I got up that morning with an incredible desire to pee. While standing at the toilet I looked in the mirror and I shouted out to Bec, who was still in bed, “Life is just like the human body’s elimination system: solid food and liquid comes in through the mouth and then what isn’t usable is forced out one’s urethra morning after morning, day after day.”
In my head I could hear “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” sung by Johnny Cash. Which was weird, because it was Tuesday, and I wasn’t at all hungover.
Bec stretched and said, “It’s just like a man to reduce all of life to just a reflection of the body’s elimination system. Why don’t you just shut up and let me sleep late for once? It’s my day off. Besides, as usual, what you just said makes no sense.”
She was right, I sounded like an idiot. Oh well.
After dressing and eating breakfast I realized I was late for work. Hurrying down the stairs I accidentally bumped into our building’s handyman, Dick, and nearly knocked him over.
“Oh, excuse me,”I said. “I really should look where I am going. I am so sorry.”
Dick, a heavily tattooed man with haunted eyes, a mysterious past, and a bad meth habit, grabbed me by my shoulders, stopping me in my path. He brought his face to within an inch of mine and said, softly, so softly I could barely hear, “It is not I who needs an apology, sir.”
“Oh really?” I said. I tried to slip away, but he held me firm and moved even closer, so our noses were actually touching.
“Yes, man from apartment C311,” he said, softer still. “You must first apologize to yourself, for all your running around is causing you to lose your way.”
“I know the way,” I said, slipping out of his grasp before picking him up in a fireman’s carry, spinning him around, and throwing him down the stairs. I had no idea where I’d learned that move since I had no training in wresting, jiu jitsu, or the martial arts.
“It’s just up the 99 to the Broadway exit,” I shouted as I leaped over his inert body. “Then it’s two quick lefts and a right. You can’t miss it.”
As I drove up the freeway, I passed over the Stanislaus river. I gazed at the brown water and at the brightening sky above. Suddenly, I noticed a lone heron flying higher, ever higher, towards the sun.
“Stupid heron,” I thought to myself.
Even though I was late, I stopped off to pick up my dry cleaning. This didn’t make sense, I know, I could always go after work, or, leave early the next morning and do it. Or, even, I could pick up the clothes on my lunch hour. There really was no hurry. Still, I was compelled to do it right then.
As I walked from my car to the door of the cleaners, I could hear, faintly, somewhere in the distance, a John Lee Hooker one chord boogie riff play. I looked and looked but could not find the source of the haunting, yet funky, music.
“Why didn’t that guy ever learn any more chords?” I thought to myself.
I took my shirts from the cashier and saw that they were not able to get out the gravy stain from the front of my favorite navy blue button-down 100% cotton shirt.
“Couldn’t get out the stain, huh?” I said.
The cashier, a middle-aged woman with neck tattoos, one haunted eye and one eye that was just slightly anxious, a mysterious past, and a bad meth habit, gave me a look of pure hatred. She slapped me hard. Twice.
“You people,” she said, sneering. “You think eliminating the stains from your fancy dress shirts will take away the stains on your soul? Ha! You are a fool and I feel sorry for you.”
I slipped a twenty down her blouse.
“Do you think you could try one more time?” I said. “I really love that shirt. And please don’t slap me anymore, okay? It really stings.”
She pulled out the bill and examined it very carefully.
“Do you think money is the solution to the problem of your stained shirt? Do you think life is really that easy?”
“Yes,” I said. “I was sure hoping so.”
“You’re probably right,” she said, slipping the twenty back into her bra next to her surprisingly large, firm, and pointy breasts, the kind of breasts you only see on rich Beverly Hills housewives and Hollywood movie stars. “We have this new solution I’ll try. I’ll run it through again. Come back tomorrow morning.”
Then, somehow, I found myself in the employee restroom of the dry cleaners, making passionate love to the cashier as loud, evil, heavy-metal music played in the background. I found this odd because I wasn’t even attracted to her. And, I was doing it in her butt, something I’ve never wanted to do because I find it unsanitary and kind of disgusting, but I understand some people think it makes for an exciting variation. Still, there I was, really going at it while standing up behind her as she leaned forward and clutched the sink, a wire hanger between her teeth. What was really odd was when I looked down at my thrusting pelvis I couldn’t see my penis anywhere. I knew this was going to really haunt me at least until lunchtime.
I walked back to my car. The parking lot was full of late 60s muscle cars, all of them idling with a haunting, mysterious roar. I tried to see who was in the cars, but the sun glared brightly off of the shiny paint jobs, and I couldn’t get a good enough look. I found this haunting.
When I turned on my own car to leave, Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” was playing loudly though my radio speakers. Which was weird, because I had my radio tuned to FM 105.5 THE RIVER, an easy-listening new age cool jazz station.
