stinky girl hill 


        We charged the machine gun emplacement atop the first sand dune.  I was shot through the guts, horribly, and I fell clutching my intestines as they uncoiled from my belly.  My three friends crowded to my side where I had fallen in the sand.

        Private Mark cried, “Sergeant!”

        Private Warren cried, “The bastards!”

        Private Greg aimed his rifle over my head and fired repeatedly and then said, “I got the bastards Sergeant!”

        I croaked, “Tell my mother that I didn’t suffer,” then I said, “Ok, I’m dead.”

        I was ten years old.  It was the last Saturday of summer and my father had taken me and my three best friends to Seal Beach, between the power plant and the jetty, and we were playing army in the dunes while he studied for his Masters degree.

        My friends and I were all World War Two buffs.  We had watched Saving Private Ryan the day before and we were all excited to act out bloody heroic D-Day death scenes.

        Private Greg said, “Ok, so a grenade lands right beside us and I throw myself on it to save you guys, OK?”

        Private Warren said, “How come you always get to throw yourself on the grenade?”

        I was the oldest so I was the mediator and I said, “Warren, you can have your hand blown off,” and I gave him the sand-filled gardening glove.

        Private Warren, the youngest, liked that and he said, “Aw-right!”

        We fought hard and died dozens of times climbing the steep sand dunes.  Our objective was the highest dune, from which the enemy’s artillery bunker commanded the beach and was slaughtering our landing forces.  Private Greg had named it Heartbreak Hill in homage to the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge.

        Finally we reached the base of Heartbreak Hill.  Only four of us had made it.  The fate of the beach landing was up to us.

        I said, “Cover me.  I’m going to circle around and surprise them from behind, and then you guys attack, OK?”

        Private Mark grumbled, “We always have to do what you say.”

        I reprimanded him, saying, “My dad drove us here.”

        I circled around Heartbreak Hill to the withering sounds of heavy gunfire from all of us, “Thew!”  “Thchew!  Thchew!”  “Bzjoo!”  “Chu-chu-chu-chu-chu!”  “Bkow!”  “Kpew!”

        I huffed up the final yards of the big dune and I stormed the top to find, instead of the enemy’s artillery bunker, a girl sitting cross-legged in the sand reading a paperback book.  She was about my age.

        She snarled at me, “What do you want?”

        I was hit by the withering impressions of her curly blond hair, her bikini top, her cut-off jeans, and her tan.

        Then Private Mark, Private Warren, and Private Greg came scrambling over the crest of the dune behind her, shouting, trampling through the iceplant.  They were stunned at the surprise of a girl rising quickly to her feet turning and saying, “Oh, God.  More smelly boys.”

        As the leader I responded, “What is a stinky girl doing here?”

        The girl snapped at me, saying, “It’s called reading, moron.  I was here first.  Go play your stupid games somewhere else!”

        Private Mark said, “Hey!”

        Private Warren said, “We don’t smell.”

        Private Greg said, “This hill is ours.”

        The girl marked her place in her paperback book and said, “Oh, really?” as she set it on some iceplant.

        Private Greg said, “Yeah.  And you’re ruining everything.  You can read your stupid book somewhere else.”

        The girl said, “Stupid book?  It’s Camus you dufus.  Get lost.”

        Private Warren said, “We don’t have to.”

        Private Greg said, “We are going to stay right here

        Private Mark said, “You won’t be able to read.”

        The girl strode right over to the startled Private Mark and she pushed him backwards down the dune.

        The rest of us were pinned down by her surprise counter-attack.  She then pushed Private Greg down the steep dune before he could reload his wits.  Private Warren stumbled backwards and threw himself down the dune.

        It was me and her.  She glared at me and asked, “Well, jerk.  Are you leaving or do you need help?”

        I was not afraid.  I was fascinated and I just stared at her.  She cocked her head and looked me up and down.  Then she strode towards me.

        It was all in slow motion to me.  Part of me was surveying her hair and her face and her bikini top and her cut-off jeans and her tan.  Another part of me grabbed both her wrists as she reached to push me.  I held her while she struggled.  Then she dove at me and knocked me down.

        I released her wrists to break my fall.  She landed on top of me and straddled me and tried to scratch my face.  I countered her hands, yelling, “Hey!  Hey!  Hey!”

        She was smiling!

        I was getting tired.  I finally was able to lift my torso and I put my arms around her and pulled her down against me trying to pin her arms.  Her hands were pressed against my chest.

        She turned her hands into claws and dug into my ribs and began to rapidly clench and unclench her fingers.

        I began to holler with laughter at her diabolical tickling.  She started to laugh and she said, “Surrender!  Or I won’t stop!”

        I almost peed my pants and so I pleaded, “Stop!  Stop!  I surrender!”

        She quickly released me and stood up.  I laid there gasping with tears in my eyes but I could see Private Mark and Private Warren and Private Greg standing behind her and looking at me in wonderment.

        The girl picked up her paperback book and started down the dune, still smiling, and she looked back at me and she said, “You can have your dune back.”

        My three best friends looked from her to me in bewilderment.

        I was shot through the heart, horribly, and I had to face it: I liked the stinky girl.


 Ladies, it’s officially the last day of summer. Tomorrow, we can stop shaving!   Unknown quotes  | added by: thepinkarmy


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 tip rail


        I met Mae Dela Galicia when she was seventeen years old.  She had the most angelic face.  Mae was really smart and her eyes were wise and she was really hard headed, like wood, and she made people believe she was twenty-three years old.

        She was a stripper.

        I approached the Tip Rail while she was dancing onstage at the MOON DAWG club.  I wrapped my business card in a twenty-dollar bill folded length-wise and I slipped it into her garter.

        I was working on the screenplay for SINS OF THE FATHER and I had been meeting with the Mexican film producers and I thought that Mae was perfect for the role of Lucida.

        I had to find out if she could act.

        As I watched her I grew firm with determination and I booked an hour in the Champagne Room in the back of the MOON DAWG to be alone with her.  I paid for a bed dance so we could have a tit-à-tête and she would have to listen to me.

        The private Champagne Room was well decorated, like a country lodge, with solid hardwood, stained dark with testosterone, and it had a bar.  I made mental notes about how my bedroom might look someday if I ever came to rest in one place long enough.

        The lights dimmed and the sound system began to pump my first request, Highway to Hell.  Pump, pump, pump, pump.

        Mae Dela Galicia opened the door and her smile then opened me.

        Mae said, “Hi, babe.”

        I said, “Hi, right back at’cha, babe.  I like that outfit.”

        Mae was wearing low slung black leather pants with silver chains and she wore what looked like a pair of criss crossed silk kerchiefs for a top.

        Mae said, “Thanks, babe.  How are you?”

        I said, “Doing better and better.”

        She said, “Lay down, babe.”

        I sat on the firm bed and then raised my legs up and over and I settled back against the oversized pillow.  Mae came upon the bed and approached me on all fours like a leopard.

        Mae straddled my hips and sat back and settled against me.  I stared into those wise eyes of that child-like face and I blinked.

        Mae began to shift her hips in rhythm to the rock anthem.  …Hey Satan, paid my dues playing in a rocking band.  Hey Momma, look at me, I’m on my way to the Promised Land…

        Mae asked, “Where are you from?”

        I answered, “California.”

        Mae smiled, “You like earthquakes, babe?”

        Mae began to rock harder and she was adding a subtle twist.

        I blinked, “Better than tornadoes.”

        Mae said, “Your choice, babe.”

        I laughed.

        Mae undid her kerchief top.  She was making her breasts sway.  I followed her nipples with my eyes and I had a vision of my childhood Felix the Cat clock with the eyeballs ticking side-to-side.

        Then she began to lift her hips up and down while she rocked side-to-side.  I had a vision of a girl gymnast on the pummel horse.

