January 03, 2007

January 2007, Vol. 6, Issue 1

Welcome back to the first issue of the new year!

1. Merry Ethan by Paul McGuire
When I was done with my public display of urination, The Rooster stood in front of the bar with Ethan Hawke who smoked a cigarette. That's when I yelled out, "Yo Ethan, who's better in the sack? Winona or Uma?"... More

2. By Mennen by Otis
I can't remember where I read it, but for some reason I believe that Adolf Hitler was so concerned about potential body odor that he went to extreme measures (I think it was surgery) to alleviate perspiration. Of course, I may be making this all up... More

3. Pulling a Dawn by Dawn Summers
She cleaned up the spill with paper towels and soap-soaked sponges and carefully picked up every piece of broken glass. Well, almost every piece. She apparently missed a shard that had slid near the fridge, but her bare heel stepped up to the plate and snatched it right up when Dawn went to get some butter. Dawn said some bad words as she left bloody heel prints from the kitchen to the bathroom... More

4. Reunion by Doog
For the first time, Sean noticed the evidence of years' passage on her face – the small wrinkles around her eyes and mouth, the youthful freshness lost from her skin. She was no longer the perfect girl he remembered from ten years ago, but she was certainly a very beautiful woman... More

5. The Tulsa Incident by Sean A. Donahue
I had to alert the authorities, I had to let them know that something shady was going on here, something wasn't right. I slowly started back toward my car, careful not to make any noise as I passed the men's room... More

6. Shadow Boxing by Nick Cantwell
We met in a Deli. I'd just finished training.
I spilt her coffee as I squeezed my big ass past her table.
I bought her another one.
She asked me what I did.
Boxer I told her... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome back to the first issue of Truckin' in the new year. We have a story from one of my favorite writers, Otis. He has a gem about sweating in Vegas. We have some old faces contributing to the new year issue such as Sean A. Donahue and Doog. Nick Cantwell from London shared a poem, while this issue marks the Truckin' debut of Dawn Summers. I laughed and I cried as I read about her Thanksgiving. And keeping with a holiday theme, I have a story about crashing a Christmas party with The Rooster.

I ask that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor: Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along Truckin'. I 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 wrote for free. I'm lucky that you were willing to take that leap of faith with me. Thanks for inspiring me.

Thanks again to you the readers for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. Until next time.


"Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts." - Hemmingway

Merry Ethan

By Paul McGuire © 2006

I was still in bed when my cell phone rang at 10:30 AM on Friday. As I picked it up, I couldn't recall the last hour or so from the night before. I didn't even remember going to bed, let alone the cab ride home. I looked at the caller ID on front of my cell. It read, "The Rooster."

I picked up and barely slurred, "Helllll-ooo."

The Rooster quickly rattled off about how he went back to Yogi's just before closing so he could bang the hot Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan bartender that kept giving him free shots when we were there seven hours earlier. Instead of taking the foul temptress home, The Rooster witnessed a horrible accident. The other bartender was "Slutty Santa" and wearing a skimpy red outfit with ripped fishnet stockings. Both bartenders were hammered after a long night of drinking shots with the customers. They were up on the bar hootin' and hollerin' to a country song on the jukebox. That's when Slutty Santa slipped. She fell off the bar, smashed back first into a stool then tumbled onto the floor. The Rooster mentioned how she laid on the ground motionless for ten minutes while the paramedics came.

"Holy shit," I said. "It's 10:30 and you're calling me from work after going back to Yogi's at 4ish? Did you even sleep?"

"Barely. And that Ethan Hawke muthafucker is a short mofo. He's shorter than me, Pauly Drama!"

That's when the events from a few hours earlier slowly came back to me as I woke up still drunk from the night before. I was sweating vodka and I almost puked at the smell of my own breath with the sweaty vodka aroma.

On Thursday night, I had gone out to eat with Derek, The Rooster, and F Train at Big Nick's Burgers. We chowed down on their tasty garlic bread and fatty Angus burgers cooked on Texas Toast with grilled onions and mushrooms and topped with Swiss cheese and bacon. We went barhopping afterwards to celebrate the end of a long year for all of us. We made plans to hang out one last time before I left NYC to go to California before I fly down to Australia for a month.

Derek bailed around midnight after we hit our fifth bar of the night as we followed The Rooster in and out of several bars on Amsterdam Avenue. We hopped from a yuppie bar, to a hipster bar, to a Columbia bar, and back to a yuppie bar. F Train left one bar after Derek left. That's where I met a twenty-something actress sitting at the bar. She was attractive, sort of a Tara Reid meets Claire Danes. The Rooster bought her a drink and when she said she was from LA, I knew it was time to fuck with her.

"I live in LA too," I said. "Beverly Hills. Olympic and La Cienega. How about you?"

Her eyes perked up as she said, "West Hollywood."

"Lemme guess... an actress?"

"Um... yeah," she said.

"Do any work recently?"

"I just shot a commercial for Purina."

"The dog food company?"

"Yeah, I love animals too."

"Who are you represented by?"

"Buckwald," she said as she sipped on her fruity drink.

"Buckwald? They're a bunch of C-Listers," interjected The Rooster.

Offended, the Hollyweird blonde began to defend her agency.

"We all can't be represented by CAA," I added.

"You've got CAA?" she asked but never let me answer. "What do you do?"

"I'm a writer," I answered in the only truthful thing I'd say during our four minute conversation.

"Anything I've seen?"

"I've done some TV work. I know it's embarrassing, but it pays the bills."

"Like what?"

"Ever hear of Studio 60?"

"Sorkin's show? Yeah. I've seen it. I auditioned for one of the principles," she said.

"Well that's my gig."

"Sweet. How did you land that?"

"I was in rehab with Sorkin," I said as I knocked back the rest of my drink. "I scored him some mushrooms and the rest was history."

The Rooster and I left and walked to another bar. Then another. We'd pop in and out. Sometimes getting a drink. Sometimes not. The Rooster was scouting for bitches (I still have a theory that he's a pimp and he's checking up on his working girls) and if there was a good ratio of The Rooster : bitches, we'd stay at that particular bar.

We walked north on Amsterdam Avenue when The Rooster stooped and pointed at a bar on the corner of 83rd across the street from Hi Life. The bar was located in the basement and we could see a group of hot chicks were huddled around the bar.

"We're going in here," said The Rooster as he ran down the steps and disappeared into a sea of J Crew models.

The space was tiny and crowded, but very well-lit. As I sat down at the bar adorned in white blinking Christmas lights, The Rooster made idle chat with the ladies around us. When a hot blonde bartender asked us for our drinks, The Rooster quickly answered, "A Jack and Coke for me. A Screwdriver for Pauly Drama. And your phone number."

She smiled and said, "I've never heard that one before."

"You've never heard of a screwdriver?" I added. "Where the fuck are you from, Iowa?"

