The last ride.
The day was good. I was up and out of bed early. I showered and went out for coffee. I was on my motorbike. It’s slick and low and loud. I wore my boots with no socks. Black denim jeans. A red t-shirt with a hole over my left shoulder. I stuffed my Batman baseball cap into my belt. And I was on the road. The sun roamed high above and paid little attention to me. It’s been a long while since I’ve taken The Beast out for a ride. The road was mostly empty and clear and made way for The Beast and I to get reacquainted. I needed to be on the bike this morning. I needed the road. I needed the sound of the engine and the wind rushing into my helmet. I needed the solitude. The idea of escape before the last ride.
I’d spent the day riding out and into the path of the sun. I rode till I tired and pulled over somewhere out in the desert for a bite. I ate and drank beer and Irish whiskey till I fell asleep in the booth. The waitress nudged me awake. She told me that she let me snooze as long as she could, but her boss wanted me up and out. And when I climbed back on The Beast, it was dusk. The ride home was good. There was more traffic than before, but the sky was orange, grey and purple as I rode back into the west.
I rumbled up the driveway and parked the bike. I pulled off my helmet and poured myself a drink. The cat pawed at the screen door as I peeled open his dinner and tapped it out onto his plate. On the back porch, he purred as he ate. I poured another drink. I sat at my desk, my feet still in my boots and resting on the t.v. tray. My notebook on my lap. And I know I will be alright.
I ate them from a taco truck in the parking lot of a divey strip club. I was told that they were tortuga tacos. I didn’t believe that they were actually turtle, but they were delish nonetheless. The club was small, dingy and smelled like bed sheets that needed changing.
Strange women drifted about. Giant blondes with their bikini underwear that glows under the black light. Harsh, over exaggerated faces, tits and high heeled shoes. But there was one there, different from the rest. Always a good thing to find one different from the rest.
These places are not usually for me. You go home with nothing more than the promise of an ugly hangover due to drinking more than an amateur should. But I was there on invite to a bachelor’s party. I sat at the bar alone. I watched the rest of them throw crunched up dollar bills at someone’s daughter showing her pain to the next guy with a crunched up fiver.
I drank. And I drank more. I was young and of strong heart. I left that bar with the scent of an angel in my clothes. And her phone number too.
It took two weeks and a picnic on the beach, beer and tacos in the sand, before we stared at the moon together.
It was something strange and good that I didn’t understand. Much like the light bulb. Pull the string, it’s on. Pull the string, it’s off. Eight years I pulled that string. Till one day I pulled too hard. And it was off for good.
South by Southwest.
I know my life isn’t perfect. I have my dark days. But I feel alright. The thing that’s eating at me, is someone recently telling me that I’m depressed. This is from someone that had never held my hand. Never tasted my kisses. Never came by my cock. I told her that I don’t believe in pen pals. Go away if you must. That’s my feeling. I will certainly live on without her. But something about the way her lips moved when she talked interested me. I liked the way her eyes got thin and slitty when she smiled in her pictures. I liked how she wore light summer dresses. But her handshake was limp and weak. A bad sign from the start. She looked for reasons not to like me. I told her most of the truths about myself. We decided that we were not meant to be friends. It’s been a while since I’ve made any real friends. I wonder if she ever had any either. She’ll be fine without me. And so will I without her. But the poor dear will never know the bitter-sweet of me breaking her heart.
With every rose.
I don’t want to close my eyes forever. But forever will come for me anyway. That’s why I’m calling out to you tonight. I am asking if you will remember me. Will you think of me when the moon is almost full. Will you see me when you laugh like you did when we were in each others’ eyes. If you happen to bite the inside of your cheek, will I be there in the bitter taste of blood and flesh. I hope that I will be. And if you keep me hidden away within, wherever you chose to keep me, maybe I may never have to close my eyes forever after all.
There is a red moon coming. The dogs are hiding behind their fences, quiet in the dark. They know better. They hear it. And I hear it too. It’s the sound of the birds breathing in their sleep. The sound of people in their beds, in their restlessness. It’s the sound of the worry in their hearts. They are lost and it twists their minds. They don’t know what’s killing them. They expect they’ll see the new day. They hope that there’ll be some reward. There will be, but not what they imagined. It’ll come hard and from beneath. They are in it up to their chins. What they thought was theirs, never was. So the dogs and I, we lay quiet. The fleas in the cool and soft dirt, they bite and burrow into the flesh. But the dogs and I remain still, no matter, as the night gets darker. And the stars further and further out. I shut my eyes, and shut them tight. As it is always there. The red moon on its way.
Jackie – chapter 2
We emptied the bottle. But it was still so damn early. Jackie talked me into walking around the corner for another bottle.
