An Experiment In Scotch

I write to discover what I believe

Category: Fiction

Shelby Joins The Band

The rest of Sunday and all of Monday flew by in a blur. All I could think about was the pit in my stomach and the ball of desire in my throat for that woman. School was useless. I managed to avoid both Wool and Bill. I saw Stilton once in the hall but ducked into a classroom before he saw me. I kept returning to the encounter, wondering why I didn’t ask for her name, why I didn’t ask for more information. She just sat there and I just stood there, quivering. I woke up Tuesday with what felt like a beetle in my stomach trying to gnaw its way out. Eating was out of the question. I half wanted practice to get here as quickly as possible, half wanted to run off into the woods and return in about a week. After school, I headed home to pick up equipment. I was loading it up in my car when Stilton drove up.

“Still on for practice?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ll follow you over.”

I backed the car out of the driveway. I had wanted to be the first one there. Now I had Stilton in tow and for all I knew, the woman was already knocking on Wool’s front door. I’d be like the lion tamer walking into the cage after someone had let all the lions in, helpless and out of control. Though frankly, I felt like I had such precious little control at this point anyway. Seemed like Fate was just unwinding before me like a blood red carpet rolled out towards an execution. We got to Wool’s house with only Bill’s old Nova there, no Chevy in the driveway. That did little to quiet my churning insides, for all I know she could have floated over from the next county. My grip on reality was fading fast. I grabbed my stuff and headed towards the door. Stilton was struggling with his guitar and amplifier. Wool opened the front door.

“Thought maybe you would have found a way to get rid of him since you’ve been ignoring us for the last two days,” he said.

“Well, I have a plan but I’m not sure it’s going to work.”

“What is it?”

“Probably best if I keep that to myself.”

“Fine. I hope it works. That guy makes me nervous.”

I took my stuff down into the basement. Stilton followed me, still struggling with the equipment. Bill was sitting behind the trap set looking at last year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. He didn’t look up as we came down the stairs. I started setting up the mike and putting my horn together. I hadn’t played it since Sunday at the rest stop. It looked practically foreign to me. I thought of her sitting up at her house somewhere behind the pines listening to me play. My hands got a little clammy. This was going to be an interesting afternoon.

“Where should I set up?” Stilton asked. Neither Wool or Bill offered any information.

“Probably over there on the right side. You can plug in behind that bookcase.’

The doorbell rang and stopped my heart. When it started back up, I thought I was dying.

“I’ll get it,” I said avoiding eye contact with Wool.

I ran up the stairs. The other three would have to be suspicious at this point. Why would I answer the door at Wool’s house? None of that mattered. I opened the door and again, my feet turned to concrete. She was wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans and a simple LSU sweatshirt. To me, it looked like she was wearing an evening gown. Her hair was pulled back in a tight pony tail. Her lips were the color of mahogany and I would swear her eyes were the size of granite colored saucers.

“Can I come in?”

“Oh yeah, sure, sorry. We were just setting up.”

Somehow, I managed to get my feet moving in the right direction and led the way back down the basement stairs. I opened the door to the basement and walked in. The other three guys looked up and I could tell I wasn’t going to have to worry about explaining her presence.

“Guys, this is…um…”

“Shelby.”

“Shelby,” I finished. “She’s going to be in the band. She can sing.”

“Actually, he doesn’t know if I can sing or not. I just told him I could and he said OK.” The woman had an uncanny way of making me feel uncomfortable. “He was out practicing at a rest stop on the Nacogdoches highway Sunday and I went to listen to him.“

The other three looked at me like I had two heads. There wasn’t any use explaining. No story could possibly make them understand.

“Look, let’s just finish getting set up and start practice. It’s getting late already,” I said. “Shelby, you can use my mike.“

We started off with “In A Sentimental Mood. The sound that came out of Shelby’s mouth caused the rest of her to melt away, as if the voice was a thing in itself, disengaged and unattached to the person producing it. I realized at that point that I was in love with her. Her singing picked the rest of us up and forced us to play in a different consciousness. The walls wept slightly at the sound of the band. We were suddenly better than good. I wasn’t sure what we were yet but we were definitely better than good. Well, most of us. When the song ended, she looked at Stilton.

