by Adam Haynes
illustrations by Dave Dawson
At around 11:45 PM, Will Hastings came to the conclusion that he needed to get in contact with his old roommate Jonah. First he tried what he thought was their old number, and listened with declining patience as a flat, velvety-sounding voice told him it had been disconnected. Then he remembered that tonight was Sunday, and Sunday was free night at Zootz, which meant Jonah would be there, along with all the other broke, directionless losers of Portland, Maine. He looked at his alarm clock again. Too early; Zootz didn’t let the underagers in ’til one AM when they shut down the bar.
How the hell was he going to find him?
Will made another guess, trying the number of Mat Jonson, a former mutual friend, who’d also grown up down east in Bar Harbor. On the third ring, the phone on the other end was picked up, dropped, then picked up again. “Wuzza?” said a groggy male voice he didn’t recognize.
“Does Mat Jonson still live there?”
“Mat? Naw way, dude. He moved back home last May. Living back in his parent’s basement.”
Will took a chance, “Actually I was looking for Jonah, uh, Jonah Krill.”
“Will… is that you? Dude, what’s up! This is Eric, man!”
It took him a second to place the name with a face, and when he did he had to move the receiver away from his mouth so he could groan. The last time he’d seen Eric was when he’d crashed on his and Jonah’s couch last winter for a few weeks. The waste of skin had done nothing but eat their food and whine about how bored he was before giving up on finding work he’d never even looked for and moving back into his parents’ place. Typical.
“Eric, how’s it going?”
“Ah, dude, you know, same old. Pretty boring, actually. Jonah got me this job at that Thai restaurant down on Ally Street in the Old Port.”
“Oh, no shit, Jonah works at a Thai restaurant now?” When they’d lived together, Jonah had been a chambermaid at the Holiday Inn.
“Yeah, he does the soups and appetizers. They got me down in the basement cutting chicken all day. Fucking sucks. Dude, it fucking sucks! I’m going crazy, I’m serious.”
“Listen man, I’m trying to find Jonah. It’s urgent. You don’t know his new number by any chance, do you?”
“Still living at your guy’s old place on Grant. Number’s still the same, 772-0846.” Eric lit something and inhaled deeply.
“Thanks, dude,” he’d dialed a five instead of a four. “You think he’s there now?”
“I doubt it. You ask me, I think the guy’s turned into kind of a dick. Whatever. I’m telling you, man, this job, this chicken, it’s driving me fucking bonkers. I’m going so nuts I’m spending all my extra cash on pot, dude, just to unwind. Serious man, I don’t think I can do it another day.”
Will wasn’t interested in giving Eric advice or sympathy. Give a guy like that either and he’d just use it to pull you down to his level. “Listen Eric,” he said, allowing the tiniest bit of urgency to slip into his voice. “It’s extremely important that I find Jonah ASAP. Do you have any idea where he might be?”
“Dude, chill out. I’m sure he’s at Abraham’s.”
“They’re open this late now?”
“Dude, new owner. Now they’re this ‘house of coffee’ thing. Anyway – where the fuck you been? I’ve been in town again since fucking May and I haven’t seen you at all. I thought you’d moved.” His voice became irritated, like Will had done him some personal offense.
“I don’t hang out anymore, man.”
“Dude, you always were fucking weird. Hey, speaking of which, the last time I was in Bar Harbor I ran into Jessie…”
“Eric, I gotta go.”
Will hung up the phone and looked at it for a second, then closed his eyes, trying to get control of his breathing. Opening them again and breathing more slowly he moved over to the picture of Winona Ryder that was push-pinned to the wall. One of her famous head shots, cut out of an US magazine impulsively stolen from the Portland Public Library. He gazed into her face desperately, feeling the tingling calm of her return stare – those eyes… Those eyes made his skin ache and turn into butter, made his insides become wet steel. Those eyes told everything; how lonely she was; how she hadn’t stopped believing that true happiness was possible in spite of the cold and uncaring world she drifted through. Those eyes which looked exactly like his cried out so softly: Find me, I have placed myself in films just to help you locate me. Find me and we can then share the love neither of us has and it will be true and wonderful and eternal…
After a few minutes he was back on track.
At a little after 10 PM Jonah proudly proclaimed, “Dude, I SHIT in her fucking face – swear to God!”
“Jesus buddy, you’re fucking shitting me!” Bart turned from the steak he was burning and grabbed two more Schlitzes out of one of the three cases that were neatly stacked on the counter, flinging one in Jonah’s direction.
Jonah, flopped out on Bart’s La-Z-Boy chair in the living room area, caught the beer, and after he popped it open yelled, “Fuck yeah!” as warm foam exploded all over him.
Bart was grinning like a madman amidst all the smoke and popping grease. “So c’mon, what the fuck was the bitch’s name, bud?”
This was why Jonah tolerated Bart. Aside from always kissing his ass with swill and herb, Bart was always so eager to hear about his exploits (which was understandable – the guy was semi-retarded and worked twelve-hour shifts on a fishing boat and never got tail). Therefore, Jonah always went to him first to brag.
