FICTION: The Wrong Kind of Motherlover by Brian Frazier

When I called her an easy lay, I didn’t mean how it sounded. I didn’t mean she plowed seventy-two Kappa Kappa Kupals during a hot stretch in South Padre. No, I meant she led me in as easily as a new flock was led down a church basement for Sunday Bible study.

We aroused a wildfire like a solar flare from an angry sun. I erupted without all the politeness. She let me off, let me drip, a fire hose after dousing a great inferno. I was in a pleasant place for a pleasurable period of time then I was out.

She fell asleep fast, as if relishing a mix of Mexican brown and Chernobyl chemicals. She lay tangled in thin sheets and an electric blanket no longer exerting electricity, snug as a roasted marshmallow between chocolate and wafers. The room had plenty of warmth though I didn’t have a dime to pay the gas company that month.

A red-eyed fly buzzed and landed on my arm, peering over my shoulder at what was sleeping next to me. “How’d ya net that beauty with a dump like this?”

“You sayin’ she’s too good for me?”

The fly’s eyes grew redder and bigger like a heart pumping life. “Let’s say, I’ve been around dumps. This is a dump and she don’t seem like the type to hang ‘round ‘em.”

Here was a creature who landed on feces to lay its eggs handing me relationship advice. I flung my arm against the wall.

“Go open a window, Kafka, or lecture the ladybugs about their promiscuity.”

Gradually, I dressed in a black tee and jeans with the right back pocket blown and headed to the kitchen to pour a sizable glass of milk, an evening drink I favored since a tyke. The cold creamy milk still replenished me with wholesomeness.

After napping, she yawned and stretched her arms the length a fire breather spits a flame while examining my backside.

“Someone needs to sew that thing up.”

We ate tacos, watching rain drizzle down a nicked sliding glass door. Easing back the door an inch, I welcomed in the scent of rain. We cozied on frayed carpet with throw pillows that should have been thrown out years ago; her head on my lap, my hands massaging her temples, watching a bad movie where sounds and lips were not in sync. I couldn’t have asked for a more suitable companion, so it made sense she was going to leave.

The next day she showered in the basement using up all the hot water. I did my best to fix a snack, but the grabbers in the toaster were a tough nut to crack. The News Herald was sprawled across a broken, open dining table covering the space where the leaf should have been. The article on page eight said the Mark Twain branch was closing. I gathered the outcome was due to city management mismanaging funds, higher-ups helping themselves to higher pay.

Mark Twain was the library where Papa made me learn to read but let me parade around wearing only a cape, skivvies and cowboy boots. The librarians were good to us. It was a damn good library, full of smells like buckwheat and caramel and full of thick books teaching me the world’s greatest adventures.

The Mayor was going to get a call and it would be short. My pitch went like this…

“Listen, you dildo, if Mark Twain is closing, you’ll be getting’ a fat dildo in the mail that will explode in your face.” My Papa and Mark Twain would have been proud.

When threating the mayor and his children with a dirty bomb encapsulated with pink, extra-girthy silicone, it would be wise to execute the call at a pay phone six or so blocks away from the house.

I stared over at the porcelain jar marked “obscene phone calls” next to the oven clock. Scores of quarters spilled over with George’s beady eyes and snaky pigtails and I thought about my next move; I thought about that northeast library and Papa’s cigarette ashes blanketing the margins of the books we carried and thought about the call I had to make.

But first someone called on me. I walked out of the kitchen leaving the fridge door open to cool off the hottest room.

It rang six times, and I followed the ringer up the oatmeal-colored stairs. The only phone in service was in Mother’s room; I only stepped through that doorway to answer it. Usually, when the thing rang more than six times, the news was shitty. Sometimes my homemade rules didn’t apply.

“You sittin’ down?” I hadn’t heard from Vanilla for weeks.

Shaky, I sat on Mother’s perfectly tucked bed, ignoring the burnt toast that hadn’t yet been topped with blackberry jelly.

“What’s cookin’, Good Lookin’?”

I tried to smile into the telephone. Pretending to be an active listener but instead of writing important information on the scratch pad by the grey box, I doodled a stick-figure sitting cross-legged on the commode, clipping toenails.

“You’re pregnant,” she hissed from behind the receiver.

Oh, fuck me sideways. I was cooked.

The stick-figure sprang, lifting the toilet seat.

“I’m a…I’m a…a who?”

“Preehhhg. Nant!”

Through the floor vent, I heard a shampoo bottle hit the tile.