“You’re not very good. Why are you in the band?” It was a question directed at me even while she looked at him.

“Well…I…” Stilton stammered.

“He’s got Harry by the short hairs and he’s yanking on them with tweezers.” Bill seemed overly proud of his explanation. Shelby looked at me.

“It’s a long story.”

“We ain’t go nothing but time.”

The story still sounded ridiculous and absurd in my head. She had this voice that demanded to be honored with a band that could stand up to it. I had a band that had a guy who couldn’t play his way out of a shoebox if you cut down four sides for him. I had to explain to her how I poisoned his dad’s dog and how he was blackmailing me.

“His dad works for my dad at the oil company,” Stilton said. “They wouldn’t let me in the band so I told him I’d get his dad fired if he didn’t let me in.” I looked at him in amazement. I wouldn’t have expected him to lie for me. I had no idea if she bought it. Given her prescience about me, I doubted it.

“Well you’re not very good. Do you practice?”

“Sometimes.”

“That’s not enough. You have to practice all the time. You have to give up everything else and practice. You have to live with that guitar. It’s not enough to be talented. It’s not enough to have a rich daddy. If you’re going to be in this band, no matter how you managed to get in, you’re going to be good. If you can’t be good, you won’t be playing.” She said this all as a matter of fact, not threatening, not vindictive. Just an explanation of how things were going to go from here on out. She didn’t even act like it was her band. She was just making it clear that there were standards here, like everywhere else in life and no amount of money or influence or blackmail was going to allow anyone to subvert those standards. I couldn’t tell if they were her standards or something pre-existent beyond the realm of my experience.

“Give me your guitar.” For a brief fleeting moment, I thought she might beat him to death with it. I could tell by the look in his eyes, he was considering the same thing. Tentatively, he handed her the instrument.

“Play it like this.”

And then she showed him exactly how she expected it to be played. The notes were light and supplemental to the feeling of the song. There was no personal interpretation, just a perfect accompaniment. After 20 bars or so, she handed it back to him.

“That’s how you should play it next time we rehearse.”

Stilton looked like a car with four flat tires. He was visibly smaller as if someone had reached into his soul, pulled out his ego and let half the air out of it. I doubt he’d ever heard someone talk to him like that. To his credit, he took the guitar back quietly and without resentment.
She looked at me.

“What’s next? No use standing around gawking. This is your band, start acting like it.”

I knew that wasn’t the case anymore. Everyone else knew it too. Like a shadow corporation set up to funnel money from one place to another, I was just a shell. She was the substance and no amount of my “leading the band” would ever change that. Strangely, that suited me just fine.
The rest of rehearsal went in much the same manner. She seemed to just know all the music. If she had said she was born knowing the music, we wouldn’t have argued about it. She could sing anything we played and probably then some. We certainly didn’t run into any songs she didn’t know. She gave pointers to all of us, subtle changes in phrasing or tone or approach. She sang like there was an audience of thousands listening, each song given the same level of concentration and effort. Even when one of us screwed up and we had to start over, she jumped right back into the song as if nothing had happened. After we had run through all the songs we knew, we waited for directions.

“So do you want me in the band?” As usual, this was not what I expected from her. We all knew it was clear she was the most talented and we should have been asking her that question. The other three looked at me.

“Well, umm, sure we’d love to have you. You seem like you’re a good fit and you’re a great singer.”

“Great.” Her smile was radiant and honest. “When’s the next rehearsal?”

“Next Tuesday.”

“Cool, see you then.”

And she left, leaving the four of us staring at an open door to the basement stairs. Radically, in the span of two days, the band had changed in two fundamental ways. I wasn’t sure if things were better or worse but they were definitely different.

“Where did you find her?” Wool asked.

“I really don’t know. I think she found me more than anything.” I told them the story about the rest stop, how she had just appeared because she wanted to hear me play. I left out the part about falling in love with her. It didn’t seem that prudent.

“She’s good,” said Bill. “Real good.”

“Yeah. She is.” I didn’t say it so much for confirmation as out of a sense of wonder.

“I’ll get better,” Stilton said.

“I know. Thanks for not telling her about your dad’s dog.”

