Gulp Fiction #7: Hatred & Hanky Panky by Velvet Landmine

Published on 5 December 2023 at 15:33


For anyone who hides their true self from the world. I see you.

- V.L.



“What’ll it be, Miss?”


The question made my heart beat faster. As I slipped out my fake ID, the one that Bobby Mahoney made me using the school’s thermal laminating machine, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped that it would work. It would be nice if something worked out for me. I hated my life and everyone in it. And I mean that I really really really really really hated everyone in it.


The bartender picked up my ID from the smooth surface of the bar and gave it a cursory glance. Although I could’ve sworn that I saw a little bit of an eyebrow arch from him, he just slid it back and asked the question again.


“What’ll it be, Miss?”


I smiled for the first time in weeks. It faltered for only a moment as I realized I had no idea what to order. I had just turned sixteen, I had never had a drink before. Well, aside from the occasional sip of something at a party.


“What do you recommend for someone who is full of hate?” I asked him. I enjoyed seeing the little eyebrow arch again as he looked me over.


“Full of hate, huh? I got just the thing. But you look like a sweet young lady, are you sure about what you want?”


Sweet? Me? I may be sixteen, but I am far from sweet. I shook my head and told him I’d take his recommendation. He nodded curtly and said, “One Hanky Panky, coming right up.”


I couldn’t help myself. I laughed a little bit. Giggled was more like it. I had hoped that the sound didn’t betray my real age. “Hanky Panky is a man’s answer to everything, isn’t it?” I asked him playfully.


He smiled in a friendly way and gave me a wink. “It is indeed,” he said. He reached below the bar and started grabbing things. I had to squint to make out the labels. As if sensing my lack of knowledge in the drink department, he explained what he was doing as made my drink. “You see, when you have a real hatred in your heart, it can make you see red. That’s why a red drink is the way to go. Check this out.” He picked up the first of three bottles that he had gathered. “First you take a red Sweet Vermouth and you mix it with a hearty gin.” As he spoke, he poured from the bottles without measuring them, as if he had done this a thousand times. For all I knew, he probably had. “You stir them in a mixing glass after you pour in the Elixir Digestif. Do you know what that is?” I shook my head no without taking my eyes from his hands. It was mesmerizing watching him work. “It’s something that makes things easier to digest. Kinda like you have to do with your feelings. You have to allow yourself to digest them, make sure they really are as they seem.”


After stirring the three together, he strained them into a chilled cocktail glass. I watched with glee as he poured. The rich red color of the drink made the transparent glass look like a vial of blood. “After putting it all in its proper place, you garnish it with a lemon twist. After all, when life gives you lemons…” He trailed off and carefully placed the yellow accent on top of the drink and then deftly slid it over to me.


When life gives you lemons. Yeah, life gave me lemons alright. A whole stinking orchards’ worth. Even so, I accepted the drink with a smile, one of my rare real ones. “Thank you,” I said, looking down at the red puddle pooled in the glass. I wished it really was blood. More specifically, the blood of my mother. I hate her. I hate her with every fiber of my being.


I took my first sip and grimaced a bit at the unexpected taste. The second one tasted better though, as did the third. As I drank, I thought about my horrible life and my horrible mother. I hoped that she would suffer. Forever and ever and ever. It’s what she deserved. It’s what they all deserved, my whole stinking family. I hated them. I hated them for what they did to me.


“How is it?” 


The question jolted me from my thoughts again. I took a moment before answering, giving it another sip. “It’s good. It’s just what I needed,” I answered truthfully.


It was good, that was true. Which was a harsh juxtaposition with my life right now. My life could have been good too. All my mother needed to do was marry Mr. Whethers. He had money. LOTS of money. We would have been set. We would have been happy. But mother had to ruin it all. She told him she didn’t love him. I heard her say that. One night I had crept down the staircase, hiding in my usual spot behind the bannister, spying on them. And she told him that she didn’t love him. I looked down into the drink again. Again, I wished it was a pool of her blood. I would have pushed her down the stairs that night if I could. Love? Who cares about love? She let her lousy pride, her stupid feelings get in the way of everything. I didn’t need love. Hell, I would have married someone I couldn’t stand if it meant getting away. Away from that house. Away from our family. Away from this life, this life where we had to scrape and scratch for everything we got.


