December 02, 2007

December 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 12

1. Santa by Paul McGuire
Santa nodded off on the subway. He did that often, always after he copped. Friends would often tell him that they saw him passed out on the subway. They’d try to get his attention, but he was in his own world... More

2. Christmas Eve Dinner by Betty After Dark
Her legs still weak and her stance a bit wobbly, I wrapped my arm around her and led her out of the restaurant. The hotel was just a few blocks away. She was shivering. Was it the cold air or the orgasm?... More

3. Kelso McQuire by Johnny Hughes
The gamblers always stand in the back at West Texas funerals. In the middle of Kelso McQuire's funeral, Ice House Henry was whispering around and telling this fifty-year old story about Kelso, that not one living, breathing soul had ever heard before... More

4. Scared Santa by Dwayne Williamson
This amorphous blob of blood red fabric and snow white hair would release these grunts from its maw that shook my rib cage, causing me to tremble even more violently than before. Because Santa Clause scared the holy hell out of me... More

5. The Hunt by Gary Cox
When the son was young, the Father went deer hunting every year for a week at a time, right before Thanksgiving. The boy badly wanted to go with him, but was never considered old enough. He saw in his Father’s eyes how much he enjoyed that time, whether it was the actual hunt or the solitary time spent out there in the woods... More

6. Monday Evening LIVE in Theater! by Sigge S. Amdal
A middle-aged, disillusioned, smack-ridden woman in a wheelchair bemoans her disability when the subway seems one step too far. By the touch of a button she whirls off into the distant tunnel like the depart of an ancient ghoul... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the December issue of Truckin'. This year end issue has a couple of holiday themed stories including a spicy tale from Betty After Dark. Johnny Hughes returns along with everyone's favorite Norwegian writer Sigge S. Amdal. This issue also features the debut of two new authors Gary Cox and Dwayne Williamson. And I have a little Santa story as well.

If you like this issue, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. See you next year.

Happy Holidays,

"Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it." - James Baldwin


By Paul McGuire © 2007

Santa nodded off on the subway. He did that often, always after he copped. Friends would often tell him that they saw him passed out on the subway. They’d try to get his attention, but he was in his own world.

Of course, Santa was not his real name. He was born Marvin Carver in a small town in Missouri outside of St. Louis. Everyone he grew up with called him Junior. He was named after his father Marvin, a carpenter from the rough streets of East St. Louis, who migrated to California to build gliders for the Army. After the war, he moved his family to New Mexico, just on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

When Marvin Jr. first moved to New York City in 1949 and began playing the local jazz clubs in Harlem, the musicians called him Santa Fe Marvin, since there was already another Marvin in the same band. Within a year, they just called him Santa.

Santa was a promising up and coming bass player and had the opportunity to sit in with legends such as Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Mingus. But Santa was also a very weak person and fell into the wrong crowd the second he arrived in New York City. He met the wrong woman, a waif-like dancer from Detroit, named Nancy. She was bad news from the beginning. She sweat Santa for months before she finally gave him his first ever blow job. The two moved in together in a boarding house in East Harlem. She drank too much and fooled around with other guys whenever he was out of town doing gigs with the Philly Jones All Star Band. She not only stole most of his money, but she also broke his heart when she ran off with one of his rivals.

Unable to cope with such a devastating loss, Santa turned to heroin. For years he avoided junk and occasionally smoked reefer. He was afraid of needles, especially because a lot of young jazz musicians thought heroin helped them play like Bird or Miles, and that was never the case. Coltrane got hooked, and so did dozens of Santa’s friends. They shot junk into their veins and awaited a miracle. What usually happened was that they got sloppy and addicted and the next thing they knew, music no long mattered as much as the craving to get a fix. Quickly. Before the shakes started, and the queasy stomach took over and the skin began to itch everywhere...

Santa was also hooked instantly as his career slowly deteriorated. He was a functioning addict for all of the 1950s. He maintained a steady income, enough money to keep his habit going, but never got too fucked where it prevented him from showing up to work. His addiction finally spiraled out of control and it got ugly when he agreed to do some gigs in California in 1960. He was hired to play with Ornette Coleman’s band and they had a two week run at a club in Los Feliz. Santa had a tough time finding decent junk in Los Angeles and he got sick. In order to get rid of the shakes, he started drinking and taking downers. He would get severe hangovers and when he tried to drink through; it just made him sicker. Santa got fired in the middle of a gig when he puked onstage during My Funny Valentine.

When Santa returned to New York City, he was in bad shape. He caught pneumonia and nearly died. When he was in the hospital, the doctors told him he was going to die if he kept it up. He vowed never to touch heroin again. Twenty minutes after he got out of the hospital, he was on the street looking for dope. Over the next few weeks, he got deeper and deeper into smack. He got kicked out of his apartment and he eventually hocked his bass for drugs. After a while, he stopped playing altogether.

It usually took Santa most of the day to wrangle up enough cash to buy a couple of caps. His mother told him that God blessed his fingers and that’s why he was an amazing bass player. Santa soon discovered that his amazing fingers also gave him the ability to pick pockets with relative ease. He’d wander around Penn Station in the mornings hoping to lift a wallet or a billfold from a businessman getting off one of the trains. Some days were better than others and when he found a nice score, he’d get as much smack as he could and shoot up for several straight days without once venturing outside.

As soon as he stole or begged or figured out how to get his hands on cash, he headed uptown to shoot up at Slick Fleming’s basement apartment on 122nd Street. He’d stumble back to the subway station, get on the next train headed downtown and within minutes he’d nod off. He’d frequently miss his stop and spend most of his evening high and slumped in the corner of a subway car. He’d eventually wake up, stumble on home, and shoot up the rest of his dope before passing out and waking up the next day to repeat the process.

Within a few years, Santa’s fingers were not so magical anymore. His talent faded at picking pockets. He got sloppy and was not as agile as he used to be. The junk wore down his reflexes. Plus he would walk around totally disheveled. When he first started out, he’d wear a suit and newly shined shoes. No one ever expected he would roll them. Now, he looked like a bum and obviously stuck out. Potential marks could see him approaching from far away. And he could no longer sneak up behind them. His foul stench tipped them off before he could get close.

It had been snowing for a couple of days and Santa had a tough time scoring. Slick Fleming went out of town to visit his family for the Christmas holidays. The other two guys he usually scored from were nowhere to be found. He heard one of them got busted. He tried to hit up some old hotspots, but could not find anyone to sell to him. Riddled with sickness, he bought a fifth of whiskey and drank the entire bottle over an hour. That calmed his spastic shakes down a bit, but he still couldn’t stop the itching and burning sensation underneath his skin. Santa remembered a store down in Chinatown that sold cough medicine with codeine. He threw up a couple of times on the subway but when he arrived in Chinatown, all of the stores were closed for the night. He had lost track of time. It was nearly midnight and he was out of options.
Santa passed out and on a set of stairs in front of a building. When he came to, a figure stood over him and said, "Get the hell outta here!"

He didn't see the policeman take out his night stick and cock his arm back. Santa did not have any time to move before the policeman unleashed a series of vicious blows to his head. Blood gushed down his forehead and some of it clouded his eyes. After the policeman beat him senseless, he left Santa in the cold to die.

The eventual cause of death was frostbite, but when the coroner took one look at the trackmarks in Santa’s arms, he concluded his report that it was an accidental overdose of heroin that killed Santa. A bit of irony perhaps that Marvin "Santa" Carter, Jr. died on Christmas Day in 1963.

Paul McGuire is a writer originally from New York City.

Christmas Eve Dinner

By Betty After Dark © 2007

One of our traditions was Christmas Eve dinner at some fancy restaurant. Just she and I.

Going home to separate rooms at my parents’ house became an increasing drag over the years, so this year, I got us a room at Shutters on the Beach. She loves the ocean. Sleeping with the sounds of the waves, and waking with the sun.

Dinner was at the nearby Ivy restaurant. I told her to pack an overnight bag and be ready by 6 pm.

She embodied the essence of simplistic elegance as she glided down the stairs. A sweater-knit form fitting dress with slivers of straps that I imagined would give if I stared at them long enough, dropping the dress to the floor and exposing all of her.

I kissed her cheek; she smelled like violets. Her hair falling softly around her ear. "You look beautiful," I whispered and gently brushed my hand down her side and across her ass. "You're not wearing anything under that, are you"? She didn't answer but her eyes said everything.

Dinner was fantastic. Our friend was the bartender that night and as the place began to empty out, he sat down and shared in an after dinner caffè corretto. Fine grappa, perfect espresso and my girl next to me with nothing but a weave of fine yarn between my touch and her naked skin.

Under the table, I moved my hand up her leg. Our friend telling stories of the rich men who come in with their 20-year old mistresses. She widened her eyes at me, that look that said stop and don't stop in the same glance. I pulled my hand away. Our friend excused himself and brought back two more of the hot liquor infused drinks for us, and her favorite, Creme Brulee. He had to finish closing up the bar so we were left alone.

We made a game of guessing the relationships of the other couples still left in the restaurant. Why were they there this late on Christmas eve? What were they avoiding at home? An older gentleman and his much younger female companion sat three tables away. They were leaning into each other, she tossing her hair with each forced laugh. Were they the type of couple our friend had told us about? She looked like she was there for his money. He wore a wedding ring, she did not.

I watched as the man's hand disappeared under the table. The heat of the espresso sent the grappa straight to my head. "Do you think he is touching her?" She looked in their direction as the woman fed him the raspberries off the dessert with her fingers, leaving them lingering in his mouth.

