October 05, 2008

Maisy Wednesday

By Paul McGuire © 2008

Ryan Mansfield had a Wednesday routine. He woke up at 7:39am, or exactly one snooze allotment after he had originally set his alarm. He showered, popped a Xanax as prescribed by his recently acquired psychiatrist Dr. Levine, and dressed in a pressed suit that the cleaners around the corner had delivered the night before. Wednesday was fresh suit day. It was also a special day for other reasons.

Ryan Mansfield sat on his couch and watched the first ten minutes of Sportscenter before he left his apartment in Murray Hill. He lived seventeen blocks away from his office in Midtown and always walked. He used the time to check his work messages via his cell phone. Ryan Mansfield never answered his work phone past 4pm so every morning he compiled a list of angry clients who would be looking for him later that day.

Ryan Mansfield hated coffee and he loathed the business practices of the evil Starbucks corporation, but he religiously went to the store on the corner of 43rd Street and Third Avenue because of one particular girl who worked there.


She looked like a cross between a J. Crew model and a Suicide Girl. She always wore bright lipstick which brought out a little gleam in her lips. She frequently smiled, but never initiated any sort of conversation.

Ryan Mansfield was infatuated with Maisy. So much so, that he masturbated no fewer than a dozen times a week with her as the major character. He'd get lost in a jack off frenzy in a kaleidoscope of images of giving Maisy the ass pounding of her life while standing in the stairway of his elementary school on Long Island.

In a five day work week, Maisy usually served him three times. So during 60% of his visits to Starbucks, Ryan Mansfield had roughly ten seconds to say something witty, or funny, or something that would make him stand out from the thousands of other suits that Maisy served on a daily basis.

Most of the time, Ryan Mansfield said nothing. He was far too shy. He tried to make small talk once but that was a disaster.

"How's it going?" he said

"Tough day. I'm so hungover," she said.

"Yeah, you totally look like shit."

He couldn't believe that those words rolled off his tough and shoved a stake through the his heart as any future with Maisy slipped between his fingers. Not even a $5 tip could make up for his horrendous mistake.

That's why he avoided speaking at all to Maisy. He just smiled back when she smiled at him and that was it.

For over a year, Ryan Mansfield had thirty seconds a week where he was face-to-face with his crush. It only cost him $25 in coffee and tips. Stalkers literally killed for the opportunity to be in a consistent contact with their crushes. Hollywood cranks out bad romantic comedies based on the same concept. It's a part of the life cycle. There's something you want badly, but are afraid to chase it for fear of being rejected. It's sort of premature rejection, except you do the rejecting instead of the object of desire.

If Ryan Mansfield was served by Maisy, he immediately rushed to his office and headed to the bathroom to furiously rub one out. On the days she didn't serve him, he went to the news stand bought a lottery ticket instead.

When Ryan Mansfield was married, his relationship with his wife deteriorated when he developed an addiction to massage parlors. He couldn't control himself and visited them four or five days a week. He'd eat lunch at his desk and then use the rest of the time to visit one of the seven massage parlors within walking distance of the office. On the nights that his wife was busy, he'd find a hooker from the back section of the Village Voice.

Ryan Mansfield was spending at least $500 a week on hookers. Some weeks he blew a grand. His wife got suspicious. He lied and said that he was lost a few grand playing online poker and was chasing a loss. She was skeptical at first and rightly so, because Ryan Mansfield was a horrible liar. His addiction was his downfall. His wife eventually busted him and they got divorced.

Ryan Mansfield visited Dr. Levine twice a week as he sought out a solution to curtail his abundant sexual appetite. Dr. Levine encouraged Ryan Mansfield to masturbate more and to stop paying for hookers all together. They were financially draining and he was putting himself at risk for contracting various venereal diseases. Ryan Mansfield couldn't quit cold turkey. He was a stone cold junkie and sex addict. He limited himself to one day a week. Wednesday was hooker day.

After his morning meetings, Ryan Mansfield spent the next two hours scouring the intertubes for a quickie in the casual encounters section of Craigslist. Since he was a veteran, he could easily pick out the escort ads from legit postings. It took him a while to sort through all the spam until he found a couple of potential candidates. He'd get monster erections as he wrote sexually explicit emails and ogled naked photos from some of the women. He was so worked up that he'd have to rush out of the office and find the closest rub and tug operation. When he returned from his massage, he'd spend the rest of the afternoon arranging drinks or a meeting time with the women he plucked off of Craigslist.