        Mae stared at me mischievously.  She asked, “Tell me, babe.  What do you do for work, by the way?  If you don’t mind me asking.”

        I puffed, “Did.  You.  Get.  My.  Card?”

        Mae began to stroke my hips with her hips.  I was kindling.  She replied, “Yeah, babe.  You write stories.  Cool,” then she grinned and said, “Maybe you write about this, babe.”

        I was rising and falling with her like I was magnetized.  I began to breathe though my mouth.  I steamed, “I.  Am.  Writ-ing.  A.  Screen-play.  You.  Would.  Be.  Per-fect.  For.  A.  Part.”

        Mae stopped.  She leaned her face very close to my face and I inhaled her as she said, “You relax.  You already paid, babe.”

        I protested, “No, no.  You don’t understand.  I am serious.  If you can act.  It’s a Western.  The girl is called Lucida and she is a nun with a terrible past.”

        Mae tilted her head and narrowed her eyes and she asked me, “You pay to talk?”

        I said, “Well.  Sure.  I mean, that was real nice, but I have to meet with the producers tonight.  What I mean is: I don’t have a change of pants.  Why do I wear tan pants?  You are really great, Mae.  But let’s talk.”

        Mae dismounted me and I stumbled off of the bed and I went to the little bar.  I grabbed the bottle of champagne and two glasses.

        I asked Mae as I came back to the bed, “You can drink a little, right?”

        Mae was sitting on her knees now on the bed.  She shrugged, but she accepted the proffered glass of champagne.

        I sat on the edge of the bed beside her and swallowed a whole glass of champagne and then I poured another one for myself.

        Mae sipped and she studied me over the rim of her glass.  She then downed the whole glass and held it out to me and said, “Wait for me, babe.”

        We both laughed.  We both downed our glasses of champagne.

        I said, “They probably charge more for this champagne than I make in a month.”

        Mae giggled, “Or more than I made today.”

        This was getting oddly personal.  I was feeling warm towards Mae but I wondered if I was behaving a fool: was she just using ‘tactical interactions and manipulations toward a result of monetary gain’?  Was she just acting?  Of course!  Wasn’t that a good thing?  Sure.  That’s a good thing.

        I asked, “Have you ever acted?”

        Mae replied, “I have performed.”

        I said, “Well, I mean acted acted, like in a play, or maybe a… movie of some kind?” I had a vision of Mae in a porno movie and it bothered me.  I drank another glass of champagne.

        Mae giggled and then she tipped herself toward me and put her finger to her lips and made a shushing sound.  She said, “I will tell you about this ‘nun’s terrible past’ and I will prove I can act, babe.  Everyone thinks I’m twenty-three but I’m seventeen,” then she squinted her eyes and she put her hand over her mouth and her breasts shook in a silly silent laugh.

        I whispered comically, “Who am I going to tell?  The stripper police?  I’m in more trouble than you are!”

        That did sober me up, though.

        I said, “So, Mae, you have my business card.  Call me if you want to audition for that part, OK?”

        Mae said, “Okie, babe.”

        We still had seven minutes left on the clock for the Champagne Room.

        What can you do in seven minutes?

        Later that evening, as I drove up the producer’s driveway I strategically tipped a lukewarm cup of Jack in the Box coffee-with-cream onto my lap.


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in my blood 2


        The curtain opens.

        It is night in the streets of the Barahona Coast in the Dominican Republic.  Outside the Empalizada dance club a young girl sits on the curb under a pale streetlight.  She is disheveled and bloody.  She looks up and speaks.

        Me name is Yuisa.  Yes, she is Taino Indian name.  Yndios is in me blood.

        You are a nice policeman to help me.

        I be OK.

        I walk home.

        I live with me uncle Guamá.  Yes, he is Taino Indian name.  He is fisherman.

        Yes, I live with me uncle.

        When I be a little girl me family is poor so they give me to a rich family.  I suppose to clean they house.  They suppose to feed me and clothe me and educate me.  But they beat me.  They make me sleep in box.  Like a animal.  I must call other children “sir” and “missy”.  And the Man he.., when his wife not around, he try…, he hurt me, but I am still me own girl.

        Anyway, me uncle Guamá take me away one night.  He tell me he is me uncle Guamá and he take me to his home.  He is a fisherman.  He feed me, he give me clothes.  He teach me to fish with him.

        I am strong.  I am no afraid.

        Yes, he educate me.  He tell me all about Christ Colombo who come long time ago and kill my people and take from us the Mother of All Lands and call it Hispaniola.  Christ Columbo bring us the pus sickness and kill us and then bring the black man to work where we are gone.

        Me uncle Guamá he tell me all the time “Stay away from city” but Friday I come here at Empalizada.  I don’t want no trouble.  I like to dance.  I like merengue.

        Me uncle Guamá he tell me that merengue come from slave dance.  They feet chained together so they dance they feet like clap-clap, clap-clap.

        I like merengue.  It is in me blood.  The music be crazy fast and me feet clap-clap, clap-clap, but I hold me majestic above waist.  I like a boy hold me close and we hold hands so we don’t fly away.

        Yes.  That boy I like a lot.  I don’t want no trouble.

        Yes, Alonso he name.  He ask me every dance.  I no mind.  I don’t want no trouble.  We just dance.

        Then a girl come to us very mad.  She say to Alonso, “Yo’, Alonso, like, we break up only one week and already you here with this bitch?  What the fuck is that about?”

        Why you laugh at me?  That is what girl say.

        I don’t want no trouble.  But I don’t run.  It is in me blood.

        I say “You no even know me” and I try to calm to make peace.  It is in me blood.  I no want to get into something with her.  But she is ready to fight me.

        She fuck me up.

        I fuck her up.

        She leave, go with Alonso.

        I come out here.  You find me.

        I don’t want no trouble.

        Yes, me uncle Guamá be real mad if he see me.

        I go back to beach and I clean in ocean.  Me uncle Guamá be asleep.  He get up four in morning.

        I hide dress.  Fix later.

        Yes, I fish with him tomorrow.

        You think he sees me cuts?

        How you help me?

        You?  How can nurse be police?

        You fix prostitutas?!

        You can fix, maybe yes, but no tell me that!

        Yes, yes, I see men beat prostitutas very bad.  I see before.  I see.

        I am no mad.  No.  You are nice to help me.

        I am sorry also.

        That is medicina pouch on belt near pistol?

        OK, I sit here, you fix.  You no use pistol by mistake, OK?

        Your hands are like doctor.  Thank you.  You find pieces of that girl in my blood?

        You no have to do that.  I finish comb hair.  My hairbrush in street somewhere.

        Yes, you probably drive over me only hairbrush.  You are funny and nice policeman.

        Hello to you, “Toño”.

        OK, we can drive to me beach.  Thank you.  I am now very sore.  Can you help me stand up?

        Thank you, Toño.

        I hope you are no sorry, Toño.  Your fingers are now all in me blood.


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b and p 2

Title: “Lean On Me”, Artist: Lynn Cyr


        Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear first appeared together in Lynn Cyr’s painting entitled “Lean On Me”.  Their association became the subject of a much-publicized Fruit Bowl scandal when they were alleged to have begun an affair while Bradley the Banana was still Tutti Frutti with Ambrosia the Apple.

        Both Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear denied these allegations on several occasions, but both admitted that they “fell in love” during the still-life arrangement.

        Anjoulina the Pear explained, “To be a salad with a man who was already Tutti-Frutti is not something that I could forgive.  I wouldn’t be attracted to a Banana who would cross-pollinate.  My own father cross-pollinated behind my mother’s orchard.”

        During this summer Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear were seen next to each other in the Fruit Bowl with increasing frequency, and most of the horticulture media considered them a smoothie, dubbing them “Brananjoupear”.  On Thursday Anjoulina the Pear confirmed to Grow magazine that she was tart with the unripe of Bradley the Banana and thereby acknowledged their relationship for the first time.

