The crevasse of dirt ran down the path to the right side of the road like a long Earthworm sleeping on land. Summer in Colorado was torrid after a blizzard winter, and driving by dry farm lands scorched me in this car with no air-conditioner. I felt the Pontiac swerved but my thoughts flashed of Julie's face with her clear plastic glasses. I could careless of the passage I ignored at home about her, because she made me cry. This old Pontiac was red once, but now it streaked with bronze and copper marks from scraped paint. It was my soul deteriorating as an augury of life, and I wanted nothing more than a few Pabst for consolation earlier, but this mess got me guerilla driving.
The steering wheel made me sick, and the leathery crap slipped out of my hands. Julie's face was on me again. I tried to hold it together, but just like trying to control Julie, it wasn't my time. Damn tree was too close along the path as the road ragged on the wheels and I hit that damn dead bark in the middle of nowhere.
The crash was bad. I felt my neck popped forward out of my back and I knew I just about died. Nothing in my vision. There was dark and more dark, and the air felt light in my chest, lifting me up. I breathed in, and got shook out of my beard. It wasn't even a long one, and I even moisturized my beard.
"Wake up! Get the hell out!" said a voice.
I shook out and shook up, my eyes like a wild dog, searching for something I could focus on. The hand pulled my shoulders and dragged me out of the car. Whatever animal was dragging me, pulled the hell out of me like I was food.
"Stop! Get the hell off me!" I screamed, my legs kicking as my temples throbbed. The six pack of Pabst slowed me down and I gurgled out some and was about to vomit a pint or two.
"Stupid! You're stupid! Get up! or I'll kick ya!" said a man's voice. What kind of a man would help someone then kick him?
He stopped dragging me and left me on a hot afternoon like a broiled shrimp on the ground, with my skin all pink and burned. Old white men cooked in his own flesh like seafood on a grill in times like these.
"Who the hell are you? Do you know who I am?!" I shouted and something liquid spat out of my mouth. My legs folded and I pushed up off the ground. "Mind your own damn business!"
"Lucky dog, you bastard! You thank me!" he said, his head cocked at me like a rooster in a hen. "Drank up and drived like you own shit!"
"That's my car, you asshole!" I told him. "Carl! Who the hell are you?"
He was short, with dark hair, his nose flat, like he was Chinese. A brown t-shirt and jeans with sneakers made him looked like a young college student. Maybe he was Chinese, maybe he wasn't, but I didn't care what he was. He looked double and my eyes watered.
"Paul!" the man said. "And you're stupid!"
"Paul?" I said. "You look like a Chang, or Van or something...."
"Why? Because I look Chinese?" he said. His arms beside him, and his face looked red and I saw sweat on his forehead. Might be because I was a heavy load and he pulled a fat man out of his car, or he was mad. "Just because I'm Asian, I'm supposed to have a China man's sounding name?"
I stayed silent, and looked into his eyes. "Nah...," I replied.
A soft peace was about me, as if I knew he was helping me somehow, but I wasn't supposed to know.
"We gotta go up a mile and talk!" said Paul. His right hand made a fetching gesture swaying and I felt like a small animal.
"What about?" I asked. I looked behind me, and the car was wrecked with the front bumper concaved in and some oil must have leaked with whisps of smoke exhausting out. There was a shadow of a body inside, but it couldn't be mine. I was outside, talking to Paul.
I looked to Paul, and didn't have nothing better to do and the dip of the crevasse looked like a cliff and I wanted to dive into it.
"Don't even think about sleeping in that dirt," said Paul. "You're crazy if you do. Come with me!"
Paul was mean, and his tone was gritty like a chain smoker but clear sound of voice.
"Where we going?" I asked.
"Quit it! Just walk," Paul said.
I followed Paul, with his shorter legs, as I caught up. My husky 6' feet body could sit on Paul and squash him, but I wasn't about to get rude to a man who said he had something to say to me. I walked and stayed calm, but Paul wasn't double anymore and my chest wasn't full of puke either. Inhaling the hot air, I swayed a bit, and almost tripped, but I staggered my legs and kept my stance. Paul ignored me, and kept walking.
In the distance was a small house with a porch and a rocking chair in front. The sign on the top of it said, "Highway to Hell," in wood and white lettering and the "Hell" part was hanging down. My eyes felt wet and I looked back to the Pontiac and it was still there, down the road, kissing the tree with branches that looked like the witch's fingers.
Paul kept walking and stepped on the porch and opened the door as it creaked and walked inside. A few steps behind him, I looked around and realized this was some kind of bizarre something, because I must have passed this road before and never saw some small shack for a resting point. I followed Paul and walked in, and saw a few tables and chairs with yellow gingham liners.
