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As the sun begins to retire for the day, we sit here in my black, 1965 Lincoln Continental convertible, gazing upon the glowing city skyline that is illuminated in orange and red, a perfect complement to the burning house at the bottom of the cliff.  

This shared moment couldn’t be any more perfect.

I look over at her.  

How did I get so lucky?

With her I don’t have to talk. I can simply enjoy her company, me eating a vanilla cone as she inhales a burger and fries.  

Food gone, she looks longingly at me, so I extend my right arm to share my ice cream.

She is so adorable. Her inherent beauty is magnified by her quirky imperfections, especially that slight under bite and scarred face, some scars more pink and fresh than others.  

The sun finally disappears, and we are cloaked by the black, star-filled sky.  I continue to marvel at the smoldering house, taking it in, processing it, and developing it as if I am a photographer in a dark room.  

Reaching for the ignition, I pause.  I lean back in my seat and close my eyes for a very brief moment.  All I see is the pathetic expression on his face, his struggle.  And those ***** cuss words he spat at me – if only I had had soap, but I didn’t.  I lean over to Casey and take off her collar, throwing the encasement of her old life out of the car and into the endless mystery that lies beneath us.

The blisters on my left forearm begin to sting and throb, the heat disrupting the stillness of this reality.  

I need a bag of ice and a bottle of whiskey.  

I can’t wait until we are settled into my apartment, enjoying that cheap air conditioning as we cuddle and watch re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show.
This delusional concept of dressing up in your finest threads just to sit in some quiet, ridiculously-named, fancy establishment that has four walls and a few toilets and neatly-folded napkins, spotless silverware, and an overly-priced menu just to talk about some ******* that you pulled out of your *** when your arm was being stretched to the max trying to reach for the stack of crisp twenties that the ATM viciously spat at you is simply ****** up.

Yeah… that’s what I thought until I met her.

You know, “the one.”

The one that all the guys say you’re ***** whipped about.

That one.

She has her **** together. She is driven, goal-oriented, smart, funny, and **** in that hippie/bohemian kinda way, except that she wears deodorant and shaves her legs.

She even shaves….ha! I’ll stop. I’m just toying with ya. But she does shave.

She even has dimples, man.

Dimples.

And guess who the lucky ******* is that has the best table in the house sitting directly across from her, staring into those brown, puppy eyes??

My ***.

Then, without warning, this horrible, invasive, mood-altering, uncanny, uncouth, *******-of-a-question barges right in.  It asks, “How did you end up with her??”

Suddenly I find myself in a western movie, and this bow-legged ******* walks in asking for me.  The double doors behind him swing back and forth in rapid motion.  I don’t want to cause a ruckus, so I do what any real gentleman does: take it outside and settle it High Noon style.  I stare into his eyes (they’re brown too, but not like hers), and his eye lids begin to slightly twitch.  I draw my pistol from my hip and shoot him right between those eyes; blow the smoke away from the heated barrel; spin my pistol around a few times; and in the holster it goes.

Problem solved.

She and I start jawing after the waiter with the long rod lodged in his *** goes to fetch our excessively-priced wine.
I swear he said his name is Skip or Kip or… ah who cares?
I continue staring into the eyes of the most beautiful woman in the world.
She begins to tell me about her bittersweet day, so I cross my arms and lean in a little. All my focus is on her and of course her **** mouth too.
God, she has beautiful lips….
She’s telling me about her day at work – at the vet, that is.
She’s a veterinarian.
Anyway, there’s this little black-and-white, speckled miniature dachshund named Teagan that has been staying at the vet for a few months now, and it’s made a full recovery.
She’s telling me this story with such great passion and zeal, but she’s frowning.
This wealthy, elderly couple adopted it today, and Teagan is gone.
She grabs my hand and apologizes for being such a “downer”.

“I sorry,” she says in one of those baby voices.

Is that a pouty lip???

**** Me...

Did I really just witness a pouty lip form before my very eyes??

Did she actually just talk like a baby???

Plain and simple, I don’t stand for that cutesy, baby *******, that pathetic material pedaled by those chumps who pull that “good guys come last” crap.  

