Trip gives me the scoop on Suzy Shocker, the punker he went home with the other night. She was something, I saw her—a big-breasted, beer-ravaged guerilla of a girl. I wouldn’t be able to take her. Nobody would. Her head was shaved in certain spots. Covering the parts with no hair were tattoos. Tribal ones. The hair she did have stood high, in spikes—hence the name “Shocker,” I’d imagine. She also had piercings for eyebrows, but I should maybe leave out that part.
Trip tells me she was so wasted she kept falling down, that he spent almost all night pulling her up out of the street. He says she ate shit so many times that the skin on her knees resembled mushy hamburger. I say, “Trip, that’s disgusting. But go on,” and he does. He says they went back to her place. Then he tells me about the glove.
Apparently, she had this long leather glove push-pinned to her wall. I go, “Come again?” and Trip tells me it belonged to Rik Tease, the singer dude from some band called Stiff Tease. Anyway, I’m told this Rik guy, at one of his concerts, threw this alleged glove he was wearing into the crowd, that Suzy Shocker caught it and kept it as a memento. Then he tells me Suzy sometimes wears the glove while masturbating, that it gets her hot or something. “Well, did she wash it first?” I ask. “Probably not,” he says. “It would probably lose its luster.” Christ, could you imagine the smell? Trip couldn’t. Neither could I.
So they go at it on Suzy’s bedroom floor. She didn’t have a bed, Trip tells me. She’s real kinky, too, he says. At one point, she bites down really hard on his tongue. So Trip, as a knee-jerk reaction, hits her. I don’t believe it. “Not hard,” he says. Then he remembers: “Well… kind of hard. But, get this, she actually liked it. She said, ‘Gimme more, you bastard!’ So I did. Then she passed out—she passed out while I was still on top of her!” “What then?” I want to know.
“I finished,” he says.
“After that,” Trip tells me, “I hung out with her gay roommate.” He thinks his name was Buzz, or Bill, or something. “We watched this thing about Sigmund Freud, some Behind-the-Music-E!-True-Hollywood-Story thing. In fact, he was a real interesting guy.” I go, “Who? Buzz?” “No,” he says. “Freud. He thought cocaine was real cool, and he wanted to fuck his mother. I learned a lot.”
Trip now wants to tell me all this stuff about Freud I don’t want to hear about, and I let him; it doesn’t mean I have to listen. Instead, I think about wine.
When I lived at home, with the parental figures, I drank it by the gallon. Large, handled bottles of it were lined along the walls of my bedroom… kind of like furniture you couldn’t sit on without doing bodily harm to yourself. I laugh when I think of it. Dad didn’t think it was funny, though. Whenever he’d see me smuggling the red stuff into the trailer, he’d call me “wino.” He thought wine was for “pansies and artists.” Real men drank beer—and liquor, on occasion.
Dad drank about twenty beers a day—not including the 40oz. of Mickey’s purchased on his way to work each morning—but whenever he drank liquor, on those occasions he did, terrible things would happen. His eyes would roll back into his head, his entire body would slump, and eventually all three hundred pounds of him would slide from the couch and onto the floor. Once he even busted his head open on the coffee table. My grandmother shouted, ‘Goddamn it, Ray! With all that beer you drink, you should know not to drink whiskey, you dumb sonofabitch!’ Then he muttered a rebuttal of sorts, and began snoring.
Grandma thought alcohol was the reason her relationship with my dad didn’t go over so well, which it was—among other things. Her only vice, originally, was coffee. Then, when she crippled her back getting on a public transit bus, she took to pain medication. Then other things happened.
I tell Trip about how I think I’ve impregnated Mercedes. He thinks I’m just paranoid. Still, my paranoia, in the past, has served as the portal into to an inevitable truth. But only sometimes. Other times I’m just dead wrong…
Most times I am.
Still. Even though the last few times we’ve had sex I’ve pulled out and sprayed elsewhere, I’m convinced that some rogue sperm of mine, some brave little shit, had the gumption to scurry its way between Mercedes’s legs, which isn’t so far fetched because, lately, she’s been acting real funny. Like pregnant funny. I go, “Remember her twenty-first birthday, how she sobbed the whole night?” Trip says, “Yeah, she kept telling everyone you ruined her birthday. Clear as day. Boy, were you a shit heel that night. Maybe you shouldn’t have bought her that sixth Long Island Iced Tea.” I think about that. “Whatever,” he says, “you had it coming. Screwing Kat over the way you did… cheating on her with someone much younger.” Then he goes, “This proves Freud’s theory that humans, in addition to being both internally and externally at war with themselves, are selfish, aggressive and, above all, powered by libido.”
