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Fiction #95
(published August 15, 2002)
Tart, part 3 of 4
by Roy Johnson

We drove to her house in a silence interrupted only by the random beeping of my ignition-breathalyzer. I turned to the side and saw a woman in the passenger seat of a shiny SUV gawking at the little hose hanging from my lips. I dodged her eyes and faced the road in front of me until we got to Jenny's neighborhood. Twisted oaks shaded the swollen squares of green in front of identical stucco houses that were divided by seams of red hibiscus bushes running from the sidewalks all the way to the back property lines.

"Where did you tell your parents you spent the night last night?"

"I didn't tell them anything."

I bit down on my finger and tried to come up with a scenario in which I could pull up at the curb and drop her off with some sense of decency while getting out of there before her parents saw me. It was hopeless. It was going to be uncomfortable at best. I know I should've thought of this the night before when she asked me to pick her up from the club but I was lonely and had no control when she called. I slowed at the pink stucco mailbox in front of her house and she gathered her things. She opened the door and I pushed in the clutch.

"Talk to you later," she said.

"Yeah. Okay."

She stood outside the door with two plastic shopping bags curled in her left arm and reached in for her purse with her right hand. She grabbed it and it slipped from her fingers. I threw out my right hand to pick it up for her and overreached and my foot slipped off the clutch and the truck jumped forward and stalled. My cheek banged into the steering wheel and the open door swung back and knocked Jenny to the ground. She screamed and I jumped out and ran around the back of the truck to see if she was okay. She stood and cussed me out and snatched up her things and headed up the sidewalk with her head bent down. Somebody inside opened the door for her and after she entered the house a tall shirtless guy with muscles contracting and stretching all over his body like a single articulated moving part under his tanned skin came stomping down the sidewalk, her brother. I watched him until he crossed half the distance to my truck and I turned and hurried to get inside. I heard his tennis shoes whapping the concrete behind my back and knew I wasn't going to make it.

"Uh-uh, you goddamn pervert." His open palm thwacked down between my shoulder blades. "You ain't going nowhere."

The back of my shirt stretched like taffy and when I turned around to try to talk my way out of it a fist rocketed into my left eye and my glasses bent around my skull. I palmed my glasses with my hand and slid to the side when the next fist came and it rubbed against my ear and pounded into the door glass.

"They ought to put old perverts like you in prison." He rubbed his sore fist like he was priming it for another shot at my face.

I looked at his hands through my one uncovered eye. "Why'd you hit me, man?"

He shook his head and smirked and I knew another one was coming so I figured what the hell and teetered forward like I was falling and jacked my knee up in to his groin. His smirked melted into a silent agony and his knees bunched together and folded sideways. I watched him drop to the pavement in beautiful defeat for a long time before I realized he was already starting to get up. I hopped in and fumbled at the keys with marionette hands and cranked the switch forward to fire up the engine and get gone fast.


I put the black hose in my lips and dropped down in the seat and watched the LED countdown as I blew like a madman. His red puffy face rose outside the window of my truck and as I saw him grab for the door handle I jammed my finger down on the lock. He threw a booming punch into the window that shook the truck on its springs. The LED readout hit zero and I kicked over the engine and threw it in first when another fist pounded the window and hundreds of squares and octagons of safety glass tinkled into the floorboard and across my lap as I nailed it and burned down the street. I didn't look back to see if he was coming for me. When I got home I pulled the truck in the garage and went inside and got drunk and passed out.

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