Munchy Wunching a Fried Cow

… and the dirty people walked dirty dogs around the dirty parking lot at the gas cafe in the great and looming Southwest. I watched from a window while sipping Coke and munchy wunching a fried cow and stuck-together French fries. It was a cheeseburger plopped in a green plastic basket lined with a greasy white paper. The waitress was a mean Mexican chick sick with poverty and her feigned smile cracked as she looked out the large window at the great expanse all dusted white from a spring snow. The mountains were cold and evergreen, the long and yawning fields golden and sprinkled with God salt. She walked away and I looked at the rotating pie case near my table. I didn’t know if they were fake or real. Was it plastic whipped topping and cement meringue? Some of the plastic lids were half off; letting in air and the smell of gasoline. It was unappetizing and so I did not order any pie. It was just a roadside pee house, a place where the zooming lunatics shook off the road rage for a bit and annoyed the damaged clerkies. Ah, the savage and scarred clerkies, cloaked in the ugly vests of their corporate pimp. They had long hair and long faces. Victims of a system – this so fucked up system. How could they possibly be happy? And so I just looked out the window long and hard. I scraped my eyes across the asphalt and up to the world Above The Road. Aliens like spinning planets of pearls hid in the cracks of the rocky mesas and cast spells with bulbous eyes. The sky was big and baby-blanket blue and dotted with cream puff clouds, some stretched out like vanilla taffy, some strands hanging down like wet oodles of noodles in a bruised candy shoppe of colonized Mars.

And for all the damage there was in the world, there was hope and comfort in the eyes of the Heaven Dixie girl. And when I was on the roaring interstate Four-Zero I could have just kept going all the way to her very own front yard and the apple trees where Adam and his gal pal Eve used to play, and there she was waiting, the girl with the Sonic Ocean Water eyes, her face pressed against the bedroom window wet with rain, her legs crossed in a closet before a roaring fire and her all sending smoke signals of groovy love that circled the planet and ended up on me. I alone beside her. I alone, her running through my soul like some blood river. And there is peace in this war because of her. And there is food in this hunger. And there is sleep in this restless turning. And if you build a bigger word than love, that is where you will find us.

Light Night

she is like the light

the blue light, that crops life

into some picture perfect kiss and heart

wandering I go,

clouds and echoes

they pour down and talk about love

in every sun-drenched step

she smiles

and says it’s all right

and even when I look out into loneliness

as the sun drops and the stars spit

she breathes and wanders

in her own head

in my own heart

the dying of the light

I catch her like a kite

loose and torn

my shoulder against the frame of night

cold, gray, sun blessed

love blessed

a Dixie pout in Heaven

the road worn and all that

and it’s human on human

it’s beauty unknown

exploding like some summer blush

a street, a lane, a river that boils

I hand her a flower

broken but beautiful

in my gray night

where I troll and dream

love light just written in a book

this heart arcing, exploding

some stranger’s tears running down

across the space between us

and I can taste her

across a world

across a distance

and I hold her in the space

the division runs asunder

yet I know her

completely, dreamy, love like the sun

love some magic burn

tattooed like fire and light

a kiss, to melt my mountains …

 

 

 

 

The Swimming Window

And there were orange baptized bullets lodged in a wall of sea salt adobe and skull,

a hard skull of architecture burned and bandaged

the sun was far too bright as I dug them out with the tip of a knife

and I was suddenly cursing the violence of Southwest sweat and artificial love

and street corner Kool-Aid chillin’ like angels’ blood

the cherry, raspberry red brew that made a sore throat feel even more sore

when one is a rattled child on a planet with obscene purpose

and why do I do anything but idle and wail

if it just turns out to be nonsensical dreams anymore?

 

And now the late afternoon sun that pours through a front window in the house

is all stained with wandering soul and a life vanished

Everything is different due to the dead

There is mad swimming in Heaven

and I still wake up … and I still buy bread

I walk over the land and pick up stones

they live in a pool of millions

yet straddle the whore world all alone

and the days are starting to feel like desert tin

hard, hot and shining

illuminating muscle

capsizing the eyes

spawning breathless, reckless wandering and wonder …

 

Vapor Day

Life trembles of light on Youthful Street, the bloody memory lane

where the sun slips through and hits everything just right

to where it makes your guts roll like an ocean

on the black and white steps of the old front porch

the old and gone sitting there in summer shorts, smiling for the camera

a click, a vapor, a ghost -

some girl made of dough

stands in a crooked, cracked driveway

she’s twirling an umbrella into kaleidoscopic oblivion

the air aches of a warm freshness

a cyclical slip of Mother Nature’s tongue

into the mouth of holy guts and wonder

rain beckons at the wall

the clouds now white as ice

heartbeats live in the air left behind

I close closet doors and lock them in

invisible stepfalls rattle another restless night

the heart beats like a drum from the distance

and the jungle animals wonder …

is it love or is it shadow play?

 

Angel on an Elevator

So now, beauty is strewn across the sky

Like sunsets bleed all the red of a beating heart

She talks to me on wires

With angel breath

and a calm that never stalls

Hot night Appalachia calls

her name is my favorite

and even in the cold, I clutch her close, ghostly and warm

billions of kisses in the world

and the only one I want is hers

and hers alone

I see her in every star that calls

I feel her in every step I take

the angel from a place

I don’t even know

sheds tears with me through satellites

every moment before her

led me to her

like the rain in the rainforest

it was always meant to be there …

 

higher ground

there is only time for love and then departure

everything else in between is nonsense

even through the trees I see this

while the world so foolishly spins around out there, down there

far below this mad altitude where I stand

where I pray to no one, for no one

all the listening blinded by blind ambitions

and the damned ones decide

that war is better than peace

that starvation is better than food

that hate is better than grace and a kiss

so I turn away and fold myself up

like a secret

they can never touch

 

 

broken and brave

Loneliness is for the brave – and the brave alone …

and all people are merely the same to me

they run and hide, like rabbits in the field I know

but the field is love and light, and life the flip of a twisted coin

and I would welcome broken dreams and sleep

the final steaming chug of the carousel

to depart and walk forever

with peace and a hand crushed in mine

or alone and full of lust

for every blinking heart on the horizon

The Return of the King of Genitalia Street

Author’s Note: The first part of this story can be found HERE … and as is true in the original, the following story contains mature elements that may be offensive to some readers. 

518829293_7bfc6bdc34_oThe day after New Year’s I stepped onto a smelly bus with the kid in a pillow case and slung over my shoulder like a hobo pack. I had carefully cut holes in the pillow case so that the baby could breathe when I walked around with him. I found a seat near the back and set Maine down on the cold vinyl beside me. He started to cry and some blue-haired, old salty sea hag across the aisle gave me a dirty look.

“That’s no way to carry around a baby,” she scowled with a hoarse voice, her cigarette wrinkles squishing together as her jaw moved. “You should be arrested for that. Hell, if I was a cop I’d smash you over the head with a club right now.”

I turned to look at her as I dug around in my backpack for a baby bottle full of root beer.

“If it’s all the same to you mam, I’d appreciate it if you would just mind your own damn business!” I snapped. “I’ve got enough problems dealing with this kid dumped on me by some orgy queen. I’m doing the best I can and plan to remedy the situation today. That’s for sure. So, if you don’t mind … he’s hungry now.”

I turned away and proceeded to stick the rubbery nipple of the baby bottle into Maine’s mouth. Even though it was bubbly root beer, he sucked at it eagerly like it was his own momma’s milky teat.

The old sea hag’s mouth dropped open and when I glanced back in her direction, I noticed she had dirty teeth and a cracked tongue the color of old, moldy bacon.

“What on earth are you feeding that poor child? Is that … it looks like soda pop!”

“Yes mam, It is soda pop. Elf brand root beer to be exact.”

“Are you stupid or something? Do you want his stomach to explode!?”

“Actually mam, I don’t think I’d mind too much if his stomach exploded right about now. I’m tired of this shit.”

The old sea hag leaned further across the aisle and her breath smelled like deli salami as she spoke in an aggravated tone.

“Young man,” she began. “I strongly suggest that once you get to wherever you’re going that you take this child to the nearest hospital before you end up killing him. You’re lucky I don’t go up there right now and have the driver kick you off.”

Too exhausted to fight, I pleaded with her.

“Please, mam, don’t do that. I’ve never spent much time around babies and I don’t always know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m heading to my mom’s and dad’s right now and they’ll know. They’ll know what to do.”

The old hag sighed heavily and her salami breath spewed out like dragon fire and it nearly made me puke. She looked at me with lost, ebony eyes – shaking a crinkly, yellowed finger.

“All right. But you give your word that you give this child over to someone who can handle him properly … and if I find out you ain’t did it, well, I’m a witness and I’ll tell the police all about it when they show your picture in the newspaper or on the television. I’ll come forward for sure. Don’t you think I won’t.”

Maine began to choke a bit and I pulled the bottle from his little mouth with a nearly inaudible pop. I set him up on my shoulder and gently patted his back. When the baby belched, the old sea hag rolled her eyes and returned to the proper bus-riding position in her own seat.

“Soda pop for a baby,” she mumbled under her breath as she snapped open a magazine. “Geez, now I’ve seen it all.”

I grew sleepy and my head bobbed as the bus rolled down some pastoral highway in the Upstate heading for a fancy little town called Burgundy Falls. I began to wonder what my old ma and pa would do when I showed up at the house carrying a bastard baby in a pillowcase. They would most likely have me committed. Why not? They had the money. Wouldn’t bother them a bit to lock me up and throw away the key. I figured that would be right satisfactory to them. They’d be happy if I rotted. The thought of it all ruined my appetite for sweet home cooking and made my stomach hurt. No, this burden in the bag had caused me nothing but trouble ever since ol’ slutty Helen Corvair had decided to run off for breakfast and not come back. My nervous and immune systems were shot. I had bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. I thought I might be coming down with a bad case of schizophrenia and a cold. I even had to quit my job as a toy clerk at the five-story department store because they wouldn’t let me bring the kid to work with me. They said my employee locker was no place to keep a baby while I performed my job duties. Pfffft to that. Damn you beautiful Helen Corvair. Damn you and all your luscious intoxication to hell. 

The nerves really began to jingle like sleigh bells and it felt like reindeer were tugging on my balls when the bus pulled into the station at Burgundy Falls. I sat there for a long time watching the other passengers gather their things and get off. The old salty sea hag who bitched at me turned out to be quite stout and I watched as she struggled to get out of her seat. Once she was out and up she bumped her fat rear right into me as she gathered her things. It was obnoxious and horrible and I wanted to scream. She turned to me one last time and growled to me in a voice most likely being violently raped by throat cancer.