“Glad it’s helping,” the bartender said, before he walked to the other end of the bar to serve someone else. 


I wished it were that simple. That downing this drink could set things right. I knew the truth though. I knew that nothing would make this better. I tried to hide my visible frown by taking another sip from my chilled glass. As I did, I thought about the events that led me here. I thought about what my mother had said she was going to do.


She was going to send me away. Like I was nothing. Like I was no longer a part of the family. Like I was a commodity that could be traded freely. She wanted to send me to live with the Connors because she wanted to get rid of me. She pretended that it was for my own good, but we both knew the truth. I mean, what else could the reason be? She wanted to be rid of me. She didn’t love me. She never loved me. And I hated her.


Mother told me I would be happy staying at the Connor house. She said they had a lovely home, that it would be a nice change for me. I fixed her with my most hurtful glare and I told her that it must be a nice change for her. That it must be nice to abandon your teenage daughter, dump her off with strangers for a whole month, all so that she could go run around with some new man in Minnesota.


She tried to deny it. She said she was doing what was best for us. She told me that it wasn’t easy for her either, which made me snort and laugh in her face. “Easy for you?! You have six kids and have to work to support them. That was your choice, not mine. You say you don’t have the money to send me to camp, to get me the newest clothes, to get me my own room or my own phone. You say that you take care of us the best you can, but then suddenly you can just dump me off on your crusty old friends when things get too hard!” The way that her face crumpled, I knew that I had hit a sore spot, and this made me happy inside.


“Mackenzie, I just - ”


“Just nothing!” I interrupted her, pressing on now that I had her on the ropes. “You don’t love me anymore. I know that’s why you’re sending me away.” A few quick tears rolled down my moms face. She tried to turn away to wipe them, hoping I didn’t see, but I did.


When my mother spoke next, her voice was shaky, full of sadness. It was what she deserved. “Alright, Mackenzie. Then let’s just forget the whole thing. You don’t have to stay with the Connors if you don’t want to. We’ll figure it out.”


I felt excited when I heard that. I thought that I was going to get what I wanted. “So I can go to camp then? I can go with my friends?”


Another few quiet tears rolled down my mom’s stupid face. “Well, n-no,” she stammered out, “I mean, we still don’t have the money for that. Especially since the twins need some new clothes and - ”


“Whatever mom. They could wear my old clothes but no, that wouldn’t be good enough for the favorites kids, now would it?”


She sighed. “I’m sorry Mackenzie. I just have no idea how to make you happy. I thought that you would have fun at the Connors. Hank produces plays, and I know that you always wanted to be an actress. And they have this big house, they’re very wealthy, and I thought you would enjoy yourself.”


Just like that, my attitude had changed. She said the key word: wealthy.


“Oh FINE, I’ll go stay with the Connors,” I told her. “It can’t be any worse than staying in this dump for the summer.” With both relief and hurt playing across her face, my mother left the room and I started to pack.


That brings us to today. Today, I leave for the trip. Today, I leave the family. And even though I know that the house I’m going to will be better than our own, I still had a feeling that it would all be terrible. Thank God I at least had a drink. Speaking of…


“One for the road?” I asked sweetly in my fakest, most practiced voice. It was the one I used when I wanted to get my way. I knew that I only had the money for one drink, and I hoped that the bartender would find me charming. Charming enough to give me the drink on the house.


“Hanky Panky for the road? Sounds dangerous, but you got it,” he said, professional and playful again. I think that I’ll be coming here a lot more when I get back. 






The Connors had a beautiful home. It was much nicer than the house that I was imagining on the way up there. It wasn’t just the size, although it was definitely what we would call a mansion back home. It was the style, the location. Everything about it.


It sat on a private patch of land, right next to a large blue lake. The whole exterior was eggshell white and the property was dotted with all sorts of flowers and brightly colored bushes. As I walked up to the front door, I could hear the soft lapping of waves from the nearby lake. It was clean, pretty, peaceful. It was what I deserved.