"Oh, you can be certain he is touching her," my girl replied.

My hands were warm from holding the hot cup, and I touched her bare leg again. Making circles with the tips of my fingers on the inside of the soft part of her upper thigh. She didn't brush my hand away this time, instead, she opened her legs to allow me to make my way further up and towards her pussy. She slowly lifted the cup to her lips, focused on the cup. As she put it down it clanked against the saucer and spilled a little. She giggled in that way she giggles when I bite the inside of her thigh. She says it tickles when I do that.

Our friend came back to check on us and she clenched her legs together but this time I didn't budge. She tried to move my hand but my finger got loose and brushed her clit. She shuttered. The friend left and she opened her legs again for me to explore. She was wet and creamy like the Creme Brulee we had just devoured. She couldn't speak. Breathing shallow and controlled. As controlled as she could be. I pushed my fingers into her. One. Two. My thumb circling her clit, standing at attention wanting me.

Her breath ceased. Stopped dead. I knew what came next. I quickened the pace. Fucking her with my fingers, pressing my thumb against her clit. She writhed in her seat, trying not to draw attention to us, trying to hold the orgasm back. She couldn't. She shuttered and let out a faint squeal. I felt her pussy tighten around my fingers as she exhaled every last bit of breath.

I pulled my fingers away, across the napkin on my lap and lifted them to my face. To smell her, to taste her. I licked my fingers and called for the check.

Her legs still weak and her stance a bit wobbly, I wrapped my arm around her and led her out of the restaurant. The hotel was just a few blocks away. She was shivering. Was it the cold air or the orgasm? I wrapped my jacket around her shoulders and held her close, like I hold her when we collapse in ecstasy. It was late, the street was empty and we made the shortest bee-line to the hotel we could. Jay-walking and cutting through the alley behind the hotel. It was pitch dark and I had to get our bags out of the car. The light from the trunk was the only light for miles. I didn't know the city could get that dark.

I slammed shut the trunk and she just stood there. "We should get inside, you must be frozen," I said.

"I'm not cold anymore" and she slithered towards me. She unbuckled my belt and undid my pants. I had stopped wearing underwear some years back so there wasn't much in the way of her wrapping her hand around my cock. It was so hard. I had barely contained it in the restaurant and luckily the cold night air had kept me in check, until now. She didn't need to touch me much before I was a rock. She leaned against the car, lifted her dress and guided my cock into her still wet and creamy pussy. She was so warm inside. I wrapped my arms around her, under my jacket and the heat from her body instantly warmed me.

She pushed up on her toes, and I thrust deep into her. Harder and faster. She lifted her leg and braced her foot against the stone wall, the backside of the hotel. She moaned and squealed in my ear and grabbed my ass, pushing me deeper. I couldn't hold back any longer and I grabbed her waist, lifted her off the ground and pounded her until I exploded and collapsed back against the wall. She pulled her dress down as I let the wall hold me up. My dick, covered in her juices, glistened in the moonlight.

"You might want to put that away," she said and glanced to her left, towards a light. The light from the back door of the hotel kitchen where a man, in a white chef's, uniform lit a cigarette and stood watching us. She picked up the bag as I fumbled to get my pants secured.

We walked away from the man, towards the hotel entrance, and she looked back at him and coyly shouted "Merry Christmas!"

Betty After Dark is a writer, probably stuck in an airport, dreaming of being home.

Kelso McQuire's Christmas Secret

By Johnny Hughes © 2007

The gamblers always stand in the back at West Texas funerals. In the middle of Kelso McQuire's funeral, Ice House Henry was whispering around and telling this fifty-year old story about Kelso, that not one living, breathing soul had ever heard before.

Henry is causing a bit of a ruckus. They always sing "Amazing Grace" but Henry kept right on talking about Christmas Eve, 1957.

Kelso was known as the "little man with the big mouth." When somebody lost a huge pot, folks would know to mum up, but Kelso would pop off, "What looked like a light at the end of the tunnel was a train." Old jokes. Folks would get hot at Kelso and he would back right down. He just could not seem to learn the cardinal rule, never rib a loser.

"I didn't mean anything by it," he said countless times. Tougher gamblers spoke up to protect Kelso over and over. Kelso never weighed over 140 pounds, keeping trim with foul-smelling, menthol cigarettes. He drew bullies, even in grade school. Sometimes his warped humor got him in trouble. Sometimes it got him out of trouble.

Hershel Rountree was an all-day sucker beloved by all forms of gambling joints. He carried his ex-jock's extra sixty pounds with pride. His Daddy left him a ton of money or Hershel would have starved. Hershel was around all the dice games and poker games where Kelso was trying to eke out a living as a gofer, coffee server, some-time cook, shill, bookie errand boy, stake horse, and any other thing he could think of to keep from being a square John, a nine-to-fiver.

Hershel picked on Kelso constantly and nobody much said anything. Being the big producer, it would have been alright if Hershel shit in somebody's hat. Hershel kept riding Kelso one night at Reverend Pruitt’s crap game. Hershel said, "My Momma didn't raise no fool."

Without thinking, Kelso shot right back, "Then who raised you?"

Iron Drawers Shaw goes to laughing and couldn't stop. Hershel Rountree got so outraged that he made the Reverend fire Kelso.

Christmas Eve of 1957, Big Fred had a come and go party at the Shop. He'd made several of the old brokes that owed him string popcorn and cranberries and buy some colored lights to decorate the gambling joint. They get into it and steal a red colored Christmas tree from the Girl Scouts. A lot of gamblers that didn't usually come around dropped by for lots of free food and drinks. Somebody got up an Ace Away game, first anybody had seen in a while. The poker cranked up early. The Mule won three dimes in thirty-five minutes and hopped the game. The poker game was a lot bigger than usual but got slow really fast since everyone had to go home to be with their families.

Big Fred left Kelso to run the poker game and lock up. Being drunk and in the Christmas spirit, Fred even stakes Kelso. Hershel is really on Kelso, verbally abusing him and making actual threats. There is nobody there to stop him. This runs off a couple of live ones. Carney Carl begins to take up for Kelso and now the hot score is between Carl and Hershel. Everybody is unreasonably drunk and morose. There's this string of red Christmas lights right behind Hershel and it adds to his evil. It was down to four-handed and Ice House Henry was there.

Suddenly, Carney Carl is on his feet with a .38-caliber, snub-nose revolver pointed straight at Hershel's fat gut. He screams at Hershel. "You ain't no kind of a man. I don't want to waste a cap on your sorry ass but I will."

Hershel rolled over on the floor and fired his own .38 hitting Carl twice. Carl got off one shot which hit Hershel high on the right shoulder, his gun hand. His gun slid a few feet on the concrete floor. Carl was dead. Hershel was squealing like a pig stuck under a gate.

Kelso started to pick up the chips and the money on the floor. Then he picked up Carl's pistol and shot Hershel in the middle of his forehead. They called the laws. Ice House Henry and Kelso both took a Gambler's Oath that these most recent residents of Hell died in a two-way shoot out. The laws bought it. Merry Christmas to all. Silent Night. Silent Fifty Years.

Johnny Hughes is the author of the novel, Texas Poker Wisdom.

Scared Santa

By Dwayne Williamson © 2007

There's a picture of me stored in a family album that my mother likes to pull out at any awkward opportunity that presents itself.

It's one of those childhood photos, nestled right next to the ones with me naked in the bathtub, which she loves to show off because she knows it provides optimum embarrassment for me.

In this special moment in time you'll find my mouth stretched open, locked in a tortured scream that no doubt alerted everyone in the mall from the Sears to the JC Penny's circling back and echoing around the food court, as I was giving every ounce of my little boy strength to push myself out of the lap of this fiend that my own parents were apparently attempting to sacrifice me to.

This amorphous blob of blood red fabric and snow white hair would release these grunts from its maw that shook my rib cage, causing me to tremble even more violently than before.

Because Santa Clause scared the holy hell out of me.

To me he was an immeasurable beast of a man, mounted on a throne that I suspected was made of the bones of disobedient elf slaves.

The ones that died after he whipped them too many times because they couldn't assemble toy trains fast enough.

They tell me that he made his home in the desolate landscape of the North Pole where no one could reach him and even though my tiny little brain was still absorbing all the new knowledge of the world, I already learned from the stories about my Uncle Jimbo that if you live in the middle of nowhere, it's usually because you're hiding from the law.

So it didn't help at all when my parents told me he was going to break into our house while I was asleep that night.

And I just stood there frozen in fear, imagining waking up in the dead of night with his hot breath tunneling through my ear.

And he would say something like "I've been watching you all year".

From what I gathered as my parents spoke to me in those paralyzing moments of pure panic my only hope of survival was appeasing the monster with a snack.

So before I was put to bed that night I stocked the mantle over the chimney where he would slither his way in with three packs of Oreos and a gallon of milk.

I wanted to make damn sure that if he came in hungry he left satisfied because judging by his girth I was afraid he would wander into my bedroom and attempt to eat me alive.

As I laid in bed at 2:38 am, sleepless, clutching my aluminum tee ball bat and letting the Tasmanian devil alarm clock that was parallel to my pillow burn vibrant red numbers into my brain, I heard a sound like some rustling down my darkened hallway.

I realized that I only had two choices in this situation, either I could continue to lay there hoping he would have his fill and solder off into the world, or I could make a difference and save millions of other helpless little boys and girls.

The air was still that night, my friends, I could feel my nostrils flare as I breathed it in, and I felt this rush of adrenaline surge through my adolescent body like the spirits of all the fallen elf victims rushing to my aid in a terrible vengeance.

