19.4.06

Snag

This story couldn't even get published in a shitty student publication. May as well toss it out here. Besides, it seems to correlate well with my current writing mood (I'm sure I'll apologize for everything later).

Actually, I like this story very much, and I hope you do as well. I'm contrasting the ultra feminine (Woman's Health) with the super masculine (see below). It's a very fine balancing act that I enjoy failing at.

(I love the parenthetic.)

Snag


“All right now. Picture this. I’m at Wal-Mart with the lady, getting all the basics. As we’re hiking to the checkout lanes there’s this bin of $1 cd’s. Bev goes through it and plucks something out, I don’t know what, we pay, we leave. We're sitting at home about an hour before she walks to the bedroom, pops in the cd, and lays on the bed in her little sleepy-time mask. And do you know what it was? Wedding songs. I’m not talking casual romance and smooth jazz—I’m talking serious wedding shit. It’s the songs they play while you walk down the aisle. I ask her what the fuck she’s doing listening to this crap in her sleepy-time mask at 5:30 in the goddamn afternoon.
“You know what she says? She says ‘Imagining our future.’ And I’m just stunned. All I can do is stand there. Imagining our fucking future. It's routine now. She does it at least once a week and I have to sit there knowing what’s spinning in that twisted little brain.”
A man with beady eyes whistles and says, “God that’s creepy.”
“I know.”
“So you’re leaving, right?”
“See, that’s where I’m not sure.”
The man with the beady eyes is Milo. He clears his throat and looks down at his round stomach. He’s wearing this green polo shirt that stretches over it smooth as spandex. You can see where his belly button pops out, and he sees it too, because there’s this grotesque bulge in the cotton. He’s distracted by its presence.
“You don’t actually plan to marry that?” He tentatively pokes at his belly button. Like maybe it will go away.
“Oh no. I just wanna see her next move.”
“Next move might include a sharp object. I think it’s dangerous, fucking around with that kind of girl. She’s twisted, Clive.”
I laugh at this. “It’s not dangerous. She can’t weigh more than 110.”
“How much you think she’s gotta weigh to sink a knife in your gut? I bet 110 will do it just fine.”
Now he’s rolling his belly button between his index finger and his thumb and taking deep pulls off a beer.
“Jesus Christ, would you quit fucking with your gut, Milo?”
“No problem.” He puts his belly hand flat on the table. “I just don’t see why you do it. I mean, pussy never dries up. One half of everyone’s got a snatch, Clive. There’s no reason a man’s gotta live like that. And we still got some good years left, handsome fellows like ourselves.”
Milo is not handsome. Neither am I. And we certainly are not young. Milo is almost bald and the hair that’s still clinging to his scalp is black and greasy.
“I’ve got no money.”
“Get a job.”
“She’s prettiest girl I‘ve fucked in years.”
“Not worth it man. But whatever happens, you’ve got a safe place on my sofa.”
“You’re taking it too far.”
“110 is gonna carve you up.”
“That’s enough. I’ve gotta meet her for lunch.”
“It’s your funeral.”


The woman sitting across from me is the perfect picture of romance. Puffy face, snotty nose, wad of tissue.
This bitch is always crying.
Sometimes she cries about the past, other times the future, and always at the fucking movies. When they strike up the sappy music and toss in a touching moment she gets all watered up, sniffing and sobbing, expecting me to pet her gently. All I can think is “Bev’s in a goddamn state.” Every time we go through it I just want to poke her in the eye. Hard. Like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke.
We are not at the movies or on the couch today, though I’d trade for either.

Scene: It’s Mama’s Kitchen, a greasy spoon on 54th and Franklyn. It’s noon-thirty and the lunch rush is swinging. There’s one open table and it’s covered with the debris of its last occupants. Three waitresses are hustling with coffeepots and you can hear the slap of burgers sizzling on the grill.
Bev and I are sitting at a booth in the far corner. Her back is to the restaurant, but I can see everything. People are watching us. Middle-aged women shoot me with bullet eyes, knowing I’ve committed some crime. I try to lock eyes with the men. They’ve seen a thousand Bev’s, maybe screwed a couple, and they’re sympathetic.

Bev’s Story: The morning was soggy and gray. She stepped bravely out of the house anyway, hopped in her car, and sped to make her appointment at Salon DeFranco.
There’s this guy there straight from France named Philip. He’s no beautician, barber or stylist. He’s a goddamn look designer. If this man even strokes your head it costs $70, and still he’s booked solid for the next three months.
Bev could not wait three months.
Because Bev could not wait three months to have her look designed, she was given one of Philip’s stooges. He’s got an entire line-up of kids, most of them fresh from cosmetology school. He likes them fresh and pliable.
Bev’s stooge was Ambrosia.
Ambrosia had been splicing hair into clever shapes for exactly six months before she wandered into Salon DeFranco for a job. When Bev wandered into Salon DeFranco for a cut, Ambrosia had been working there one week.
Naturally, this kid attacks Bev’s head with equal parts passion and nerves. Every three minutes or so, Philip would amble by and mutter some French talk like “Sissis good technique you are using.”
The good technique was called twisting. Ambrosia would spin a strand of Bev’s hair in her fingers, hold it tight, and drag the scissors down it in a choppy motion. Each time Philip appeared, Ambrosia tensed up and jerked these strands so hard Bev would tear up.
Altogether, an unpleasant experience.
As soon as Ambrosia was done playing the butcher’s apprentice on my woman's head, Bev hoppedin her car again and sped to make our lunch date. When she walks in, she’s already crying.
And here we are.

This post was too long, so the rest of the story will be filed away in comments for you avid readers (of which, I think, there are two...Grant and Eric, congratulations on this triumph of literacy and bad taste).

1 comment:

Anna Nym said...

Her's the rest.