I lifted the heavy brass knocker. It was a Michael Healy design, crafted to look like a sea scallop. I lifted it and brought it down three times, then I took a step back to wait. After a moment or two, Mrs. Connor answered the door herself. 


To say that I was disappointed was an understatement. No butler? No maid to answer the door for them? They must not be that wealthy after all. When she opened the door, she beamed down at me.


“Mackenzie?” Her warm smile spread, threatening to spill right off of her cheeks. “I’m Polly. Polly Connor. Won’t you come in?”


I eyed her for a moment, sizing her up. She was pretty enough, I guess. For an old lady anyway. She had to be about thirty five, thirty six, about the age of my mother. Her voice sounded young though, and her skin looked like it had been well-preserved, maybe from the salty air coming off the lake. I took a step towards the open doorway.


“Why didn’t you call ahead and let us know when you were coming in? I would have picked you up from the train station, I hope you didn’t have to walk.”


I decided to turn on my sweetness, that saccharine sentiment that everyone seemed to prefer from me. “It’s okay,” I assured her, “it was no trouble at all. I can find my way around. It was a nice day for a walk.” She nodded her head in silent agreement, smiling and breathing in the sweet smelling breeze wafting over the flowers.


“Come on in,” she said again, “I’ll show you to your room.” After a moment she added, “Can I help you with your bags? My husband Hank is out sailing for a few hours, but he’ll be back in time for dinner.”


I gave her my biggest smile, the effort of it hurt my cheeks. “No, that’s okay. I can carry them. Thank you.”


As she led the way, she told me more about their household. “It’s just me and Hank out here, with you it’s now the three of us. We have our other property in town but we closed it up for the summer and let all of the servants take a vacation. We thought it might be fun to spend the summer doing our own cooking, to take care of our own things. It’ll be kind of like camping, don’t you think? Do you like camping?”


I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know,” I told her. “I’ve never been camping before.”


After climbing a long, spiraling staircase, she opened the first door on the right and told me it was where I would be staying. She smiled again and told me to take some time to settle in and she would call me down when it was time for dinner. As soon as I had the door shut, the smile evaporated from my face like dissipating smoke. It was hard to keep a smile on my face, especially when I was starting to see the truth. A truth that became even more evident after dinner that first night.


When we had finished eating, Polly…or ‘Aunt Polly’ as she had wanted to be called, held out a small cloth towel for me. The look on her face told me that she expected me to know what to do with it. “How about I wash the dishes and you dry? We’ll get them done faster that way.” I gripped the towel in my hand, but I wished that I could shove it in my mouth to muffle the screams that I wanted to belt out. I knew what she meant. I had known it ever since I arrived and she told me that they let the servants have a vacation. What did they need their servants for? I was here now. I was here to be their free labor. A maid without pay. It was disgusting, disgraceful. It was below me, beneath me.


I already knew that I was correct in my assumption but I got even more proof the next day. I was heading into town, riding in the passenger seat with ‘Uncle Hank’ in his polished pickup truck. Then he says casually, as if it was no big deal, no big disrespect to me, he said, “How about you come in with me? I’ll get the stuff for the boat and you can grab the groceries from the store. After that we can have a nice little lunch down on the jetty. How does that sound?”


I said okay, but in my head I knew that it was anything but. Do the shopping for them. Do the dishes for them. Be a servant instead of a guest. This was turning out to be no different than being home. I was beginning to hate them, both Uncle Hank and Aunt Polly. The way they asked me to do things for them with that fake, sweet tone. The false smiles frozen on their faces. Do they think I’m stupid? Do they think I don’t know all about false sweetness?


More than any of that, I hated the way that they lived. I hated their lifestyle. It was wasted on them. They didn’t have kids of their own, but I knew that if they had, those kids would have been able to go to camp. Those kids would go to nice schools, wear the nicest clothing. They would probably get to vacation in Paris and Spain and Maui. Not me though. Me? I got nothing. To them, I was nothing more than the poor kid of their poor friend. I was nothing more than dirt in their eyes. I was nothing more than a servant, worse yet, a slave. One that they could give a room to and then make that person work for them for weeks. A stupid, miserable poor person that would be dumb enough to think that it was a vacation, as my mother had said it would be.