“Now don’t you forget what I said. You take care of that baby first thing or I’ll be sure they hang you by the nuts.”

“Thanks. Have a fine day,” I called after her as she waddled down the aisle bumping her big rump against all the seats.

When I was the last one left, I remained in my seat, frightened and unsure, until the driver finally came down the aisle and looked at me like I was stupid.

“This is Burgundy Falls,” he said. “Isn’t this your stop, sir?”

I looked up at him and wanted to suddenly cry from all the pain of life that seemed to be eating me alive at that moment.

“I guess it is. Sorry.”

I gathered up Maine and my things and got off the bus. I ordered up a cab to take me to the house. When we got there, I ordered him to park a ways down the street because I was scared. I looked at the old place from a distance as the grimy cabbie reminded me the meter was still running.

“I don’t care,” I said. “Just a few minutes.”

It was a fine old house. Probably the best fine old house in the best neighborhood of Burgundy Falls. It was painted a cool baby blue color and had sparkling white trim all around. There was a big, wooden-planked porch that jutted out from a wide, white door like a pier and it spread and wrapped around the whole of the front and side parts of the house. The long, wooden porch swing sat idle in the cold. My mother usually had hanging pots full of stinky red geraniums and multicolored marigolds all over the place but they were now put away for the winter. The upper part of the house was supported by slick wooden columns that looked like uncurled elephant tusks and there were a lot of shiny windows, each with curtains perfectly parted at equal distance. Finely-manicured shrubbery still strung with Christmas lights lined the front of the house, and there was a large yard all around dotted with beautiful tall trees and covered in a thin veil of undisturbed snow.

“Go on now cabbie,” I said. “You can pull up.”

As he steered the car into the circular drive, I saw my mother busily cleaning the inside of the big parlor window right there at the front. She energetically wiped in wide circles making sure there wasn’t a single streak or smudge anywhere. Then I noticed her motions slowed and then stopped completely when she was aware of the taxi being there. I watched with bubbling fear as she rubbed her hands on the cleaning cloth and looked out the obnoxiously clean window with curiosity. She suddenly turned away and I knew she was moving rapidly toward the front door.

_

“Everett? Everett? What are you doing here?” my mother said in a frantic panic after yanking the door wide open. “Everett, are you all right? What is it you have moving around in that pillowcase?”

“It’s a baby, mom.”

“A baby!?” she wailed, and she nearly fainted.

I held the pillowcase open and she peered in. Her eyes grew wide and her painted mouth popped open. I backed away in case she slapped me.

“My God, Everett! What on Earth are you doing with a baby!? Edward! Edward get out here! Your crazy son has a baby in a pillowcase! Give me that poor thing.”

She reached in, pulled out Maine and looked him over.

“Everett, this baby doesn’t look well. Come inside right now and explain yourself.”

It was then my father appeared in the doorway grumbling and growling and scratching at his balls.

“What the hell is all this yelling about!? Oh, hello Everett.”

“Come on, inside, both of you. I don’t want the neighbors to hear all this fuss,” my mother ordered.

“Where the hell did that baby come from?” my dad asked as he closed the door. “Did you knock some poor girl up, huh Everett?” and then he slapped at my head as we walked through the house.

“Would you both just settle down and let me explain!?” I pleaded. “Jesus H. Christ!”

“Oh, you’ve got some explaining to do that’s for damn sure,” my father said. “Now just what the hell is this all about?”

We went into the parlor and sat down on fine furniture around a fine coffee table and I looked out a finely cleaned window wishing everything at that moment would just end up being a bad dream. But it wasn’t. It was real and it was horrible.

“Everett?” my mother asked with disturbed suspicion. “Did you kidnap this child?”

My dad snorted, “Well, that’s a fine thing to add to your already sparkling resume – kidnapper.”

Frustrated, I stood up and threw my hands in the air.

“I didn’t kidnap the kid! Some girl I met … she walked out and left him. She never came back.”

“I knew you were running with a bad crowd … I think you should move out of the city and come back home for a while so I can keep an eye on you.”

“No mom …”

My father interrupted, “Hell son, why didn’t you just call the police? Any normal idiot would have done that.”

“I thought she would come back … I didn’t want to get her in trouble.”

“Trouble?” my mother said, putting a hand to her face and shaking her head. “Everett, look at the trouble she’s caused you. Can’t you see how ridiculous all this is? You’re not fit to care for a child like this. Oh goodness.”

I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed.

“I didn’t know what else to do. That’s why I came here. I’m sorry. I was hoping you could help me.”

My ma and pa looked at each other with troubled faces and then glanced back at me. My father suddenly stood up and poured himself a Scotch. He looked inside the glass and swirled the liquid around slowly as he thought. He took a big gulp and smacked his mouth.

“Well, I’m going to call the sheriff’s office and see what they can do about this,” he said. “This is downright asinine, Everett. I just don’t understand what gets in your head sometimes. This no way to live your life. You’re reckless and ignorant and at times I’m downright embarrassed to have you as a son.”

“Edward, please. The boy has feelings you know,” my mother said in my defense.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass about his feelings. It’s time he grow up, wise up and make something of his life.”

He poured himself another drink and swallowed it hard. I noticed he was slightly shaking.

“Where did you meet this hussy anyways?” he asked me.

“Outside a coffee shop in the city. There was a fight on the sidewalk and we just got to talking. Her name is Helen and she looks like Simka Gravas.”

“Who?” my dad barked.

“Latka’s wife from that TV show TAXI.”

“Oh for crying out loud, Everett! When are you going to start living in the real world!?”

My father slammed another two fingers of Scotch and went for the phone.

My mother stopped him, “Wait. Maybe Everett can track her down. Find her. I can watch the baby until then.”

“Oh hell no!” my father bellowed as he turned. “I know what you’re up to lady. I know how you’re always nagging about having another baby, and then here comes Everett out of the clouds holding one and he plops it right into your lap. No mam, we’re not taking on someone else’s baby. No way. I won’t have it. Not in my house.”

“Edward, don’t you think we should at least try to help our son? This is too much for him to handle alone.”

My father looked at me like he wanted to drag me out back, kill me and leave me to rot in the woods.

“I already tried to find her,” I said. “She just vanished. She could be in California for all I know.”

“Well, what about the dad? Where the hell is he in all this mess?” my father asked.

“There is no dad,” I replied.

“There’s always a dad,” my mother pointed out as she held the baby up and smiled. “Does the baby have a name?”

“Maine.”

“Like the state?”

“Yes.”

“That’s nice,” my mother said.

“She probably screwed a sailor before he went off to England,” my father groaned.

The doorbell rang and I craned my neck to look out the window and I saw Frost’s BMW in the drive.

“Oh sugar!” my mother said, “I forgot all about Emily coming for a visit. I swear, Everett, you have the worst timing when it comes to your problems.”

She got up, cradling Maine, and touched at her hair with one hand to set it in proper place before going out of the room. My father set down his drinking glass and disappeared.

I stood back in the shadows biting my nails as my mother opened the door. Emily and Frost began to step in and then suddenly stopped when they saw her holding the baby.

“Mom?” Emily asked, her face scrunched in confusion. “Are you babysitting for someone? Who’s kid?”

“We’ll talk about it, dear. Please come in. Hello there Frost.”

Frost leaned in and gave her a fake kiss on the cheek.

“Hello, Evelyn. Oh, hello Everett,” he said as he shed his coat and placed it over one arm. “It’s a surprise seeing you here. Are you planning to stay for the weekend as well?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and I moved forward to shake his hand. Then I looked over at my sister; she acted uncomfortable and brushed wispy hairs out of her face.

“Hello Emily,” I said, and I awkwardly hugged her and she quickly pulled away.

“Hello Everett. It is quite a surprise to see you here. If we knew you were coming … you could have ridden with us, but I guess neither of us knew.”

“No.”

“So,” Frost broke in, “Where’s Edward? I brought him a bottle of some fine brandy.”

“I think he went off to his study,” my mother said. “Why don’t you go and say hello? I’d like to speak with Emily in private. Everett, go wash yourself up, you look like you could use a long, hot shower and … I think it would be best if you stayed the night. You can sleep in your old room. There’s some clean linens in the closet upstairs. Well, you know where it all is. Go on now.”

_

Evelyn led Emily to the parlor and closed the door behind them. Maine began to fuss a bit.

“Mother?” Emily said, “What’s going on? Who’s baby is this?”

“Oh, my dear daughter. I think your brother has gone totally mad. He just showed up at the house today with this baby in a pillowcase. He says it belongs to some tramp he met in the city and she up and left. Just took off is what he said. I just don’t know what to do about him anymore. I’m just sick about it. But just look at this child. This poor, innocent child stuck in the middle of all this. Isn’t he just beautiful?”

Emily placed her hands together as if to pray and put the tips of her fingers to her full lips and sighed before she spoke.

“Mother, I have great concern for Everett. I don’t think he’s well, I mean, mentally.”

The clock on the mantle above the unlit fireplace chimed 4 times before Evelyn spoke again.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Did something happen to him in the city?”

“Everett came to our place, it was back before Christmas. He said you had visited him that same day and he started talking very strangely to me about when we were young and living here in the house. He seemed very confused and troubled … and when we were alone … he kissed me.”

“What’s wrong with a brother kissing his own sister?” Evelyn asked, her eyes beginning to quake with nervous twitches behind her glasses.

“It wasn’t that kind of a kiss, mom,” Emily whispered. “He kissed me on the mouth. Like a lover. He forced it on me.”

Evelyn leaned back in her chair, coughed and adjusted her glasses.

“My God,” she moaned. “Why would he do that? What on earth would possess him to do that?”

“I think he needs a doctor. A good doctor. A psychiatrist. He may even need to go to a place that specializes in his odd behavior. I know some people who may be able to help.”

My mother bit at her finger and then held her forehead in her hand.

“This is all too much,” she moaned. “Are you all right? He didn’t hurt you did he?”

“No. He didn’t hurt me at all. I was just shocked … but what about this baby? This definitely proves there is something seriously wrong with him.”

“It’s very odd indeed. I think the child is sickly and I’m not surprised. That fool boy knows nothing about taking care of a baby. And that girl who dumped him, I can just imagine what a piece of work she is. I just don’t understand why Everett can’t find a nice girl. He’s not a bad looking young man, he’s just …”

Emily finished her mother’s sentence, “Awkward and socially inept.”

“Why don’t you help him out and introduce him to some of your friends? You know plenty of well-educated people. Good, decent people too. He needs to be kept away from common street trash – like this poor child’s mother.”

“I would, mother, but I don’t think Frost would have it. You know how particular he is about everything?”

