(Copyright © 2001 The Blacklisted Journalist)


The man came home from another hard day in a litany of hard days.  He parked his rusting, 1987 Ford pickup and shut off the engine.  He sat in the cab listening to the engine tick as it cooled.  He lit a cigarette and puffed it slowly, savoring the hot, dry flavor. 

‘Time to be getting inside before someone thinks there’s a problem,’ he thought.

He opened the Ford’s door and heard it groan on the hinge as he had heard it groan for the last two years.  He had never had it fixed because he felt that the truck spoke to him through its steel joints.  His back and knees had been making the same noises for about as long…

On weekends, he would wash the Ford, then spray some WD40 on the door hinge.  “There you are Jimmy,” he would tell the truck in a soothing voice.  “A little therapy for ya.”  He gave his truck a male name.  After all, why should all vehicles be named after women?  Truth be told, women had never done that much for him.

“Maybe I should have listened to Bukowski and bought a Chevy.  Maybe then, things would have turned out different,” he thought, shutting the door.  He dropped the finished cigarette on the ground and stamped it out, leaving a black scar on the cement driveway.

It was getting near suppertime.  The sun blasted down on his head.  He looked up into the blazing ball of fire, let it sting his retinas, narrow his eyes to slits, willing it with his mind to fall from the sky, burn him to the ground.  How long he stood there, it was hard to tell.  He snapped to, shaking the spots from his eyes.

Next door, Martin Holly watered his lawn, pretending not to notice his strange neighbor staring at the sky, the strange neighbor that spent more and more time sitting in his truck, despite the heat of August.  Their eyes met.  Holly new he’d been caught watching him.

“Hot out,” the man said, pointing at the sun. The man was tired, his thoughts felt scratchy inside his head, like sticks in mud on bare feet.

Holly dropped his hose and headed for the safety of his house.  You never could tell with nuts like that.

He stopped at his front door to take his work boots off before going inside.  His wife met him at the front door wearing her “Kiss The Cook” apron.  He hated that apron.  She’d bought it at Eaton’s six years ago and wore it every time she cooked a meal.

One evening, she had met him at the door wearing nothing but the apron.  They had sex right there on the staircase behind her.  It had been hot and passionate, if not short and to the point.  He had pulled out and come all over the apron.  He had never done that before and she told him that it had really turned her on…

That had been part of a time now long gone.  Now, whenever she wore that apron, he remembered the day, the heat of her insides, the cramp of orgasm, pulling his dick and he never wanted to be near the apron or the person wearing it.  They rarely talked, except when she needed something, or wanted him to do something for her.  Truth be told, she talked, he listened, carried out the orders.

“Take your boots off, I just vacuumed the carpet!” she bellowed.

She had become quite the bellower, lately.  He could recall a time when her voice was softer, gentler, a voice that had turned him on over the phone.  A voice that went with a person he could kiss and fuck on the stairs.  No matter.

He held up the boots.  “No need to yell,” he said.

She huffed and walked off into her kitchen.  He followed her as far as the counter where he dropped his green plastic lunch box, before heading into the bathroom.

After he had closed and locked the door, he walked up to the mirror and stared at himself.  There were lines where there had never been lines before.  Grey hairs were moving in around the temples.  He had been counting them daily, checking in every day and taking

'When did you
use up so
much of your life?'

inventory.   There were three new ones on the left, four on the right.  What did that make, 48, 50?

“Where did I go?  I forget who I am today,” he said out loud.  He noticed the crow’s feet crept in around the eyes when he spoke.

“When did you use up so much of your life?” he thought, this time keeping it inside, where he knew the characters and the plots.

Somewhere in the backbeat, he heard a door slam.  The fifteen year-old boy, his son, home from school, or getting high with his friends.  What did fifteen year-old boys do with themselves?  He couldn’t remember.

His wife’s footsteps thundered toward the front door.  He heard her repeat the shoe speech to him.  Her reward on that front was typical of the boy. 

“Yeah, yeah.”

Suddenly, a banging on the bathroom door.  His head spun toward the sound as his heart leapt into his throat.  He saw spots, a double helix around the door handle.

“Dad, get outta there!  I gotta piss!” the boy yelled.  He shook his head.  The boy was developing a mouth on him.  Hard to be sure where he might have picked it up.  He opened the door and let the boy blast past him before walking out.

