Closed On Sundays

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


The complexity of living outside the box while still seeking labels.

Submitted: June 03, 2018

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Submitted: June 03, 2018

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I practiced phrasing it again, this time aloud.

“Well…you know how most people say it’s perfectly normal to experiment in college?”

Even then, the words were too chilling, too broken.

I consumed them and went back to the drawing board. Regardless of what I told him, I needed some kind of excuse for texting him two weeks ago and making it sound urgent we talk. 

If you knew Jacob like I did, you would understand why it would be tough for him to get what I wanted to say. He wasn’t terribly open minded. He wasn’t really anything but a carbon copy of what he thought was the best representation of himself: priggish, rude, someone to be loathed. But I had no one else to turn to. Certainly, my parents wouldn’t understand, and I had no siblings, or at least none close enough to say anything to. Jacob was it, or as close to an it as there was for me.

Feeling the pleather on the wheel melt into my skin, I mulled over my decision once more, then I tried to swallow. A dry nausea, which was lodged inside my esophagus, cut the action short, and rather expectantly, I decided to quench the feeling by gnawing my nails to their limit and then slurping on the blood that pooled around their ghosted tips. 

I hated waiting in the car on people. I hated many things, but waiting was a begrudging task of certain death, and waiting for Jacob was certainly the most painful death I could think of.

We had planned to meet outside a Chick-Fil-A at noon. It was one of those weird ones that’s also a diner and has vintage cars and sky-blue vinyl trim around it. He had suggested it, no surprise; he called it special, perfect, the ideal place to cheer me up.

My phone buzzed when he finally arrived. The message was a gaudy, “I’m here, faggot!” text. He always pulled “jokes” like this, pegging me as woman, or a homosexual, or someone mentally challenged. At times, I hedged a bet with myself that his vocabulary didn’t extend beyond that of a fourth grade bully. Other times, he surprised me by using words for pseudo-intellectuals: “prolific, pedantic, and phallic.” They were always words with Ps, and they were always used sexually.

I put my phone down and surveyed the parking lot as his Jeep pulled in. He exited quickly, jolted past the 1950s Chevy at the entrance, and skulked into the prestigious fast-food restaurant-turned-diner. Bitterly, I followed, hoping to catch him before he picked a seat.

“Wassup, man?” Jacob bellowed after I tapped him on the shoulder.

“Nothing much, you?” I quivered back.

“Haha, you fuckin’ loser what’s brackin? What’s been going on?” He asked yet again, chuckling and slapping my shoulder cordially.

“Just been dicking around, I guess,” replying with another squeamish smirk.

“Figures, ya queer! – Hey,” he called out, turning his face behind the counter. It seemed no one had registered that we were still waiting for a table, and if they had, they were likely too busy to assist us. I glanced at him as he stared behind the register. His face was a softer-swollen beige and his eyes were slightly jaundiced. I can’t remember if he looked like this when I had last seen him.

“Excuse me!” he barked. His eyes were flashing and he used them to carve out his frame of vision, just piercing and scraping objects in his path. In a way, I envied how he wielded them, just scalpels nipping and tucking the smallest increments of the room. When he finished encircling everything, he held them steady toward the frozen yogurt/ice cream pump. He was clearly using them to threaten the small, rat-faced girl who was cleaning the metallic rod of the machine. Eventually, she felt his beady blades on her, scampered away, ands she did, I caught Jake staring at her ass. 

Her nametag said, “Alexis.” Reading it reminded me of how when I first met Lhana, it was in a hotel room in Decatur. We had to walk to get there, and my face was numb from the winds that stalked the streets, even though I was drunk enough to not feel them. 

At the bar, I was inquiring to a co-worker where I might meet good women on this side of the city. He replied that there weren’t many, but he knew of a service I could call. I was desperate enough and pleaded with him to help me. Naturally, he plucked a pen from the bartender and wrote down the service number. As he handed it to me, he smiled with great pride as though he were a preacher abiding over one of his first blessings. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at him before I made the trek outside. I remember he laughed, too, a restrained giggle, and it echoed in my head until I reached the Days Inn off Marco Drive.

She was tall, I first thought. She had too many sharp features, too, and there was a noiselessness about her speaking. In my college days, I would have liked this. Quiet was always good. So was tall, but as I rubbed the balding patch of my scalp, I felt reviled looking at her figure. It was all too neat and sculpted, that first impression. There was truly nothing dainty in her air….

“Some ass on that one, eh?” Jake whispered when Alexis walked away. I nodded and let him feel like his appetite was nothing out of the norm. She was very young. I know he knew that, but there was a lustfulness about him that needed to be cherished, like a dog that needed to be beaten.

