Sunday, April 10, 2011

Installment 9


Phone sits on the side of the bed. Buddy is on the other side, unconscious and lying in a pool of blood. The smell of rot fills the room and I open all the windows before going to the closet to get a clean t-shirt and pair of jeans. I can’t find any jeans so I opt for sweat pants that have come stains in the crotch area from my strip club phase. Phone is still naked. She crosses her legs and says, “I’m worried about Buddy.”

“Me too.” I don’t really know if this is true. I just decided Buddy was my best friend like three days ago and we haven’t really had much of a conversation since then. I doubt he’s even read Dick Swap. But this was a decision I had made and I have to follow it through to the end.

“We should probably take him to the hospital or something.”

“He’ll probably be okay.”

Phone rolls her eyes. “He’s been leaking blood for at least two days. That’s not normal. Even if he is Swedish or something.”

“Buddy’s Swedish?”

“He has some kind of accent.”

“I say give it three days.”

“He’s been unconscious for a while. He’s barely breathing. It looks like he’s taken all of his pills. Maybe he’s overdosed.”

“We could call an ambulance. That would be a lot easier than taking him to the hospital.”

“My phone doesn’t work.”

“Mine doesn’t either.”

“Maybe Brandon has a phone.”

“Probably. He’s looking really European, don’t you think?”

“I don’t even know what the hell that means.”

“I’m sorry I’m slightly overweight and my penis is so small.”

“What does that have to do with anything? Everything isn’t about you.”

But it is, I think. I’m all I’ve got. This would take too long to explain and just as I’m getting ready to say something, anything to break the silence, Brandon comes out of the bathroom dragging a fecal stench with him. He’s wearing a t-shirt that says UNCLEAR and I try to remember if it was the same one he was wearing earlier. I squint my eyes to do this.

“What’s up?” he asks, flipping his hair back with a toss of his head. He’s definitely wearing the same pants.

“We’re thinking about taking Buddy to the hospital.”

“Who’s Buddy?”

I point to Buddy.

“Oh. He looks bad off.”

“It would actually be a lot easier if we could just call an ambulance so we didn’t have to try to lift him or move or exert ourselves too much.”

“Yeah, I can totally dig that.” He reaches into a pocket of his exotic jeans and pulls out a package of bacon. He pulls a piece of bacon from it, takes a lighter from the same pocket, and holds it under the bacon to warm it. “You don’t even need to refrigerate this shit anymore.”

I’m really hungry. Probably from all the vomiting I did this morning. Maybe I could grab something to eat on the way to the hospital. “Do you happen to have a phone?”

“I have one but it doesn’t work.”

“So I guess we’re taking him to the hospital,” I say.

“I need to get some clothes on,” Phone says. She stands up and reaches between the mattress and the box spring. Brandon and I both stare at her ass while she does this. Brandon offers me the last bite of his bacon and I take it. Phone pulls out a cheerleader outfit identical to the one she discarded in the bathroom, only cleaner, and dresses.

“That guy’s not wearing any pants and he’s covered in blood,” Brandon says. “Are we going to take him to the hospital like that?”

“I’ll find something.”

I rummage in the closet until I come up with a pair of jeans. They might be Agatha’s. They look really small. I could have taken off my sweat pants and given them to him, but I didn’t want to have to cram myself into Agatha’s pants. I toss the pants to Phone. She begins pulling them onto Buddy before beckoning for help. I wait for Brandon to do it but he says, “Fuck man, I’m going to see if I can find some water or something.”

So I help. “Maybe we should have cleaned him off first.”

“No, this is better,” Phone says.

After what feels like an hour, we finally get the jeans on him.

“I’m not going to be able to carry him down the stairs,” I say.

“Why not? I’ll help.”

“I think I have spina bifida or something.”

“That’s stupid. I don’t think that’s what you think it is.”

“Well, okay then, I’m just really tired.”

“Lazy you mean.”

“Let’s just toss him out the window.”

“That could kill him.”

“He’s almost dead anyway. Each second we spend debating it brings him even closer to death. You can’t get him down the stairs by yourself. Unless you’re planning on rolling him. If we toss him out the window, there’s only one impact. If you roll him down the stairs he’s getting... impacted... a lot more.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“We can throw the mattress out first and then you can go down and break the fall. I’ll drag him to the window but no further.”

She throws her hands up like she’s resigned. Like she doesn’t have a choice. And she doesn’t.

“Hey!” Brandon shouts up from downstairs. “I found some water!”