"Just got in, Paul," said the waitress. She looked like a waitress, with an apron and a flowery Summer Dress and her hair was in a bun. Her brunette hair made her blue eyes prominent, and while she was beautiful with a heart shaped face and high cheek bones, I knew she was of age. She walked from the kitchen from the back to a table, and what seemed like a small house, felt vast inside. I looked around the room, and it was like stepping into a prairie cottage, with chairs of wood with soft yellow plaid padding and a blue gingham love seat to the left of the room. A small fireplace over the chimney was in front of me, and next to the hallway leading to the kichen in the back of the house.
"Yogurt please, Bonnie," said Paul. "Pro-biotic treat for me."
"And you, Carl?" asked Bonnie.
"How'd you know my name?" I asked. Bonnie sure was pretty, and if I wasn't in my sixties, I'd marry her.
"Stop thinking smack, Carl. What are you having for your afternoon snack?" Bonnie asked.
"What are we? In kindergarten?" I joked. "Are you serious?"
"Just,....," Bonnie said, as she exhaled and seemed upset. "Milk and chocolate chip cookies, then."
She walked on to the back of the house and must be for baking or some sort, because how else would chocolate chips be made? I sure never tried.
"Julie," Paul said. "She's your only daughter. Why aren't you behaving properly?"
Paul pulled up a seat and sat down, as he leaned back and I stared at him for a moment. Paul was a bastard I didn't want to talk to right now, because who was he to ask me these questions at a time like this? I wanted to die about thirty minutes ago, and Pabst was helping, and now this Chinese thing was in front of me, asking personal questions.
"I really don't want to talk to you," I said. I stood at the same spot, and my arms tensed and felt my veins pumping my heart and hands. The heat must got me overwhelmed because my eyes rolled back and I dropped like a dead fly.
Paul immediately got up off his seat and picked me up, and threw my arms around his shoulders and laid me on the couch.
I inhaled and closed my eyes. Breathing for five full minutes, as Paul must have pulled the chair next to the couch where I laid and sat there. He waited for me to flutter my eyes open.
"Here, Bonnie gave me a glass of water," said Paul, holding a small glass half full.
"Thank you," I said. I felt my heart beating hard.
"It's your coronary heart disease. You shouldn't be drinking this much," said Paul.
"Julie's getting married, and no Gypsy woman should be marrying another woman," I said. I cried, holding the bridge of my nose. "She's my baby girl, and now she's gonna marry some Gorger lesbian named Tristan."
"That's a nice, name, Carl," said Paul. "But, I don't look like a Tristan."
"You look like a Van," I told him. Paul sighed, and giggled.
"Your daughter is a lesbian," said Paul. He smiled at me, and I looked at him with sharp eyes and moistened beard from the water dripping off my mouth.
"She never told me. Now, she wants to elope with this woman,... or man. This thing," I said. My heavy chest heaved and my mouth frowned down and felt my heart dropped to my gut. "I wanted babies for her."
"Oooohhh, I see," said Paul. "Babies...."
I looked to Paul, and he smiled at me. He must felt smarter with probably all that computer knowledge all Chinese men knew and got chops for.
"I know what you're thinking," said Paul. "That's Bill Gates."
"You're shitting me!" I said.
"You asked, and you thought it," said Paul. He shuddered, and said, "Stop thinking racists things. Okay...let's start over."
"Julie never told me she was a lesbian," I said. "Gypsies don't do lesbians. We give birth to normal people, like everyone else."
"You have a beard, Carl," said Bonnie. "Not everyone has a beard."
"Bonnie,...it's okay," said Paul. Paul looked to Bonnie as she came out with some chocolate chip cookies and milk and placed it on the ground next to the couch where I laid. "That's good stuff. Bonnie is top stuff."
I looked at Bonnie with endearing eyes, but Bonnie rolled her eyes.
"Divorced," I said.
"Not interested!" Bonnie replied, and left to the kitchen.
"Carl! FOCUS!" said Paul. He took a cookie and handed it to me, and I accepted. The brown chocolate chip cookies was warm and soft and I must have slobbered because Paul handed me a napkin. I took it and wiped my whole mouth with it. Bonnie was talented and I kept chewing on the chocolate chip cookie. Paul smiled again and folded his arms. He breathed in and waited for me to finish my cookie. I gulped the last morsel down and wiped my hands with the napkins.
"Thanks, needed that sweetness," I said.
