Fiction

What Joanie Found

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 FICTION
Mitchell Rogers kept staring at my mother’s parts all through dinner. My father pretended not to notice, but I could tell it bothered him. Mitchell’s gaze was blatant. Whenever he spoke, he addressed my mother’s breasts.
     “More roast, Mitchell?” my mother asked.
     “Yes,” he told her boobs. “It’s lovely.”
     “Oh, good,” she said. “I hope you’re saving room for dessert.”
     Mitchell drummed his gut and smiled. “I think I’ll have room,” he said to Mom’s freckled cleavage. Mitchell’s lust was more obvious than that of the teenage boys in my class, and their hormones could have powered a whole town.
     My mother stood up from the table to get dessert, and Mitchell fixed his eyes to her ass as if it were the last bite of meat. When she disappeared into the kitchen, he greedily forked the remains of his dinner.
     My father and I kept our eyes on him. We didn’t look at one another, just at Mitchell and then back to our plates.
     “I’m sure glad you could make it to dinner tonight, Mitchell,” said my father. “I think it’s important to get to know people outside of the office.”
     “Yes,” grunted Mitchell, no hint of comprehension in his voice.
     “After a while you start to think of people as extensions of their desks, don’t you think? You forget the people you work with even have legs.” My father laughed, as if he hadn’t told my mom the same thing in despair a thousand times before.
     Mitchell didn’t laugh. “I don’t forget your secretary’s legs,” he said. “How could you ever forget legs like that?”
     “Ho, ho,” my father laughed, a little helpless. He had told my mother that he’d gotten a new secretary, but he hadn’t mentioned her legs.
     This dinner was going all wrong for my dad. He had invited Mitchell over for supper, hoping to make an alliance at the office. Dad was afraid that he wasn’t liked at the company and blamed this for his failure to advance. Month after month, he watched as promotions were offered to less capable men, simply because, my father thought, they knew how to talk bullshit with the boss.
     Mitchell Rogers was the boss’s third cousin, or some such distant and meaningless relation. My father wasn’t even sure what Mitchell did at the company, only that he almost never came in on time, took two-hour lunches, always left at five and had a larger office and a more impressive title than my father: Senior Director of Management. There were no Junior Directors of Management at the company as far as my father could tell, but Senior let more distinction to the title than his own: Assistant Production Manager.
     My mother returned from the kitchen wearing oven mitts and holding a warm butterscotch pie with freshly whipped meringue. My father watched her nervously. Before dinner, he told her that butterscotch pie was a strange dessert to serve, but my mother had insisted. Butterscotch was my favorite and the pie would be my reward for sitting through dinner.
     Mitchell watched my mother’s crotch as she crossed the room with the warm pie. He was obese and his weight hid his age. His small black eyes were vacant, and his open, huffing mouth exposed little more than a thick horse tongue.
     “Butterscotch,” said my mother with a smile. “It’s Joanie’s favorite.”
     “Your daughter has good taste,” said Mitchell. I couldn’t stand his filthy wet pig eyes on me. “I bet she gets that from her mother.” He turned to my mom’s tits and smiled.
     Mom and Dad laughed like sitcom parents at a scripted joke. My mother cut the pie and dished heavy slices onto our plates. Mitchell asked for another sliver after he finished, and my mom gave him another whole piece.
     “It’s great pie, isn’t it?” asked my father.
     “I’ll say,” said Mitchell.
     “Maybe I’ll have another small piece, too,” I said. My parents looked at each other and frowned. They were “concerned” about my weight.
    

promotion

“Of course, dear,” my mother said, her voice a bit too eager. She cut me a thin slice.
     Mitchell and I finished our second helpings. My parents watched intently.
     “Well,” said Mitchell, the last bite of pie still in his mouth, “I’m stuffed.”
     “I just hope you liked it,” said my mother. “I think I might have cooked the roast a little too long.”
     “Nonsense,” wheezed Mitchell.
     “I’m still not quite the cook Roger would like me to be. Am I, honey?”
     “Well, you’re perfect in every other way, Toots,” said my dad.