I charged through the hallway, in an awkward little kid gallop, welding the bat over my head until I caught sight of the shadowy figure kneeling next to the Christmas tree.

I closed my eyes and held my breath as I swung my weapon blindly like a madman until I heard a sharp crack reverberate from the end of my stick.

* * * * *

On the way to the hospital, as my father was nursing a head wound with a zip lock bag containing two teeth resting in his lap, he decided we should have a little chat so we could avoid any further complications like this.

And that's how I found out Santa Clause doesn't really exist.

Dwayne Williamson was raised by a group of traveling ninja gypsies that trained him in the art writing and rocking the fuck out. Currently he resides in Austin, TX and can be located over the interweb thing at My Space and Disortion.

The Hunt

By Gary Cox © 2007

Backstory: He grew up in hard times, the son of a hard Dad and a hard Mom. Part of that was what made him the hard Man that he had turned into. No two people knew that better than his wife and his son. His son was an only child and grew up at the hands of an attentive, but very hard Father.

The Father wasn't mean on purpose, that much he knew, but it often times appeared mean to the outside world, to his Mom and even sometimes to the son. The son tried hard to measure up and to never disappoint his Father, but as is often the case during the early years, those disappointments always came.

Fast forward ahead some 30-odd years and the boy is grown with a family of his own. The Father is retired now and sickly, very sickly. So sick, in fact, that he is on the transplant list for a new kidney. The son offers his own kidney, but the Father will hear none of it. No chance, not going to happen, he says. The son knows his Father well enough to drop the subject, because his opinion is not going to change. Not now, not ever.

Five more years go by and the Father dies from the kidney failure. His wife, the son and his family, at his side. After five or six years on the dialysis machine, his heart finally gave out and he had a massive heart attack and died the next day with the son holding his hand as he took his last breath.

A month or so prior to his death, the son and Father spend a weekend together, talking about the future and the past, about things accomplished and things left to do. The Father has a very specific list of things that the boy is to do after he is gone, number one being to take care of his Mom.

The Father goes on to open up about years past and about some very specific moments when he was most proud of his son. The son is speechless, with tear filled eyes. He has no idea how to take this, never having seen this side of his Father in 36 years. One month later, he's gone.

The wife and the son handle the business and soon enough, four and a half years have passed. It seemed like only yesterday at every turn:

Thanksgiving, Christmas, their Anniversary, the Anniversary of his death and his birthday. All these events triggered memories in the son and made him miss his Father even more. He hadn't shared a close relationship with his Father until the last few years, but those were the most enjoyable years of all to the son.

More Backstory: When the son was young, the Father went deer hunting every year for a week at a time, right before Thanksgiving. The boy badly wanted to go with him, but was never considered old enough. He saw in his Father's eyes how much he enjoyed that time, whether it was the actual hunt or the solitary time spent out there in the woods, he didn't know, but he did know that his Father very much enjoyed going hunting.

Finally at the age of ten, the boy was allowed to go with the Father for a weekend hunt. He sat in the woods with a little pellet gun and fired at squirrels, hitting nothing, but he was out there, with his Father, trying in vain to find out where the allure was for his Father.

The next year, he hunted in the stand with his Father. It was the only time he could ever remember not seeing his Father with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. The smoke, you see, would give away their position, so he chewed tobacco during the hunt. Some memories stick out much stronger than others and the image of his Father without a cigarette was etched in the boy's memory right then and there.

Again, fast forward 30-odd years and the boy is sitting in the woods, just two short weeks ago now. It is the opening day of muzzle-loader season in his home state and the boy is hunting with some good friends. It is his first deer hunting trip in 28 years and first ever without his Father at his side.

He sits there in the middle of the woods, before the sun comes up and the memories are flooding over him. There is no hunting to do yet, just remembering. Remembering how much his Father had loved that part of the day and the fact that he loved being out in the woods. Remembering how he fidgeted in the stand waiting impatiently for the first light to see if there were any deer around. Remembering everything about his Father during those times so vividly that it felt like he was sitting right next to him on the ground in those woods.

Suddenly, the sun was up and not 30 minutes later, the boy had his first deer on the ground. He had made a fairly difficult 60-yard shot through some trees and dropped his deer on the spot. The Father would have been so proud, he thought, if he had only been there to see it.

After thirty minutes of the ugly part of deer hunting, he was back in the stand, awaiting more deer to show up. He sat there for nearly four more hours, waiting and watching, but mostly basking. Basking in the fact that he now knew why his Father loved it in the woods and knowing that his Father was watching over him, every step of the way. Not just in the woods, during deer season, but throughout his day to day life.

He felt his Father's hand on his shoulder and saw the wide smile that was so rarely seen from him in the past. He knew his Father was proud and this time, there was no denying it. He felt like he had gotten to sit in that deer stand all morning with his Father and the memories and feelings he displayed were something foreign to him.

You see, the boy had grown up hard, the son of a hard man, and he rarely, if ever, showed his emotions either. The realization that he was just like his Father came over him in a flood of tears later that day. Of course, he shook it off and nobody else saw it, just like his Father would have done before him, but nevertheless, he realized something about himself that morning out in the woods.

Yes, his Father was a hard man and was hard on him, but you know what, that's okay. He never wore his emotions on his sleeve and he was never a hugger, at least not until right at the end., but the boy realized something else about his Father that day in the woods. He loved him unconditionally more than he loved life itself and you surely cannot ask for more than that.

Two thoughts for you if you've read this far:
1) If your Father is still alive, call him on the phone or go visit him. Do not let the time slip by because you are "too busy" or you have "too many things going on." You will regret that you didn't spend enough time with him while he was still alive, I promise you that.

2) If you are a Father, let your kids know that you love them unconditionally right now, don't wait for a specific moment that might never come. Do it now, hug them and kiss them every single day of their lives, because you never know just how long that might be.
I spent most of my life as the boy in the story above, searching and "hunting" for ways to please my Dad and I never truly realized that I had achieved any of that until it was too late for us to enjoy it together. I was always "too busy" during my adult life or had "too many things going on" to stop and spend time with him. Don't let that happen to you, love your family and make sure they know that you do.

Gary Cox is a writer and poker player from Oklahoma.

Monday Evening LIVE in Theater!

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

A middle-aged, disillusioned, smack-ridden woman in a wheelchair bemoans her disability when the subway seems one step too far. By the touch of a button she whirls off into the distant tunnel like the depart of an ancient ghoul.

'Mind the gap, oh desperate one,' I mumble to myself before she goes.

Pity not your existence wretched woman! Whatever be your ills they are petty to non-existence. Wail thee more and I shall prove it to you!

On a river of blood and blinking metal, here arrives the tube, ladies and gentlemen. Fashionably late, of course, just in time. The soulless torture of electronically powered steel horses comes to an end as the sleeping beast eeks to a halt. I enter. I enter like a red cock prancing victoriously about in the ring while the ruined loser picks up the feathers of his shattered future! You couldn't do worse than that, old friend. No more drink for you, Rodriguez. I scan the cart for danger, surveillance and easy company. They are all of the wrong sex, all enemies, my cellular phone jumps out of the pocket and into my hands to kill time.

A peach enters the wagon.

Modest, Modesty, Mother Theresa; a faggot (en. bassoon) – the instrument – slowly fades the carpet in, we fumble like midgets on speed, the carpet opens again while "Hush!" es dampen the lively chatter of the doomed and worthless. Johann Strauss unfolds his Blue Danube like a baboon's buttocks to the National Geographic film crew.

I rise, I fall, I rise again. I pray my love to dance avec elegance in the artificial waltz of the railroad tracks' turns and curves; "Come, come, my love! Don't be shy, I'll make you blush like your ma!"

Sudden cold, my love evaporates like dew on a cold bottle, glass sweat, window tears; no more here. I am somewhere near the cathedral now. And there! Hiding behind innocent scaffolding, the red-brown bricks are unmistakably shining with glee, taunting the blue as in blues the blue as without you horizon with its dull red glow. That's why all the vampires have gone.

None but righteous men and lost men are allowed passage here, haunting the square with the angels and hookers who intertwine and collapse into singular entities.

The music stops. I hear church bells. So much death near a religion, so much dread near a church, so little hope in the folded hands crushed to oblivion by iron fists. I dare say I understand the undead when they don't want to see the church or the cross, only the orthodox believe Iesu of Nazareth would enjoy the sight of it, the crucifix.

I nail my head to the window impatient. "Patient, be patient, we are soon in passing, soon forever onto our journey into the night."

I look down on my thigh, "HOLY MOTHER!" is it blood on my khaki pants?

No such epiphany, what's mere tomato juice is only a stern warning, a threat.

We round the corner into the second half. The women are fainting and the children are gassed to death by the odours of boredom and silence enforced on playful minds. Bars! These are prison bars in your child's mind!

Another stop en route. A new peach; not bright like a star, but red in all of black's colours, inviting eyes, beautiful waistline, dark makeup and brown top. She dulls her appearance down to suit her poetic self-image. Dramatic, no doubt, but look at those thighs! How I long to come between them, like a love triangle, torn between and drawn towards the two of two sisters, inseparable twins. Inseparable, you say? Sounds like a challenge, methinks.

I confront my reflection through the tunnel. It is speechless to my arguments, how can I know whether it be from fear or from awe? Strauss returns, the cheeky monkey, and relieves me of all personal doubts and fear; what bodily harm can come to the open pursuer of clean, housebroken love-making in conventional form? That's how I always disguise my surprise.

"What are you writing on?"