And with that, we started packing up. I put my horn in the case and realized I didn’t deserve to even have it. I had this talent, a river running through my veins that pulsed with the beat of music and emotion but I had been ignoring it my whole life. Sure I could play but not play, not like she could sing. I had been cheating my talent all these years like some fat old bastard sneaking across town to sleep with a whore while his wife went to a church social. I had pretended I could play, showed off for my parents but all I was doing was pretending. There was this ability I had that I had specifically chosen to short change, to push to the side while I went on about being a pretentious asshole. I thought I was dedicated but it was all just play acting. Listening to her sing, watching her work, I realized nothing I had done meant a damn thing as far as the sound coming out of my horn was concerned. I looked at it lying in the case and made a promise not to neglect it or my talent any longer. But promises are easy to make and hard to keep and Fate had other plans.

Why Am I Wearing An Astronaut Suit

The first thing I notice is the total silence that enshrouds me. The next thing I’m aware of is that I seem to have lost the sense of touch. I’m laying flat on my back and I know my arms are laying out beside me. Yet I don’t feel the earth. I feel encased in a marshmallow. My eyes aren’t doing their job either as they won’t open in a proper manner. I’m reminded of the time my older brother rubbed my face with Elmer’s glue after he discovered I’d used his pet hamster for show and tell at school and had accidentally dropped it in the Burmese python cage. Harvey didn’t stand a chance and I couldn’t see for several weeks. With a mighty effort, I force my eyes open. I must have been in a motorcycle accident because I’m wearing a helmet of some sort, full face with a fantastic polarized lens mitigating the fact that the sun is at high noon directly above my head, blazing directly in my eyes. Strangely, I don’t remember having a motorcycle or being in an accident but scientists tell you short term amnesia is often the result of traumatic stress. I don’t remember the first year after I caught my first wife in bed with Tom Jones. I suppose there something to it.

Forgetting Tom Jones again, I decide it’s time to figure out exactly what’s going on. My first attempt to sit up results in a weak grunt and a collapse backwards. My head hits something firm and solid with a whack. Thank god for the motorcycle helmet, I think, still not sure of when I got a motorcycle. Sitting up seems to be impossible as there is a thickness to my midsection that is new to me. Encased in a marshmallow indeed. Remembering the lack of touch, I lift my right hand slowly and with difficulty to a position where I can see it through the fortuitous helmet lens. Why do I have ski gloves on? Perhaps I didn’t get a motorcycle. Perhaps this is a terrible snowmobiling accident. I have read stories of daredevils who go on snowmobiling tours ignoring the guide’s advice to stay 20-30 yards behind the vehicle in front of them and end up driving off a cliff when the entire group stops too quickly. Perhaps I am that daredevil.

I am uncomfortably warm, having lain at the bottom of a cliff for hours while my friends and family frantically try to find a way to help me. No, they probably think I am dead after a fall from such heights as I must have fallen. I am lucky to be alive but will die here of starvation and exposure if the wolves and the grizzlies don’t eat me first. Luckily, the helmet will prevent the crows from eating my eyeballs and my mother can have the open casket funeral. She’s always been so worried that if I die in a disfiguring car accident that she won’t be able to have an open casket funeral. I have saved her that ignominy. The women at the First Christian Church of Episcopalian Latter Day Saints won’t be able to gossip and for that I’m thankful.

Returning my attention to my arm, I notice that my gloves are actually part of the parka I’m wearing. They aren’t sown on so much as just part of the same cloth. I lift one leg to examine it and find that I’m wearing moon boots but not the ones I remember from high school. They look as though my feet have been wrapped in gray swaddling cloth with soles. Perhaps it’s time to roll over and figure out what’s going on. With some effort, I roll over and sit up. Now things are really confusing as I have clearly been in neither a motorcycle accident or a snowmobiling mishap. I am in a large open field blooming with daisies. Looking to my left, I see that I have been laying on a Critical Slide Society surfboard. I don’t think this is what Beyonce had in mind when she wrote that song. Looking down, I see why movement was so difficult. I’m in a space suit, not one designed by the Jetsons either. More like one that Yuri Garagin wore in his worst nightmares. I’m starting to wish I had died in the imaginary motorcycle accident. It’s time to figure out what the hell is going on.