I was livid. So I decided that I would get even. First on my new owners, then I’d get my mother next. If I could never be happy, if I could never have all of the things that I wanted, then I would see to it that nobody did. I’d fix ‘em, just you wait and see.


My first chance at revenge came later that week, when Aunt Polly had gone to bed early, tired from a long day of making me pull weeds with her and dry her gross wet dishes. I ventured into the living room, wanting to watch something on their enormous television set, the one that they never seemed to turn on. When I walked into the room, I saw that Uncle Hank was sitting in his recliner and doing a book of crossword puzzles. These two were the most boring people on Earth.


“Heya, Mackenzie! What’s the matter? Not tired yet?”


Unbelievable I know, considering all the slaving around that I had done that day. “No, not yet Uncle Hank. I was hoping I could watch a little TV before bed.”


He turned and looked at the television set, as if only just now remembering that he owned one. “Sure thing, kiddo. I’m sure the remote is around here somewhere.” He set down his crossword and got up from his seat, getting started immediately on the search for the remote control.


“Thanks, Uncle Hank. You’re the best.” That compliment made him stand up straighter. His face beamed with pride. “Well, thank you! You’re pretty great yourself. It’s been fun having you with us. Are you enjoying your time here so far?”


As soon as I heard that question, I knew that the time was right. I saw the plan start to fall naturally into place. “Oh, sure,” I told him. “I mean, I like you, Uncle Hank.” My emphasis on the you gave him a moment of pause. He turned to me, a small frown on his face.


“Oh, do…well, you do like Polly too, don’t you? She’s just crazy about you, you know.”


This time, it was my turn to frown. “Well, sure…I guess so.” I paused, letting the mood shift in the room before I went on. “It’s just…well…she’s different than you. When you’re not around, when you’re out sailing or hanging down by the docks…well, she acts differently. She doesn’t pay any attention to me, unless it’s to give me some chores. Other than that, it’s almost as if I didn’t exist.” I looked down at the floor, a gesture I hoped he would read as sad or embarrassed. Like it was hard for me to tell him the truth, like I was nervous about it. Really though, I had to turn my face down to hide my smile.


“Oh,” he said quietly, obviously taken aback. “Gee, I don’t really know what to say.”


“It’s okay Uncle Hank, you don’t have to say anything. I shouldn’t have said anything anyway. She’s nice, she really is…in her own way. It’s just that…oh, never mind. Sorry.” I turned around quickly, as if I was about to leave the room. I did this to my mother all of the time. I knew that I wouldn’t get more than two steps away. I started walking. I took one step…two steps…




A quiet voice, one that beginning to show hints of sadness, called out to me just as I knew it would. I turned back around, making sure my devilish smile was all the way gone before I did so. “Yes, Uncle Hank?”


“What were you about to say? It’s okay, you can tell me.”


His kind eyes were just the slightest bit glassy. Like one of those boxer guys on TV, one who was about to be hit with the knockout punch. I knew I had him right where I wanted him. It was time for the kill shot. I asked him, “Who’s William?”


He swayed back the faintest bit; like a boxer frightened by a feinted hit. “William Curt? Is that who you’re talking about?” I nodded. It was a name I had overheard in the house lately. It meant nothing to me, but I could tell that it meant a lot to him. That told me all that I needed to know. “He’s an old friend of ours, we’ve known him forever. He moved to Indiana but he stays in touch. He called a couple days ago.” A lump started forming in his throat, as if his words were grabbing hold of him, fighting him from the inside. Trying their hardest not to come out. “Why do you ask, sweetie?” He had beads of sweat forming on his forehead. He was nervous. It fueled my performance and I gave one of my all-time greatest that night.


“It’s just that…he calls a lot. And when he calls, she always makes me leave the house.” I paused, milking the intensity of the moment for all that I could. I looked up at him with wide, innocent eyes. “I just wonder why she does that. I could just stay in my room, I promise I wouldn’t listen. I just don’t want to be outside that much. With my allergies and all…and the bees.”