        An advocate for Tutti-Frutti equality, Bradley the Banana told Gardening magazine on Friday that he and Anjoulina the Pear would get Tutti-Frutti only “when every fruit in the county who wants to be Tutti-Frutti is legally able.  A tomato is a fruit just like you and me and they should have the same right to Tutti-Frutti.”

        On Saturday Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear sued the tabloid Slice and Dice for falsely reporting that they were passé, a story that had been widely picked up by credible supermarket outlets.  The privacy claim was settled the following Monday for an undisclosed amount of juice, which was donated to the Sorbet Foundation, the “Brananjoupear” charity.  On Tuesday the couple displayed their rings and announced their compote.

        Two weeks previous, Anjoulina the Pear had adopted her first unripe, the young Toukolok the Mango, from a fruit stand in Cambodia-town.  The adoption process was halted when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned fruit from Cambodia amid allegations of fruit flies.  Once the ban was lifted, Anjoulina the Pear took custardy of Toukolok the Mango.

        On Wednesday Bradley the Banana accompanied Anjoulina the Pear to the Ethiopian restaurant to adopt six-month-old Zante the Raisin, tiny, seedless, and very sweet.

        On this Thursday Anjoulina the Pear yielded a daughter, Seckel-Anna the Pear-Flavored Banana.  Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear decided to sell the first still-lifes of Seckel-Anna the Pear-Flavored Banana through the distributor Lynn Cyr who painted the still-life in which they first fell in love.

        Today, Madame Tussauds in New York unveiled a wax-fruit figure of day-old Seckel-Anna the Pear-Flavored Banana.

        Like the relationship of Bradley the Banana and Anjoulina the Pear, their little unripe ones have gained considerable celebrity, based on their clippings and consumer-appeal rankings, and they appear regularly in supermarket flyers.

Based on Wikipedia “Brangelina”


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 sweater melons


        Call me Richard.  I am not a “Dick”.

        A couple years ago – whatever – I ran out of money to stay in school, and, anyway, I wasn’t really interested enough in Marine Biology to commit to graduate school, so I took the money I had left and I followed my fisherman friend, Bob, and his wife, Cinda, up to Morro Bay, California.  We got apartments in the little coastal town of Cambria, a few miles north of Morro Bay, and just a few miles south of Hearst Castle, the famous estate of that newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

        Our cluster of tiny apartments was called The Art Villa.

        Bob and Cinda soon sold their boat and opened a fish market up the street in Cambria (I could always bum a free plate of deep-fried calamari with marinara sauce and a slice of lemon).

        I needed an excuse to smoke weed all the time, so I pretended to be a writer.  I had a bay window in my apartment and I would sit watching the Santa Rosa Creek below flow onto the sandy Pacific beach.  In the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek was a diet of diacritic driftwood from the coastal pine forests.

        Moby the great white cat was the tough old stray who would come through my bay window and then “let” me feed him.  Bob and Cinda told me that when Moby then would come next through their apartment window he would reek of weed.

        Soon enough I had to get a job.  Jobs were rare in that area, but I had faith back then and sure enough I was able to get a job as a janitor at the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center a few miles inland in the college town of San Luis Obispo.

        I told myself that the experience would be good for a writer.

        That is where I met Darin.  He was a young black and a fellow janitor.  But that was only his secret identity.  In fact, he was the greatest black ace “player” that I had ever met.  In looks, he reminded me of a young Nat King Cole with his bright eyes and winning smiles.  He had been in the Army and he had a German wife and a new baby.

        I was soon following Darin’s leads and we both took our work breaks out back behind the dumpsters.  Darin would bring out a tiny pipe and we would draw inspiration.

        “Hold it,” Darin croaked breathlessly at me.  He believed that the longer you could hold the pot smoke in your lungs the less “inspiration” would be wasted and the fewer aromas would escape into smoke signals.


        I was amazed though at how thorough and carefully observant I subsequently would become toward my daily janitorial duties.

        One day a young lady appeared to us at the dumpsters.  I jumped and almost dropped the pipe.  But Darin just turned on his smile and said, “Wennnn-dy.”

        Wendy had on a tightly wrapped housekeeping uniform.  In Darin’s own classification scheme, which he had explained to me very carefully, I categorized Wendy as “Plump with Assets”.

        Wendy asked Darin, “Starting without me?”

        Darin said, “You know I never start without you,” and he took the pipe away from me, saying, “This is Richard.  He’s new,” and he lit the bowl for Wendy.  As Wendy drew on the pipe she raised and lowered her eyebrows in a hello to me.

        In my inspiringly thorough and carefully observant state I studied the point of gleam in Wendy’s eye as she looked up at Darin while he was touching her hand and lighting the pipe.  I saw that it matched the point of gleam in Darin’s eye as he smiled back at her.  Thus I just knew that Wendy and he had been intimate.

        Wendy then closed her eyes and silently held-in the draw of weed.  She exhaled slowly and fluttered a hand wave as she turned to go, saying, “That will do.  Bye, Darrr-in.  Nice meeting you, Richard.”

        As Wendy rounded the corner Darin turned to me and said, “Now, those are some really nice sweater melons, believe me.”

        I said soberly, “Oh, I believe you.”

        Darin said, “She wants me to meet her at Pirate’s Cove.”

        I asked, “What is Pirate’s Cove?”

        Darin slapped my back and said to me, “A nude beach, Rich-hard.  You should come along.  Bring your melon baller,” he laughed.

        I said, “I don’t know, Darin.  I don’t know anyone that I could bring to a nude beach.”

        Darin said, “Forget that, Rich-hard.  You have me as your wingman now.  Hey, you are definitely unrepugnant.  I don’t think that you will not know someone for very long here.”

        I was always too self-conscious.  I was a watcher and not a doer by myself.  Those who can’t do, write.

        Darin headed back to work and said to me, “Better get busy on that date, man.”

        I was never a “player” like Darin but I did have youth and long hair going for me.  And, sure, with a wingman like Darin it could make all the difference.

        I had been assigned to clean the Counselors Offices after our break.  I saluted good-bye to Darin and took the elevator to the third floor.  High and horny I entered the offices.

        There at a desk facing me was a slender older woman with short hair and pointed features.  She looked up at me at first with cold eyes and with an annoyed expression.  Then she sat back and stared at me.  I was buzzed enough to just stare back fearlessly.  I began to wonder how long I had been staring her down when suddenly it was as if she had on a new face.  She was now smiling warmly and her cold eyes had retreated behind narrowed lids.

        She looked me up and down and asked me, “Can I help you?”  She then pushed her breasts forward and she clasped her hands on her desktop as she continued to stare at me and all the while her smile and her breasts seemed to me to get bigger.

        I thought to myself automatically, “Nice sweater melons.”  Then, using Darin’s system I classified her as an “Hourglass with some real Assets” but suddenly I was afraid that I might be acting inappropriately so I said, “I’m here to clean the office, if that’s OK?”

        She nodded and said, “I’m Barbara.”

        I nodded back, “I’m Richard.”

        Barbara boldly teased, “Not a ‘Dick’?”

        I was taken aback but I instantly figured that hospital counselors had to have a sense of humor so I “played ball” and pitched, “I don’t care for ‘Dick’ at all.”

        She then hit the ball back to the pitcher’s head, saying, “Too bad.  I like ‘Dick’.”

        Was I high or was I really making “head way” here?  I decided that hanging around with Darin had given me new confidence.  We continued our bawdy banter as I swept and cleaned around her desk.  She was older than I was by several years, but she had a youthful assurance.  And she did have nice sweater melons from all of the angles that I could see.

        I finally asked her, “Barbara?”

        She looked up from her paperwork and replied, “Yes?”