Occasionally, Ryan Mansfield got laid from a hot chick, but most of the time he attracted soused cougars, horny fat chicks, or total sex freaks that made him seem like a Mormon wandering around the West Village in special underwear. In a couple of instances, Ryan Mansfield picked up a hooker. He thought it was a cheap trick, but most of the time he was so horny that it didn't matter.

That Wednesday night, Ryan Mansfield arranged a meeting with a girl who he knew was fronting for an escort service. He didn't care. Wednesday was hooker day and the one night a week to indulge in his sexual fantasies.

A lanky Eastern European woman showed up at his apartment. She reeked of cigarettes and he could not stop staring at her glassy eyes. She was buzzed, but not completely wasted.

"$250 for a half hour," she said in a lazy accent. "I can do an hour for $400."

"How much to let me fuck you in the ass?" asked Ryan Mansfield.

"$400 for a half hour," she said.

He peeled off a wad of $20 and $50 bills. She slowly counted the money three times before she stashed it in her purse.

"So anything else you want?" she said as she slid her hands up his shirt.

"Yeah, your name is Maisy," he said.

"Sure, Daisy. I'll be whoever you want."

"It's Maisy! Not Daisy you stupid fuckin' slut!" Ryan Mansfield screamed as he seized her by the neck.

Ryan Mansfield squeezed harder as she struggled for air. She frantically fought back and kicked him a couple of times until he finally relaxed his grip and smiled.

Paul McGuire is a writer from New York City.

October 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 10

Welcome back to another issue of Truckin'.

1. Maisy Wednesday by Paul McGuire
She always wore bright lipstick which brought out a little gleam in her lips. She frequently smiled, but never initiated any sort of conversation... More

2. Happy Anniversary by John 'Falstaff' Hartness
As we stood outside the courthouse in our newly wedded bliss (which also somewhat resembled the look of people who have just survived a tornado, as it happened much faster than we expected) we decided that since Suzy didn't have to be at work for another couple of hours, we'd go have lunch. So we scraped together a few bucks and trundled over to a nearby McDonald's... More

3. A Lock of Bonnie Parker's Hair by Johnny Hughes
They was real famous and in the newspapers and all robbing them banks, when banks were unpopular. I asked Bonnie for something to remember her by. We didn't have a pencil for an autograph. She pulled this little pair of scissors out of her purse and gave me this... a lock of her hair... More

4. Whiskey Kisses by Betty After Dark
Held apart by distance and circumstance, brought together in soft voices, the pieces of who we are fill the room with every drink we pour. The gaps in our lives slowly closing as the light from the window crept into the room. There was something unavoidable that connected us, but the details were never as clear as they were this night.... More

5. What I Knew? by Dusty Rhodes
Just walk up and ask her you idiot... You've been friends for four years... she doesn't have a date and either do you... Quit being a pussy and ask her... Christ dude... what are you nervous about... More

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

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks again for wasting your precious time with Truckin'. This month's issue features veteran Truckin' writers including the legendary Johnny Hughes with another Texas tale. Dusty Rhodes and John Hartness both make triumphant returns to the Truckin' roster. Betty After Dark will whip you in a deviant frenzy with her latest sultry tale. And I shared a new piece of fiction called Maisy Wednesday.

Please tell your friends about your favorite Truckin' stories. The writers definitely appreciate your support.

Also, if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list, well, please shoot me an e-mail.

Before I go... I can never thank the writers enough for writing for free and exposing their guts, blood, and soul to the universe. Their art and dedication inspires me and I hope it inspires you too.