Now he was back in the world again.  He stood in the hall, not daring to move, as if he was standing on the ledge of a high building.  From the living room, he heard the television blaring loud enough for that nosy bastard Holly and the rest of the block to hear.  His wife refused to miss the talk shows.  Maury, Sally, Montel, Jerry, she watched them all.  Oprah Winfrey and Jenny Jones were commercials to her.

“Is this all people have to do?” he asked himself.  “Aren’t our own lives full of enough misery?  How can you watch people cry and argue?  What’s the use?”

He could hear his dinner being prepared.  Something fried again, sure as shit.  He turned away from it all and went into the bedroom, shutting the door behind him.  Inside, it was quiet and blessedly cool.  The lights were out and the blinds were drawn.  In his solitude, he pretended, as he always did in moments of peace, that he was in a shady grove, a peach orchard, maybe.

He took his clothes off and went to the nightstand, scratching his testicles.  They felt heavy, warm and limp in his fingers.  How long had it been since they had done anything together?  Too long?  Truth be told, maybe not long enough.  He didn’t even masturbate anymore.  What would turn him on?  He couldn’t think of anything.

He pulled open the drawer and removed the large handgun, then went and sat on the bed.  He stared into the barrel, as if into a wishing well.  “Maybe today,” he thought.  “Could be today.”

He rubbed the forward sight against his leg and closed his eyes, dreaming of the sun, of bringing it down on the Earth, his own personal final solution, complete death for all and total freedom.  He’d done this many times, but his hands had always turned traitor, put the gun away before anything could happen.

“Maybe I’ll tell her I’m going out to Sookey’s tonight,” he reasoned.  His wife hated Sookey’s, a truck stop bar out on Highway 97, where he and Bukowski often got drunk.  It was the one place he knew he could go and she wouldn’t want to tag along after him.

He felt something and opened his eyes.  He looked down and was surprised to see an impressive hard-on.  “I didn’t even know that still worked,” he thought with amazement, then filed the information in the Old-Age file.

The pistol looked up from below the erection blindly.  The automatic was a big gun and heavy, but the clerk at the gun shop had told him that it packed a punch.  Idly, he wondered why people didn’t shoot themselves with two guns, one on either side of the head.  He hefted the gun and began caressing his face with it.  With each brush of the sight against his skin, the erection grew tighter, more urgent.  Release was becoming necessity.

“Could be today,” he thought again.

He said it aloud, just to be sure.  “Could be today.  Could be today.”

The door flew open.  His wife came flying in, bringing the noise and racket with her.  Arguments from the TV, food smells.

“What the hell are you doing, Gary?” she bellowed.  He looked up and saw her.  Felt her.  Remembered the day on the stairs.  He dropped the gun to the bedroom floor and stood up, the erection poking out ahead of him.

“Gary!” she shrieked.

He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close to him.  He kissed her, his tongue forcing its way past her teeth.  She felt stiff in his arms, wooden and cold.  She broke free of the kiss and shoved him back onto the bed.

“Gary!  Dinner is burning!  For God’s sake!” she yelled.

“Could be today,” he said, jumping up to pull her down on the bed with him.

She struggled against him, but he pinned her down.  “What the hell are you talking about, Gary!  Let me go!”

He shoved up her skirt, ripped her underwear aside and penetrated.  He thrust into her, grunting with the effort and something changed in her breathing, her face became flushed and she began to move her hips in time with his.

“Could be today,” he said again, drunkenly.  A thin stream of drool spilled out of his mouth and landed on her breast, making the nipple hard.  He felt her heat surrounding him, felt her hot breath on her neck.  Then, the cramp, the release.

He collapsed on top of her, spent.  From the world, he heard laughter, smelled burning meat.  For a moment, he thought the sun had finally touched down to rest.

“God, Gary, get off!” she said, pushing at him.  He rolled off and onto his back. 

“What’s gotten into you?  You’re acting so weird lately,” she said, fixing her skirt.


But she was already gone, off to catch dinner before it was ruined, catch the last minutes of the talk-show Gods preaching their final messages.

He got up and picked up the pistol from the floor.  He had tried, with her, with all of them.  He put the gun to his head and thought of the sun one last time.  ##




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