She thinks the cut is bad, and she’s right. It’s very bad. Stiff spikes jut out in all angles like a spread of nails. It’s a modern fucking mess.
“Why did you do it?”
“Is that all you’re gonna say,” she sobs, “Why’d I do it?”
“It’s not that bad?”
“I didn’t do it. Ambrosia did it. All I said was I wanna try something different.”
“That’s all the direction you gave her.”
“Yeah.”
“Anyone named Ambrosia needs a lot more direction than that.”
“It’s not funny Clive. It’s a disaster.”
She starts feeling around her head like she’s reading Braille. I wonder if the spikes hurt her palm.
“It’s not a disaster, Bev. An earthquake on the San Andreas is a disaster. What you’re wearing up top is a minor inconvenience.”
She cries harder.
“Come on now. It’s not as bad as you think.”
She lets out this hell moan, and if anyone wasn't looking before, they are now.
“Bevie, Bevie. Don’t be like that,” I glare at an older woman who’s shamelessly staring at us, “It’s just hair sweetie. I’m sure it’ll look better when you wash that crispy shit out.”
“It’s gel,” she sobs, burying her face in her hands, then delicately touching the tips of her spikes.
A waitress slides up to the booth and coos at us. “Oh honey,” she says, “You’re so sad. Let me get you a piece of pie, huh?”
She says this as though she’s addressing a lame puppy.
“No,” Bev sobs, “It’s okay.”
“Come on honey. I know a warm slice of pie always cheers me right up.” The waitress sends me a warning look.
Bev tosses her a meek smile and says, “Apple…I guess.”
The waitress wanders off and reappears with a slice of apple all drizzled with caramel and topped with two scoops of melty vanilla. As she puts the plate down on the table, a cook slaps the order-up bell. It’s way too Pavlovian and I squirm in my seat.
“Here you go honey.”
“Thank you,” Bev sniffles.
She starts taking these wimpy little bites, the picture of frailty under a halo of nails. I let her finish the treat then immediately flag a waitress for our check. The apple pie is on the bill, but I don’t tell Bev.
“Are you coming straight home after you pick up aps,” she asks, trying to squeeze a little more from all the H2O.
“Probably.”
“Probably?”
“Yeah. Probably.”
I stand up and wait for her to do the same. As we walk out she sniffles and says, “I hope you’ll come home early.”
“I know you do.”
I kiss her on the forehead and sneak a touch of her spikes. They don’t hurt but they are crunchy.


I walk down to the Def Ear, this independent music store that sells bongs and vinyl and I pick up an ap. There's a section for drawing pictures, begging or whatever you feel like jotting down. It’s labeled “Now Show Us Your Stuff.”
I take this very seriously.
Instead of picking up a pile of aps, I head over to Drowning Joe’s so I can do this one up good and proper. Six beers later, I start.
As I finish, the bartender shouts last call. I drink one more beer, carefully roll up my future and
stagger back to Bev’s. I walk in the door and there's classical music blaring. Bev is sitting on the couch with her sharp new head, crying, either again or still.
“Did you cut yourself?”
“I thought you were coming home early.”
“No. You thought I was coming home early.”
She chucks a cd case at me. It would have hurt but she misses by three feet.
“That’s what I said you goddamn drunk.”
“Really? Well, shit.”
“Where’s your aps?”
I wave my future triumphantly in the air, “Right here.”
“Let’s see em.”
She stomps over and snatches my ap away without looking at it. She just shakes it above her head and shouts the word ‘one’ over and over like if she shouts it enough, the paper is going to split off into a dozen more applications. I almost expect it to happen, looks like magic to me.
“I know it’s just one but I did it real careful.”
She laughs cruelly, “Did you keep it in the lines Clive? Did you do some fucking calligraphy?”
“No, no, no.” I snatch the ap from her and try to show her my stuff. “See, baby. I did it good and proper.”
She doesn’t look at the page, she just keeps on shouting.
“Are you some kind of retard? Am I gonna marry some kind of retard?”
My jaw goes slack. I hear, I mean really hear, the music she’s got pumping. It’s on track 6. Air on a String. She’s been sitting in the dark, imagining our future again. Probably imagining it on repeat.
“Aw sweet Jesus,” I mutter and Bev slaps me. Hard. Across the cheek.
I don’t hit her back. I walk right past her, to the bedroom, to the dresser, opening drawers, pulling out clothes. When I round up an armful I turn around and there she is. Old Nails, Little 110. She’s standing in the doorway with her arms spread as a blockade.
“What are you doing Clive?”
I look down at my bundle then back at her. She’s immovable. I know this right away. Her teary
face has this iron resolve. She plans to keep me, till death do you part style.
“I’m going to Milo’s safe sofa.”
“No,” she stomps her foot, “You are not.”
Suddenly I want to nail this little psycho. I want to fuck her hard and furious then walk away from all the bullshit.
“Ah, Bevie.”
I drop the clothes and walk up to her, run my hands through her nails. She's already ripping off her blouse. She thinks I'm trapped. I throw her on the bed and I fuck her like I've never fucked a woman before. She's screaming and carrying on, shouting for more. The wedding music is blaring and I start yelling over it. At first it's the normal crap, you know, like “Take it all, slut!” But then something happens. I start sounding off all the shit I'm taking with me. It just comes out. Each thrust inspires a new toiletry and I shout it with all my lungs, like I fucking invented it. "Toothbrush! Comb! Boxers! Undershirt! Razor! Jeans!" She's crying and blathering because she knows what's happening. She knows she lost big. I bust my load inside her and she drops on the mattress sighing and shaking. I look down at her and I know I fucked her good and proper. Her nails are all crunched and limp against her head. I walk out to the living room and give Milo a call. She’s yelling my name but I don’t turn around. I know everything she wants to say.