“Yes, I suppose he is. But I do like him. He’s a fine young man, and your father is more than fond of him.”

“I find it strange that daddy takes him on like that and then treats Everett like he’s not even his son.”

“Well, your father has always been drawn to successful people. I’m afraid Everett has greatly disappointed him.”

“That’s sad,” Emily said. “It shouldn’t be like that. You should love and support your kids no matter who they are and what they do. That’s the way I want to be.”

“You’ll be a fine mother some day,” Evelyn assured her daughter, and she looked down at the baby as he slept and smiled.

“I’m going to convince your father to let me keep him here – just for a day or two until we can figure this all out,” she said. “In the meantime, I want us to have a nice family gathering this weekend. Cozy and warm and perfect. Will you help me with dinner?”

“Of course,” Emily said, and she stood up and went to look at the baby. “He is pretty adorable.”

There was a knock and Edward drunkenly grumbled through the door.

“So what’s the story Evelyn? Are we gonna get a move on this or not? And what about supper? Frost and I are getting hungry.”

“Oh just come in,” Evelyn snapped.

Edward and Frost entered the room and looked at the two women hovering over the baby.

“I told Frost here all about what’s going on and as usual he agreed to help in any way he can.”

Evelyn looked up at him and smiled. “Thank you, Frost.”

“Of course,” he said with snippish arrogance. “You’re all like family to me. I’ll do whatever’s necessary,” and he clapped his hand on top of Edward’s shoulder.

“Well, then would you mind much taking Everett into town for some baby supplies?” my mother asked. “I need diapers, formula and maybe a change of clothes. This poor child barely has anything.”

“Now hold on Evelyn,” Edward stepped in and said. “Just what are you planning? I told you I was going to phone the sheriff.”

“Please Edward, don’t do that. They’ll just take him away to some horrible place and … I just won’t stand for that,” she pleaded. “I want him to stay here, just for a night or two until we figure this out. It’s getting late, and look, it’s beginning to snow. I’ll do all the work and you won’t have to lift a finger. I promise.”

“But the child isn’t our responsibility. He doesn’t belong to us, Evelyn. Can’t you get that through your head?”

“It doesn’t matter that he’s not one of us. It’s the Christian thing to do, Edward. And it is our responsibility, now, at this moment, no matter where he came from or why, the fact of the matter is that he did and he is here now and I will care for him because no one else seems to want to.”

He looked at her and ran his large hand down his clean-shaven face and sighed a drunken sigh.

“All right,” he grudgingly agreed. “But just a night or two. If there’s no resolution to this problem after that, I’m calling the sheriff straight off. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” my mother sheepishly replied.

“Good. And I don’t want that kid making a lot of racket. You know I like my peace and quiet.”

“Yes dear. He’ll be no bother to you. Thank you.”

_

Frost’s silver-blue BMW was warm, polished and plush. I watched with interest as his hand, clad in a fine leather glove, effortlessly shifted the gears as he drove.

“This is a nice car,” I said to him.

“Of course it is,” he snobbishly replied.

“Do you think you could let me drive it?”

“No way.”

I reached for the stereo controls on the dash.

“Don’t touch that!” he snapped. “Just sit still.”

I quickly pulled my hand away and looked out the window.

“The snow is really starting to spit,” I said.

“Yes. I just hope some country idiot doesn’t slide into me. This car was expensive. You know how much I paid for this car?”

“How much?”

“Sixty-nine thousand. Cash.”

“Wow. That’s a lot of money.”

“Well, Everett, that’s because I have a lot of money and in turn I only go for the finer things in this life. Take your sister for example … a real, real fine girl for sure. Comes from a real fine family, well, you being the exception of course.”

“Why do you always have to make me out to be some lesser of a person? … I don’t like how you always put me down.”

“Because I don’t take too kindly to your poor influence on my girlfriend … and I especially don’t take too kindly to you kissing her the way you did!”

“What’s wrong with me kissing my own sister?”

“Jesus Everett, you stuck your tongue in her mouth! That’s not how you kiss your sister. What the hell is wrong with you!?”

“So, she told you all about it then, huh?”

“Yes. All the disgusting details included.”

I grinned about that and looked out the windshield.

“Did she happen to tell you all about how she used to try to make it with me when we were younger?” I asked nasty Frost. “How she was a dirty little molester. Did she?”

“What the hell are you talking about, Everett? I don’t think you should say things like that.”

“Oh, so I guess your sweet lover forgot to tell you all about her little kissy sex games and the bathtub rub and tugs, huh?”

“You’re sick. Don’t ever talk about her that way again or I swear to God I’ll hurt you. I’ll hurt you bad.”

“Did she leave out the parts about how she used to sneak into my room at night and crawl into my bed and put her hand down my pajamas? I suppose she also failed to mention how she used to show me her bare ass and ask me to spank it.”

“Don’t test me or you’ll regret it.”

“Did she really fail to divulge all her dirty little girl secrets to you, Frost?  I thought you two were really close. I thought you were planning on getting married and spending the rest of your perfect lives together. And as far as that kiss goes, did she tell you how badly she wanted it?”

“Shut up, Everett, or I swear to God I’ll stop this car and knock your teeth down your damn throat!”

“Then why don’t you ask her about it then? See what she has to say about it all. If she’s the sweet sweetie you really believe her to be, then she’ll tell the truth.”

“Maybe I will … but I know you’re just full of shit and you’ll always be full of shit. It’s no secret that I don’t like you, Everett, and no matter how hard I try, I know I’ll never like you. I just pretend for the sake of your family because you’re so pathetic.”

“Thanks. And while you’re at it, Frost, you may want to think about how faithful your sweet, sweet Emily really is.”

“She’s never cheated on me. She never would. She loves me. Who wouldn’t? I’m nearly perfect and I have a lot of money.”

“Nobody’s that perfect and money is shit … But, Emily is a very lovely and outgoing girl. She’s very sexy and somewhat promiscuous. Tell me, does she have a lot of guy friends?”

“She has a lot of friends. Guys and girls. So what? So do I.”

“I’m just saying. She may not completely be the person she seems to be. None of us are. If I were you, I’d maybe just watch her a little closer.”

“I can’t believe you’re talking about your own sister this way. You’re crazy.”

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”

“I’m tired of your head games, Everett, and I’m not going to listen to any of this anymore,” Frost said, and he reached for the stereo and turned up the noise just as he steered the car into the entrance of the local shopping center and slammed on the brakes.

“Here,” he said, and he thrust some cash in my direction. “Take this money and get what your mom needs for that dirty baby you brought home. Geez, in a pillowcase no less. What a fuck up you are. Do you understand what to get?”

I took the money and said, “Yes.”

“Get me some cigarettes too, two packs. Kent Kings, got it? Kent Kings.”

“Yes.”

“And don’t take all day. This snow is really beginning to pick up.”

_

My mother and Emily prepared luscious steaming Swedish meatballs, buttery noodles, cauliflower, fruity gelatin, rolls and green bean casserole for dinner. We all sat around the big table slurping and munching away and not really saying much at all to each other. My mother sat at one end, eating with one hand while holding Maine; my father sat at the opposite end, filling his face with food and washing it down with a bottled beer of some foreign origin as his eyes rolled around all over us. I sat on one side, all alone – with fancy plate and tall glass of milk – while Emily and Frost sat directly across from me – grossly playing footsies under the table and giggling quietly to each other while filling each other’s mouths with meatballs using shiny, pointy forks. I attentively watched, grossly stared I guess, as my beautiful sister playfully ran her tongue all over one of the meatballs as Frost held it in front of her face.

“Do you two have to do that at the dinner table?” I said.

Frost turned to look at me.

“What did you say?”

“I asked why you two have to do that at the dinner table. It’s revolting. Can’t you save your animalistic lust for the bedroom tonight?”

Frost grinned and shook his head. He then pierced a drippy Swedish meatball with his fork and flung it across the table at me. The meatball hit me square between the eyes with a mushy “thwup,” rolled perfectly down my nose, dropped off the tip and plopped right into my plate.

“Ugh,” I went.

Frost burst out laughing.

“That’ll teach you to talk at the table, Everett! Oh, by the way, you got a little something there on your face.”

I brought my cloth napkin to my face and wiped away the meatball residue. I looked over at my sister and she was trying not to laugh but I knew she wanted to. I knew she wanted to just let it roll like a maniac – just like she did when she was a kid. Then I looked over at my father and he was chuckling away while he looked at me, shaking his head in pure disgust and enjoyment at the same time.

“That was a good one, Frost. Nearly a hole in one!” my dad blurted out. “Careful though, little Everett here might start to cry.”

“Oh Edward,” my mother broke in. “Don’t make fun of your own son.”

“Why? That was funny as hell!” and he tapped his beer bottle to Frost’s with a clink and they both laughed some more.

“And really Frost, I thought you were a bit more civilized than that. We don’t throw food at the table. Not in this house,” my mother scolded.

“Sorry about that Evelyn, just a momentary lapse of reason. It won’t happen again,” Frost said, and then he looked at Emily and they laughed at me together and then kissed.

I stood up fast and my chair fell back onto the floor. I picked up the entire bowl of steamy Swedish meatballs and threw it against the wall right behind Frost’s and Emily’s heads. It smashed and the meatballs and juicy sauce went everywhere, even in Frost’s perfect hair and all over his clothes.

“You son of a bitch!” Frost screamed. “You got it all over my hair!”

“Everett!” my mother screamed. “Look what you’ve done. Oh no! My wall! My carpet! My bowl!”

The baby started wailing from all the fuss and my father got up and slammed his napkin on the table.

“I told you to keep that kid quiet!” he yelled at my mother. “Shut that baby up or I’ll set him out on the curb, I swear!”

My mother began to cry and she got up and dashed away, clutching the baby in her arms.

“Why do you have to be such a beast!?” she yelled at him on the way out.

“Now look what you’ve done, Everett!” my father yelled. “You got your mom all upset. Clean up this mess before I knock your lights out. Come on Frost, let’s go upstairs and see if we can find you a clean shirt to wear.”

“You better hope this washes out,” Frost snapped at me as he followed my father out of the dining room. “This is a very expensive sweater, and one of my favorites too, you twit.”

I stood there and Emily looked at me with sympathy in her burning eyes, but a lighthearted smile on her face.

“I’ll help you clean it up,” she muttered.

_

Frost followed Edward upstairs and into the master bedroom. The door quietly closed behind them.

“Go ahead and take that off,” Edward ordered Frost. “I’ll have Evelyn take a look at it. I’m sure she can clean it up. She’s good at things like that, like a woman should be.”

Frost pulled the sweater off and dropped it on the floor. He was wearing a white tee underneath and Edward suddenly admired how the shirt stuck snugly to his muscular frame as he stood there next to the bed.