He turned his head and cleared his throat. I knew it was to hide a single tear from me, one he couldn’t keep from slipping out as his thoughts ran wild. “I don’t have any idea, sweetie,” he said with a voice that sounded full of ideas, just not pleasant ones. “I think you can turn this TV on by hand, you just have to find the buttons on the bottom.” He cleared his throat again and then smiled weakly at me. “I think I’m headed to bed. You can turn the TV loud when she’s on the phone so you won’t overhear. You don’t have to go outside anymore. Goodnight.” He tried to walk away normally, trying his best to look nonchalant instead of upset and concerned.


I decided that his chair looked comfortable so after turning on the TV that is where I sat. I smiled and settled into the cushion. Tomorrow I would continue my game.






Uncle Hank may have thought that going to bed early would’ve been the end of it, but I made sure that it wasn’t. The next couple of days I stayed on him. Any time that I found him in a quiet moment, I would be buzzing in his ear about William and how frequently he called and the different kind of smile that Aunt Polly wore when he did. I knew that my mind games were working when he began to mutter to himself under his breath, talking about William when he didn’t think anyone was listening. He wasn’t the same chipper man he’d been a few days ago. He walked around the house like a ghost, more haunting his home than living in it. He looked tired and agitated and overwrought. 


Another day later and the first fight happened. The phone rang and Uncle Hank snatched it up ferociously. He told the person on the other end that Polly wasn’t home, even though she was sitting in the same room. When she asked who it was, he slammed the phone back onto the receiver angrily.


“You know damn well who that was! It was William. It’s always William.”


I went to bed giggling that night, happy to hear the fight continue on in the other room until the wee hours of the morning.


That next morning, they didn’t speak to each other at all, except to ask how Uncle Hank wanted his eggs, or asking him to pass the creamer. When he had finished eating, Uncle Hank got up and left the house without kissing Aunt Polly goodbye. This was the first time I had ever seen him leave without doing so.


It was then that I knew I should have a nice little conversation with my Aunt Polly next.


“Aunt Polly?” I said her name in a voice that was innocent and tinged with childlike worry. “I’m sorry to bring it up, but I couldn’t help hearing you and Uncle Hank fighting last night.” Her face fell a bit, but she tried to hide it by turning away from me and beginning to run the water for the dishes. In order to give her no space on the issue, I took up my towel and stood beside her, ready to dry. Ready to be the slave again, but just for a little longer.


“I’m sorry if we worried you or kept you up.”


She handed me a wet dish, one that still had a few flecks of egg on it. I knew she was right where I wanted her.


“Oh no, that’s okay Aunt Polly. It’s just…I just hope that you two weren’t fighting about me.”


Aunt Polly was surprised, taken aback. I knew that meant I had her where I wanted her. She was confused, didn’t know what I was talking about. So whatever I said right now, she would see as the truth.


“Fighting about you? Why would we be fighting about you?”


I sighed a big sigh of relief. All for show, of course. “Never mind. I..I..I guess I was just scared that maybe you guys were fighting about the other night, when you went to bed early and we were at the lake. It’s no big deal, really.”


I looked at my feet as if I was ashamed. “Why would we fight about that, Mackenzie?”


I looked up at her, crocodile tears forming in the corners of my eyes. “No, never mind,” I told her. “It’s nothing, really. I shouldn’t have brought it up.” I started to walk away, knowing once again that I wouldn’t get far. Soon enough, I felt a comforting hand on my arm, turning me back to face her.


“You can talk to me, Mackenzie. What happened at the lake?”


I allowed the tears to start falling freely, a skill I picked up at a very young age. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, you probably would want to know. It’s just…just..I felt so ashamed.”


“Ashamed of what?”


“Are you sure you won’t get mad at me?” I asked her the question while looking up at her with huge, sad, worried eyes. She smiled a small nervous smile back at me, both wanting and not wanting to know what I had to say.


“I promise.”


I gulped and then wiped away my tears. I looked her in the eyes for a moment and then looked away, seemingly embarrassed and ashamed.


“Well, that other night, I was feeling real homesick. And Uncle Hank was being nice to me, real nice to me. At first I thought it was just in a regular way, but he kept calling me sweetie. I liked it at first, but then the way he said it changed. It was different somehow. And then…and then…” I trailed off, the hook baited. All I needed now was for her to bite.


