by M. Chandler Rodbro
I was working as a bus boy in a small diner outside of the Liar’s Inn trailer park trying to support my drinking. I was living with a sad dump of a fiancée, a girl who asked me to marry her after shacking up for only two weeks. I was afraid of her, and I liked having a woman accessible, so I agreed to it. We weren’t much to look at, but we made the most of each other. We drank together and she sucked the drink from my throat when I would cough it up and dribble it down my chin. She cooked eggs, and kept me fat on toaster waffles and ice cream bars. She liked to sit on my lap when I would shit and she’d whisper in my ear and giggle when I would get hard and couldn’t finish. I would curse and grab her by the hair and we would struggle and make up and make love like lepers in the bathtub.
But things didn’t last.
The sun was down. I could feel the cold penetrate the fat of my thighs. I sat outside of her trailer in my soiled work shirt and boxer shorts, listening to the neighbor’s radio, breathing the cold, and wishing that I had left with something more substantial. A neighbor stopped his car. A guy that I sometimes threw dice with. He said that he had a bottle of gin and I got in the car and watched as the single bulb outside the trailer faded into the past.
A week after we met, we stood outside the liquor store and she called me a worthless ruined bastard. I was broke and hadn’t paid the electric bill. She caught me on the way out. I slapped her across the face. She screamed and lunged and tried to claw me but I had taken a step back to distance myself from the ungodliness of it. A family was passing on the sidewalk with small children when she dropped to her knees and sobbed.
“She’s ill,” I said to the man.
“I saw you strike her,” the woman said. “You hit her across the face.”
“I’m pregnant,” she lied.
And then she was gone. The man took her to a shelter for young mothers. He told her he had volunteered there with his church group. He gave her a fifty dollar bill. She was back before dark with a bottle. Somewhere the family said a prayer of hope for the poor pregnant girl while we sat feeling victorious and drinking bourbon in the dark. Things were different then. We still had things left to uncover about one another; we still had potential.
This evening I was sitting in the trailer of the neighbor watching as he poured two large glasses of gin into plastic burger joint cups. There was a revolver on the table. I didn’t know where the night was headed, but I knew that I had to get out. I needed to start working on a plan. I finished the cup of gin. I walked to the bus stop and boarded the first bus. I didn’t care about the job. I didn’t care about the woman. I never had the discipline.