BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
It was a bright and shiny day; my wood-frame house shook like a stressed-out crack junkie in the pangs of withdrawal as I stumbled from between the rumpled sheets of my comfortably lukewarm waterbed, grabbed freshly laundered jockey shorts from the clean-laundry basket, and, staggering with drowsiness, got them properly oriented the second time I pulled them on, before finally reaching for my comfortably shabby, knee-length, plaid, flannel robe, the one I normally wore only inside the house out of sight of the general public because it had more variegated stains defiling it than has a whorehouse mattress, but I had no other choice since it was the only robe handy, and I had to get to the front door before the pounding sent the neutral beige Sears Best Easy Living interior latex paint on the gypsum board walls fluttering to the floor in small chips, like a bland snow storm of mediocrity.
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Grumbling like a frustrated spinster with bad false teeth I jerked open the front door and beheld the entire defensive line of the Broncos on steroids–to include the developmental squad. I blinked and they coalesced into one beefy, red-faced man sporting shoulders as wide as the flight deck of the Nimitz. It was the incredible Hulk’s bigger and far meaner brother. Menace swirled around him as thick as electrons about a uranium atom. He was drawing back either a small Celebes ox with a bad complexion or a well-battered fist.
“Hey!” I said, jumping backward and slipping on one or two dropped sports sections of the Rocky Mountain News, but managing to remain as upright as a Baptist preacher thinks he is–and in the path of imminent danger.
Okay, so “Hey!” wasn’t a grandiloquent speech, and you’d expect better from a famous author. Or from an infamous one (I always get those two words mixed up). I didn’t have time to reinvent Hamlet’s soliloquy, okay? Let’s see how inventive you are when you’re life’s about to go the way of buggy whips, Edsels, and eight-track tape players. But he lowered the fist to his side, though he kept it clenched tighter than Great Grandpa Macleod squeezing a buffalo nickel when the collection plate passed.
The man–I reasonably assumed from the narrow, ratty beard that crawled around its jaw line like an unpressed caterpillar, the Schwarzeneggeresque physique, and the seventeen tattoos on each of its upper arms that it was male–was a gall-swollen redwood growing out of my front porch. Try to imagine a redwood topped by leaves the color of recently tarnished brass and possessing a face like a rabid buffalo with its balls caught in a bear trap and you’ll be close. “Your name Hoistigon?” he snarled, displaying half-dissolved sugar cubes in a cup of cold French roast Folger’s as his concept of teeth.
“No.” I decided I would show the fearsome brute no fear, even though he was tougher than a Welsh spelling bee. He obviously was the type of thug who, even as an adult, roasted ants in the noonday sun with an eight-inch magnifying glass just to watch them explode. But I instinctively knew that he would respect someone standing up to him. Okay, I was silently and fervently praying to every major and minor deity I could name that he would show me that respect because I knew that slamming and locking the door would offer me as much protection as a starched kleenex in a Tokyo tsunami.
I crossed my arms across my chest to hold my robe closed, and to pin my heart between my ribs lest it burst forth like the Alien. I hoped he wouldn’t realize that a wet, yellow patch now stained my formerly-clean, white, cotton underwear the way gangbang semen stained the virtue of a Catholic girls’ school Honor Student.
He blinked. Slowly. Like someone who routinely has to blink via conscious thought. A primitive frown of puzzlement sprang to life on his blood-red face and slowly evolved into abject confusion. “I thought this was the Hoistigon place,” he rumbled, and I suddenly knew how Roman marble statues tumbling in the drum of a runaway cement truck with a defective power take-off would sound.
“The Hoistigons live about three counties over that-a-way.” I started to point, but I was afraid my quaking hand would imply that I was either terrified or offering to jack him off. Neither indication promised less than a trip to the emergency room–more likely to the city morgue–for me. I nodded vaguely past the escarpment that was his left shoulder, and I wasn’t surprised when he twisted to look. With the shifting of his weight the boards of the porch groaned like oarsmen on a slave galley learning the Captain wanted to go water skiing. “My name’s Hoisington.”
He turned slowly back to me, as inexorably as a continental glacier scraping Canada off the map. “Close enough.”