We followed the portly college dropout to our table and as we were being seated, Jake kicked off his spiel about the rarity of this Chick-Fil-A. “Ya know, you can get any side here! Look at this fuckin’ list; it looks incredible! Any. Fucking. Side. They got sweat potato casserole, hushpuppies, cornbread….” He continued to catalog the menu to me, but I wasn’t hungry, and if I was, I could read for myself. I must admit, though, his initial excitement was helpful. It made me feel less like I had a presentation to give or a meeting to run. At work, I hated that moment when you were called upon to lead something you barely gave a shit about and others frankly just didn’t care to know. This was the same way. I simply wanted the moment to be over. I wanted his cajoling to end and my words to flutter out like decrepit flying spiders.

“It’s all gonna be cheap, too! Ten, maybe twelve bucks at most. Damn, would I be lucky to be you.” When I realized he was talking about my skinniness, I couldn’t help but feel like a fragile doll. Jake was a little overweight, but nothing to be embarrassed about. He was a meat-head when we were younger, especially those first years as an undergraduate, but since then, his metabolism had caught up with him. Now, protein was no longer such a benevolent noun; it was a villainous traitor, the nutritional Benedict Arnold.

“Yeah. I haven’t been eating much lately. Too busy with work.” I lied. I generally lied.

He sneered and then ignored my flavorless comment to gawk at the menu. “So fucking cheap,” he muttered to himself once more. 

If Jake were the kind of person who noticed anything, it was my haircut or a new pair of shoes. He liked to control the music at parties and would rarely take suggestions without vetting the person beforehand. He also liked his Jeep to be clean, but when he could, he paraded it around all splashed with mud to show off what an outdoorsman he was. I never liked this about him, but he kept me sane enough to feel like I had a conscious and an intellect he didn’t, and maybe that’s why I wanted to tell him so badly. Maybe he’d dismiss me, call me a faggot, or try to hurt me. At worst, he’d laugh and never talk to me again. I wished that was the case. I’d love nothing more than to see his barely processing brain reject me.

“What’re you thinking, bro? I feel like we should fuck up a couple sides each. I can have yours and you can have mine, too?”

“I’m fine with sharing. I was thinking of just getting a side anyway.”

“Sharing? No, I’m saying like family style. I mean, if you wanna come over here and spoon feed me, lock arms and shit, I’m down, haha!” He winked when he made the comment. Everything about that action made me cringe with revulsion. I calmed the feeling by looking away and peering over at the table next to us. It was occupied by three high-school aged kids. None were white, and I perfectly remembered the way they peered over at Jake and me. It made me repulsed to be here, to be seen with him, a patriarchic, chiseled statue of douchery.

“I’ll get the okra,” I finally spat out.

“Really?” he asked dejectedly. I knew he didn’t want the okra. In a way, that’s why I picked it. I hated the idea of sharing anything with him, but most importantly, I didn’t want the okra for me. 

As a violent reply, I nodded and rapidly slapped down my menu. Then, I sat until the waiter took notice.

“You’re so fucking cheap. Your last name should be Goldstein or something. I think you’re more cheap than some of the Pakis or Indians around here. God knows those fuckers cut costs on everything. Did I tell you about when I went to get one of them to put a new sound system in my Wrangler? Well, get this shit….” He began droning on about some customer experience where he had no empathy for the person helping him. It always seemed like he removed the human from everyone around him that he didn’t know. Everyone was a machine to Jake, just like I was to my boss, or anyone is to anyone around here. As he sipped his Diet Coke and ignorantly spat in my face whilst telling his story, I was remembering how Lhana kissed me before we could haggle the price. 

Her mouth was coarse and I could taste the tobacco on her jagged tongue. She whispered in my ear with a bitterness, and when she pulled back and called me, “Big Boy,” I couldn’t help but giggle some.

She began softly by placing her mouth on me, and then she asked if I was interested in anal sex. It wasn’t something I did often. Just something I tried once or twice with a girlfriend and maybe a girl I had met over those dating apps. Curiously, I obliged, thinking she would present her ass to me and I could begin to act like I knew what I was doing. To my surprise, though, she pushed my face toward the bedding and began disrobing. I let her grip my waist and made no qualms about her inserting herself inside me. For a while, we made love like this, and I was entirely passionate with her, even though the inebriation had worn off mid-way through.

When she finished the second time, and it was clearer that the make-up was washing away with the sweat, I could sense her voice drop an octave, no longer as shielded. At one point, she asked my name. I told her, with a great and prideful smile plastered across my face, to just call me, “Big Boy.”

She liked that, and as she mimicked my playful gestures, I became more relaxed and revealed myself to her, how I grew up in Buckhead but lived in Midtown, how I hated New York City, and why War and Peace was the best novel ever written.