I looked around the bar and realized that everyone was dressed up extremely nicely. Too nicely. The room reminded me of a bunch of LA douchebags. That's the vibe I got even though in NYC, people tend to dress up a lot when they go out or they are coming from work. The crowd in this bar was dressed for the occasion. A special occasion, I noted. Company party? Nah... everyone looked too pretty. But it looked like a private party. People were ordering drinks and not paying.

Ethan Hawke stood up from a table behind me. He had not shaved in weeks and looked like he’d just gotten out of bed. I noticed another guy who looked like actor Josh Hamilton. A very drunk girl in a red polka dot dress held a plastic cup filled with Goldfish. She handed one to Ethan, then she handed one each to me and The Rooster.

I ordered three shots of Jagermeister which was fitting since we had crashed Ethan's Christmas party. I wanted him to have a conversation the next day that began, "Everything was great until I started shooting Jager with The Rooster. He's one cagey mofo."

I handed one shot of Jager to Ethan and the other to The Rooster. Then things got blurry. A second bartender came over five minutes later and told me and The Rooster that we could finish our drinks, but when we were done we had to leave since it was a private function. He meant to tell us twenty minutes earlier when we walked in. I knew that we were crashing a private party. I didn't realize that it was Ethan's Christmas party. I obliged but The Rooster took offense to us being asked to leave.

"You're kicking me out because I'm Mexican, right?"

The bartender had a blank stare and didn't know what to say.

"See, this is the bullshit and discrimination I have to put up with all the time. This bar doesn't serve Mexicans. Total bullshit!"

They handed The Rooster his tab and credit card slip and he whispered to me that he wasn't going to tip. He stiffed the bartenders after they asked us to leave. I stumbled outside and began to piss around the corner against one of their side doors. I looked at a text message I got from Otis.

"Ask Ethan if he can get me Winona's number."

When I was done with my public display of urination, The Rooster stood in front of the bar with Ethan Hawke who smoked a cigarette. That's when I yelled out, "Yo Ethan, who's better in the sack? Winona or Uma?"

He didn't look at me. Instead, he took one final drag of his butt and then flicked it into the street. He went back down the stairs and into the bar. That's when The Rooster and the owner started to have words.

"You got me kicked out because I'm Mexican, right? I bet you hate Tony Romo, too."

"I kicked you out because you're short and fat," the owner said.

"You still served Ethan," I mentioned. "Post-Uma he's short and fat."

"You talk a lot of shit, why don't you step over here and we'll discuss this like men," yelled The Rooster.

The owner was intimidated but he figured The Rooster was just talking smack. He didn't come out to the middle of the sidewalk and stood at the top of the stairs jawing back. He knew if The Rooster made a move at him, he'd have enough time to scurry down the stairs and into the bar. That's when the Rooster unleashed a verbal tirade at the guy trying to egg him into a fight.

"I fucked your mother an hour ago. She still has some of my cum splashing around her pussy."

That was by far the funniest thing I can recall The Rooster yelling at the guy who's only comeback was his standard, "Go drink somewhere else where they serve short fat guys."

"Your momma loved my cock in her mouth. Especially after I put it in your sister's ass," The Rooster screamed as we crossed the street and wandered into the ninth or tenth bar of the evening.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

By Mennen

By Otis Dart © 2006

I can't remember where I read it, but for some reason I believe that Adolf Hitler was so concerned about potential body odor that he went to extreme measures (I think it was surgery) to alleviate perspiration. Of course, I may be making this all up. All I know is that about ten days ago, I was thinking about Hitler as I walked down the Las Vegas Strip.

It was warm that day and I'd just inhaled some lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang's. It was a short walk to the MGM Grand, but by the time we were halfway there, I was sweating.

"Motherfucker," I muttered under my breath. The expletive was fine. Some people may say Vegas is a family town, but, the way I looked at it, if my friends can get rolled by a hooker and wheelchaired back to their hotel suites in this family town without a blink from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, I can mutter a curse word under my breath without fear of reprisal. Hence, "motherfucker."

I have a bit of a paranoia about how I smell. I rarely wear any scent, preferring just to smell clean. The last thing I want, however, is for my deodorant to fail me on any given day. I've spent years finding the perfect antiperspirant/deodorant combination. Without it, I fear that, in short, I might smell bad at any moment.

On this particular day, my hurry to get to the MGM poker room made me forget the third step in my post-shower ritual. Not sure how it happened, but I blame the Transportation Security Administration's 3-1-1 War on Moisture. My Right Guard Clear Stick Antiperspirant Deodorant was in a one quart bag and not right in front of me. It didn't make it to my pits, which, in my estimation, was the pits. Or something.

Now, I was already sweating and my day had barely begun. Walking back to the Aladdin to re-shower and apply the necessary product was an option, but in light of the limited time I had to play that day, I didn't see a trip back to the hotel room as a viable solution. I decided I would stop in at the gift shop in the West Wing of the MGM and buy whatever they had there. As the West Wing is a decent section of the MGM, I had high hopes. Cost be damned, I said.

Well, cost at least be slapped around a little bit, because as I was announcing the problem to my walking mates, they began betting on how much I was going to pay to not smell bad all day long. Somebody set the line at $5.00 (around twice the going rate for my regular product). I can't remember who took what side, but I was hoping that whomever took the "over" on the line would trip over a curb and land in a puddle of my sweat.

The sundries shop in the West Wing is right inside the back doors where we normally walk in. Within seconds of hitting the conditioned air, I was looking at the appropriate sundry shelf.

"Motherfucker," I muttered again, this time a little louder and in the direction of the chick behind the counter. "This is all you have?"

She nodded.

The only male deodorant on the shelf was none other than original scent Speed Stick (by Mennen!). There were so many problems with this, I almost walked out and went back to my hotel. First, it was only deodorant and not antiperspirant, which means I was going to be sweating down my sides all day long, the sexy bitch that I am. Second, it was fucking Speed Stick, which meant, regardless of whether I was sweating, I was going to smell like a guy I lived with in college who swore by Mennen products. Third, the container cost $5.05.


By and by, though, I stood in the men's room, at a urinal no less, applying Speed Stick to my pits. The smell hit me like several years of college at once. Anyone standing within a three-foot radius of my arms knew I was wearing Speed Stick. It's one of the most distinctive male products on the market. The only thing that would've been more obvious would be wearing Aqua Velva. Or a toupee.

But, poker player that I am, I persevered and made it through the day. Sure, I occasionally muttered profanity and declared to anyone who listened that I smelled like a specific college roommate. But, after five hours or so, I got used to the smell. It was like home. A very, very smelly home.

The unfortunate smell lasted the better part of the afternoon and until I could get back to the room to clean up for the dinner mentioned in the previous post. Finally I was able to smell like I wanted and get rid of the college smell.

Or so I thought.