"Why aren't you smiling?" Paul asked. He smiled at me and I couldn't help but to return the kindness.
"She was my favorite," I told Paul. "She's the only daughter I'll ever have, and since her mother died five years ago, she's been driving up to Denver to meet some friends, or so she said. I didn't know she's been out with that Gorger lesbian."
"Tristan," said Paul.
"Yeah, that's his boy name. I don't even want to know his girl name," I told Paul. I closed my eyes, and breathed in.
"Tap your chest, three times with both your forefingers on your hands," said Paul. "Like this." Paul tapped his chest with his two fingers of both hands and I followed him. "Breathe, Carl," said Paul. "Say "I'm good and I'm kind, and I sure love these cookies."
"I'm good, I'm kind, and I sure love these cookies," I repeated. I tapped some more, even more than three times. I liked this tapping shit.
"So you think she's crazy now?" asked Paul.
"Yeah, she's nuts! What the hell do they do? These lesbians! Where do they go? How the hell are they going to be good Gypsies and raise children?" I screamed out all of the chest air and flumoxed anger. "I don't even know how to hug her anymore. Is she the same Julie?"
"I see," said Paul. "You think she's transformed into some outer space being who likes only women?"
"No," I said. "I'm a Catholic, and Catholics don't do that shit."
"Are you a practicing Catholic, Carl?" asked Paul.
"No, but I still am a Catholic," I said, defending myself, my core, and who was Paul to ask these questions?
"I've never met anyone who was a non-practicing Catholic," said Paul.
"You're shitting me?!" I asked. What god-damned person has never heard of that before? I was baffled.
"I know....I'm an atheist," said Paul. "I don't practice any religion."
"You're going to hell, Paul!" I told him. What sort of cookie maker was this Chinese man about? He kept telling me what to do and told me to follow him to some shack and now he felt he was sane for telling me he was atheist? I had to ask him, "Do you think Julie should get married?"
"You know what I do think?" said Paul. His eyes wide and looked intently at me. "You drank and drove into a tree, and you told me that you didn't want to live. I think you need therapy!"
I felt the sweetness inside my mouth, and shut my mouth for a moment. Paul was right, I drank and drove carelessly and I hated Julie for wanting to elope with Tristan, the woman who was a man, who was actually a woman. I reached down to the ground, and took another cookie.
"Are you a cookie maker?" I asked, just softening the hard water.
Paul shook his head, and took a cookie and ate one, and said, "I don't want you to be a coward, is all."
"I'm no coward," I said to Paul. I swallowed the whole cookie and felt almost full.
Bonnie stepped out and saw me, and looked down to the ground, and nodded. She went back to the kitchen.
"Are you a good father, Carl?" asked Paul. "Tap your answer on your chest."
"I'm a good father," I said, tapping my chest three times, and repeating it.
"Are you a damn good father, Carl?" asked Paul. "Repeat it. Three times."
"I'm a damn good father," I said, tapping my chest, repeating the words three times.
The room felt still and I closed my eyes and breathed in. I stayed still and basked in the quiet silence and solemnity. It felt peaceful, and for once, I was happy. I haven't' felt this calm since Julie graduated college.
"Describe her dress to me," said Paul.
"It's got a thousand jewels, and a Sondra Celli knock-off. We got it dressed in Broomfield," I said. "The ruffles has rainbow colors, and the fabric is pink glitter with more beadings and jewels all over."
"Sounds girlie," said Paul. "All those jewels must cost much."
"We saved up for six months, and we're having it at Estes Park, in the small white church, but we're having a friend do it. We won't have a priest," I said. "I felt bad, because her Mom wanted her to be traditional, marrying a Romanichal and into the community. Not some Gorger boy and girl in one body and just having me as witness."
"If you don't do it, who will?" Paul asked.
"That's why I drank and wanted to die," I said. "I lost her, and now I'm gonna be alone. And she's a lesbian."
"Okay, let's go outside, we gotta go back to the car. I'm tired. You're crazy," said Paul.
"What?" I asked him. "We're not done talking."
"Yeah, we're done," said Paul.
I got up the couch and drank the milk. I lost the headache and the intoxication was gone, completely. I didn't know chocolate chip cookies was magical, but I was mistaken.
Paul opened the door, and stepped outside, as he stood for a minute on the porch, inhaling the now evening air. Summer nights was breezy tonight, and it felt smooth caressing my skin this evening. I stood next to him, and Paul began to walk before me.
"You remember Arlene?" asked Paul. He looked above, and kissed his hand and waved at the stars.