I picked up two bottles. One for the rest of the night. One just in case. I also grabbed up a 12 pack of Italian beer and it reminded of the whole in my heart that may never heal. In the liquor aisle, there was a beautiful young lady. She was looking for whiskey. “The selection here isn’t much to write home about.” I said. This caught her off-guard. She glanced over at me, quickly assessing any threat. Guess she figured she could handle it.
She said, “I know. But it’s too late for beggars to be choosy.” She looked freshly scrubbed. Her hair was down and parted through the middle of her scalp and was still wet from the shower. She wore khakis short-shorts that showed a lot of leg and a white basic tank top, no bra. Her breasts were small, but were eager to be handled. She wore black flip-flaps, her toenails were neatly trimmed and painted a powder blue. I wondered about what was beneath her shorts. Was there a dirty blonde nest, or soft, sweet smoothness? Would I find her moist and mustily fragrant? Or, would it take some work, some kisses to her neck and some hot and dirty words breathed into her ear? She had decided on a bottle of Irish whiskey.
“You can’t go wrong with that, I guess.” I told her.
“It’s good, but I’ve had better.”
“That’s what she said…” She laughed. Her smile was wide and genuine. Her eyes caught mine. She could see that I was already a little drunk and it made her feel comfortable. She headed for the check-out. I followed. There was a couple of people ahead of us.
She turned to me. “Going to a party?” and nodded toward my bottles and beer.
“Well, not exactly. It’s been one of those lives. Tonight it’s just me and the cat on the back porch, sharing drinks and stories.”
Her face softened and a brief look of seriousness waved through her eyes and she said, “That sounds nice.” If she and I happened to have been better friends at that moment, she’d have leaned in and kissed me on the mouth in front of the whole world and she would have told me that she loved me.
I smiled and said, “It is nice. And you should meet Jack. He’s my cat. He’s black, but he can’t help it.” She laughed and playfully slapped my arm. Of course she wouldn’t know what I’d be thinking, but I was thinking how sometimes the world is a perfect thing. It’s those tiny moments like the one that wonderful girl and I shared that give me the hope that someone up there just might give a shit.
She didn’t have her shopping card. I let her use mine. It saved her almost $7. She waited till I paid for my things. We walked out of the store together. She commented on the two bottles of tequila. We got to her truck. I offered her a swig. She said she would only accept a trade. A drink for a drink. We were standing in the parking lot. Her truck was a clean and bright red Ford. She let out the tailgate for us to sit. I handed her a bottle of tequila. She gave me her bottle of Irish whiskey. We toasted, “Here’s to living our dreams.” she said and tilted the bottle back. I only took a light drag of the whiskey. She pulled on the tequila like it was Gatorade. I handed her bottle back. She passed me mine.
I took it from her and welcomed it back by kissing the bottle, “Did you miss me?” I said to my bottle of tequila. “Shhh.. So how was it? Is she a good kisser?” I asked my bottle.
She punched me hard in the arm. “You’re funny. I bet you get lots of girls.”
Fuck. The punch hurt. Kind of killed the moment. She read it on my face and laughed out loud and heartily. She kissed me on the cheek. Her mouth was cool and wet. It reminded me of when I was a young boy, being kissed by young girls.
I balled up my fist and gritted my teeth at her. She only laughed harder. Her tits jiggled. She mussed up my hair and told me that she was sorry, but she just liked me. She said that she was a Marine and she’s home from ‘over there’, but this isn’t really her home. She was from Oregon. She came here because of a guy. The guy ended up not being shit. I told her that so few of us are. The smile left her face as she admitted that she knew it too well.
I took her by the chin and kissed her. I told her to give me a ride home. She said that she better not. She said that I could find my way just fine without her. She said that I was too good at talking and kissing for a Marine like herself, so far from camp as she was. She said that she had to be up early the next morning anyway.
I told her that I was glad to have met her. I was happy to drink her whiskey. And that I would write about her some day and that I might never forget her.
She kissed me again. It was different than the first. Stronger and deeper. We were in over our heads, for two strangers making out in a tired old parking lot. She broke the kiss to come up for air. She’d begun to cry. I opened my mouth to kiss the tears that rolled down her face. I tasted the salt and her sweet skin. I told her that she was beautiful. She told that I was too. And kissed me one last time on the mouth. “I gotta go.” She said, and hopped off the tailgate of her truck. She wiped her eyes.
I jumped off too and mussed her hair. I said, “Semper fi!”
She chuckled. A blob of snot flashed from her nostril. She was embarrassed. She said, “Hoo-Rah!”
I fake punched her in her jaw. She got in her truck and was gone. I was still standing there alone in the parking lot. She will always be in my heart. If there is a heaven, I expect to be seeing her again, if they let me past the gates.
Jack the Mystery Cat.
My cat has been upset lately. I could see it. His fur unkempt. Dusty cobwebs caught in his whiskers. I hadn’t found him napping in days. Only sitting in the driveway or on the back porch with his ears slightly tilted in opposite direction, staring squinty-eyed into the ground.