She’s awkwardly staring at me.

Before she can utter a single word, I bolt out of my chair, telling her that I’m suddenly feeling ill and need to use the restroom.

I whip around without looking and bump into our waiter who is bringing us our wine.  It spills all over his pearly, white jacket.

He grabs my arm to break his fall, but we both hit the ground hard, right on our backs too.  

All eyes are on me.

It’s dead, ******* silent. You could hear a mouse ****.

What do I say?  

I can’t just make a dash for the door without saying anything.

My mind is completely frozen, and I lie here, trembling.

Suddenly, my lips begin to part.

The words wiggle their way out of that tiny space between my lips.

“I sorry.”



. . .

.  .  .

.   .   .  

**** me.
You don’t know the coyotes are there or how many there are until they hear sirens.
And lots of sirens they hear – police sirens, to be exact.
As the sirens become louder, the coyotes go into a frenzy of dramatic wales and pathetic howls.
These obscure, obnoxious ******* don’t know when to quit.
Inconsiderate ******!
How dare they interrupt a peaceful suburb that lies beneath a perfect, summer, starlit sky?
I decide to do the right thing, the proper thing, the adult/mature thing and that is to simply ignore them.
I put to use that lame, half-wit advice given by every parent to every child – if someone makes fun of you or if there’s a monster staring at you from inside your closet, ignore them.  
Just ignore them, and they’ll go away.
So I give it a try after I scream shut-up one last time.

I’ll be ******… Suddenly they’re silent.
Not a peep from one of those sons-of-*******.
Just the police sirens and they’re getting even louder now.

So I pick up where I left off and begin bouncing up and down on my pogo stick, reciting Shakespearean Sonnets outside her second-story bedroom window.
She can be quite clueless at times – especially right now!!
It’s like, “Hello???
You probably could hear be me better if your window was open, Silly.”
I’ve grown tired of this suit.
I don't like wearing it anymore.
It’s not what it once was.
It’s a constant burden to me.
It’s discolored, faded, and worn thin, especially around the knees.  
It’s marred with tears and stains.
It embarrasses me.
It itches.
It’s suffocating.
It’s downright ****.
I no longer feel comfortable in it. I haven’t for decades.
I’ve taken it to the best cleaners, the best tailors that money can buy, but it's still a tattered mess beyond repair.
People say I look good in it, that it’s me, it's who I am,  don’t be so self conscious.
But what do they know?
They're not the ones who wear it all the time. I ******* do, ******* it.
Maybe there’s some hidden truth in all of this that I’ve been bypassing all along?
I don’t have the patience and tolerance to keep wearing it.
The long-avoided decision to rid myself of my suit finally catches up with me.
I’m not timid, not scared, not anxious - just relieved. Excited. Ready to undress.
There’s a fresh, clean robe waiting for me, hanging from the mantle at the bottom of the stairs.
I prepare myself for facing the uncertainty.
So, here I go.
I undress.
It takes a matter of seconds before I rid myself of the suit.
I stand naked, towering over the folded mess.  
I think to myself, that wasn’t so bad after all…
Just like anything in life, it’s the anticipation that cripples us.  Remember that.
I lower my head and stare only for a few moments at my *****, mangy suit.
Nothing at all, no remorse, no guilt – only liberation.  I receive the peace that has softly spoken to me in my dreams, through music, by feeding ducks and listening to the early morning birds.  They usually have the first thing to say, and it’s the most beautiful message one will ever hear.    
I place my robe over my naked body and start walking up the worn, creaky stairs.
Distant laughter and muffled conversations travel down to me as I climb higher towards the thick, ornate door.
The voices are familiar.  
I push open the door, welcomed by the faces that have been gone for far too long.
The bog in my arm pits and my oily complexion are subtle reminders.

I step over three-day-old dog ****, pick up my guitar, play three chords then put it down.

Sit down at my computer.  Watch **** for hours.

Futile.

New idea. Watch television.

Click the channel button a few hundred times and then some.