“Her name was fucking Mildred.”
“Mildred, are you shitting me?”
“Naw dude, Mildred – swear to God.”
“Sounds like a fat girl’s name.” Still beaming, Bart placed the crusty-looking steak on a plate and came into the living area where he plopped down on the couch, making everything shake.
“She wasn’t fat,” Jonah said, taking another sip of beer and only lying a little. “But she was serious skank meat alright.”
“Dude, listen, this is what it was about. I met her a couple days ago, and right from the get-go I knew she was a serious ho, you know what I’m saying?”
Bart stuffed pieces of steak in his mouth and bobbed his head up and down.
“So at first I was like, no way, I don’t need this sort of skank. Too easy.”
“Too fucking easy, bud,” Bart chorused, his mouth full of steak.
“Right. But then I thought – hey this might be, like, a chance, you know? I mean to do something really sleazy. You know, something I’d never be able to get away with with some normal skag. So I ask around and I find out she’s, like, even twice as sketchy as I thought, and I’m like, why waste the opportunity?”
“But you understand, this wasn’t a serious conquest or anything. This was just like, you know, more of a lark. A chance to act out a fantasy, if you will.”
“Uh huh, uh huh.”
“So, you know, I put the moves on her, working it so that tonight I’d make my play.”
“Yeah, uh huh.”
“Today, after work, I go to the store and I buy everything I can think of that makes me shit. And I’m not just talking bowel movements here, I’m talking serious loose fucking shit. Talking ’bout frozen pizza, Chef Boy-ar-dee, cream horns, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal.” (Actually the same shit he usually bought.)
Bart went and got two more beers.
“And prune juice,” Jonah continued, popping open the fresh Schlitz. “I downed one of those little six packs right before I went into her house.”
“No fucking shit!” Behind his grease covered glasses, Bart’s eyes were wide with awe and admiration.
Jonah was nodding, a deviant smirk of accomplishment taking over his face.
“Dude, didya fuck her?”
More nodding. Bart slapped his hands together and howled like a dog. Jonah let him calm down before he hit him again. “Dude, she’s completely hairless – swear to God.”
“Hairless! No hair anywhere? Not even on her muff?”
“Especially not on her muff.”
“JESUS FRIGGING CHRIST!”
“I couldn’t believe it, you know? I almost wasn’t sure what to do. Man, she was white too – one of these Goth bitches.” Bart wouldn’t have a clue what “Goth” meant. That was okay. “She told me she did it – the hair thing – because she was an unclean person. I mean, this girl was fucking nuts.”
“And then you shit in her fucking face.”
“You’re fucking right I shit in her fucking face. Man, I get her to give me a fucking blow job and then like, my stomach’s rumbling around and shit, so I throw her on her back and ask her if she’ll give me a rim job.”
“Lick my asshole, stupid. So I get on my knees with my butt in her face, and WHAM! Like almost immediately, dude, I fucking let loose!”
“Was it like diarrhea?”
“Man, it was worse. It was like a fire hose. I mean, I didn’t have to squeeze or nothing!”
Both of them were laughing like crazy.
“Aw shit,” Jonah said, wiping tears out of his eyes. “And the whole time it’s the most I can do to keep holding her down, and I can’t really see what’s going on even though I have a good idea – you know, I ended up staring at her shaved pussy the whole time. Have you ever seen a shaved pussy?”
Bart shook his head, gulping down what was left in his can. “Well, they’re fucking weird-looking, I can tell you that.”
“So what’d you do next?”
“Next? What the fuck do you think I did, dude? I made some lame excuse about it being flu season, I got on my clothes and got the hell out of there.”
“You just left her like that – covered in all that shit?”
“Dude, it was nasty, too. I took a peek before I left and she looked like she’d just gotten her ass kicked mud wrestling.”
This made them crack up again and they high-fived.
“I don’t know though,” Jonah said, getting contemplative for a second. “Even though it was perfect, just like I’d always imagined it to be… I feel like maybe I popped her too soon.”
“Well, not that I was taking it seriously at all. I mean, she wasn’t even all that hot. But part of me thinks that she might have been a good resource. I mean, she gave me this fucking camera, after all.” He patted the 35 mm camera that hung under his arm.
“Jesus, that is cool,” said Bart. “Can I see it?”
Jonah shook his head. “What I mean is, now that I shit all over her, since she thinks I’m a scumbag – and even if it fucking somehow turned her on, I never want to see her again….” He thought about what he was trying to say. “What I mean is, if I played her along a little while longer, I might’ve gotten more equipment.”
They both thought about this a second.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Bart said. “But I gotta ask you something…”
“Why exactly did you want to shit on her in the first place?” He looked genuinely perplexed.
Jonah stared at him, disbelieving. “Oh c’mon,” he said. “You got to be kidding me.”
Bart started cracking up. “You shoulda seen your face buddy – you shoulda seen it!”
The hog bitch receptionist wouldn’t let her smoke in the waiting room and Temptation was too self-conscious to smoke outside – she didn’t like looking like one of those girls you see smoking outside the free clinic – so she jonesed watching the minute hand on the clock move forward forty-five times until it was almost seven, then spaced out at all the pictures in Vanity Fair.
