The week after high school graduation my friends decided to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. I was going to go with them. The night before we were to leave I had a terrible nightmare. I stood on a promontory overlooking the Canyon. My friends were there, Greg Handel and Brandon Henson. They made me feel like my last name should have started with an “H”. They were really happy, jumping up and down. I was nervous. A fall would be catastrophic, but I could feel the Canyon sucking at me like a vortex. Greg said, “Watch this. I’m having a great time,” and jumped over the edge. I wanted to watch him fall through all that red brown space but I didn’t want to get any closer to the edge. Then Brandon said, “I really like to jump,” and leapt off, leaving me alone on the promontory with that sucking feeling. I wanted to jump but I was too afraid. I turned to move off the promontory, to more solid ground.
Snakes, a lot of them, were blocking my way. I think they were coral snakes. I think those are the poisonous ones. There’s a rhyme to help remember which are the poisonous kind but I couldn’t remember the rhyme. Behind the snakes, a bear, ferocious and snarling.
I woke up with a deep sense of loss and called my friends. Told them I couldn’t go.
I stayed behind.
It’s been over a decade and I haven’t seen or heard from either one of them.
I stayed behind.
I’m still here.
Agatha is either my wife or my roommate. I vaguely recall getting married a year or more ago at a bar in Las Vegas. That may not be accurate. Regardless, we sleep in the same bed and sometimes I think we have sex but she could be lying to me. That is, the vagina might not be real. It might not be her. It’s usually dark.
She has another sleeping partner who she calls Buddy but I think he’s more than that. I think she’s having an affair.
I try bringing this up to her. We’re in the bedroom. Buddy is sprawled out on the bed behind us, naked and snoring, one hand cupping his genitals.
“Not here,” she says. “Let’s go downstairs.”
We go downstairs. She points to the closet and says, “There’s the closet. Why don’t we go try on coats and talk about this later.”
I follow her to the closet. She pulls out all the coats and piles them on the floor. We try them on. I take off each coat before putting on the next. She just layers them. Most of the coats are too tight.
“You’ve gained weight,” she says. “You look like a gorilla.”
“You’re really wearing a lot of coats.”
“Because I can. You could only wear like one coat. Barely. Fatso.”
“I can’t be with anyone this sensitive. I think I need to go.”
“What do you want from me?”
“I need to go.”
She leaves the house. I watch her disappear into the night. I shut the door and go upstairs next to Buddy and fall asleep.
The phone rings. Buddy stops snoring and barks out like he’s in pain, like something terrible is happening to him in his sleep. I answer the phone.
“This is Estelle.”
“Hi Estelle.” I don’t know anyone named Estelle.
“I feel wild.”
“You sound really old.”
“I’m like sixty-five or eighty.”
“Yeah.” She sounds orgasmic.
“Can I help you?”
“I wanna get sick and nasty.”
“That’s pretty gross.”
“That’s just what I want.”
“Want me to come over?”
“I’ll meet you.”
“On the corner?”
“Sure. On the corner. Do you know where it is?”
I hang up the phone and wonder if I should tell Buddy I’m leaving. I guess it doesn’t really matter. I head out to the corner. It’s chilly outside and most of the houses are abandoned. There are many dogs barking. Barking and barking and barking and it’s late at night but the birds haven’t started chirping yet. A car roars down the street and screeches to a halt at the corner. It’s something gigantic and dark colored. Maybe a Cadillac or a Buick. The door swings open, scraping the sidewalk. Estelle hops out. She’s dressed inappropriately. Slinky lingerie and fishnets it looks like she bought at the stripper store. Her white hair is curled tight.
“Hey,” I say.
She stumbles around on her high heels, drunk, and shouts, “Get in the car, Porky!”
I do what she says. The door’s really heavy. The door itself is bigger than a lot of cars. The interior is covered in wood. Ashtrays are everywhere, most of them overflowing.
“You know,” I say. “I’m not really that fat. I’m only about twenty pounds overweight.”
“I don’t care.” She seems really angry.
“It’s just.. you called me Porky. My wife left me because I was too fat.”
“I was talkin’ about that fat cock. I call all my boys Porky.”
“Oh... okay. Hey, is that a wig?”
“This?” She points at her head.
“It sure ain’t my real hair.”
“Well, I mean, is it like a wig or did you scalp somebody?”
She peels out from the curb. “Wig.” Her wrinkly mouth draws tight.
“Can I try it on?”
She grabs it off her head and throws it into my lap. I put it on and bend the mammoth rearview mirror to look at it. I look pretty good. She drives over a possum and laughs. I laugh too. Estelle’s fun.
She lights up a really long cigarette and passes the pack over to me. The pack has a smiling horse on it with the word “Magic” written across the horse’s stomach. I light one up and crack the window.
“So what’re we doing?” I ask Estelle.
“I told you I feel wild.”
“I know but I don’t know what that entails. When I feel wild I get scared and think the best thing I should probably do is take some deep breaths or maybe a nap or something.”
She makes something that might be a smirk but with all the wrinkles in her face I can’t really tell. She doesn’t say anything. I try to turn the radio on and she smacks my hand away and tells me if I try to do it again, she’ll burn my face. Without her wig she looks ghoulish and creepy. Eventually we’re in an even worse section of town. She pulls the car into the parking lot of an all night grocery store and kills the headlights. The grocery store is lighted in a way that makes it look terrifying. I don’t want to go in. It has one large window in the front but it’s too dirty to see through.
An old man walks out of the grocery store. He isn’t carrying any bags or anything and I think this seems strange. Estelle guns the car, blasting the headlights. The man’s eyes widen and his legs bend as he begins his attempt to dive away but the car hits him, throwing him up onto the hood and over the roof and we are out of the parking lot and speeding along an alley behind the grocery store and there are trashcans full of fire and hollow-eyed men leaned up against garages and the moon shines overhead and we are both laughing and laughing and laughing and then Estelle digs a claw-like hand into my thigh and says, “Give me back my fucking wig.”