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Published by Boson Books
3905 Meadow Field Lane
Raleigh, NC 27606

An imprint of C&M Online Media Inc.

Copyright 1998 Phillip Gardner
All rights reserved

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C&M Online Media Inc.
3905 Meadow Field Lane
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Which Way You Going

 by

Phillip Gardner


I was watching this tall, skinny guy on the sidewalk at the corner of the McDonald's, about twenty feet away, while the girl working the drive-thru was fishing her brain out of the fries grease long enough to remember my order. If she hadn't been such a babe, I'd of smoked her. You know, waited till she slid open the little window then hammered the Firebird, leaving enough black rubber in her nose to gag a cow. But she was a babe alright. And if there's two things I like, it's tits.

I couldn't keep my eye from drifting over to this skinny guy at the corner. He was about the skinniest dude I've ever seen, and tall too. I mean his bones looked like a bird's, and his face was covered with sweat as shiny and thick as lacquer. And check this out: He had a bag of ice beside him that was melting. He was just standing there like a statue or something with this plastic bag with a ball of ice floating around in it like those two-headed babies in jars at the fair or something. I don't know why, but I couldn't take my eyes off him. Maybe because he was such a ugly sonofabitch.

He hadn't looked in my direction, even when I goosed the Firebird's engine to remind the retard counter girl with the knockout body I was still waiting. He didn't turn and look at me once, not once. But goddamn it, it was like the guy had a flounder's eye buried in the side of his goddamn head or something. I mean it felt like he was looking.

Somebody said, "Your order, sir."

I turned down the volume on my new Poison tape real deliberate like, you know, not looking up. But it wasn't the girl with the big knockers. It was the manager, a guy with a haircut shave above his ears that looked like a pink slug was stuck over each one. He was so fat he couldn't catch his breath. When he handed over the change, his shirt opened up and his fat hairy fat showed. His name tag said Mac. I thought, what is this, some fucking joke? Big Mac, no can do.

I pumped the gas a couple of times, thinking Miss Tits might get the message, but she just stood staring into bimbo land, inking her scalp with a Bic pen. My plan was, I'd ask her if she wanted to party when she got off. I had it worked out. I'd say, "What time do you get off?" And she'd probably say, "'Bout eleven-thirty." Then I'd say, "Can I watch?" Then she'd finally get it and laugh and I'd ask her out for real. Instead I got a cross between Ronald McDonald and the Pillsbury Doughboy--and Mister Flounder eye with the mostly water bag hunkered like a goddamn refugee. I pressed in the clutch, shifted into first, and eased forward.

I hadn't got ten feet when I had to stop for a Chrysler wagon full of rug rats to back its slow ass out and find the goddamn street. Then I knew the tall, skinny guy was going to ask me for a ride.

"Which way you going?" he said.

"Which way you going?"

"Don't matter."

"No way," I said.

"Come on, Man."

"I don't trust your ass," I said.

"Cause I'm black, ain't it?"

"I don't trust nobody. How do you know I won't drive a few miles south, pull over, and beat your brains out with a tire iron. Take your money."

"But I ain't got nothing but this," he looked down at the plastic bag, "and it's melting."

"Yeah, but I'm going to a party. That ice would come in handy. I might X your ass for some party ice."

The guy leaned back in the shade and looked away, back into whatever it was he'd been seeing, as if I hadn't even been there.

"Tough shit, Sherlock!" I yelled, pulling away.

If the guy heard me, he didn't show it.

On the street, I went through the gears like love grease, feeling the G-force press my back into the seat, feeling good. It was then I figured I'd drive the hour and a half to the beach, check out the babes. In July, it don't matter that it's a Wednesday. Every day's poon day at the beach in July. Besides, since I'd lost my dead-end, loser's, nip-shit job, every day was poon day. Party time is anytime and any time is party time, so let's parrr-ty. That was rap. I hate that rap shit.

I figured I'd drive around for a while, till it got too fucking hot to ride, then go to The Show House maybe, where the girls put it in your face. I'd have to nurse the five buck drinks, take those suckers easy, make'm last. I was a little low on cash. Besides I'd have to drive back, unless I got lucky. I figured I'd find a party somewhere. There are women everywhere at the beach. I'd get one with bad teeth and a nice ass and a room, one of those goo-goo eyed babes from Michigan or somewhere who wants to get laid at the beach, you know, like in the movies. I figured if they got a pulse and a room key we got two things in common, you know what I mean?