Be good,

"A cult is a religion with no political power." - Tom Wolfe

A Lock of Bonnie Parker's Hair

By Johnny Hughes © 2008

In 1963, I formed a strange friendship with this old gambler named Soft Shoe O' Shea, or just Shoes. He was a regular fixture around the lobby of the Adolphus Hotel, the fanciest hotel in all of Texas. The lobby was a beehive of activity and a real power center. There were several lush, leather couches that sat beneath these huge oil paintings of western scenes. There were often big oilmen there looking at maps, trading leases, or listening to another story from Shoes. The oilmen wore the big hats and boots. Soft Shoe O' Shea was always nattily dressed in an older suit and tie, french cuffs and cuff links, a dress fedora or pork-pie hat, and highly-shined, often two-tone shoes. Very often, he had a rose bud or white carnation in his lapel. He was a tall man, too thin for his suits, very agile and athletic. He was eighty and seemed to know everyone in downtown Dallas. I was only twenty-three, and that age difference became the reason for our friendship. Sometimes when he'd walk up, one of the oilmen would sing out, "It's Soft Shoe O'Shea." He'd do a few dance steps.

Shoes had been an early partner in a dice game with Rowdy Martin, who got big rich as a wildcatter. Rowdy was chasing oil in the sky, but his two sons, Little Rowdy and Sonny, with more money than good sense, seemed to keep Shoes in money. They ran a big poker game weekends in a plush suite in the Adolphus Hotel. They'd chippy there too. I got to playing lucky there, even though it was over my bankroll. Shoes never played, but he would be up there telling stories while we waited to get our first hole cards of the day. Once the game kicked off, he mummed up. The Martin boys both had displeasing personalities,even for nouveau riche Texans. They often teased Shoes.

Once, Little Rowdy asked Shoes to "tell that story about Bonnie and Clyde." There were four us waiting for enough to start the poker game. Shoes pulled his chair up closer to the poker table where we were sitting. He hitched up his trousers. His watery, blue eyes began to shine. He took off his black fedora, exposing a full head of snow-white hair. I'd never seen him so excited.

"Well, I was working the stick at a crap game on the north edge of Dallas around Christmas of 1933. One night the boss said we was gonna stay late and fade this high player. About one o'clock in the morning, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker and two other guys show up. Clyde and the boss went way back, so Clyde knew we wouldn't snitch them off, and we hoped they wouldn't rob us. Clyde goes to shooting and drinking whiskey. We didn't have nothing to eat but Vienna sausage, crackers, cheese, and onions and he ate his own self two plates full.

"They was real famous and in the newspapers and all robbing them banks, when banks were unpopular. I asked Bonnie for something to remember her by. We didn't have a pencil for an autograph. She pulled this little pair of scissors out of her purse and gave me this....a lock of her hair." Shoes leaned up on one cheek and pulled out his ancient billfold. Inside a piece of hotel stationary, there was a lock of brownish, dry hair. He passed it around for everyone to see. "It was just a few months later, the Texas Rangers shot them down like dogs on the street. Don't seem legal, the Texas Rangers ambushing folks in Louisana." Little Rowdy was rolling his eyes and mocking Shoes.

After that, Shoes and I sat in the lobby and talked nearly every time I played in the poker game. He had a key to the suite, and we go up there and make coffee some mornings. Sometimes he would be in the lobby in the middle of the night. I thought he lived at the Adolphus, but he lived in a residential hotel a.k.a. flop house where old men paid by the week and you heard coughing all night. Shoes could sign for room service up at the suite, and he often got a chicken-salad sandwich or egg-salad sandwich to go. He'd drink half a beer in a glass, and put the bottle back in the suite's refrigerator. One night late, I ran into Shoes in the lobby when I had $84 left in the world and dark, low feelings to match the occasion.

"Poker money ain't got no home." he said. "When I was young, every time I pumped a healthy bankroll, I never dreamed that I would get broke again, but I did lots of times. If you ain't got enough character to be broke, go to nine to fiving it. Get a job. Be a square John, 'cause a gambler has to know how to be broke in style. Yessir, in style."

Jack Ruby was a regular in the Adolphus lobby, walking around fast, giving away passes to his strip club. Ruby and Shoes seemed to be absolutely best friends. When Ruby came in, Shoes would walk toward him, and they'd often laugh or do a little dance. Shoes gave conventioneers passes to Ruby's joint. I heard at the poker game, but Shoes never told me, that Shoes ran football bets for Ruby, who was a bookie.

One time, Jack Ruby got in a fist fight in the Adolphus' big fancy Burgundy Room and was arrested. Folks were talking about that big time, and Little Rowdy guessed we'd not see Ruby again in the hotel. The next day, there were Shoes and Ruby strutting around the lobby as if nothing had happened.

