You don’t love me. He says.
His voice is red wine, whiskey and fermented onions. He’s random: cigarette draped between his tar-blackened lips, eye liner days old from the Halloween Black Sabbath party, and the funky “MOM” tattoo screaming at him to watch the road as it dangles out the driver side window of his 2012 Ford Focus.
I change the radio from Sex Pistols to Dolly Parton. I crack open two more pistachio nuts. I eye the tight sash around my Betsey Johnson gown and think I’ll be puking later. And then I spit out every nut into the wind.
“You’re right.” I say. “I don’t love you, Eddie.”
He doesn’t even look at me. His cigarette smoke is an iron curtain between us. For godsakes I paid my left tit to have my hair colored and washed. And in 15 minutes he’s managed to stink it up with the smell of his Old Holburn rolled ciggies.
“Why should I?”
Again he says nothing. He’s been fingering the meteorite with his right hand and driving with his knees. Such a genius that one.
“Dora, you don’t understand.”
“I do understand. I saw the text messages. The emails. The chat archive. What is there to understand?” I brush my hair from my face.
The meteorite is black-green in his hand and his painted fingernails are blue-violet. It’s like a fist that meteorite. I want to hold it for godsakes. He’s been hogging it since we left Memphis two hours ago.
“She’s a waitress at a casino.”
“She’s a songwriter.” He insists.
“Dylan’s a songwriter, Eddie. She sucks cock and serves breakfast burritos for tips…And I’m busting my ass for you to finish grad school.”
The meteorite is blue now. He’s going 95 in a 70. But there haven’t been cops for miles. There’s a biker rally in the hills. And the Gatlin Brothers are doing a benefit for Bush Senior in Nashville. Take your pick. No one gives a damn about hipsters speeding on the highway.
“When we get to Chattanooga I need to call my brother.” He says and throws his ciggie out the window.
“He owes me money.”
I look away. I can’t even humor the thought of people owing him money. So instead I smell my fingertips, manicure done in to no end from 10 straight hours of data entry. Me too: done in. I’m done in from the hole in my left ankle sock to the bra biting into my ribs. I’m done in from the blue contact lenses that won’t take for godsakes. And the freaking eye drops are packed away in the trunk of the car. What genius thought to do that? Oh, only the Einstein with 20-20 vision and a grey-yellow space rock wedged between his legs. That’s who!
“Gimme that!” I say and reach for the rock. But he won’t budge. He’s still driving with his knees and Dolly is still whining on the radio.
“God, I hate my life.” I whisper.
“Maybe we should…” He starts.
“Maybe we should!” I insist.
He says nothing. His fingertips have gone yellow. The veins in his hands are protruding through the skin – red and gold like some African flag. But Eddie is Polish. He swears that he’s got Irish blood. But deep down he wishes he were Italian. Three seasons of The Sopranos and a few Pacino films later, he went from ginger mane and fire crotch to black tresses and black happy trail.
I hate him so much that I love him. But I’m done in. I’m done in from that effing polaroid photo of the waitress chick who wishes she and her guitar sounded like Jewel and looked like Shakira. But everyone and their pawn shop guitar sounds like Rosanne Barr and looks like Susan Doyle in these parts.
When summer comes I am taking that offer to go to Ecuador and teach kids. I’m leaving Eddie and his Mister PhD egomaniacal ambitions here in rat nest Tennessee with soup and salad server girl to chase a record deal in Nashville. Nobody slobbers down on my man! And who takes polaroid photos in the modern age anyway?
“You serious?” He asks.
“Yes.” I say softly.
“But I love you.”
The meteorite is blue. His hand is the color of the Atlantic. His eyes are bloodshot. Tears; insomnia; cigarettes, gin and coffee; or vampirism, I don’t know.
“We’ll be in Nashville soon. We can make a pit stop.” He’s not hearing what I’m saying. He’s listening to the meteorite music in his head from our magical space rock. Nothing matters when that’s in his hand. I know. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like when you take it between your palms and let it seduce you. It’s magical. It’s so magical it hurts.
“But I love you.” He cries.
“I know…” And then I look out the window up to the sky. The clouds are gray. It’ll rain in a few minutes but maybe we can outpace the storm. Looking back out the back window I can see black clouds and swirls of dark green. Hell, I can see funnels of purple fairy dust kicking up from the exhaust. But maybe I shouldn’t have had that valium and Jack Daniels in Tunica.
“I know you love me, Eddie. And she knows you love me… And you two still did what you did. After I co-signed your car loan. Put my name on the lease in Memphis. I hate Memphis! Nothing but backwoods peanut butter and bacon biscuit-eating rednecks always pinching my ass! And you still did it! You watched ‘Wall-E’ with her in my living room! On my Isaac Mizrahi couch! My Wall-E, Eddie! My Wall-E!”
“She loves that film, Dora.” The meteorite is gold now. His lips have gone pink. The color in his soft cheeks runs white like cumulus clouds. But there are no clouds in the sky now. We’ve outrun the storm. It’s somewhere between Memphis and Bullshitville kicking up a hailstorm. But we’re safe.
“I love that film, Eddie! That was our film. How could you?” I take a deep breath. I tell myself to count to ten. Then, “The entire condo smelled like french fries, tacos and ranch dressing, Eddie.”
“No, it didn’t, Dora.”
“Yes. It. Did. It took me forever to disinfect all your waitress’ bacteria from the living room. I’m done.”
In fact I’m done in. But no one knows. This is no man’s land. Not another car for miles. I’ve had enough. I snatch the rock from his paws…
It flashes like a polaroid camera from gold to white hot when it goes from his hands to mine. I can see a glimmering waterfall. A unicorn with an elf astride its back is galloping at the base of the waterfall. A chorus of angels is singing just to me. All of heaven has opened up in the sky.
“Give me that back you effing cow!”
I hear the car careen and see the yellow and white lines of the highway criss-cross from right to left. The car is spinning out of control. But I won’t let go of my space rock. I won’t. He’s clawing at my face, punching me, biting my arm. And then in one last flash of color I see falling rock and smoke and shattering glass.
“I love you, Eddie.” I’m whispering through the haze of Martian marijuana just before a curtain of black descends over me.
But he’s hissing at me for his pet rock. I’m so done in from crotch to neck with metal ripping through me. I feel him pry the rock from my hand. I hear him kick open the driver’s side door. I hear him say, “No, you don’t, Dora. No. You. Don’t.”
by Akil Wingate