She looks up from her battered notepad and puts down the Nobel prize. With the teasing air of a tombstone she reluctantly informs me that her treatise deals with the insubordinate interruptions of strange men on the night train. How peculiar. How coincidental.

"How come?" I say, as if picking my next pet snake from a cluster bare-handed.

She scoffs politely. Something tells me she enjoys the role play involving set pieces of severe and unusual punishment. In that case, I am up for it.

"Tell me now, dark-painted girl-child; how will you breathe life into your poetry by looking out the window? Your emotional scope thus far has only played a single note, and I have played a thousand just watching you. Can you describe the bits of white flesh that separates itself from the body to die, in a manner that makes me want it like ice cream? We all scream for ice cream! Where is your footing? Fact or fantasy, please don't say both when you know perfectly well what I'm asking."

The choir resonates in the walls of the cart, all the singers are sounding on in-breath, until it culminates in primitive panting.

"Will you sleep with me if I guess correctly the colour of your panties? I am horny like a street dog here."

She replies from statistics, not confidence; "Yes."

"All right, let me think."

Let us see, the subject's sub-twenty, she's adopted the view of her older friends that she is mature, all the while knowing her own age and feeling the urge to play. I have never seen black panties under all-black robes; they must be screaming.

"They are pink," I conclude.

"How did you do it?"

"A poet would know."

The doors open, arrogance pulls me out, and proud steps in the drunkard night echo 'tween the hostels and shooting galleries as the sound of the night train disappear into memory; "Take me home, trusty feet. Your master is weary."

Curtain falls, the audience engage in enraged objections, the children are trampled down between the seats, money back was guaranteed; You'll find me in the hall of promiscuous ballet dancers.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

November 08, 2007

November 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 11

And we're back...

1. Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: The Afternoon Shift by Paul McGuire
The club was just the type of seedy place where you might find William Kennedy Smith or any other soused heirs to the Kennedy name, knocking back cheap scotch at 3 pm while aggressively fondling the sketchy girls with visible c-section scars and multiple fresh bruises all over their cracked-out bodies.... More

2. Lonesome Cowboy Bill by AlCantHang
My comfort zone is a dive rock club where I can chain smoke, power drink, and have my head assaulted with decibels equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off. The next step down the ladder would be the pubs and bars the exist for sole purpose of its patrons getting blitzed on various hardcore drinks. Then comes the sports bars, strip clubs, snooty yuppie bars, and hotel watering holes. Near the very bottom would generally be any place that plays country music... More

3. Seven Minutes with Olga by Change100
Olga led me all the way to the back and sat me down. She took her top off and grabbed my hands, placing them on her very soft, very real breasts... More

4. The Sleep Deprived Memoirs of I by Sigge S. Amdal
I might as well go to sleep, I thought. And I thought about sleeping forever, the eternal sleep, and how it could feel – was it cold or was it cozy – had it not been for facts contesting life after death in terms of subjectively sensory experience... More

5. Their Father's Love by Sean A. Donahue
Tying to explain the differences and the complaints of a failed marriage is too complicated for a four-year old to understand. I think I heard the phrase, "But why daddy?" more than I ever thought I could. But it wasn't my kids' fault... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the November issue Truckin' which contain 60% Key West themed short stories. I lead off the issue with another Key West installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers. AlCantHang is in the lineup this month with his own soused tale of debauchery during our sojourn to Key West. And don't forget to read Change100's piece where she described a wild night at one of the Key West strip clubs. Everyone's favorite Norwegian writer, Sigge S. Amdal, is back with another stellar submission and Sean A. Donahue returns with a tender piece about family and distance.

If you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to all of the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. All of you inspire me and I'm admire your bravery and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin' and for your continuous support. Until next time.


"Being a writer is like being a psychoanalyst, but you don't get any patients." - Al Alvarez

Existentialist Conversations with Strippers: The Afternoon Shift

By Paul McGuire © 2007

"Never underestimate the afternoon shift!!" Lewey shouted at the top of his lungs as everyone it Sloppy Joes stopped what they were doing and turned their heads to investigate the commotion.

The weather was the culprit as it usually is in Key West. The gang originally wanted breakfast at a French crepe place, however, the owners were away on holiday and the place was closed. They walked down Duval Street in search of alternative options and ended up at Sloppy Joes, where Hemingway used to get bombed back in his Key West days. After sampling every specialty drink on the menu, Lewey lost his volume control. I couldn't blame him. The drinks were delicious. The Key West Lemonade is by far the best of their house drinks. You can barely taste the vodka thanks to the sour mix, which is why Lewey and company drank eight in a two hour span.

It always rains at random times in Key West during the wet season. Sometimes it pours for five minutes, then stops. In that instance, the rain kept coming. And coming. Most of Duval Street quickly flooded within minutes. The boys were stuck at Sloppy Joes and weathered out the storm by drinking heavily. AlCantHang and I were stuck at the house he had rented. We eventually decided to make a run for Sloppy Joes during a brief break in the rain.

The skies opened up as soon as we set foot on Duval Street. We were quickly drenched and found shelter under an awning of a jewelry shop to escape the pelting rain. We grew anxious after a couple of minutes. AlCnatHang wanted a drink. I just wanted to be inside somewhere. We eventually said, "Fuck it!" and sprinted the last two blocks through the rain as we jumped over tremendous puddles that collected at various spots. We rushed inside Sloppy Joes completely drenched. My entire shirt was soaked. I waled next door to the souvenir shop and bought a dry one Sloppy Joes t-shirt with Hemingway's Face plastered on the back.

Lewey had lost all forms of volume control by the time we arrived. He was beyond drunk and fired up. The other tables radiated curious and odd glances as they tried their best to decipher the drunkenese that spewed out of Lewey's mouth. AlCantHang and I quickly ordered drinks to catch up.

"You're way behind," said Alice, our waitress.

Alice was in her late 40s with leathery tanned skin. She wasn't fazed by Lewey's antics and seemed more amused than anything else. She was a veteran waitress in Key West and had grown used to the inebriated tourists. For almost two decades she handled drunks ten times as worse and ten times as large.

The only thing that could calm Lewey down was The Classy Joint. It was not even 3 pm on a Monday. Most of the people I knew were still at work. But we were on a mission and courageously ran down Duval Street zig-zagging through the raindrops like we were GIs storming Omaha Beach on D-Day dodging bullets from Nazi machine gun nests. We scaled the slippery flight of wooden stairs and reached our main objective. We burst into the strip club, ready to shower the strippers on the afternoon shift with small bills.

"Never underestimate the afternoon shift," Lewey repeatedly told me as we found a seat at the stage.

I had ventured into new territory. The afternoon shift. Sort of the Bermuda Triangle for strippers. It had been several years since I had visited a strip club during the day. There were random exceptions like stumbling out of strip club at 6 am or 7 am after a bender in Las Vegas playing poker all night with Grubby. But for the most part, my illustrious Wall Street days where the last time I ventured inside a club during normal working hours. Sometimes the stress from trading bonds was so immense, you needed to escape from reality with a lap dance from an exotic dancer drenched in cheap perfume. I'm going to hell for enjoying every moment of my Dionysian existence.

When I lived in Atlanta as a college student, my friends and I were frequent patrons of the crappy Sunday morning breakfast buffet at the Pink Pony strip joint, located behind a Denny's parking lot. I was stuck behind enemy lines in the middle of the bible belt and instead of attending church services on Sunday mornings like a pious Christian, I smoked dope with Jewish frat boys and ogled strippers.

There's a definite difference between the girls who work on weeknights vs. weekends and a major difference girls who work the afternoon shift vs. the evening shift. I was fascinated and intrigued by the reasons that drove a woman to dance the Monday afternoon shift at a Key West strip club during the off season. A foul odor of desperation lingered around strip clubs during the day. And since there's a more natural light that appeared every time the front door opened, the establishment never looks as sultry as the middle of the night.

It's also a frame of mind. If I was as shitfaced as I was the night(think Dudley Moore drunk) when I stumbled into The Classy Joint for the first time, I might not have picked up on the subtle differences. Like the dozen or so geriatric patrons checking out the afternoon shift. AlCantHang's crew made up 50% of the total number of customers in the club. The rest of the clientele were in their 70s. Retired guys on death's doorstep waiting to die as they slowly sipped rum cocktails and got their jollies off during a three minute lap dance. No one every said you could get your face slapped with a pair of boobs while on heaven's waiting list.

The Classy Joint lost a tinge of class during the afternoon hours. It seemed seedier. I felt dirty just being in there. The club was just the type of dingy place where you might find William Kennedy Smith or any other soused heirs to the Kennedy name, knocking back cheap scotch at 3 pm while aggressively fondling the sketchy girls with visible c-section scars and multiple fresh bruises all over their cracked-out bodies.

We didn't have much talent to choose from. There were three mediocre dancers at the time... the angry Latina, the voluptuous Jennifer Hudson look-a-like, and the pale foreign girl from an Eastern-Bloc country who wandered over and asked, "Do you vant a dansh?"

The foreign girl barely looked 18 with long brown hair and crooked teeth. She was fresh off the boat, evident from her lack of suntan and less than graceful moves on stage. You have to start somewhere, right? She was working her way up the stripper food chain. She was cute enough to dance at The Classy Joint, but lacked the experience on proper pole dancing and more importantly, the act of stage seduction. She needed practice. Hence, the afternoon shift.

A giant green tattoo on her stomach read Milano in a Gothic font. She didn't look Italian and her accent was more Eastern European. I wondered what the word Milano meant. Lewey saw the same thing and we quickly discussed the origins of her tattoo. I tried to talk in hushed tones, but Lewey continued to scream at the top of his lungs.