Another night, I ended up bigger behind than a cotton patch spider. Shoes wanted to talk and I didn't, at first. He told me that he once had a big joint on the Jacksboro Highway in Ft. Worth during World War Two. They had three dice tables and sometimes a roulette wheel. Then the Texas Rangers raided. "That was the best bankroll of my life, but every shiny dime went for crooked lawyers and crooked politicians. I barely stayed out of the pen." He said.

When Kennedy was assassinated, I was playing poker in Hot Springs, Arkansas. When I saw a familiar figure, Jack Ruby, blasting away at Oswald on TV, I headed for Dallas. It wasn't as if I had a boss, or a budget, or a schedule. I went straight to the Adolphus, figuring Shoes would tell me all about it. Only I never saw Shoes again. Not ever. Neither did anyone else, best I could tell. As the days passed, even the Martin brothers showed concern. I found the fifty-cent limit poker game in the back of a pool hall that Shoes had told me about. No one had seen him. I found the Dallas Arms, the flea bag where he had lived for some years. They had carefully boxed up his impressive wardrobe, but no one had seen him since the assassination.

Little Rowdy didn't take any convincing to file a Missing Person's Report. The police checked the morgue and hospitals and found nothing.

The bellhops at the Adolphus were these old, black men, in maroon uniforms. I had often seen Shoes talking to them. I asked one of them if they had heard any thing about Shoes.

He said, "The F.B.I. and the Dallas detectives asked around about Jack Ruby and about Shoes, but we haven't seen him. I told the man that if he found old Shoes, to ask Shoes to show him a lock of Bonnie Parker's hair."

Johnny Hughes is the author of Poker Texas Wisdom.

What I Knew?

By Dusty Rhodes © 2008

I had made up my mind weeks before that I would ask Kathy. Everyone liked her and even though she wasn't the hottest thing around, she had a nice body and could hold a conversation. Eventually, after days of procrastination, I summoned the courage and finally asked her. But not without a battle in my mind.

Just walk up and ask her you idiot... You've been friends for four years... she doesn't have a date and either do you... Quit being a pussy and ask her... Christ dude... what are you nervous about... you've played soccer in front of thousands of people and you get freaked out about one question... She's looking at you... walk up to her... one step in front of the other moron...

"Hey Kathy... you have a minute."

I wanted to go to prom but my chicken-ass self could hardly muster up the courage to ask anyone. Breaking up with Pam was still having an affect on me and my ability to act like a normal teenager. My friends kept giving me shit as they prepared to waste a ton of money on a ritual that creates hope in young men. The hope that they will get laid... or at least a blow job.

Fuck yah, she said yes... I'm not sure if she puts out but I hope I have a shot... Dude...she isn't an easy mark... put your pecker away and be a good guy... How the hell can I afford this... Maybe mom will throw me a little cash to help out... I'm gonna pull a good one off tonight... Cool, lunch time.

Trying to get everything arranged in about two weeks was difficult but it worked out. I went and ordered the tux and Kathy told me what flowers to get. I knew things were coming into place when I got to use my mom's new Cutlass instead of my '69 Nova that was having issues. We teamed up with our friends Dale and Wendy and made the rounds to get our pictures taken.

This is so fucking lame... I want to start drinking.... When is this picture taking shit gonna end... man, Wendy is hot... how does she not fall over when she walks... She is gonna have back problems... wow... Kathy looks hot... I hope I get laid... her dad looks scary... her sister is hot... fuck I'm ready to get laid... finally... lets drink!

Back in the day we would drink and drive. It was just what we did back in the mid 80s and as long as we didn't get to crazy, nobody seemed to mind. When we arrived at the destination, we finished off the bottles of bubbly and I had a good buzz.

I hope this buzz lasts a while... HAHAHA, he's way stoned... I wish I had a joint... Night Ranger is so fucking good... My buzz is gone... I'm hungry and we still have another hour at least... he's getting laid tonight... I hope I do but it isn't looking... wait... what's going on...

It was a normal dance except we had to dress up. Everyone still acted stupid for the most part but we still had to pick the King and Queen of the prom.