“I never realized how muscular you were,” Edward said. “That’s impressive.”

Without really thinking, Edward reached out, grasped a bicep and squeezed with his fingers.

“Do you like muscles, Mr. Law?”

Edward looked Frost up and down slowly, examining every inch of him.

“Yes,” he answered, his voice soft and stammering.

“I like to work out,” Frost boasted, and he began to pose, flexing more of his muscles. “You know, keep my body in shape. It’s important to me.”

“I suppose Emily appreciates that,” Edward replied with a nervous laugh.

“I like to think so,” Frost said. “But some times I wish she was a little more … affectionate, if you know what I mean.”

“Well, I suppose we all wish our women were a bit more affectionate, as you put it … now, let me see if I can find something that will fit that body of yours.”

Frost followed Edward into the large walk-in closet and watched him intently as he browsed through his large collection of heavy shirts.

“You have an amazing closet, Edward. There’s so much storage capacity. I love the wood accents, too. And it smells nice in here.”

“Yes, Evelyn puts these scented pieces of wood in all the drawers – makes everything smell clean, sanitized almost.”

Frost sniffed the air close to Edward.

“You smell nice too, Mr. Law. What kind of aftershave is that?”

“Oh hell, I don’t know. It’s some blue stuff, comes in a bottle. Evelyn buys it for me.”

Frost suddenly reached out and touched the back of his hand against Edward’s face.

“You always manage to get such a close shave,” Frost said as he continued to feel the older man’s skin. “How do you do that?”

Edward backed off and Frost’s hand slipped away and dangled in the air.

“A good razor,” Edward pointed out with another nervous laugh. “A man’s got to have a good razor.”

Frost felt his own face and pondered.

“Hmm, I’ll have to look into getting a better razor I suppose. Perhaps my personal life stylist can suggest something.”

“I’m sure she can,” Edward replied.

“She’s a he,” Frost said.

“Well … here, try this one,” Edward said, and he handed Frost a Navy blue, long-sleeved V-neck shirt.

“Great! But do you suppose I could take a shower first? That little shit got food all in my hair.”

“Ah, yes, of course. You can use ours. It’s the best in the house. It has a really powerful spray and there’s plenty of room to move around. Hell, two people can fit in that shower at the same time.”

Frost swallowed and then hesitated to say something.

“All right then, thank you,” Frost said, and he smiled at Edward and walked toward the bathroom, first making sure his hand accidentally grazed against Edward’s stomach, just above the waistline, as he turned away.

Edward began to pant as he stood near the master bath and listened intently as the water came on. He pressed his sweaty head against the door and clawed at it a little bit with his fingers as he heard the mighty flow cascade all over and down Frost’s nude body. He inhaled deeply, trying to snuff in the scent of soap on skin mixed with hot steam. He clamped his eyes shut and bit at his mouth as he fathomed the idea of going in. He tried to push down on the door handle but it wouldn’t move. It was locked. Edward moaned inside at his bad luck and walked over to the edge of the bed and sat down. He wiped the sweat from his brow and adjusted himself through his pants with a shudder. He glanced over at the nightstand and saw the framed portrait photograph he and his wife had taken on their 30th wedding anniversary. He picked it up and looked it over. It all seemed so fake to him as he studied the pressured smiles. She looked gross to him with her uptight hairdo and overdone face – she wore too much lipstick and there were traces of it on her teeth that missed the touch up stage and that made him gag – and her eyes, her eyes looked like cheating eyes and they were magnified by her thick glasses and that just made her look even more crazy and unloveable. He set the picture back down and glanced back at the bathroom door. The water was still running and Edward could only imagine … He turned away, held his face in his hands and began to softly cry.

_

Emily and I were kneeling on the floor together scrubbing at the stain I had created with my outburst. She suddenly stopped and looked right at me, her face but a few inches from my own.

“Why did you have to do that?” she asked. “You could have really hurt him with that bowl of Swedish meatballs.”

“I don’t like him. He’s always after me like that and it’s not fair. He’s no good and I think it’s time you realize that.”

“Everett, regardless if you like him or not, he’s going to be my husband some day. You just need to accept that.”

“I can’t and I won’t. Marry him if you like, but I’m against it. I don’t think it will work out and I think in the end you’ll realize what a phony he is.”

“Everett, you just don’t understand relationships. How could you? You’ve never been in one.”

“Yes I have.”

“Jenny?”

“Yes.”

“That was just puppy love, Everett. That doesn’t count. I’m talking about a real adult relationship.”

“Well, it should count. It counts to me.”

She sighed and went back to scrubbing. As she worked, I realized I could see down the front of her shirt. I watched as her breasts swayed with her movements. She suddenly realized what I was doing and stopped scrubbing. Emily looked right into my eyes.

“Stop that, Everett. That isn’t nice.”

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.”

“Why don’t you work on the wall and let me do this?”

I didn’t move.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked.

I reached out to touch her hair and she swatted my hand away.

“Everett!” she huffed.

I reached out to her again and placed my hand on her cheek and this time she did not rebuff me. I held it there for a moment so that I could feel her soft heat radiate through my own skin. I slowly brought my hand down and ran my thumb slowly across her bottom lip. It gently bounced back into place at the end of my swipe. I could sense she was trembling and unsure. Her bright eyes were locked on me, forcing my heart to beat out of control.

“You want to kiss me again, don’t you?” she asked in a breathy whisper.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then kiss me,” she said, and she closed her eyes and parted her mouth as she moved toward me.

And then, just as our lips were about to meet, our mother suddenly appeared in the room.

“Well, I finally got little Maine to settle down and go to sleep,” she said. “I hope this mess is getting cleaned up. Let me have a look. Oh no, that will never work! You’re just grinding the stain deeper into the carpet. Stop now. Stop now. Oh my, I’m going to have to call a professional cleaner first thing in the morning. Everett dear, why does madness have to follow you wherever you go?”

I got up off the floor and hung my head.

“I’m sorry, mother. I don’t know what got into me. I’ll pay for the cleaning.”

“Oh, never mind about the money. It’s your behavior I’m concerned about. Very concerned. Your sister and I have been discussing it and we think you need to see a doctor. A psychiatrist. Right away.”

“I don’t need a psychiatrist. I just need some love.”

My mother squirmed at that remark and made a noise of discount.

“We all love you Everett, we do. But sometimes it takes more than love to get by in this world. Yes. I’m talking about a good head on your shoulder and some cash in your pocket. And I’m afraid you are devoid of both of those qualities, Everett.”

“Qualities?”

“I want you to seriously think about moving back home and getting on with your studies. There’s a fine state school not far, it’s no university, but I think you could get on there.”

“I don’t want to come back home and I don’t want to go back to school.”

My mother glared at me.

“Everett, I don’t think you are in decent frame of mind to make those decisions for yourself. I won’t have it. I’m afraid if you don’t do it … well, you’ll leave us no choice but to cut you off from the money.”

“I don’t care about your damn money!” I snapped.

“Well, you’ll care when it comes time to pay the rent and buy yourself food and pay for all the things you want … oh, and of course, to pay for your dope.”

I looked at her uncomfortably.

“Oh, don’t take me for a fool, Everett. I may be an old hag to you but I know what grass smells like. And you must have been smoking a whole barrel of grass that day I came to visit you in the city.”

“That’s my own personal business and if I want to do it, I’ll do it!” I yelled.

“Go ahead,” my mother snapped. “Be a doped up bum your whole life. But I refuse to support your awful lifestyle one more minute. As far as I’m concerned, you’re on your own. I think it would be best if you left first thing in the morning … and the baby is staying here until we make suitable arrangements. Is that understood?”

I looked at my sour mother without saying another word and went straight up to my room. I slammed the door and flopped onto the bed and then I began to cry in the darkness.

“Oh Jenny. Why did you have to die, Jenny? We’d be together right now at this very minute if you hadn’t of died and I’d be away from these fools and all their bullshit.”

I wiped at my eyes with my arm and hauled myself up. I went to the window and looked out. I saw the old familiar street lamp and the falling snow was illuminated in its glow. Everything was white and still and I thought back to that summer right after Jenny was killed in that car wreck and how I spent countless hours looking out that very same window, but everything was green and lush then and the window was open and flies buzzed against the screen and the air smelled heavy and sweet and all the neighborhood kids were out running around, making noise and drinking frosty lemonade with circus clown straws. And there I was again, on the inside looking out and all the people around me stomping on me like a piece of trash. I just decided I wasn’t going to have it anymore and that I’d gladly head out at the first sign of daylight and even if I had to walk the whole way back to the city I’d do it. The hell with them, I thought. I knew I was no longer cared for and wanted … and so be it then. I wasn’t going to take it anymore and that sudden sense of freedom mixed with anger made my guts tingle and for the first time in a long time I actually looked forward to my future and going about things in my very own way without any interference from so-called family. I was going to make my own way now and I knew it would be good.

I turned my head and wondered when someone came knocking on my door.

_

Edward and Frost sat across from each other in two fine chairs set at angles to the fireplace. They sipped at their snifters of brandy and watched the fire hustle and glow.

“This is a fine concoction,” Edward finally said. “You’ve chosen well,” and he raised his glass in Frost’s direction.

“Thank you. I was hoping you’d like it.”

“What’s not to like,” Edward boasted, and he took another big gulp. “So, how was your shower?”

“It was excellent. A fine, powerful spray just like you said.”

“Good. Was the water hot enough?”

“A very good steam.”

“And the soap? It’s imported from England.”

“It had a good lather. Smells nice, too. Like flowers in the countryside.”

“Excellent. I see the shirt fits you just fine.”

“It does. Very comfortable.”

“I must say, it does accentuate your muscles nicely.”

Frost looked down at his arms and flexed his biceps.

“I suppose it does.”

“You know, I’d really like to see what you’re packing underneath there.”

“Excuse me? Sir?”

“Under the shirt,” Edward clarified. “I’d like to check out your abs. I mean, I could stand to get in shape myself … maybe you could give me some pointers.”

Frost got up and without hesitation peeled the shirt from his body and then the tee beneath it until he was standing bare skinned before Edward.

Edward studied Frost’s youthful, taut upper body with interest as he slowly sipped on the brandy.

“Just as I expected,” Edward finally said as he set down his snifter on a nearby table and got up. “Your abs are fabulous.”

“You really think so?” Frost asked, digging for more compliments.

“You should be a model,” Edward said as he walked in circles around Frost.

“I thought about it. A lot of other people have told me the same thing. I could probably pull it off quite easily and be very successful.”

“You know,” Edward began, putting a finger to his lips. “I’m curious. If this part of your body is that magnificent. I wonder about the rest of you?”