Once the appointment got underway, it only took three minutes for the young-faced doctor to examine her uterus and confirm her fears. Just like that – she’s pulling up her panties and he’s hiding behind a clipboard asking her all these stupid questions.
“Did you know you were pregnant?” Temptation started laughing, though maybe she was crying a little, too. Of course she knew she was pregnant. She was the one who had ripped the condom off Jr.’s pecker two months ago! She was the one who had yanked her roommate out of the bathroom the moment the act was consummated in order to stuff wad after wad of toilet paper up her hole to make sure Jr.’s sperm did what they were supposed to do.
As if she had woken up this afternoon with that big soupy pile of blood between her legs and didn’t have some clue what was up. Of course she knew. She just had to be sure.
Now the doctor was staring at her like she was one of those people who wear, like, thirty coats and walk around with old shopping carts. Temptation stopped laughing and looked at her hands, riddled with burn scars from her toil at Abraham’s House of Coffee.
“So you knew you were pregnant?” The doctor inquired. His voice identical to a weather forecaster.
“So?” Like it was any of his business.
“On the chart that you filled out it says that you’re fourteen.”
“SO?” She wanted to say, What the fuck gives you the right to judge me? I’m a beautiful, mature woman for my age and I take care of myself (except for all the beer wine candy coffee cigarettes pot and very occasional acid and very very occasional other but only if it’s smoked) who’s probably seen more life than you ever will, hiding in this crummy little examining room, and if I want to have a goddamned child, you have no right to criticize.
But Temptation kept her mouth shut. Her momma had told her she should be rude to Doctors because they were all no-good Jews anyway, and since her momma herself was a no-good drunk whore slob, Temptation tried to do the opposite of everything she said.
“All I really want to know is,” Temptation said, trying not to grind her teeth, “was something I did wrong? Did I do something to give myself, this… thing?”
The doctor shook his head. “A number of things could have happened, but from looking over your history here, plus what you’ve told me, I’d say what probably happened is the embryo just aborted. They do that sometimes, it’s not uncommon at all.” All in a voice that could have been telling her it was a partly sunny day with a thirty-percent chance of snow by mid-afternoon.
After Jonah made his grand exit, after stumbling into the bathroom, after the puking and the long shower and the brushing and rebrushing of her teeth until the tube ran out, followed by more puking and dry heaves, after all that, Mildred examined herself in the long mirror behind the bathroom door.
This is what she saw: the body – always the body. Curveless, out-of-shape, with an awakening beer gut. Skin white as the underside of a fish, and just as hairless, thanks to the Nair she’d been drenching herself in since last week. The only thing that could remotely appeal to the outside world were her breasts, which were fat, bouncy beach balls and had been since she was twelve. All around these breasts – likewise with her ass and pelvis – lay the red lines left by the undersized underwear she’d recently bought, purchased from the children’s section of K-Mart and then dyed black. Everything she wore she either bought or dyed black. Her long, straight hair was no exception, and shone faintly blue in the fluorescent bathroom light.
Terrible, she thought staring at herself. Twenty two and you couldn’t look worse if you tried. She couldn’t believe she’d sunk so low as to let a man do something like that to her. And then to prove that she was even more of a loser, she’d given him her camera. But that was good, wasn’t it? She didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened – that was the real reason she’d given it to him… Mildred blocked the rest of the thought. She was just not going to think about it.
She sank down onto the toilet, feeling completely alone and sorry for herself, and it was in this small, wretched moment that the fantasies which had plagued her all week took hold. Visions, images, partially hallucinated thoughts that struck during the night. Before her, in a dark world of shadows, came the shiny blade of a utility razor. The razor. Tender skin under her wrists spread slowly apart as the razor cut deep. Blood pumped out, covering her skin, the razor, everything. Even the shadows were covered in blood. And then everything repeated. Over and over, again and again.
It was a message, a death message. Kill yourself the vision said. Cut and kill, cut and kill…
Her Sex and Love Addicts Meeting started at 9:30 – thirty more minutes – she just had to make it until then. Mildred licked her finger and began to frantically rub it around the hood of her clitoris. If she could get sexually aroused enough she could distract herself away. Nothing was more powerful than the jolt of sexual excitement. Nothing, not even the razor. Thrusting the wet finger between her labium, she thought back to her most recent sexual experience. Oh God, not that. But she used it anyway, used it because it was the clearest in her memory and that was what she needed if she wanted to lose herself successfully. Concentrating hard, she filled her mind with Jonah’s puckering asshole, jammed into her face. Breathing hard through her nose, she brought back its odor, an Italian hero sub. What he’d done to her was awful and revolting, but at this moment, the putrid vividness of it was doing a fantastic job blotting out the lonely horror of… the razor, the blood. Mildred shuddered and squirmed as she maneuvered her finger in and out, reveling in how the loose shit had sprayed out and covered her head and neck, gratefully hiding behind the escalating ripples of pleasure and nausea.
to be continued…