I know I have no shot... just tell us the winner already... YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME... That fucker is king... I didn't know kings could be lame ass cock suckers... so stupid... wish I wasn't on the prom court... I voted for Kathy but she probably wont win... OMG... OMG... I'M AT PROM WITH THE PROM QUEEN... I'M GETTING LAID I KNOW I AM... man I'm hungry...

Going to prom with the prom queen was cool. I always bring it up when I get with old friends because it is kind of like having a status for doing nothing at all. I don't really care about status but it is fun to mess with my friends. Anyway, we went to dinner after prom and headed home because we had a big day planned for the day after.

Man am I still hungry... that had to be the smallest piece of steak I've ever eaten... Should I hold her hand on the way back... maybe I'll get a kiss... I'm gonna get so drunk tomorrow... I hope I don't fall of a cliff... she's cool to talk to but I don't think she's gonna put out... At least I got a kiss... Fuck... I know my mom is going to want to talk about this shit when I get home...

The next day we went to Starved Rock near Ottawa. Dale drove his Trans Am and we had plenty of beer and food. The whole senior class sitting out along the river getting drunk and having fun was classic. We almost got arrested when a park ranger caught us swimming in the water back in the canyons but we looked like good kids so he let us go.

Man, mom would kill me if I got in trouble for something stupid like that... You know they would have found the beer... Paul's knee is fucked up after that fall... He's done... man, I'm drunk... Jesus Dale...open up the stupid windows and turn up the music... Sammy Hagar rocks... I'm gonna put my hand on her leg... She doesn't mean no... Fuck... What the fuck am I doing... At least I stopped... that could have been really fucked up... man I'm drunk and stupid... Can I ever talk to her again.

Nothing ever happened except for me looking like a drunk idiot. After she said no the second time I backed off and regretted being a moron. Nothing ever came of my idiocy and Kathy and I still talked in the hall way and at WCC where we both went to college. I hadn't seen her for four years. That is until we met at our five year reunion.

It will be cool to see Bill again... Wow, Scott lost all his hair already... Wait, he wasn't in our class... Oh shit...

"Kathy, I'm very sorry for how I acted the day after prom."

"That's OK... If you did it today I would probably say yes."

You have to be kidding me... All this fucking time I feel like shit and she says that... Maybe she'll put out tonight... Fuck... I don't think my girl friend would like that...

"That's funny."

Dusty Rhodes is the father of three from the Chicago Suburbs. He writes at The Poker Enthusiast.

Whiskey Kisses

By Betty After Dark © 2008

His 6'2" frame leaned against the town-car when I exited the terminal. Spontaneous embraces turned to awkward filler conversation for the short ride to the house.

He was a gentleman, carried my bags into the house and placed them in my room at the top of the stairs, his left at the base.

They had left a light on for us. A note. A map of words for us find our way to the cooler on the porch filled with Fosters oil cans, to the black smoked glass Whiskey cabinet, and cold quiche in the fridge.

The rest of the house was sound asleep. Our voices lingering at a breathy whisper, keeping close to one another to be heard. It had long been decided that sleep would come later for us. The two who traveled furthest, with so much to say. So much to hear.

Surrounded by sofas and chairs. A living room here, family room there. And we chose to remain perched on the counter tops in the kitchen. Two artists. Dreamers. Adventurists. Stories of fierce loyalty, romantic gestures and wanderlust. Bursts of laughter where we forgot the sleeping house. Moments of pause as the memories of pained hearts lingered in the air between us. We had known each other for years, and yet the things left to still learn were vast and exciting. Peeling back the layers, uncovering two complex but similar souls.

Held apart by distance and circumstance, brought together in soft voices, the pieces of who we are fill the room with every drink we pour. The gaps in our lives slowly closing as the light from the window crept into the room. There was something unavoidable that connected us, but the details were never as clear as they were this night.

The waning crescent began to fade into the first dawn. I reached for him. On my tippy-toes to wrap myself around his neck. Resting my lightened head on his chest, then peering around him I notice the time on the clock; 4:14am glowed in the dim light of the kitchen. The house would be awake soon.