“Mr. Law?”

“Why don’t you take off your pants.”

“My pants? I don’t know. That seems kind of weird.”

“It’s not weird at all, Frost. Purely for educational purposes. We’re both grown men. It’s perfectly normal.”

Frost undid his pants and let them drop to the floor before stepping out of them. Edward immediately noticed an undeniable swelling in the front of Frost’s underwear.

“Amazing,” Edward noted as he returned to his chair. “I envy your youthful perfection … and, I must admit, I envy my daughter.”

“Now what?” Frost asked.

“Go ahead, sit back down,” Edward instructed. “Enjoy the brandy. Enjoy the fire. Enjoy the night.”

Frost reached down to pick up his clothes.

“No,” Edward sternly said. “Leave the clothes there. Just sit.”

“But I’m cold,” Frost whined.

“Sit by the fire like I said and you’ll warm up.”

“Wait a minute. This doesn’t seem very fair. Why do you get to keep your clothes on?”

“Would you rather I take mine off?”

“It only seems right.”

“All right then,” Edward said, and he stood up and began to undress with little hesitation.

At 53 years of age, Edward Law’s body had seen better days. He was not fat, but his belly lacked the firm smoothness that young Frost was blessed with and jutted out a bit over his waist. His entire upper body was covered with curling grayish white hairs and that made him look apish. His chest did not stand out over his stomach, but instead was caved in and his pecs were like two big bowls of chilled pudding that slightly jiggled as he moved. Frost watched with dismal wonder as Edward shed his pants to reveal a pair of bony, pale legs leading up to a pair of white boxer shorts and a little pointy stick pushing out the fabric at the front.

“There,” Edward exclaimed. “Now we’re even.”

They both sat down in their respective chairs and stared at the fire.

“I feel strange about this,” Frost said. “It seems creepy.”

“What’s creepy about it?”

“I mean, don’t you feel kind of weird sitting here in your underwear with another guy?”

“It’s not like we’re completely naked … unless you’d be more comfortable that way?”

“Jesus, no! That would be worse.”

“If you want to put your clothes back on, go ahead. It makes no difference to me.”

“I think I would.”

“I’m disappointed nonetheless,” Edward sighed. “But if it’s what you want.”

“It’s just … what if someone comes in?”

“The door is locked. I always lock it when I come in here. No one will disturb us.”

Frost killed the brandy in his glass and looked around the room.

“What’s the matter? You seem so tense,” Edward said.

“Maybe I should go see what Emily’s doing.”

“Don’t worry about her. She’s fine. But I want to talk to you about something.”

“What’s that?”

“When we were upstairs and you touched me on the face. It just made me wonder if maybe, just maybe, you were interested in me … I mean, sexually.”

“I just wanted to touch your whiskers … No sir, I’m not interested in you … sexually. I’m afraid you’re mistaken.”

“But I have no whiskers as you clearly pointed out … And I don’t believe I’m mistaken about your intentions. Am I? Because I noticed just a while ago you seemed to have a very intense erection.”

“Did I sir?”

“From where I could tell, yes. A quite powerful and big erection I must say.”

“My apologies sir. I didn’t realize it.”

“No apologies necessary. I took it as a compliment.”

Edward laughed out loud at his own remark.

“If it’s all the same to you sir, I’d really like to go check on Emily. I’m a bit tired. I think we may want to go to bed soon.”

“That’s fine, fine, fine. But just do me one little favor before you turn in.”

“What’s that?”

“I want to see it.”

“Sir?”

“Your John Thomas … show it to me.”

“My genitals, sir?”

“Yes. Your damn genitals. I want to see what kind of brutal bedroom thrashing my daughter is in store for.”

Frost pulled down his underwear and stood stone still. Edward stared at the thing dangling between his legs for a long time as the fire crackled and the booze began to wear on him.

“You seem to have lost your vigor,” Edward pointed out.

Frost looked down at himself.

“It’s revolting. It looks like something hanging in a butcher’s shop window. Please put it away,” Edward ordered. “Get dressed and don’t tell anyone about anything that happened tonight. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir. I do. All in the name of science and innocent curiosity, right?”

“Yes, that’s right, Frost. Now, please leave me in peace.”

_

I opened my bedroom door slowly and peered out. It was Emily in her nightgown.

“What do you want?” I whispered to her. “Have you come to laugh at me some more? Because if you have, I won’t stand for it.”

She pushed her way in through the door and closed it behind her.

“No, nothing like that,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I was able to say goodbye before you left. I have this strange feeling that I’ll never see you again.”

“Would it really matter that much? To you or to anybody?”

“Of course it would. Don’t be like that.”

“I don’t believe it. It seems to me you get a fine kick out of it when Frost and the others put me down. Well, you won’t be able to do much of that anymore so you might as well get your licks in now.”

I turned and went to the bed and sat on the edge of it.

“I don’t know what to say, Everett. You’re right. It was wrong to treat you that way.”

“It was, and I’m afraid no apology will make it any better. I’m going to have to make my own way now without any family to be a part of. If that’s the way you all want it, so be it. I’m done with this. And as far as me going to see some psychiatrist, forget it. If anything, you all need to go to group therapy and figure yourselves out.”

“But how will you get along. I mean, without their money to help you.”

“I’ve had a job before and I can get another one. I’d still be a damn fine toy clerk if it weren’t for that awful tramp and her bastard kid. See, I’m not falling for this anymore. Every time I start to depend on or believe in someone, they end up fucking me over. No more. From now on I’m going lone wolf. To hell with people.”

“You can’t completely isolate yourself from the world, Everett. It’s not healthy.”

“And this is!? Being around others has caused me nothing but grief. If I could live on an island all by myself, you bet I would.”

“I fear you’d die of loneliness,” Emily said, and she moved toward the bed and sat down right beside me.

“Better to die of loneliness than have the world pummel me with Swedish meatballs,” I replied.

She lightly laughed and held one of my hands between hers.

“I think I’ll miss you, as strange as that sounds.”

“Maybe I’ll miss you too.”

Emily reached up and played with my hair before she took my face in both of her hands and kissed me. She moaned in my mouth as she pressed her lips into me long and hard; when she finally came up for air she wiped at her wet mouth with her arm and looked at me seriously.

“Just imagine, Everett. You could have tasted that every day of your life when you were growing up. You really missed out. I hope you don’t ever make that mistake again.”

She abruptly stood up and walked toward the door.

“Emily?”

“Goodbye, Everett.”

_

The next morning I gathered my things and rushed downstairs to the sunny kitchen. I poured myself a glass of milk and ate a piece of stale cake. As I rinsed my dishes in the sink, I looked out the window and saw that my father was in the back yard chopping wood. I watched as he raised the ax high above his head and brought it down with tremendous force, splitting the logs. I hoisted my pack and went out the back door and walked through the fresh snow toward him. He stopped his work and turned to look at me.

“What are you doing out here this early?” he asked, propping an arm up on the handle of the ax and glaring at me.

“I’ve come to say goodbye. I’m going away now and I won’t be back.”

“I don’t believe that for a minute, Everett. You’ll be back soon enough when you need something … or have another baby to dump off.”

“I won’t. I swear it. I’m going to make my own way now and you won’t have me to knock around anymore.”

“Well, if that’s what you think, go ahead and do it. I really don’t care. You’ve never been much of a son to me and I for one will be happy to be rid of you. So, there you have it. Go on now, make your own way like you want to. Go on.”

I turned and walked away so he couldn’t see me start to cry. I went back into the house, locked the back door and went out the front where I waited at the end of the drive for my taxi to take me back to the bus station. I stood there near the hedge and looked up and down the street at the rows of perfect houses and wondered what the lives were like on the insides. Imperfect toil and agony, I imagined. I saw some kids outside a house across the street and they were putting the finishing touches on a grand snowman. I walked over and looked at it.

“Hey mister, how do you like our snowman?” one of the stupid kids asked me.

“It’s a fine snowman,” I said, looking down at him. “What’s his name?”

“Frosty!” the kids yelled in unison.

“That’s a terrible name,” I said, and then I placed my hand on the big, round head with the charcoal eyes and pushed it off the body. It fell apart when it hit the ground.

“Hey!” the kids screamed, and I lit up a cigarette, turned and walked back across the street just as my cab pulled up. The snowballs started flying as I positioned myself in the back seat and closed the door. The cabbie looked back at me with a sense of fear on his face.

“What is going on?” he asked in an odd accent.

“I just killed a snowman. Go ahead and drive before they take us both down.”

_

I eventually ended up working at a convenience store in sexy Tucson, Arizona selling cigarettes and watery beer to Mexicans. It wasn’t a great gig, but it paid the bills I had and afforded me some of the best dope I ever experienced. I got myself a small, studio apartment that was more like an old motel out on the dusty edge of town. It had a swimming pool and most of the neighbors were decent enough drifters who shared their mad tales of life with me while we sat around the community patio and grill getting drunk and stoned under the big, bright stars.

I wrote Emily one letter the whole time I had been gone and one day, near Christmas, I found a card from her in my mailbox. I went inside, sat down in my lone living room chair and opened it. An outdated wedding invitation slipped out and I just threw that on the floor and went over her words. She started off talking about hoping that I was doing well and that she missed me and that maybe someday her and her new husband, Frost, could pay a visit. I didn’t care for that part too much. She went on to say that mother had decided to keep baby Maine in secret and how that had been the last straw for my father and they split up. She said my dad moved way up north in Canada to work as a big shot for some international logging company. The business and the big old house were quickly sold and my mother moved to Schenectady to be near her sister, our Auntie Fern. She finished off with some crap about how my mother missed me and wished I would contact her along with a bunch of junk about how I should take care of myself and be good. She signed it, Love Emily, and below that were lip prints where she kissed the card.

I closed it up and carefully placed it back in the envelope and set it down on the table next to my chair. I got up, went into the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of whiskey off the counter and a cold beer out of the fridge. I went back into the living room, set down my booze and peered out the window as the sun began to drop from the desert sky and the roar of traffic stirred up the dust and tumbleweeds. I wished the hot hot city a fine goodnight and closed the curtains. I went back to my chair, got comfortable and opened the beer and drank some. I uncapped the whiskey bottle and drank some of that too. I lit up a cigarette and clicked on the TV. I really didn’t watch it, I just liked to hear the noise and the voices as I began to fade away. The room grew darker as time swirled and I suddenly felt very alone in the whole entire world and that sorta scared me and I was worried I was going to have some sort of a panic attack. I drank some more and looked around at my sparse life and wondered what it all meant … and even though the answer pained me deeply, knowing that all this too would someday end, I was finally content to be free.

