History of Indignity

They had weed, and I had a history of indignity. Three of them pulled up, the car screeching and lurching, then parked crookedly by the swing-bell glass door to the brick-front store where I was buying a sixer and smokes. I knew them from the club where we’d waste our weekend nights spending money we didn’t have. The two girls would hold the walls up in the same corner where I’d dance, sometimes with them.

I left my car at the store, parked in the side shadows, and climbed into the back of the dented, green Chevy, lodging myself between the girls. Jerry drove, and he didn’t seem to mind playing chauffeur. He watched the mirror, smiling occasionally, knowingly, eyes squinted.

We filled the green car with our white smoke and a voice came through the fragrant haze, whispering sweetly, “I always liked the way you move when you dance.”

It was Mary, her softness pressed against my shoulder and my thigh. Turning into the smoke to politely acknowledge, my lips were taken into hers.

“Go slow. The night is still young,” I told her.

I don’t know where the night went. It went to the place where all memories go, I suppose. It walked off into its own darkness.

The house where she stayed was tall and white, and it leaned to the left, or maybe we were leaning to the right. Jerry and the other girl disappeared somewhere into its chipped wood and shadows. Mary led me up some narrow stairs to a pale-blue room. It was large, and kept neatly. A streetlight shone in through the side window.

The house was cold, but she was warm, and deep, and slippery, and I kept thinking I’d fall into her and never find the bottom of the chasm that is woman. I kept thinking– and that was the trouble of it all; it was a pity fuck, and a pitiful fuck because of it. Some part of me was left there to die in the wrinkled cotton-sheet valleys. Some part of me never left her, nor the others with soft eyes who came after, yet she was still alone when I did leave; they all were.

Creaking, the door to the tipsy, white house closed behind me. The black sky spread its endless legs before the tall-fog glow of the streetlights, and I walked into its waiting darkness. I kept walking, hearing my footsteps splash into the emptiness. I kept walking until the lights were gone, until I’d, again, become shadow.

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