My wife is the queen of laundry. If I could find a crown made of dryer sheets and clothes hangers, I would put it on her head. She can get stains out of mud pies. As for smells, something with which the mother of a toddler is quite familiar, she is an expert in stink removal.

Which made it all the more surprising when I put on one of my favorite t-shirts yesterday morning and realized that I just didn't like the way I smelled.

Somehow, through some fucked up quirk of science, the Speed Stick smell had managed to live through Vegas, a plane trip, a week in the hamper, a wash, a dry cycle with a Bounce Febreze Fresh Scent sheet, and a couple days in my closet.

Now, there's a part of me that has to applaud Mennen for creating a product that can apparently survive nuclear winter and the second coming of Christ. I mean, that takes some serious science. Still, there's another part of me, a part that is exceptionally sensitive in the olfactory area, that just wants his shirt back.

I'm not sure I can beat the science, though. Even Hitler would be impressed.

Otis is a writer from Greenville, SC.

Pulling a Dawn

By Dawn Summers © 2006

"Aim low, kids. Aim so low you can't possibly fail." - Marge Simpson
Brooklyn, 2019

A child, 8-10 and her mother sit in living room

Dawn Summers III: Mom?

Mom: Yes?

Dawn III: How come Alex's mom is cooking a turkey and a huge dinner today and we are eating McDonald's?

Mom: Ah, you want to hear the story of The Last Thanksgiving? Ok, get the Scrabble board and I'll tell it to you.

Dawn III (finishes a fry): Ok! Let me go wash my hands before touching the really nice swivel Scrabble board.

Mom: Ok. Well, it all started in 2005 with a girl named Dawn.

Dawn III: Like my name!

Mom: Exactly like your name. Now...

Dawn saw this awesome apartment and there were three things she imagined right away. The first: multi-table poker tournaments every Friday. The second: grilling on the balcony during the summer. And three, a huge Thanksgiving dinner for all the family around the dining table.
When her purchase offer was accepted, she started planning the meal... and the poker... right away.
She renovated the kitchen, got a monster $3,000 dining room set and set the guest list for the first Thanksgiving.
She would invite her mother, her mother's friend, both her godmothers and their families, her aunts, cousins and second cousins.
There would be turkey and roasts and scalloped potatoes and pasta and rice and yam…a veritable Olympic feast.
The renovations dragged through her first winter and spring and as the summer dawned, she started to worry it wouldn't be ready for Thanksgiving.
But it was!
Dawn had 12 confirmed guests by the week before Thanksgiving and she went shopping with Alex's mom and dad for groceries... at Costco.
She bought industrial sized stuffing and ginormous onions and bell peppers; she bought fifty rolls and a gallon of gravy. Alex's mom suggested that she buy a fresh turkey instead of the frozen Butterball that Dawn's Mom, Mrs. Of the West, had instructed her to get.
Alex's mom assured her that fresh was better and no harder to prepare.
So, what the hey.
She'd head off to Fairway to get the good stuff.
That Monday three of her confirmed guests unconfirmed, so she axed a couple of dishes, but still went full steam ahead to buy a 12-pound turkey and all the fixings.
Her mother, already irritated that she had not gone shopping on Saturday morning as previously planned and instead went to Fairway by herself on a weekday, was already questioning the menu.
"Is the turkey self-basting? Did you buy enough seasoning? When are you going to cook the meat? Did you cut the gizzards?"
But Dawn exuded the confidence of a hundred Irish women.
"I'm taking the day off tomorrow to set everything up, I have lots of seasoning, the gizzards are cut and I don't know if the turkey is self-basting."
Unbeknownst to Mrs. Of the West, Dawn was having the weekly game that same night. However, she had cut everything up, seasoned everything, and brined same and made sure all was left was the sticking of things in the oven.
It seemed to go swimmingly, and by the time the last of her guests left, she had sautéed the vegetables for the stuffing and made a big heaping batch.
Disappointed with initial taste tests, she added some salt to the mix. That seemed to do the trick.
Mrs. Of the West had said that Dawn should come pick her up at 8 because there were a few dishes being made out in East Coco Beach, that would need to be put into the oven at Chez Dawn.
No problem, Dawn had said before realizing that she would be going to sleep at 4 AM.
Thus, when she opened her eyes and the clock read 9:15, she sprang out of bed and dialed her mother's number.
Not sure what excuse she would be using for the hour delay, she was calmed to get the voicemail.
She left a message, hung up and rushed to the kitchen to put on the collard greens, stuff the turkey (named Chloe because that seemed like a good name for a fresh hippie Fairway bought turkey) and put it and the roast in the double oven.
She completed all these tasks by ten and called her mother again.
This time a groggy Mrs. Of the West answered.
"I've been calling allll morning!"
"Oh...why...do you need something? What'd you do with the turkey?"
"It's in the oven already. It's like ten o clock!"
"What! Wow, I overslept. But it sounds like you have everything under control, so I'm going back to sleep, come pick me up at twelve."
Dawn went to the kitchen to cut up some seasoning for the rice, when she opened up the cabinet, a bottle of olive oil fell out and shattered.
Oh crap.
"I have a knife in my hand AND there's oil all over the floor," she thought glumly, I'll poke a hole in my throat now for sure.
She cleaned up the spill with paper towels and soap-soaked sponges and carefully picked up every piece of broken glass. Well, almost every piece. She apparently missed a shard that had slid near the fridge, but her bare heel stepped up to the plate and snatched it right up when Dawn went to get some butter.
Dawn said some bad words as she left bloody heel prints from the kitchen to the bathroom.
At quarter to twelve, she got into her car to get her mother. There was a song in her heart and a skip in her step. Everything was under control.
Her mother brought the loud next door lady along for the ride. The loud next door neighbor is loud. And she makes Dawn's mother louder. All in all, the drive back to Chez Dawn was loud.
Dawn was happy when she reached home and the loud could be diluted outside the confines of a car.
They dropped off all her mother's dishes and her mom went into the kitchen.
She tasted some of the leftover stuffing in the frying pan.
Dawn's mother then takes the cover off the collard greens.
"Why does this look like this?"
She finds a spoon and begins to lift out the green leaves.
"Why is this so clumpy? Oh, God. Did you put the leaves in whole. You are supposed to cut them up. I TOLD YOU TO CUT THEM UP."
Years ago, Dawn used to call her mother the Yelling Lady, after a year and a half of living on her own, she had forgotten why.
Oh, yeah. It quickly comes flooding back.
Her mother dumps the whole content of the pot into the garbage.
She sends the Loud Neighbor out to buy more.
Dawn rendered speechless, hands her the industrial sized box.
Her mother angrily cuts up new seasoning and sautés from scratch.
Loud Neighbor comes back and she proceeds to redo the greens.
She walks over to the double oven and checks on the pot roast.
Apparently, the double oven is really heavy on the double, but not so much on the oven.
The pot roast, while warmer than when Dawn put it in the oven three hours ago, is not an inch more cooked. Ok, maybe an inch.