The King of Genitalia Street

Author’s Note: Heads up. The following short story contains mature elements that may be offensive to some readers.

Everett Law lives in The City.  photo by @incrediblekulk

Everett Law lives in The City.
photo by @incrediblekulk

My name is Everett Law and people say I look like Jesus except that I sometimes wear wire-rimmed glasses and don’t particularly believe my salvation lies in a God gone awry. I work as a toy clerk at a five-story department store in a city that some people call New York. I just call it “The City.” I’m the product of a well-respected, yet cold and sterile family from Upstate and I have a snobbish younger sister named Emily who attends Columbia University and lives with a dude named Frost. I live in a posh apartment building overlooking Grundy Park only because my folks are good friends with the owner of the building and I get deeply discounted rent. The folks retch at the thought of me living in squalor, but I believe it’s not that they feel for me, it’s just they don’t want to be embarrassed.

Edward Law
photo by @incrediblekulk

My father, Edward, owns his own construction company and builds big, fancy homes in the Upstate for rich sophistos.  He has a penchant for wearing colorful pants that are way too tight and ugly sweaters with stretched out neck holes. On weekends, he ignores my overbearing and nagging mother completely and retires to his cozy study at the house and sips mass quantities of brandy while thinking of ways to make more money.  My mother, Evelyn, has never worked a day in her life and prides herself on having a clean house and taking care of the children, and though we are grown and gone, she coddles and berates us like younglings whenever she has the chance. Even now, in her early 50s, growing ever impatient for grandchildren, my mother keeps pestering my father to have another baby.

“No way,” he tells her. “You’re crazy. At your age it will just come out all messed up, and I don’t want to spend my remaining years dealing with that kind of wobbly-headed bullshit.”

I think she is a very unhappy wife and I suspect that she has had several unsuccessful and sad affairs with wealthy, married men over the years to fill the emotional gaps. I often wonder if Emily is really my full-blooded sister because she seems so different from the rest of us. She is beautiful, happy and full of life; successful in her art history studies at Columbia; an incessant social butterfly. I on the other hand, am an incessant social butternut squash, so I’ve actually been told.

Emily. photo by @incrediblekulk

Emily.
photo by @incrediblekulk

Emily rarely visits me even though it wouldn’t be hard for her to do since we both live in the city. I think she considers me to be a failure and a flea. I believe Frost encourages her to avoid me. He’s a real uppity prick who is also studying at Columbia to be some grand architect. My father gets along with his sickening facade swimmingly and is already prodding him to fill my sister’s womb with his fine seed in order to produce a gaggle of grandchildren with superb genes. I’m sure the wedding will be grand and expensive and maybe I will even be invited to be an usher or at least to pass out slimy snacks at the reception.

_

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Evelyn Law

So then it begins … It was a chilly and drizzly day when my mother came to visit. She brought me a pastrami sandwich from the deli around the corner and as I unwrapped it from the white paper and took a bite, she looked at me with grave concern.

“That’s right, eat the whole thing,” she said. “You’re too skinny. I don’t think you get enough to eat.”

“I eat just fine, mom. I’m young. Do you want me to be fat?”

“No, of course not. Fat people are … disgusting.”

“Some people are just fat. You don’t need to put them down for that.”

“Why are you defending fat people? It’s that job you have, I’m sure of it. You’re spending too much time around sickly and common people. You really need to go back to school and get a proper job.”

“So, why is it dad has never asked me to come work for the company? Why is it he just lets me go on being a toy clerk and then frowns upon it?”

“Now Everett, we’ve always encouraged you and Emily to make your own ways. Take a look at your sister. She’s chosen to stay in school and be successful, and you … well, you’ve chosen to be lazy, I suppose is the best way to put it. Besides, your father feels working at the company wouldn’t suit you, and I tend to agree with him.”

She shed her gloves as she slowly walked around my apartment waiting for me to snap at her for the remark. She ran her fingers across my furniture and looked at the dust with disgust.

“Don’t you ever clean in here?” she asked. “I should order you up a maid.”

“I don’t need a maid.”

“Well, at least I’m going to buy you some cleaning supplies.”

“What about Frost then? It seems to me dad’s giving him a free pass to the company and he’s nothing but a lousy phony.”

My mother stopped walking around and glared at me.

“Frost isn’t a phony. He happens to be a very ambitious young man with big plans for his life. You’d be wise to take some advice from him.”

“Why are you in the city?” I asked her, trying to change the subject.

She nervously wiped at the corners of her mouth and scratched her head.

“Christmas shopping,” she answered. “Anything special you want this year?”

“I could use some more socks. Heavy socks. My feet are always cold.”

“Socks? That’s hardly a Christmas present. That’s something dirty poor people get.”

“That’s all I want.”

“All right then. So be it – socks! I’m tired of trying to convince you to be a better man. It’s exhausting, Everett.”

“Are you going to visit Emily as well?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t worry about her as much lately. You on the other hand I worry about, quite a bit actually.”

“You don’t need to worry so much. I’m living my life as well as can be expected.”

“I can’t help it. It’s exactly the way you live that I don’t like.”

“What is it you don’t like about it? I’m your oldest child. Why don’t you just spill it then, eh?”

“You’re always alone Everett. I never hear of any friends or acquaintances. You don’t mingle with good people, Everett. Why don’t you mingle?”

“I’ve never been much of a mingler, Ma … and so what?”

“It’s not healthy, Everett … It’s not normal to be so solitary. I mean, you’ve never even brought a girl home. If you’re queer you can tell me. I won’t say anything to your father, I promise.”

“I’m not like that mom. There’s no girls I like. None of them are like … Jenny.”

“Jenny? Your little summer friend from Maine? Oh please, don’t start with that again. That was childhood foolishness at best. That’s all.”

“See, you don’t understand anything about me at all. You don’t even try to understand.”

My mother shook her head and sighed as she slipped her gloves back on.

“It’s a haphazard lesson in futility trying to talk with you,” she said. “I’m going now.”

She came to me and lightly hugged me, barely touching her cheek to my face.

“But you just got here,” I said.

“Yes, well, I have a lot to get done today.”

_

The City

The City

After my mother left and day had slipped into darkness, I sipped egg nog by the glow of lighter light as I smoked hashish from my wizard-shaped bong. I was in a place of absolute zero. It was sepia shades surrounded by dark shapes and silhouettes of the ones who whispered unseen. I went to the kitchen and turned on a bright light. They scampered off. There was a crescent-shaped heart, collapsed and bleeding on the door of the refrigerator as I reached out to pull the handle. I suddenly turned when I heard someone exhale. Grandma’s cigarette smoke still lingered in the air above the antique breakfast nook bench I kept at my table – the one with the worn away Hansel and Gretel stencils on the side showing them parading through sunny lands of grass before sneaking off behind a tree to kiss while a bone-chewing witch watched with interest, ugly and twisted hands down her torn skirt.

The antique breakfast nook bench was the one thing I got from my grandmother when she passed from this world. My mother didn’t want it. My sister didn’t want it. It was too beat up and worn for them, but I always liked it.

The bench reminded me of sunny summer mornings at my grandmother’s old pink house in a small town near the ocean in Maine. I would spend a few weeks with her in that old pink house every summer and I had my own room in the very back that looked out onto the yard and the gigantic pine tree that grew there. I got to know the kids in the neighborhood and we’d often run the streets and alleyways together and sometimes go down to the water’s edge and think about drifting off to the other side of the world. There was that girl named Jenny, the one I talked about. She looked like a pig-tailed Marcia Brady with braces on her teeth and sometimes we’d break away, just her and I, and walk along the beach holding hands and we’d pretend we were married. She was the first girl I kissed and it happened right under that big pine tree in grandma’s yard. It was a quick kiss but afterward I knew I was in love with her. It was always sad for me when I had to leave my few weeks of summer in Maine behind and go back home to start school again. When I returned to Maine for what would be my final summer there, the first thing I did was get on the bike my grandmother kept there for me and I rode around the neighborhood looking for Jenny. I went around and around and around the block, past her house, honking my bike horn in an effort to draw her out to me. I did that for nearly half a day before one of the neighborhood kids finally came outside and told me that Jenny had been killed in a car crash right before school let out for the summer break.

I was devastated and heartbroken and demanded to go back home. My father reluctantly agreed to arrange train passage back to New York and the whole way home after he picked me up from the station he berated me for being a “spoiled crybaby brat” and wondered why I “had to make things difficult for everybody” and how I was “causing a big inconvenience” for all parties involved. When we got to the house I jumped out of the car, told my father to “fuck off” and ran up to my room and stayed there for pretty much the whole summer, lying on my bed or looking out the window and thinking only of Jenny and all about her being dead.

But that was then and this was now and I peeled an orange and ate it.

_

It was around 7 p.m. when I decided I’d go pay Emily a surprise visit; I thought it might perhaps appease my mother a bit if I got out and talked with someone – even if it was just my sister.

I cut through Grundy Park. They had a gigantic Christmas tree all lit up right in the center of a makeshift ice rink and I stopped for a while and watched with the snow-dappled statues as all the happy people went round and round. All the smiles and laughing and holding of hands seemed foreign to me. There were grotesque public displays of affection too; kissing and hugging and the ol’ staring lovingly into each other’s eyes syndrome going on. I despised the tenderness, yet longed for it, too. I never told anyone and wondered about the damage of it myself as well, but Jenny was the one and only girl I ever kissed in my whole life. It was true, there had been no one at all since I was a wee lad in summertime Maine – how odd I really must be then, eh? Everett Law: Doped up NYU dropout and unsexed toy clerk of the most tarnished kind.

I thought about things out there in the evening chill of Grundy Park; sitting on a toadstool, what others would call a bench, ass half frozen and wondering if it was finally time I got bold and stepped up to the world and introduced myself: “Hi, I’m Everett Law, wanna fuck?” No, that would be inappropriate. Would it?

“Uncouth,” my mother would say.

“What are you? Some kind of damn rapist?” my father would say.

“Ew, gross. Never gonna happen,” my sister would say.

My sister. Sister, sister, sister. I never told anyone, but when we were younger she would come into my room on stormy nights and crawl into bed with me. She said she was scared and wanted to sleep with me until the storm passed. I let her of course, but on some nights she would put her hand into my pajama bottoms and touch me. I never knew what to do so I just lied there and let her do it. Eventually she would get too tired and drift off to sleep. Sometimes she would want to play the “Hansel and Gretel kissing game” and she would hover her face over mine, close her eyes and pucker up her lips. I’d roll away and she’d laugh at me and call me a “chicken shit queer” before bounding out of my room and down the hall back to her own room. We shared a bathroom and she’d often try to sneak in on me taking a bath by popping the lock on the doorknob with a bobby pin. I’d yell at her to “get out! get out! get out!” and she’d try to get a peek at me before laughing and running off. One time she snuck in when I was half submerged and sudsy and she put her hand in the water, right between my legs.