     “Yes,” said Mitchell, “I’d say she is.”
     My mother blushed.
     “And your daughter seems to be blossoming into just as lovely a creature as her mother,” he said, smiling blankly into my face.
     “Luckily, she didn’t inherit much of her father’s ugly looks,” said my dad.
     “Lucky,” said Mitchell.
     “She does have her father’s eyes,” my mother chimed in.
     “Yes, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, Joanie,” said my father in a tone of mock sternness. “I’m going to need those back. I can’t see a damn thing without them.”
     The table erupted in laughter. I faked dry heaves over my empty plate. No one noticed.

After dinner, my parents invited Mitchell to watch television with us. I think the offer caught him off guard. It was a corny thing to ask a near-stranger.
     “No,” said Mitchell, short and distracted. “I don’t watch television.”
     “Who doesn’t watch television?” joked my father.
     “I don’t,” repeated Mitchell. “Anyhow, it’s late.”
     It wasn’t even nine o’clock. Mitchell was ditching us.
     “Well, thanks again for coming,” said my father. He handed Mitchell his coat, which looked like heavy, gray drapes.
     “Nonsense,” said Mitchell, “the pleasure was mine.”
     “You’ll have to come again soon,” said my mom.
     Mitchell stared into her bosom and smiled. “You’ll have to invite me again soon.”
     “Don’t hesitate to call, either,” added my father. “For any reason, business or otherwise. I want you to know that you can depend on me for anything, Mitchell.”
     I couldn’t look at my father as he groveled.
     Mitchell stood with his head down in a concentrated gaze. “Well, there just happens to be something,” he said. “But, I wouldn’t want to put you out.”
     “Just ask,” said my father.
     Mitchell looked up. “As you probably know, I have a vacation next week, and I’ve been having the damnedest time trying to find someone to feed my fish.”
     Silence.
     My parents and I stared at Mitchell. Mitchell stared at the floor.
     “Fish?” said my father, like he’d never heard of them before.
     “Tropical fish,” said Mitchell. “I never even wanted the stupid things. This girl I was seeing convinced me to get them.”
     I don’t think any of us believed Mitchell had ever “seen” a girl.
     “What do they eat?” asked my mother.
     “Fish food,” said Mitchell.
     “Sounds easy,” said my father.
     “It’s real easy. And I’d ask the girl, but we’re not seeing each other anymore,” said Mitchell.
     “Oh, that’s a shame,” said my mother.
     “You know what they say,” said Mitchell.
     None of us knew. We looked at him expectantly.
     “There are many fish in the sea.”
     “Ha, ha, ha,” they all laughed.
     “So maybe your daughter could do it,” Mitchell suggested.
     “Maybe,” said my father. And Iknew it was decided that I would.
     Mitchell and my father shook hands. Mitchell kissed my mother’s hand, patted me on the side of the head, took one final look at my mother’s chest, then left.
     The smiles on my parents’ faces faded as Mitchell’s taillights trailed into the dark. We stared at the window in silence.
     “Where is he going on vacation?” asked my mother.
     “I don’t know. Some island,” said my father. “He’s been going to a tanning bed every night this week to get ready.”
     “He can fit into one of those things?” asked my mother, mildly astonished.
     “No,” said my father drolly. “They have to tan the overhang separately.”
     “Oh, Roger,” said my mom.
     “Oh, Dawn,” said my dad.
     They looked at each other slyly. I wanted to butt their heads together.
     My parents were fitness freaks. If they succeeded at nothing else, they’d at least look good failing. My mother had a tight hourglass figure with firm breasts that popped out of her chest to meet you. She was short and lean, perfectly curved like a sculpture of a fertility goddess. My father was tall and well-toned. His arms weren’t thick, but solid and defined. I was a formless blob, forty or fifty pounds overweight depending on what scale I used. I was exploding into a trollish version of my mother, not blossoming into “just as lovely a creature.”
     To my parents, this was a source of endless chagrin. The fact that their own offspring was a fat, feckless groaner made them unsure of themselves. I was a constant reminder of their flaws: a heavy-bottomed, sharp-eyed suggestion of their negative potential. I was a fat girl. Their fat girl. They constantly did little things to help. My mother bought me outfits that were a size too small. “I thought you’d look great in this, Joanie,” she’d say, holding a blouse or dress up to her own perfect frame, “if you just lost a couple pounds.” But I did not lose a couple pounds. I got bigger, and her clothes fit tighter.
     My father offered to buy me a gym membership or take me on his after-work runs. “We’ll go at whatever pace makes you comfortable,” he’d say. I’d tell him I didn’t see any reason to run unless you were being chased. He would smile, then look at my mom gravely. “She’ll grow out of it,” they would agree, “once she discovers boys.”
     I was already sixteen and had long since discovered boys. Boys were mindless little animals full of smirks and grins. Boys were dumb, frightened little men who didn’t know how to feign interest or hold polite conversation. Boys were undergrown Mitchells waiting to happen. Unfortunately, some boys also looked very good in jeans and these boys terrified me to no end. They not only disliked fat girls, they were downright cruel to us.
     “Where does Mitchell live?” asked my mother.
     “I don’t know,” said my father. “I’ll find out tomorrow.”
     “Don’t you think it’s strange?” asked my mom.
     “What?” asked my father.
     “I mean, we barely know the man.”
     “He must be hard up. For friends.”
     “I bet his house stinks,” I said.
     “Joanie,” said my parents.
     “Did you smell him?” I asked. ” He smelled like a bowel movement doused in Old Spice.”
     “That’s not polite, young lady,” said my mother.
     “What about the way he looked at you all night? Was that polite?”
     “What do you mean?” asked my mother indignantly.
     “That’s enough, Joanie,” said my father. “Mitchell Rogers is a co-worker and a friend. What if I remarked on the hygiene of one of your classmates? How would that make you feel?”
     “Everyone at my school stinks too,” I said.
     My parents frowned.
     “Mitchell Rogers does not stink,” said my father angrily.
     “Okay,” I said. “Okay, I’m sorry.” There was no point in fighting my parents’ delusions. It might just undo them. But Mitchell Rogers did stink. I could smell a trace of his reek in the foyer as my parents looked at me with their sad, simple eyes. My mother’s were narrow and dark. My father’s were sky-blue and wide, just like mine.

