UA-19541526-1

Shakespeare Dan in Trona

by Jason File

Editor’s note: the following is an excerpt from Jason File’s debut novel, The Axis of Praxis, available now for purchase in .PDF or paperback at lulu.com.

The directions Dan gave me were simple: get off the freeway at Trona, there’s only one exit, make a right at the gas station, hang a left at the next street, and his house would be down at the end of the block. I expected to find him living in a modest English Tudor. Instead, I was greeted with the reason for some real estate developer’s bankruptcy: an entire small community of near-deserted track homes. Dan’s house was an emotionless rectangle among them. I could only pick out two or three other houses on the block that were occupied. The rest were boarded up, or had signs staked in the lawn, pleading with no one to call and make an offer. There was one Yucca plant in the center of Dan’s dirt lawn, growing at a sharp right angle, as if it too had given up and was trying to leave this place. I put my clothes back on in the empty street, collected a few personal belongings, and stretched before heading up to the house. Dan opened the door as I approached. The first thing I noticed was the handlebar mustache.

“Ah, how now Michael?” He was wearing a dirty-white, thrift shop t-shirt. It was sweat stained from too many rotations under the harsh desert sun. It said something on the breast but various letters were worn out and gone, now wandering somewhere in the Mojave.

“I’m good,” I told Dan, smiling.

“Aye, truthfully I am most glad to see you.” He seemed almost overly relaxed, the way he moved, and the slow delivery of his words. Even his sandy blond hair seemed to fall to his shoulders in a sort of collective sigh. We went inside the sparse house and he sat down. I watched his body as it conformed perfectly to an old, tired recliner.

“Looks like a nice place you have here.” My eyes went first to the bookshelf in the corner of the room, where I noticed a lonely Complete Works of William Shakespeare sitting on its side, tattered and well thumbed. There was not much else. A wooden desk, doubling as a dining table, was off in the shadows of another room. I was sitting on Dan’s mattress, where an architect had intended a couch.

“I tell you,” he said glancing around. “’Tis a fair and good house. ‘Twas a matter of convenience that I came to posses such a handsome home.”

“Then you like it out here?”

“Yes,” he affirmed after a second, thinking. “I find it a most natural setting, one that lofts the mind and soul higher than possible in other places where they’re hindered by the folly of incalculable distractions.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. I remembered how Dan and I used to drive to San Francisco for the weekend whenever we could get the chance. We would go to parties and clubs and try to dance with pretty girls and he would always do most of the talking for us. He was very charismatic then.

“So why the decision to start talking like Bill Shakespeare? Not that I don’t like it. I just sort of thought you’d been fucking with me in all those letters.”

“My voice, like so many things under the heavens, hath simply exhausted its own well. I grew tired of the ceremony and fashion of exercising it.” He managed to say this with a completely straight face.

“Uh huh,” I gulped.

“So I, being much prepared to forfeit my audience, did transfer my address to less crowded lands, where the implorators could not distract me so.”

“I had no idea you were so fed up with everything.”

He laughed and it threw me off. With his words spoken in such a theatrical way I didn’t expect such an innocent and normal laugh. Then I yawned and Dan did in reflex and both of us smiled. We talked for a while longer. I updated him about all of his old friends and the girls he used to date. He giggled and nodded through it all, before telling me about the desert and how he didn’t mind being a local weirdo and also how Shakespeare made more sense to him in the middle of nowhere, how it was in effect its own world.

“My eyes do inform me that you grow tired,” he then observed. He was right. I did feel tired. I realized I hadn’t slept much in the last two days. “We shall speak more upon the morn.’”

“That sounds good,” I said. I got off his bed and pulled out my sleeping bag, but I didn’t get in. Still hot from absorbing a day’s worth of sun, I stayed on top. “’Night Dan.”

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” he said, his voice then adapting a perfect English accent. He still had his fucking humor.

I slept in on the carpet that was begging to be replaced, its thousands of tiny frays having been worn stiff, stubborn, and stained by old owners. It was no longer white, more a dirty beige, having taken the color of its desert surroundings. It felt like a hardwood floor and though it was uncomfortable. I kept forcing myself to sleep.