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Installment 8


Brandon’s cock is way bigger than mine and I’m really jealous. Smoke and steam swirl around the bathroom. The door is closed to keep it all in and make it a little warmer. The heat has probably been turned off, too. Brandon gets in first with his back to the wall. That means I have to get in with my back to the faucet. Mildly irritating. The bathtub is really dirty. The walls around it are really dirty, too, stained black and brown.

“This is nice.” Brandon closes his eyes and leans his head back against the wall.

“I haven’t bathed in I don’t know how long.”

“I bathe pretty regularly.”

I ask Brandon what he’s been up to and at first he says he doesn’t really know and then he says he moved to Europe after their Grand Canyon excursion. Not any place specifically in Europe. Just Europe. Like it’s a city or something. Although he does mention the Eiffel Tower so maybe he’s talking about Paris. Then he says he can’t really tell me any more and asks what I’ve been up to. I tell him but I’m not really sure myself. I tell him about Dad drowning himself and how I thought it was really funny. I tell him about Mom in the asylum and how I never go visit her. And then I met Agatha and... I don’t know. There was Agatha and then there were the coats and Buddy. It seems like a lot more than that should have happened. But there are a lot of gaps. A lot of monstrous black spaces.

Brandon’s asleep and I think about drowning him. Drowning him and getting the hell out of the house to look for Agatha, to go the Grand Canyon, to do anything.

The bathroom door opens and the sad cheerleader enters.

“Cool! You guys are taking a bath.”

She looks even filthier than she did yesterday. Like she’s been cheering in a dust storm or on the side of the highway or something. She’s already stripping down. She gets in the bathtub between me and Brandon. Brandon is awake now. His erection has broken the surface of the water. The sad cheerleader’s back is to me.

“I’m glad you guys were here. I thought I was going to have to jill off. Hi. I’m Persephone Pointless. My friends call me Phone like the thing you talk into.”

“I always called you the sad cheerleader.” But it’s like I’m talking to no one, just staring at the knobs of her spine and finding them arousing.

“I’m Brandon Henson.”

“One of Andy’s friends?”

He shrugs and looks guilty. “Something like that.” He reaches his hands out and takes her small breasts in them. She moves back a little so her ass is pressing against my cock. She’s kissing Brandon. Her head moves down and she takes him into her mouth. She’s moved up onto her knees so I get on my knees and work myself into her heated sex. I can hear her gagging on Brandon but the motion causes her to tighten around my cock so I kind of like it. Water sloshes everywhere.

She pulls herself off Brandon’s cock and says over her shoulder, “Put it in my ass so I can actually feel it.” If I wasn’t so high this would probably sting but I do what she says. It takes some effort but I finally get it in there and then she’s maneuvering her legs so she’s practically sitting on Brandon and then he’s sliding up her cunt and my hands are on her breasts, the nipples tight and hard and Brandon is sucking on my knuckles or something and then I’m kissing Brandon and the sad cheerleader is laughing and shouting about how she’s coming and then me and Brandon are both standing up, towering over her, jerking off, his cock huge, mine miniscule and then we’re coming on the sad cheerleader and she’s still laughing or maybe she’s crying and I think it’s a good thing we’re in the bathtub.

She washes the come off and then Brandon asks if he could be alone for a few minutes so I leave the bathroom with Phone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Installment 7


I’m in a ditch by the side of a suburban street, on my stomach and vomiting into a puddle of puke that was already there. I’m only wearing underwear that it smells like I’ve soiled and I’m shivering in the morning cold and covered in dew. An attractive, clean-looking woman is holding a boy’s hand as they walk on the sidewalk at the top of the ditch, probably on their way to school.

The little boy points at me and says, “Look Mom, it’s one of those creeps.”

She says, “Don’t look at him. Just keep walking.”

I want to stand up and say, “I’m not a creep!” but realize I’m staring at the woman’s ass as she walks down the sidewalk—can’t seem to focus on anything else—and know she’s right.

I drag myself out of the ditch and try to orient myself. I’m only a couple of blocks from home. That’s good. Maybe I can get home and take a shower before I have to go to work. I don’t even know what day it is. I figure it’s a week day or why else would that woman be walking her kid to school but I don’t know that. They could have been going anywhere but, nevertheless, I feel a certainty that they were going to school. Pre-school or kindergarten. Something easy and not even a whole day. Then I think that kid’s a real loser. There’s no reason for a kid not to be in school at least 8 to 10 hours a day.

I’m still just standing there. I have to force myself to move. My whole body hurts. My stomach heaves again before I finally move on.