        

  

 FICTION
 
Mitchell Rogers lived a good fifteen-minute drive outside of town. I feigned annoyance when my parents asked me to feed his fish but I secretly reveled in the chance to use my mother’s car. (Dad’s ’76 Ford Mustang was out of the question.)
     Monday after school, I took my mother’s Cutlass Ciera for a drive before going to Mitchell’s house. I drove down Main Street, past the dueling antique shops and the travel agency. I drove past the movie theater that had been converted into a Methodist church. Its marquee read "Christ Saves," as if it were a Hollywood blockbuster. I drove past the men’s tailor shop and the local Moose Lodge. Past the main strip of town, I drove straight out onto the flat land my parents wistfully referred to as "the country" and floored the Ciera to seventy.
    I drove for miles. My parents never let me use their cars, and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity. I rolled down the window and sank into my seat.
     Mitchell’s house was set against a young forest of pine trees. A narrow limestone path led to his single-car garage. Mitchell’s house was small. It looked more like a shed than a home. It had white aluminum siding, a black tar-shingled roof, and matching black shutters closed over all the windows. His doormat read, “Wipe Your Paws” above embroidered dog prints. I lifted the mat and found the key. I held my breath as I unlocked the door.
     The rooms were strangely scentless, like a show house, old but unlived-in. The odor of new carpet and paint had faded but hadn’t been replaced with human scent. His walls were bare white, like blank sheets of paper. I could see why his “ex-girlfriend” had suggested he buy fish. This house needed some proof of life.
     Mitchell’s aquarium was in the living room, centered inside his unused fireplace. I shook a can of dry fish flakes over the water and watched the little creatures go at it with their tiny dumb mouths. None of them were brightly colored or particularly exotic. Leave it to Mitchell to get the dullest tropical fish possible. I fed them some more. I looked around for the television, but he didn’t have one in his living room. Just the aquarium in the fireplace and a tan loveseat.
     I got up and went to the kitchen. My guess was that Mitchell and I had one thing in common, a deep and abiding lust for food. This would explain his surroundings. We had a singular focus that took up most of our time and energy: overeating.
     But Mitchell had almost nothing in his cupboards; just health-food junk: fat-free soup, vegetable-curry mixes, granola, unsalted baked tortilla chips. He had unflavored rice cakes, for God’s sake. How was he so fat? On his refrigerator there was a weight-loss poster with “before” and “after” pictures of a woman. It was typical self-improvement propaganda. The “before” picture was small and showed the woman’s backside in a bathing suit as she looked over her shoulder without expression. The woman was an ugly fat hun. The “after” picture was large. It was obviously taken in a studio. The now-skinny woman stood with her arms akimbo, an obscene smile on her face. She was still ugly. Superimposed over the bottom of the poster were the words “You Can Do It!” in boldface yellow script. Obviously, Mitchell could not do it. He was just about the fattest person I had ever seen.
     I opened his fridge and, on a shelf, a light-sensitive plastic pig started oinking and blinking red from its eyes. Mitchell had skim milk and Egg Beaters. His freezer held Healthy Choice dinners and one small container of nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt. His diet was as bland as his home. The man had a non-aesthetic. I knew there had to be food hidden somewhere. I made it my mission to find it.
     I searched his house. I looked in his utility closet behind his linens. I looked in his bathroom cabinet behind his bath towels and plumbing chemicals. I looked under his couch and up his fireplace. I even looked on his screened-in patio in back of the house. I looked in the desk drawers in his den and the file cabinets between his tax-return folders and life insurance policy. Then, I searched his bedroom.
