Oh, How We Grow.

I woke up this morning somehow knowing how I could re-write a certain story I had written in college. This story, “One Flesh,” had been the pride and joy of my Fiction writing class. Well, I thought it was the pride and joy of my Fiction writing class, anyway. It was the story of a young sex-addict who is bored with himself. He meets a carnival side-show performer named Gemini and comes to his demise through her ineffable sex appeal. But after a few years of trying to tweak the story and reading more and more fiction and having the story rejected at a couple of online publications, I realized “One Flesh” just wasn’t  good enough. Something was wrong with the story. It just “failed to grab” you like one editor had replied last summer, after I had tried to submit “One Flesh” for the second time. Apparently, this comment had cut through my self told lies and got me ruminating on “One Flesh” once again.

This morning I woke up and had a sentence in my head. The sentence made babies, close to 1900 words worth of babies. Here’s what came of my labors:

||||||||||||Smoke as sweet as molasses Decembered her crystal blue eyes, glints of street light dancing against them like fireflies in a jar. “Damn, I’m good,” Joseph Crosetti thought as he lay back against the hood of his red 1975 Chevy C/K half ton pickup truck and took a drag from the roach he had rolled specifically for this night. Beth leaned over and gently took the roach from his hand. She placed her left hand on the buckle of his belt and also took a drag on the roach. 

“What are you thinking, old man?” She said, and then coughed marijuana smoke into his face, spittle and all. 

He threw his arms up, half rolling off the truck, laughing. She continued to hack, laughing between hacks and saying “shit, fuck! I’m sorry,” while she clumsily tried to save him from falling off the truck. 

“Fucking-a, girl! You ever toked a joint before?” He said, wiping the spittle from from his face while leaning on his truck.

Beth’s face was red. Joseph could guess the answer. Beth’s dad was a local preacher type at the First Baptist of St. Kevin, and Joe and his friends had always thought of Beth O’Sullivan as a too good fucking-goody-two-shoes to play into their game. But Beth had surprised Joe by coming out to the bluff with him and his friends. Granted, she wouldn’t take the vodka he had secreted away in a Mountain Dew bottle. “It smells like daddy’s model paint set,” she had said. But the MJ in his roach smelled nice enough. “Like the incense Mom burns when daddy’s on vacation,” She had said. And now she was cursing like any of her other class mates he had fucked this year. 

Beth took a deep breath.

“You okay?” Joe asked. 

Beth smiled and touched the roach to her lips again, this time drawing luxuriously. Her eyes watered, but she sucked in the smoke and held it there for a second, closing her eyes.  She blew the smoke into his face and wheezed a little near the end, covering her mouth. Her innocent smirking, watering eyes made him want to take her right there in the light of the street lamps lining the bluff. 

“Hey, Joey boy!” Mike shouted from his shitty-ass Geo parked backwards two parking spaces away, “You gonna join us?” 

Loud base pumped from Mike’s pride and joy, a set of two sub-woofers under the back seat of his Geo. He called them his Orgasmo-rocket. Fucking cheesy, if you asked Joe. 

A cool mid-summer breeze kicked off of Lake Michigan and blew through their thin summer clothes. Beth squeezed her arms and shivered. Joe shimmied out of his old high-school letter jacket and put it around Beth’s shoulders.

“Let’s go dance a little, then figure out a way to get out of here.”

Beth nodded, handed Joe the roach, and let him help her off the hood of his truck. They made their way over to Mike, Kerrie, Harry, and Lacy, all four of them doing some sort of awkward dance half reminiscent of the Native American dances Joe had seen at Potawatomi Park as a kid. 

“You guys look like retards…” Joe was saying when a sharp whistle drowned him out. It came from the river on the other side of town. The whistle was long and echoed off the brick buildings to their right. Everyone covered their ears. It stopped, and Joe and his friends lowered their hands. Another sound replaced the whistle. It was a rumble deep in the ground, and a second later that banshee scream resounded around them again, piercing their ear drums; this time it was closer and much louder. They could feel the rumble under their feet. As soon as the whistle stopped, it began again a third time. It was close, just down the bluff close. Joe grabbed Beth’s hand and dragged her along to the edge of the bluff. 

A train had rolled into Silver Beach station. But this was no Amtrack silver bullet. Thick black smoke chugged from a rusty stack above the steam engine. Steam hissed from the wheels of a dozen or so box cars behind the engine. All of the cars were painted crimson, blood colored under the lights of the station. Letters were painted on the third car, but darkness shrouded their meaning. The engineer flung himself from the train, papers in hand. He disappeared into the station. 

A clatter and clack sounded from the first car, and about a dozen men streamed out, shouting orders, moving from car to car.  More doors opened, more voices. From the second car came a cloaked figure, frail and tall with shimmering, long blond hair. A troop of three monkeys followed her, ambling on all fours. They were silver in the lamp light. 

A loud bleat from behind startled the six standing in a row on the bluff. Blue and red lights flashed out, illuminating the trees around them them. 

“Shit, cops!” Joe shouted and grabbed Beth, hauling her along to his pickup. 

“Stop right there, you little assholes!” It was the cop using his squad car bull-horn. He had stopped right behind Mike’s Geo, the poor bastard, but Joe had clear asphalt behind his pickup. 