I’m walking up my porch steps and I see Brandon Henson standing with his back to the door staring out into space. At first I don’t realize it’s him because his hair is shoulder-length and orange and he kind of looks like Owen Wilson. I can’t remember if he looked like Owen Wilson in high school or not. But I didn’t know who Owen Wilson was in high school so that comparison would have been extremely prescient, if not impossible. I approach him for a hearty greeting and he backs away as much as he can until he realizes it’s me, or at least that who I am is mostly unclothed and totally unthreatening.

“Brandon Henson! Man, it’s been forever! Dude, you look just like Owen Wilson except your hair is longer and it’s orange! Where the hell ya been! You look so fucking European! Mainly because of the way you’re standing...and the cut of your jeans. Hardly anyone wears jeans like that here!”

He places a hand on my shoulder and says, “Calm down, man. How’s it going?”

“Great! Awesome! Totally battle axe!” But inside... I don’t know.

“Nice pentagram.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about but he’s pointing at my chest and at first I fight the urge to look down because I think maybe he’s just playing that trick where you get somebody to look at something you’ve spilled on your chest and then they... what is it they do? Hook your chin or something? But I’m not wearing a shirt and my chest really really hurts so I look down and see the bloody pentagram carved into the skin. Not knowing what else to say, I mutter, “Oh, thanks.”

“Where are your clothes, man? It’s kind of chilly. Not even summer yet.”

I have horrible flashbacks from the night before and don’t have any way of putting these things I saw and took part in into words. I break down. Brandon pats me on the back and says, “It’s okay, man. Let’s go inside. Let’s get you into the shower or something. Smells like maybe you’ve shit yourself. Do you care if I smoke some hash?”

I shake my head and we go into the house. The door isn’t locked and a pungent stink wafts out. But now that Brandon has pointed out my stink I can’t think of anything except showering. I go upstairs, Brandon right behind me. I notice Buddy is back in bed, wearing only a t-shirt that says: BILDRUNGSROMAN in gothic letters. Brandon follows me into the shower and I take off my underwear and he strips down and then says maybe he would rather take a bath so we run the water and smoke some hash while the tub fills.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Installment 6


Estelle’s standing at the end of my walk with a crowbar. I panic and throw my mug of coffee at her. It misses and smashes on the ground.

“Come here, you little shit,” she says. She looks really bad. Like she’s been up all night and even older than usual. I remember I’m still wearing her wig. I throw that at her too. It doesn’t even make it there. She comes toward me and bends down to pick up the wig. “Come on. I got something I need you to do for me.”

“You were very mean to me last night. I had to take a cab back.”

“You deserved it. You know you did. You don’t have the magic feet. You are a comatose lion.”

“I really thought we were developing something.”

She’s too close for me to stop her now and she moves around behind me and presses the crow bar against my throat. “Are you going to help me or not?”

“I’ll help you. What are we doing? I don’t know if I feel like killing anyone right now.”

“You haven’t killed anyone. We were just correcting the balance of things. Vacuuming up the dust, remember? Just a little housecleaning.”

“I don’t feel like cleaning right now.”

“This is something different.”

I follow Estelle. I think she’s walking to her car or another stolen car but she just keeps walking. Over two blocks and up to a house and I have exhilarating flashbacks from last night but she just opens the door and walks in and this house looks and smells just like an old person’s house. Not anything like that apartment that she had taken me too on the first night. The one with the burning carpet smells and the passed out old people everywhere. There’s part of me that wishes this is Estelle’s actual house.

Once inside she flops down in an armchair that looks at least sixty years old.

“Kyra will be here any minute.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I’d like you to go into the kitchen and talk to Don. Don’s my husband. He’s a maker of stars. He has strong hands.”

The doorbell rings. “But first you can get that, you little fucker.”

I open the door. A pretty young blond girl stands on the porch. She is holding a book. It isn’t Dick Swap.

“Is Estelle here?” she asks.

“Yes.” I turn to look behind me to make sure Estelle is still here. She makes a threatening gesture with her finger across her throat.

“I’m here to read to her.” The girl holds up a trashy paperback. It’s the really sleazy kind where the author has a completely fake name with an “X” in it. It’s called Passionate Frenzy. The girl notices the way I’m looking at the book and says, “It’s what she likes.”

I retreat into the kitchen. Don is in there.

I hear the girl say, “Who was that?”

“That’s my grandson.”

“Why doesn’t he read to you?”

“He’s retarded, honey.”