(Dawn didn't really walk until she was two and a half. Tests were run. While the results were negative, the possibility of error would be raised pretty much ten to twelve times a year for the rest of her childhood. It was the first reference of her adult life, however. The two Ivy League degrees on her wall evidently deemed non-probative.)

At some point, in the pot roast fiasco, Dawn's mother spies the balcony chairs wedged around the dining room table, between two larger tables.
Dawn sees the tell-tale sign of a poker game, at the same time.
Dawn's mother, up till now, the embodiment of calm and reason, loses it.
Dawn's mother then storms over to the bar and grabs all the decks of cards and throws them over the balcony.
She then grabs the chips off the radiator and attempts to send them in search of the cards.
Luckily, Karol's friend Pheel, did not latch the chip case, and the entirety of the case spills to the floor in a metallic clatter.
And Dawn started to bawl.

(Extending the streak of Dawn shedding tears during holidays with her mother to an impressive 23 in a row.)

The Loud Neighbor now intervened.
At this point, and now, you really have to listen carefully, just below the women yelling in Dawn's kitchen, but above her scraping clay chips back into the case — there, right there, if you really listen, you can hear Dawn's spirit break.
She silently cleans up the mess in the dining area, while the Loud Neighbor sweeps and mops the living room floor and her mother recooks Thanksgiving dinner.
Which, she now also finds out will be for six because her cousin is sick, her other aunt can't come cause her cousin was sent back to Iraq and a couple of other guests don't feel like going out in the rain.
The timer goes off on the turkey and her mother and the Loud Neighbor take it out. The bag is filled with water.
"I did," Dawn says meekly hoping to end the conversation as quickly as possible.
"I WILL DRAIN IT," Loud Neighbor says.
She proceeds to poke a hole in the bag and sends a liter of turkey oil spraying across the kitchen.
However, this time Dawn longingly eyes the slippery kitchen floor and the glistening knife blade.
Ah the sweet, sweet release of death, she thinks before she is rudely interrupted.

(Ah, this is another recurring lecture from Dawn's childhood: the evils of friends. Coupled with the, "I can't believe the tests say you're not retarded," all is left is the "if you ever come back here pregnant, you'd better not come back," and "I hate junkies and drugs and if you ever do drugs I will set you on fire myself," speech to really just relive the formative East Coco Beach years.)

The turkey is drained, and left out to cool, while the roast is finally put in the top oven to begin the cooking process.
Mrs. Of the West, then made the rice and the yams.
Turns out Dawn bought the wrong cranberry sauce, and too few yams and the wrong color peppers.
But when Mrs. Of the West tasted the turkey, she said, "Oh, that's actually good."
Loud Neighbor tried a piece and said she agreed.
"Well, you did the turkey right."
"Ok, well, everything is back on track. I have saved your dinner," Mrs. Of the West commented, "Everything is fine!"
She then waved her arms, signaling that she was ready to return home.
Dawn drove her and Loud Neighbor back home. As they climbed out the car, Dawn thought it would be sporting to swerve onto the sidewalk and crash into them.
She then amused herself with the thought of driving to Atlantic City.
But whatever, the meal had been saved. She was in sweats, her face was a mess and she was covered in grease and cleaning products.
Of course, by the time she got home, her first guests had already arrived.
She threw on a suit to go downstairs and pick up her godmother and her godmother's mother.
"Lord, Dawn. You are so fat."
Again. Awesome.
Dawn returns home and drinks a shot of tequila.
No sooner had the glass hit the bar, than Mrs. Of the West called to say she couldn't get a cab because of the weather.
Dawn drove extra extra slowly to the ECB, careful to avoid the gaze of holiday coppers looking for a DWI bust.
Upon return to Chez Dawn there was a flurry of excitement as dishes were put on the table and plates were set.
There, next to the turkey was the "new stuffing" and the "new collard greens" and the "cooked pot roast" and the rice and the yams and the pasta and the salad.
It was just as Dawn had imagined it.
Her godmother asked Mrs. Of the West, if she had helped Dawn make the meal.
"No. She did everything herself," Mrs. Of the West replied before Dawn could answer.
"This is so delicious, Dawn," she said.
Although, Dawn did take some satisfaction to see that the "new stuffing" went untouched, while everyone ate her original stuffing out of the bird.
The night dragged on.
For some reason Dawn ended up with fourteen pies, cakes and cupcakes.
So there was a lot of time spent "making room for" fill in the blank.
By the time they had all left and the apartment was cleaned and the fridge filled with leftovers, Dawn Q. Summers swore off family, holidays, and cooking forever.
She then started to drink bourbon to fill that space where her self esteem had been, cut off all her hair and spent the next four days in bed avoiding all contact with people.

And, so, that, Dawn III is the story of why we don't celebrate Thanksgiving.
And why mommy drinks.

Dawn III: And why grandma is in a home?

Mom: Yes. Really, it is the story of a lot of things.

Dawn III: But it sounds like it didn't turn out all that badly.

Mom: What do I always tell you?

Dawn III: Optimism is for suckers.

Mom: Yes. And what is the moral of the story?

Dawn III: Never try to do anything nice for people because people suck.

Mom: Good girl.

Dawn Summers is a writer from Brooklyn, NY.

Shadow Boxing

By Nick Cantwell © 2006

Sitting on the beach again. Throwing stones into the blue.
I always come back here. Every time.
Shake myself off and start again.

It started on the morning of the fight.
I was tetchy, obviously – knowing your head is going to hit the canvas is not nice.
But three grand is three grand.
Five hundred people cheering as your knees buckle.
But three grand is three grand.
She said we needed to talk.
We need to talk – she didn't need to tell me what that meant.
Tomorrow. I can't even think about this right now.
She stormed out.
Thanks for your support.
She phoned me before the fight – said sorry.
But we still need to talk right?

Some fights you know you're going to win.
Some fights you know you can't win.
Tonight was the latter.
Up and coming youngster.
I'm the bait. I'm the fall guy.
Tonight they didn't tell me to lose.
They didn't have to.
It lasted five rounds.
Fuck it hurt. Could have got up.
No way was I getting up.
Got badly cut.
Can't fight for three months now.
That fucked me off.
Went out and got off my head.
That was the trouble. I always did that.
Turned up at her place at 4am.
Still off my head.
She said go. Come back tomorrow – sober.
Fuck You.
I pushed past her. Wanted to sort it out here and now.
Get out. Get out now.

I never meant to do it. I never did.
I lost control.
I loved her and didn't want to lose her.
Funny way of showing it.