I woke up late in the morning, glancing around, and noted the empty mattress with a note lying on top, written on the back of an old utility bill. Pulling myself up from my sleeping bag, which had become in this weather an unnecessary invention, I walked over and grabbed the note, sweating and groggy. Light pushed the window to its limits, gushing and illuminating the house. The note informed me in iambic pentameter that Dan would be at the gas station working a twelve-hour shift and that I could meet him there whenever I wanted or just do my own thing.

I spent the first half of the day in my underwear, in the backyard. I sat under the roof overhang of the house, draped in shade. According to the old thermometer that was nailed to the exterior of the house, it was still over 100 degrees where I sought refuge,. I had stocked a small Styrofoam cooler from inside the house with beers that Dan had in his fridge. I drank these beers until I was drunk and then sat in the backyard and watched the lizards sprint across the sandy lawn. There was a whole aerobic regiment going on in my presence, consisting of both short and long distance running, along with a rigorous series of push-ups that the lizards performed in the direct sunlight. They had to be in good shape. They probably had some of the better lizard stamina in the world. No human sounds disrupted this lizard world. The street was as quiet as it was when I arrived last night. If Dan actually had any neighbors they wouldn’t be coming outside unless their house caught on fire; that was the only way I could imagine things getting any hotter.

It was strange but the longer I watched the backyard, the more I saw Sophia sleeping in my bed. I saw the coast and my house with Steve dog-earing a page in some book, whistling out loud at some profound passage he had just decoded. But somehow the longer I stared into the backyard, the more I felt removed from the last few years. Time magnified while sitting in that blank yard. The people, the environment, everything I saw in my head seemed so dated, almost inconsequential now. It would be possible and easy to sit here forever, I thought, watching these memories parade by in this vacuous heat. For a second I became sure I was disappearing. Out here there were no references to my normal life. I could hear the faint gusts of wind perfectly, the sand scraping across the patio. The million distractions that would have overwhelmed this back home had all been stripped away. I soon fell asleep.

I awoke to find that the shadow of the roof had retreated and that my feet had become exposed to the sun. I wasn’t sure how long I had been baking there but my feet had turned a painful shade of red. The burn reached up to my ankles, where the skin faded back to white, and then red again on my thighs, from the drive yesterday. Shit, I thought, observing my increasing resemblance to a candy cane. I twisted this development around in my mind and decided to take it as a sign; it was time to go inside, get dressed, and head down to Dan’s work. I contemplated staying in my underwear, wondering if I would actually see another person in town.

I was no longer drunk but could still feel the alcohol in my blood, driving down to the gas station. Big surprise, I became the only car in the lot upon pulling up. Dan must have taken a bike, I thought.

I walked into the dusty Snack Center of the gas station and observed him sitting behind a clear plastic wall, hunched over a notebook. Candy, cigarettes, and cheap trinkets of the desert surrounded him. He had the stereo turned up fairly loud, over the humming air conditioner, and he was writing with his head bobbing up and down, keeping time to an obscure song from a punk album I knew I had heard but could no longer name.

“Am I your first potential customer today?” I asked.

He looked up calmly and smiled, closing his notebook and scratching the back of his head with a pencil.

“The third, my friend. Already, your visit makes thrice.”

“Slow day?”

“For the summer, this day is expected. Few travelers possess such strange will as to deposit their soul in this unrelenting location.”

“Makes sense,” I said, thinking about myself. “So is there any tour I need to take of the town or what about sights to see?”

“The heart of the town, when observed from the corner of this business, can be appreciated properly.” He pointed outside to the far corner of the station, near the posted prices of gasoline.

“Be back in a second,” I said. The doors slid open and the heat rushed in, before it was banned. I was left with it outside. After releasing a beer-flavored yawn, I walked to the corner of the gas station and looked downtown.

Two identical stucco strip-malls mirrored each other, flowing along the road, until they abruptly ended and gave the desert back. There were tall steel poles with business signs attached to the tops, various logos, and a single two-story building with faux-colonial Spanish architecture that anchored the town. A minimum amount of dusty cars lined the boulevard. You had to have a hobby out here, I thought. The opportunity for social stimulation looked challenging. I stood at the top of the town in some frayed shorts and one of my dad’s old t-shirts. I felt my mind emptying, reflecting the expansive scene in front of me. I spotted my second tumbleweed, shook myself out of my momentary stupor, and turned to head back inside.