It’s true, but hell—I needed an upgrade. I tell Trip, “People trade in old cars for newer models all the time, right? Why that philosophy can’t be applied in other ways, I’ll never know.”
When I dumped her I said I needed space, which was true, in a sense—space from her—but Kat is a smart cookie; she didn’t buy any of it. She said, “Yeah, you need space all right—another space to stick your cock in!”
Kat made me laugh. I miss her. Sometimes. Not all the time.
“Tell me, Trip, why I couldn’t just stay single?”
“We need women,” he says. “See, Love is an illusion used by civilization to cope with feelings of infantile helplessness. That’s also how Religion got started. Freud said so.”
Trip thinks he has cancer. Pancreatic, throat, lung, testicular, breast—he doesn’t say which. I don’t press it, but on he goes: “My mother had breast cancer. So did a few of my aunts. Cancer just plows through the women in my family.”
“They all smoked, didn’t they?” I ask out of courtesy, already knowing the answer. “Heavily,” he says. “Mom survived, though. She kept smoking, too. She smoked Cancer’s ass. She smoked like hell. Kent Golden Lights… before switching to cheaper brands. Then she just quit. Hasn’t smoked since. Now she just sits around all day eating those candy pretzels. Flipz. Watches Animal Planet. She’s real fat, too. Fatter than ever.”
“A happy ending,” I tell him, and almost mean it.
“Not if I have it,” he says. “Everywhere I go I’m reminded of cancer. Just last week, while I was getting treated for the Clap, the old fart cupping my balls says to me, out of nowhere he says, ‘Cancer isn’t an old person’s disease, it’s a young person’s disease. People don’t realize this,’ he says, ‘but it’s true.’ And I couldn’t argue with him. He had me where it counts.”
Trip’s cancer concerns get me thinking about my grandmother. She had the terminal, you’re-fucked kind. What she didn’t have, first time I went to visit her in the hospital (before chemo took her hair), was teeth. I’d never seen her without teeth. I figured she’d always worn dentures, but Grandma was real good at hiding it. Regardless, no teeth; her face looked like Silly Putty. Though it didn’t stop her from laughing—in that certain sad way she did—and the more I looked at her the more she laughed, which was okay because I liked that she was laughing, even though her gums made a strange smacking sound when she did it.
I ask Trip if he thinks he could ever live without having balls. He thinks about it and says, “Uh-uh, no way.”
“I don’t see why not. Just as long as the other thing works.” I go, “Balls just get in the way too often… like when riding a bicycle, for instance.”
Trip asks me if I could ever love a woman without breasts.
“That depends,” I tell him. “Is she pretty? How much money does she have? There are things to consider.”
“Okay,” he says, “she’s a gorgeous and wealthy breast-less woman.”
“Probably,” I say. “You?”
“Well, being I’m leg man,” he says, “she has to have a good pair of those. Breasts don’t excite me nearly as much as legs do.”
“As far as I know,” I tell him, “cancer doesn’t spread to the legs. So that’s one less thing to worry about.”
“Still,” he says.
For a while we both sit there staring off at things. Then Trip says, “Cancer got Freud. Got him in the mouth. He had to have a fake one made.”
I go, “I wonder how Freud’s wife felt, you know, watching him remove his prosthetic jaw every night before bed. Makes you think about human strength… one’s will to go on in the face of adversary.”
Trip says, “Yeah, but there’s weakness somewhere in that, too.”
I think about that. Then I go, “Cancer got funnyman Bill Hicks.”
“Man, psychologists and comedians are the saddest of all.”
“Tell me,” says Trip, “is there anything sadder in this world than a psychologist who tells jokes about dentists?”
Brian Alan Ellis lives in Gainesville, Florida. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Skive, Zygote in my Coffee, Persepolis, Fast Forward, Corduroy Mtn., The Big Stupid Review, Dogzplot, The Splinter Generation, Flashquake, Underground Voices, Glossolalia, Conte, Fiction Fix, and G Twenty Two. He wishes you a fine day.