We met in a Deli. I'd just finished training.
I spilt her coffee as I squeezed my big ass past her table.
I bought her another one.
She asked me what I did.
Boxer I told her.
She looked after kids at a school.
We went out the next night.
Best behaviour – didn't drink.
She said I made her laugh.
Went out again – spent the night.
She told me she didn't like me boxing.
She worried.
I didn't like it when they worried.
It's what I did. It's what I was best at.
I had a drink that night.
Had an argument with some guy about a cab – shoved him out of the way.
That was the beginning.
Four months later – and it wasn't guys I was pushing.
Though it was only ever a push – until tonight.

She went down. No one was counting this time.

I watched her from my car. Wanted to speak to her.
She was still wearing sunglasses.
Three weeks later.
And she was still wearing sunglasses.

I wrote her a letter.
How do you apologise for that?

She wrote back.
She doesn't hate me.
I wish she did.
But she doesn't want to see me.

I always come back here. Every time.
Shake myself off and start again.

Nick Cantwell is a writer from London, England.

The Reunion

By Doog © 2006

Sean Hartman's hand trembled slightly, causing the razor pressed against his neck to scrape off a small piece of flesh. A fleck of blood appeared, and Sean cursed out loud.


Sean tore off a corner of a square of toilet paper, and stuck it to the wound. A red spot of blood appeared in the middle of the makeshift bandage.

Just what I need, he thought to himself. Showing up looking like a pimple-faced teenager.

That thought evoked a short chuckle. Well, I was a pimple-faced teenager the last time I saw these people. At least now they'll recognize me without that awkward name-badge-scanning moment.

As Sean finished shaving, he looked his reflection in the eyes. Why do I really care? he asked himself. I haven't seen any of them since graduation. Hell, I haven't even talked to any of them on the phone – or even tried to look them up, for that matter. So why am I so fucking nervous?

Sean splashed a bit of aftershave on his face and neck too soothe the irritated skin, and winced involuntarily as the liquid burned the nick on his neck. He stepped from the bathroom into the bedroom of his hotel suite and began to get dressed, that unsettling question ringing in his head. He finished getting ready and closed the hotel door behind him, still searching for the answer.


Sean checked his watch as he pulled into the parking lot. 5:57 PM. A fastidiously punctual person, he was sure he was one of the very first arrivals. He parked his car and walked into the hotel lobby, looking for the signs directing him to the correct ballroom.

Eschewing the elevators, he took the stairs two at a time to the second floor, pleased that he was not even slightly out of breath from the minor exertion. I bet most of these fat-asses would be gasping for air, he smiled to himself.

Any sense of false bravado evaporated as he approached the ballroom entrance. The large sign mounted next to the ceiling-height double doors read:
Ten Year Reunion
Jefferson High School
Class of 1996
Sean felt his heart thumping strongly in his chest, and his mouth began to go dry. Stop it! he commanded himself. You have nothing to be nervous about. You have nothing to be afraid of. You will act like the strong, successful man that you are. A small voice in his head chuckled in reply. Yeah, right. Sean forcefully shoved that mocking voice deep into his subconscious, took a deep breath, and handed his invitation to the doorman.

"Ah, Mr. Hartman, welcome." The disinterested hotel employee scanned the guest list. "You have been assigned to table twelve. You may check your coat over there."

He gestured vaguely with his hand toward a corner of the cavernous ballroom. He flipped through a stack of preprinted sticky-back name tags, selected the correct one, and handed it to Sean.

"Please wear this. Have a good time."

Sean took the proffered name tag, mumbled a polite, "Thank you," and stepped into the room.

The Grand Ballroom was tastefully decorated, the subdued lighting enhancing the casual, elegant feel of the space. Forty-odd large circular tables dominated the floor space; each was covered with linen tablecloths and ten place-settings of decent-quality china. A tall candle was burning in the center of each table, surrounded by an attractive floral arrangement. Along the far right wall, a parquet dance floor was set in front of a slightly raised dais, where a five-piece band was playing soft instrumental melodies. To the left was the coat check, and at the rear of the room stood a buffet table with mounds of appetizers. To the left of the buffet table, in the far corner, was the bar. The room was mostly vacant, a small knot of people gathered between the bar and the appetizers.

Sean checked his coat and searched for his assigned seat. He located table twelve and spotted the folded name card, "S. Hartman." He quickly glanced at the other name cards on the table, and didn't recognize any. He saw three sets of cards with matching last names, and Sean suddenly wished that his wife was there with him. At least there would be one person I'd know here, he thought. What was I thinking when I decided to come by myself?

He and his wife had discussed the issue at length, and in the end they had decided that it would be too hard on Jeff to fly cross-country for just a weekend. He was not quite yet two, after all. Neither was leaving the baby behind with a sitter for a weekend an option, considering his health issues. Sean had wanted to simply dismiss the invitation, but his wife suggested, and then insisted, that he could go on his own. She had eventually persuaded him to go, but a part of him wondered if, deep down, he had wanted to be persuaded to go alone all along.

Now, looking at his solitary name card on the table, the same thought gnawed at him once again. Still unsettled, Sean headed for the bar to find a liquid solution to his disquieting thoughts.


After a small plate of hors d'oeuvres, and halfway through his second scotch on the rocks, Sean was feeling much better. He had found two of his old chums, Todd and Billy (who now went by William, under pain of immediate ass-kicking), and the three of them were reliving their high school days.

"You remember physics class?" Todd asked.

"Mr. James!" Sean and William exclaimed in unison.

"Man, I don't know how he didn't kick us out of that class."

"I know. All we ever did was sit at that lab table in the back of the class and play paper football."

"Remember that time you kicked the field goal and it flew all the way to the next table and hit Jimmy Frederick in the face? That was fuckin' hilarious..."

"Yeah, Mr. James was pretty pissed about that one. God, remember we used to play cards all the time in his class too."

Todd looked at Sean. "Dude... you always kicked our ass. It didn't matter what game we played, you always handed us our lunch. Do you still play cards at all?"

Sean shifted his weight uneasily from one foot to the other. "Yeah, every now and then," he replied noncommittally.

William interrupted. "Oh shit... remember the bowling ball? Remember? Mr. James was trying to demonstrate wavelength frequency or amplitude or some shit and he hung that bowling ball from the ceiling? And he got that fucker goin', and it broke the ceiling grid bar and went flying across the room and fuckin' destroyed that cabinet? That was some funny fuckin' shit!"

The three of them laughed together at the memory. As Sean took a sip of his drink, over the rim of his glass he spied a woman tentatively walking into the ballroom, looking around nervously. She was dressed in a red, floor-length, strapless evening gown that accentuated every pleasing curve of her body. Her hair was pulled back and upswept, accentuating her long, sensual neck and bare shoulders. Even from across the room, Sean immediately knew who she was. Laura Mitchell.

His throat constricted, Sean had to forcibly swallow his drink, the alcohol searing his esophagus. His hands began to tremble, he became light-headed and he felt his face begin to flush.