Beth let go of Joe’s hand and flung herself at his passenger door. Joe ran around the front of his truck, fumbling for the keys in his pocket. He found them, yanked open his door and slid in, his long metal key finding the ignition and revving his baby to life. He jammed the shifter into reverse, deftly let out the clutch, pulled his Chevy backward, shifted down into first and opened a flood of exhaust onto the copper’s windshield. As Joe shifted into second, then third, he looked into his rearview mirror, watching the flashing blue and red lights fade away behind them.

“Wooo-hooo!” Beth shouted.

Joe laughed. He was used to dodging the cops on nights like this, but with the train, and the weird people piling out and everything, this escaped seemed way epic in comparison. 

“Fuck yeah.” Joe said, as he ramped onto Highway 94 South, jacking his truck into fourth then fifth gear, pumping the clutch as he did so. “Where to now?” He asked.

“My house.” Beth said, looking sideways a him.

Joe chuffed, “Your house? Your dad would fucking skin me alive if he found me with you.”

“Not tonight he won’t; Daddy’s in Indianapolis for a pastor’s conference, and Mom went with him to go shopping at that big mall down there.”

Joe felt himself stir between his legs. The stories he’d tell the guys later. The O’Sullivan house was fucking huge. They could start in the kitchen and end up anywhere in that mansion. And with Beth O’Sullivan, seventeen, damn innocent Beth O’Sullivan. 

 

They had started in the kitchen. She had dropped her skirt there between the bar stools. This girl was more than Joe had expected. Most girls her age were timid, even if they had been with other guys their age. An older guy like Joe usually made them nervous. His friends called it “The Game.” 

Since all the girls their age had either elected to leave town and go to college or let themselves go and become the town sluts working in gas stations and smoking their teeth yellow, the few twenty-something guys left in town had to search elsewhere for some action. Being twenty-one in a small town in Michigan meant options were limited. Joe had at first been reluctant to join his friends in their “game.” He had thought his friends were stupid for going after high-school girls. Jail time wasn’t something that appealed to Joe. But as Mike and Harry told their wild stories of nights in the back Larry’s boat of an old Cadillac, or pounding away over Mike’s Orgasmo-rocket, Joe had warmed up to the idea. On the night of his first girl, Joe had been as nervous as she was. Michelle had been a nice catch, dyed blond wavy hair with black roots showing, breasts medium sized but still perky enough, but if word got around…if somehow she got pregnant and the cops found out…  

Thirteen girls later, Joe lay in the darkness of Beth’s room. Her queen size bed enveloping them. She had fallen asleep already, the sheets barely covering her ass. Now that the glow had worn off, an old worm crawled around in his stomach. He consciously pushed away its accusing teeth. 

His guilt was an increasingly rarer occurrence, but it still came back to bite him at times. Perhaps it was the fact that they had fucked in her house this time, soiled her bed with their sweat and other bodily fluids. They usually kicked it in the back of his truck, or in his messy apartment on Third Street. But, he was in a pastor’s house and had just fucked the pastor’s daughter. God help him. 

A shiver went down his spine. It was at the same time repulsive and exhilarating. 

The deep purr of a car coming up the O’Sullivan’s long drive way reached his ears. 

What the Hell?” Joe thought. And slipped out of Beth’s bed. 

Beth stirred and pulled the sheets over her body. 

Joe crept to the window just in time to see Pastor O’Sullivan opening the door to his SUV, which, fortunately, was parked next to Joe’s truck, not behind it. 

“Shit!” Joe whispered, “Shit, shit shit.” He ran over to the other side of the bed, grabbed his boxers and his jeans. Threw them on while feeling for his keys. Not there. “The fuck?” He bent down and felt around the bed in the darkness, bumping his head on Beth’s bed frame. “Damn, it.” Then Joe saw a glint under the bed. His keys. He shimmied under the bed and heard the front door open and voices echo as he grabbed his keys. 

Joe rolled out the other side. 

“Beth?” Pastor O’Sullivan downstairs, “Beth are you home?”

Beth stirred again, making a chortling noise like a baby.

Joe slipped over to the window and unlatched it, pulling it up with a grunt. 

Steps thumped on the stairs. “Beth? Are you home, honey?” 

Joe stuck his head out into the humid Michigan night. Two stories up. No lattice. Bushes prickled below. 

Footsteps clacked on the hardwood floor out in the hallway. 

No time.” Joe thought and put his legs over the window sill. He crossed himself for good luck, spun, and caught the window sill with his hands. Joe heard the click of Beth’s door and Pastor O’Sullivan say, “Beth?” Joe sucked in breath and let go. The world shot up around him, and his ankle rolled and cracked as he tore through the bushes and hit soft planting soil. Pain shot up his leg and he couldn’t help but shout, “Shit!” as he rolled over, flopping onto the manicured O’Sullivan lawn. 

“Hey!” Joe heard from above, “Who’s there?!” It was Beth’s Daddy. He had heard Joe.

Joe cringed and shoved himself to his feet, his right ankle screaming at him. The keys were in his hand and, for the second time that night, he yanked open his truck door, jumped in, cranked the ignition and threw his truck into reverse. |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

 

So, the story isn’t finished. But this is a good start. Much better than what I had: 

|||||||||||Joseph Crosetti watched her with restless green eyes. His frustration kept him awake. Why had he slept with her? She was only seventeen, for God’s sake! Twenty-three and he’d slept with a minor. He shook his head, closed his eyes, pulled his hand through his black, curly hair, and rolled over onto his back, the sheets rustling underneath.|||||||||||||

Oh, how we grow. With quills held high! Cheerio! 

 

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