Dicks in Purgatory
by Kirsti MacKenzie, 31st October 2022

Dante never mentioned dicks in purgatory. Feels like it’s worth noting, if you ever make it here. I’m telling you because I am a details man. At least I used to be a details man. If you’d told me purgatory would be a hotel room I’d have thought that a little on-the-nose but I croaked here under Marsha from accounting during the National Insurance Claims Conference Experience of ‘97. Now I’m stuck cataloging cliched affairs, silly kinks, giddy teenagers, tired hookers, slapping balls, and a steady chorus of oh fuck oh fuck me daddys like the honeymoon disaster that’s going on right now.


Oh fuck yeah, the girl gasps, yeah daddy that’s it. You like that?




You like that?


This is how I knew I didn’t like the guy: he refused to spring for a/c. She went to the mall to cool off and came back stuffed into a corset. I say stuffed not because she’s not lovely but because they didn’t measure her right, or she tried it on and couldn’t get out of it. Anyway. She parks herself in front of the movie he’s watching, which is JAWS. He gives her a thin kiss. They go through the motions til she’s on all fours. Back arched, big moans. I can tell it’s been a while because she is really putting it on. I can also tell this marriage is doomed because his eyes are on Spielberg instead of her sex.


Oooooh fuck, she whimpers.




She tosses her hair and if I had breath I’d hold it, praying she doesn’t look over her shoulder to see his glassy eyes glued to the screen but at the last second she goes


Pull my hair daddy!


And he grabs a fistful of blonde and yanks.


Not surprising I ended up in purgatory. I was NICCE ‘97s Claims Adjustor of The Year. Gave me a glass tombstone and when Marsha put two fingers in her mouth and whistled across the ballroom I knew I had a shot. We got tipsy, ditched the banquet for shawarma in the Market. Marsha used my tombstone to keep the napkins from scattering. We watched the sunset over Gatineau in a park behind the old hotel.


Aren’t you gonna kiss me? she asked.


I would, I said, but the garlic sauce.


I had it too, she said. We’ll cancel each other out.


NICCE doesn’t reward nice. You don’t get to be Claims Adjustor of The Year without fucking over a lot of sick, broke people. I fucked them to pay for my kids; a roof, food, alimony, whatever. But this isn’t garlic breath. Good intention doesn’t cancel out bad behaviour. So here I am, watching other people get fucked for the rest of time.


Ohhh harder, moans the girl, fucking give it to me.


He says nothing because of that one scene, the famous one with the soundtrack, anxious strings picking up speed and she’s speeding with them because, bless her, she is determined to make this work.


Gimme that big cock baby ooooh.


He grunts and I want to warn her that he sucks, wanna yell GET OUT GET OUT GET

OUT OF THE WATER but she doubles down, screaming




And just as her mouth forms a perfect singing O, same as the one Marsha made above me, someone knocks on the door.


“Room service!” calls a woman.


“We didn’t—” says the girl.


“I did,” he says.


The hotel was haunted long before me. I know because we went on a downtown ghost tour with a teenaged guide in a black cloak. I don’t remember much because of Marsha, smelling of sandalwood and shivering against my arm. She said her husband hadn’t touched her in over a year. The only other thing I remember is that the hotel is haunted by the railroad baron who built it. Maybe being super rich gets you purgatory points, cuz he has free run of the place while I’m stuck in JAWS fuck-hell.


“Thanks,” the guy says to the woman at the door. “I can take it from here.”


“I have to wheel your order into the room.” She’s sweating through her uniform as the trolley staggers across the carpet. “It’s policy, Mr. Doyle.”


“What’d you call him?” asks the girl.


“Doyle,” says the woman. “Mr. Doyle.”


“So formal,” laughs the girl. “Dad’s name.”


The woman clocks the girl’s corset, a cum stain on the guy’s shorts.


“Oh,” says the guy. ‘Oh, no—”


Statistically, this hotel has at least fifteen deaths a year. Fifteen shmucks like me who choke on chicken wings, fall off treadmills, brain themselves on the pool deck. Marsha used to visit my cubicle for stories like this. Hike her skirt and sit, legs dangling. Her heels went thump thump against my desk when she laughed and if I had to choose, if anyone had asked me, I can’t think of a better way to go than nine exquisite minutes under Marsha from accounting. I don’t have any regrets.


“Eggs benedict,” says the woman. Her gaze drops to the tray. “The hollandaise was made just ten minutes ago.”


“You’ve got it wrong,” says the guy. “I’m not—”


“Okay sir,” she says, backing toward the door. “Thank you sir, have a nice day.”


No regrets, but I envy the Baron. Every so often I think maybe it’d be nice to roam around this old hotel. Have a little splash in the pool. Dance at a wedding. See who else made Claims Adjustor of the Year. What I’m saying is I’m bored of all the dicks.


“Aren’t you gonna eat that?” asks the girl.


“She thinks I’m your dad,” he yells. “She thinks I’m mister Doyle.”


“Cuz I booked the room,” she says. “My card has my maiden name.”


“You were yelling FUCK ME DADDY,” he yells, “when she fucking knocked.”


“Oh,” she whispers. “Oh, shit.”


Nobody's gonna lament me on a ghost tour. That’s okay. I fucked over a lot of people. Garlic breath til the end of time. There’s not much I can do to cancel that out, but I died in a state of grace. Marsha made sure of that. I might never make it to heaven, but maybe I can make it out of this room.


The girl bursts into giggles. Her soft flesh shivers over the corset. Her husband sinks onto the bed, frowning at his steaming eggs.


“It’s funny,” she gasps. “Isn’t it funny?”


“Jesus fuck,” he mutters. “You are so fucking stupid.”


I don’t know if anybody’s watching. Who, if anyone, keeps the accounts balanced. But I’m a details man. I know you’ve got to build your claim. This is how I figure it: tiny acts of justice. I can change the channel; distract the girl from her tears. I can sit next to the guy as he bends to his breakfast. Wait til his stupid mouth opens. Wait for the right moment—that, I can do. Nothing else to do, in a hell of your own making.


Fist down on the edge of the plate. Launch it. Hollandaise, eggs, the whole thing.


Maybe it won’t help. But it can’t hurt, either.