     Mitchell’s bedroom smelled different than the rest of his home: wet, almost musty, an old scent like stale glue. I looked under his king-size bed. Nothing. I looked behind the TV/VCR combo by his bed. Lying bastard. Probably all he did was watch television. I rifled through his drawers, which only held clothes. I opened his closet, a walk-in full of suits and coats, all neatly pressed and hung. Then I noticed a red trunk in the corner, with a pile of shoeboxes stacked on top. It was the size and shape of one of those old chests you see in movies, the type kept in attics with war medals and treasure maps hidden inside. Except this trunk was new and red and padlocked.
     I lifted the trunk a little and looked for a key. It was hidden underneath, just like the one to his house. People were so obvious. It was depressing. I undid the lock and opened the chest, careful to keep Mitchell’s shoeboxes in order. There was no food in the chest. Only videotapes. Black, unmarked videotapes. I started pulling them out of the chest. One layer of tapes revealed another. At the bottom, I found Polaroids. Dozens of them. And they all contained just one image: Mitchell’s gigantic penis.
     My heart raced, and I screamed. Then I blushed, both from the sight of Mitchell’s penis — I could tell it was Mitchell’s because it was framed between a pair of hulking thighs — and the fact that it made me scream, alone, in his empty house.
     I hadn’t seen many penises in my life. Once, when I was a little girl, I glimpsed my father’s as he was coming out of the shower. All I remembered was a blur of bald pink flesh that looked like a limp thumb. Later, in sex-ed classes, I got a better look at the things in drawings and diagrams. I learned that the urethra served not only as a urinary canal but also as a genital duct. I knew what dicks looked like and what they could do, but I didn’t know they could get so big. I was horrified. I couldn’t touch the pictures; I studied them as they were, scattered across the bottom of the chest.
     Mitchell’s dick looked almost a foot long erect and maybe seven or eight inches flaccid. He had plenty of pictures of it both ways. Some were taken head on, reflected in a mirror. Some were taken at arm’s length from his crotch. Sometimes he held his cock with his free hand. Sometimes it dangled freely. Engorged, the tip of his cock was blue like a bruise. Limp, it took on a yellowish hue, like the skin of a sickly child.
     The pictures made me nauseous and wild. I backed out of Mitchell’s closet and went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. I watched his fish for a moment, ate some of his granola and drank another glass of water. I walked back to his closet. I looked in the full-length mirror on the door and pictured Mitchell’s fat naked body reflected back at him. Was he able to see his own penis without a mirror or a Polaroid? Seeing my own reflection there unnerved me. I felt goosebumps on my arms.
     I got in my mother’s car and drove straight home. I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder. After I parked the car in our driveway, I fidgeted to get the key out of the ignition for nearly a minute before I realized the car was still running.
     “Where’ve you been, Joanie?” asked my father when I went inside. It was eight o’clock.
     “I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was being timed.”
     “Your mother needed her car tonight. She had to use mine. You know how she hates to drive stick.”
     “I’m sorry,” I said.
     “Dinner’s in the fridge. It’s probably still warm. Did you have any trouble finding Mitchell’s place?”
     “No,” I said. I didn’t want to talk to my dad. I was having trouble just looking at his face.
     “Well, thanks for doing it.”
     I started for my room.
     “Joanie,” said my father ominously. I froze. “Bring the car straight home tomorrow in case your mother needs it. She’s no good with the stick shift.”
     This was not true. My mother was fine with a stick shift. My father just didn’t like my mother driving his car. “Okay,” I said, but nothing was.