Family expansion and remodeling had reduced the guest quarters. Only one was left by the time we arrived so bedding was folded up on the many couches to accommodate everyone. I had drawn the room. The windows pulled open and birds already were awake on the power lines outside. Chatting with each other and filling with room with lyrical envy. The old iron bed made up with mismatched sheets that had a faint smell of the winter's fires squeaked when I crawled in. A gentle exhale, a smile parted my lips, knowing that in a few short hours the house would be full of the smells of breakfast.

The street was silent. The air still and warm, was damp with humidity. I laid perfectly still. Listening to the outdoors fill my insides. Birds chirping and the raccoon scurrying across the roof. I heard the plank floors began to shift from the movement of feet below. A slight shuffle and the wood stairs crunched under the weight. My heart thumped in my chest. Hard and thick pounding through my skin. I felt it in my entire body. A silent pause at the top of the stairs and a few steps to the right and I froze. Breathing stopped as three, maybe four, more steps were taken towards my room. I knew he was standing in the doorway. I kept my eyes closed, watching him with my ears.

He moved slowly into the room. Closed the door with cautious silence. The click of the latch and the squeak of the handle when he released it. Old wood door. Then the sound of him stepping out of his jeans and pulling the layers over his head, drowned out by the echoing beat of my heart, stuck in the back of my throat. With painful slowness, he pulled back the sheets and slipped effortlessly next to me. Wrapping his arms tightly around me and letting a warm breath escape his mouth onto the back of my neck.

On him, a faint hint of the days travel. He smelled like a man. Like the mountains of Montana. And he felt like a man. Solid with muscles. Strong. Holding me so close to him. The hair on his chest pressed against my back and without a thought I reached behind me for his leg. His muscular frame defined beneath my touch. A runner's thigh. Tight, flexing calf as he tucks his knees up under me. An unfamiliar body that I instinctively melted in to.

I move to him. To take his hand, thick and masculine, and weave my fingers between his. Instinctively he squeezes and pulls me closer. Comfort turns to anticipation when I take his face in my hands. Soft whiskers from a weeks worth of growth like cashmere against my palms, I pull his lips to mine. Controlled breathes beneath whiskey kisses.

No words, just exquisite touches. Tactile introductions flow a welcome for his fingers, and his tongue swims in the ecstasy flooding from me. He is strong and firm with me. Moves slowly, restrained purpose. Calculated as he listens to my exhales. My moans. Watches my body squirm as he pushes me further. And closer. His touch should feel new and uncertain, but it isn't. He doesn't fumble. He knows exactly how to stir me, like he has studied me for years before. His fingers move around me and in me in the same way I touch myself. He is in my head. Inside me feeling what I feel. And I am in the moment. Every moment. In that room. My mind never straying. Completely aware that it is him and no one else.

He doesn't ask. Doesn't move me to him. I go willingly. Wantonly. Taking him into my mouth and rolling my tongue up and down. He is hard and I can feel a pulse, a throbbing, rushing through his veins. He moves with acceptance, giving over to me. Unable to control his whisper, the deepness of his voice pushes ever so slightly through the silence of the night. "Yes. That. There." and a moan fades back into the night.

In my ear he whispers, "Touch yourself for me."

I slide my hand slowly down my naked self. Between my legs. Shaking with anticipation. A breath escapes me in the wetness he created. He raises to his knees, hovering over me, touching himself. Watching me touch myself there, where his mouth had been. Aware of our own touches but lost in the vision of each other.

I feel him begin to quake as he slides his arm under me. Scooping me up towards him. First sucking, then biting on my lower lip before he unleashes himself in me. A divine plunge that pushes the breath from my lungs. Unexpected ecstasy explodes in the next beat of my heart and again I am awash around him. He moves with a force. Folds my legs together to one side and takes hold of my ass. Lifting me to him. Pushing deeper inside me and I whisper, "Let it go. Let go." And he shutters. His legs quiver under the delicious release.

Spent and soaked with each other we move apart to catch our breath. Allow the air to move between us, to cool us. Dry our skin. Our sex. Consciousness is quickly snatched from us. Collapsed bodies in blissful slumber.

I knew his soul and his heart. The chuckle behind his grin. But I had never been there with him. Naked and dancing in the first light of the morning. No previous experience with his touch and yet it is a familiar. His passion uninhibited. His touches precise. How did he know exactly where to touch me? When to touch me there and when to push me deeper towards ecstasy?

How did he know how to awaken my desire?