Back in the Snack Center I found a chair by the booth to fill out lottery tickets.

“Michael, if you desire anything which lies in these four walls, make haste and prey upon it.”

“Is that all right?”

“Aye, the lord of this business is a foppish man whose liver runs sour from too much drink. A rascal who takes no notice of goods which are stolen and unaccounted for. ‘Tis never any theft, so I bear the duty of assuring the disappearance of a minimum of goods.”

I told Dan “Thanks” and grabbed a bean and cheese burrito, then placed it in the microwave. I took a cherry Coke from the large wall-sized refrigerator. After preparing my meal I sat with a dirty magazine near the Lotto booth. Dan returned to writing in his notebook and we listened to the stereo. After eating I looked over every periodical in the place. If I got bored I would go around the store eating candy bars that had the texture of a long life lived on the shelf.

A customer came in two hours after I had arrived at the gas station. He walked up to the counter, put a twenty down, and told Dan he wanted the gas on Number Three. Dan nodded and the man left. One more car came through the station right before Dan closed and together we secured the building, turning off some lights and setting the alarm. We got out into the evening and enjoyed the falling temperature. I followed Dan back to the house, he on his bike and me in my car.

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Jason File is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. He invites you to visit his website, www.nomorebummers.net, to learn more about The Axis of Praxis, available for purchase now on lulu.com in .PDF or paperback.

photo by Cosmic Spanner


The Day the Hills Walked

by Veronica Mira

Massive and grassy sleeping beasts lay with hundreds of years of dirt and vegetation on them. Victims to a worldwide slumber, every beast fell where he stood, collapsing upon each other in great mounds. In passing years, earth settled atop the massive bodies, concealing and encasing them entirely, beneath tens of feet of ground and elements. Some had awoken and attempted to rise cracking their graves through to the surface, but becoming no more free than the buried others, and all the more miserable for knowing the state of their morbid confinement.

The two drank beers and looked up at the hills. Both leaned against Jack’s truck, which was parked on a dirt trail. Upon looking at it again, Jack thought the rock man didn’t seem to be wallowing in his grief or to have died of exhaustion after giving up. Rather, he simply looked to be daydreaming, in the midst of pulling himself out of the hilly earth.

“Yeah. Maybe you’re right,” Jack said. The indentations of his footprints were there from when he twisted and kicked his shoes into the dirt every day.

“Why else would she say nothing?” Tom asked.

“Yeah.” He looked up at his hill. Jack stood, only a few feet up from the base, but had his back to it. He was thinking about beginnings again.

The rock man lay resigned and his arms were strewn out along the desert bushes. The head lay on its side. In the midst of fight for escape, he was caught by another daydream. It was the same dream that always stopped his work. He watched the dream and, half buried, was infatuated.

“I should be heading back,” Jack said. The trembling from the ground was getting stronger. His whole body vibrated.

“Alright. Take it easy.”

At home, he saw Jill sitting, looking down. Her arms stretched out with her palms flat on the tabletop. She said nothing, but her eyes darted about the table’s surface. She checked out a long time ago, he thought; she hasn’t been my wife for longer. There was no other way to look at it. He didn’t seem to exist to her.

Jack stood one step away from the front door, which he came through not a moment ago. This would be his last arrival. He looked around the house with calm remove, making sure nothing was left, that every root was dug up. Then, he gave one quick nod at it all. Jack looked at his wife once more and his body stiffened. He thought of the rock man. He made another quick nod in her direction. Immediately after, he felt a tug and an adrenaline rush. He was filled with the feeling that something needed to get done. The feeling swirled in his stomach and filled up his throat. But what needed to get done? Some important errand? Someone to meet?

Whatever it was, he let himself be pulled outside and back into his car. The engine still crackled from his recent arrival. He left the driveway and headed away from the house, being pulled all the way. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he had to get there.

