bronwyn’s muscles appear inside the blood, screamed to the surface, last breath measured on glass, memorialized in an instrument.

The girls watch themselves too closely, she thinks, mistaking which objects are worthy of destruction. Pimples: she lets hers grow for days. A solitary hair thickens in her neck wart, plucked like a pube, vibrating against the dark. She sticks the jagged iPhone, melted to a shank, in front of her and can’t find a reflection. Her shadow’s a dream the air had. Daylight shakes in her, overexposed. Her brain zaps color from the sky. When oak trees are tapped for too long, they lose their signal. Fantasies bitten into superficial tissue, angled on styluses, tasting each click. Her bullies will gag forever, the roots of their own rude words will grow long enough to strangle them in hell. Pulling Bronwyn’s neck meat over herself, inner workings of the throat exposed, sputtering still, the killer’s face doubles in pooling blood. 






Her dress has a split lip sparkle, if gloss were trapped in the split. Tamara, the tiny cruel blonde who blames it on alcohol, cranes her neck above a box of silly Halloween props, nearing a glimpse of her attacker. Her distributed contents, stuck unhinged, are thumbed open like the safety of a gun. Each breath feels injected into her.

A voice scrapes ear to ear: “Where are all my friends?” Words lack meaning for Tamara without a face deflated around them. Ribbons of tendon and bone hang from her impeccably moisturized knee, two coats of Aveeno. She feels the heat lamp above the rotisserie. She’s pulled apart like pork, half-swallowed in a hungry pore. This bitch knows how to pronounce “falafel”.

Tamara’s cough swells into broken yoga. Digging through purses, she collects and swallows a bouquet of tampons, clutching their strings. Fingers cross in moonlight, choking on a nightgown, too much drunk graffiti’s been etched into her face.

A dressing room spy cam reveals a high heeled silhouette. The video is silent. Limbs flail, underarm fat flaps. Tamara turns to face the camera, commando crawling. The killer sports a satchel full of arrows, each dipped in poison. Rehab taught her that most emotions don’t deserve to be felt. Aphorisms numb the nerves. The killer’s reflective dagger hangs in the air. Tamara condenses to saline solution beneath her trembling hands. The killer torques the blade, Tamara’s face bounces off, open-mouthed, into the camera. Even through the silent monitor, when the arm sweeps down, and her body lies flat, an agonized screech is heard. 






Emily gags on smeared rouge. She’s looking for an exit beyond the outer stage, but both doors are locked, or so she assumes since the door stands flush to its frame. There’s never an out. The straight lines of the doorway waver. Her eyesight’s fuzzy. Perspiration excavates her foundation. Beads run in her armpits and groin. Feels like she’s stuck pissing. She would like to gesticulate again through the warmth of a show. She burps up laxative powder. She’ll try to fix things with Shane, but she collapses, paralyzed onstage. Her body is propped on a chair. The camera’s red light bores through it. Her belly opens in hot pulses. Cohen, sitting beside her, takes his shot and goes limp. 






Gina cracks the blinds. The rash her weave left itches. Her press-on French tips jut from the floor like breadcrumbs. The sound of a broken mirror triggers several disorders. Sucking silicone out of veins in the floor, she gargles herself into a shape that might fit inside a raincoat. “Where are my producers!?” Silence bubbles around her like a disinterested man.

Gina plugs her ears, trying to convince herself it’s just another nightmare. The dressing room door is kicked in. She’s worried she’ll die beneath the pig shape, filling the room, not tasting enough like McDonald’s. Her reflection’s paused, upgrading overlaid plates. Bulbs pop above her vanity. “I am a mother. I have children.” Perhaps she’s pleading with herself. Black Sexy Thigh High Boots wrap the killer’s feet, never touching the ground. In Gina’s final moments, she sees the actresses, from whom she stole her identity, dance by, thanking her. Glitter clogs the socket of her head. Not a lot of blood. In the reflection of an enormous stiletto is a jawbone she rarely considered. Her eyes inflate to the largest thing inside her skull. 






There was nothing the surgeons could do about Shannon’s hands. “Too much finger food.” She’s in the habit of scraping chemicals from the bottom of the periodic table into her mouth. Like sound wiggled back into the gong. In her reoccurring dream, there’s a vacuum stuck inside her ear, screaming for rooms.

“We will now lead you, progressively, back through all your previous memories of this life and others…” Every experience is too shared. “Through this process of self-hypnosis, you will tip the power scale balanced in your spirit body…” It only took one bad selfie. Her glasses make her look ugly, she thinks, but she can’t see herself without them. “This place of calm can be accessed by you at any time…” She slithers on yoga mats. Her psychedelic priest drools. She removes one set of yoga pants and pulls on another, identical pair.

A two-legged horse charging, without makeup. Shannon lifts her enormous shades, sun-stunned and squinting. Bricks crumble behind them. She’s fingering 911 on a cellphone. Blood canvases her face. Lopsided rewind of life before the eye. Slow motion sizzle on a flank of steak. Some turtle she kept at age seven. Moss leaves the ocean to claim the land again. Time is an erosion free of belief. Worlds fold back in a single swallow. Gossip through the end of a straw. Maps unstacked of houses. The forest in a chalk outline. Returning from a stirred puddle at the bottom of a wastebasket, she’s swallowed away by everything left undone, dropped through the surface of a gaseous planet. The camera dollies back, revealing the killer’s blank demeanor. Decorated in cloth strips held level on fan-created winds, Shannon feels like the star of a dead country’s flag. Her testudinal caul, cracked open to reveal all its nerve endings, rots the beauty below. 






The wet air licks its inhabitants. The killer tests the fly system, hoovering a few feet up, doing twists, thinking every other woman belongs underground. “I started this show! It’s mine!” The camera batteries are dying. The killer returns to earth for a costume change.

Gina’s eyelids have been pinned open. The killer applies makeup with an ice scraper. Cheeks blotted with purple streaks, lipstick like a maraschino cherry. Passing lint sticks in the raisin of Gina’s retinas. Dressed, the killer aims a microphone at Gina’s throat and cuts it. Amplifiers crackle, burping off the studio’s cardboard walls. The killer slaps Gina in a bulky pink dress, snapping the string from a plastic animal mask against the back of her head. Hollywood Blvd is ticklish with bacteria. When the homeless shout, our viruses perform a standing ovation. She fits her fist through the gouge in Gina’s throat. The camera, blinking, lands upright in a pile of purses, pointed at the killer’s face: Vicky.

She’s dog-eared all their screams, flattened each pretty paper airplane, pink sputter through a snout. For fourteen seasons, the names they called her grew in her like a lymph. Her anal glands are stuffed with drugs to end them. Andy Cohen assisted her, smiling. Vicky rolls Gina’s dead body through a crowd. Every once in a while, someone says, “Who makes your props?” Rolling the corpse through Bravo’s enormous studio, Vicky enters the Real Housewives suite. Vicky doesn’t understand the cast complaints.

She opens the walk-in meat cooler, pulls the light. Illuminated in nauseating yellows are three women wearing shiny plastic pig masks. She connects the industrial meat hook through Gina’s dress and stomps her through the hole, punching a red button on the wall, eliciting a honk. The chain retracts till the slack is taken. Vicky kicks an oil drain pan beneath Gina’s drip, plucks the light, and shuts the door.