A Window

The first time I made this trip, my kid sister was graduating from Tulane in the winter of 1988. The Virginia hills were covered in snow like powdered sugar on a funnel cake, light and airy and subject to cover your entire face and clothes. Horses and cattle stood in groups, noses facing south away from the wind. In the afternoon gloom, lights flickered in farmhouses. As the Crescent hurtled down the tracks, I imagined the life of the people on those farms in a winter like this, long and cold. So different from my life in the City with the constant action and activity. Looking out the window, it seemed like nothing moved here, like nothing had moved in six months or six years. There was a stillness to the place that gave my restless heart no small anxiety. The snow was white, not the dirty slush that stood for months on the north side of buildings in New York. The train passed over a river still unfrozen and flowing freely. I thought about my sister and tomorrow’s celebration. It had been hard for her after I left and Dad died. Every Sunday she went to see Mom and listen to the rambling craziness that inhabited her mind. Kelsey would call me afterwards, saying I should call Mom, maybe even visit. It wasn’t something I could do and we both knew it. She was always the better human being.

On this trip though, it’s spring and the farms are alive with activity. A tractor sows the fall’s bounty in a black, fertile field. Cattle amble through hay up to their bellies, contented. On many farms, fruit trees bloom pink and white and I imagine I can smell the nectar attracting bees from miles away. Spring is that moment of promise for what may be in the future. The northern Virginia Piedmont has many orchards, acres and acres of apple and peach trees aglow with flowers this time of year. As the train moves farther south into North Carolina, the terroir changes. The bucolic farms of Virginia give way to a more industrial farm, often filled with tobacco or cotton. The farther south we go, the more hardscrabble and difficult life seems to become. Farmhouses look ransacked occasionally with cars parked in blocks out front, chickens and goats running through the yards and half naked kids running crazy through the yard.

The train is moving too fast this trip towards a future I don’t want to reach.

You Are The Schefflera Of My Dreams

Even before you came into my life that day at Home Depot when you called to me from the clearance aisle, a lonely and abandoned look about your stalks, I knew it was only a matter of time before the hole in my heart was filled through vegetative destiny. I nursed you back to health until no one would have guessed I bought you for $4.99, giving you weekly dosages of Miracle-Gro and root stimulator until you were a vibrant green, the green of the Green Monster in Fenway Park except for your variegated parts streaked yellow as if a child had painted you with French’s Mustard. You grew in the southern window of the living room , stout and drought resistant, an Australian native who spoke to me in my dreams like another green creature of God, the Geico lizard. You were my everything, the reason I came home from my work at the spinach factory with a sense of purpose and delight, a smile on my face as I walked through the door.

Yet now you tell me you don’t want to live anymore, your leaves drooping and brown around the edges, no sign of spider mites or scale, just slow, encompassing death. At least you tell me that. It’s not an answer I’m prepared to accept however for without you, my dreams no longer will be filled with visions and remembrances of that trip we took to Napa Valley. You must live I tell you, I will accept nothing else! Without you, I am nothing, Germont without Violetta, Count Vronksy without Anna Karina. Without you, my darling Schefflera, I cease to exist. I will still go to the spinach factory, still inspect each 10th can for imperfections and listeria but I will not be the same. You and I are one, plant and man a single soul between us. Life would be meaningless without you.

Inspired by an exercise in 642 Things To Write About. I’m toying with another run at NaNoWriMo and need to get the daily word count up.