The next day, all through school, Mitchell’s dick kept popping into my head. I saw it everywhere. Boys’ fingers. Teachers’ bald heads. Pencils. Flagstaffs. There was dick in my ham sandwich at lunch. The hallways of my high school were big genital ducts. The rank scent of sweat in the gym reminded me of the smell in Mitchell’s bedroom. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Dick. Dick. Dick. Even in short moments of distraction, I was aware of dick and the fact that I wasn’t thinking about it.
     After school, I took my mother’s car directly to Mitchell’s house. I ran into his bedroom and stacked the videotapes back into the chest, over the Polaroids, careful not to look at any of the pictures. Once this was done, I felt a little better. But I couldn’t help wondering what was on the videos. Visions of Mitchell’s dick in motion made me shudder.
     I couldn’t force myself to watch one, but I couldn’t close the chest either. I bent over, and I could see my ass crack in the mirror. I was wearing pants my mother had bought me. I took a video out of the chest and walked into the kitchen. I ate some frozen yogurt. It had freezer burn. “You Can Do It!” read the weight-loss poster.
     I went back to Mitchell’s room and put the video in the VCR. I stood in the space between his bureau and his bed, inches from the television. A porno came on screen, right in front of my face. I felt mildly relieved. I knew what these were: the movies in the back room of the video store, rented only by pathetic men like Mitchell. They were what the old feminists deemed exploitative and the new deemed an “empowering business endeavor.” I’d read things. I’d even heard a radio forum on pornography with Gloria Steinem and a surprisingly well-spoken adult-film actress. But I’d never seen one before.
     Mitchell’s porn was titled The Fireman’s Daughter. It starred a blonde girl named Sable. She looked like one of the girls who worked at my mother’s beauty salon: ridiculous perm, overdone makeup. She was pretty, despite the stupid faces she made when she tried to act. She wore a lace slip and sat on a bed covered with stuffed animals. Suddenly, a fireman burst through her door. His hair was also permed, but he was not handsome. He had a big forehead and a snub nose.
     “I thought there was a fire in here,” said the fireman. He wore a fireman’s coat and hat and held a hatchet. That’s how you could tell he was a fireman.
     “There is,” said the girl. She pulled open her slip, revealing double-D plastic boobs.
     “You know how to handle a hose like this?” asked the fireman. He was naked underneath his coat and had a hard-on the size of Mitchell’s.
     “Oh,” said Sable. “I think I do.” Then some bad music with horns started and Sable started sucking the man’s dick.
     I stood transfixed, watching it like a nature program. I imagined narration: Once the wild man’s penis is engorged and the woman’s vagina is properly lubricated, he inserts it thusly, rocking to and fro, not unlike the species of human known as the music-video dancer.
     I watched the entire video, then another. This one was about a team of cheerleaders called The Cum Squad. The actors changed, but the corny dialogue remained. It was as pointless as my parents’ dinner conversations. Why did they bother? I liked the movies better when they were just sex. The sex was fascinating. It made me forget about Mitchell’s cock.

  

        

  

 