I suppose this could offend me but I’m distracted by Don and trying to fight the urge to either scream or vomit. If it is Don. I’ve never met Don. It could probably be anyone. There are a lot of bones clogging the kitchen sink and strips of skin hanging from the ceiling. Blood drips slowly from the skin and this makes me feel a little better. If it were partially rotting, I don’t think I could help but puke. I look for an exit but the one door in the kitchen and all the windows have been boarded up. So I stand there horrified and unable to do anything. I can hear the girl reading from the book. The book is really really filthy. Exactly the kind of thing I can imagine Estelle liking except I wonder why she isn’t reading herself. I’ve seen her drive so I know she’s not blind. Maybe she’s just really farsighted or has some cataracts or something. Maybe she’s just letting this girl read to her as some type of community service. But that doesn’t really seem like Estelle at all.

After about a half an hour, the girl stops reading and says, “Well, that’s the end of the chapter. Might as well stop there. Do men really like to put their... things there?”

“All the time, honey. All the time. But it’s good for a girl too. You won’t get pregnant for one thing and if you still believe in saving yourself for marriage you can consider yourself saved ‘cause they’re really just talking about the pussy.”

“Oh. So, you said you’d bake some more of those brownies for me if I came back.”

“Was that all I said?”

“No. I’ve got it right here.”

I go to the door to see if I can tell what the girl is talking about. I’m hoping Estelle isn’t trading sexual favors for reading. But the girl is giving her money.

“Boy!” Estelle shouts. “Bring that plate of brownies in here.”

I bring the brownies out. The girl grabs one and devours it. Then she grabs another one. Her pupils grow very large and she slumps back onto the couch. She stares ahead of her with her mouth partially open.

“Now Kyra. Do you think your friends would like some of these treats?”

“Oh yeah.” Her speech is slurred.

I start to say something and Estelle makes that threatening gesture at me again.

“I’ll give you these treats and you can give them to your friends. How does that sound?”

“Sounds wild. I bet it’ll cost a lot.”

“I’ll let you take this plate of treats for free. But the next time you want some treats, you’ll have to pay me a little something for them. How does that sound?”

“I’ll pay whatever.”

“Well, you won’t have to pay quite as much as you’ve been paying but if any of your friends want any, you should charge them what I’ve been charging you. That’s called making a profit. How does that sound?”

“That sounds beautiful.”

“My grandson loves my treats, don’t you?”

I don’t really feel like being drugged but before I can say no, she’s threatening me again and saying: “He likes to sit right on my lap and let me feed them to him.” She pats her lap and I’m sitting in it, careful to avoid sitting on her breasts, and she’s raising a brownie in one gnarled hand that still smells like gasoline and shoving it into my mouth and then another one and then another one and then I know it’s going to be another insane night and I’ll be lucky to remember any of it.

Installment 5


I awake mid-morning to the sound of a chainsaw. Buddy is on the far side of the bed. The sad cheerleader lies in between us, staring at the ceiling. Her thick eyeliner has run down over her cheeks like she’s been crying or sweating. My head is full of many negative thoughts. Last night did not go well at all. I think I hate Estelle. Or maybe I’m just afraid of her. There’s probably a big difference. I get out of bed. I’m still wearing the wig, although it’s slightly askew, and I apparently never managed to find a shirt. I don’t know why the cab stopped at all. Maybe it was stopped for somebody else. I look down at the sad cheerleader but she doesn’t make eye contact, just blinks slowly, her arms crossed over the skull on the front of her top. I walk over to the window to see what all the racket outside is. Not surprisingly it’s a man with a chainsaw. He’s dressed like a lumberjack and sawing at one of the remaining trees on the street. It creaks and then crashes into a neighboring house. The lumberjack looks at it and nods. I expect somebody to come out. Admittedly, there’s a part of me that wants to watch the impending conflict but none of that happens. The lumberjack wanders down to the end of the street and disappears around the house on the corner.

I look at the sad cheerleader and say, “I’m going to go down and make some coffee. It will be black and strong and you’re welcome to have some. I’ll probably also eat a bagel.”

Still staring at the ceiling, she says, “No one talks like that.”

I want to respond but I can’t think of anything. Something feels screwed up in my head. I notice that Buddy is lying in a pool of blood and the sight is horrifying. What if something really bad is happening to him? But... maybe that’s the sad cheerleader’s problem.

“First I’m going to find a shirt.”

I walk to the closet and grab the first t-shirt I can find. Every t-shirt I own is black. This one is too tight but I’m too lazy to take it off and find one that fits. I think my gut is sticking out of the bottom of it. Probably repulsive. I go downstairs to do what I told the sad cheerleader I was going to do.