        I said, “I’m new here.  Have you ever heard of Pirate’s Cove?”

        Barbara replied cautiously, “I’ve heard of it.  Who is telling you about Pirate’s Cove?”

        I said, “Oh, just a friend.  He wants me to meet him there tonight.”

        Barbara teased, “Oh?  I thought you didn’t like ‘Dick’.”

        She had gotten me.  I laughed, “No.  I definitely do not.  He’s bringing a date,” and before she could zing me again I clarified, “A female date.”

        Barbara said, “Well, I don’t know how much fun you’ll have there alone…”

        I went for it like I was skydiving for the first time, asking, “Why don’t you meet me there?”

        Barbara sat back in her chair and stared at me with one arched eyebrow.  I thought quickly, “She can’t get me fired for asking that after all this kidding around.”

        Barbara finally said, “Maybe.  I’ll look for you if I’m coming.”

        Emboldened I joked, “If you find me you’ll be coming.”

        Maybe that was too much.  A joke too far.  Barbara turned back to her paperwork without a word and I felt like my old insecure self.

        Darin said to me, “So what?  Nice move.  I know the woman you mean.  She’s older, man, but she’s fine.”

        We both said in unison, “Nice sweater melons,” and we snickered.

        Darin added, “You never know, man, I’m telling you.  You get your face slapped three times out of four but the fourth time makes up for all of it, I’m telling you!”

        We both then started down the hallway and that’s when we both saw the girl approaching.  She was young and her hair was long.  She was wearing a wool cap.  Her jeans were skin tight.  And so was her knitted sweater.  She held a bouquet of roses in front of herself and when she passed between us she acted as if she was smelling the roses deeply and so she ignored us.

        Darin and I found ourselves staring at each other from opposite sides of her wake as she headed toward the elevator.

        I spoke first; or rather I made the first inarticulate sound.

        Darin stated for the record, “Those were the most luscious, succulent sweater melons that I have seen in a long, long, time,” and he gestured lewdly and said, “lo-ooonnng.”

        I shook my head and I watched the girl enter the elevator and she turned around and I wanted to believe that she glanced at me.  The elevator doors closed.

        I said, “Slender with Assets, right?”

        Darin nodded.

        There was a full moon that night at Pirate’s Cove.  We parked on the cliff above the beach.  Darin and I both got out wearing swimming trunks and A-shirts.  We walked carefully down the rocky dirt path toward the cove, passing a fat joint back and forth.  We could see others below.  The moonlight on their bodies was unbroken.  Some were swimming, some were running, some were assembling wood for a bonfire.

        I had already assembled wood for my own bonfire, if you know what I mean.

        Darin said to me, “Be cool.”

        I said, “Sure.  How am I not?”

        Darin said, pointing down to my third leg, “It’s not cool to raise your antlers when everyone’s all together.  Save it for later when you go to your own corner.”

        I said, insecure again, “Oh.”

        Darin quickly said, “Discipline, man.  It’s good practice.”

        I said wryly, “I could stay home and practice.”

        Darin gave a loud laugh and choked on his inspiration and coughed, “Come on, man!”

        Then we heard Wendy calling, “Darrr-in!”

        Wendy jogged up to us and I just blinked at her voluptuous moonlit crevices like I was crying.

        Darin was suave and he smiled nonchalantly.  Wendy took Darin’s hand, “Over here.  You know the dress code:  Shirt, pants … no service,” and she giggled.

        As I shyly took off my A-shirt I saw Wendy pull Darin’s swimming trunks down and, whoa, she kissed him right then and very, very there and then she stood up and put her hands under Darin’s A-shirt and they kissed each other deeply.

        I decided that I wanted a quick swim in the cold moonlit surf so I trotted alone, with my swimming trunks still leveraged upon my anticipation, carrying my A-shirt in my hand, into the froth and foam up to my knees.

        There was a fishing boat slowly passing not far from shore.  Their lights were on and I could see the crew drinking and hooting at the revelers on the beach.

        I thought wryly that now I was surf-fishing with my pole.  And then I had the subsequent alarming thought that some fish would take the bait.

        Chastened, I turned from the brine and the hiss of the sucking sands.  I pulled on my A-shirt.  I was heading back up the dirt footpath toward my car to get a joint to be my sweet companion.

        Swaying down the footpath was Barbara!  She was wearing a short jumpsuit with a zipper down the middle.

        She smiled and she said to me, “Leaving so soon?  Good.  I need a drink.  Let’s go to Tah-Tah’s.  I’ll drive.”

        Tah-Tah’s Bar and Grill was a club in Morro Bay known for its well-endowed and, as they say, “scantily clad” waitresses.  Since it was on the shoreline neither of us was inappropriately attired; me in my A-shirt and swimming trunks and Barbara in her short jumpsuit with the shiny zipper down the middle.

        We sat down at a table.  Many people seemed to know Barbara.  Men started to come up to our table and to greet her, “Oh, hey, Barbara.  How’s it going?”

        They ignored me.

        I reached to hold Barbara’s hand.  She pulled away while keeping a beaming smile on her face and nodding to her admirers.

        I looked away and acted like I was interested in the crowd.  The prominent waitresses all wore the white tank-tops with TAH-TAH’s emblazoned in glittery letters across their secondary sex characteristics.  They all wore short tight shiny pink pants that looked like panties at a distance.  I thought to myself that I wanted a closer look.

        One of the waitresses was easing through the crowd toward our table.  Holy God, it was the girl that Darin and I had ogled between us at the elevator at the Medical Center.  The flowers girl!  She had on that wool cap even here.  It must have been her “trade mark” to distinguish her among this herd of sweater melons.

        She smiled and said, “Hello, Barbara.”

        Barbara said, “Hello, Mallory.  I’ll have the usual.  Oh.  This is Richard.  What will you have, Richard?”

        I suddenly realized with searing humiliation that I was Barbara’s male bimbo for the night.

        It was a bad feeling.

        I thought about all the times that role had been reversed and I cringed inside thinking of how those girls must have felt.

        Mallory smiled sweetly and nodded at me.  I don’t think she remembered me.  I ordinarily would have ordered a gin and tonic but now to salvage my scorched male ego I said, in my deep voice, “Whiskey, neat.”

        I watched Mallory saunter away through the crowd.

        Barbara said to me, “She’s a sweet girl, don’t you think?”

        I looked at Barbara’s condescending smile and I turned away and muttered, “Yeah, sure.”

        I was never so glad to get out of a fun place.  We walked back to Barbara’s car, both of us now numb with alcohol, and she said, “Let’s drive to the jetty.  The surf is beautiful in the moonlight.”

        We parked in the shadows at the far end of the jetty and we watched the surf dash against the boulders and glitter in the moonlight.  I turned to Barbara and I leaned toward her and we began to hug and kiss with slurping gusto.

        I thought to myself, “Back in the saddle again, cowboy,” and I leaned over her and I began to fondle her.

        After a few minutes I pulled down the zipper in the front of her jumpsuit.  .  She kissed me repeatedly on the ear.  She shrugged as I pulled her jumpsuit down over her shoulders.

        Her breasts were like a grapefruits in my cupped hands.

        I kissed and licked and sucked and pinched and nibbled.  And then I slid my flattened hand down along her belly into her crotch.

        She grabbed my hand and pulled it away and she cast it aside.  Oddly coy, I thought.  I returned to concentrating upon her neck and sweater melons.

        After a few more minutes I again slid my hand down under the jumpsuit that was gathered at her waist.  This time she clamped my wrist and squeezed hard and yanked my hand away, causing me a sharp pain in my wrist.  I lifted my head and looked quizzically into her eyes.  She was smiling.

        I became annoyed.  I shook free of her grip and plunged my hand back down under.