"Ex... excuse me guys," he stammered. "I'll be right back... gotta find the little boy's room."

Sean made his way through a side doorway. The restroom was thankfully deserted, and Sean locked himself in a stall and sat down on the toilet seat.

"Get ahold of yourself, man!" he chastised himself. "What's wrong with you?!"

He began some deep-breathing techniques his therapist had taught him. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Experience release through the breath, exhaling all stress and anxiety and disharmony, ridding the body and mind of the negative. The mind is void of all thought, all emotion. Feel the sweet, pure nothingness enter the body and mind with each inhalation.

Once again in control, Sean put his head in his hands, closed his eyes, and gave in to the flood of memories.

It was his junior year, Mrs. Garamond's trig class. Laura Mitchell sat in the seat right in front of him, and every day he thanked God or Buddha or whatever Supreme Being had arranged for him to be so near to her every day. Perfect Laura, with her perfect long, straight, chestnut-brown hair, perfect olive-colored skin that hinted at an exotic ancestral heritage, perfect large coffee-brown doe eyes, and a perfect smile that Sean could feel all the way to his toes. Laura the cheerleader, member of the debate team and student body, universally adored by students and faculty. Sean remembered countless lectures spent leaning forward on his desk, chin in hands, eyes closed, lost in the wonderful smell of her hair.

Jesus, that makes me feel like a pervert, Sean thought. I hope she doesn't talk to me. Like, what do I say? 'Hi, you probably don't remember me, but I'm the guy who sat behind you in math class and sniffed your hair.' Sure, that'll go over well.

Sean took a last deep breath, stood and exited the toilet stall. He splashed some cold water on his face, and examined himself in the mirror. Just go out there, enjoy reminiscing with your friends, and leave, he told himself. Don't think about her. She doesn't even know who you are, anyways. She didn't then, and she doesn't now.

Sean dried his hands, and walked out the door. He made his way down the small hallway and toward the ballroom. As he walked through the open doorway, a figure walking the other way through the doorway ran squarely into him. Sean felt an ice-cold drink spill on his shirt, chilling the left side of his chest.

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" the offender blurted out.

Sean's heart again leapt into his throat. Laura!

"Oh, it's okay... it... it's nothing really..." he stammered. "I'll just go clean this up."

Sean wheeled around and walked briskly back to the men's room, feeling his face flush once again.

Laura chased after him. "Oh my God! I'm so, so sorry... I was just heading to the restroom and I wasn't looking where I was going... I'm really sorry!" she lamented.

Sean glanced over his shoulder and mustered a brief smile. "It's okay, really. No problem. Excuse me..."

Sean quickly escaped into the safe haven of the men's room. As the door closed behind him, Sean began to dry off his shirt. Great. Just great, he thought to himself. She must think I'm more of a klutz than I was in high school.

When he was finished drying his shirt, Sean again scrutinized his reflection. Satisfied that everything was in place, and that the dark spot on his shirt was only barely noticeable, he headed for the door. He was determined not to let his embarrassment show, or remain with him for the rest of the evening. He opened the door, and stopped short. Laura was waiting for him in the hallway.

"Geez, Sean, I am so sorry," she said again, her eyes expressing her anguish.

"No prob...," Sean stopped short.

"You okay?"

"Um... yeah," Sean stammered. "I'm just surprised that you remember me, that's all."

Laura laughed. "Mrs. Garamond's trigonometry class, right?"

Sean nodded assent.

"Do you remember those lectures? God they were boring!"

Sean nodded again. "Yeah, uh, I remember them," he offered weakly.

Laura continued, "God, I'm really sorry about your shirt, Sean. Come on. Let me buy you a drink to make up for it."

"Um... it's an open bar, you don't have to buy drinks," Sean stammered, flustered.

"Okay, I'll tip the bartender for you, then." Laura smiled that perfect smile.

Sean meekly nodded his agreement, and together they made their way to the bar. He ordered his usual, scotch rocks, and Laura ordered a vodka tonic with two limes. She dropped a couple of dollars in the tip jar.

"Thanks, Laura," Sean said with a half smile as he lifted his glass to her slightly. "Well, see you 'round."

Sean turned to go, but Laura grabbed him by the elbow.

"Where do you think you're going?" Laura asked playfully. "I paid for that drink, and that means that I get to keep you until you're finished with it!"

Sean flashed her an embarrassed half-smile. "Sorry, you're right. I just figured that you'd want to catch up with your friends, that's all."

"What makes you think that I have any friends here, anyways?" Laura asked as she guided him to a nearby vacant table. Laura sat Sean in a chair, and pulled a neighboring chair closer.

"Well, I guess because you were always so popular in high school. You know, you were the pretty cheerleader girl that all the guys wanted to go out with."

"Really? All the guys? Even you, Sean?" Laura asked teasingly.

Sean felt himself blush; it was becoming a rather permanent condition. "Well, um, yeah, I guess," Sean stammered. He took a quick sip of his scotch and, knowing he'd regret it the minute he said it, he added, "In fact, I had this huge crush on you all the way through high school. But, you were always hanging out with the football and basketball guys, and..." Sean shrugged.

"And what?"

"Well... I figured that you were way out of my league."

Laura laughed under her breath, and looked away. "Well, I think I was out of my own league back then," she muttered. She turned her gaze back to Sean. "Truth be told, I always liked you too, Sean."

"Come on," Sean replied. "You spill a drink on a guy, you buy him a drink to make up for it. You don't try to stroke his ego by telling him such transparent lies."

"No, seriously," Laura protested. "You were one of the smartest guys in school. And you were always so sweet, and cute." She shrugged. "You were kind of the opposite of the kind of guy that seemed to like me."

"If by that you mean an average-height, skinny kid whose vocabulary was not limited to the monosyllabic, then yeah, that's me – the anti-Roger."

A dark cloud fleetingly crossed her brow. "Yeah, you were definitely not Roger."

"Yup. He was captain of the football team, drove a Camaro to school, homecoming king... definitely not me." A thought occurred to Sean. "Hey, weren't you the homecoming queen?"

Laura flashed a quick, insincere smile. "Um, yeah."

"You two were quite a couple up there. I bet you have fond memories of that time."

Laura sighed. "Actually, Sean... I don't."

Sean looked at her quizzically.

"Well, it's a long story. Nobody here really knows this, but after the homecoming game Roger and I... well... I got pregnant that night."

Sean was shocked. "Wow... I had no idea."

"Nobody did."

"So, you have a kid?"

Another sad frown. "No. I lost the baby at ten weeks."

"Geez, I'm sorry," Sean said, not quite knowing what to say.

"It's okay. It was probably for the best. But, unfortunately by then Roger and I had already gotten married."

"Yeah, I remember that," Sean recalled. "You did marry him right after graduation. But you guys always seemed so happy, I just assumed that you guys were just so madly in love that you just couldn't wait to get married..."