“Ew!” she screamed. “Little boy Everett has a hard one! He has a hard one!” and she ran out laughing; always she was laughing.

As I thought about it more, I tallied up all the times my sister tried to seduce me when we were young. It must have been close to one hundred, and I feverishly rejected every one of her awkward lusty advances. What was it that was going on inside her head and body and why did I lack the same … should I call it, enthusiasm? Was it childhood damage? Curiosity? Premature animalistic urges in high gear? And now I wondered why she despised me so as an adult when she once was so quick to offer herself up to me. What tainted her taste for me? And what was I going to do about it? That’s what I was going to find out.

_

Frost had a cozy place on the Upper West Side and that is where Emily lived. I stood outside the building of reddish-brown brick, ashen in the night, and looked at it. The windows were all aglow with light and I could see the shapes of people milling about beyond the curtains. There was some loud talk and laughing and I figured it was a party. My first instinct was to turn and walk away. I don’t care for society and didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of some beautiful Columbia sophistos. Then I saw Frost step out of the door. He stood there for a bit in the cold and then lit up a cigarette. Then he saw me, or someone like me.

“Hey there. Who is that lurking about out here? Geno? Is that you?”

I stepped into a circle of light.

“No Frost. It’s me, Everett.”

“Everett? What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see my sister. Is she here?”

He eyed me suspiciously as he exhaled cigarette smoke and wiped at his fancy wool coat. He tossed his head back and his thick and annoying blonde locks waved in the wind.

“She’s inside. But we’re having a party. A private Christmas party. It’s not a good time, Everett. Maybe you should just call her on the phone later.”

“I’ve come all this way though, I’d rather speak to her in person. Couldn’t I just come in for a bit, I won’t stay long. It’s cold out here.”

Frost tossed his cigarette butt onto the walk and looked me over, then reluctantly motioned for me to follow him back inside. The place was gently roaring with the mumbly wumblings of perfect brains encased inside perfect faces wearing perfect clothes talking about their perfect lives. When I walked into the main room I could physically feel the gasps leak out of their insides. Some halfheartedly smiled, others quickly glanced my way and then just as quickly turned away. The girls though, mostly the pretty and shimmering girls, they were the ones that broke into mild laughter and then whispered among themselves. It was very uncomfortable for me and I pulled on Frost’s sleeve.

“Where’s Emily?” I asked him. “Where’s my sister?”

“Hey! You’re going to stain my coat with your filthy hands. Look in the kitchen … and then beat it, man.”

I pressed my way through a cluster of chattering people and into the deep kitchen at the back of the place. I stood in the doorway and saw Emily; she was huddled around an island with two other chicks, sipping wine and talking like they were drunk. She nearly dropped her glass when she noticed me standing there.

“Everett? What in the hell are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk to you is all. I wanted to pay you a visit. It’s been a while.”

She set down her glass, whispered something in secret to the chicks there and then came over to me.

“This is just weird, Everett. I mean, you haven’t been here since we moved in. Is something wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Mom was by my place today and it just got me thinking about things.”

“What things?”

“How do you feel about me, sister?”

“Feel about you? What do you mean? You’re my brother … I care about you of course, but … it’s not like we’ve been all that close for a long time.”

“I wanted to ask you … When we were young and you used to try and fool around with me. You know, how you said playing like Hansel and Gretel? … What about all that?”

She pulled me aside and led me into a small room that led out to the back. It was cold and quiet and I could smell her expensive perfume and the wine on her mouth.

“Everett! What is wrong with you? Why would you come here tonight, of all nights, and talk to me about this? Did you say something to mother? Does she know?”

“No. I said nothing to her. Like I was saying, I was just thinking about things, when I was in the park and I saw everyone there … groping and kissing.”

“That was a long time ago, Everett. I was just being a stupid little sister who happened to be curious about sex. I was just playing around. I never realized it bothered you so much.”

“It wasn’t so much that it just bothered me. It was more like I felt there was something wrong with me because I had no impulses to act.”

“Oh Everett. There’s no need to worry about any of that anymore. You’re over thinking it. You acted perfectly normal. But I have to get back to my party now; why don’t you call me next week, before Christmas, and we’ll get together for lunch or something.”

Emily put her arms around me and hugged me close. It was something my sister rarely did, but it felt good, it felt safe, it felt necessary. But when she pulled away and looked up at me, that’s when my heart began to thud and I let everything in my guts just go and I went for my sister’s parted lips and forced a kiss on her.

She made a gruesome noise and pushed me back against a wall.

“Everett!? Why did you kiss me like that?”

“I needed to know what I missed, sister.”

“Everett, I think you need to go home right now. I’m worried about you. I think you need to see someone.”

“Who?”

“A doctor, Everett. You need to talk to someone. A professional.”

“I’d rather talk to you, sister.”

“Don’t talk to me that way! It’s creeping me out when you call me ‘sister.’”

“But you are my sister … aren’t you?”

“Everett please, go home. I don’t know what you are talking about, but now is not the time or place. Call me next week.”

Emily forcefully dragged me back into the bright lights and cheery noise of the party and then straight to the front door where she pushed me out and I felt more cold and alone than ever when I heard the lock turn before I walked off into the night.

_

I went to the nearest station and boarded the ghost train that burrowed through the belly of the city. I sat down in a grimy seat and the lights flickered as metal bore down on metal and suddenly I noticed a bug-eyed black man wearing an Army green trench coat sitting across from me. He was holding a stick and his head wobbled with the motion of the subway car and he just stared at me, through me and beyond.

“What’s the stick for?” I asked him. “Gonna whack someone?”

He blinked slowly and barely grinned and then he started barking at me like a dog.

“Arf! Arf! Arf!” he went, and I got up and moved to another part of the train and sat down close to a window. I looked out at the rushing, mad world and thought about how foolish I had been for pressing my very own sister into an act of inappropriate affection. She must of thought I was a real loon and probably couldn’t wait to tell her lover and confidant, Frosty The D-Bag, all about it. That would surely lead to a leak to my father about the whole incident and then … I’d be disowned for good, lose my apartment and probably be locked up for being an unstable perv.

But even though I was feeling weird about the whole situation with my sister, I could not deny that the kiss felt good; hell, it felt wonderful, and I’d probably do it again if I had half the chance. Ugh, what was I thinking!? I pressed my hands to my head in an effort to keep my mind from leaking out all over the dirty floor of the train. And it was tunnel, tunnel, tunnel and I suddenly felt the need to get off. Next stop. I exited and up I went into the chill of city night in a place I didn’t really know. It was bright and bustling. Tailpipes of autos steamed. The people there hissed and meandered. I saw a coffee shop and went in. It was noisy and crowded but I found a place at the counter and ordered up a hot cup of joe. It burned my lips like Emily’s kiss. I sipped and thought … I needed more. The lust machine inside me had been ignited and I didn’t know how to turn it off. The blondie waitress wiped the space before me and I admired her entire essence. My belly began to burn with that sensation of just letting go again and making a move on her. I began to sit up and lean in her direction.

“Watch it asshole, or you’ll be wearing that coffee on your face,” she snapped.

Shut down I was and I retreated. She scowled at me and her gum-chewing mouth stretched to reveal utter bitterness toward me. I suddenly realized that accosting total strangers for a quick thrill wasn’t going to be all that easy.

“You want anything else? We got people waiting for your stool,” the waitress said.

I bowed my head and stared into my half-empty cup of coffee.

“No. I’ll be going now … wait, maybe just a kiss.”

Her eyes lit up and she sorta smiled as she looked around the joint. People started cheering and clapping and I noticed her face turned red.

“Aw, just give the lad a kiss! It’s nearly Christmas for crying out loud!” someone shouted.

“All right, all right,” she nervously spewed from under the pressure. “One kiss, but don’t you other fellas think this is going to go on all night now.”

My mind shut out all the hootin’ and hollerin’ as the waitress leaned in and gave me a sweet, slippery smooch that lasted much longer than I expected. When our lips finally parted, she kind of rolled her eyes and put the back of her hand to her forehead like she was overheated.

“Ooh baby,” she said. “You gotta give me your number.”

The whole place erupted with laughter and the hoisting of cups and I felt a bit embarrassed yet overjoyed as I put some money down on the counter, took a final sip of my coffee and walked back out into the street.

_

I was just in time to see the cops arrest an argumentative guy who wasn’t wearing a shirt. The reds and blues were popping and a crowd began to gather on the sidewalk.

“What’s happening?” I asked some quirky little chick wearing a long black coat, furry boots and a pointy stocking cap with a tail that went halfway down her back.

“There was some kind of fight. Those two guys. I think it was over a girl because she’s over there crying.”

“Ah. Well, my name’s Everett. Whatcha got there all wrapped up in those towels?”

“It’s a baby, and they’re not towels, they’re little blankets. I’m Helen.”

“Helen what?”

“Helen Corvair.”

“It’s nice to meet and greet you sweet Helen Corvair. Do you live around here?”

“Not far. You?”

“I reside near Grundy Park,” I boasted to her. “Do you know of it?”

“That’s a pretty nice part of the city. Are you a doctor?”

“Actually, I’m a gynecologist.”

“Really? I was just kidding. You look nothing like a doctor.”

“So was I, but I think I’d like to give a go at being a gynecologist.”

Her baby began to cry and she gently rocked it back and forth.

“Why don’t you put that thing down somewhere and we’ll go get something to eat,” I said.

“Excuse me? Are you fucking serious?”

“Nah. I guess you couldn’t really do that.”

“No, I couldn’t. Boy, I think you’d make a lousy gynecologist.”

We started walking together without really talking about it and the baby started to settle down.

“Do you like Chinese food?” she asked. “There’s a great little place a few blocks down called the Mandarin Bistro. They’ve got the best General Tso’s chicken I’ve ever eaten.”

“Are you serious? You really want to eat food … with me?”

“Sure. Why not? I’m a wandering spirit open to other wandering spirits. I can tell that about you.”

“I’m not too sure about that. I’m kind of a weird wandering spirit.”

“The weirder the better,” she said with an innocent and shining smile.

“You know who you remind me of?” I said to her.

“Who?”

“Simka Gravas.”

“Who the hell is Simka Gravas?”

“You know, Latka’s wife on that old television show called TAXI.”

She crinkled her nose and shook her head.

“No. Sorry. Never saw it.”