        In a sudden move, Barbara grabbed the hair on my head in two hands and pulled apart hard.  It really hurt and I cried out, “Ow!  Hey!” as I sat back.   She sat up and just stared into my face.  I was certain that she was taunting me.

        I became angry.  I thrust my arm past her and reached down and I released her driver’s seat and I pushed her back and then I reached again between her legs.

        She began to kick with her knees.  And there was that damn smile again!

        I became enraged.  I reached down and grabbed her jumpsuit and I pulled it over her thrashing legs.  I flung it on the floor.

        She slapped me.  Hard!  I growled like a dog.  She slapped me again, smiling with that devilish grin.

        I lunged and I began to force myself between her pumping legs.

        Then she suddenly threw her arms around my neck and pulled me down tightly on top of her.  Her eyes flashed and with a most evil grin she said to me, “Oh.  Daddy.”

        I then proceeded to just fuck, fuck, fuck her.  I fucked her.  I fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fucking, fuck, fucked.  I fucked her.

        It finally ended for both of us in a cauldron of moans.

        I rolled back into my passenger seat gulping air.  I just slumped there sweaty and vibrating and unusually upset.  There was a strobe light going off inside my head.

        I didn’t speak.  I couldn’t form a sentence!

        Barbara slowly raised her seat back up and turned the keys that were still in the ignition and she started the car.  She then methodically turned on the window heater to vaporize the condensed breath that had fogged the windshield and was now drooling down in rivulets.

        Without putting her clothes back on she began to drive back along the jetty.

        I just sat there.  I glanced at her several times.  What the hell now?  What the hell?  She had a cool smile on her face and her eyes were narrowed.  Neither one of us spoke a word.

        She drove onto the coastal highway.  Holy shit.  And thusly we drove all the way back to my car on the cliff above Pirate’s Cove.  I got out, still naked, clutching my clothes, and I shut the door without a word and she just drove away.

        I stood there blinking.  I was shattered.  I couldn’t contemplate myself.  I couldn’t face this strange person.  I dropped my clothes onto the hood of my car and walked naked down that dirt trail toward the beach.  I stumbled and I caught myself and with a clumsy stride I continued on down, down, down.

        I crossed the sand and I entered the boiling surf and I fell to my knees and the water was up to my chest.  I bowed my head under the churn of the pulverized waves and I gulped brine.  The gagging and burn of the brine brought my refracted mind back into a focus.  I stumbled back out of the surf breathing hard through my mouth.

        I stomped back up the dirt trail.  I concentrated upon the sting of the sharp pebbles under my bare feet all the way to my car.

        I pulled on my trunks and shirt and shoes and then I drove through the gathering coastal fog back home, sticky wet, to the Art Villa.  Thank God I was the only car on that stretch of obscured highway at that hour.  I wasn’t watching my speed or confirming my adherence to my lane.

        Back in my apartment I fell into my chair and absently stared at the fog and the moving shadows of the pine trees and I listened to the gossiping surf at the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek.

        For how long I do not know.

        At some point Moby the great white cat oozed through my window, watching me, and I just stared back at him.  I swear he gave me a worried appraisal as he circled the room again and again.  I felt myself sinking into my own maelstrom.  When I moved my hand reflexively to rub my sobering forehead Moby seemed to sail out the window the way he had entered and he was returned unto his night.  My mind was bobbing in his wake like an empty coffin, hungry for the guy I used to believe I was.

        I began to ponder Moby grabbing some female cat by the neck and forcing himself into her as she yowled.  That was natural.  Acceptable.  It was not rape.

        I just couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

        The next day I was quiet and more than hung over.  Darin looked at me and asked, “Well?  How was your date?”

        I gave him a pained smile and answered, “Alright.”

        Then Darin burst out laughing and he patted my shoulders and said, “Barbara is something else, isn’t she?”

        I fumbled, “What, what do you mean?”

        Darin revealed, “Man, I went out with her one time, a few years ago.  She’s a trip, ain’t she?”

        I said weakly, “Nice sweater melons, too.”

        Darin studied my face and shook his head, “Wow.  You poor fuck.”

        I then felt angry and I asked Darin, “Why didn’t you warn me?”

        Darin walked away chuckling and said, “What?  And let you miss all that ‘writer’s experience’?”

        I rode the elevator up to the third floor Counselors Offices, my pounding blood draining down into my feet.  I carefully entered Barbara’s office, hoping that she would be away in a long meeting.  Of course she wasn’t.  She looked up as I came in and she said casually, “Good morning, Dick.”

        I felt myself flush but I couldn’t speak and I looked around and then I saw Mallory.

        It was Mallory sitting in the waiting room.  And she was wearing her Tah-Tah’s outfit!  What the hell? I forgot my pain and walked to the waiting room.

        Mallory was just staring ahead as she sat there, waiting for some appointment I reasoned patently.  As I went into the room to empty the trash cans she stared right through me.  I didn’t say hello.

        Then, as I was carrying out the trash I heard her say behind me, “You’re Richard, aren’t you?”

        I turned back around and quickly said, “Oh, hi.  Yes.  I didn’t want to disturb you.”

        She seemed sad but she smiled slightly and said, “Small world inside this small town.”

        I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “Yeah, really.  Well, nice to see you again,” and I was going to leave but then I suddenly had to ask her, “Why are you here in your…uniform?”

        Mallory’s mouth trembled and she pinched her lips, but then she suddenly wagged her breasts and said, “A final ‘tah-Tahh’!” and she gave a short burst of laughter but I knew something was wrong.

        Mallory returned to her blank stare.  I suddenly thought of the phrase that I had heard used to describe the expressions of war-weary soldiers: “the thousand-yard stare”.

        I suddenly felt invasive so I said, “Well, gotta go.  No rest for the wicked.”

        I walked out of the office without a word but I heard Barbara call out cheerfully after me, “Try to get some rest.”

        I was never so grateful that I was off for the next two days and that I would then start the “graveyard” shift.  My self-esteem was in cold hibernation.  I would be glad to be alone and I was hoping to heal eventually my astonishingly flimsy male ego.

        By the graveyard shift days later I was thinking of other things.  I was mopping the hallway floors.  There appeared only occasionally a night nurse striding past.

        I was mopping my way past the dark Recovery Ward when there appeared beside me a little girl.  I was taken aback.  It actually startled me and I recalled all the horror movies I’d seen where a vision of a dead child’s ghost preceded something ghastly.

        But she was such an adorable little girl with full curly hair and big eyes and she nervously held her pudgy little hand against her face and she swayed and said to me, “Mommy’s crying.”

        I bowed toward her and asked, “Your mommy’s crying?  Where is she?”

        The little girl held out her hand to me and said, “I show you.”

        I looked up and down the hallway.  What was a little girl doing here?  I took her hand and she led me into the Recovery Ward.

        The Recovery Ward was dim.  There were night lights at all the beds and I could make out patients sleeping.  The little girl led me past them toward a bed where I could discern a woman sitting up with her face in her hands.

        When we arrived at the side of the bed the little girl said, “Don’t cry, Mommy.”

        The woman lowered her hands and I saw the smear of tears glistening on her cheeks.  Holy… It was Mallory!

        I whispered quickly, “Mallory?  What… Are you alright?”

        She stared at me and said, “Richard?  I’m sorry.  Gloria is supposed to stay here,” and Mallory pointed to a cot that had been set-up beside her bed.

        I said, “It’s OK.  What… Why.  Are you alright?”

        Mallory sniffed and wiped her eyes and said, “Yes, I’m alright,” and she tried to straighten her loose hospital gown and then she said to the little girl, “Gloria, Mommy’s OK.  You need to stay here.  That is the rule.”

        Gloria said sweetly, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”

        Then Mallory said, “This is my Gloria.  I didn’t have anyone to babysit so they let her stay here with me,” then she put out her hands to Gloria and said, “And I’m glad.”