Sean's words trailed off as he realized how naïve he sounded.

"Well, we weren't in love. I mean, when we were first together, we were. At least I think we were. But when I told him about the baby, he was... different. My dad demanded that we get married – he even called Roger's dad and told him why. That's when Roger got kicked out of his house."


"Yeah. So, Roger got a construction job, we went to the Justice of the Peace, and I became Mrs. Roger Williamson. We moved into an apartment, and he was actually warming up to the idea of being a father and having a family. We went out and bought some clothes, and we bought a crib too... He was getting excited about it. Then, I lost the baby, and... well... everything changed. Everything. I think he blamed me, but I'm not sure."

"Well, that's not fair."

"Roger wasn't interested too much in fair, he was far more concerned with Roger. He started blaming me for the whole situation – for the pregnancy, for the marriage, for the miscarriage, everything. He also blamed me for his having to work a shitty construction job, instead of playing football. He was so sure he was going to be a college all-American, and that he'd go pro. He really wasn't ever that good, except in his own mind." Laura shook her head sadly.

"Well, everyone at school thought he was pretty good."

Laura shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, after that whole mess his father wouldn't pay for his college, and he had lost out on any scholarship opportunities, so he just kept working... and eventually he crawled into the bottle."

"Oh, he drank?"

"Like a fish. The real question is, when was he ever sober? I can't tell you how many jobs he lost for showing up drunk, or how many times I had to go bail him out of jail after he started a fight in a bar." Her voice took on a hollow, distant tone, and her eyes were seeing beyond the far wall. "The bad nights were when he came home and wasn't through fighting..."

Sean reached out his hand, and laid it on top of hers. "I'm really sorry that you had to go through that."

Laura turned her hand over, and grasped Sean's in hers. "Yeah, well, so was I," she said. "But, after a year and a half, I couldn't stay there any more. So I filed for divorce and moved back in with my parents. I didn't see much of Roger after that."

"Aren't you worried that he'll be here tonight?"

Laura looked at Sean blankly. "Not really. He died four years ago."


"I bet you can't guess... drunk again, got in his car and introduced himself to a hundred-year-old oak tree at eighty miles per hour. Dumbass wasn't even wearing his seat belt."

Sean recovered. "Well, I guess he won't be here then, will he?" He offered a lame smile.

Laura sighed. "No. But I still wasn't sure if I wanted to come here tonight. You know how people talk, and I wasn't sure if I'd be comfortable, or even welcome here." She smiled and gave his hand a light squeeze. "I'm glad you're here, Sean."

He smiled at her. "Me too."

For the first time, Sean noticed the evidence of years' passage on her face – the small wrinkles around her eyes and mouth, the youthful freshness lost from her skin. She was no longer the perfect girl he remembered from ten years ago, but she was certainly a very beautiful woman.

The crackle of the speakers at the stage interrupted the moment, and the reunion organizer got on the microphone. After an interminable welcome speech, the guests were invited to take their seats for dinner.

Where are you sitting?" Laura asked.

"Table twelve. You?"


Laura sensed Sean's disappointment. "Don't worry, I'll fix it," she said with a mischievous smile. "You just go get our drinks refilled."

Sean smiled and nodded agreement, and headed towards the bar. He was quickly intercepted by Todd and William.

"Look at you go, you stud!" Todd exclaimed, and thumped Sean on the back.

William chimed in, "Dude, that's Laura Fucking Mitchell! You fuckin' rock!"

Sean shrugged and smiled an embarrassed smile. "Well, she remembers me from trig class, and we just got to talking..." To the bartender: "Scotch on the rocks, and vodka tonic with two limes, please."

Todd eyed Sean knowingly, sensing something deeper. "Uh-huh. Look, you're married, dude. I know you liked her in high school, but that was, like, ten years ago. Don't do anything stupid."

Sean shot him an angry look. "Come on. We're just talking. I know I'm married. We're just catching up on old times, that's all."

Todd pursed his lips together. "Old times, huh. Okay, just be careful, okay?"

William repeated, "Yeah, be careful," and began rhythmically pressing his tongue to the inside of his cheek and moving his hand near his face to the same rhythm, miming fellatio.

Sean collected the drinks and tipped the tender. "Thanks, real mature, Billy."

William immediately stopped, and stepped toward Sean, looking ready to swing, but Todd stopped him. "Hey, come on William, easy," he said, as they both watched Sean walk away toward his table.


Sean and Laura talked all through dinner, sharing the highs and lows of their lives. Sean spoke of his marriage to his college sweetheart five years prior, and of the unbounded joy of the birth of their son almost two years prior. Sean also described his son's chronic health issues and the resulting strain it had placed on the marriage.

Laura shared more of her life of the past ten years; a life full of regrets, wishing that she had made different choices in her younger years. She had finally decided two years ago to go back to school, and began working on her degree at night at the local community college while holding down an administrative job at a local factory during the day.

Later in the evening, Sean and Laura found themselves on the dance floor, swaying slowly to lover's music in the dim light. Laura clung to him and laid her head down on his shoulder, her head facing him. Sean felt her breath on his neck when she whispered, "Do you love her?"

"My wife?"

She nodded imperceptibly.

Sean thought, for too long. "I think so," he said unconvincingly.

She raised her head off his shoulder, and looked at him through moist eyes. "You don't sound exactly positive."

"Well, it's been a rough time since Jeff was born. So much has changed with us, with our relationship." He paused. "There's times that I swear that we only stay together because of Jeff. Because it would totally fuck him up if we split up. Then, sometimes I think it might be better for Jeff if we did split up. Like he'd be better off as a child of divorce where happiness was possible than he would be as part of a family that was together but not really happy at all." Another pause. "And, then there are times when I'm reminded why I married her in the first place. When I'm absolutely sure that I love her, and that all the pain and hardship and sacrifice are all worth it, worth it ten times over, because of this incredible love that we share. And then, that love, it disappears again. Snuffed out by a mountain of bills and doctor visits and sleepless nights with Jeff and all the other bullshit that comes with my life, with any life, I guess."

Laura was silent for a while. Then she whispered, "You know, whatever happens between you two, you'll always be Jeff's father. Nothing can change that."

"I know. But... it's all so confusing, sometimes."

Laura returned her head to his shoulder, and nestled her face into his neck. Sean breathed deeply, smelling her hair.

And this isn't helping, he thought.


The clock showed 11:30. Sean and Laura stood at the coat check and waited for the hotel staff to return with their overcoats.

Laura turned to Sean with a hesitant look on her face. "I came here in a taxi..." she said. "Um... do you think you could... give me a ride back to my hotel?"

Sean was taken aback, as he was already mentally rehearsing the words of goodbye that he was expecting to deliver at the curb outside. "Sure, no problem," he managed.