The morning comes fast and furious. The house stirs as we beg the day for just a few hours of divine slumber. The smell of breakfast beckons us. I am on the edge of awake. The scent of the peonies on the bedside table fill my nose. He stirs, "Good morning," is mumbled under a sleepy grin, a face smashed into the pillow, and I giggle. There are no awkward words. Morning is easy on us both and smiles are hard to shake. And on less than 3 hours of sleep, we prepare to face the inevitable. The walk of shame; entering the kitchen of our friends, hours after the rest of the house has risen. Smelling of sex and whiskey. Containing our smiles and avoiding lingering glances.

Do they know? Did they hear the squeaking of the old iron bed?

On the couch, I try to shake the fog from my head. He shuffles his sleepy self towards me. Our eyes say more than we can allow. He stretches himself out beside me. I hold my coffee with both hands, arms up as he wraps his around my waist, pulls himself tight next to me and lays his hazy head in my lap.

They know now.

Betty After Dark is a writer from Northern California.

Happy Anniversary

By John 'Falstaff' Hartness © 2008

I walked into work roughly on time and said to my boss "Victor, I need to take a long lunch today, I'm going downtown to get married."

Victor, being the gentle, caring soul that he is, replied "Really? Hell, take the whole afternoon off!"

"Nah, Suzy's gotta be at work at 3, so I'll come back. And we're not really getting married, we're just going to get the license."

"Oh, okay then. Well, hurry up and get your ass back to work.”

So I meet Suzy at the courthouse a little after noon, and we walk in to get our marriage license. We pay our $75 fee ($45 of which goes to domestic violence prevention programs, something that I found less than promising), and the nice lady behind the counter says "Y'all gone do it today?"

"We called yesterday and they said we could only get married by the judge on Tuesdays, so we figured we'd wait 'til next week."

"Oh no, honey. That's just when he does it in the courtroom. Y'all can go across the street to the magistrate's office anytime and get married."

I looked at Suzy, she looked at me, I said "You want to?"

"Why not?" she said.

So we went across the street and asked the receptionist where we went to get married.

Then we had a thought - no witnesses. Shit. So we asked the receptionist if she could come back and be a witness if we needed one. She cooed a little bit and thought that was just the sweetest thing, and then said that we should be ok, there were a couple of people in the office.

So we went back to a little gray room where two people were filling out paperwork, a twenty-something woman with crutches and a severely swollen eye, and a friend who was reading the paperwork to her and filling in her answers on the papers.

"Y'all go ahead."

So we went up to the glass and asked the magistrate if he would marry us. He asked if we had witnesses, and we asked the two people filling out paperwork if they'd witness our wedding.

"You ain't serious!"

"I am serious."

"Alright. I'm Darryl, this is Dawn."

"What are you guys doing here?"

"We're filling out a complaint against Dawn's boyfriend. He done beat her in the head with a telephone last night."


Without much else to say, we all four walked (or crutched, in Dawn's case) our way up to the front desk, where the magistrate read us our wedding vows through bulletproof glass. He slid the paperwork under the glass, we all signed it, and went on our merry way.

As we stood outside the courthouse in our newly wedded bliss (which also somewhat resembled the look of people who have just survived a tornado, as it happened much faster than we expected) we decided that since Suzy didn't have to be at work for another couple of hours, we'd go have lunch. So we scraped together a few bucks and trundled over to a nearby McDonald's. Suzy went to the pay phone in the parking lot to call her dad and leave the good news on his answering machine, and we got in line to sit down and have a nice romantic Happy Meal.

As we stood in line discussing the mild level of ridiculous involved in the whole thing, the cashier overheard us talking about the fact that we had just gotten married and were having our wedding lunch at McDonald's, and told us our lunch was on the house. A nice gesture, but if she'd said that before we ordered, I probably would have added an apple pie. So we had our first wedded meal at a McDonald's in the middle of the work day, then we went on our separate ways back to our jobs.

It might not have been the big elaborate wedding every little girl dreams of, but for the past twelve years, it's lasted. Today I woke up, rolled over and kissed her on the forehead and said one of my favorite phrases, that I only get to say one day a year.

Happy Anniversary.

John Hartness is a writer and thespian from Charlotte, North Carolina.