I was afraid it would be. The man was as pissy as a twelfth-hour diaper and certainly no more pleasant. Keeping my courage from scattering like children at recess took more effort than was required to lift the turret from a tank, or to hurl a space shuttle into orbit, or to keep a priest off an altar boy. “And what brings you here, Mister… ?”
“Collucci. I’m looking for my daughter, Nykki.” He gave me the kind of look most frequently used by policemen when a man wearing a mask and holding a gun and a overstuffed bag runs out of a bank and into their midst. “You just get out of bed?”
I stroked my unshaven chin with a thumb-and-forefinger pinch and looked down past a recent pizza sauce stain on my robe to bare legs and feet scarred by multiple accidents while playing mumbletypeg as a teenager. My breath was worse than an armadillo that had lost a game of chicken with a Peterbuilt outside Del Rio in August. Although I’m over six feet tall, he could easily look down at my tangled hair that was indistinguishable from a nest built of cheap grey yarn by a schizophrenic rat in a government drug research lab. Clearly I was in a battle of wits and had the superior weaponry with my intellectual howitzer versus his BB gun. But was I sufficiently awake to aim?
“As a matter of fact, I did.” That was Plan A: confuse him with facts until I was coherent enough to think of Plan B.
One bloodshot eye, its sclera displaying a map of the interstate system in red, closed a little more and began twitching erratically, as if telegraphing his alleged thoughts in Chinese Morse code. “Whadda ya doin’ in bed this time of day?”
I shrugged and tried to pinch off another dribble of urine through conscious effort while maintaining a face as calm as the corpse I could easily become. “I work nights. I have to sleep sometime.”
The twitching became a flutter, not unlike the wings of a hyperactive butterfly with its feet caught in an Okefenokee swamp sundew. Suspicion dripped from his voice with the annoying predictability of a leaking faucet at three in the morning. “On a Saturday?”
I subtracted another five points from my already low estimate of his IQ. “Last night was Friday. I got off work three hours ago. Why are you looking for your daughter here?”
As if he had finally made the Friday-Saturday connection he grunted, a drawn-out occasion accompanied by malodorous breath still saturated with last night’s garlic and beer. “I figure she’s been foolin’ around lately. You know–by the way she’d been actin’. All moonstruck eyes ‘n’ giggles? I found where she hid her diary under her mattress. It says she’s been doin’ some guy named Hoistigon.”
“Oh, well, then that’s not me. They live about three counties over that-a-way,” I said with a directional nod and an unsuccessfully restricted milliliter of urine.
He turned like a sorghum molasses tornado in a Siberian winter to look over his right shoulder and then twisted back, one Jimmy Dean Sausage thumb emerging from a fist the size of a 1996 four-door Buick Century to point over his left. “You said they lived over that-a-way.”
Ulp! “Until you told me about your daughter I thought you meant the southern branch of their family. Couldn’t be them, though. They’re Celibate Baptists. Haven’t had a single stroke of sex for over three generations.”
“Oh,” he said with a slow, contemplative nod of his head. Clearly each of his thoughts, small though they were, threatened to overflow the banks of the mental stream in his cranium like the Han River in monsoon season, so I subtracted five more points. “Billy seen her coming up your sidewalk.”
I was as clueless as an Amish bride on her wedding night–unless Billy Forrest had traveled seven thousand miles just to give that message to Collucci as revenge for my mentioning his name in the author’s comments, which wasn’t all that unlikely. “Billy?”
“Yeah.” To him that was self-explanatory. It couldn’t have been more final if it were a speeding ticket in West Point, Kentucky on Easter Sunday.
I just wanted to return to bed with my teeth in my mouth instead of my hand and my blood in my veins instead of on the porch. And to get away from Mount Vesuvius Collucci before he erupted on Pompeii Hoisington. “Mr. Collucci, is you daughter an intelligent girl?”
His head nodded like that of an arthritic bobble-head doll in the rear window of a ’64 Chrysler with bad shocks crossing railroad tracks. “Smart as a whip.”
I have many startling and wonderful talents. Controlling my tongue is not among them. “Takes after her mother, eh?”