“Oh, you got to come over to my place some time because I got the whole series on DVD and it’s just great, fucking great. We’ll smoke some fine hashish and it will be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. I just love Louie DePalma’s comic antics.”

She got quiet and looked down at the sidewalk.

“What’s the matter? Was I being offensive?” I asked her.

“No. But what about my baby?”

“Can’t you get a babysitter or something? Or just bring it with you. We’ll just put it in a box on the floor.”

She laughed out loud.

“Oh man, you are one funny young turk. I like that. And my baby is a boy. His name is Maine.”

“I dig that name. So, what do you think?”

“Let’s just get through dinner and then I’ll decide,” she answered.

_

We got a booth and she carefully set the baby down on the red vinyl seat and opened up the menu.

“What’s the baby gonna eat? Beef and broccoli?” I asked.

She peered at me over the edge of the menu and rolled her sparkling green eyes in a silly way.

“No silly. Milk.”

“A glass of milk?”

“No. Mother’s milk.”

And that’s when the baby began to fuss and Helen unleashed one of her perfect breasts right there at the table, picked up Maine and pressed him to her nipple. I watched in queer wonder as the baby eagerly sucked.

“Aren’t you going to look at the menu?” Helen asked me.

“No. I think I’ll follow your recommendation and get the General Tso’s chicken.”

She smiled and said, “I think you’ll like it.”

It was a few minutes later when a tall, skinny Chinese dude came to the table and looked at Helen breast-feeding the baby.

“I’m sorry. You cannot do that here,” he said to her.

“Do what?” she asked with a hint of annoyance.

The Chinese man pointed at her breast.

“That,” he said. “Other customer complain.”

Helen looked around the restaurant and there were a couple of uptight, old sophistos glaring at her from a nearby table.

“It’s my baby and I can feed him wherever and whenever I want. Could you please take our order?”

“No. You go to restroom if you want to do that. Not out here where everybody see.”

“I’m not going to feed my baby in some filthy bathroom. Could you just take our order please?”

“No. Our restrooms clean. Perfect for little baby.”

“I’m sorry, but I refuse to be herded into a toilet stall to do something that’s perfectly beautiful and natural. I don’t care how clean your bathrooms are, I’m not doing it!”

The lady sophisto from the nearby table craned her neck and looked over at us.

“Please miss,” she said. “We’re trying to enjoy our dinner. There’s no need to make a scene. Can’t you just take your baby outside and do that?”

“It’s freezing cold out there you dumb old hag! Why don’t you go eat your dinner outside!? See how you like it, huh!”

The woman scowled in disgust and turned back to her plate. She mumbled something to her husband and then they suddenly got up and walked out. Helen looked down at her son and then over at me in a quiet plea for advice.

“Why don’t we just go somewhere else,” I said to her. “I want to eat dinner, not get into an argument.”

Helen looked displeased as she popped the baby’s head off her breast, set him down and put herself back together.

“All right,” she said. “We can go.”

_

Helen’s pace was more brisk when we got back outside and I struggled to keep up with her.

“Is there something wrong?” I asked as I rushed to step in front of her.

“Yes,” she sternly said. “You could have at least defended me a little bit back there. Jesus, what kind of a man are you?”

“I guess not much of one, but really, you got to give me a break. I mean, I just met you and it isn’t even my baby.”

“It shouldn’t matter,” she hissed.

“Look, there’s a pizza place. Why don’t we just go in, have a pie and some root beer and just chill out for a while. I’m still hungry.”

Helen moved her head in a wayward way as she thought about it.

“All right,” she finally said. “And I’m sorry I snapped at you. It’s just all these judgmental pricks piss me off so much! I shouldn’t take it out on a seemingly decent guy like you.”

She smiled and then leaned into me and pressed her wet lips to my cold cheek.

“I’m really sorry,” she said.

_

The pizza place was half empty and we got a booth at the very back. The place was very woody and decorated in a lot of red neon and vinyl and the tables were topped with linens that resembled Yassar Arafat’s head garb and the coziness made me want to hug him. The baby fell asleep as we looked over the menu.

“So, what about the father then. Where is he?” I asked her.

She fumbled around inside her head for an answer.

“I don’t know,” she said, biting at her bottom lip.

“I’m sorry. Did he run out on you?”

“No. I mean … I don’t know who the father is.”

“How can you not know who the father is?”

Helen reached across the table and touched my hand.

“Everett?”

“Yes?”

“I’m going to tell you something and afterward if you want to just get up and leave you can. I won’t blame you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Everett …  I got pregnant at a sex party.”

I was stunned by her open confession and really wasn’t sure what to say. I stared at her pretty face for a long time and I could tell she was on the verge of tears.

“Jesus. That’s pretty heavy stuff,” I finally said.

She withdrew her hand and rubbed under her eyes with a knuckle.

“There were probably thirty people there and everyone was having sex with everyone and most of the time I had no idea who was inside me because it was nothing but wet flesh pressed against wet flesh and some of the guys there, some of the guys, Everett, they wore masks over their faces. One of the rules was that the guys were supposed to wear protection, but that didn’t last very long once things got really hot and before I knew it I was getting filled up by one dude after another and it got to the point where I was so drunk on lust that I just didn’t care anymore and I kept begging for more, more, more! … And well, nine months later little Maine here came along.”

“Wow. That’s one of the wildest things I’ve ever heard,” I said to her. “Have you decided what kind of pizza you want?”

She half smiled and looked at me, puzzled and confused.

“Did you hear what I said? I got pregnant at an orgy.”

Someone in the restaurant coughed and cleared their throat.

“Yes. I heard you. I like sausage and black olives. How about you? Well, obviously you like sausage, but what about the black olives?”

Helen’s pretty mouth dropped open and she shook her head.

“Yes. That sounds fine, I guess … I can’t believe you’re being so understanding about this. I’m shocked, unless of course, this is all a joke.”

“It’s no joke, Helen. Look, I like you. I was attracted to you the first moment I saw you out on that sidewalk where the fight was. Hell, I even like your baby. Where he came from or what you did to get him is really no concern of mine. But let’s just say that if we did indeed start seeing each other on a regular basis, I would probably frown upon you going to orgies, unless of course, you invited me along.”

“Wowsa back to you,” she said.  “You’re really an open-minded dude.”

“Hey, I’m going to go up to the counter and order our pie. Don’t wander off.”

“I won’t,” she said with a wonderful smile.

_

 After polishing off a large sausage and black olive pizza and a pitcher of root beer, I convinced Helen to get into a cab with me and go to my apartment to watch TAXI.

“I think it’s funny that we’re in a taxi on our way to watch TAXI,” I said to Helen and I nudged her side with my elbow.

She looked over at me and smiled like she was scared.

“Hey driver, have you ever seen the television show TAXI?”

His eyes went to the rear-view mirror and he shook his oily head.

“No sir, I have not.”

“Well, you really should,” I said, and I was so happy at that moment that I laughed out loud for the very first time in a very long time.

“Are you all right?” Helen asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. I’m just really enjoying our time together. Aren’t you?”

“I suppose I’m just a bit tired. Motherhood is exhausting.”

I turned to the window, covered my mouth with my hand and mumbled, “I guess you should have thought of that before you spread your legs for a bunch of strangers.”

“Did you say something?”

“No. Just admiring this fabulous city.”

When the driver reached my building, I hopped out and went to the other side of the car and opened the door for Helen. She got out, cuddling Maine, and looked around in wide wonder.

“Wowsa,” she said. “This looks like a really wonderful place!”

“It is,” I replied, and I paid the cabbie and waved him off. “I think you’ll really enjoy it. And right over there is Grundy Park. Maybe sometime soon we could take Maine ice skating over there.”

“Don’t be silly, he can’t ice skate.”

“Well, then we’ll set him on a bench and he can watch us ice skate.”

She laughed and playfully bumped her body into me.

When we got inside, Helen wandered all over my apartment going “wow, wow, wow” while I turned on the fireplace and set up the television and my wizard-shaped bong.

“If the baby’s cold, you can set him over here by the fire,” I said to her as she disappeared into my bedroom and then came out.

“I really like your place, Everett. It’ way better than mine.”

“Do you want to take a couple of hits before the show starts.”

“Um, I don’t know. What about Maine? I think I need to lie him down so he can sleep.”

“Set him over there on the kitchen counter.”

“No, he might fall off.”

“How come you care so much about this bastard kid?”

“Everett! He may be a bastard, but he’s my little bastard.”

She nuzzled his face with her nose and then set him down on the end of my long couch. She surrounded him with some of my throw pillows and covered him with a baby blanket.

“He’ll be all right for a while, just don’t play the TV too loud,” she said.

I ripped a good one off the bong and passed her the tube.

“Watch yourself, it’s pretty strong stuff.”

Helen hails a cab. photo by @incrediblekulk

Helen hails a cab.
photo by @incrediblekulk

It wasn’t long before we were both pretty high and laughing hysterically as Louie DePalma tried to recite romantic poetry to Elaine Nardo in the taxi garage. I put my arm around Helen and pulled her close to me. I watched in the haze of the television glow as her face lit up when she smiled. It was funny to me that I had suddenly become so comfortable with someone; even a stranger and a slut. It was even more odd to me that I felt a glow inside that wasn’t just pain and agony, and that maybe I wasn’t so different from all those romantic whirling dervishes out there on the ice in Grundy Park after all. I turned her soft face to me and kissed her gently before she fell under the spell of a sound sleep. I left her there on the couch and in the morning when I got up and came out of my room, I noticed she was gone but that Maine was still there sleeping. My heart pounded and I ran down to the lobby and out the door in my pajamas just in time to see Helen hailing a cab in the morning sunlight.

“Hey Helen!” I yelled, “What are you doing!?”

She saw me, smiled and waved.

“I’m going to get us breakfast,” she called out. “Because I think I love you.”

“Be sure to bring back an English muffin for the baby!” I called back to her.

Her face lit up when she laughed and I watched as she got into the taxi and rode away.

Burn of the Blonde

There are places we should go and places we shouldn’t go. But then time has other plans. Time and other people can derail us to the point one is a constant train wreck. I no longer know the ways of love and the places it can take one. I am lost in that forest, under that canopy of green leaves, where sun barely makes its way in and drops of water are merely mist. It was in those rainforest tears she shed at the final moments, that one storm subsided and another began to roar. Then began the walk of no hope. Cold hands, cold heart, cold mind; the lonely chill only thawed by the drink of solitude and anger. How could she … bring that thunder down on me? And the storm is as wide as the Earth itself … hauntingly endless and loveless. Love. The foreign language. Toss me a Rosetta Stone and maybe I can untwist the ties that failed to bind. My blonde baby beside the night lamp of Heaven’s stars – your glow still burns, burns, burns.