…I raid her fridge and create meals! Cucumber Tomato Salad with roasted chicken and fresh mozzarella…ahhh…
Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, cracked pepper, sundried tomato chips as dressing.
Even though I was standing and he was sitting, Billy towered over me by another foot. Billy’s huge, like, HUGE, with a thick neck, broad shoulders, and tree trunks as thighs. At one point in our boisterous conversation, Billy reached out for a pound, and as I served it back, my four knuckles rested against his first two. Big boy, that Billy.
We’re jawin’ on about whatnot and whatever when suddenly, Billy’s right leg swings up swiftly, his knee level to my chest, and I, out of instinct, hop back into a fight stance and lift my arms to block what seems to be a right knee to my face.
Billy doesn’t break a beat in his story as the battering ram is returned to a relaxed pose. I’m now in fight mode, but not sure why.
“Billy! What the fuck was that??”
“Oh my leg? Oh it does that.”
“Yeah, it’s like a nervous twitch or something.”
“Nervous twitch?? Billy, I thought you were gonna knee me in the face!”
“Really? No, I wouldn’t do that.”
I relax my balled fists and loosen my stance. I exhale deeply, hoping I didn’t leak out too much adrenaline. “Billy, I was gonna hit you.”
Billy slumps his shoulders and closes his eyes. “It’s okay. You can hit me.” He straightens his spine, rests his hands on his thighs, and just waits, in a knowing fashion, in a this-happens-all-the-time fashion. I’m bewildered. He doesn’t move. “Go ahead, hit me.”
Flummoxed, I look to his brethren at his right, who says, “That’s just Billy.”
Billy awaits his bludgeoning, a willing receptor for my left hook. And I thought I was insane!
“Billy,” I place a soft hand on his left shoulder, encouraging his eyes to open and look at me, “I don’t want to strike you, Billy.”
“It’s okay if you want to.”
“Thank you for the invitation, but no, I don’t want to hit you.”
Billy shifts in his seat, back into his relaxed pose, and offers sweetly, “But just so you know, if you wanna hit me, you can hit me.”
I am simultaneously touched and freaked out by his gentlemanly invitation for assault. I sit back down, where the girls are talking, and continue eating sushi.
“You know what my dad calls this place?”
I look above and around the chinch hanging on the walls and between tables, leveling my eyes at the sight of wooden peg games on each table top. A myriad of names pop in my mind.
She laughs as she says it, “Honkey Bucket.”
I’m careful not to laugh too loud. “I will never UNknow that! Let your dad know I’m gonna use it.”
We’re both being sensible; eating as much meat product as possible. While she does the ham-bacon-sausage trifecta, I go for grilled catfish ‘n’ eggs. We discuss the benefits of packing food vs. stopping to eat where we go. “My plan is to save every dollar towards gas.” “Me too.” I tell her about hurricane sandwiches, where you take the whole loaf of bread out of the bag, dress with nonperishable, processed foods, then return all of it back into the bag, the idea being, you can survive a hurricane landfall with this bag ‘o’ food. Yes, the butts are their own sandwich, or you can give them to the dog.
I reach for my phone. “Let’s talk route.” As Google Maps activates, I watch her watch our server pour water into her glass. Just as I think, ‘ooh, there’s a side spigot on that pitcher,” she says, “Umm. That was Sprite.” I want to laugh, but the server’s expression indicates she’s kicking herself internally. “It’s okay,” we both say, and the server explains, “I just got here. Haven’t had my coffee. I’ll get you another cup.” She says, “I totally understand,” as the server whisks off.
I felt compelled to admit I’ve never been a server. Either I was the manager or I was in the kitchen. “Hard to hit the floor when you’re not ready,” I assume. She’s the opposite; she prefers service positions. “Yeah, but sometimes once you’re talking to people it wakes you up.” I nod. That’s why I was never on the floor. I hated dealing with people, but I loved telling them to go fuck themselves. That’s when I realize, this person is good for me. I need someone who is naturally friendly and compassionate who I have no sexual attraction to. We can compliment each other without complicating each other.
I swipe the screen to enter an address somewhere in the American Midwest. The blue ball indicating our current location shrinks as the image expands upward, displaying the green penis of Florida and the expanse of North America above it.
In an act of complete abandon, a huge leap of faith on my protective part, I position the screen towards her. “Pick our route.”
She tightens her face to scrutinize the options. “We’re taking our time?”
I’m amused as she rubs her chin, clearly putting much study to the North America map.
“Either 20 or 40 but west for sure.” I have done the Florida to New York drive too many times, sorry Atlantic seaboard. I want to see some new shit. I hope she wants to see the Grand Canyon.
She points to Louisiana, a certain city I’ve never hung out in, just driven through. “I can talk to her about staying the night.”
“That’s cool. Definitely save on getting a hotel. But we need that confirmed before we leave.”
She nods assuredly, “Oh that’s fine.”
“She needs to be cool with us showing up at 3 in the morning with a dog.”
“Oh that’s fine.”
The paranoid part of me is screaming, but I let her rock out. I have to do this; I have to resolve my crisis of faith, and it starts with trusting this person.
Neither one of us has the will to clean our plates. Maybe if we had smoked prior to brunch, but, oh well.
I lift our ticket from the center of the table. “Honkey Bucket’s on me.”
You know how you look at a thing too long you don’t know if you’re done? I’ve updated two of my Pages, “All About Von” and “Make Contact”. Well if you could just dance through those, offer edits where necessary, so I can stop looking at this, I’d really appreciate it!
Going to walk away and shower while you do that. Maybe eat lunch. Yeah, lunch…
For my art, I prefer to be paid food first, then cash, then weed. So when a fellow poet and dear friend sent me this text, I was too happy to oblige:
In an ironically super useful way, this project aligned with a current project I’m doing for a horror anthology; the main character volunteers at a hospice! This commission would be good practice in translating my terror into fantasy, like I’m trying to do with Millie.
When I poet, I first deliver a freestyle, then I apply the technical aspects, and finish with honing and planing the poem to its essence. Well…the commissioner’s time schedule and mine weren’t in sync, so I hadn’t gotten to the technical phase when she asked for the poem. Guiltily, I scrambled to clean up the freestyle and submitted it. I emphasized it wasn’t my best work and, had I managed my time better, her patient would have his poem.
Deep down I was saddened, knowing that meant I was out a meal. You guys know how much food means to me; it felt like I was dumped by a wonderful potential mate.
But then I get a text saying, he loved it! She had read him my rough draft after all! For someone who doesn’t enjoy violence or darkness she enjoyed the story. I appreciated hearing that, especially because she’s an artist who fairly critiques. So, I got my commission in the form of a great lunch at Community Cafe on Central Ave and I have another satisfied customer. Huzzah!
Here’s the commissioned product, very rough and yes, I could do better:
And for a bonus, the song I used to get into the mood:
…is a recipe! And very popular over in South Asia and Oceania! Who’da thought? :)