CHRISTINA, DWAYNE, LARRY by Max Sheridan

I’d been going to Joyce at Super Cuts for about four months when Joyce quit and they hired Christina and I had to explain all over again how to cut my hair. I was losing it on top, but I didn’t like to put it that way and some haircutters will fill in the blanks for you so you don’t have to say it and embarrass yourself. You can be very self-deprecating. I told Christina she had a job cut out for her alright, working on my hair.

She didn’t say anything back, so I said, “Meaning, work with what I’ve got.”

That was the limit of what I was going to say.

She began to work, mostly trimming from the sides and back. She didn’t talk. I liked it when they talked, but I wasn’t going to talk if she wasn’t going to talk. I’d put on my crocodile loafers and a Hilfiger button-down with a two-toned collar just to get my hair cut. I didn’t think I was wearing too much aftershave.

When she got to the top of my head, I cringed like a pelican shitting in ice water. I flushed a deep creeping red. Was she going to say it? Maybe suggest I just save the money and start shaving my head? We were both looking into the mirror at God’s damage when she said it.

Genital alopecia. She’d had it since she was nineteen, so she knew just how I felt.

I was an idiot not to have asked Christina for her number right then because girls like Christina are always running around with the wrong guys and breaking up. She might have just dumped one of them and then next month when I came in for another cut she’d already be bedding a new one—and I’d have to wait.

But what kind of single girl would say something like that? What kind of girl for that matter? I looked it up. Genital alopecia. I couldn’t believe a girl like Christina had a pussy like an albino Labrador, hairy in places and smooth as a hardboiled egg in others, red splotches here and there. It was a sickness.

Christina wasn’t like that. She was younger than the rest of the girls cutting at Super Cuts and she didn’t weigh more than a marble sink. She was skinny with good hips and wore her black hair long in the front and cut short at the sides. She had a way of smiling that made you feel you were in on the joke. So whatever Christina had, it couldn’t be as bad as those pictures.

In the meantime, I’d shaved my head and grown out a goatee like Bryan Cranston. When I went back to Super Cuts two weeks later, Christina didn’t have anything to say except what they all said. Did I want a wash today?

I said, “I saw some pictures of what you got.”

She said, “I’m not like that.”

I said, “I never saw anything like it.”

She said, “What do you want me to do?”

I had no more hair left either, just like Christina’s bald pussy. There was nothing for her to do.

I said, “I want to take you out.”

She gave me her address instead of her phone number. I’d never gotten that treatment before, skip the romance and straight to the sack. She told me she was free on Thursday evening at five.

I’d have preferred Friday. I was technically “out of work” but I still appreciated the Friday evening rush you get from your first drink of the weekend. I told her fine.

Christina was wearing an off-the-shoulder blouse that showed her bra strings. She’d painted her eyelids a violet color. It was Tuesday. I almost thought of pushing our date up a day because I knew if something better came along, I’d be the one getting the phone call. Except she didn’t have my number, and now I wasn’t going to give it to her.

It was nice not having to clean up the apartment before a date. Not that I had much to do. You may look at me and see a big fat slob, but the only thing you’d find out in my apartment is magazines—Men’s Health—and they’d be stacked neatly on the coffee table next to the coasters. I bought a bottle of red wine and a pint of raspberries at the Whole Foods downtown and I left them in the bag so she’d know I hadn’t been shopping at a bodega, even if she’d didn’t check the receipt, which I left in the bag too just in case. I brought my own corkscrew along because you never know who drinks wine and who doesn’t and the surest way to spoil the mood is not being able to get the cork out when you need to.

She lived in one of those apartment complexes off Mopac with the short-piled white carpets and the alcoves for statuary built right into the walls. I had to drive twenty minutes from my neighborhood off Caesar Chavez to get there. The air-conditioning in the Corolla was shot. I couldn’t afford to have it looked at without an income and I didn’t think the way I’d treated Mr. Brickman I’d be getting hired again anytime soon. I didn’t see anyone else driving with the windows down but me. Summer had hit Austin early this year and I was swimming in the heat, getting sweaty and greasy-looking.

She came to the door in skinny shorts and one of those low-slung blouses she liked. She held the door like she was giving me a curtsy, a timid sashaying motion. It was odd. I didn’t know Christina from a piece of bathroom graffiti and yet I had a fairly good idea of what her mound looked like.