"My ex-wife, Arlene?" I asked. My throat choked, because Arlene was a sore subject of a woman I once married too young, and had to let go out of heartache and addictions. She was my red, in my white suit.
"She never re-married," said Paul. "You never kept in touch with her, did ya?"
I walked beside Paul, pacing him, slowly together. "Nah, no need to. She was gonna be allright," I told Paul.
"She died a month ago. Breast cancer," said Paul. "She was at St. Joseph's in Denver for a year."
I gasped and stood still. Arlene never reached out to me and I never cared for her to. I knew she was going to be okay, because she was always a career woman, working, hard core business oriented and never backing down in an argument. She was the balsy type with black hair and angst for miles. Arlene was a kicker in the football team.
"She never told anyone, because she thought no one cared. Her parents passed before her, and she was alone," said Paul. "You know what her motto was?"
"What?" I asked, confused of how this had to do with me and Julie.
"No babies, no cry," said Paul.
I felt tears rolled down my eyes, and my body shook from the triggering conscience of understanding how Arlene never had babies. She was alone, all this time.
"She was a good woman, Carl," said Paul. "She was just different. Ambitious, but she was kind. She put up with you for a good six years, didn't she? She almost ended her own life one night."
I didn't reply. But, I knew she did love me. I didn't cheat, but I was addicted and she didn't care for it, so she left, and I found Mary, Julie's Mom. "I thought she'd be okay," I said to Paul. I sobbed and smelled my breath of alcohol.
"That's what you think, Carl," said Paul. "I wished you can love a person just as she was designed, but not all ends well. She was alone in the hospital, but I was with her. And we talked, and that's how I knew about you," said Paul.
"Who the hell are you, anyway?" I asked. We were a few steps away from the car, as the conversation drawned out to a mile or so.
"You son of a bitch!" said Paul. He punched me and kicked my shins, and dragged me into the car, and screamed into my ears, "It's not always about you and your addictions, Carl! It's about loving them back! You piece of shit! You fight for your life, you bastard!"
I fought for dear life, with my arms searching to fend him off, but Paul was a strong one with that tout Chinese Karate chop stuff physique. What kind of person would invite some man for cookies and milk, then attacked him near his car? I was about full cup anger and half cup of confusion, all drunk again.
My eyes opened as my head cocked back and my whole body shook as I suffocated from the air bag blown on my face. I was inside the car and I smelled smoke in whisps inside the car and I smelled fumes. My gut stuck in between the air bag and the steering wheel, I wiggled and couldn't move.
"Oh shit!" I kicked the driver's side door open, pushed down all of the air bag out of my face and crawled out. I crawled on the ground so fast, I didn't realize I was alone. I stood on the dirt and stepped back and almost fell into the crevasse of dirt. My foot got stuck and it turned out it was just a crack and it looked bigger than it seemed.
I took my foot out and stepped back on Earth, and pulled out my cell phone. Julie's number was my emergency contact and it rang a couple of times as she picked up the line.
"Hello, Dad?" said my daughter, Julie. She's my baby, no matter if she was lesbian or not.
"Baby, I need a ride home," I said. "Got into an accident, but I'm okay. Where are you?"
"Dad, you're supposed to be at the rehearsal with me!" said Julie. "The wedding is tomorrow!"
"Why you want to get married so much anyway?" I asked, still irritated.
"I want to have a family, Dad. You'll be a grandpa someday. I want to have a family with Tristan. We wanted to adopt or something like that," said Julie. "Please, Daddy."
Tears ran down my cheeks and I sobbed, gasping for air, and thought of Arlene in the hospital and how she must have wanted to have a family with me, but never amounted to anything. I felt like a jackass, but hearing Julie, I was a happy jackass.
"I'll be there, honey," I told her. "I'm so happy you're getting married!"
"Oh, Daddy," said Julie. "If you only knew how much Tristan loves you. We want to do things right. We are crazy about you! You're my only Dad!"
"Pick me up, baby. I want to be at the rehearsal," I said.
The tears felt warm and Summer got hotter with my cheeks and beard moistened from something that felt familiar and smelled like chocolate chip. I looked around, and Paul wasn't around. While waiting for Julie, I ran a mile up the road, and there was no small house, and no shack and nothing but barren land, and further up, there was a farm. I was confused and hurting inside of the memories left behind of Arlene, my darling wife whom I never cared to help. I fell to my knees and my heart broke in half.
"I'm so sorry, darling," I said to Arlene, but she wasn't there. I looked above me, and kissed my hand, and uttered, "Thank you, Paul."
The End. Just write.
*Inspired by The Stand, a novel by Stephen King.