Franklin hates children, loves animals, and is deathly afraid of the candy people.

He also hates: riding the bus, talking to people on the phone, talking to people in person, dancing, getting haircuts, modern politics, the sound of vacuum cleaners, popular men’s fashion, getting stared at, getting presents, having a boss, Chinese food, and his two wives.

He also loves: walking around downtown, playing with the puppies at pet stores, reading history books, listening to Mozart and death metal, watching the sound of autumn leaves rustling in the wind, making sandwiches, talking about books, blowing up balloons, historical politics, growing older, giving presents, working for himself, chess, Korean food, and wearing red.

He is also afraid of: pretty much everything.

Red is his favorite color. All of his clothes are red. He likes a particular shade of red that he calls apple-red. It is a bright red with a hint of orange.

His wives always say: “Your clothes are too orange-ish to be called apple-red.”

He always responds: “When I was a boy, my parents had a tree in the front yard that grew apples of this color.”

His wives always shake their heads at him.

Franklin walks down the sidewalk in his apple-red suit, wearing red gloves, a red baseball cap, and holding a red umbrella over his head. He shines loudly at every person who passes him. The people in his neighborhood have grown used to his glowing attire, but whenever he enters a new part of the city he can feel everyone’s eyes on him. This is a bad part of Chinatown and not the kind of place where you’d want to stand out. A small gang of what Franklin believes to be Triads eye him from across the street near the entrance of an Asian strip club. If it wasn’t raining they probably would confront him. Franklin has been beaten up twice just for wearing his red suit. Once by skinheads because they thought he was gay. Once by a couple of Chinese drug dealers because his clothes pissed them off, and because he walked on their sidewalk without the intention of buying any of their drugs.

He closes his umbrella and enters a pawn shop. Jake, the fat crooked-lipped owner of the shop, squints his puffy eyes at him as he approaches the counter. They nod at each other.

“In the back,” Jake says.

Franklin wipes water out of his soul patch as he steps behind the counter into the back room. It is filled with cardboard boxes, broken appliances, a glass case full of swords,

and an over-used sex doll with Judy Jetson hair.

“Adam wasn’t fucking around when he said I’d recognize you,” Jake says, flapping his arms to air out his yellow-stained armpits. “That suit is one of a fucking kind.”

It wasn’t exactly a compliment, but Franklin smiles as if it were. “I have all my clothes tailored in Argentina.”

“Whatever floats your boat.” Jake pulls a beer out of a mini-fridge and sits down in a rubber chair. He doesn’t offer Franklin a seat. “Some people blow all their money on strippers. Some people blow it all on faggy outfits.”

Franklin clears his throat. His hands hide in his pockets.

“Okay, let’s see what I’ve got for you,” Jake says. He opens up the casing of a broken VCR and pulls out a pistol wrapped in a white cloth. He unwraps it and presents the weapon to Franklin.

Franklin’s left hand curls around the cold metal barrel and he picks it up like a hatchet. Then he places it into his right hand.

“How does it feel?” Jake says.

Franklin nods at the gun and rubs his fingers against it.

“That there is a Walther PPK,” Jake says.

Franklin says, “Wasn’t Adolf Hitler’s gun a Walther PPK?”

“Where’d you read that?” Jake says.

“I’m kind of a history buff.” Franklin smiles and hands the gun back.

“So you don’t want it?”

“No, thank you,” Franklin says. “I’m not interested in a Nazi gun.”

“This is a common weapon,” Jake says. “It wasn’t just used by Nazis. James Bond also used a Walther PPK. Don’t you like James Bond?”

“My grandmother was a holocaust survivor.”

“So was my wife’s family. What’s the big deal?”

Franklin shakes his head.

“Didn’t Adolf Hitler kill himself with his Walther PPK? Just think of it as the gun that killed Hitler.”

“Don’t you have anything that’s not so antique. Something newer?”

“I only sell classics,” Jake says. “Adam said you were a collector. I don’t sell them for any other reason. No fucking way.”

“I’m a collector.”

“I’m just doing the community a service,” Jake says. “Ever since the pussyfart liberal government took away our second amendment, us collectors had to move underground. I’m not in the business of selling arms to street thugs or to vengeful husbands who want to kill their cheating wives.”

“You sell bullets, though, right?” Franklin says.

“Of course I do,” Jake says.

“Okay, how much?” Franklin says.

“Look, I don’t think I even want to sell it to you now. You look like a fucking wife-killer.”

“How do I look like a wife-killer?”

“You look like the kind of guy who gets cheated on all the time.”

“I’m not going to kill my wife,” Franklin says. “It’s for protection. Maybe I’m not a collector, but I need this.”

Jake gives him a deep stare.

“Look me in the eyes,” he says.

Franklin looks him in the eyes.

“I can tell if a fuck is being dishonest if I look him in the eyes.” Jake blows snot into his fingers as he moves in closer. “Now tell me, what do you need the gun for?”


“Bullshit,” Jake says. “Who do you want to kill with this? Your wife?”

“Not my wife.”

Jake leans back and rubs the back of his neck, exposing crusty gray armpit hair. “Okay. Let’s say I believe you. If not your wife, then who? The guy who’s fucking her? Your boss? Some guy who owes you money?”

“No,” Franklin says. “I would never kill a human being.”

“But you’re interested in killing,” Jake says. “I see it in your eyes.”

“I would never kill another human being.”

“You’re not...” Jake says. “You’re not one of those candy man hunters are you?”

Franklin breaks eye contact with the fat man. Just for a split second, but the fat man notices.

“You are, aren’t you?”

Franklin pets something furry in his pocket. “Yeah, so?”

“You believe in the candy people, too?”

“Yeah… do you?”

“I’ve seen some weird shit,” Jake says. “But I’ve never seen any fucking candy people. There’s a big part of me that thinks it’s all a bunch of bullshit, but there’s a little part of me that isn’t quite sure.” He cracks open another beer. “A lot of people come to me wanting to buy guns to protect their kids from the candy people. They tell me they’ve actually seen those things up close. I’ve looked them right in the eyes and not a single one of them has ever

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