I’m not sure if I have to go to work today or not. I pick up the telephone but it doesn’t make any kind of sound. It’s possible it’s been disconnected. Agatha always paid the bills. She had it fixed so we never got anything in the mail. She did it all over the Internet but I never bothered with it so I figured I would just stay in the house while everything slowly shut down around me and then I would probably have to move. Or find somebody else who knew how to do things. Estelle seems like somebody who knows how to do things but she’s also really old and maybe not my type.

I go into the kitchen and put some coffee on. It smells really good. While it brews, I fetch my laptop. Maybe Agatha has sent me an email detailing the bill situation. I imagine her sitting in a library somewhere, bulky and confined beneath all the coats, trying to maneuver her arms over a computer keyboard. Impossible.

I open my laptop. No legitimate emails. Spam for dick enlargement, pills, and things bordering on child pornography. I decide to check my Amazon ranking for Dick Swap. It’s ranked really low. That’s really bad. Then I check my Facebook page and notice I have a friend request from Chuck Barrymore. I recognize his profile picture. It’s the homeless guy from last night. He’s used the picture he took for his profile. I feel briefly flattered and think “Fuck yes” before accepting the request. I close up the laptop, pull my many copies of Dick Swap off the bookcase and lie on them until the coffee maker beeps. Dick Swap is currently the only book in the house because I had to sell all of my other books to finance the publication and purchase of so many copies. I thought at least people at work would buy them before realizing I was too embarrassed to try and sell them something called Dick Swap.

I pour a cup of coffee, grab a bagel from the bag, and take them into the living room. Sitting down makes my stomach bulge against the shirt, makes it feel even tighter. I turn on the TV. There’s a sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Canyon and my stomach lurches, my head swoons, and I almost black out. Overlaid on the sweeping vista is the word FREEDOM. I change the channel as fast as possible, scrolling through until I land on Dan Banal. Dan Banal is a sitcom about a man named Dan Banal. The show is just starting. There’s nothing exciting about this show at all, except lots of people watch it. I don’t watch a lot of TV but, admittedly, I enjoy Dan Banal. The opening credits are not set to any music. They’re just words over a slowly panning shot of Dan Banal that starts at his brown tasseled loafers, taking in his baggy pleated khaki pants, brown leather braided belt, blue button-down shirt, completely plain face, and modestly styled hair. He wears the exact same thing in most of the shows unless it is set on the weekend. Then everything is the same except his hair is slightly messier and he wears an untucked red and black flannel shirt.

The show opens with Dan bringing in a cardboard box from the front porch. He places it on the table where his wife, Lori, sits reading a newspaper.

“We got a package,” Dan says.

“I wonder if that’s the printer,” Lori says.

“Let’s see.”

Dan goes into the kitchen and opens a drawer, pulling out a box cutter. He opens the package at the seams, walks back into the kitchen, puts the box cutter away, and comes back to the package. He opens the box.

“It’s the printer,” he says.

“Oh good,” Lori says.

He lifts the printer out of the box and sets it on the table. Then he goes back into the kitchen to get the box cutter again, opens the bottom of the box, and puts the box cutter away. He flattens the box and walks it out to the recycling bin. He comes back to the table and stares at the printer. He grimaces.

“Where do you think we should put it?”

“Probably near the computer. It’s a printer.”

“This is a wireless printer. We could put this printer anywhere. Anywhere there’s room.”


“A wireless printer.”

“Does it have batteries?”

“Doesn’t need them. You plug it into the wall. This printer runs off electricity.”

“That’s hardly wireless.”

“What it means is it doesn’t need to be attached to the computer.”

“But it has to be plugged into the wall... with a wire.”

“That still allows us a lot more freedom.”

Dan reaches out and runs a finger along the surface of the printer.

The sad cheerleader comes downstairs and says, “Jesus, I hate this fucking show.”

“No. It’s pretty good. It’s just like real life. Real life on TV is great.” I take the first bite of the stale bagel but now that the sad cheerleader is in the room, I feel fat and self conscious. I put the bagel between the couch cushions.

She stands there for a minute staring at the TV before crossing the room and turning it off. Looking at the sad cheerleader, I realize she’s actually a lot more fun to look at than the TV. So I stare at her. She doesn’t look necessarily clean but she is young and attractive. Black hair cut in an experimental fashion. The cheerleading outfit is something I’m not really into but it’s black and white and has a skull on it, so it’s okay. And the skirt reveals a lot of thin leg and kneecaps. She’s not wearing any shoes and her feet are not hideous.

“Like what you see?” she asks, maybe sarcastically, before adding, “Jesus.”

“You turned the TV off.”

“I told you I hate that show.”

“There are probably other things on.”

“I hate TV.”

“Okay. There’s coffee in the kitchen. I don’t think there are any more clean cups. You’ll have to drink it out of the pot.”