And now I was in her apartment.

The first thing I did was sniff around for competition. I’m five-nine and weigh two fifty when I’ve pissed. I’m losing my hair and I’ve got no job and I know women can read unemployment on you easy as dog shit. So I looked around for a trap. I even asked her if she had a boyfriend and she said no.

“Dwayne’s gone.”

Dwayne. The only Dwaynes I’d known in my life were hard-asses with inbuilt psychopathic tendencies. If Dwayne was gone, and he hadn’t wanted to go, he’d probably be coming back, crazy motherfucker that he was.

We drank cold beer instead of wine. Christina said she didn’t own any of the furniture in her apartment. The whole place was white, the carpets unstepped on, like Christina went around barefoot to keep it that way. She said all she had was clothes, clothes and mail. That was supposed to be funny.

She gave me a tour of the two-bedroom apartment and soon we were on her mattress, me making a pretty sloppy dent on my end of the bed. Frankly, it was all a little too fast. I had another look around for a pair of men’s size-thirty-two BVDs while Christina went to piss.

I was there driving down Mopac on my way to work when the Towers fell in 2001. It was like the whole city had one not-too-big front yard and some piece of shit extraterrestrial had ridden up onto it and crashed his outer space Ford Bronco right through our living room window. You walked into a bar for the rest of that month and you got friendly nods. Even looking like me you got them. Some even got hugs. As the facts trickled in, there was just one that made an impression. It was that those piece of shit towelheads that had raped our national security would be spending the rest of whatever you get after you crash a plane with hundreds of innocent people on it into a building, killing thousands more—paradise?—sucking on sweet virgin pussy. Seventy-two of them, in fact.

Well, that’s all I could think about with Christina standing there before me naked but for a nipple ring…about playing with her hairless poodle for all of eternity. Fuck the seventy-one others.

She bent over by the bed, showing me her apricot from behind. Her asshole was a delicate mocha color. I wanted to stick my tongue in there until Christina grew hair on her back.

She came back up with a rectangular plastic box like a toolbox. She sat down so that her fatless back was resting against the headboard and she spread herself out so that I could practically crawl up into her honey hole. She laid her feet out.

Christina opened the box and one by one took out ten miniature plastic NFL football helmets and a tenderizing mallet. She was already breathing sort of heavy. She gave me the mallet.

I said, “What the fuck is this?”

She looked down at her dogs.

“Hit me, Larry.”

I looked at those feet. White, white, white. I bet they tasted better than my goddamn fingers. She wasn’t just breathing heavy now, she’d begun to gyrate her hips.

I said, “If I hit your feet with this thing, I’m going to break them.”

“Put the helmets on,” she said.

“The fucking helmets? On your feet?”

“On my toes, Larry. For Christ’s sake.”

I couldn’t get those little fuckers on. My fingers were too fat to maneuver the miniature face masks. So Christina ended up doing it for me, but like she’d been through this before.

They were the old-school helmets you used to find in the coin-ops at Randall’s for a quarter a pop. San Francisco Forty-Niners, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, New York Giants. She had them all. She got them on snug and lay back again.

I said, “If I do this for you, what are you going to do for me?”

She said, “Anything you want. Hit my fucking toes.”

I said, “Anything I want could mean plenty after this.”

She grabbed her glistening snatch and gave me an eyeful.

I tapped on her big toe first and Christina bucked like I’d hotwired her. I gave another tap and another and another, first going gently, as sweet as I could given the circumstances, then a little harder, like she deserved the pain. Not that I could see much pain. It was the reverberations she got off on. Soon Christina was barking and we had us a ten-toe symphony going on.

Christina came like shock therapy and she hadn’t even touched herself. When she stopped quivering, she flattened herself out on the mattress with her feet in my lap and lit a Nat Sherman, breathing steady.

Until I went in for a touch.

When I went in to collect my reward—a handful of genital alopecia—she turned over onto her hip so all I could see was her perfect ass and the smoke pouring out of her face. In other words, touching her plucked apricot was strictly off limits now, I could only look at it.

She enjoyed the hell out of that cigarette and then got up and went back to the living room for a beer. I followed her out. Goddamn right I followed her out. She still hadn’t covered up the apricot and I was drooling. No shitting. I was salivating.