"What's that tattoo all about?" he shouted.

"I guess that's her favorite city," I said. "Or her favorite brand of Pepperidge farm cookies."

"Or her favorite actress," said Lewey as he shoved three singles in between her breasts.

She looked over at us and asked, "Do you vant a dansh?"

The Latina with the c-section scar took the stage next. She was about twice the age of the foreign girl and appeared pissed off at something. Despite her angry demeanor, she had the best technique out of the bunch. She performed a weird trick on the pole where she'd shake her ass and it would vibrate faster than a hummingbird could flap its wings. Lewey almost had his nose dislocated when he got too close.

The last entertainer on the afternoon shift was a black woman in her 40s who called her self Kat. She purred and seductively moved along the stage like a cat. Unlike the rest of the strippers I encountered, she didn't shave her snatch. She had a bad boob job and you could see the multiple scars underneath her armpits. That's what happens when you go to the equivalent of Dr. Nick from The Simpsons to get your breasts enhanced in the back of his trailer.

I was not drunk and therefore not turned on by any of the women working the afternoon shift. An inebriated Lewey had a blast with a stack of singles which sat in front of him next to his cocktail. For about fifteen seconds Kat would come over and swallow up his head between her humongous breasts. Lewey would emerge with a gigantic smile.

"The girls on the afternoon shift pay more attention to you. Yes, they're not as good looking, but they work harder for the money. You're getting more bang for the buck," explained Lewey. "Plus were helping out the locals."

His drunken ramblings almost made sense to me. We were doing them a favor and helping save an endangered species.

As Landow put it best, "Save the afternoon shift. Save the world."

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

Seven Minutes with Olga

By Change100 © 2007

"Need a taxi?" said the bearded man with the leathery skin. He wore shorts and rubber sandals and looked like he spent his days out on a fishing boat rather than inside a cab.

It had been less than two minutes since I'd walked down the stairs from the puddle-jumper to the tarmac at Key West International Airport, the soggy humidity filling my parched lungs after nearly six hours of trans-continental travel at 30,000 feet. Red lettering welcoming me to the "Conch Republic" was perched above the doorway to the tiny terminal, and after crossing a fifteen-foot wide swath of gray carpeting inside, I was back out the door into the sticky heat, looking for a taxi to take me to Duval Street. I don't know if it was the way the cabbie approached me-- emerging from a shadowy corner where he'd been leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette rather than pulling up in a yellow-hued sedan and efficiently hauling my luggage into the trunk-- but it struck a sketchy note. As I followed him to his vehicle (which looked more like a dog-catcher's van) I thought there was a significant chance that I was headed for a scene straight out of The Bone Collector.

I gave the cabbie the address of our hotel and flipped open my phone to call Pauly. There was a lot of bar noise in the background and from the sharp volume and lackadaisical timbre of his voice, I easily deduced that he was in a rowdy drinking establishment and had been there, or a place like it, for some time. He said he'd meet me in ten minutes in front of the hotel.

When I hung up, we were driving along a poorly-lit road next to a military base. Was this where he was taking me? Could I jump out of the cab and make a run for it if necessary?

"Man, I sure was glad that flight of yours was on time. It's almost always late and it's the last one of the day," he said. As he approached a stop sign, he fiddled with a laptop computer that was set up on the dashboard (telling his superiors that he had "the package?")

"This your first time in Key West?"


"Where'd you fly in from?"

"California" (best to be as vague as possible with potential serial-killer cabbies).

"Y'all have that Nancy Pelosi out there, right?" (oh, God he's going political)


"Did she ever get her plane?"


"Her plane. The big one to fly her home on weekends."

"Oh... I don't know. I don't think so."

"Pretty stupid thing to ask for."

It was about then that I noticed the sleeping child laying across the front seat. She couldn't have been more than five. She had a Disney-themed coloring book tucked underneath her arm as she slept. Crayons were scattered across the floor. I guess I wasn't in danger after all.

As promised, Pauly met me in front of the Southern Cross Hotel. I stowed my backpack in the room and we headed across the street to Wendy's so I could get a quick bite to eat. I always order the same thing at Wendy's-- the Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

The man in front of us in line was so fucked up he could hardly stand. He had the same leathery skin as the cabbie did, was barefoot, and had his shirt halfway open.

"I'm soooo wasted!" he said to Pauly as we tried not to stare.

Once he got up to the register, he slumped onto the counter and looked as if he might vomit all over the young Jamaican cashier as he slurred his order.

Welcome to Thursday night in Key West.

After wolfing down the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and washing it down with Diet Coke, Pauly and I walked over to Irish Kevin's, one of Al Can't Hang's favorite Duval Street watering holes and joined up with the gang. Most had been drinking all day. I met Al's Philly crew-- Landow, Lewey, Big Mike, and JDub-- whom I had read so much about over the years. Gracie and Sweet Sweet Pablo were there. So were Derek, BG, Bacon Bikini Mary and StB. JDub bought me a White Russian. So I drank that. Then Derek bought me a double Soco. So I drank that. Then I bought myself a Stella. And I drank that too. Add a quick trip down the block with Gracie, Pablo, and Derek to smoke a bowl and I was pretty shitty by the time we left Irish Kevin's for the strip club.

I'd been hearing about these two strip clubs ever since Pauly had landed on the island five days earlier. There was "The Classy Joint" which was larger, semi-well maintained, and had decent looking dancers. Then there was "The Dive" which was described to me as "where strippers go to die in Key West." We were going to The Classy Joint, thank God.

Though there were a couple of lap dance virgins on our outing that night, I was not one of them. I vividly remember my first. It was at The Body Shop on Sunset Blvd. during my first or second year in Hollywood. Showcase and I took our friend Seth out for birthday drinks at the Standard Hotel and later adjourned to the strip club for a few dances. Showcase and I each bought Seth a dance and he said I wasn't leaving until I got one myself. I tried waving him off with a laugh, but five minutes later, a curvaceous, raven-haired stripper came up to me and pulled me into the back room where the private dance booths were set up.

"This is from Seth," she cooed into my ear as she ground her crotch into my thigh. Hey, this isn't so bad.

I was hooked. Lap dances were fun. I'd get several more in the years that followed-- from one at Cheetah's where a coked-up blonde poured a shot into my mouth and proceeded to stir it with her tongue, to Showcase's 25th birthday party at Crazy Horse Too when I saw him get a 45 minute lap dance from a six-foot tall black woman with the biggest tits I've ever seen, to that fateful night at Scores when Pauly, Grubby, Benny Hiroshima and I sat in a horseshoe formation, all with breasts both fake and real stuffed into our faces at one point or another, all four of us departing with our nipples burning after being twisted into unnatural formations by these ladies of the pole.

Compared to Vegas strip joints, the Classy Joint was small and really not that classy, which made me wonder just how sketchy "The Dive" was if this was classy. Pauly instantly got a waitress to take care of everyone and we took over three tables in the back corner. Al and Friends were already instant celebrities in these parts and we were treated very well. Many double Socos were consumed and at midnight, AlCantHang turned 40 amidst clinking glasses and a dozen of his friends.

Al had brought a $50 brick of singles with him and by the end of the night all of them ended up in the garters of the panty-less dancers that took the stage. Yes, panty-less. These chicks went the Full Monty. Pablo, StB, Pauly and I rotated in and out of two seats next to the stage. During my turn, I put a couple of the singles in my cleavage and the girls skillfully removed them by mouth.

After another Double Soco, I was approached by a strikingly tall Russian girl. Her name was Olga and she was 6'4” in her Lucite heels. She couldn't have been more than 20 or 21 and had ice-blue eyes, long chestnut hair and a surprisingly innocent face, like she could be the girl who sells you a croissant and a coffee in the morning at some random European cafe.

"Come with me. I give you two dance from him." She pointed at Pauly, who waved at me with a goofy drunken grin before Olga took my hand and led me into the private dance room.

The private room was long, narrow, and mirrored, with a black leather banquette lining the walls on all sides. Six or seven girls were in there, some bottomless, grinding atop sunburnt tourists in t-shirts and cargo shorts. Olga led me all the way to the back and sat me down. She took her top off and grabbed my hands, placing them on her very soft, very real breasts.

"34B..." I thought as she started grinding away.

Midway through my second dance, AlCantHang entered the room with a dark-haired stripper. As Olga gnawed on my nipples through my padded satin Victoria's Secret bra, Al and I gave each other "the nod." That strip-club nod that's like "hey, here we are, being all debauched with dirty dirty paid-for girls at are going to do naughty naughty things to us and well, we're doing it in the same room, and that's a little weird, but we're just going to roll with it, OK?"

After my seven or so minutes with Olga, I emerged from the back room with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin. I could have used a cigarette. Or maybe a shower.

"Oh my God, look at your hair!" laughed Pablo.

I racked focus toward the mirror behind our table and sure enough, it was all over the place. Sticking up, to the side, tangled and frizzy from where Olga had repeatedly run her hands through it.

"So, did you like your dance?" said Pauly, grinning ear to ear as he smoothed out my hair.

"I did. She was very dirty."

"And tall!"

"Dude, I barely came up to her tits."

"Do you want another one?"

"No, I think that's all I can take for one night."

Maybe an hour later we stumbled back to the hotel and passed out. Seven hours later I woke up tasting stale liquor in my mouth as a rooster screamed from the tree outside our window.

And I smelled like stripper.

Change100 is a writer from Los Angeles, CA.