I'd have to call my mom, though. I keep reminding her I'm 21 now, but if I don't call, she'll be the first one to call my parole officer, blow the whistle on me, the bitch. Really, I love her. She worries a lot. I haven't been what you might call a Beaver Cleaver of a son to her. To tell you the truth, she's about the best woman in the world. I'd do anything for her, you know, if I could. Anyway, I was on 301, resting on 70 miles an hour when I remembered my new sunglasses, the ones with the orange and black frames. I checked them out in the mirror. Killer. Then I took the first bite of my Quarter Pounder.

 

 

 

 

I about shit when the cops started pounding on the goddamn door. I was so fucking out of it that I couldn't remember my name. All I knew was that it was dark, I was freezing, and I didn't know where I was. And I can't feel my legs. Then I hear what sounds like a steam hammer on the metal door. I hear voices; then the door opens and all I can think is my parole officer is gonna nail my ass. Somebody hits the lights and somebody else pulls the drapes. I'm staring like a deer in the headlights, about to shit. It takes me a second to realize they're not all cops. I look around and this tall skinny guy has a needle in my arm. Then I'm moving like a motherfucker and I can hear the siren and I'm thinking, far out. Fucking far out.

I don't remember much shit from the next day or two. I mean I can tell you a lot of shit but I can't put it in any order, and some of it may not be true. I mean I kept trying to explain to my mom that I had been outside a crowded train station when some looney bastard opened up with a Uzi or something, mowing people down. The whole crowd went bananas. The guy just ran around shooting, I told her. And I couldn't find the station and I didn't have a ticket and there was no fucking body to help. It was a day or two before she could convince me that all that train stuff was a dream. They had these tubes and shit in me, even in my dick, and I slept a lot.

There were two cops there when I finally woke up enough to talk with the doctor. One of the cops couldn't have been much older than me, and you could just tell he didn't know shit. The other one did most of the talking. He was like the dad of the two. He gave me this poppa-daddy smile, showing a gap between his teeth that probably made him spit champion of cornhole county or something. "How you feeling, son?" he said, like it made a shit to him.

I looked from him to my mom who had this big I-been- suffering-all-my-life look on her face. Then I looked at the doctor who looked like cigarettes and coffee and no sleep in weeks.

"Like shit," I said. "Feel like living shit."

"How did this happen?" Poppa-daddy said in this sort of funeral home voice.

I looked from him to the doctor, then back at him.

"Tell us everything you can. Don't leave anything out."

"What do you mean?" I said.

"Begin from the time you arrived at The Show House. Your car was left there."

I'd even forgotten I'd driven to the beach at all. Let alone gone to the tit capital of the South.

"Yeah, I went there."

"Who did you meet there? Tell us everything you can."

I had to think. Then I was back at the train station and I couldn't find my goddamn ticket and they were taking people away in bodybags, black ones. Then I remembered that I had been in the bar. Then I remembered the rest, to a point. I didn't want to tell it all. Not with my mom there and all. Everybody was looking at me, waiting. The old cop had been to Principal school or something cause he knew just to sit there like a goddamn toad and let me stew until I finally said something.

"I went in to cool off, you know. It was hotter'n a muther, you know." I knew not to look at my mom, but the old fart-face cop wasn't making it easy on me. He still didn't say anything. "I had a beer and watched the show."

"Who did you meet there?"

"Some woman."

"What was her name?"

"I don't remember."

"Tell us what happened. Take your time. We're in no hurry. Don't leave anything out."

"I'm sitting at one of those little tables off to the side," I say. "I'd almost finished my first beer. It was between songs and this woman sits down beside me."

"What did she look like, can you describe her?"

"Killer. She was in this white halter." For a second I saw her sitting there. "She asked me to buy her a drink, and I'm thinking she looks too good for a hooker. I mean she looked like a cheerleader or something."

Now the eagle scout cop, the young prick with the double starched haircut, spoke. "Did she, ah, proposition you?" We all looked at him for a second like he was the stupidest bag of shit you ever saw.