I asked Christina when I was going to get my chance to touch the apricot.

She put her beer down and looked at me like I was a very stupid dog and said, “As soon as you kill Dwayne for me.”

*

What happened with Mr. Brickman is that Mr. Brickman was a sadistic sonofabitch who thought I was a fat slob on account of my weight and my fingernails, which I bit down to the quick. Nail biting looks bad on chicks with size-two waists. Imagine what it looks like on a guy like me with little slits for eyes and five-pound tits. I’m not hiding my faults. I’m going bald and I’m overweight and my fingers look like shit. Except that didn’t mean I was too lazy to help customers at the Hobby Lobby. Or that I was helping myself to the till.

I hit Mr. Brickman in the throat with a point driver from framing and put his fucking head inside the biggest manger we had. That was back in February when the New Year’s sales were petering out and you could have picked that thing up for ten bucks. I sat on Brickman’s chest and whispered that if he ever thought about pressing charges, I would come and find him and cut out his gall bladder and feed it to a man named Gerry Fitch, a mad dog who got fired months ago for lighting a black lady on fire in the birdhouse and wind chimes aisle.

That did it. I lost a week’s pay but I never heard from Brickman or his lawyer. I have a clean record to this day, not even one moving violation on there. I just wasn’t ready go back into retail yet.

I waited a week before I went back to Christina. I waited for her outside the apartment complex because this place she was living at had a guard and a gate. This way I could also pretty much guarantee Dwayne or whoever she was with now wasn’t inside.

She looked at me for just a little too long driving by, like she couldn’t place me. Then she had a word with the man in charge of the gate and he gave me a visitor’s pass. He told me to park it next to Christina.

Upstairs I could have used a beer. Christina sat on the living room couch barefoot in her black Super Cuts slacks that didn’t do her ass justice at all. She said if I thought I was getting my cock sucked tonight, I’d better go back to night school because no bald fat men were getting their cocks sucked tonight.

First the apricot, now my cock. I’d never slapped a bitch that didn’t deserve it. Christina didn’t deserve it. Not yet. But what a mouth.

I said, “I don’t know why you think you’ve got to treat me this way. I thought we might go out on a date or something. Get you off these white carpets.”

She took a deep breath that could have meant anything and then got up to get me a beer. Except on the way back she broke down and collapsed in my arms, a whimpering mess.

“He’s stalking me, Larry. I can’t make him go away.”

With a pussy like that, I could see why Dwayne wouldn’t stay away. I cradled Christina in my big fat arms like a baby doll.

“You want me to scare him a little? Is that what you want?”

“Would you do that?”

“If it’ll make these dark clouds go away.”

I brushed the tears away…and got a hard-on like a manhole cover. My big boy was bumping against Christina’s skinny thigh. I realized then that I’d have done anything in this world for a taste of Christina’s honey. I’d have crashed a Boeing 747 into the goddamn White House.

“So what have you got in mind, baby girl?”

*

What she had in mind was not me waiting across the street from Dwayne’s in the Corolla until he got home from work and then busting Dwayne on the head with a T-wrench once he got inside. Dwayne had a dog, a big old ball-scratcher of a Rottweiler that would tear the fat of my back in bloody strips.

She said it would be easier to lay a trap there at the apartment. She’d invite the crazy fuck back to her place. He wouldn’t refuse, not in a million years. With his mind on Christina’s cue ball snatch, he’d never even see it coming.

I’d asked Christina about Dwayne. Height, weight, any martial arts training. She said she didn’t really know. Not tall, not short. She’d never seen him kick anyone. I asked if he carried.

“You mean like a gun?”

That’s exactly what I meant. This was Texas.

She said, “Dwayne’s not into guns.”

Maybe, but it didn’t add up at all. If you were born a Dwayne, the only reason your folks had named you Dwayne was so you could grow up to carry a gun. I was no midget but I figured I’d play it safe and wait behind the door and whack Dwayne from behind as soon as he walked in. Any talking we did after that would be done with a two-hundred-fifty-pound fat man on Dwayne’s chest and Dwayne’s nose broken four ways. We agreed on Friday. Friday was a day when everyone was in a good mood.

Until then we played the helmet game. According to Christina’s rules.

Rule 1: Christina wouldn’t touch my rod.