Lonesome Cowboy Bill

By AlCantHang © 2007

It was five o'clock in the morning and there was a knock at the door. I was sitting at the bar drinking with the owner and I was caught red handed. A couple friends were looking through the glass door, we all knew my night was over, it was the end of my Key West vacation. If you had given odds at the beginning of the week that I would spend my last few hours and have my last drink at a country bar someone would have been very rich.

I am most definitely not a country boy. I may have the hair of a hippie but that shouldn't confuse you when it comes to my musical appetite. My tastes lean towards loud, heavy, and fast in that order. My comfort zone is a dive rock club where I can chain smoke, power drink, and have my head assaulted with decibels equivalent to a jumbo jet taking off. The next step down the ladder would be the pubs and bars the exist for sole purpose of its patrons getting blitzed on various hardcore drinks. Then comes the sports bars, strip clubs, snooty yuppie bars, and hotel watering holes. Near the very bottom would generally be any place that plays country music. If there were such a thing as opera bars they would be the only thing ranking lower. Practically god's own miracle that after seven days in Key West I found my most comfortable spot on the planet ponied up to a self-described honky tonk.

This wasn't my first trip to the tiny two-by-four mile island with intentions of drinking to excess while groping various forms off female flesh in the name of sanity reclamation. There are the standard bar options each trip down, the menu consists of four or five bars and two strip clubs to finish off each night. You would most likely find me sitting in front of a band or staring blankly at a random sporting event while chasing away my sobriety. This time around I found my elbow leaning in a painted plywood bar watching the country music channel.

It was all because of the people. When I am on the road, I like to find bars where I don't feel like a mark for the locals, dead tourist money waiting to be sucked from my wallet. In Key West I have the normal options but found myself being talked into trying out a place called Cowboys Bill's. Several blocks away from where we were hanging out and miles away from where I would normally go. But I can be talked into just about anything by anyone of the opposite sex that looks good in a mini-skirt.

I let it slide when the doorman proudly announced PBR tallboys on special and turned a blind eye at the mechanical bull sitting idle in the middle of the outside bar. I was looking for shots, maybe a football game, and something to make we want to come back. The barstaff was the deciding factor. By the end of that first night I was placing friendly wagers at the pool table with locals, telling classic bar bullshit stories with the bartender/bouncer, and actually planning my next trip back to their bar. The extremely generous size of their shots and the blind eye towards my barely existent bar tab had only a little to do with this decision.

Two nights later I found myself sitting at the same spot at the bar drinking with the same results. I had been promised a fantastic show that evening. Nekkid girls riding the bull. I barely even noticed that we were forced to suffer listening to a hillbilly band live on stage while waiting for the festivities to kick off. The rest of my crew had their spirits broken by the band but I was sticking around. Not for the bull riding.

After the surprise of the first night's enjoyment, I received my second on my next trip back when I was introduced to the owner of the bar. She remembered me from her previous employment at another bar where I'd spent too much time and too many dollar bills. She personally welcomed me to her bar with promises of good times, endless drinks, and as much fun as I could handle. Still skeptical but I was loosening up. I was given the tour and introduced to the lovely ladies of Cowboy Bill's. I still don't think you could predict how the week was going to end but the foundation was set. Still couldn't stand the music though.

I spent the rest of the week either starting my night or ending it sitting in Cowboy Bill's drinking myself deaf. I never once felt like an outsider or a walking ATM machine. I was bought as many drinks as I dished out. I met other members of the staff and I started to feel like I was two blocks from home instead of 1,000 miles. Even at times when I should have been at home in bed getting ready for a 6 am fishing charter, I found myself shooting another game of pool two hours before I was due to step up dockside.

The final piece of evidence that I had found my new Key West playground came on my final day in town. I found a bartender who liked to drink and tell bar stories as much as anyone I knew down there. She wasn't too tough on the eyes either. I stopped into the bar before the final big night on the town to fill my stomach and empty my wallet. She wished me a good time but made me promise to come back before the end of the night when her shift ended. That way we could have one last drink before hopping the flight home.

I hit the bars with my friends like alcohol was being banned the next day. The bars led to the strip clubs which led me to the only downside of the weekend. Everyone was lined up getting their final lap teases and trying to forget they only had a few hours left in paradise. And I lost track of time. Far too late I realized that I was past the time my new favorite bartender was scheduled to be cut from the business side of the bar.

It's tough to convince a dancer in a strip club that you need to cut short the lap dance because you are late to be somewhere else. Proving my comfort and confidence in a good time at Cowboy Bill's, I intentionally left a bar full of girls looking to satisfy my carnal desires if the price was right. I left the strip club to go back to a country bar to drink with someone I barely knew. I had somehow because immune to the horrid music in response to the feeling that I was sitting in my home bar.

Unfortunately the story does not have a happy ending. I had spent way too much time at the strip club and the bar was too far away. The owner told me I missed her by mere minutes but would I like a drink to put out the flames. Beer after beer I took turns telling and listening to stories from the past. I was trying to drink away the disappointment and realization that mere hours from then I would be winging my way home.

Not long before the sun was to rise, that knock came at the door. My friends were staring in at me in the wee hours of the morning sitting comfortably with a beer in my hand in a country bar. I could almost pretend for a moment that I didn't mind the music at all. I had accomplished my mission though, I found my comfort zone in the most unlikely of places with the most unlikely people.

AlCantHang is a seasoned Socologist from Phoenixville, PA.

The Sleep Deprived Memoirs of I

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2007

I might as well go to sleep, I thought. And I thought about sleeping forever, the eternal sleep, and how it could feel – was it cold or was it cozy – had it not been for facts contesting life after death in terms of subjectively sensory experience.

I went to the bathroom to take a leak. While I was going I watched a summer fly rub its forelegs on the bathroom wall. It had been trapped there for days. I wondered why it didn't die and why it didn't leave the bathroom when the door was open. But the bathroom was probably a better place. It was warm and moist, like a rotting womb, just like the undergrowth of tall forests. All you find is pine cones and mushrooms, 'cause nothing else can grow in the darkness. I flushed.

I poured another glass of water, being that there was no beer in the fridge.

No, the eternal sleep was a Freudian dream, a hope or a lie. To all living things death is nothing but a process, and when my turn comes around I won't feel anything any longer. I didn't want to die, I wasn't suicidal, just a little tired. But I knew that if I'd gone to bed right then I would not have been able to sleep.

Instead I would've filled my mind with lies of love affairs, things that should never be but still could happen; and after I had rested in these arms, I would turn my sense towards me, and piece apart the same dreams with hostile scrutiny until I was back to being troubled again. And still wide awake.

I took a sip of my water and looked out the window. I was back in the bedroom, sitting in the black leather chair that I had stolen from the basement, listening to night sounds as they played their parts on stage in my forehead. A door slammed further down the street.

I couldn't see, so I guessed. Was it trouble, a marriage gone sour, a boy girl fight or a customer returning to his loved ones? The taxis drove endlessly with the sound of distant rivers coming and going as the tires rolled on the asphalt, coming to a halt when the driver stopped before a turn.

A waitress walked by. I knew her from her work, and I knew her entire back and arms were coloured in black and blue tattoos that would smudge out over the years and kill her with cancer in the end. She went inside.

A voice called from further down the street. I tried to pick up whether it was terror or amazement, but decided for the latter. Either they would cry out and get away or get knifed, or they would take it obediently with impending trauma, shame and guilt to come tomorrow. Three serial rapists had walked the same streets outside my window just before the summer. And I still frown at women when they run across the street at the sight of me. That's too bad, really.

The sound had been amazement and not a rape. I ignored everything from my window but the sounds and the imagery thereby proposed. I sat up when my neck began to hurt. I could really use a massage, but at this late hour of night the girls in the parlors wouldn't know how, 'cause they were there to fill simpler needs. Another cab, another cigarette, I opened the window again to let the smoke out. A door buzzed a block down.

My previous neighbour sold pot out the window at nighttime. I am not so inclined personally, but I don't mind what others do to themselves. And I must admit he had a different fit girl in there every other week throughout the calendar and then he left. A fully educated, unemployed economist selling pot out the window into the wee hours of the night.

A pedestrian looked inside my window; a pale, young student ready to get robbed. I always hope that some sleepless night a lady will come by and look in, and ask me for company. But I know that it'll never happen in this town.

Anyway. Those white earplugs have come to remind me of her, because she once showed me hers. I can't remember her favourite band, except she thinks that country music's underrated and she plays the piano. She played Tom Waits in her grandmother's funeral. Honestly, that's enough to make some of us consider marriage. She's gone now, and I'm still here. I hope she made it into university.

Another cab drives off into the unseen horizon, and what must be a dog locked in an apartment somewhere barks at a dog on the street. With the eternal one confidently ruled out I think about going to sleep. Maybe it will work this time.

The good, wholesome sleep that keeps you in bed without gnawing on the energy you will need for another pointless day before the weekend. And when the weekend's here? I will be too excited to consider sleep an option. And thus the wheel turns until the rubber's out, the spikes are worn down and nothing's left but the empty donut hole in the center, which is what weight you lose when your last breath leaves its vessel.

Yes. It is a nice idea about eternal sleep. And even though it isn't true, and I know it isn't true, it still feels better to believe in it on nights like this.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

Their Father's Love

By Sean A. Donahue © 2007

It wasn't my kids' fault. My ex-wife and I had troubles after she had given birth to our son Ryan. We were going in different directions, me up the corporate ladder and her, a mile and a half down the road from her parents. Unfortunately her parents live 1,145 miles away in Indiana. My children, Shelby now six and Ryan now three, didn't understand the problems and the disagreements. All they understood was that they were going to live eighteen hours away in Indiana with their grandparents while their "Daddoo" lived in Texas.