Jill was losing her sight. At first, she didn’t notice the gradual decline, the hazy edging that grew on everything. Then came the time when she spotted a large spider on the carpet. When she saw it, she froze and her heart fluttered. Her brain sent one message to every muscle in her body: kill. She threw a heavy magazine on the poor creature and mashed it by jumping up and down repeatedly on its pages. After slowly prying a corner of the crushed death instrument away from the ground, she saw the creature had maintained its shape. Kill. She shortly dropped the corner of the magazine, but before she went to stomp on it again, she had a strange inkling of what it might actually be. After taking another cautious look, she squinted and saw it was, in fact, a brown peanut M&M.

Some time after her sight began to fail, her body felt sore and tired. Soon after she discovered a large hole dug underneath their nuptial bed. Something her husband must have done. She was perplexed, but also very hurt. Afterward, when she walked, parts of the floor fell through, revealing holes and tunnels dug beneath the home. More and more, the house began to creak and whine, teeter and sway. It wouldn’t take much else for it all to fall.

“When she got quiet, it was like everything stopped moving and started drying out. You know, like my mouth was always dry and my body felt stiff. She started stinking, too, bro. You know that smell when you don’t clean out your fish tank? And that thing that makes bubbles ain’t on? And there’s this one fish that’s hardly movin’ and you’re not sure if it’s dead or alive? That’s her, man,” Jack said. He looked to the hills and imagined the rock man’s story.

The rock man awoke soon after the weather revealed his eyes and he saw the ground at eye level. His shock shook him, though he couldn’t feel himself , couldn’t shake, but rather, shook the land around him. So he was still. Now, forever awake, it took another forever for winds and rains to free him to his chest. He continued the struggle he began when first opening his eyes, the struggle to break himself from this open grave, this marriage of privation and grief, this cement.

“I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to get out of there. And every time I was on my way out, there she was stinking and sinking further and further into that chair,” Jack said.

“Maybe she thought there was nothing left to lose,” Tom said.

“Yeah. Maybe you’re right,” Jack said.

Everything was blurry. Each object in her dining room gave way their distinctive shape to colorful blobs that had all merged together. The image of her husband was particularly blurry and a bit transparent. She worried about what this meant about her mind. He had indeed left her long ago. This made her wonder what else she saw that wasn’t really there. It was hard to say. She desperately needed glasses but was afraid of getting up and falling since the world felt like it was teetering on a marble. The world only stopped moving when she sat and looked at her hands, dried and flaking. Flakes of skin that peeled and fell away like petals. Still, her hands were the only things left that anchored her.

He came in through the door, a tall floating collection of blurs, and stood very still. He would come very late when it was dark out. He said nothing to her and stood, stood for a long time, then left again. And this happened every night. When he left, she smiled and smiled until she slept. Recently, he hadn’t stayed long.

When she was alone, she went limp and sunk into her shoulders, and she shrunk quite a bit. But when her husband came home, her head popped up and her body inflated back to its full size. His attentions to her had become scarce, the only thing left were his brief, occasional visits. Yet, pale, weak, and thin, she breathed, “Thank god for that.”

He was home less and less often. Less and less. Then, it occurred to her that this figure, which mimicked her husband’s every domestic routine, was a figment of her imagination. He was already gone, long gone, and this apparition was only a consolation.

Tom took a sip from his beer and said, “Are you gonna tell her?”

“No.” Jack kept his eyes on the hills.

Tom looked at his beer and pressed dimples in the can. “Why not?”

“What’s the point? We don’t even talk.” Jack wondered about the rock man’s life. How did he end up here?

Tom wanted to shift but didn’t for fear of disrupting a moment, as if not wanting to scare off some small animal that had poked its head out of its lair. “So, what’r you gonna do?”

“I don’t know. But I’ll tell you, when she got quiet, it was like everything stopped moving and started drying out.”

Jack’s ghost came once more. The floor continued to splinter and crack when he hovered in and floated close to the front door. Holding on to the dining table, she looked at his hazy figure. He was here again, thank god. He stood by the door and seemed to be holding something. Jill squinted and strained her eyes and was able to make out that her husband held a shovel in his hands.

No sooner did he come that he left again. He left the shovel behind. She was hurt. And she would no longer exist.

When he left, every object around her drank up the air around, becoming less and less themselves. It was all beginning to rise and float just like a sky. When sitting in a hardwood chair, touching a hardwood table, and even touching her own flesh, she felt heavier, all the more unbalanced, with nothing but sky around.