Rule 2: I wasn’t even allowed to empty my rod while she was getting off on the mallet. The only thing I was allowed to do was look at her from the bathroom door while I spooged into a sock.

That made me feel like shit because when you’ve got to do it yourself it’s not the same thing, is it? Looking back, I can say I was filling up slowly with the infection of not getting any. Every time I jerked off into one of my own socks, a little bit of my longing was left behind in my balls, reminding me what a sorry sack I was to have this skinny little girl bossing me around with her spotless vag.

But then I’d get another look at Christina and I’d tell myself it would all be worth it in the end. I think I almost believed it.

I owned twelve pairs of socks. It was the first time I’d ever counted. By the time Friday came around I’d washed them all twice. Dwayne was due at five o’clock. I was standing behind Christina’s door on that crunchy white carpet with my T-wrench at a quarter to.

I didn’t have to wait long. Dwayne came on time, which I didn’t like. No matter how pussy-crazed he was, he should have taken his time. I didn’t like it that Dwayne had gotten onto the complex without ringing Christina for a visitor’s pass either.

And I really didn’t like Dwayne’s knock. Dwayne’s knock was nothing like what Dwayne’s knock should have sounded like. Dwayne’s knock sounded like a Eugene knock and just hearing it made me lower the wrench.

Christina opened the door.

Dwayne started speaking.

Dwayne still couldn’t see me. I could see him through the crack in the open door. He was about my height, but skinny like Christina, in a vintage bowling shirt. Dwayne had sideburns and some kind of Elvis do going on and he wore those thick glasses you see them wearing at Guero’s.

And now he was crying to the point that he’d begun to hyperventilate.

This didn’t break Christina up. Not even a little. She was nudging me over at Dwayne with her cold black eyes. She wanted me to hit this poor mother over the head with a two-pound wrench and then bust up his face just because he was heartbroken. I was beginning to think that when she’d asked me to kill Dwayne last week she’d really meant it.

I came out from behind the door and shut it. Dwayne’s hands shot up when he saw the wrench. My guess is that he very nearly dropped a load.

“Hit the sonofabitch, you fat fuck!”

It didn’t work when Christina raised her voice like that. It didn’t fit her at all. It was ugly.

I said, “Go the hell to you room and shut the door.”

She looked at me, then at Dwayne. She had two chumps in her apartment, two spurned lovers, one of them in tears. Her plans were falling apart.

I never had been very good at planning. My abstract thinking wasn’t too good. I wasn’t a puzzle solver, but I knew this Dwayne was a neighbor. He lived here and he was head-over-heels in love with Christina.

I gave Christina a shove and she slunk off. I waited another minute for the door to close, wondering if she’d have the balls to call in another ex with a T-wrench to take care of both of us. I got us two beers. Dwayne sipped half his down in a second. He wouldn’t look me in the eye.

I had a thousand things to ask Dwayne, like how did Dwayne get named Dwayne looking like he did, but there was one thing I had to know right away.

“Did she ever let you touch it, Dwayne?”

Dwayne broke down again. He was a native Texan and you usually only hear Texans crying when they’re drunk or their mamas have died. I moved over to where Dwayne was on the couch with his beer dangling in between his skinny-ass knees and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Just to set things straight, I never touched her either. She wouldn’t let me.”

I had Dwayne’s attention now.

“She’s a sick fuck,” I said. “She wanted me to kill you. I don’t know why.”

I could make individual words out of Dwayne’s blubbering now. I heard “two years” and “true love.” I heard “marriage” and “babies” and “told mama” and “don’t know what the fuck happened.” Dwayne finished his beer. He went to get another.

He brought back two, and an open bottle of tequila not even half empty. He hit the bug juice hard. The poor sonofabitch. He’d sure picked the wrong woman. But sometimes you just can’t avoid it.

I had a slug of tequila myself, a double, then broke the bottle over Dwayne’s head.

*

Bio : Max Sheridan is back in the US after a long stretch abroad. He once hacked for the Cyprus Mail, a low-circulation newspaper—until he challenged the film critic, a notorious windbag, to a duel. His recent short stories, about sex, death and midgets, are available online and in print from select, degenerate publishers. His novel Dillo—about father-son rounders on the lam after a botched Apache casino heist—is looking for a home. If you want to see how far the human imagination can sink, visit www.maxsheridanlit.com.

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