He frowned and leaned down to fisheye me with that reddened interstate map. The stale beer and garlic was joined by a faint whiff of Old Spice, a combination that promised death as certain as the combination of a smart bomb’s whistle and a laser designator’s glowing spot on your chest. “You sayin’ Renee’s been fuckin’ around, too?”
For an instant I thought I had dodged a calamity, but reality suddenly slapped me in the face like Ginger McFall when she caught me looking down her blouse in tenth grade. “No, I… Uh, what does she look like?”
He looked even more confused, which as an accomplishment ranks at least even with the Red Sox winning the World Series. “Renee?”
Minus another five points. “No, your daughter.”
From the look on his dinnerplate face you’d have thought I’d asked him to explain the Theory of Relativity in Swahili. “Why?”
“I have an idea.” In truth I had only its shipping invoice. With any luck it would arrive while I still had thirty-two teeth in my mouth.
“Hmmm.” While he blinked with the speed of a snail on tranquilizers and pondered that, my cerebral UPS van delivered. I pressed the wrinkles out of the details while he said, “Nykki’s seventeen, ’bout five and a quarter. Got real bright red hair and green eyes. Been kinda skinny-like, but she’s startin’ t’fill out like Renee.”
I nodded slowly, pursed my lips in feigned thought, and looked left and right. I leaned forward to whisper so he would know I wanted to avoid being overheard by those guys in trench coats overhead in their black stealth helicopters. “I think I understand what’s going on here.”
He clouded up like the skies of hurricane Isabel and thundered, “What’s goin’ on here is I’m gonna beat your ass into a pulp if you’re humpin’ my daughter.”
The wet yellow stain grew a little larger. We were dangerously close to having a brown stain enjoin it in a territorial dispute.
He sniffed like a Lewellyn setter seeking a covey of quail in sagebrush. “You pissin’ in your pants?”
“I can’t. I’m not wearing pants.” I spared another nod to indicate the side of the porch. “One of the neighbors’ cats uses those petunias as a litter box.”
The head slowly turned to look at the hanging basket. His face couldn’t have looked more awestruck if the top five NASCAR drivers had walked up and addressed him by name. “He gets all the way up there? Somebody oughta put him on stupid pet tricks.” He hummed in alleged thought, sounding like a dying model airplane engine. “Wonder how much they pay for that?”
Another five points. “Look, I’m a psychologist,” I said as he oozed back to me.
His face again darkened like the Seattle skies in the rainy season. “What kinda psychologist works nights?”
I added back those last five points. Apparently someone did live inside that intellectual tenement. “I treat work-related stress problems in overnight-delivery loading crews at the airport.”
His brassy eyebrows slowly rose into twin arches resembling nothing so much as a hamburger chain’s patina-stained sign. “Oh!” he said in almost reverent tones.
He bought that? Maybe I was hasty restoring those points. “Mister Collucci, I think you have two distinct problems here.”
I swear the man grew fangs that would have given a smilodon canine envy. “You fuckin’ both my daughter and my wife?”
“NO! Your daughter…”
His fist slowly drew back like a battering ram at the gates of a besieged castle. I had no doubt it could do at least as much damage to me. “So you are doin’ Nykki!”
“ThatsnotwhatIsaid!” I screeched, felt my control weaken, and wondered how much more my underwear could hold before the urine started dripping. The fist paused, cocked and ready to fire, held back by a hair-trigger with the sensitivity of a hemorrhoid infected with jock itch. Keeping my voice as steady as a jackhammer on overdrive I said, “Your daughter has two problems: a schoolgirl crush and AFTS.”
Acronyms: your friend indeed when you’re in need. The Sisyphean task of birthing a thought appropriated all of his mental processes, including the ones necessary to keep his fist aloft and cocked. Eventually that thought, like Athena, sprang to fully-formed life in the desolate, rocky cavern of his head and announced its birth with a resounding, “Huh?”
“Her description sounds like somebody I’ve seen around here a few times. Look: your daughter obviously has developed a schoolgirl crush on me for some reason. Maybe I remind her of someone she can’t have, a movie star, or a rock performer perhaps, or maybe there’s some feature of mine she fixated on. I mean, who knows why women do anything, right?” Obviously one Mister Collucci didn’t understand women any more than he understood differential calculus, celestial mechanics, or two plus two without using your fingers. “Anyway, for some strange reason she’s fixated on me. With me so far?”