When I realized it was 3 a.m., I asked her how much it would cost. She said fifteen hundred. I saw a glimmer of courage in the statement, like a fisherman about to reel in a big one. I chuckled and asked her more seriously. She shrugged and dropped it down to an even thousand, making it seem as though she was doing me a favor. In a way, I felt grateful and began to unclip the bills. After seven, I paused to look up at her. Now I could see how much more masculine she was than me. Even the small stubble, which propped up under the points of her jaw, they were more human than anything I felt that I was. 

“They took me for a god damn ride, those pieces of shit, but I tell you, getting them to add in the bass boost for no charge. That was a clutch play by me!”

“Mhm, certainly, dude,” I nodded apathetically. I wanted him to feel heard but not encourage him to try some bargaining banter with me. I hated economics. When you work in finance or banking, you learn to hate it.

“So, man, what’s up with you? I know you wanted to chat. You worried about something? Need advice? Is it a girl?”

“Ya, kinda,” I shrugged. I didn’t know how to say it. It wasn’t just a girl. It was a person. It was me. It was everything and who I was and what I wanted and why I didn’t know the answer to any of his shitty questions. I felt repulsed at even the thought of beginning my introduction into the subject, so I mashed my teeth and drove the half-chewed nail of my index finger into the cuticle of my thumb. I felt the blood pool up and drip down my wrist. Fuck. I hated this.

“Well man,” he started excitedly, “tell me about her! What’s she like? What does she do? Hobbies? Age? Where’d ya’ll meet?”

“I…well, she…she works for a service, I guess.” I tried to hush my voice and chuck the words out of my locked jaw. I could see him processing it, too. He was like a child doing math in his head, and, for a second, I thought I caught him counting on his fingers.

“Ohhhh. I know what you mean, man,” he leaned in closely, almost knocking down the soda. “I’ve been in those situations before.”

He began to tell me about some hooker he had met when he was in the Bronx. I know that he knew I hated New York City, but as an aspiring New Englander, Jake couldn’t help but run his mouth about it, especially in these circumstances.

“Honestly, I’d probably spend a couple hundred a week just going up there to pay.” His voice was exasperated, the sweat dribbling from his upper lip. “And when my Dad found out that our dealership was running low on liquid cash, he started asking questions. Enough so that I had to come clean about the whole thing, tell him about this girl, tell him about the medications, and how they can treat almost anything these days. Obviously, though, I didn’t mention, well…you know my dad, but the point is that it’s normal. My wife never knew, but there’s definitely something addictive about that kind of pussy and those kinds of women, ya know? Fucking crazy bitches.”

I looked up from my wet and mushed okra to see his face.It was smug and damp. There was a nostalgia there, too. Some itch or burning he could no longer scratch or feel, but I could tell he yearned to reach down and claw away at his crotch.

“I know man, but….” I could hear myself say the words, correcting the conversation to my own experience. Lhana wasn’t just some shitty cum dumping in New York. She was universally altering, like a psychotic and sexual renaissance that he wouldn’t believe or even comprehend.

“I think she wants to stop seeing me,” I choked out in a whisper.

“I know that feeling. At some point they feel bad about you spending all this money on them when ya’ll both know you want something more than just fucking.” His voice was consoling, but the words weren’t.

“How do I…how do I get her back?”

“Sometimes you can’t. The best you can do is just let the love go. Sometimes it isn’t meant to be. Just like Laura and I. Five years in, you realize you can’t do it, but ten years after, maybe there’s a bigger reason.”

But what was that reason, I thought. Why would I get sent this fucking thing. T, H, I, N, G – thing. Bigger than anything. The biggest and only thing I knew. Why would it come down from wherever the fuck and bring me to this void of not knowing who I was.

“Hey, while I got you here. Can I ask you something?” Jake interrupted.

“Sure,” I earnestly replied.

“You remember Mandy Spence? She was Charles Spence’s sister, about 8 years younger than us. Went to Pace then, I think, Georgia Southern.”

“Vaguely. I know she had a harelip in grade school, and I remember Chucky beating Feldspar’s ass for impersonating her lisped voice. But nothing really besides that.”

“Well, I kinda been seeing her lately.” His voice was again that tone where he was seeking approval. His statement was a statement, sure, but it was so naively insecure, as if he knew everything else in his life was okay except this one action. Mandy Spence was barely out of high school and Jake was probably buying her alcohol when they first “hit it off.” Frankly, I didn’t even want to know the story. I didn’t want to know anything about her or what he did to her, or how tight her body was, or how she was different then women our age, and then have to listen to him top it off with some fucking pedophilic expression of how “you have to get em’ while they’re young.” Maybe ice-cream girl Alexis was next, then my first born daughter, if it ever got that far.