“She just started sitting there every day. The first time I saw her there, she was sitting holding onto the dining room table for dear life. She just looked fuckin’ crazy. She was sweating, her eyes were wide, her teeth were bared and gritted. It freaked the shit outta me,” Jack said. On one of the hills, he saw a rock formation that looked like a resting man. Or a dead man. “Later, when I came home, she looked scared, like piss in your pants scared. But now, nothin’. It’s like there’s no person left,” he said. Only the upper part of the rock man’s body was visible. His legs were buried below ground, not far from the surface.

“Till death do you part, right?” Jack said.

“Are you gonna tell her?” Tom asked.

She brought her hands up close, she stared at the crisp outline, the creases and tiny wrinkles. Everything beyond the hands globbed into one large colorful blob and mingled together until all turned gray. She saw that the world beyond was disintegrating into tiny gray motes. Her fingers moved among the liquid and foggy particles of the air and she tottered in the center.
But before long, even her hand began crumbling into gray flecks, falling away into the blurry mess that swamped around her.

“You see these hills? These hills are life,” Jack said. He felt Tom waiting for an explanation, but since he didn’t ask for one, Jack gave none.

“What way, you think, is over the hill?” Tom said with a smile.

“I don’t know. That way, I guess,” Jack pointed straight at the hills, “Toward the side we can’t see.”

“How do we know we’re not on the other side already?”

All of our knowledge went toward learning how to climb that hill. Then, when we get to the top, we’ve no idea how to go about going down. Our leg muscles want to continue climbing, but no matter how much more up we want, it’s just not there. And we only get down. So, beginning those steps to the finish, one is pulled forward, pulled down, fast, then faster. This downhill hike becomes a rush to the finish. And downhill there is no longer that short misstep to an embracing earth that will help you to your feet again. Rather, the earth recedes and there is more air than land. The little bit left is a patch of land with your name on it. The earth will embrace you again, but will sweep you off your feet to do it. Another corpse of ourselves left lying around.

“She just started sitting there every day,” Jack said.

The blob in her eyes slowly and finally eclipsed her vision. When she could no longer see her hands, she gripped herself, up her arms, then her face. She could feel herself, but everything seemed bloated and numb, like she was touching another person.

Soon after, her head spun, her guts swirled inside her stomach, stretching up her throat and she could no longer tell which way was up. She tumbled out of control and flailed her arms wildly trying to grab hold of something to stop her fall. But her hands grasped everything at odd angles, and these angles scratch and marred her. Dark flashes pierced her gray vision while every part of her body and head were pummeled. She cried but could not feel her tears. They did not slide down her cheek but fell straight out. Her clothes ripped, her skin was gashed, her bones cracked. Shards and blades speared through her nerves before finally, she dropped cold and weightless through the air.

A shredded cotton doll, she fell off the table.

Jack came back to his hill and placed the soles of his shoes in their imprint. Then, finally turned around and began walking down those last few feet to the bottom of the hill. On his last step, he felt a strong rumbling from the ground. Cracks tore through the surface at the base of the hills.

After much frustration and desperate trembling, the ground vibrated and the hills rumbled to life, like a man struck with an idea, who finally and suddenly decides, unthinkingly, it is to be done. The hills began struggling to pull themselves apart, breaking away from the ground they had been so much a part of. From the pulling and breaking, they started to form new outlines of themselves. Cracking, cracking and breaking. Rising and lifting up with their backs. Jack watched them stagger to their feet while they remembered again how to stand. They stood stretching to enormous heights with earth on their backs. Great green, yellow, and black hunchbacks—their battered backs that had been seared, bulldozed, and stabbed. They plucked away the pylons and telephone poles that pierced their backs like cattail spikes. Highways and railroads were tattooed on the shoulders of some, and others carried growths of hilltop mansions and radio masts. Yet they paid no more attention to them than a man would to loose threads and balls of lint. They plucked away those that were noticeable and bothersome. The rest of the debris hung slanted and dangling.

When each was satisfied, they turned away in unison toward one direction and began their slow and steady plodding.