“I hate coffee.”


Awkward silence. She looks really sad. Almost ready to cry.

“I’m worried about Buddy.”

“Me too.”

“The only reason I come over here is so he can fuck me.”

I sip my coffee. She’s really open. I don’t say anything.

“He wasn’t even able to do that this morning.”

“I’m... sorry?”

“You should be. Would you mind fucking me?”

I don’t really have to think about this. “Now?”

“Yeah, I’m going to have to catch the bus soon.”

“Okay.” I put my cup of coffee down on the floor.

She gets down on her knees and bends over the couch. I undo my pants. I haven’t even washed since having sex with Estelle. It doesn’t look like the sad cheerleader’s offering oral sex so I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. I get down on my knees behind her and slide her black underwear down to her knees. She’s already wet and my penis isn’t very large so I slide right in and quickly build to a good rhythm. It doesn’t take long before I’m tired but I can feel myself building to a climax and the sad cheerleader seems to be moderately enjoying herself so I keep going.

There’s a noise upstairs. It sounds like Buddy has rolled out of bed and is now dragging himself across the floor. This kills the orgasm I was building to but I’m still slightly hard so I keep going. I can hear him thumping down the steps now.

The sad cheerleader says, “Faster. Faster.”

I go faster and the orgasm is back. It sounds like Buddy has become lodged halfway down the stairs. I pull out and pump my cock, unleashing a small amount of come onto the sad cheerleader’s ass. She pulls up her underwear and sits on the couch. She’s crying.

“That was really nice,” she says.

“Thanks. I thought so too.”

“I guess I should check on Buddy.”

“Maybe. I should probably...” But I don’t really know what I should probably do. Maybe go for a walk. “So what school do you cheer for?”

“I don’t cheer for a school. I’m an independent cheerleader.”

“What does that mean exactly?”

“It means I’m not confined. It means I’m free.”

“Free to...”

“Cheer wherever the fuck I want. Malls. Jails. Restaurants. Funerals.”

“You cheer at funerals?”

“Most of them need a good cheerleader.”

“All right. Hey, do you want a copy of Dick Swap?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a book. I wrote it.”

“Sure. Whatever. You can give me one but I probably won’t read it.”

“That’s okay. Nobody else has.”

I stand up and walk into the other room. The books are still on the floor. I pick one up and toss it to her. She’s not looking at me so it just hits her in the chest. She cries harder. I can hear Buddy moving again. I feel really guilty. I think the sad cheerleader was his girlfriend or something. I grab my cup of coffee and walk outside.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Installment 4


Estelle blares the horn and I start climbing into the Jeep when she tells me I have to sit in the back because Clarence is in the passenger seat. I don’t see anyone but I do what she says. She seems really on edge. I sit in the back and wonder why the top has been removed from the Jeep and really wish for the millionth time that I had a coat. She rips through the side yard and bounces into the alley. We drive through a series of alleys. I never realized Dayton had so many alleys but it seems like a half an hour before we’re on any type of main road. And then it’s only to bound up onto 35. My arms are wrapped around myself and my teeth are chattering and the speed of the highway isn’t helping at all. By the time we reach 75 South my blood is finally pumping and I’m starting to feel less like a corpse.

“Where are we going?” I ask, knowing I should just enjoy the ride but, given my past experiences with Estelle, I know that wherever we’re going could lead to savagery and horror. I think I’m okay with this.

“Clarence has a cane!” she yells. Spit mists out of her mouth and spritzes my face. It smells like Listerine and death.


“Clarence! Has! A! Cane!”


“And it has a skull on it!”

“Clarence sounds like a badass!”


I repeat myself but it doesn’t elicit any response. The rearview mirror frames Estelle’s wild eyes. We’re in the fast lane and doing well over a hundred. There are very few other cars on the highway. She stops and tells me I have to drive.

“I don’t want to drive.”

“The arthritis in my knees is really fucking with me. Get behind that fucking wheel or I’ll cut your face.”

She slides over into the passenger seat.

“What about Clarence?”

“Clarence got out a half hour ago. He’s a limp dicked mother fucker. By that I mean he’s my son and I have had sex with him.”

“Therefore you know all about his erectile dysfunction and his penchant for relations with mothers.”

“The next time I hear fancy talk like that I’m biting your ear off. Get this bitch moving. It’s stolen.”

I slam on the gas. Eventually we pass a stadium-sized church with the skeleton of what used to be a giant Jesus until it got struck by lightning in front of it. Estelle stands up and rips off her top. She’s not wearing a bra and she bounces around. “Look at these, Jesus!” she shouts. It’s just like Mardi Gras.

