Wednesday, September 7, 2011

11seven (one)

Amor Fati - Washed Out

Presented this month is my unfinished fiction work, tentatively titled "11seven." I offer it in small mostly digestible doses of between 700-1,100 words. It contains strong language and sexual situations as intended for a mature audience. Parental discretion is advised. (I got all that from watching "Justified"!) Each entry will come with a song from our BOTG mailbox and discussion questions for Oprah.

Solitary Confinement in a Convenience Store

Of course I’m not going to sleep with a boy less than half my age. But I’ll be good and goddamned if I didn’t fantasize about it until my entire laundry basket smelled like a brothel.

Stu first entered my store a year ago last January. The bell dinged while I was watching Johnny give one of his monologues. So I have it down to a 5-minute window on precisely the date and time I first saw him. Thursday night. 11:35 p.m. January 28. 1988. Shit like this happens when you least expect it. Usually during Carson.

I’d only had the store to myself a little over a year at that point. Ralph and me ran it together for a while. Six years, I think? Maybe seven? Yeah, it was ’82, I remember, ‘cuz ET come out the same year. Anyway, Ralph up and disappeared on me late in ’86 and took most of our money with him. I figured he’d fled the country, but cops found him dead in a Vegas hotel bathroom eight months later. Ralph always idolized Elvis. Died same age, same hotel, different damn bathroom. Cops swore it was an OD, but that’s just ‘cuz nobody really appreciates just how much Ralph loved Elvis.

Me? Fuckin’ hated him. Elvis, not Ralph. Ralph was good to me. Good enough, anyways. He was a lineman on our football team when I was a freshman, and I was cheerleading of course. I was a hot little number like you wouldn’t believe, honey. Anyway, we were all over at Stan Crawford’s house at a party, and Ralph got all sweet on me ‘cuz we were both drunk. His breath smelled like a pulled pork sammich, and he didn’t really give me much of a choice. They call that kind of thing date rape today, but I only said no a couple of times. I don’t mean to go excusing all the assholes in the world who pull that kind of stunt; most of ‘em should have their peckers cut off with a butter knife. I just mean to say that deep down I objected only just because I thought I was supposed to.

Once he actually pushed himself inside me and we got past that first sensation of someone sticking an M80 up my twat, I knew damn well I didn’t mean “no.” I meant “I had no idea.”

Then, after I knew – some folks call it “enlightened” – I didn’t say “no” no more. And to just know all that about sex and men even with some fella smellin’ all like a pork barbecue sammich? I mean, even if it’s a good damn sammich – and I love me some pulled pork – nobody fantasizes about screwin’ one. Sex, even at its unsexiest, is still sex.

After Ralph up and left, by something close to the grace of God I somehow got by enough to hold onto this convenience store. My daddy gave me a loan of $16,000 and took out a second mortgage to do it. I let go of all our staff but Maria and slept in the office for 11 months. I’d be crying behind the register in that pathetic sniffly one tear at a time way proud women do, and people who knew me thought it was about Ralph, but I was mostly crying because I couldn’t believe Daddy gave me that loan, and I couldn’t believe I was in a situation where I had to ask for it. Shit, I get all misty just remembering it. Misty and pissed off.

Right about when I’d started pulling back in the black, I found out about Ralph croaking in the Vegas shitter. I’d repaid Daddy after four months and was pissed it took that long, but not a penny of profits went into my pocket until I’d paid him back. Took me seven more months to get enough saved up to feel damned good about finding a cheap pre-furnished one-bedroom and to pay back Maria for the time she worked at less than minimum wage.

Way I figure, there wasn’t much difference between a prison term and that stretch of 11 months where I never once left my store. And when I tell you I didn’t leave, don’t take this as some Big Fish story. I mean I didn’t. Leave. The damn. Store. I bathed most of the time using just a washcloth and the bathroom sink, but I got by pretending I was Scarlett O’Hara, roughing it and waiting for the perfect opportunity to kick Rhett’s ass. (Yeah, I would have rewritten the script a little bit.)

Seriously, showers are one of those things modern idiots think are necessities, but bathing out of a sink is just as effective and uses less water. It just don’t make for a very good Calgon commercial.

Sure, I got visitors, and plenty of them, but they weren’t much by choice, and they sure as shit weren’t conjugal. And half the visitors who come into my store act an awful lot like prisoners. No bars, no cells, maybe, but they sure don’t act free. If we are all judged by how we treat others and how we behave in our darkest or most mundane moments, then I could be the Almighty Judge of lots of folks, and ain’t many souls would make it past those pearly gates on merit. People are mostly overcast, distracted, rude, and pissed off to pay so much money for cigarettes or a gallon of milk that costs half a dollar less down at the Food Lion. When they grouse, I just smile and say, “That extra bit pays for the convenience part” and wink. Sometimes they cheer up a little, and sometimes they act like I cheered ‘em up, and sometimes they just cuss me under their breath. I just enjoy the bald cute truth of it.

By the time Stu first entered the store, I was back down to working about 80 hours a week and had even got my own little apartment. I’d hired Sha’nice and Tracee to help out me and Maria. No, it wasn't much, but it sure as shit beat living out of a 12x14 office and eating convenience store food 24/7 to survive.

Discussion Questions: When did the concept of "date rape" come into vogue? Roughly how many women had been date raped prior to our cultural acceptance of such a thing? Is it unbecoming for a woman to have a potty mouth? Did she love Ralph? Who's the evil villain?


Bob said...

Interested to see where this will go. Will you be working with a "clffhanger" idea for each section?

I don't find the pottymouth unbecoming, necessarily, but it obviously puts her in a particular social class and makes her sound more like a man.

The challenge, I'm guessing, is how to make her sound like a woman, however coarse she might be. Would a woman say "twat", for example? I don't know.

Billy said...

Yeah, it's hard to create a dramatic cliffhanger every 1,000 words, so we'll see. I'd be happy if it stopped somewhere that made sense.

Gladys is based on a very real person -- two women, actually -- so I feel comfortable about her language and social class. Ironically, Bob, I didn't think women ever ever ever used The C-WORD until your wife, whose use of it neither lowered her social class nor her intellect. So to all things there are apparently exceptions.

Still, your point is valid. It's always dangerous for writers to write from the other gender's perspective, and I worry about pulling it off.

Daisy said...

The term date rape was supposedly coined by MS magazine in 1987. Clearly the concept has been around much longer. Didn't Holden Caufield claim to be a virgin because he actually stopped when a girl said stop

I love that she compares herself to Scarlet when Scarlet would have most definitely found the potty mouth unbecoming (or at least acted like she did.) I have known women who use this type of language, and it always surprises me a little bit. I was also surprised, when she says "I was cheerleading of course." That wasn't the image I had in my head for her.

The sammich paragraph confuses me. I think she saying that any sex is good sex? If so, this makes her sound less like a woman to me than the potty mouth.

I find it very interesting that you have chosen a woman narrator and can't wait to read the next installment!

Bob said...

Billy, for what it's worth, one time when I was in a Fiction seminar at UTC, I had a female character say something that was a direct quote from my wife, and no one in the seminar believed that a woman would actually say it!

Anonymous said...

Loved the first installment. Keep 'em coming.
Regards, Dave.