Vanilla—usually as sweet as two cups of sugar, the sweetest tea East Texans ever sipped, left that charm far behind when she dialed my number. My call to the mayor about his exploding dildo would be put on hold.

“How did it happen?” The dumbest question I could summon.

“As far as I can tell, your penis ejaculated while I was ovulating—”

Vanilla knew science. Science happened.

“—what are you, high?”

Not high enough I thought. “No, but the ‘shrooms are in the fridge under the butter dish. Wanna bake later?”

Vanilla’s tone grew sterner like a mom coming home from a long day’s work with the kids screaming, “There’s a mess. There’s a mess,” but no one thought to clean that glop up. “What you’re saying to me is, ‘Trust me. I’m a funny asshole.’ But what I’m hearing is ‘I’m a big asshole who thinks he’s funny.’”

“Trying to lighten the mood.” I was pretty confident we were both pineappled in the tail pipes.

“I read your line the first day we met. I knew this would happen.” Vanilla was a classically trained palm-reader, a palmist.

“Would baking be bad for the kid?” This question may be more amenable than my last.

“I don’t know. Maybe not. I don’t know much about this crap.”

I heard a sweet voice humming and echoing along the ductwork, singing an old Patsy Cline tune.

“I… fall… to piec—es. Each time some – one speaks your name.”

Long bouts of silence and rhythmic breathing continued, proving a form of primordial communication still persisted. The phone smelled intensely of bleach. Some visitor may have wiped away all the evidence from its previous intercourse. I could have used more of this wipe. I doodled a stick-figure hanging from the gallows with a trap-door.

“So wha-what…what do you wanna do?” Vanilla said it to end the dead air and said it so casually, as if we were debating what rerun to watch on Friday night.

I wanted to ask if she was sure, if she was positive, if this was the official line.

“Are you sure?” I was the freeway witnessing an accident between an eighteen wheeler and a bobsled. The broken fiberglass, the broken Hawaiian queen figurine who would shimmy-sway no more, the torn ‘God Bless America’ sticker that promptly read ‘less America.’

“Am I sure,“ Vanilla repeated, “am I sure my kid is goin’ to be mentally impaired because you’re a contaminated dickweasel?”

Was I the dickweasel or was the dick the dickweasel?

“You’re sure then.”

“You’re pregnant. I’m pregnant. I’m sure.”

Looking out the second story bedroom window, the sky the color of a three day old bruise, I saw an asshole and his bitch. The dog hunched low and defecated on my dry front yard. I watched the dog; the asshole watched the dog but neither of us were willing to assist the brown blades of grass. My neighbor Glen’s black S-10 with a thrown rod was parked on his front lawn, so maintaining curbside appeal in this neighborhood wasn’t worth a nickel at a five dollar peep show.

“I said, what do you wanna do?”

“I don’t know.”

I wanted to throw myself through the window but the fall wouldn’t have killed me. More than likely I would have landed with a few broken bones face first in a steamy dog swirl looking like it was churned out of a soft serve machine.

“I wish I had someone to talk to.” Vanilla quietly consoled herself.

Throughout her childhood she believed only the unwilling were willing to help. When all the rights and responsibilities were permanently transferred from a biological parent to paid service staff, you heard a lot of no’s and don’t knows growing up a ward of the state. I knew Vanilla wanted to hear “yes” and “can do”.

“Uh huh. Yea. Whatever Good Lookin’…whatever you want.”

“I thought I’m too young. I don’t want…I don’t want to go through this again. I want this one.”

“Uh huh. Can do.”

My succinct responses gave the impression I was musing on a brighter tomorrow; as she calmed, she started believing everything was in its desired order.

“If you come by,” Vanilla inquired with a dash of customary sweetness, “we’ll check if we can feel anything.”

An agonizing pain festered in my gut speeding like a busy bullet with a tight deadline.

“Uh huh.”

“Screwing while pregnant is even better, like MDMA or Adderall sprinkled on a pile of coke.”

“Who told you that?” I wondered if she knew anything about screwing pregnant women or even about mixing chemicals to enhance an apex.

“I thought you did. No, maybe I heard it on the radio.”

I wasn’t convinced any of the statements directed at me were true, but I wanted to convince her I was going to help. When I thought of a living thing growing in my body, I thought of tape worms. The image made me want to stand on my head, peel my mouth as wide as the Zilwaukee Bridge. I thought about how my flying friend Kafka would advise me, “I’ve fathered more than 500 babies. You’re whining over one little maggot.”

