MY FRIEND WALLACE EATING A CANDY APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Dresden De Vera
THE GOODTIME BAR
EFFIGIES OF OURSELVES
MAY NOTHING BUT HAPPINESS COME THROUGH YOUR DOOR
Toilet Paper Mummy
"And when I press right here, see? That’s yer rib cage...You feel it?"
He pushes down a little with the big hunting knife, on bone on skin. My lungs are really hot and exploding and making my eyes and nose water.
"It’s a fuckin set a lungs, under the goddamn breast plate, see?""It’s not the breast plate"
"The fuck you talkin about girl, it’s RIGHT HERE"
Gentle like my grandma handling a dandelion in the field outside the barn but I can still feel hollow, steel
My inside doesn’t have anything inside it.
"You’re on the sternum now...you don’t know shit about bones""Well I ain’t a doctor but neither are you so were both wrong I guess"
When the handle grazes my neck I feel wood and I’m afraid I’ll get a splinter. A splinter in your neck. A big ol broomhandle of wood sticking out into the fog.
Because sailors are always losing their way, always in disaster.
Mermaids come from disaster, so do sirens and people that grow tentacles and fuck each other with em.
Human squid and that man that turned into a tree because of his genetic code. They get it in.
India or Pakistan. parasites.
Here they’ll burn your clit with a pall mall 100 if they catch you looking at an eclipse.
I meet Wallace downtown to talk about the mistakes that fill my days and within a few minutes the sidewalks are hot to the touch and the sky looks like we’re inside a plum. I don’t know if it’s biblical or nuclear. There’s a simple, glowing chaos and Wallace puts his hand on my shoulder to guide us through the people, into a Mexican grocery where an old woman with wooden teeth is obliviously stacking coins on the lip of the register and watching crowds out her window come together and disperse like old milk. I should have tongue-kissed a foreign girl with skin the color of a vegetable and bought a Dalmatian named after a guitarist and gotten braces and learned Italian and paid my rent on time and divorced my second wife but maybe not my first, and as people start to look for the end, start to scale buildings to either see into the distance or jump to the bottom, Wallace has taken the smallest of bites from his candy apple, opened up the old woman’s hand and placed his change inside it.
You couldn’t lean the way I’d shown you, though I guided your hips to be just so. And you didn’t quite grasp how to keep your wrist flat, but your knuckles up. Your conversation, too, was failing. Bringing up your mother who cheated you out of your paychecks. Your ex-boyfriend whose baby you miscarried the past month. I’d met you on your last week before Sacramento. It was happy hour at the bar. Why ruin what this was supposed to be?
Yet there we were, me giving cue advice you couldn’t translate. You knocking in balls on my behalf. Saying things like, It was fucking crazy; I don’t know how I made it through; My life is a movie. Things I wish I could say and mean. The one thing you did right was keep the 8 ball alive.
After we wandered into that tattoo parlor, I joked how we should get matching 8 ball tattoos on our hips. You asked what it’d cost when I stopped you and explained how I planned for my first tattoo to be a poem - strewn across my chest - in the likeness of an equalizer. Meaningful. Original. Thought out in advance. But you were willing to etch the permanent reminder on a whim. Of course you were! It would’ve gone with the woman snake charmer on your opposite thigh. You didn’t need courage, you were practiced with the needle. I’m that way with the pen.
So how’s Sacramento?
Dresden De Veradresden.firstname.lastname@example.org
The GoodTime Bar, in downtown Lafayette, Indiana—"where every night is Halloween." Stiff Kitten, a heavy metal hair-band cranks out Ratt and Motley Crue covers to sweaty bikers and local metal-heads, cramped together into this seedy shack. Wiry biker chick in a fight with her boyfriend lifts him up by his t-shirt and rams the back of his head against the battered wall, making the tables in the back shake, and the skinny, middle-aged drying out ex-drunk bartender looks nervous, too scared to pick up the baseball bat behind the bar. And then the heavy metal hair-band breaks into AC/DC, just to help break up the brawl, just to make everyone happy.
Big WorldMary Miller
I say let’s do it. You say you have to smoke first. You go outside with your pack of cigarettes and lighter. I get comfortable on the couch and start reading a short story. You come back inside and say you’re ready. I hold up a hand and say five more minutes. You say you’ll shower in the meantime. Down the hallway you sulk. The water jerks on and I finish the story with time to kill. I wash a few plates sitting in the sink, a fork and a knife. You walk into the kitchen with wet hair, faded boxers, bare feet, and that orphan frown. Okay, I say, I’ll be right there. When I meet you in the bedroom, you’re watching stand-up comedy skits on TV. Now? I ask. Three minutes, just three minutes, you cackle with cruel laughter. This is how we build resentments. This is why I don’t even want to touch you. When you’re finally ready, I’m so fed up by the wait, your sulking, our excuses; I’m ready to build a bonfire of your cigarettes.
For the past six months I had been living with a buck-toothed lapdancer named Sandrine. She was a well-preserved 45, and preferred to be known as ‘Cutie.’ When I told her I was leaving she stood in the corner of her bedroom and rearranged her underwear. Her nails were painted the colour of cheap red wine, and her good panties were frayed from being wrenched off one-too-many times. She fixed me with her impenetrable black-eyed stare, and placed the ball-gag back in the drawer.
I retired to the Cavendish for a liquid lunch. Lorraine served me. Her nervous smile reminded me of the entrance to a condemned tower-block. Until then I hadn’t been in the Cavendish for almost a year. Every time I get undressed the scar reminds me of this place. It reminds me of the fat cop with the cheap suit and the pork-pie hat. Reminds me of his loud, slurred voice and his rusty flick-knife.
Sandrine used to tell me that I had the longest scar in Paignton. Sometimes I believed her. All I know is that it is longer than my dick and it throbs when it rains.
I wake up for a drink. I blink across the bed at red digits. It’s morning. She doesn’t say anything. She’s still asleep on the sofa with her mouth & gown open. It’s mourning. I move from the fridge past the cat gate. I shut it behind me. I sit down on the sofa. I swallow. I think about what I’ll tell when her eyes open. I think about what I’ll have told before her mouth, gown, closes. She takes my closest hand in her sleep, just like I don’t know. I start telling her. My other hand stops before my eyes.
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