The staff brought their coats, and Sean helped Laura into her coat. They left the ballroom and exited the hotel. Sean led her to his rental car and opened the passenger door for her. She got in, and he closed the door and hurried around to the driver's side. He got in and started the car.

"Chevy Malibu, huh. Big spender," Laura teased.

Sean laughed. "It's all they had left. No big deal."

"It's nicer than my car," Laura replied. "What do you drive?"

Sean shifted in his seat. "Uh, I have a Mercedes."

Laura's eyes got bigger. "Really? That's nice... you know, I never found out what you do for work."

That's because I never told you, he thought. His reply was a nonchalant, "Um... I play games."

"Games? What kind of games?" she asked, intrigued.

"Well, card games. Poker mostly."

"Wait. You play cards for a living? You mean like, gambling?"

A short laugh. "Yeah. Like gambling."

"You mean, like those guys on TV? That looks so interesting!"

"Well, it's not quite like what you see on TV. It actually takes a lot of time, and a lot of dedication, and a lot of skill, to be able to make it. A lot of people try, and not many succeed."

"Well, you must be pretty good, if you drive a Mercedes."

Another laugh. "I do all right. I just have a very good ability to read other people, to really crawl inside their heads and see what they're thinking." Yeah, Sean thought. It's inside my own head that I have the biggest problems.

"Why didn't you tell me before?"

Sean shrugged. "I don't really like to tell people. They hear that I'm a professional gambler, and they either look at me like I'm the devil or they expect me to pull out a six-shooter and start a gunfight at the saloon. It's really just a job like any other… one that I'm pretty good at, and that I really enjoy."

Laura seemed content to dwell on the romantic stereotype of a professional gambler. The rest of the ride to her hotel was passed in silence, Laura lost in her thoughts with a wistful smile on her face.

Sean pulled the car into the circle in front of the hotel doors and put the car in park. He opened his mouth to speak, but Laura spoke first.

"You know what, I bet the bar inside is still open. Would you like to come inside for a drink? My treat..."

Sean clearly understood the invitation in her eyes. He took a deep breath and looked straight ahead through the windshield. His mind was blank. He did not know what to say, or to do, or to think. Then, his eyes focused on the moonlight glinting off the wedding band on his left hand, the same hand that was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.

He stared at the ring for what felt like forever.

Then he swallowed, and replied as if in a dream, "Thanks, but I really can't."

Laura nodded, understanding. "I understand. Well, thanks for the ride," she said, and reached for the door handle.

Sean put his hand on her knee. "Wait."

Her hand stopped, trembling in midair.

Sean turned to her in the driver's seat. "Thank you," he said.

"For what?" she asked, surprised.

Sean shrugged, struggling to find the words. "For being you," he finally replied. He took her chin in his hand and kissed her on the lips, a lingering, tender kiss. A goodbye kiss.

Laura got out of the car, and walked toward the hotel door. Sean put the car in gear and drove slowly away. At the door, Laura turned around and watched the taillights fade into the distance. "Goodbye, Sean," she whispered as a tear fell down her cheek.


Sean drove for a couple of blocks before he pulled over. He pulled out his cell phone and called his wife.

"Hey, honey... yeah, it was nice... yeah, I got to see a lot of friends. It was really good... listen, something's come up, and I need to make a change to my flight... yeah, everything's okay, but listen... no really, I'm okay... look, I'm just gonna change my flight to tonight, I'll take the redeye... yeah, I just wanted to ask you to leave the porch light on... okay, I'll see you then... I love you too."

Sean smiled to himself as he drove into the dark city night.

Doog lives in California, is married with two young children, is a complete donk of a poker player while being a kick-ass poker blogger. He's also the most modest, humble person you'll ever meet, should you have the esteemed privilege.

The Tulsa Incident

By Sean A. Donahue © 2006

I was on my way to my World Series of Poker, the Amateur Poker League National Championships back in April when I had reached the wall. The moment we all hit when driving long distances by yourself. The portion when your legs are cramping, you need to take a piss but you won't and can't until you reach some meaningful milestone.

My milestone was the rest area outside Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I had driven from Lubbock since 11 A.M. that day and at about 6 P.M. I had reached the wall. It was beyond dreary with nothing but rain from Amarillo all the way to the Tulsa rest stop. It poured and poured and I felt just waterlogged though I had been in a car for over 500 miles. I wanted to drain the lizard, get an overpriced snack from the vending machine that probably wouldn't take my dollar and get back to the road so I could make it to St. Louis by 1 A.M.

I approached the rest area and I know, why stop in a rest area, why not pull over to some store, some McDonalds on the way. Well, I had been on the turnpike in the middle of God's truly forsaken land, Oklahoma, and I really didn't want to wait in line and get away from driving, for once I stopped my adrenaline kick would have been gone and I would have probably spot welded to any soft surface that my head connected to. I wanted to get and go, a quick strike almost like a two-minute drill down the sidelines.

The next rest area wasn't going to be for about 70 miles so I pulled in and got pumped, "Get in, get done, get out, and get going!" I kept saying to myself.
But when I approached the men's room, which was surrounded by a puddle, with the rain continuing to pour down beside me, I heard voices.

"Somebody's coming." I heard someone say with an Arabic accent.

Now since 9-11 we've all been super overprotective against anyone that isn't a WASP so I thought maybe somebody was trying to do some pills, hit a line or two, and didn't want to do it out in the middle of Noah's Ark.

I walked in and saw what I'd heard: two men of Arabic decent, one going into the shitter while the other washed his hands.

Another boy came in right behind me, who couldn't have been more than 12 and while I surveyed the situation, took the only working pisser in the place (the other two had plastic over them). While I waited I anxiously heard the patter of Arabic going between the two men.

The twelve-year old left in a hurry and I took my piss, being careful to watch my back. Turban 1 wasn't doing a thing, just waiting and looking around which made me extremely nervous. I finished the deed, washed my hands and walked outside to look at the candy machine. I wanted to get the hell out of there.

All my fears...

All my bad thoughts...

All the things that the government wanted me to watch out for...

Those "Terrorists."

I had to alert the authorities, I had to let them know that something shady was going on here, something wasn't right. I slowly started back toward my car, careful not to make any noise as I passed the men's room.

Why is it that when we are so nervous about those who are different than we are, we end up being the same?

I passed the restroom and on the way back to the car I smelt the sweet scent of Marijuana.

And then it hit me.

The two "terrorists" turned out to be a couple of stoners trying to get a hit in the restroom of the Tulsa rest stop without anyone knowing. Their wives were yelling at them to come to the car as they ran past my car to their families.

I got to St. Louis, spot welded to my pillow and finished 6th in the nation in the tournament.

But I stopped back at the same rest area on the way back and smiled.

Instead of fear, I felt nothing but laughter as I remembered how my fears preyed on my subconscious and my brain got the best of me in the "Tulsa Incident."

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.