A Significant Place

I stand beside a gravelly, sand packed road. I kneel down and touch the ground with my hand. The sun threatens to pound me into the ground, its blazing rays like pieces of glass against my face. Breathing is difficult here and the heat is choking in its intensity. Yet small brown skinned children play a derivative of soccer with a duct tape ball in the empty field opposite where I stand. Children rarely seem to notice the elements. Only the old and the despondent comment on the weather. I have been talking about the weather for a long time. Sand blows around my feet. Cars and diesel trucks of indeterminate make and model creep along the road disappearing into the walled city like giant ants coming in from the hunt. In the distance, a jet roars into the sky. Sweat pours down the side of my face. I wear a bandana around my throat and mouth which does little to protect me from the blowing sand. It gets in my teeth and the corners of my eyes and I taste the destruction of this place. It tastes like gunpowder and death and a quiet despair. Just outside the walls of the city, two old men lie on reed pallets and watch me. They speak to each other in a tongue I don’t pretend to understand. They don’t appear to be lepers but they have been shunned by the citizens within the walls. Occasionally, as a car drives past the gate, it slows enough for a hand to shoot out through the dust clouded window and toss change into a basket at their feet. The pair seem neither thankful nor embarrassed by the alms. They only continue to talk and watch me. If I walked over and kicked them, I do not think they would be surprised or angry. They lack concern for their situation. I have been standing here for the better part of an hour. There is no memorial cross posted here, no makeshift memorial with pictures or rosaries, nothing to mark this spot where three years ago a woman my son had never met walked up to his checkpoint and punched buttons on the cell phone connected to the bomb under her cloak. True to the end, they both believed in their causes, each thinking a difference could be made through action. Neither action means anything now. The world remains unchanged. Yet my world, a world neither were trying to affect, is radically different. I have come here to find the family of that woman, to know them, to understand what drove her to the action that stole my son from me. I turn and walk towards the gates of the city.

Girl On A Postcard

A girl, possibly 15 or 18 or 21, it is hard to tell because her face is covered in thick, dark greasepaint, stands in the right track of a two track dirt road that runs off into the distance. She wears olive green pants and a dark brown flannel shirt, untucked. Her hair is brown, pulled back in a tight ponytail. She has clear slate gray eyes that blink quickly and infrequently. The greasepaint fails to conceal her beauty. There is a look of defiance and grim concentration to the girl, a certain tightness in the muscles of the mouth and corners of the eyes as in one who is in the middle of an arduous task. She holds a small pistol with a long barrel in her right hand, held with a gentle familiarity of a butcher and his knife. In her left hand, a rabbit dangles by the hind legs, a small red hole behind one ear seeping crimson into the dirt of the road. The girl faces the far side of the road, watching intently a military convoy driving on the main highway in the medium distance. Hundreds of trucks and tanks lumber along the road as thousands of men in vivid red uniforms march alongside. The rumble of the trucks is muted and faint. The sun rises harshly above the horizon beyond her right shoulder, beginning to illuminate the bitter landscape, chasing the dawn away. A faint scent of acrid smoke tinged with cordite hangs in the air. Long grass lines the side of the road she stands in but there is a path immediately behind her into the undergrowth. Dew glistens on the grass. Far off in the distance from the direction the military trucks move, hardly intelligible, an eerie chant drifts, ephemeral and spectral, the sound of a thousand weary voices joined together in praise of an unseen god.

A single soldier peels off from the serpentine convoy, followed by another and another, moving quickly in the direction of the girl. The entire convoy grinds to a halt. Ten soldiers fan out, a vermillion pack of human wolfhounds running towards the girl. A tank turret turns and a puff of smoke appears from the barrel. Second later, the ground a hundred feet in front of her explodes sending thick chunks of dark clay silently screaming into the sky.

“They always underfire”, she says.

The soldiers are still a thousand meters away as she turns and disappears into the underbrush, the only sign that she was ever there a darkening of the dirt where the rabbit bled out.

Trying

Do you remember the time we tried to save that little kitten we found in the alley? It was behind the dumpster, mewling softly. You looked for its mother, up and down the street while I took it back to my house. I folded down the edges of a cardboard box and lined the bottom with 4 of my T-shirts. So small and black at the bottom, it was pitiful. 40 years later, I know it was sick and left behind but then, we thought we were saving the world, one dying kitten at a time. You never found the mother, probably for the best. We stood in my garage after school, trying to figure out what to do. I already had a cat. Your father, never short on anger, wouldn’t allow it. I went in to get some milk in a saucer. The kitten just cried when I set the saucer in the box. He was old enough to drink it but we couldn’t get him to participate in our saving games. You couldn’t take the chance of taking him home. Your dad had killed the cat before. We decided that I should keep him in my room, on the west side of my bed by the bookshelf. My parents never walked over there.

