Fighting narco-traffic rebels in the Caribbean? Well, it does things to a man, things that twist a man's soul inside and leave him different from other men. When he kills a man for the first time, it will change him forever. When you see this man you’ll know because you'll see it in his liver and lights, south of his tripes and north of his heart and east of his hopes spreading like cancerous blue and red highway lines in some insane Rand McNally highway map from hell to a lost trailer camp ground he knows he's never going to reach. The ladies see those scars on his flesh and those scars inside that never heal, and it does things to them too. They know what to do to help a man forget.
Of course I wouldn't really know anything about that, being a fry cook in Moosehead Lake Minnesota. But I know about what the love of a good woman or a mature sheep can do for a guy.
The first time we met she was a cheap pre fab dry wall tract house and I was the San Andreas Fault, made to rock her world. She was the butter melting on my baked potato, until she twisted my heart like a Handy Wipe of yesterday’s minestrone and threw me over like a Hefty bag of wet garbage off the top of the Space Needle. I know that spells S-T-U-P-I-D but I guess that's just the kind of guy I am. A Republican.
In a universe where stars dance together at 2 million degrees Fahreinheit, but the long cold distance between dances is 2.7281 Kelvin, fate would have let us pass each other by, two beautiful Blue Morpho butterflies floating naive nepheliads - floating on the warm sensuous breeze of a tropical night who never meet until a bat brings them together by eating them.
Batshit hanging off a tree.
That’s what Love has been for me.
Until that night.
It was stormy, and it was dark, the way only a stormy night can be, except when it’s snowing, then it gets pretty bright or if a big volcano erupts in Indonesia it gets bright too or maybe if a big ass asteroid hits, dude, that would be like totally bright. I went to the 7-ll Store, with a hunger inside that I knew food alone could never satisfy, because I had a craving, an itch, a need deep inside and down below where it hurts, that only a lonely man or a woman with a yeast infection, searching for the answers to life's questions knows, which sent me into the night from my dark, lonely, and yet not untastefully decorated bachelor loft high over "Earl's Bait Shop and Starbucks", knowing that the drugstore was closed and the 7-ll would probably be the only place open where I could score a can of Cruex this time of night.
The rain fell.
It fell hard and wet and stoned, like a beautiful woman in the Jonas Brother's tour bus, relentlessly and mercilessly out of a craven sullen sky as though some malevolent god were shaking piles of salt on this large Cajun batter fry order of an earth. I got out of my car as innocent as a kitten on his way to the vet's for his little operation, feeling my burning, itching, lonely need, the cold wet rain washing down my face, my warm, youthful, hairy skin, down, down my sensuous underwear, running down my pants leg past the trash left by juicy fruit lonely, dumb, gum wad guys chewed and spit to the curb by heartless women who stabbed at our hearts again and again like a sigmoidoscope in the hands of a drunken proctologist, leaving us to bleed with nothing but memories washing away with the endlessly falling wet rain into the gurgling drain sewers and choking gutters, to get one of those little Chef Boy Ardee things.
The 7-11 beckoned me like a woman, glass outside and cold steel inside. I spread her doors wide, groaning. I entered her. Somehow I went to the snack counter and found the little styrofoam thing of Lasagna, and they had some of those bowls of nacho things with this really wicked cheese sauce and these serious jalapeno slices on them. I made my lonely meal there, and made also a sacred vow that someday I would have food that was cooked for me by someone who loved me only for myself and not the size of my thick and well endowed bank roll. I took my humble repast and walked slowly, thoughtlessly to the checkout counter, savouring the irony.
She was there.
Our eyes met.
She was blond, yet strangely intelligent. Her eyes were like two blue circles with little black dots in the middle. I knew I would never see eyes like those again.
"Yeah?" she growled urgently but with an odd hesitation, in a voice that was demanding and yet seemed so softly yielding and chaste though still lewdly provocative in a tenderly violent way that left me feeling deeply confused inside. "So, you gonna pay for that shit or what?"
Under her boldly searching and shameless gaze I felt my manhood stirring. I had forgotten the Cruex. "Just a minute". I whispered boldly, yet somehow mellifluously. I put the steaming and yet mysteriously cadaverous Chef Boy Ardee Lasagna on the counter and went back to the medicine aisle. No Cruex. Chafing, I went back to the cash register.
"So come on already!" she asseverated, like a tawny skinned latina jungle cat writhing in deep estrus. She wanted me now. Cruex or no Cruex. I lifted the gaze of my woundedly sensitive but profoundly virile eyes and saw her name tag pinned upon her obrumpent bosom, heaving and panting like the twin throat sacs of a tropical tree toad also in deep estrus just like that latina jungle cat thing. Maria. So that was her name. What else could you call a woman like that but Maria?
Allright, Maria. This is the Burger King talking, home of the whopper and tonight baby you're gonna have it your way.
She was only waiting for me to give her what we both knew in that moment I had come there to give her, what I had come there to give her without a word being spoken.
“Buck thirty five.”
“I know.” I hissed. “I’ve done this before.”
“But have you done it . . . like this?”
“No,” I said hoarsely, my heart galloping. “I never knew it could be like this.”
I was ready to whip it out and give it to her if I had to put it in her hand. I reached down, down into my jeans, down into my soul, searching for and gently coaxing out that special something that would pop her money drawer open, render the doomed obstrigillation of her chastity impossible, and make her sum for me, sum for me screamingly over and over. But it wasn't there.
It was just as I had feared, defeated again by fate, by karma, by an angry God, what I should have known before I ever walked into that Heartbreak Hotel of a 7-ll, trying to get in out of the cold endlessly falling wet rain.
"Sorry. Forgot my money."
I saw her disappointment. The all pamphagous hunger in her eyes, unsatisfied, as my own hunger would go unsatisfied that night also. Two people who needed each other, who could satisfy so perfectly what the other wanted, blindsided in a world without an ATM, I could do nothing for her. Nothing at all. I wished I had never seen her.
I walked out and away from my lost Maria and the mysterious passion that lay between us, and also the penarious comestible. As I left, my scuffed white Reeboks squelched scoldingly on the linoleum, as though rhythmically berating me for my foolish and yet not altogether unremitting hopes.
And of course the rain was there.
It had always been there.
As I knew -