"What did she say?" the older guy asked, breaking the ice finally.

"Exactly, you mean?"

"As best you can recall."

"She said, 'That beer looks sooo cold. Look,' she said, 'it still has little shivers of ice in it.' She smiled in that buy-me-a-beer look."

The old fart chuckled, giving me that snake grin. "I know that look," he said. Now he was being confidential, the cocksucker.

"So I say to her, 'I'm kinda low on cash.' She runs her hand real slow up to my pocket." I remembered my bleeding heart mother is right there, but it's too late. "She gives my pocket a little squeeze and says, 'That's too bad. Let me buy,' she says. So I say fuckin' A." I look from one cop to the other because even I can't believe this babe was buying me drinks. But that part is true, swear to God. They don't even bat an eye.

"How many beers did she buy?"

"Two or three more."

"Where did she tell you she was taking you?"

I looked at my mom like, don't you want to take a hike, you old bitch? Or do you want another quart of thirty weight I've-been-a-failed-mother? She just sits there like a fucking nun or something. So I think, fuck you. Fasten your seatbelt, you old cunt.

"Said she was taking me to her hotel."

"Which one?"

"The Radisson."

"Did you go there?"

"I don't remember."

"What is the last thing you do remember?"

"I don't remember."

"Try."

I was getting just a little tired of this cat and mouse bullshit.

"What was she driving?"

"A van, a '96 Chevy--silver, fancy motherfucker."

"Tell us about the man," says the Mr. GQ cop.

"If you know all this shit, why you asking me?"

"Did you notice if the tags were out of state?" says the one in charge.

"No."

"Was he in the van?"

"Ask me something you don't already know, why don't you."

"He was driving, right?"

"Let me make this easy for you, dude. The chick says she wants to screw my eyeballs out. You follow me? I say let's get down. You hear what I'm saying? She asks if I've got a kinky mind. I say my head's got more kinks than Buckwheat's. She says what you into, looking down, like at my whammy bar."

"I think I'll go outside for a smoke," says mom, digging down in the bluejean pocketbook she's been carrying since her hippie days. Bitch has a tattoo on her ass. She takes out her lighter and some Kleenex. We all watch her leave. The old Doctor, who hasn't said a fucking word, gives me a look like I'm keeping him from a very important conversation with his stockbroker. We all watch the door close behind the Mother of God. Then the old man kind of bears down on me.

"So she's giving the old meat man here this porno look," I say. She says, 'Would you care if someone watches?' 'Who?' I say. 'Would you?' she says, giving the old pork a little pull. I just look at her. 'My husband,' she says. 'I ain't into any queer shit,' I say."

"What happened in the van," says Loverboy cop. "Did you get a good look at the man, the driver?"

The fucker.

"So, I say to her, 'Baby, I got the face if you got the place.'"

"How long were you in the van?" says Sonnyboy.

"You tell me, okay?" I'm pissed now. "You know all the shit. Why the fuck you even talking to me, dude? I'm the guy with a fucking hole in his back. You're the fucker whose 'spose to be telling me shit; so I'll fucking shut up and let you tell the story, okay? Let's hear it, Mr. Unfucking-solved Mysteries."

He just gives me this superior I'm-here-to-protect-and-serve look.

"Ain't it time for lunch or medicine or something?" I say to the Doc.

"We're almost done," says Captain Kirk with the fangs. "Go ahead."

Now I make these fuckers squirm for a few seconds.

"So you see, I think we're gonna do it right there in the van. I'm thinking her and her queer-bait husband spend their vacations having guys bang the bitch while her husband spanks his monkey in the driver's seat, or some shit. So I like go for the bitch, you know, for her tits. But she says, 'Let's have a drink on the way to the hotel.' She opens the refrigerator and takes out vodka, Absolut, that expensive shit, and some tonic. That's all I remember.

"So you really didn't get much of a look at the man then," says the old geezer. He and Mr. Junior Suntan King exchange a look that says they already know the answer.

"Man," I say, "if you'd seen those tits." Nobody said anything. "That's it," I said, looking around at everybody. "That's it."