“And then what? What happened, Mackenzie?”


“And then he kissed me!” I blurted out, allowing my body to shake and collapse into a chair with big heaving gasps. I heard a gasp escape from Aunt Polly as well, a small one. One that was full of real emotion, unlike mine. “It wasn’t a nice kiss either, like maybe one your father would give you when you were sad and little. I had to push him away from me. I felt sick inside and I wanted to run away, to leave. He caught me by my arm and held me there. He made me promise not to tell you, he promised that it would’t happen again. And it hasn’t, I swear it hasn’t happened again Aunt Polly. He kept his word so I thought I was safe. I just didn’t want to tell you, I was scared what would happen. You forgive him, right Aunt Polly? You forgive him and me too?”


A tense silence filled the room when I finally stopped speaking. Then, in a low voice, she said, “No. No Mackenzie, I will not. You did nothing wrong…but him? I will NEVER forgive him.”






Later that same night, Aunt Polly packed her bags and she left for parts unknown. There was no big fight, only a long note left behind. When Uncle Hank came home and read her note, he called up my mother to come and take me home. After that call Uncle Hank got drunk. Very, very drunk. I sat in my room smiling, packing my bags and waiting for my stupid mother to come and get me. Serves them right. Serves them all right. They wanted to make me a servant, they wanted to ignore the things that I wanted, that I needed. Now they are all paying for that. Their money won’t make them happy, not anymore. Nothing will, and I was glad of it.


Hours later and I was back home, waiting on a cold and lousy dinner that my mom had made earlier. After she had reheated everything instead of making something special to celebrate my return home, she sat down across from me and shook her head glumly. “It’s too bad about Polly and Hank,” she said to me, still shaking her head. I took a bite of her gross food to hide a smile.


“Yeah,” I said meekly, “it sure is.” As I took another bite, my mom carefully studied my face, frowning as she did so.


“Especially for you,” my mother added a moment later. I set down my fork and put on a puzzled expression. This expression was a real one. “What do you mean?” I asked her.


She shook her head sadly. “They didn’t tell you, did they?” My confusion only grew. I wished my stupid mother would just spit it out, the way that I wanted to spit out this gruel she called food. I picked up my fork and loaded another bite, trying not to look bothered. “Tell me what?”


Mother sighed and looked down at her plate. “They were already thinking about a divorce for a while now. They thought that maybe all of their problems were stemming from the fact that they couldn’t have children. They tried for years and just couldn’t do it. That’s why I thought it would be nice for you to spend the summer with them. If it worked out, if you were all happy together, they would have asked you to stay. You’re old enough to make your own decisions now, and we both know that you’re not happy here. I thought this would work out for all of you. They would get a daughter, perhaps save their marriage. And you would have everything you always wanted: a big house, servants, trips abroad, the best schools. Everything a girl like you had ever hoped for.”


My fork dropped from my hand without my realizing it. The hard clank as it hit my plate accentuated the plummet that my heart had just taken. “They…they were going to let me stay?” I could barely choke out the words. “I wouldn’t have had to come back here?”


My mother shook her head sadly one more time. “That’s right. You would have finally gotten what you deserve.”





The Hanky Panky Cocktail




  • 1-1/2 oz Gin
  • 1-1/2 oz red Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Elixier Digestif)
  • Lemon or lemon twist. An orange can be substituted as well.
  • Cocktail glass




  • Stir gin, sweet red vermouth and the Elixier Digestif in a mixing glass with ice.
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.



The Hanky Panky is the perfect cocktail for couples to enjoy together. It is sweet, but not a false sweet, the kind that hides bitterness beneath it. The kind of bitterness that can only be embodied by a disenfranchised youth. Make sure to enjoy this drink properly, as a reward for your palate, as a way to give your senses exactly what they truly deserve.


Add comment


6 months ago

Great story. What a brat

6 months ago

Good story thanks!

6 months ago

What a b**** lol

6 months ago

Twilight zone ending

a month ago

great story. sucky little girl lol

21 days ago

What a bish lol

a day ago

good twist. keep em coming

a day ago

good story. terrible girl