He usually darts away, under one of the neighbor’s cars, waiting for me to feed him dinner, but he didn’t flinch as I walked up the steps, coming home from work. I asked him, “Hey Jackie, what’s the matter, you soulless beast?” We have always had that type of relationship. Somewhat of a hate-hate thing. I’d feed him twice a day, every day, for over twelve years, and when he felt like it, he’d hop on my dresser and piss on my wallet. “Why so glum?”
He took a deep stuttered breath and sighed.
“Wow.” I said, and walked into my apartment. I left the door open behind me. “Listen Jackie, let me set my stuff down and maybe we can talk about it.” I tossed the keys in their dish and poured a drink. Normally, Jack would be howling for dinner, but not that night. He just sat there.
I left my shoes on the kitchen floor and went back out on the porch with a plate of cat food, my bottle and my glass. Jack ignored the food till I told him that if he didn’t eat, I wouldn’t give a shit if the asshole raccoons or the filthy opossums come and eat it for him, nor would I feed him again until morning.
The evening sky was clear and still blue and bright. The air was crisp, almost too cool to be out with only my slacks, t-shirt and socks, but I poured a drink, and then another. With no dinner for myself and after my day of mindless work, the drinks rested well in my belly and pickled my brain just right.
Jackie had eaten his meal after all and sat next to me afterward. It was back to staring blankly again. He didn’t give himself his normal post-meal tongue bath. Without taking his gaze from dead space he said, “Mind pouring me a shot?”
I hadn’t known Jack to be a tequila drinker, but then there was a lot about him that I didn’t know. And since I only drink alone because I am alone, sharing a drink sounded nice. “Sure.” I said. And I grabbed a glass for him and poured us both a round.
Jack knocked it back and asked for another. He said I had a head start and he wanted to meet me half way there.
I poured his drink and went to fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers. Balancing the plate on my lap was uncomfortable and I kept spilling crackers on the steps. The neighbor that lives upstairs came home from picking his wife up from work. He’s a friendly fellow. Always smiles when he says hello. I like him. He cheers me up.
Jack said, “Man, I’m all fucked up.”
“From the shots?”
“No. Not the booze. I mean I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s been over between me and my woman for some time, but we just kept hanging on and hanging on. Making ourselves and each other miserable. But then came the time when something finally broke. You know?”
“Yeah, that’s rough. Been there too.”
“It needed to happen. In the end, she called it. Not like before. She actually moved out of her apartment and didn’t tell me. I found out by accident when I ran into one of her old friends.” said Jack as he twitched his ear to shoo a fly.
“Shit man…”, was the most I felt I should say at the moment and I poured us a couple more. They started going down harder. But that’s tequila. “What happened?” I asked.
He stretched out his front paws far out before him and his ass and tail far up in the air. “Well fuck. I guess I ran around on her too much.”
“That’ll do it.”
“Yeah. I was a real asshole. But for fuck’s sake, I was a different cat back then. Nothing I can do to change that.”
“It’s been a true kick in the dick. I know in the end I’ll be ok, and so will she. At least I hope so. But at the same time, I’m so fucking lost. Don’t care about eating. Sleeping. Or if it’s raining or if the sun is out. But don’t you know it, I sure could use a good piece of pussy right about now. One of those soak the sheets kind of pussies. Fuck.”
We both laughed. What else could we do? I kept pouring us drinks and we kept drinking ’em down. The night began to get a little smeared. I tossed the cheese and crackers, knife and plate and all into the dumpster.
“Well Jackie, there isn’t anything I can tell you. It sounds like you are where you are. A little like being off on the side of the road with a flat and no spare because you didn’t get a new one that last flat you had. And for the time being, everyone else is going to keep on driving on by. How you’ll get yourself out of that fix, you’ll figure out eventually, but until then, it’s fucked.”
“Christ.”, Jack snickered. “I might could handle a couple more before I puke. What do you say, you dumb fuck?”
“I say the bottle’s not empty yet and we ought to keep pushing on.”
“Damn right.” Jack answered. “Damn right.”
Writing while drunk isn’t the problem. Publicly posting while drunk tends to be a bad idea.
I remember when we would drink and I’d smoke and we’d never watch T.V. Back then I didn’t own a T.V. I didn’t want one. We’d just drink in this living room. On a couch that has since gone curb side. You’d sit and listen and I’d ramble on. Tell Stories. Drink out in the back yard. The cat would come out to see what we were up to. Now she’s gone too. Buried in the yard. She’s out there now. And I’m alone on a different couch. Same room. Same apartment. Same booze. You are, God knows where. Funny. You exist. So too the cat’s bones, but no longer God. Never did. My poor little kitten. Her poor little heart. Poor little life. Her bones and her flesh will not be remembered, if not by me. One day I will be in the ground too. And who will remember any of us.