“Drive faster!” she says. She’s still standing up, her breasts and loose skin flapping in the wind. I try to turn on the heat and she karate chops my hand away.

We pull off an exit somewhere in Cincinnati. She spits directions at me and I robotically maneuver the Jeep until we’re in front of a dilapidated Victorian house. It’s the only house with any lights on.

Great! Maybe she’s taking me along to another one of her parties. I really wish Buddy were here. Estelle hops out of the Jeep and winces. She buttons up her floral-patterned polyester church dress and I realize how conservatively she’s dressed. She goes around to the back of the Jeep and grabs a couple five-gallon cans of gasoline.

“Grab those.” She points at a couple of road side flares.

“What are we doing?”

“We’re having fun. We’re making the night glow. We’re aging and regressing.” Then she growls at me and lashes out at my cheek with a claw. It hurts. I think it’s bleeding but I’m holding these flares and too preoccupied to check. We walk up onto the porch. She sets down the gas cans and tries the door. It’s locked. She tells me to kick it in. Says it’ll be a blast, a really big time, a fiesta, arena rock.

I kick the door several times. I can’t kick it open. I’m chubby and weak and not a master of kicking open doors. The door opens anyway and an old man stands on the other side.

“Why the banging?” he says.

Before he can say anything else, Estelle throws herself on him like a wild cat, gouging his eyes, kneeing him in the groin.

“Grab the gas! Splash it around!” she says.

And the next few seconds are filled with people screaming and running from the house and I’m splashing the gas all around the perimeter of the room I’m standing in, the fumes enveloping me, and I’m having a really good time and immediately want to move to another house and do it again. I look back at Estelle and she’s continuing to rip at the poor old guy’s face and when he seems immobilized she grabs one of the flares and sparks it up and tosses it into the room. I run through the open door and head for the Jeep. Estelle’s limping along behind me, silhouetted in the hell orange glow of the house. I sit in the passenger seat. My hands are shaking. My nerves are shot. I can’t possibly drive. And I begin to wonder if what I just had, what I just experienced was, in fact, fun. Or was it just something I felt and I’m confusing that for fun? Or did I just do whatever Estelle wanted me to do?

Estelle gets behind the wheel and we swing through another series of alleys and then we’re at a parking garage and we’re driving to the top of it and then we’re out of the Jeep and standing against the concrete barrier and Estelle is pointing at the burning house and mouthing the word, “Beautiful.”

I think of the mutilated man inside, rolling around on the floor and screaming.

Estelle moves a hand with knuckles the size of walnuts over my cock. It’s unresponsive. She reaches into her giant purse and pulls out some pills and tells me to take them so she doesn’t have to rip out my tongue and I do it.

In a few minutes I’m rock hard.

She crawls up onto the hood up the Jeep, hikes up her skirt, and slides down a huge pair of underwear.

She says, “I’ll let you wear my wig.”

She says, “You’ll have to get the lube out of my purse. You’ll need a lot.”

She says, “Yeah, that’s it.”

She says, “Yeah, just like it’s 1939. I’m the magic paper bag.”

She says, “Fill me while the world burns.”

She says, “Faster. Harder. You need to lose some weight or you’re going to break my hips.”

She says, “Come on my tits. Spray ’em with that shit.”

And I’m doing everything she says and I’m looking at a lighted sign beyond the Jeep that says ROOF and has an arrow pointing up and the light is blinking and then it’s going dark and then we’re lying in a puddle of grease covered with a crocheted blanket that smells like mothballs and gasoline and I ask, “Who was that man?”


I’m still wearing the wig, but my shirt is off and my pants are down around my ankles. She lights one of those long cigarettes and hands it to me before lighting another one for herself.

“Don’t ask me questions like that.”

“And the guy from last night—”

She presses her cigarette into my thigh and I bark out in pain. She exhales a languorous blue plume.

“Besides,” she says, “you only want to know about them to make yourself feel better. You think if I had a good reason to do what I did then you could feel like they deserved it and then you would feel less guilty. Let me tell you some things. I’m a product of the Depression. Everyone my age is a product of the Depression. We grew up with nothing but when we became adults we had the opportunity to give our children almost everything they wanted and we did that. Mostly material things because those were exactly what we didn’t have. And then they grew up with everything and wanted more and more and gave their children—people like you—everything. But you wanted more. You wanted to feel important and special so they had to give something else to their kids. Attention. But a parent’s attention is never enough so they had to make you feel like everyone else paid attention to you too. Like anyone cared. No one cares. They’ve never cared. We are all just a speck of cosmic dust.”