I replied by nodding again and then looked off to where the teenagers had been. They were momentarily dispersed. Now, there was only the smallest of the group thumbing over the screen of his phone.

I thought about Lhana and how I wanted to tell Jake about everything. I’d start with something simple, start with calling her a transvestite prostitute. No, maybe I’d say she was transqueer, or a shemale, or a chick with a dick, or label her something vainer and more disgusting so he would be equally reviled and understanding. Maybe I would tell him I’m gay, that would make things more simple for him, maybe me as well.

I couldn’t just say that we were dating, or I was seeing her, or that I only really paid for one visit. I couldn’t tell him she would stay at my apartment most nights and she would eat the store brand boxes of Mac n’ Cheese with me. I couldn’t explain we watched shows together or that she held me when I was drunk and crying. I couldn’t tell him that she saw the best parts of me and how I struggled to see them myself. Most of all, I couldn’t explain how I made up endless excuses to never introduce her to anyone I knew. I couldn’t explain how I was scared. Never of her, just of me, of who I wasn’t sure I was.

I bit my nails some more and thought about how sometimes we would stay at her place and how the rain would dribble over the skylight that ran horizontal to her bed. Most nights, I’d listen to her soft snoring because her septum was terribly deviated. While she slept, I’d imagine shrinking down to an atomic size and going in with a team of scientists to reconstruct the malfunctioning appendage. Miraculously, she’d wake up the following morning and tell me how much better she felt, how she could breathe all better again, and she’d say “look, here,” and grab my hand to put it on her chest. She’d respire calmly with a delicate smile, and it would be noiseless, like dying alone. Tears used to roll down my eyes as I thought of these fantasies, but now I’d just go to the bathroom, bite down on my arm, and whisper to myself “Faggot.” 

Mostly, I just wanted him to know she wasn’t a whore, or a body to deposit money and sex, but she was something, someone, more than skin and flesh, and makeup, and stubble. I just wanted him to know that I loved her, that I still love her.

“But it’s not a her,” I whispered to myself. 

Jake looked up for a moment as though he were trying to hear me. His phone was emitting some sounds like he was perusing through social media in the wake of my silence. I would usually think it was rude, but it wasn’t; it was just Jake.

“Hey man, have you checked out this new Lil’ xHollowPointx song?”

I didn’t know who the fuck that was, but I thought I would at least mildly entertain him and wait for the check. He did what most people do. He found a song, started playing it and pretended he understood its shitty lyrics. He bobbed his head and emulated the latest dance move he saw online, just appropriating one motion at a time. When it was over, he was laughing about the song, equally rejecting its message and thematic upbringing, while also engulfing its popularity without question. That’s all music was to Jake, just a method of staying current.

“Mandy showed me that one,” he was gleaming, “she just loves Lil’ Hollow Point.”

I smiled at him, thinking of how much I hoped Mandy had grown. I thought of her thin and small body. I thought of her having a new haircut where her bangs are short and darkened pitch black. I thought of her having a small nose stud and three rings lining the cartilage of her right ear. I sensed her smelling of cigarettes, vape smoke, and Listerine. I could even see her laughing at Jake’s loving texts to her. And, I could sense his love for her, all of his anguish at being alone, riling together in 4 emoticons, twenty-five letters, and a collage of sappy lines he mangled together from every romantic comedy he had ever seen. 

I wondered if he would ever love her if she was anything but a nineteen-year-old girl. I wondered if he ever thought about that, about loving anyone but women. I wondered if he could imagine himself loving someone to the point of not caring what they called themselves or what they looked like. I looked into his brilliantly ignorant and bewildered face and just wondered why I couldn’t love Lhana like that. I wondered what was so special about her keeping her penis. I wondered why I couldn’t call her anything but the man I thought I needed her to be, and why I had to be gay and not in love with a transgendered woman. I wondered what it was about women at all that I never understood.

The check finally came and Jake looked at me to pay. I did, and as the dishes were cleared he didn’t even thank me, let alone take notice that I hadn’t touched my okra. We lifted ourselves out of the booth and I followed as he waddled back to the front of diner. He peered over the counter, long enough for Alexis to catch him. She pulled up with a smile, one of those where the person is only days out from having their braces removed and they are so thankful to be able to grin without the shoddy metal blocking the way.

“This is a special Chick Fil-A, right?” Jacob asked coyly.

“Why, yes sir it is! We are one of only four locations on the planet to combine the diner experience with that of good old fashioned Chick Fil-A!”

“Well, I was going to ask you Little Miss Alexis, do you happen to be open on Sundays?” Jake was donning his most handsome maneuver as he said it, but Little Miss Alexis told him that, unfortunately, they were closed on Sundays.


© Copyright 2018 D. P. Brenna. All rights reserved.

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