        Gloria stepped forward and let herself be lifted onto the bed beside her Mommy.  She hugged Mallory.  Mallory hugged her tightly against her chest and sobbed.

        I asked again, “Are you sure you’re OK?  Can I get the nurse?”

        Mallory looked over her daughter’s head and said to me, “No.  No.  I just have to deal with this.”

        Trying only to let her talk to someone I asked, “What happened?”

        She settled Gloria on the pillow beside her and she pulled her hospital gown flat against herself.  I gazed stupidly for a moment and then I saw: she had no breasts.

        Mallory hardened her voice clinically and she said matter-of-factly, “I had breast cancer.  I had to have a radical mastectomy.”

        Then she fell forward and cried.

        Gloria was alarmed and said, “Mommy!”

        I was helpless and shocked and my eyes watered watching Mallory sob.  What could I do?  I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder.  What could I do?  I said, “God.  I am so sorry.  Mallory.  Mallory do you want the nurse?  Do you want a tranquilizer?”

        Mallory sat back up and shook her head.  She hugged Gloria.

        Mallory sniffed and began to talk, “That isn’t going to help.  What am I going to do?  I can’t work at… I can’t go back to work.  They said I could work in the office but I just can’t go back there.”

        I asked, “Where is your husband?”

        Mallory laughed with a snort, “Who knows?  He never was a ‘husband’.  He wasn’t really a boyfriend, apparently.”

        I said, “Oh, jeez, I’m sorry.  I’m just.. I…”

        Mallory hugged Gloria tighter and said, “It’s just you and me, right, Gloria?”

        Gloria looked up and gave a big nod and said, “That’s right, Mommy.  You and me.”

        I guess I really didn’t have any problems.  I was just going to keep talking to her and I asked, “What did you do… before?”

        Mallory said, “I was a Sociology Major in college.  I needed money and I got a job at… the club.  And I was making such good money that I never went back to school.”

        She laughed and looked up at me and asked, “So what do I do now?  I can’t ‘retire’.  I have some savings but I don’t have my… ‘assets’ anymore,” and her eyes filled with tears and she said, “That was all I was.”

        I was stabbed by her despair and I said too loudly, “That is no way fucking true, Mallory!”  I looked around quickly at the disturbed sleepers.  I whispered intensely, “You are a beautiful… person and you have a beautiful daughter and you have… friends who are going to help you.  Don’t you worry about that!”

        What the hell was I talking about?  All I know is that I felt anointed to help Mallory in any way that I could.

        After a few more minutes a nurse came in.  The nurse asked me what I was doing there and Mallory told her, “It’s OK.  He was helping me and Gloria with something.”

        I said, “Goodnight, Mallory.  Don’t you worry about anything.”

        All I could think about was Mallory for the rest of my shift and on into my sleepless day.  The very next night I returned to Mallory’s bedside.  Gloria was still there with her and the little sweetheart said to me, “Hi, Richard.”

        Mallory seemed to be calm, if not in good spirits, at least she didn’t seem like she had been crying.  I talked fast, “Mallory, I was doing a lot of thinking.  You could work here, at the Medical Center, as a counselor.  A counselor for women like you, for sure.  They would listen to you.  You have a Sociology background, right?  I can find out if they can find a place for you, OK?  What do you think?”

        She smiled indulgently at me and she said, “Sure.  I suppose.  Why not?  It’s worth a shot.  Thanks.  What else have I got to lose?”

        Then I took my own shot and I asked her, “Mallory, when you get out of here, how would you and Gloria like to take a ride up the coast.  We could have a picnic.  I could use a break.  Just a friendly outing?”

        Mallory studied me for a moment and then she said with a faint smile, “Sure.  They wrote my cell phone number on the board for some reason.  That sounds nice.  Thanks.  Richard.”

        I did not go home when my shift ended.  I waited in the hallway for Barbara to arrive for work.

        She saw me waiting outside the Counselors Office door and she tipped her head quizzically as she approached and she asked me with narrowed eyes, “Dick?  What a pleasant surprise.  What are you doing here?”

        I said, “Hey, Barbara, Hi.  Can we talk inside?”

        Barbara unlocked the office door and replied, “Su-uure.  Why not?  I have a few minutes.”

        Once inside she turned on the coffee machine, picked up a couple files from the inbox and then she sat down at her desk and she asked me while looking through the files, “So what’s up?”

        I said earnestly, “Barbara, I heard that you were thinking about hiring an assistant.  Well, I think you should consider… Mallory.  She has a Sociology background and she certainly has the … experience to be a good counselor.”

        Barbara sat back and said, “Well, well.  Mallory?  You two have been talking, have you?  Ah, that’s right.  The night shift in the Recovery Ward, I presume?”

        I said, “Yes.  Barbara, she could use your help.  She’s a nice person.  You know her.”

        Barbara put her finger to her lips and asked me, “You do know that she has a daughter, don’t you?”

        I ignored her innuendo and I replied, “Yes.  Cute kid.  All the more reason to help her if we can.”

        Barbara grinned, “We?”

        I was righteous, “Yes, we, Barbara.  Please?  Just think about it?”

        Barbara returned to studying her files and said as a dismissal to me, “I’ll think about it.”

        I should have been sleeping but I was wide awake and happy as I drove to Mallory’s place in San Luis Obispo.  She was renting a room in a quaint old house not far from the railroad yard.  The day seemed particularly bright and sunny.

        Mallory and Gloria both sat with me on the front bench seat of my old Chevy Caprice as we cruised onto the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway One, and on up the coastline.

        I asked Mallory, “Do you smoke?”

        Mallory looked down at Gloria between us and replied, “Not in front of Gloria.”

I said, “That’s OK,” and I already felt high just driving with her and her Gloria.

We drove past the little seaside town of Cayucos.  People in Morro Bay referred to them as “Cay-useless”.  The Cayucos people referred to their rivals as “Moron-Bay”.

We stopped in the tiny artist’s colony of Harmony and I bought a weaving of fairies in a forest for Gloria.

We drove on through the virgin ranch lands of San Simeon which rolled right down to the rocky shoreline on a carpet of emerald grass.

We watched the white rocks of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse drift past in the distance as we glided down the two-lane Pacific Coast Highway.  We rode right alongside the shoreward wooden fence posts of the expansive ranchland.

Mallory seemed at ease.  Gloria was singing a verse of a song on the radio, “I don’t care, I love it, I don’t care”.  Mallory and I laughed.

Farther north the winding highway rose up at times to 1,000 feet above the coastline.  Gloria was astonished and ooed-and-ahh’d.  She became the delighted fulcrum of our journey as you can imagine.

Mallory and I talked and talked.  At one point Gloria said, “You guys are talking, talking, talking,” and we laughed and Mallory hugged Gloria.

I had never been with a woman without having my own agenda.  And I think that Mallory was glad to just have a sympathetic companion.

We finally stopped at a turn-out with a pathway that led down the cliffs to a picnic area.  We spread a blanket on the pine needles and kneeled and we had the lunch that Mallory had prepared for us: salmon empanadas and vegetable empanadas and coleslaw and fruit ambrosia.  It was a perfect day.  At one point Mallory and I were just looking at each other, our eyes glistening in fearless semaphore.  Gloria suddenly said, “You guys say something!” and that made us laugh.

Gloria laid herself down and fell into a blissful nap.  Mallory and I moved next to each other and I kissed her willing lips.  The sea breeze and the sunlight and the fanning shadows became ambrosia.  We embraced and I laid Mallory back down upon the blanket without breaking our gaze.  I caressed Mallory’s sweater gently.

We made love, and I felt for the first time that I was Making Love, but Mallory would not remove her sweater that day.

Mallory got the job in Barbara’s office.  Barbara never harassed either of us.