Preachy, I think. And then say, “But why kill other people? If we’re all just specks of dust, why not just leave people alone?”

“Because some dust needs vacuumed up.”

“You’re so nihilistic.”

“I am nothing. Yours is the generation that wants to be labeled. But you’re all just consumers, really.”

I take a drag from the cigarette. “I’m just fat and sad and.. cold.”

She stands up. “You’re bumming me out. You can get your own ride home.”

She snaps up the afghan and before I can even stand up and pull up my pants, she’s in the Jeep and speeding away and I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.


She forgot to take the wig so I leave it on for warmth. I can’t find my shirt anywhere. I wish I had a cell phone. Agatha has a cell phone. I need a pay phone. I wonder if pay phones even exist anymore. I wonder what I said that set Estelle off. She seemed bitter. She’s probably the angriest, most bitter person I’ve ever met.

I begin walking down the ramp of the parking garage. I’m really far up. I find a staircase and take it, thinking an attendant who sees me on the ramp might have some questions or something. I don’t think it’s a crime to wander through a parking garage. I’m pretty sure it’s a crime to light houses and people on fire. I’m also pretty sure I still smell like gas.

The stairwell is brightly lighted but it has a really odd smell to it. A few stories down I come across a man bundled into a sleeping bag. I stand over him for a second. There is an atrocious smell wafting up from him. I wish it was Buddy. Maybe this homeless person could be my friend. Maybe he’s not really homeless at all. Maybe he just likes sleeping in parking garages. I just had sex with a really old person in a parking garage. People do stranger things. I prefer to think that’s what this guy’s doing. It’s just an experiment. He has a warm home and a loving family to go back to and he doesn’t have any mental problems or addictions or anything.

I nudge him with my foot.

He pulls down the sleeping bag and tells me he thinks he’s going blind. Then he becomes defensive and asks me what the fuck I want.

“Do you have a phone?”

“Yeah, I gotta phone,” he says. “Do you need to call the President?”

“No, I don’t think so. I need to call someone to give me a ride back to Dayton.” Then I think maybe this isn’t really true. I don’t really know many people and those I do know don’t drive.

“You wanna take a ride in my sleeping bag?”

“Are you inviting me to have sex with you because, if you are, I have to decline. I just had sex up there and then she left me. That’s why I need a ride.”

“Damn bitch.”

“That’s a misogynistic statement and a really derogatory term.”

He mocks me and pulls out his phone. I’m glad “phone” wasn’t code for something else like drugs or his shoe.

He says, “Let me update my Facebook page first.” He stands up and wraps a smelly arm around my shoulders and we both smile into the phone and he takes a picture but it doesn’t flash because it’s already so bright in the stairwell. Then he types in something and hands me the phone.

“What’d you type?” I ask.

“New friends. LOL.”


“Who you callin’?”

“Well, first I’m going to try my wife or my ex-wife or my former roommate and then I’m going to call my BFF Buddy. He’s a standup guy but he has a chemical dependency problem and he might even be dying of cancer so I’m not sure he’ll be up for the drive. He sleeps a lot.”

“Good luck. I’m gonna take a piss.”

“All right.”

The guy pulls down his filthy pants and begins urinating onto his sleeping bag.

I call home. It rings and rings. Maybe Buddy is still sleeping. Maybe Buddy is having sex with that sad cheerleader I saw him with this morning. Maybe Buddy is dissolving a person in acid in the bath tub. Jesus. Buddy wouldn’t do a thing like that. The voice mail prompt comes on and I say, “Hey Buddy, this is Andy. I’m in the Nati and need a ride back to Dayton. If you can help me out in a couple seconds give me a call at this number. Otherwise maybe just, I don’t know, drive down I-75 or something. Man, fuck it, I don’t want to be a pain in the ass. Just forget about it.” I press END and call Agatha. It rings and rings. I imagine her phone in the bottom most layer of coats and give her a while to get it. It doesn’t go to voice mail or anything. Just rings and rings. I hand the phone back to the possibly homeless guy and say, “Thanks.” I search in my pockets until I find a dollar and hand that to him too.

“Thanks, man. God bless you.”

“Yeah, right.”

I wander around town until I come to a bar called Aluminum Can Drinks. There is a cab in front of it. Why didn’t I think of calling a cab? I walk to the cab and hop in the back.

“I need a ride to Dayton.”

“That’s far away.”

“I know.”

“I can do it.”


He pulls away from the curb. The ride is completely uneventful. The cab is warm. I sleep all the way home. When I get home it’s just before dawn and I go upstairs and get in bed next to Buddy.