The rock man broke free with arms that had weathered and legs that took on a new rigged and raw shape. Jack jogged up beside him and they walked together in sync. Both examined the hills, looking for a place to lay and rest, looking for a wildflower. The kind of charming and delicate, yet hearty flower that grows in hard to see places. They walked with the greater masses. And without destination or aim, they simply were compelled to walk. Their backs rose with each stride while the lines of their backbones showed.

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Veronica Mira is an MFA student at California College of the Arts. She welcomes your comments on “The Day the Hills Walked” at tongva[at]hotmail.com.

photo by Bazylek100

Between

by Erin Heath

Between

I’ll write it over again—his hand on my knee over and over, maybe another hand—I laughed because it was a joke, until he stopped

What am I supposed to do with my uncle saying You’ve traveled the most out of any of us?

By far Grammy adds.

Announce

I lived in Seoul. As if it were accomplishment, status. I say I lived in Amsa-dong and immediately I’m in my alley, the squatted man vomiting into the drain across the way. Vertical signs familiarized by the end, slowly readable.

This depression he said

after reading my “Korea poems;”

I went back to change them. Even when I was reaching for the arm of someone I didn’t particularly want,

there was snow covering the trees that day at the temple, and so—

thatched roof, evergreens

white woods

I wanted it and the mountains to remind me of home so they did.

There were no monks who spoke English; our group took the bus to town, to the movies. Rode it back and whispered on the grounds

I could write the difference between North America and Asia. “The city” and Oakland. Tonight I’d start mixing it up

a/his hand, the feeling of the hand

or the tallest building in the/a city—

memory tricked while pedaling new neighborhoods

It could be a matter of learning a neighborhood, an alley

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Erin Heath is an MFA student at California College of the Arts. She welcomes your comments on “Between” at erinhheath[at]gmail.com.

photo by Drab Makyo

The Best Thing You Can Do With Your Life Is Change Your Body

by Jason R. Jimenez

photo by Mountain Ash

I’m in the bathroom getting dressed. It’s almost noon. I’ve been in here since ten. I pull on my jeans, pull up the zipper, already there’s a roll of fat hanging over the top button. I’m a huge whale, I’m a rhinoceros, Wolf’s going to beat you if you can’t lose some weight. She’s at the gym right now, she’s on the streets running, she’s at the store buying laxatives, I can’t even get out of the bathroom dressed. I take off the jeans and pull my pajama pants back on, then reverse and maybe I’ve thinned in the last five minutes, I can try shorts instead. These are gray shorts, they are dirty and stained because I wear them sometimes in my studio while I am working. There are my legs too, I see fat, I see disgusting thighs, at least they’re hairless, aerodynamic, yesterday I thought my knees looked nice because they were scarred and sharp looking, but now they’re red and pudgy, my quad muscle is the same flabby pink color as Glenn Beck’s face.

I pull a plain white shirt over my head quickly because if I don’t I will never be able to decide on my pants. This shirt is made of heavy cotton, it gapes around the neck, doesn’t lie flat over my shoulders and clavicles, it’s a white block across my chest, suddenly now I have huge dough-ball pectorals, ones that don’t flex, the rest of the shirt floats out over my Buddha belly. I turn around and arch my head back to see what it looks like from behind. The shorts gather all around my ass, is that just fabric? I pull the shirt up and look for the V-shape that beautiful men are supposed to have, chests wide and then that diagonal line to their hips, it’s the shallowest diagonal though. I don’t want hulking muscles or any sort of growth in my pectorals, I want to be rail thin, all sharp edges, but no matter what you do there’s going to be that diagonal, if you do it right. Some of these people are the complete opposite, round round round around the belly and then a reverse diagonal to their sunken chests, all hairy and blubbery, how could you live with yourself? Every time I see one of those people I feel like walking up to them and burying my head in their bellies, sucking out the cellulite and pounds of fat, spitting it out like the first time you taste cum.