We have moved into my Art Villa apartment together for now.  I thought about going back to school for a better job but then what would be the point?  I could not leave Mallory and Gloria.

I made it known at work that I was interested in the Janitorial Supervisor position that was opening up.  They needed someone who could handle paperwork and write reports.

I laughed to myself, “My expensive education finally paid off.”

Darin was apprehensive that I then had become his boss but he soon enough realized that I had no interest in curtailing any of his methods.

I became all about Mallory and Gloria.

Mallory and I talk a lot about getting married someday, but I tell you that little princess sweetheart Gloria, she owns me.


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 wife is hot


        I am racing away down this highway like a meteor.  Christ, I’m doing eighty-five in this old truck.  The wind is whipping my hair into my eyes.  The hills all around me are as black as a Bible and turning slowly past me.  But the dome of this night sky scintillates without changing.

        Whoa!  A meteor!  I saw a meteor!  Wow, it just scratched across half the night sky!  I swear I could see red and yellow when it finally burst.  A meteor is just dust just rolling through this universe in solitude for a million years.  Then, by chance, it is attracted to earth where it scrapes itself into a rainbow vapor against the deceiving atmosphere.

        I call myself a writer.  If I couldn’t call myself a writer I’d have to blow my brains out.

        When I was twelve my father dropped me off at school and then he went home and dropped dead of a heart attack.  My big sister picked me up from school and I thought she was lying to me until I saw my mother.

        My mother was religious and so to make sense of my father’s death she became more religious.  My big sister left home, but I remained behind with Jesus.

        My father died so young that there were only crumbs of benefits left to us.  My mother struggled and prayed harder and harder.  Then, when I was a senior in high school she got colon cancer but she prayed and convinced herself that it was just “a food allergy” until it was too late and she died.

        I had a girl who liked me in high school but she got engaged to a pre-med student.  I was then alone and pretty much broke.  I lived in a smoke-filled rented house with five other guys and tried to go to community college.  My mother’s sister told me that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do then I should get a business degree because I could use it anywhere.  So I tried.

        When I was a kid I was a loner anyway.  I spent summers on a lounge chair in the back yard reading a whole science fiction book every day.  My father had been a boxer in the Navy and a college football hero.  He had to have been disappointed in me but at family gatherings he always asked me to define some word and then he would proudly say, “Did you hear that?”

        Now I was a young man on my own and painfully aware of my shabby “coat of arms” and afraid of my social caste.  So the voice in my head began to tell me that I was a writer who was gathering experience.  Somehow that got me through all the menial jobs and the humiliating office work that the agency for temporary workers found for me.

        Then when I was twenty-one some relative had died and I got a few thousand dollars.  I moved out of that smoke-filled house and I resolved to live frugally and to write “that book”.

        I bought an old pickup truck with a loud muffler and a skull-and-bones motif chrome trim from some tough guy with a beard and tattoos.  His name was Dusty.  Dusty is the one who told me about the trailer park owned by some charismatic church.  The rent was too good to be true.  And Dusty was the property manager.  Well, it certainly promised to be an experience that I could “gather”.

        The trailer park was a cluster of old trailers, long ones and short ones.  It was located on a dry, dusty plateau surrounded by Eucalyptus trees.  I rented a short trailer.  A long trailer was my nearest neighbor.  Dusty told me that the “charismatic leader” of the church, Pastor Abundio, lived there in the long trailer with his wife Chicharra.

        I did not see anyone else around in the trailer park.  Dusty told me that most of the renters were (and he chose his words carefully) “undocumented workers” for whom Pastor Abundio would contract jobs.  Then Dusty added, “You won’t see them most of the time.  They come home late and dead tired.  But on Friday night they like to drink and sing at the fire pit over there.  You are welcome to join in.”

        Well, I figured that at least I would have no distractions.  How wrong could I be?

        I will tell you how wrong I could be.

        One afternoon it was 104 degrees.  I had my netbook set-up on a folding table right beside the air-conditioner.  That air conditioner could barely secure a zone of comfort for me.  It was set into one window of my trailer and I looked out at my neighbor’s trailer.

        That’s when I saw her.

        The door of Pastor Abundio’s long trailer flew open and out stepped a dark and beautiful young woman with long wavy raven hair.  She was wearing only a satin slip and she had on thin slippers.  She stood on the tiny porch and she tipped her face to the sky and closed her eyes as she pulled back her long hair with both hands and pursed her dark brown lips and exhaled long and slowly.  She held that pose for at least a minute.

        I knew that it must be she, Pastor Abundio’s wife, and I licked her name upon my lips, “Chicharra”.

        Chicharra went to the side of their trailer and retrieved a hose with a tiny sprinkler attached.  Chicharra wiped her forehead with the back of her arm.  She carried the hose and sprinkler midway between their trailer and my trailer and she set it down.  She went back and turned on the sprinkler and a mist of spray arose.

        Then I could not believe what happened next.

        Chicharra began to dance into and out of the pillar of mist.  She raised her arms she kicked her shapely legs as high as her shoulders and she twirled.  She bowed and dipped and arose again with a kick that lifted her off of her feet and she gently landed and lifted her leg behind herself and bowed and twirled.

        Her wet satin slip clung now tightly to her body.

        I was leaning forward and staring through my window at this erotic ballet and then I sat back like a dreamer awakening and I was afraid for a moment that I had heat stroke.  I guess I did in a way.  But I leaned forward again.  In a sudden inspiration I grabbed my smart phone and I began to take pictures.  Then I set my phone to take a video because I had to capture that flowing dance.  I told myself that I had always been fascinated by the grace and precision of the human body during gymnastics and formal dance.

        I also had a raging baton in my pants.

        Suddenly Chicharra stopped and stood straddling the sprinkler, facing toward my window.  The spray went up under her fluttering slip and reappeared coursing back down her legs and she tipped her head back and blew and she shimmered in the hot sun.

        She lowered her head slowly and that was when she saw me looking at her.  I fell back in my chair as if she had slapped me but she slowly smiled and she put her left hand on her hip and she waved at me with her other hand.  I raised my own hand in embarrassed acknowledgement.

        She had not stepped out of the rising spray.

        She finally came over to my window and said up to me, “Please, no tell my husband.  He no likes me dance.”

        She looked at my rumbling air conditioner and said to me, “I am Chicharra.  My husband is Pastor Abundio.  My air conditioning no work.  You know fix maybe?”

        My Spanish was weak but I pointed to my face and I said, “I am called Evan.”

        Chicharra grinned and teased, “Heaven?  Very nice for you.”

        I clarified, “I’m Eh-van.  No mechanic.  No mechanic.  If you like, I can see air conditioner.”

        Chicharra nodded and replied, “Eh-van.  Yes.  Very nice.  Please, you look?”

        Not only was it as hot as Hell outside but my imagination spun fantasies of Chicharra that drilled down into Hell itself and surely would be branded onto my poor barbequed soul when Satan finally owned me.

        As we walked together toward her trailer I said awkwardly, “Good dance.  I liked.  You dance before?”

        Chicharra replied softly, “Little girl dance in Mexico.  Very poor.  Abundio let me dance in club.  Los Pobres Caballeros de Cristo (Poor Knights of Christ drug cartel) come to club.  Drug men want to buy club, talk to Abundio.  Then Abundio say he talk to Jesus.  Jesus tell Abundio come to America take me his, his wife.  Abundio say Jesus tell him I no dance no more.”

        I walked up the steps to her trailer a little slower now.  I was sure that I was about to “gather” one too many experiences.

        The inside of the trailer was ostentatious with religious displays.  I had an uneasy feeling and I thought of the phrase “protests too much”.

        Chicharra said, “Here air condition.  No work no more.”

        I had to focus.  It was ten degrees hotter in that trailer than the furnace outside.  My skin was crying sweat.  I looked at the air conditioning unit as if I had any idea about how to repair it.