“Why did you and mommy's marriage get canceled?" said Shelby.

"Sometimes things just don't work out princess, Mommy is not happy and I want her to be happy and you to smile," I tried to explain.

But trying to explain the differences and the complaints of a failed marriage is too complicated for a four-year old to understand. I think I heard the phrase, "But why daddy?" more than I ever thought I could. But it wasn't my kids' fault.

October 19, 2002, I watched from down the road in my car as my life drove away in a U-Haul truck. The night before I tucked them into bed and gave them a kiss and each time before I send them back with their mother I tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. It is too tough a moment to watch them leave every time. I thought that I was a tough man, nothing could hurt me, but I was wrong. Watching them leave that October morning was the hardest thing I ever thought I could do. Watching them cry for their Dad and watching them drive away tore my heart in two. No amount of counseling could fix this rift, no amount of "I'm sorry" would ever do. Just watching the truck drive away in my mind still hurts to think about. But I move on, to have my heart hurt every time I kiss them goodnight, the night before they leave.

Many times after I first pick them up I watch them sleep the first night. Such innocence and peacefulness, such a holy sight to see. My children, whom I love so much, are just watched that first night. The night before they go back with their mom I usually spend with my mom and dad in Bedford at their house. It's a closer drive for Angela (my ex) and it's great to have my family support me when I am at my emotional lowest. I usually kiss them goodnight and then after they are asleep drive back to Lubbock. It is hard to see them say goodbye, for I tried once to do it. I watched the tears fall from both Ryan and Shelby that would break the hardest of men. I promised myself that after that moment of weakness, that I would never watch them leave again. I want to see the joy of them running to me in the airport yelling "Daddy!" at the tops of their lungs, I want to see them laughing and crying at their greatest successes and failures. I just don't want to see them leave.

People ask me if I love them so much and it hurts so much why don't I move up to Indiana? Tough question. Good Question. Not an easy answer. The best explanation is that with my business that it would be tougher to find a position in Indiana than it is for me to keep the job I have here. I've been working for NextMedia for close to ten years and I have family in Texas. It is a hard thing to pick up all your roots, all your friendships everything and start over. There is a part of me that says after each time the kids leave, I should move up there. But then does Angela win? Do the kids win? With me closer I could be used as a pawn by my kids to bounce like other friends I know that bounced between Father and Mother during their childhood to see which one "loved them more." I don't think I could play that game. As I told a friend recently, I think that I couldn't change the way my kids think about me in forty days a year in comparison to the 325 days that my ex has them. Leaving would be tough, but it is closer in my mind every day.

I love Lubbock, and everything about this city. It is big enough that you can hide without people (most of the time) knowing all your business, but small enough that if you do great things and help people that your achievements will be recognized. It is a town of great want, great need and great desire. It's my town.

Being a father than 1,100 miles away is tough. I rarely get pictures of the kids at their T-ball or Soccer games and if I want a picture I have to take it myself. Most of the time when I do get to talk to the kids on the phone they are playing with either their "leapster" or "game-boy" and it is quite frustrating. I want them to miss me, talk to me and fill that conversation with what they did that day, how they hurt their knee or what they learned at school. But unfortunately the communication is reduced to "I miss you dad, can we talk later I wanna watch my movie."

There are sometimes I want to drive to Indiana put their toys in their toy box and say "I'm here, talk to me, tell me what I've missed, tell me about your loose tooth, tell me about the boy you hit in the face, Shelby." But then I realize that being six and three that I will have to wait till they need me. God knows I need them now.

It's frustrating being a long distance dad. It's more frustrating than dating again ( a subject for yet another time). I feel worst about missing all the firsts with my son and daughter and resenting my ex-wife for taking them away from me. But then I realize, it wasn't my kids' fault. It was partly mine and I will have to live every day with the hope that both my daughter and son know that their dad always shows their pictures to anyone and everyone (it's a great date killer, by the way).

I live with the hope that they know that the first thought in the morning is that I hope that they aren't hurt that day and that they grow and learn and discover. I live with the hope that they know that the last thought every day is a prayer for their continued safety and a prayer of unconditional love being sent 1,145.21 miles from their dad every day. I live with hope that they know of their father's love.

Sean A. Donahue is a freelance writer, radio personality and poker player. He is the author of Instant Tragedy which looks at his life and those who he has touched and been touched by. He is divorced with two children and lives in Lubbock, Texas.

October 05, 2007

October 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 10

And we're back...

1. AlCantHang and I Walk Into a Bar... by Paul McGuire
Whenever you walk into a bar with AlCantHang, you're immediately assuming full responsibility for your actions. You always know what you are getting yourself into. There's no false pretense. You will drink and drink and drink and drink as life unfolds around you. You surrender to the flow of the liquor... More

2. Morrissey by Betty Underground
I did my usual, obvious, snooping about, inviting myself in to use the powder room after the long drive. I knew my way around. I knew what it looked like the last time I was there. I was looking for signs. Girl things. Grown up girl things. A woman's touch in the decor. Pictures of the happy couple. Anything. Nothing... More

3. Driving to See Mama by John "Falstaff" Hartness
Well, there was six of us in that car, and we'd been drinking and smoking cigarettes since we left base, so when Briggs rolled down that window, all that smoke just chimneyed up out of that window and that policeman had to jump back... More

4. A Mawmag's Dream by Sigge S. Amdal
I was flirting, no, I was dancing with my own future's certain death. And why? There was no love to speak of. Love can come later in some cases, I know, but if there's nothing, no great emotion to ride on – why on earth was I still dancing? ... More

5. What Might Have Been by Sean A. Donahue
The struggles of life are few and far between. We walk through life looking for the elusive, looking for the elite, or looking to be the elite. Sometimes in our search for what we want, we find what we really need. But we are too self absorbed or blind to see it... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the October issue Truckin' which features a gem from Falstaff and includes returning authors Sigge S. Amdal and Sean A. Donahue. This issue contains another installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers in a piece titled AlCantHang and I walk Into a Bar.... And we also have a story from Betty Underground. She's making her first appearance in Truckin' with an impressive showing by hitting a home run on her first submission.

If you like these stories, then please tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. The writers certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks to the writers who exposed their souls to the world, and did it for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking that leap of faith with me.

Thanks again to everyone for wasting your precious time month after month with Truckin'. Until next time.


"Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by you so quick you hardly catch it going." - Tennessee Williams

AlCantHang and I Walk into a Bar

By Paul McGuire © 2007

A fuckin' rooster woke me up.

Monday morning. My head viciously throbbed with a category three hangover and my body was riddled with dehydration. I managed to avoid puking, chugged the rest of the bottled water and quickly popped two Motrin followed up by one generic Vicodin.

I sat down at the table near the window overlooking Duval Street. I looked through my digital camera in a scene out of Memento where I slowly pieced my life back together using a couple of random images, mostly taken at the Irish bar. The strip clubs we’d ventured to had a strict no photography policy. Sadly, there were no shots of that debauchery.

I grabbed the wad of cash out of my pocket. It looked healthy until I unfurled it and began counting. Wait, were did all the hundreds go? All those twenties were replaced by singles. What the fuck? I did some quick math and figured out between the Irish bar and the two strip clubs, I had blown about $420.

A tour trolley stopped in front of the hotel. I looked out of the window and a guy on a microphone pointed to the hotel. He muttered something about this being, "a historical landmark almost as old as Key West itself."

One woman snapped a quick photo. I wonder if the tour guide stopped his trolley at The Classy Joint or The Dive and said the same thing?

* * * * *

Key West. It had the vibe of a Caribbean island without the color. The streets were flooded with sunburned white people clutching souvenir bags and digital cameras. The AlCantHang Compound (ACHC) was off the beaten path, down a secret alley off a side street, definitely away from tourist central.

A few hours after the Sunday arrival, the guys hung out in the pool while I sat in the shade with AlCantHang and Big Mike. We drank and swapped Amsterdam tales. Most of the crew eventually wanted dinner. AlCantHang's primary objective was booze. They went for food while we walked over to Irish Kevin's, a tourist magnet on Duval Street which was an AlCantHang favorite.

From the view outside on the street, Irish Kevin's was located in the first floor of a two story structure, but from the inside, only one humongous space existed. We wandered inside the narrow bar, maybe three tables or four tables wide, with high ceilings. It was one of the longest bars I had ever seen running almost the entire length of the property which was at least thirty or forty yards.

A guy in a blue t-shirt and cargo shorts stood on stage with am acoustic guitar. He played popular cover songs like Jack and Diane and Sweet Home Alabama in a wacky manner. He interacted with the audience and encouraged them to sing along and participate in his random goofiness like busting on people from New Jersey, changing the words to the songs, and guilt-tripping pedestrians to come inside and get shitfaced with everyone else.

It was exactly 8:08pm when I entered an Irish Bar in Key West with AlCantHang. Whenever you walk into a bar with AlCantHang, you're immediately assuming full responsibility for your actions. You always know what you are getting yourself into. There's no false pretense. You will drink and drink and drink and drink as life unfolds around you. You surrender to the flow of the liquor.

One of our friends described AlCantHang as a walking party. And when the party plops down at an Irish bar, you're knee deep in the depths of a serious mind-altering drinking binge. The best you can hope for is that your liver manages to escape with minimal damage and that the hangover the next day won't be devastating where you're clutching the porcelain god at sunrise with the worst case of the dry-heaves that you've had since the earliest days of the Clinton administration.