I take off the white shirt, Wolf has left a pile of clothes in her bathroom, I’ve never seen her in these shirts, there’s a black sleeveless one, it’s a Crass shirt, the feeding of the 5000 it says across the top. I laugh, I have to wear it just because it’s funny, doesn’t matter that it’s a little large, Wolf’s cut off the sleeves and my arms poke out, they’re thin enough for now, those green/blue veins, pale. The shirt’s big enough I shrink inside it, no one will be able to guess how fat I am. I look like a teenage boy, maybe even younger, all I care is that I don’t look like a grown-up. Adults are monsters, they’re hairy monstrosities, dusty, covered in soot, clogging drains with their hair, leaving their droppings everywhere they go, pure animals. It would be alright when the drain is clogged with hair, black hair, curly blond hair, if afterward the person began to disappear, but it just keeps coming back on their heads. I look in Wolf’s shower, pull up the drain stopper, dip my nose in the open drain. It is decay, soapy, mildewed. I grab a hanger from Wolf’s closet and poke the hook end down into the drain and wriggle it around inside the pipe. I can feel dirt and hair wrapping around the thin metal hanger. I yank it up and it only budges a little, I yank harder, when I do I look at my bicep muscle flexing and my asshole tightens, pulls my dick closer behind my thighs, my body must know something I haven’t yet realized. Yes, Wolf’s hair is down there, this is what I’m pulling up.

I yank the hanger up and it budges a little more, I spin it around the drain, then yank on it hard. The pipe and the hair that most definitely will not come out release the hooked hanger. I hold it up in the air, a mess of black, brown, mildew smelling sludge comes up, I gag reflexively. Don’t be scared, it’s only hair. It’s only Wolf.

The hairy sludge drips with water, green colored water, bits of the sludge break off and circle around the drain, suction cup to the yellow tile. My asshole tightens harder, the space between my balls and asshole tickles, I feel blood rushing to the head of my cock. As I’m kneeling over the drain, I can see the tip of my dick rising up out of the darkness inside the short’s legs, it’s pink and smooth, tiny drop of pre-cum floating above the urethral opening. I stick my hand down the shorts and grab a hold of my dick, pulling at its base, sliding my finger along, pressing forcefully on the perineum. I close my eyes and imagine Wolf in front of me, holding the hanger and the hairy sludge against my thigh, it soaks my shorts. I drop the hanger and squeeze the hair in my palm, milking it, rub it on my thigh, painting, coating myself in Wolf’s hair. I rub around the edges of my hairless asshole, poke a finger in, the muscle opens up and grips around my knuckle. With the other hand, the one with Wolf in it, I take that and slide it into my shorts, wrap the hair around the cock. I synchronize my movements, curling my middle finger in my ass while wrenching the other hand around the head of the dick, it’s lubricated by the sludge and mildew.

Wolf’s hair tickles, I want to reach down and brush it away, I slip in the shower, the tailbone slams on yellow tile, the hair is still tickling, I’m holding her hair around the dick, she’s gliding up and down, I’m reaching inside of her, she’s digging that finger inside of me, curling with her hand, come hither. She makes that slurping sound, the sludge globs up around the head, clotting and stiffening. Everything is tightening, my hands are tensed, veins popping out, I’m sliding on the shower tile, soap smells and plastic razors, black mildew in the corners. She’s getting away from me, I close my grip tighter, tense the muscle, tighten the hair around the head, pulling harder, fingering harder, digging deep inside her pussy, her hair is tickling my abdomen, I want to brush her away. She’s biting my ear, biting my neck, throwing my head against the shower door, tickling my abdomen, my dick in her mouth dressed by her hair, bobbing up and down, up and down, fingering in and out, massaging this spot inside that I don’t even have a name for, feels like she could reach her hand all the way up inside and I would just be a puppet. Her fingers loosen the sharp edges inside me, they crumble and soften, collapsing like tissue around her hand, she smiles at this, throws my loosened skin all about her face like a thin cotton sheet. This unnameable spot that she’s fingering is tender, it releases a smell like cut grass, I see this scent and it is olive, up down in her mouth, up down the inner ridges inside my ass. I’m wearing her shirt, I’m surrounded by her, I’m draped in her forgotten hair, she penetrates, accesses, busts through, enters into me. Faster and harder, I’m sliding around, there has to be a way to make this real, she has to appear when this is over, don’t stop please… I orgasm.

I leave the bathroom carrying the cum-covered hairy sludge and place it at her front door to dry in the sun.

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Jason R.  Jimenez is an MFA student at California College of the Arts. This is an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, WOLF. He welcomes your comments at jasonrjimenez[at]gmail.com.


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