        I said, “Just a moment,” and I got out my smart phone and noted the air conditioner’s brand name and number.  You can find a YouTube video for repairing anything I was once told.  I had to dry my fingers before my touch registered on the touch-screen.  Sure enough, there it was.  I started the video.

        The instructions commenced and in the first couple of sentences the instructor said to make sure that the air conditioner is plugged-in (well, duh) and then he said to confirm that a fuse had not blown.  (Boing!)  I set my phone down on the nearby lamp stand.

        I turned to Chicharra who was gleaming with sweat and I had to look aside to ask her, “Fuse box?  Electricity?”

        She replied, “Oh,” and gestured for me to follow her down to the far end of the trailer.  I followed her rolling hips as she walked.

        To the bedroom.  Jesus Christ, their bedroom.

        I quickly said, “No, no.  Electricity.  Fuse box?”

        Chicharra said, “Sí, sí,” and she continued a few more steps and she opened the closet door.  She knelt down and motioned for me to come to her.  She laughed as if at a child and motioned again for me to kneel with her as I had been just standing there beside her apprehensively.

        I crouched beside her.  My knee made a popping sound.  Chicharra placed her hand lightly on my knee and laughed and said, “Don’t break.”

        Her naked shoulder was against mine.  I could smell her overheated aromas.

        She pointed to the right-hand wall of the closet.  There was the fuse box.  I immediately saw that one of the switches was off.  I clicked it and we both heard the rumble of the air conditioner.

        Chicharra arose with a hop and a delighted clap and then quickly reached down and offered to me her hand as if I needed help to get up.

        Believe me, part of me was already way up.

        I don’t know what went wrong with me next:  I took her hand as I stood up.

        She leaned forward and kissed with glee my hot sweating unshaven cheek.  She rubbed her lips and laughed, saying, “Salt of earth.  Very good.”

        With her face being that close to mine I turned into those brown eyes and that sweet breath and those sweaty aromas.  My instincts grappled with my better angels and I was actually paralyzed.

        She narrowed her eyes right into my own eyes and she shook her head and then she laughed again and said, “Thank you, Eh-van.”

        I found my volition and I turned and I walked out of there as quickly as was polite and I was waving and saying, “Well, I work now.  Much work.”

        That rest of the day I was just sitting in front of my netbook, glancing up at my neighbor’s trailer, imagining, imagining.

        The evening had sneaked over me when there came the sudden pounding on my door that shook my persistent reveries about Chicharra.

        I opened my trailer door and the door could not frame all of the man who stood there.  My eyes popped involuntarily.  He was massive.  He reminded me of a Polynesian war god idol, he was so imposing and fierce of expression.

         He said, “I am Pastor Abundio.”

        Then I saw standing behind Pastor Abundio, looking around those big shoulders, Dusty, the property manager.

        Pastor Abundio looked down at me and asked, “You are Eh-van?”

        So this is how it was going to end for me.

        I answered with shivering nonchalance, “H-, hi.  Yes.  I’m Evan.  Hello.”

        Pastor Abundio thrust his arm toward me and I flinched.  He was holding my smart phone.

        Pastor Abundio said, “You left this.”

        I took the phone off of his table-top palm and I hoped that he didn’t notice my trembling.

        Pastor Abundio said, “My wife told me everything.”

        I was just smiling and nodding.  Then I heard myself say, “Your wife is…  WAS, was hot.  I fixed her… IT, it.”

        Pastor Abundio considered me for a moment.  I felt like a supplicating condemned man.

        He asked me, “Do you like Jesus?” and I kept smiling and nodding and Pastor Abundio then said, “You come to my church Saturday morning.  Dusty will show you,” and then he turned and walked away past Dusty who continued to look at me with an ambiguous smile.

        I shut the door.  Out of nervous habit I turned the phone on to check it and I almost dropped it.  There in the opening screen was the video I had taken of Chicharra dancing, ready to play at a touch of the Start arrow.  I remembered for certain that I had left it on the YouTube video.

        I suddenly knew what was meant by the expression “my knees got weak”.

        The next day, Friday, was a blur.  I did not know what to do.  My mother always had told me to pray and so I prayed and I prayed and then when it became evening I joined my fellow residents at their campfire.  Dusty had provided cases of beer.  I drank enough beer to quench the fires of Hell.  The workers all laughed at me and slapped my back, I can remember.

        I awoke the next morning on my porch sitting against my trailer door.  I had enough time to rub tap water on my face, drink long from the faucet, and then go to the bathroom, before Dusty pulled up in his truck outside my front door and honked.

        He hollered, “Let’s go,” and pounded his fist against the outside of his truck door.  I wobbled out my door and the workers who were squeezed in the back of his pickup laughed at me and beckoned me to get in.

        They didn’t talk to me directly but they were all grinning at me and muttering to each other and chuckling.

        Pastor Abundio’s charismatic church turned out to be what looked like an abandoned homestead at the far edge of the plateau.  There was the crudest of crosses made from nailed lumber and painted white and leaning against the wall beside doorway of the square structure.  There was no glass in the windows.  Inside was painted black and it made me feel like the interior had been burned out.  There was a motley assemblage of various chairs and benches toward the center of the room as if they had been corralled.  They faced a raised platform draped in white linen.  A sparkling pink cross had been painted on the wall behind the platform using metal-flake paint.  A hole cut strategically into the ceiling permitted a shaft of light to angle onto the center of the platform.

        The workers took seats and so did I.  Several of the workers glanced over at me with what I thought was commiseration but they quickly looked away.  Through the windows were beautiful views of the hills that looked like square photographs hung against the black walls.

        Pastor Abundio entered with Dusty behind him and they walked slowly up to the raised platform, climbed up, and turned and stood looking over the heads of the congregation.  They both wore black choir robes.

        I looked around.

        I saw Chicharra entering wearing a pink choir robe that I thought she must have sewn and she walked slowly up to the raised platform.  All the workers bowed their heads.  Chicharra sat on the steps of the platform.  She looked slowly around the room at the bowed heads and then her eyes found my eyes and she bent forward ever so slightly and I got the message that I was supposed to bow my head.  I did so.

        Pastor Abundio began to preach sentences alternately in Spanish and then in English, beginning with, “We are the Poor Knights of Christ…”

        Here and there workers would look up and nod and then lower their heads.

        I quickly realized that Pastor Abundio was speaking religious platitudes and philosophical inanities.  For a moment I thought that someday I would write a comedy skit about this.  Then a chill descended upon me as Dusty said, “Let us all show our great gratitude to our Pastor Abundio.”

        Dusty walked up to each worker in turn and held open a black sack to receive their “offerings”.  Each one took a fistful of dollars and dropped them into the sack.  Dusty came up before me and he held out the open sack and he smiled with that ambiguous smile and nodded.  I took out my shabby wallet and stuck my fingers into the slit of the pouch for my only cash, six one dollar bills.  Dusty nodded and shook the sack.  I dropped my cash into the sack.

        I was suddenly terrified.

        Had my “gathering” of experiences made me a drug cult slave?  What had I done?  I had shackled myself with guilt and fear.  I was insane.  I was no writer.  I was a stupid loser!

        At 3:00 AM this morning, Sunday morning, I arose and I tossed my netbook and clothes and a bag of toiletries into my truck and I quietly rolled away from the trailer park, gritting my teeth at every stone my tires crunched.

        So here I am racing away down this highway like a meteor.  The wind is making my hair whip like flames.  I am not a loser!  I am not a loser!

        I am a writer!

        The CHECK ENGINE NOW light suddenly glows on my dashboard as if red hot from friction.  The engine starts to make a tapping sound like a hammer on nails.  A spear of terror stabs my guts.  I cry out, “God, why have you abandoned me?!”





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