We took the box inside and set it beside the bed. The kitten just lay there. He stopped crying and seemed to sleep. You had to go home so I sat on the edge of my bed watching him. My parents came home, time for dinner. I left my room, closing the door, hoping the kitten wouldn’t meow loud enough to warrant attention. After dinner, I said I had homework and went to my room. Laying in bed, reading London’s To Build A Fire, I would turn occasionally to the box, expecting the kitten to be dead. But he lived for that first night.

I woke in the morning to find a mess in the box. The kitten hadn’t touched the milk but whatever sickness he suffered from had loosened his bowels in the night. I ran to get a wet towel. I picked him out of the box, cleaned him up as best I could and set him on the bed. He couldn’t stand. Laying there, looking at me without real fear. He was a kitten and I was saving the world. I took the t-shirts out and this time, stole yesterdays paper from my parents’ bathroom when they were at breakfast to line his box. Back in he went and I left for school.

We met at lunch and I told you how I had watched him last night, about his health, his sad little eyes. No, he hasn’t eaten, he doesn’t seem to want to, I told you. Yes, I cleaned him up and put new paper in the box for him today. You said you’d come over right after school to help. I think I loved you as much as I loved the kitten. But your father had other plans. He made you wash the car after school and you didn’t come. I watched the kitten, quieter now, in the corner of the box. I picked him up occasionally, scratching him around the ears. He meowed a little then but didn’t purr. My cat seemed to treat him with disdain and I was thankful for that.

The second morning, he was still alive but weakening. I changed the papers in the box again. At school, you said you’d come over to see him after school but cheerleading practice got in the way. I tended to him again. He drank some milk that night and I was sure I was making him better. He had such soft fur. After he drank the milk, I put him back in his box, this time with a T-shirt on top of the paper in the corner so that it was softer for him to sleep on. I went to sleep thinking of what I would name him.

In the morning, he was dead. I had decided to name him Max. You and I buried Max that day after school when you finally could help. We wrapped his tiny body in the t-shirt from the box and buried him at the park down the street. I wonder what we looked like, marching down the street with a small garden shovel and a dead kitten wrapped in a t-shirt. No one stopped us so it must have not been too odd. We dug a small hole along the fence where no one walked. As I laid Max in it, you said a small prayer.

“Jesus, thank you for letting us take care of Max for a few days. He’s with you now and we hope you enjoy his company. He was a good cat. He likes milk but didn’t drink much with us. “

I put the soil back into the hole over Max. When I hugged you, you cried a little. I took your hand as we walked home in silence from our little kitten’s funeral. We hadn’t saved him but I think we still wanted to save the world.

Pedro

EDITORIAL NOTE: As noted here, I’m taking a Fiction Writing class. I plan to post completed and semi-completed works on my blog. This post and any subsequent posts filed in the “Fiction” category are exactly that and should be read as such. END EDITORIAL NOTE

“How are you?”

I was paying attention to my hand-washing, making sure no remnant of airport bathroom clung to my skin. I assumed the voice was directed at someone else who had walked in after I’d finished up. I glanced in the mirror to make sure no hair was out of place only to find the leering face of a half wit standing behind me watching me expectantly. Christ, he was talking to me. I went back to the scrubbing, desperately hoping he’d leave me alone. I made my first mistake.

“Good,”, I muttered. I tried not to make eye contact, continuing to scrub the skin off my hands in hopes that he might continue out the bathroom door without bothering to cleanse himself which seemed to me was probably what people like him did. He didn’t. Dumbstruck by the weird awkward silence and hoping to just escape, I made my second mistake.

“How are you?”

“Well to tell you the truth, I’m happy to be alive. I first cut my finger in 1994 and then I cut my wrist in 2001 after the towers fell. I wrecked a sweet ass Vette in Dallas, Texas in 05 and just barely walked away with both legs. Dallas, I’m not unhappy to say, is a city in which I have a lot of exes.”

This of course had to be a lie made up in a fit of fantasy one night back at the retard farm, the lot of it for sure but most certainly the last part since the only way this half wit had ever had an ex was if he cornered one of the simpletons in the mental ward and had his way with her. He didn’t have the cherubic face of a happy retard. He could only be described as deranged looking. He had a dirty Chaplin mustache with hair that hadn’t been cut in months. His eyes were dark, not unlike the gray matter behind them I supposed. He reminded me of my fourth cousin twice removed by divorce who came to the family reunion each year and sat in the corner picking his nose and eating banana pudding with his thumbs. I could not believe I was in the Albuquerque airport bathroom with its turquoise and stucco making me dizzy, listening to a retard talk about things that couldn’t possibly be true. I saw no way out except to continue to prolong the hand washing in hopes that he would wander out the bathroom and into someone else’s nightmare.