We all just sat there like everybody was waiting for somebody to say the blessing. "Wellll?" I say. Nobody says anything. I look from one to the other. "Wellll?" I say again. "Why did the sonofabitch stab me in the fucking back?"

And now Doctor Spock, or whatever the fuck his name is, who's been sitting there like he was taking a constipated shit for the past fifteen minutes, pipes up. "You weren't stabbed," he says. "Somebody drugged you and removed one of your kidneys."

I just look at him. I think I'm going to bust out laughing. "What the fuck? My fucking kidney? You're shittin' me," I say.

"There is a black market value in organs."

"Whoa," I say. "You mean somebody operated on me? Actually stole one of my goddamn kidneys? You got to be shittin'. You fuckers are jerking me around, aren't you?" Some motherfucker stole my fucking kidney?" I looked all around. "You assholes better be talking to me. You better be telling me some shit. I want to know who cut me, you shitheads. I want to hear some shit from all you motherfuckers."

They just sat there like three hear-no, see-no, speak-no, motherfucking monkeys. The fuckers.

 

 

 

 

The doctor quit writing prescriptions for my Demerol. Then it's September. I've got this heavy psycho shit going through my mind that I don't even like to think about, you know. There's this shit I can't stop thinking about. I figure it's time for a little of the old me to come back.

So I'm sitting in one of those wooden seats that must have come from an old movie theater. You know, the hard as hell wooden seats that fold up. Tripping my brains out. Tripping my fucking brains out. My plan was this: To drop the acid, dump the old lady at the bus station, fart around for a while, then get to the club as soon as the doors open for the Poison show. Way I figured it, I'd be peaking about the last thirty minutes of the show, when the fireworks went off bigtime.

What I didn't figure--kick my own ass for this shit--what I didn't figure was my retard mother. The whore goes to church camp somewhere near Asheville every September. She always wants me to drive her up, but I know she just thinks she can trap me in the car for half a day and give me the God Squad treatment. She thinks I'll get there and suddenly hear the Word of The Savior. You can catch a bus, I tell her.

But then I've got to deliver her ass to the station, which I do after I drop, and guess what? The bitch has the fucking time wrong, missed the goddamn bus. So I got to wait the hour and twenty minutes with her for the next bus. So I sit there rushing like a motherfucker, watching the walls bend at the corners, and hearing every fucking thing. Somewhere in the station somebody says, "kidney stoned." Swear to God. Then I'm laughing like a lunatic. It's like the funniest shit I ever heard. My stupid as shit mom, who's sitting there like a Hallmark card somebody pissed on, thinks I'm laughing cause I'm so mad about having to sit there for the motherfucking bus to hell. So she doesn't say anything to me, which is good, cause I'm getting off like a bastard, and I can't talk for shit. Everything's that damned funny.

I'm sitting with my back to the sun, which is getting low now. Pretty soon the light begins to change to that yellow that you get in September. I'm digging the shit out of it, watching the color of everything change. I mean it was like being inside something that was alive, and you were in it and it was changing all around you. It was like you were floating around inside something, and there was all this soft yellow light. I was out there. I was going off. Then mother stepped in front of me, with that light all over her, and suddenly the light was coming from inside her. "I wish you'd come with me," she said.

By this time I couldn't move. I was like all balled up inside. I just looked at her with pupils like moons, I just fucking know. Her eyes got all watery for a second. Then she walked out of the station and got on the bus. She sat beside the window, like profiled in the shadow. When the bus pulled away, the whole fucking earth shook, swear to God.

I tried to get my shit together, but I knew the only way I was going to get my ass out of there was to plan ahead, to plan my moves and to talk myself to my car. But every time I got about halfway through the plan I'd be thinking about something else. I did get this far: I'd wait until the next bus arrived. Then when the people were unloading and boarding, I'd just slide my ass out. I waited.

Across the way was this old concentration camp-looking fucker. Must have been seven feet tall, all sprawled out from one of those little wooden chairs. And the motherfucker is shaking like he's freezing or something. I don't want to look at him. He's giving me the damned creeps. But it's like him and me are the only fuckers in the station, and I can't move and this vibrating corpse can't stop shaking. He ain't going anywhere and I ain't going anywhere. It's just him and me. The sun is going down and the light is washing over this old guy and it's getting to be red light that covers him and he's shaking like one freezing motherfucker, and it's like no matter where I look he's at the corner of my eye.