“Ummm…” I waited for his cogwheel train of thought to climb Pike’s Peak to the station. “Yeah?”
“Excellent! I knew a man of your vast intellectual depletion would understand. Now: she’s fixated on me for some reason, but she can’t do anything about it. I suspect she hangs around here hoping to catch a glimpse of me, and that’s why Billy saw her coming up my sidewalk. Maybe she was going to peep in one of the windows.” I lifted one hand from my crossed arms enough to snap my fingers but not enough to display my mostly-yellow with white jockeys. “I’ll bet she’s the one who scared the cat out of the petunias on Thursday of last week.”
The storm clouds darkened further, and his eyes crackled lightning while he again lifted the battered Buick for a high-speed drive into the bridge abutment of my charming face. “Then why’s her diary say she’s doin’ you?”
“Aha! That’s the AFTS: affectionate feelings transferral syndrome, a concept probed in Erie depth by Sigmoid Fraud and the subject of two broken treatises concerning Cherry Kay and Sue and without the usual Apache reservations, but let’s not dwell on those Indian details because it’s your daughter who has the problem.”
If he had been attempting to assemble a thought, that drivel should have scattered the parts and shredded the instruction manual as effectively as a four-year-old on Christmas morning.
“She’s found somebody else who has whatever trait attracted her to me, and she’s having sex with him. But in her mind, she’s pretending it’s me. Then when she writes about it in her diary, she says that it’s me for two reasons. One, she’s protecting him, but primarily she’s pretending that it’s me to bolster her AFTS fantasy.”
He waited three breaths and then said, “You said there was two reasons.”
Minus another five. We were rapidly approaching negative numbers here. “That was two.”
A spark of understanding slowly grew visible in the darkness of his eyes. I wondered if it would die of loneliness. Perhaps, but the Buick unclenched and lowered.
“In her diary she said somethin’ about your eyes.” He leaned down again and peered into each one, again blessing me with the sacrament of garlic, stale beer, and Old Spice and a ritual frown. “They are kinda weird colored.”
“There you go! No doubt she’s found someone with the same color eyes, and she’s having sex with him, but writing in her diary that he’s me.”
The calm eye of the hurricane passed. Cumulonimbus clouds reappeared, but not to rain blows upon my parade. He snarled and thundered, “Billy! That’s where I seen them eyes before.” He turned and stomped away, the one-bys of the porch threatening to break as they sank and heaved and popped loose more green chips of Sears Exterior Weatherbeater paint. He paused on the creaking wooden steps to look back at me and growl, “Thanks. Sorry to disturb you.”
“That’s okay,” I said, hoping I was speaking normally instead of squeaking like an asthmatic hamster sucking helium. “Glad I could help.” I closed and locked the door, fully aware that he could just come through the wall if he changed his mind. But maybe the lock would keep out the transient riff-raff. I heaved a deep sigh out of my path and returned to the bedroom.
While I removed my robe and wet underwear I watched a slender middle finger slowly stroking the hot, wet slit dividing a bush that resembled steel wool in the jet of a propane torch, only redder and much, much hotter. Her diddle-dew made it glisten like nose hair after a sneeze. An undeniable surge of desire went through me like a dose of Milk of Magnesia with a prune juice chaser.
“I thought I’d warm it up for you,” she said with her own desire rampant in the mosh pit of her emerald eyes. “What was that about.”
Even though she had just awakened, she looked as snappy as a wet towel in a boy’s locker room, and I felt the boom of my sexual derrick slowly extend. I crawled in beside her and stroked my hand up one firm, smooth thigh as luxurious as the finest French velvet, stopping at the top to displace her oscillating finger with my own trembling digit. I plunged it into her, causing her to groan like the hull of a diesel sub at a hundred fathoms, and found her wet with her own secretions and my two-hour-old semen. She needed a fresh injection of Hoisington Happy-Juice, and Doctor Russ was the only one in a three county radius who could fill that prescription.
As my erection hardened like the heart of an under-quota tax collector, I tongued her ear and whispered, “Your father said you need to find a new hiding place for your diary. You want to scoot over this way a little more so we don’t wake up your mother?”