“Huh,” I said, hopefully not too conversationally.

“My women really like Pay-dro. They like to pet him and cuddle with him. Pay-dro is nice to them.”

Visions of his underfed, abused Chihuahuan rat dog swarmed my inner vision. I began to think that maybe he had in fact entertained the ladies back in Vernon or whatever State School he had been imprisoned in by sneaking in a cute little dog that caused the shetards to ooh and aah and follow him back to his room for some midnight baby making. I could just see him sneaking scraps of pork chop and Salisbury steak to feed Pedro. How he kept him quiet during the unavoidable fits of small dog disease was beyond me. Maybe a muzzle. Or maybe the State Schools were letting the residents keep animals these days, some study saying old people and retards were happier and easier to manage with 20 minutes of daily time petting dogs and cats.

“Do yoou like Pay-dro?”

I stood straight up, turned around, wondering what on earth he could be nattering on about. It was at this point that I realized my two mistakes had been compounded into a trap of epic proportions here in the men’s room off Gate A1, Albuquerque airport.

When I turned around, I met Pedro, the halfwit’s huge Hickory Farms Summer Sausage of a dick hanging out of his unzipped fly. He (the halfwit, not his dick, I refuse to personify the thing though, in retrospect, it) was leering at me in the same way he had been when I saw him behind me in the mirror, enjoying my clearly horrified reaction to this decidedly inescapable situation, self-congratulatory in his efforts to get me to take in his member. He stood with his hands on his hips, imperceptibly thrusting Pedro at me which in a darker light could very well have been a pants dachshund without eyes and ears.

With that thought, I giggled. Then I threw up a little. Fainting became a real possibility. The room started to give way, to get a little bit wavy and unconsciousness threatened. I think that worried the boy a bit, afraid that if I fainted, the game might be up so to speak. Plus the thought of being unconscious here with him snapped me back to some semblance of reality. I steadied myself, reaching back for the bathroom countertop. Once stable, the absurdity of the situation washed over me and I stifled another laugh at this odd predicament whereupon the largest dick I had ever seen outside the football locker room at Alabaster High School was staring at me from the pants of a retard in a public restroom.

Like a nubile coed in a horror movie, I was drawn to the danger even though the small voice of reason inside my head was shouting at me to RUN AWAY. What in God’s name to do? Surely soon someone would have to get off a plane from Tulsa or Jackson or Birmingham or some other redneck locale, need to relieve himself and stumble into this situation which would allow me to escape into the sanctity of the airport, leaving Captain Retardo and Pedro to some quality time. But alas, it was as if no other men existed outside this tiny little window into some weird dream I was having. I was frozen in something resembling intrigued terror.

“So do yoou like Pay-dro? He’s my free-und.”

The man-child was clearly enjoying himself. Or he was just retarded. I’m not sure which, probably a devilish combination of both. I wondered how many times he had sprung Pedro on unsuspecting fools like me. I wanted to bash his head in with a club or a bat. Had this been a normal situation, perhaps I would have attacked him but I was effectively neutered by airport security, having only a roll of Butter Rum Lifesavers in my pocket with which to fight off this indignity and I can hardly think it would be sufficient against such a determined opponent.

The only reason I’m still not in the bathroom wondering how to get out of the situation is because a voice suddenly came over the intercom:

“Attention, this is your final boarding call for flight 567, service to Las Vegas, departing gate A6. All passengers should be on board at this time.”

Captain Retardo seemed stunned by the voice, apparently unaware that the plane might leave before he finished having his way with me, whatever that way might have involved. He grabbed his yule log of a penis in his meaty fist and stuffed it back into his cargo pants, apt attire. He shuffled out the door, dragging one lame foot behind him as if to mock me, to extend the moment for as long as possible as his body and then his leg went around the corner towards his flight.

I washed my hands again. Just in case.