“I’m scared.” I blurted it out like it had been bubbling in my gastric juice for years.

“Scared?” She didn’t believe me. I’m not sure if I believed myself.

“I’m afraid.”

“Afraid?” She was confused.

“I don’t want to be…” I couldn’t commit.

“Then come over.” She wanted to see if my heart line extended to the Mount of Jupiter. There were blockades mounting in my every direction.

“We’re gonna make this work.” Vanilla coasted across Positivity Land where kids don’t cry and fresh diapers rained from the sky.

I heard the water in the basement shutting off.

I doodled a stick-figure being pulled by a horse-drawn cart and quartered. This was work. Sitting became physically challenging; I lay down or momentarily lost consciousness while she arranged future plans.

“I’m gonna need you to go to the store. Get me some vitamins and the five-pound bag of Red Hots. Atomic Fireball. Five-pound bag.”

“Uh huh. Yeaaah.”

Stressing the A in yeah because I was in a class A shitwhirl whirling down a stinkpipe into the municipal water treatment system.

I couldn’t help thinking of one night many nights ago. Vanilla rode me reverse cowboy on a squeaky couch fresh off layaway. I adored it as she moved precisely, juddering in and out, both my hands above my head high-fiving an invisible friend.

Her shoulder blades rowed and rotated as if they were competing on the River Thames. I watched muscles lunge, blotches of perspiration slide and weight shift nimbly on top like a daredevil riding a Kawasaki. She turned only when she needed more arch.

“Come on Baby. Just a little more.”

Watching it all compress, I gave more when I could; otherwise I wasn’t a significant part to the operation unless you awarded points for hanging on.

“Oooh Baby. I must be good. Your toes are curling.”

After the workload, I helped her off, the tentative unhitching of battling rams. I finished my extra tall glass of milk, stretched out the kinks and floated off somewhere else. Letting it fall on her moist neck, her hair seemed longer and thicker, lavishly covering her face; I imagined her now with a lopsided grin. Thinking back, I rained on our bud, white sugar water antibodies to help it grow, make the belly fatter.

Pressing the phone firm against my ear, I forgot what she told me. Reality had left the building with Elvis’ Memphis ghost. Elvis’ Las Vegas ghost stuck around waiting for the buffet line to open.

“Come over.” The last thing I heard before the signal died.

The girl who wasn’t pregnant, at least as far as I knew, came up from the basement a half hour later. As pretty as ever, she dried her hair with something she found composed of cotton and saw the newspaper covering the table like a lousy present.

“You working on a project?’

“It’s a cut-up technique for a poem about the mayor and a pink cucumber.”

I wanted to be a great artist, not a lifelong babysitter who was always trapped indoors serving someone else. Maybe being an artist was a laughable goal, but I’d rather be laughed at than not noticed at all.

“I like this one.” She leaned in over me, putting her finger on a line on page twelve.

Duckling Rescue in Sewer by Residents Almost Turns Deadly,

My eyes could hardly believe what they were reading.

That could be a magnificent poem.”

She smelled like strawberries picked from the vine. She took a chomp out of my charred toast and jam while I was lost in her fragrance.

“Then write it,” she ordered.

The sunshine poured in like an old friend through the back window. She would strut out my front door and the rays might dry and color the rest of her damp hair.

We looked at each other for a moment and it was hard to tell whose smile was wider. I felt our tongues should tussle for a three minute round before she walked out, but I stayed seated in my corner.

“Were you on the phone?” She asked as the crumbs from her bite sprinkled onto the news.

“Salesperson.”

“What were they sellin’?” Purple-red jam was nestled at the commissures of her mouth.

“Nothin’ I wanted.” I wanted her to lick her lips in an easy slow motion.

She sang while tugging on my ear, lightly grazing her fingers down my jaw line.

Cra—zy. I’m cra—zy for feel—in’ so lone—ly.”

From the table she grabbed her jade purse, the size of my fifth grade lunch box, before closing the empty fridge minus the butter dish.

“See ya. Call me.”

“Just come back.”

“I just might,” she promised, waved and left.

I doubted it. “You got jelly on your corners.”

But she was gone with the clack of the fence gate. Her voyage was at the onset; she’d be cruising on a fantastic trip through the ups and downs, maybe all the way to Laguna Beach. I wasn’t an up or a down, just a tourist stop.

I flipped through the movie guide section and thought about Vanilla. Our relational mishaps had become an infinite date-movie, where no one could turn down the sappy automatic score or stop it from peaking when the million dollar-method actors held one another lovingly. A film crew might had suggested fixing it all in post-production. Could I fix it after the product was produced?