I knew the three basic tenants of the AlCantHang party-like-a-rock-star rules.
1. Pace yourself.
2. Drink lots of water.
3. And eat as much as possible.
I followed two but not the third. I drank on an almost empty stomach and by the sixth or seven beer, I got hit with a sledgehammer. We were seated at the end of the bar next to a kid, who barely looked old enough to drink. He was with his pretty girlfriend and they sipped some sort of rum and coke drink.

The musician on stage asked who was in the military. The kid raised his hand and said he was in the Army. AlCantHang quickly bought him a shot. That's when he discovered that the kid and his girlfriend lived in the town next to AlCantHang's. Small world.

Enter the Germans. Originally we thought they were Irish since they knew all the words to Irish Rover. As soon as the song ended, they screamed out, "Johnny Cash! Joh-neeeeeeeeeeee Cash!!"

The Krauts were fans of the Man in Black and over the next hour, they constantly screamed out his name. In due time, AlCantHang bought them shots. One German kid almost hurled when he downed a shot of Jim Beam black label. He told us that he'd been in America for two weeks and saw a bunch of cities, but none more fun than Key West.

AlCantHang pulled a $20 out of his wad and rushed up to the stage. He tipped the musician $20 to play Johnny Cash. Ten minutes later, he busted into Folsom Prison Blues.

"Since I got tipped $20 to play Johnny Cash from AlCantHang," the guy on stage said. "I'm going to play two songs."

The Germans went nuts. The entire bar sang along. Inside of a couple of hours, AlCantHang became the King of the Bar. Even the owner was buying him shots. If you've done any drinking under the AlCantHang Experience, you fully comprehend his magical powers.

The rest of the crew eventually joined us for a round or three in the back of the bar while a second musician took the stage. He was a black guy from New York City. He had some sick chops and was twenty-times the musician as the goofy guy, but he lacked the charisma of the first guy.

That's when AlCantHang said, "Time for some tits. And ass!"

Like Moses parting the Red Sea, AlCantHang darted through the crowd as the drunks in Irish Kevin's made a path for him to the front door. We walked fifteen meters and we reached the establishment that I will call, "The Classy Joint."

Editor's Note: I have been informed by my legal counsel to omit the actual name of the gentleman's clubs and change the names of the strippers in order to protect the innocent. Like they are giving me their real names anyway? I also refer to the first strip club as "The Classy Joint" because there will be a second establishment mentioned in this post that made the first place look like the Spearmint Rhino in Las Vegas.

The Classy Joint is located at the top of a slippery wooden staircase. Previously, thousands of horny men and other wayward and desperate souls made the same climb. The cover charge was $5 but I got in for free since Lewey flashed his VIP card, which gave him and a guest free admission. I realized that the entire crew had VIP cards with the exception of me.

Big Mike scouted out a spot. The space was fairly large with a stage in the middle of the room with two stripper poles on opposite sides. Twenty or so chairs were around the stage while a long bar nestled against the back wall. There was a hallway off to the side which led to the Champagne Lounge. Next to that was a room with group of red velvet couches where the adult entertainers performed their infamous exotic lap dances under the sultry hues of red, purple, and pink neon.

We set up camp near the stage. One or two of us would take turns sitting at the stage and tipping the girls $1 bills. Except the AlCantHang crew were serious ballers. They were tipping a minimum of $5 or $6 and up to $20.

That was their game plan. It was the first night in town and they made it known that they were in Key West for a week. What at first seemed like they (well I guess it's the collective 'we') we recklessly splashed money around, it was all done on purpose to establish the fact that we were not cheap tourists looking to see some ass for next to nothing. As Big Mike explained, we were conditioning the natives. That way the next time we ventured inside, we got quick and attentive service. (And that would happen when we returned less than 19 hours later.)

Overtipping became the norm and within minutes our crew captured all of the attention of the talent in The Classy Joint, even though it was crowded for a Sunday night. Everyone became secondary to the AlCantHang Experience. Big Mike took care of our waitress with a sizable pre-tip. The attractive Cuban woman was dressed in a tight red top and she didn't look as skanky as the pieces of naked meat on stage. That made her the most sophisticated lady in the club.

"How come you don't dance," asked Big Mike.

"I'm a mommy. Mommies don't dance. Would you like to see your mommy dance?" she said.

"Are you kidding me? The fuckin' whore? I'd love to see her actually get off her lazy ass to make a dime," Big Mike said.

The majority of the strippers were average looking. They would be working a second-tier club in Las Vegas or working the pole during the day at one of the bigger clubs if they got lucky. However, in Key West, the strippers in front of us were the cream of the crop. They were some of the better looking pieces of ass in town, and still had the wild reputation of Key West strippers. The word "dirty" comes to mind.

Most strip clubs in Las Vegas implement a strict hands-off the dancer policy. The majority of the girls at the Spearmint Rhino or Crazy Horse Too don't shower you with special attention unless you shower them with $100 bills. It's all business for the Las Vegas girls and if you want any sort of extra attention or groping, you have to fork over big bucks for an adventure in the VIP room. Of course, that's the biggest scam in Las Vegas next to the 99 cent shrimp cocktail.

At the Key West establishments, all you have to do is pay $20 for a naughty session which includes (and not limited to) crotch grabbing and getting your face used as a punching bag as the ladies slap their poorly designed fake-breasts into your face.

Sure, we all had fun. But our primary goal was to make sure AlCantHang had fun celebrating his 40th birthday. And he did. Of course, we lost Lewey for some time. He disappeared into the back and didn't come out. He fell into the strip club black hole. And when he finally reappeared he had stumbled out of the back with messy hair and a wry smirk on his face.

I befriended a stripper from the Czech Republic, who stood about five-foot ten with dark hair and natural breasts. She reminded me of Phoebe Cates and had a tattoo of a scorpion on her ankle. What looked like four cigarette burns peppered the inside of her thighs.

By the second lap dance, we had been discussing lesser known Milan Kundera books like Identity as she stood upside down on her hands and rubbed her shaved crotch on my chest.

"Your country was invaded by the Soviets," I rambled on during the fourth lap dance. "They set up a puppet government that eventually crumbled after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Your formerly behind the Iron Curtain nation-state was broken up into two republics and instead of staying behind in your new land of freedom, you fled to Key West where you strip for a bunch of old farts who are in town for a few hours when their cruise ship docked. Or you're grinding away for horny servicemen on leave taking every cent of their slave wages that our government pays them?"

"I like the warm weather," she cooed. "And I'm trying to earn enough money to bring my mother here."

Of course, she was trying to sell the old routine, "I'm only let potential serial killers and politicians pull my hair and fondle my breasts for $20 a pop so I can bring my mother to America."

She was a hustler, and a decent one at that. The vixen almost had me convinced. But I've been around the block a few times and been to enough strip clubs that I could write a book about it. The American bimbos use law school or business school as their faux cover. The foreign ones like to bring up their mothers and highlight the hardships in their motherland. This one was down here to hook a big whale. Perhaps a lonely and well off retired businessman with a yacht and multiple million-dollar homes.

"Everyone loves their mothers," I said. "Don't you love money?"

"Of course," she said as she continued to dance to a random hip hop sing with fellatio lyrics.

"But do you love money more than your mother?"

She paused and said, "I love them equally both."

"But your mother is still washing dirty underwear for tourists in Prague, right? Because if you really loved her, she'd be in paradise with you, washing dirty underwear for tourists in Key West."

She didn't blink and tried to get me off the topic. She grabbed my junk for four long seconds and twisted my nipples until I begged her to stop.

I don't recall how long we spent at The Classy Joint. I was shitfaced drunk when I left the Irish bar and drank steadily at the strip club. We finally left and walked down the street. We made a turn down a dark alley next to a couple of abandoned buildings. A faint pink light could be seen and that was the strip club on the other side of the tracks.

The Dive was a step down on the stripper food chain. A couple of rungs. It reminded me of those horrible and sad clubs in shitbag towns and third-rate cities where career strippers end up when they hit 40 or on their last breaths before they croak from a speedball OD in the tiny bathroom of a no-tell motel freaking out the chubby married business man from the Midwest who hired the strung out vixen to suck his toes for $20 a toe.

"This is the place where Key West strippers come to die," said Landow in a straight face as we walked inside.

There was no cover charge. For obvious reasons. The place looked the basement of my fraternity house, except with a stripper pole. There was one dilapidated stage off to the left and a tiny bar to the right. Several old guys sat at the bar. Two of them had girls sitting on their laps. One was atrocious looking as her double-D sized boobs spilled out of her top. The better looking one seemed out of place until she smiled and I realized that she was missing three teeth. I didn't want to touch anything because I was afraid of contracting an STD.

As soon as we walked in, the best looking dancer in the club wandered up. She looked gorgeous at first glance, but underneath the lights, the wrinkles gave her away. Twenty years ago she was the hottest stripper in town. The Dive is her retirement home.

"Aren't you AlCantHang?" she asked.

AlCantHang told her that he was and she mentioned that one of the girls they knew was due to dance on stage next. Years ago, the crew befriended a stripper. I guess we'll call her N. When N saw AlCantHang and his crew, she bubbled over with excitement.

For the next hour or so, they all caught up over a couple of beers as I watched the various dancers take turns running to the bathroom to rip a few lines before it was their turn to dance.

The Dive was sketchy because they cut off all songs at the 2 minute and 10 second mark. I counted. So if you got a lap dance, you got cheated. The standard lap dance at traditional clubs is about three minutes or so. I refused to go into the back room with those ladies. At some point you have to draw the line somewhere. For me, it was The Dive.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.