Finally, a scenario worth watching. A fragile, old man with shaky hands offering his wallet, pressed against a brick wall with a gun to his face, begging and pleading for his life. Without hesitation the petty thief shoots the poor ******* right between the eyes, killing him instantly and escaping with the wallet.

I start to imagine what it would be like to have that pistol in my face, threatened for my life. I couldn't be so **** lucky. However earlier today I did find a quarter with heads facing up...

I reach for my wallet and head out the door.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” his voice reverberates throughout the ballroom, “this last one is a personal favorite.”

As the music cues up, the young couple pulls away from the loud speakers and blinding stage lights, theirs bodies swaying from side to side as they dance slowly on the outskirts of the crowd.  They look deeply into each other’s eyes as the young girl wraps her arms around his neck to draw him nearer.  She sings along with Berlin softly into his ear,

“Watching I keep waiting still anticipating love
Never hesitating to become the fated ones
Turning and returning to some secret place to hide
Watching in slow motion as you turn to me and say

“Take my breath away...”

She draws back and smiles, “I love you, Chad Stoper.”  He says nothing, and she leans in for a kiss, pressing her lips against his.  Unresponsive to the warmth of her mouth, his lips are cold and flat.  Pulling back, she gazes upon his faded complexion.  

Frozen in time, his 4x6 glass prison is smeared by years of her kisses.  A sigh escapes her lips as she gently sets Chad back onto her nightstand next to the jagged stack of romance novels.  Quickly crossing the room, she presses rewind on her beloved “Prom 1987” mixed tape so that her ritual can begin without hesitation at 10:00PM again tomorrow.

She sneaks one last glance at Chad and giggles, “Oh, Chad – Stop it!  You shouldn’t stare at me like that.”  Red floods her cheeks as she bends over to pick up her watering can.  The smell of the stagnant water goes unnoticed, and she proceeds to water each of the plastic flower arrangements on her windowsill, a giggle escaping her lips with each miniscule tilt of the watering can.  “Oh, my babies… you’re growing so quickly!”  She bends forward to press her nose into the dust-covered petals, “And you even smell more mature.   I’m such a proud mommy!”

Her stomach suddenly growls, and she immediately sets down the watering can, sloshing water onto the stained carpet.  In moments, she has reached the refrigerator and reaches in to grab the last remaining hotdog out of its slimy package.  Leaning back against the kitchen sink, she knocks over the pile of mold-encrusted plates as her large arm reaches past to grab the can of spray cheese sitting on the counter.  

In a moment of ecstasy, she tilts back her head and empties the can of synthetic cheese into her mouth.  She foregoes swallowing, allowing the substance to encase her throat, another chin appearing as she opens her mouth even further to consume the cold, slimy intestine.  

Satisfied, she heads back to her bedroom, too focused on the aftertaste in her mouth to notice the cat litter accumulating on the bottom of her socks.  She glances at the romance novels sitting on her nightstand, the light reflecting off of the once-matte finish, now covered in a glossy mess of hotdog juice finger prints.  She pauses in a moment of consideration, looking from her novels to the ***** on the floor next to her bed.  

A yawn escapes her lips.

Tomorrow.  There’s always tomorrow.

She shuffles over to the bed, yanking out a ****** as she climbs on top of the covers.  

“Good night, Chad Stoper,” she looks one last time into his eyes, “I love you.”
“CAAAAMON-CAAAMON-CAAMON-CAMON. *******. *******, YOU STUPID *******!!!!”  I slam on the brakes as the traffic light turns red, the front end of my car now parked in the middle of the intersection.  

A bunch of headlights begin to move towards me, and I rev the engine, slamming the car into reverse.   Now behind the white line, I lean back and take a few breaths.  I sound like my old man.  That nasty, fat ***** was always screaming at those useless racehorses as his soggy, limp cigar would bounce from his lips, spit landing all over the paid-in-full fakies of whatever blonde ***** was cuddled up next to him for the afternoon.  Having lost everything by the end of the day, he would always plod home and deposit his soiled, checkered pants on the laundry room floor and crawl into bed to make love to my mom.  

