Three Stories


Strategy

Maybe it was your fault. Last Saturday the two of you sucked face so long and hard that you thought your cheeks were going to cave in and you’d lost three quarters of your tongue. On Monday you sent a selfie that who cares if it was shopped, it was so hot it probably melted the casing on his phone. Tuesday he texted you a stupid joke, and you were like lol, so he punched out Wanna hang? You said sure, and that went fine, even if you didn’t do it because his place there’s nowhere clean to lie down. But for the last two days he’s been a total ass hat, whining about getting some and how he’d perform for you. Some of it’s sexy, but parts are nasty and you need to find some way to make him ease off, especially when he’s blowing up your phone every few seconds.

Tell him that you’re in love with him, that you want to have his babies. That’ll make him shut the fuck up.


Restroom Love Story, Trailways Bus Depot, Newark, 1975

The urinal hangs askew on the gray-tiled wall, the grouting chinked here and over there. It’s the middle in a row of three, between the damned and the saved. Just above the one on the right, someone’s scrawled “NeWT?” in black, almost obliterated by a series of pockmarks in the tiling as if a woodpecker with an iron bill has been at it. The urinal on the left gurgles, a yellow-brown stain in its bowl, the shape of a hockey goalie’s mask. At the base of the bowl, so low you can barely see it when in position, is “NeWT HERE!!” in spiky black letters on top of a cock and balls.

Of the two tiny sinks near the entrance, one is bone-dry, its lone faucet handle jammed backwards at an angle of forty-five degrees. The other drips forever into a runnel of rust to the drain and down the twisted pipe below. Flanking the cracked mirror, the nearby paper towel dispenser is empty. The side of the dispenser reads “❤ NeWT” in dirty brown marker.

Back about five feet, a painted plywood partition separates the two toilet cubicles, sporting cheap metal toilet paper dispensers with serrated metal covers. The dowel flush levers are pitted from inaccurate aim. The partition extends to nearly the height of the low-ceilinged room, but between the cracked linoleum floor and the bottom of the cubicle walls is enough of a gap to reach an arm under. A square of toilet paper marks the divide.

The door of the nearest cubicle creaks open, displaying “NeWT” on the inside, followed by five dates, four crossed out and the latest freshly inked. The toilet flushes triumphantly. Footsteps plod toward the exit and pause in front of the mirror, long enough to readjust a fly. When the feet depart, the exit door provides a serenade, fubbadubba-fubbadubba, until settling down for the next guest.


Political Fantasy, October 2016

See the crowd under the tent, from a guy wearing a Confederate bandana to a woman with a baby in a Snugli. The redneck’s cupping one hand around the other to pick his nose, and a woman who looks like she bought her business suit from a linebacker wears an expression plain as a cabbage. Two codgers in overalls are nodding in unison to some unheard tone. A squad of beefy frat types on the right are matched by a row of casually dressed women on the left. Why aren’t these people all worked up? The candidate is in mid-brag, fingers upraised, telling everyone how they’ve been left to hang in the wind, but he’ll save them, make our country great again.

Where’s the stirred-up loathing, the herd mentality that gets them all baying in the direction of the capitol? Are they deaf as a rotted post, uncaring as a horse being preached to? Odd how they seem embarrassed for the speaker as he rants on. A minute later, one of the frat guys signals an exit, and soon the squad is gone. Another row departs soon after, as the tent gradually empties out, leaving only the man onstage, arms thrust out, still declaiming. But the tent has slid around to the ground so that all that talk is no longer captured but instead floats free, up, into the uncaring white sky.  

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