March 12, 2011

"Stomach > Brains" by Benjamin Sobieck

Cool. A hotel in Warsaw. At the bar. Me, a Yankee with a Pollack last name. I tell the locals this. “Sobieck is just Sobieski, Americanized.” Sobieski. It’s on the vodka. And the smokes. Look.

Not cool. The Asshole Elite on my trip. We come from the same college. They have more stomach than brains. They bitch for lunch. While touring Auschwitz.


We see rooms of shaved hair. We see rooms of prosthetic limbs. We see the oven. They see food. “I’m sooo hungry.”

More stomach than brains.

They have it coming. So I keep away. They leave the bar in our hotel. I stay. Perfect.

I order drinks in Polish. The bartender enjoys this. “Jeden zubrowka, proszę.” Zubrowka vodka. A blade of bison grass floats in the bottle. Like the worm in tequila. Tastes like apple pie. Burns like an oven.

Guy next to me, he’s a Pole. Speaks a little English. We talk a while. Then he says, “Go talk to her.”

Who? Then I see her. Across the bar. She smiles at me. Blonde extensions. Liberal make-up. Black tank top.

She retreats to a table. Zubrowka smolders in my stomach. I follow.

I say “hi” in English. She smiles. I ask, "Where are you from?" She smiles. I ask, "Do you want a drink?" She smiles. I say it all again in Polish. She smiles.

We need an interpreter.

Just my luck. A second woman sits down.

I say, “hi.” She shrugs it off. Heavy accent, she works out, “What time do you want Sasha in your room?”

My interpreter is a pimp.

I look at “Sasha.” She smiles.

What the hell?

“What time do you want Sasha in your room?” So clinical. So mundane. Like ordering deli meat.

I say “no” every way I can. They still don’t get it. The pimp seems offended. “Sasha” smiles.

The pimp tries a last time. “What time do you want Sasha in your room?” I walk away. The universal sign of “no.”

The Polish guy laughs. “You’re a straight-shooter,” he says. I ask if my Polish was bad. Did they understand me? “They’re Ukrainian,” he says.

I learn more. The Polish guy knows the hooker. She’s here all the time. She finds guys with the bad proportion. More dick than brains. She fucks them. She makes them immobile. She takes their money. All their money.

He knows a lot about this.

She injects people, too. Maybe. I don’t remember. The zubrowka oven in my stomach. It makes me forget.

I wonder why the Polish guy didn’t warn me. "Go talk to her." Is he in on it?

Nah. He just wants a rise out of a Yankee.

I spot “Sasha” again. With an old guy. More dick than brains. I wonder if I should warn him. They wait by the elevators.

I think back to Auschwitz. To the Asshole Elite. To the oven. Some people have it coming.

The elevator doors shut.

And some people need help to get there.

The Asshole Elite return. I tell them what happened. They laugh. I know their proportion. More dick than brains.

But I leave out what "Sasha" looks like. She comes to this bar a lot. So do the Asshole Elite. The zubrowka oven in my stomach. It makes me forget. More stomach than brains.


Benjamin Sobieck is a stubby Polack from Minnesota, where he manufactures screen doors for submarines. This is his first piece of crime flash non-fiction. His website can be found at or


  1. Hey Benjamin. What a great idea! I ejoyed this story, as you know, and this is a great home for it.

    Yes, it is me, the editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive. This is my own blog if you fancy a look.

    David Barber's Fiction World

    You have a new follower!

    Give me a few days and I'll advertise this blog for you. Have a great Sunday!

  2. Thanks for checking it out, David! I'd add your blog and the FFO to the blogroll, which I'm creating today.

    I owe you a bit of credit for the creation of Fingerprints. As any good editor of a fiction site should, you passed on "Stomach > Brains" because, well, it isn't fiction. After that, my cranial cranks started to turn. What if there was a crime flash non-fiction site? Hmmm.

    For anyone out there who hasn't heard of him, David runs one of the best flash fiction sites on the Web, The Flash Fiction Offensive. Check him out if you haven't already.


  3. Smashing. I remember when an English businessman died after having his drink spiked in Warsaw. The staff at the Marriott Hotel and Patricks Irish Pub (a vile place) were working a scam similar to this scenario. Theyt were marching the 'more dick than brains' to cashpoints and fleecing them. But when the bloke died it all went to shit.

  4. So it wasn't just an isolated incident. Creepy. I liked the laid-back Krakow bars a lot more when I was in Poland. Even Lodz, for its rough shape, was a bit more hospitable than to spike your drink.

  5. There are some good bars in Warsaw, but the ones aimed at ex pats and businessmen are usually horrible and dodgy!

  6. P.S. I added you to the blogroll on the right side of the site, Paul.