Night time came on like an ache from a rotting tooth. That line vacationed in the belly of my brain…almost turns deadly. I had to move, find my sandals and go for a walk before the phone could do more damage.

*** ***

“Come over.” Or maybe she said overcome.

Things went black for a spell. Vanilla complained over the phone I was pregnant and I couldn’t trace the call. It could have emerged from anywhere.

John told me he was once notified over the phone he was pregnant. A company he applied for gave him a call delivering the good and the bad news; congratulations he was as pregnant as a ham was hocked but sorry as shit he didn’t get the job on account of submitting female urine to the drug screening clinic.

When I rallied from the cutting blow, I told her to remain calm; I would be over soon and we’d sit on her folding chairs by the card table she bought on clearance and talk a plan out.

I remember Vanilla saying she needed to read my heart line again and something to the effect, “Don’t be long, I have a feeling you might do something stupid.”

The cold and the dark were approaching; an agreeable time to walk off disagreeable news. The moon punched in for its loony-bin shift and the sun clocked off for a nap with some Excedrin PM. As a boy, riding home from Papa’s, I believed the moon followed our Dodge because as many turns as we took there was no losing that yellow creepy beacon.

Strapping on J.C’s sandals, I headed out with every suitable intention. While wandering on a weathered sidewalk in low visibility, I ceased for several minutes in front of Bull Winkles, a dingy watering hole posturing as an after-hours convalescent center. Gears halted, I smelled smoke, turpentine. Engine trouble.

The bar was technically on the way to Vanilla’s apartment but in no time I was roaring in the ring with the mechanical Bull for much of the rest of the night, if not the entirety. I complained to this muley about his bucking tactics.

“So ya think ya can throw me off.”

The robot bull snorted, my fists pumped in the cloudy air and it persisted on tossing me “down the well” and it did so ungratefully. No one else desired a ride perhaps because this cybull was a sadist or perhaps because everyone in this uneven room was on Medicare. Here these seniors’ kidneys were as haggard and overworked as a pack mule in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I took my lumps out the chute and kept begging the battery bull to give up before I wore it down. From my knees, I looked it right where its bionic eyes would have been.

“This is no place for the likes of you.”

This tattered bar was exactly the place for a motorized, charging Charbray bull, dumping me as much as a skid steer loader dumps fertilizer in a lagoon. No one applauded or booed, there was a better chance of hearing a patron break wind or scratching their bare, calloused feet.

The clientele had only a few extra dollars, barely a pot to piss in and this low-lit saloon was their small means to entertainment. If there was art here, I only saw it when the waitress out of boredom toweled off a booth that hadn’t felt an ass in over a decade.

No one looked familiar and I thought I knew the place and its overpowering aftershave about as well as one might know a black hole before being sucked apart by its tidal pull. These folks looked at me as if I came in to sell them some Bibles. All I wanted was some truth.

I found a woman born within my lifespan seesawing on a stool, wearing the reddest cowboy boots the devil ever painted. And her long fingernails painted the brightest cherry; the only two strains of red that could parley world peace. Deeply programed like my friend the bull, I had to stake my luck.

“Do you own a phone?” Better to have used hers when calling the Mayor.

“You want someplace warm, go hug a light post, Edison.”

Yeah, I should have thought of a cute, sugary honeybee line to match hers, but one wasn’t humming in my beastly brain. An early exit, a quick retreat, so I pushed off the bar’s counter and stumbled sideways. I would be walking back to home-base on a weak pop fly caught in foul territory.

She grabbed my arm before I toddled too far off and anchored my balance. Studying my hand, its indents and my unadorned ring finger, she was pleased by the fact my nails were filed and my cuticles pushed back and managed. Somehow this served me as manly; a man with short, trimmed nails never got robbed at gunpoint.

“Hey there, you got pretty hands, don’t be hidin’ thos in your pocket.”

Why was every girl I met interested in my stupid hands?

“I don’t work much. I mean, I don’t put them to work oftentimes.”

“I’ve never heard of a guy not working with his hands, especially when he’s jacking off. I knew a fella, used both his hands, little slug only needed a pinkie to clutch his snail.”

With the talk of other men’s penises out of the way, we seemed to be getting somewhere.

“Men don’t take pride in the delicacy of their hands. When you look at the meaning in their hands, you know right away they don’t spend quality time with the things they touch.”

“I don’t know what my hands mean.” I only knew what my hands told me about my life based on Vanilla’s interpretations.