When I finally got to work, I went straight to my boss’s office. His name was Jack. He had mysterious eyes, and a haunted, black soul (at least that is what it said on his t-shirt), and a bad meth habit.
“Jack,” I said. “Could I have this Saturday off? My friend Dave is getting married.”
Jack laughed in my face. He laughed and laughed. He laughed so hard he cried. When he finally stopped crying, he said, “Oh, you are such a fool.”
“Why?” I said. “Is there something going on here on Saturday I’d forgotten about? What am I missing?”
“You say your ‘friend’ is getting ‘married?’”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Yes, that’s what he told me. What? Do you know Dave too? Where you invited? Do I have the date wrong?”
Jack slowly shook his head. He looked at me with great sorrow.
“Mike, what is a ‘friend,’ really? And, for that matter, what is a ‘marriage?’ Is it just a ceremony with two people, a priest, and witnesses? Or is it more than that? Also, what is … ‘Saturday,’ ultimately, other than a concept in your mind? You sit there so confident, as if you know exactly what you are talking about, but do you? Really?”
“Jeez, Jack,” I said. “Can I just have the day off, yes or no?”
“Sure, just go into the company intranet on your computer, fill out the proper form, print it up, and give it to my secretary. You know the drill. Don’t forget to sign and date it.”
After work I stopped off at my favorite bar for a quick one. The bartender’s name was Flo. She had a haunted face and heavily made-up, mysterious eyes, and she snorted meth sometimes but it hadn’t turned into a habit yet, and probably never would because Flo didn’t really have an addictive personality. Some people are like that. Strange, I know. Haunting. Behind her where she stood at the bar sat row after row of liquor bottles: scotch, bourbon, tequila, vodka, which isn’t strange at all. To my right, two men, both wearing blue-collar shirts with their names stitched above their hearts (“Sonny” and “Jett”) played pool. Sonny had mysterious eyes and Jett was haunted by the sins of his past. They were both addicted to reruns of Malcolm in the Middle. They sang an ancient sad Irish song as they played. Their harmonies were amazingly beautiful.
“I’ll have the usual,” I said to Flo.
“Your arrogance astounds me,” Flo said. It looked like she had antlers on her head and then I realized it was just because she was standing right underneath some deer antlers from a big buck mounted on the wall. I was glad she didn’t really have antlers on her head because that would’ve haunted me.
“Really, please,” I said. “Could I just have a cold Bud draft? It’s been a long day and I’m hot and thirsty.”
“Your thirst,” she said, and then spat contemptuously on the floor. “Yours is a thirst that will never be quenched by Budweiser. What is wrong with you? What is wrong with people?”
“Okay,” I said. “How about an Anchor Steam?”
“Sure, that should work” she said with a bright smile, “I’ve always found Anchor to be much more refreshing than Bud. Coming right up.”
As I left the bar Sonny and Jett began to fight over a girl named Nell. I watched as Jett grabbed a beer bottle by the open end and tried to break it in half on the side of the pool table. But, no matter how hard he tried, the bottle would not shatter.
“Shit,” he said, as Sonny beat him in he face with the cue ball. What was odd was that they did this every day when I stopped off for a beer on my way home from work, yet neither one of them ever had a cut or a bruise. This made no sense, I know. But I really didn’t care, it was fun to watch them fight.
I drove home back down the 99. As I looked at the sun setting over the Stanislaus river to my left I wondered out loud, “That’s weird, since I’m going south and it is six at night, the sun should be setting in the west, which is to my right.”
I decided not to worry about it since it was such a pretty sight.
At home, Bec served me a wonderful dinner of steak, baked potatoes, and green beans. As we ate, we stared into each others eyes for inexplicably long periods of time. Neither one of us knew why we were doing it, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. In the background, we could hear Gillian Welch and David Rawlings singing Long Black Veil. This wasn’t strange because Gillian and David lived next door and were always practicing. This was nice, but sometimes I got a little sick of hearing the same songs over and over.
Afterwards, I took Bec into my arms. “That was a wonderfully satisfying meal,” I said.
My wife, who has beautiful brown eyes, a past that is no mystery to me, and who is addicted to snickerdoodles, said “Yet, you must admit that none of us will ever be ultimately satisfied by sensual pleasures, such a good food.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I really don’t think I could eat another bite.”
“But, in the morning, when you wake, you will feel hunger once again, will you not? Should I make pancakes?”
“Sure,” I said. “I probably will be hungry. But, sometimes, I don’t get hungry until around mid-morning, especially after having a big meal the night before. So, pancakes might be too heavy. It all depends.”
“Why don’t we see how you feel when you get up?”
“Sure, sounds great.”
We went to bed soon after. I can’t remember if I dreamed or not, but I do remember that in the morning I was ravenously hungry once again, and, I really needed to pee.