I try closing my eyes. At first, it's like I'm being squeezed from all sides. Then, whoaaa, it's like the shit went into high gear and I'm tripping so hard I'm about to zoom from the old body. Then everything begins to shake--the floor, the seat, me, the shit on the walls.

After fucking forever, I remember I can open my eyes. Everything is shaking and this old bastard is doing like five thousand RPMs and the whole place is red. The light is red. Then there is this wild chorus of voices.

People are pouring through the door. I hear the bus engine. Then the driver shuts off the diesel, and everything but the old man stops shaking. I want to spring out of my seat and run like a motherfucker, but my heart is racing like hell. The fucker hurts, it's running so hard. I can't catch my breath. I can't breathe for shit. Then I see this woman coming toward me. And I know she is going to sit beside me. Like fucking will or something. She's about two years pregnant, and sure as hell she sits one seat over. And now I'm looking at this huge pregnant woman, at her stomach, you know. I know I must have made her feel like a freak or something, but this acid was kicking my ass. I tried to think ahead.

For a time I tried to remember where my car was. I had no fucking idea. Couldn't even remember which door I'd come in. Another bus unloaded, and now the place was getting crowded and there were these crying babies and black bitches yelling at them and shit, and I was beginning to get a little paranoid. There were people like moving all around me, kind of circling me. And I'm thinking, I got to get the fuck out of here.

Then this fat guy with thick glasses and sideburns starts talking to himself. He's carrying a gym bag, one of those brown half-moon looking jobs they don't make anymore. He sets it down, then he picks it up. Then he sets it down and starts to unzip it. Then picks it up again, talking to himself the whole time. Talking this spooky mumbo jumbo. Then I hear the fucker say something about killing somebody, or that's what I think he says. Then I know he's packing in that bag and the fucker's going to open up on everybody. He's gonna walk as casual as a mailman through the station mowing people down. There's going to be blood and shit and bodies everywhere. I look around for help.

The pregnant woman has her eyes shut, her arms folded over her cunt, which pulls her thin dress over her about to explode belly. Then I look back at the guy with the gym bag, who's still mumbling, but now he really is unzipping the fucker. It's like I'm the only one who knows, and I'm seeing my path to tackle the bastard. I'm visualizing it. I glance to make sure the coast is clear before I make my move. Then this happened: It moved. The woman's stomach moved. I saw it through her dress. This thing inside her moved. Blew my fucking mind. You could see it. Goddamn, I thought, there is something alive inside her and it's moving. She's got something alive in there. There's something alive in there trying to fucking get born.

A bolt of lightning knocked the everliving fuck out of me. Light everywhere. Things were going to happen and I couldn't do a thing about it. This shit was coming down, all this shit, and I couldn't stop it. There was no stopping it.

Then I was crying like a baby. I don't even like to think about it.

This old shaky voice says, "Are you alright, son?" I was crying so hard I couldn't look up. And then the pregnant woman says, "He needs help."

I was standing outside between two parked buses. The fuckers must have been seven miles long.

I was outside. But then, after I got outside, I just walked to the first place where I could get out of sight. It was dark as hell.

Then I walked for a little while longer. I didn't know where the fuck I was. I really didn't. I don't like to think about it. And I was afraid to walk and afraid to stop walking. I sat on the curb in some neighborhood and boo-hooed like a fucking baby for I don't know how long. Sometimes, you know, I can't stop thinking about this shit. I had to get the hell out of there. I wanted to walk and keep on walking until I knew where I was. I even ran as far as I could. As I was catching my breath, I could hear my heart beating in my ears. I don't like to think about it. I heard one of the buses start up. I wouldn't go so far that I couldn't hear the buses, I thought. Then I was someplace else, sitting on the curb, not knowing where the fuck I was but not crying anymore. I was just sitting in the middle of no fucking place. I don't even like to think about it. Hoping somebody I knew would see me and take me home. You know, just hoping.

 

 END OF STORY

Copyright 1998 Phillip Gardner
All rights reserved