 FICTION
 
That night, I got home at ten. My parents were waiting for me in the living room.
     “Where have you been, Joanie?” my mother asked, more angry than worried.
     “Nowhere,” I said. Suddenly I remembered Mitchell’s fish. I had forgotten to feed them.
     “Now look here,” My dad always said that when he was mad, but he never indicated a specific place to look. “We gave you this responsibility because we thought you were adult enough to handle it. But if you can’t, we’ll just have to do it ourselves.”
     Do it ourselves. It sounded like the opening line to a porno sequence. I imagined my father turning my mother over and pulling down her pants, while bad horn music piped in. Then I envisioned Mitchell Rogers walking into the scene, his twelve-inch love wand putting my father to shame.
     “You gave me this responsibility because you didn’t want it,” I said.
     “Don’t take that tone with me, little girl,” said my dad, his temper rising. My mom nodded.
     They repulsed me. “I’m not a little girl.”
     “Well, you’re certainly acting like one,” said my father.
     “Fuck off, Dad.” I couldn’t stop myself.
     My father stood up but didn’t move toward me. “Fuck off?” He sounded stunned.
     “Apologize to your father right now, young lady,” commanded my mother.
     But I wasn’t sorry, so I said nothing.
     “That’s fine, that’s fine,” said my dad in a quiet voice on the edge of hysteria. “Let her say whatever the fuck she wants. What’s the fucking difference.” This was his lame idea of making a point, by throwing the offense right back in my face. “I’m sorry, Joanie,” he said. “You’re obviously not a little girl. You’re a big fucking woman to be able to talk to your father that way.”
     “Oh, shut up, Dad. You’re just mad because you’ve got a little dick.”
     My mother went white.
     “You’re fat,” my father snapped. He froze, his index finger in my face. He didn’t yell at me again. He didn’t say much at all. What could he say? We’d just insulted each other in the worst possible way, with the unspoken truth. I was fat. That wasn’t a revelation, but it was painful to hear my father say it. My dad did have a small cock. I was sure now. Why else would he return the insult? He even acted like a man with a little dick, defeated and angry, never one hundred percent sure of himself, just like his overweight daughter. He compensated with working out and driving a Mustang. My mother was part of the compensation. I couldn’t figure out what her inadequacy was, though, other than being a dumb bitch. She put her arm around my father and looked at me. My father was blushing.
     I heard my mother whispering something into my father’s ear. He shook his head. Then I ran out of the house. No one followed me outside.
     I got in my mother’s Ciera and drove straight to Mitchell’s house. I locked his doors. I left the lights off and wandered through the dark. I fed the fish, shaking the flakes over the water again and again until there was nothing left. Their little fish mouths gulped at the surface maniacally. Nothing in their dumb fish brains told them they were full, so they kept eating and eating.
     I went to Mitchell’s room and put on a porno. I lay down on his bed and watched the televison sideways, my head propped against my arm.
     My parents brought this upon themselves by having sex like the dumb actors on Mitchell’s TV. That’s how I happened. That’s what was behind all the boys’ smirks at school, the notes girls passed in class, the after-dance parties at rich kids’ houses, the ones with alcohol and swimming pools. My classmates were learning to be porn stars in darkened movie theaters and the back seats of their parents’ cars. They were learning what my parents had already learned and what their parents had learned before them. They were learning to ram each other like dumb animals and breed more dumb animals who would grow up and learn to ram each other like dumb animals. But not me. Not Mitchell Rogers. Not the chubby girl or the fat man with the King Kong dick. For us there was something else. We had butterscotch pie and pornography.
     On Mitchell’s television, a short man in glasses gave it to a wild-haired blonde from behind. The man was skinny. The skin around his cheekbones was so tight that his head looked like a skull. He made short grunts between his teeth and determined, evil faces as he pumped the blonde. The blonde made awful sounds. The man’s brow was sweaty. His jaw was clenched as he pulled the girl’s hair. I wondered if my father grunted, if my mom faked it that loudly when I wasn’t home. I wondered if Mitchell Rogers moaned as he lay on his bed watching other men. I thought about the boys at school. I imagined their weak little adolescent voices breaking in short squeals as they pumped and thrusted.
     I squirmed in the indentation of Mitchell’s bed and touched my hand to the bare skin of my belly. The grunting excited me. It sounded raw and dirty. It sounded naked and pure and awful and beautiful. I slid my hand between my fat thighs. I thought about Mitchell’s Polaroids. I wondered how it would feel to look at my own crotch on film.
     I touched myself like the women in Mitchell’s videos. I started to feel things. Heat in my fingers and toes. The warm air of his room like breath on my skin. A thousand tiny thrills running over my body in warm, slow trickles. I felt like I would turn into light, like something was going to consume me from the inside out. I felt like I’d burst through the ceiling in a blinding ray and hurl straight up into the sky like an ascending star. Then the feelings started to ebb, and I stared into Mitchell’s TV, blank-eyed and nauseated.
     Later, my parents drove to Mitchell’s house looking for me. They pounded on the front door and shouted for me to open up. They walked around the outside of the house knocking on windows and yelling my name. At least that’s what they told me the next day. If they did, their voices just echoed though the pine trees, unheard, because I’d already fallen asleep, lulled to dreams by the grunts and screams of people fucking.
 

  

        

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Strouse is a writer and cartoonist. He was raised in Goshen, Indiana, and lives in New York City. This is his first published story.

©2002 J.C. Strouse and Nerve.com