Ugh. I need to stop thinking about him.  I already wish I could be one of those old horses who gets shot in the head.  Today was my five-year work anniversary, and on behalf of the entire department, volcano-face Emily bestowed upon me a massive dog bone, which now sits tauntingly on my passenger seat.  As she suppressed that nasty giggle of hers and handed me the bone, the room erupted with laughter, someone shouting from the back corner, “Hey, Ed! Get it?!  You’re always like a dog with a bone!”  Maybe I should go back to work and make that ***** play fetch.

No. I’ll save that for later.  Right now I am going to go get that Philly Cheese Steak sandwich that’s been on my mind all afternoon.  That is if this light ever turns green again.  But ******* is my mouth salivating just thinking about that sandwich.  

What the hell is that?

A Ford Bronco is blazing towards the intersection, directly into oncoming traffic.  It swerves onto the shoulder, speeding past the rows of stopped cars and blasting through the red light.  The driver is leaning out the window, swinging around a sword.  He notices me staring and looks straight into my eyes, solidifying his unspoken threat by pointing his medieval weapon straight at my heart.  

Fine.  If that ******* wants a duel, I would hardly be a gentleman if I did not oblige.  I reach behind the passenger seat and grab the antique cop light that’s been gathering dust on the floor ever since I purchased it at the neighborhood thrift store.  I slap the thing on the top of my car and punch through the red light, cranking the steering wheel to make a quick u-ey.  As I gain some distance, I can just barely make out the license plate.

DR PEPR

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Dr. Pepper ignores the fact that I am only 20 feet behind him and turns up his stereo, blasting a Renaissance dance tune from hell.

I’m going to end this, and I’m going to end it by sticking that sword up that Shakespeare *******’s ***.  

Dr. Pepper slams on his brakes, the sudden jolt causing him to drop his sword.  The passengers in the back of the cab burst into a slow-motion uproar, and I take the opportunity to cut off their escape route.  Now stopped, I pull out my mocha-flavored e-cig from my front pocket and look over at my dog bone as the vapor fills the car.  I snag the bone and step outside, feeling the weight of the rawhide in my hand as I approach the truck. Not stopping to bother with the driver, I head towards the back, kicking the forgotten sword into traffic.  My clothes are bathed in red from the brake lights, and the coked-out frenzy of the Renaissance men reaches a ****** as I stand before them, looking like the devil himself.

Adrenaline is surging through me.  As I take a drag of mocha, I scan the faces of the annoying pukes in the back of the truck and locate the nastiest in the bunch sitting in the middle of his troupe, completely stiff with fear.  I look deep into his eyes and slowly exhale.  I pull one more drag as I raise the massive bone and bring it crashing down, making full contact with the left brake light.  The red shards explode into the sky, and I do not hesitate to follow up with the other break light.  Adrenaline coursing through my veins, I can’t help but swing even harder.  

Wow - what a beautiful explosion.  

“Unsheathe thy sword!  UNSHEATHE THY SWORD!”

Dr. Pepper searches frantically for his sword as I casually approach his door. “Dr. Pepper,” I say calmly. He continues to desperately ***** around the truck, so I lean forward, “DR. PEPPER.” He turns begrudgingly to look at me.  Wanting to bid farewell to my defeated adversary, I raise my right hand into a 90 degree angle and wiggle my fingers “bye-bye” in his direction. His blood-shot, brown eyes widen, and it’s clear that he is terrified that his face will be the source of my next fireworks display.  Lucky for him my stomach growls, reminding me that my quest for a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich remains unfulfilled.

I walk away, the cherry light still flashing on top my car, so I take my bone and take a hard swing, unleashing the last set of fireworks in my perfectly-directed scene.  I get in the car, and as I start the engine, the oldies station is blaring Clarence the Frogman Henry’s song, “Ain’t Got No Home”.  It’s the best part of the song, and without hesitation I begin to tap out the rhythms on my steering wheel and sing along with Clarence in that high-pitched voice of his:

“I ain’t got no sister,
I ain’t got a brother,
I ain’t got a father,
not even a mother,
I’m a lonely boy,
I ain’t got a home.
Whoo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo!
Whoo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-­woo-woo!”
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