My appointment is at twenty past eight. I stand waiting outside the surgery at half seven – when the receptionist opens the main door she fires me the same kind of look she would to a drunk or an addict but I pay no attention. In the waiting room I flick through an abandoned copy of the Observer and enjoy the sensation of being the only person here, the only person Doctor Matheson is preparing to see. I like to book the earliest appointment she has on any given day – I like the thought of being first on her list of priorities.
This Story is Dedicated to the Memory of Buster Dunlap
It was the summer of 1974, after I got out of high school. We were getting the machinery ready for harvest, and my dad was always in a hurry when it came to the process. Get the grain cut as soon as it was ripe, get it in the bin or hauled to town, out of the field, out of harm’s way before the wind or hail, wiped out an entire year’s work.
Gertie McDowell, a naïve young girl from Turkey Roost, Kentucky, is serving five years in the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia. This came about because Gertie inadvertently distributed powdered meth throughout several states. Believing herself to be a dress designer, she was in fact delivering dresses that a drug dealer had laced with meth. Gertie remains optimistic and harbors a crush on Agent Jackson, the personable DEA agent who arrested her.
Well here we are at Week 191.
I was thinking on what to write yesterday morning and this came to me.
You see, I travel to work by bus. I like buses but I hate passengers. Why can’t folks simply be quiet. I don’t want to hear someone on their phone talking a lot of pish. I don’t want to hear old people talking about their many, many varied, oozing ailments and I especially don’t want to listen to young mothers talking complete nonsense to their noisy little shit-machines. I had one woman hushing her screaming kid for around three miles. The kid had shut up after two but this Sean Connery snake woman continued to ‘Shhhh’.
Every other year my children, Martin, Malcolm, and Harriet, and my seven or however many there may be grandchildren, vacation at our family home outside of Palmyra, Virginia in Fluvanna County.
“Is it fair?”
Those were the last words Eddie said to the man he had thought I was before he drifted back into the only honest sleep of his final days. A smiling sleep caused by my youngest daughter, who did one of the finest things I have ever seen a human being do.
Eddie died yesterday, and his parents have asked me to speak at his “Celebration of Life” this Sunday. I have plenty of harmless Eddie anecdotes to warm hearts and kill ten minutes with. It may be cynical of me to say it, but even though the most timid human being tends to live an R-rated life, few celebrations of such are anything less than family friendly.
She wants to tie me up, but I’m scared, so I don’t let her.
So she gets on top, cowgirl style, bites me on the shoulder.
“OWWW!” I yell.
“I want to hear you scream,” she says.
“Just don’t hurt me.”
“Oh, be a man.”
She rides me hard, with vigor, rubbing herself until she comes.
Then she dismounts, walks away, goes to the bathroom, won’t say a word, just like a guy.