She bought me a drink anyway, which only happened one other time with a stripper and after I bought her twelve Malibu Breezes. This chick was no stripper but boasted she could do cartwheels like nobody’s business. Without warning, she scored one right in front me, almost rolled right into the gents’ bathroom. She might have rounded it off crisper if not for all the Kesslers.

CartWheel had the most muscular thighs protruding out of her cut-off jean shorts and used them for more than scissoring ribbons at parades. She performed a back flip into a handstand and completed the revolution into a front handspring, possessing bulkier hooks and bait than what’s in step-daddy’s tackle box. The longer she imbibed the longer she was a great, twirling wagon wheel from Chickasaw County, Oklahoma.

Those of us in the crowd with enough ingenuity slapped our hands in suckwitt succession forming a contrary cheering section. I didn’t know if I had enough bolts to fasten her to a carriage. CartWheel was mega-preposterously drunk and could collapse at any modest suggestion.

Since my rodeo ride, I was as thirsty as a thoroughbred after fast laps at the Santa Anita Park. I took a swill from my newly earned drink, a nice, tall Long Island, long on distilled alcohol, short on whatever the fuck else it was composited with. It tasted like a battery acid seeping from a Grand Marquis or a mixture of cactus and snake juice. As an exchanged gift, I wrote her a poem about being an alcoholic. It rhymed in the manner Shel Silverstein heps and jives. Flute and puke were a couplet. Wiping the excess Kesslers from her face with my poem, she saluted by bobbing her head back; we were now a trading brigade bartering out on the Western frontier.

Her navel was exposed and I mentioned pouring a shot into it and permitting it to overflow into my awaiting mouth.

“My belly button ain’t that deep.”

“Do you own a twelve ounce glass-slipper?”

“My fairy Godmother is doing hard time in Cook County. But I’ll be ready to bounce by midnight if you’re a prince or an oil baron.”

“I make art.”

“And I make cupcakes.”

Yeah, she wasn’t drinking alone and neither was I, which was better than being sober or on an iceberg or remembering what I had to do.

“Make you one with frosting as high as an ovenbird sings.”

I wouldn’t trust her with my library card or to even scrounge up dinner. But I sure as hell would gobble up her cupcakes.

She gave a serious look under eyeshadow the color of honey and placed one of her fiery cheery fingertips on the center of my forehead.

“You must be a loser to be here?” But what did that make her?

“I was supposed to be someplace important. To meet a girl and talk about something even more important. And I bailed.”

“You failed?”

“I bailed.”

“And what do you think about me?”

“You’re the prettiest girl in the bar and your beautiful legs look like they could slice through the Washington Monument. I would very much like to stick my head between them.”

CartWheel pulled me in closer through my belt loops. Her breath smelled of cheap bourbon, mine of the old familiar desperation.

“I’ll show you a move that’ll make your head pop like a champagne cork.”

Out of nowhere, we were driving in her small, two-door Pontiac fast on the M10, and the rain made things slippery for a capable drunk. CartWheel was slowly nodding off, head resting on the glass. I had to speed to her pad in short-order before losing her to drunken, unfiltered dreams.

I was already lost and hadn’t punched it to seventy yet. I lost the north star as fast as a driver’s license was revoked when blowing a .30 on the drunkometer. CartWheel wrote the directions to her place on the napkin where I wrote the poem about the communist drunk who wore golf shoes while hustling one-pocket pool. .

We headed south and I concentrated on driving between the glow-in-the-dark lines while the lines concentrated on shepherding this drunk to the safety of a stranger’s den.

“If a cop tries to pull us over, we’ll have to make a run for it.” I spoke to the weaving Pontiac. It had a right to know about Plan B.

As I drove, I saw older, tougher homes people lived in only because their mortgage status wouldn’t approve them anything higher. But here, status held minimal weight like an anonymous fighter on the undercard with no chance to knock out the contender. These aluminum barnacles could barely withstand the feud with time and nature.

And there I was, parked interestingly enough, winding up in a bed belonging to a cheap motel. Tapping a sweet round peach prepares a drunk driver to focus on the road ahead and if that tactic didn’t take, one should always carry a couple of twenties for a couple of hours of convenience.

The motel was named the Royal, but a humorist saint left only the O and the YA lit up and here I had previously thought South Beach Miami was where neon went to die. I parked at the inn and its neon heartbreak escorted me to a place of destiny.

I found a fifth of Kesslers mingled in with her dirties in a laundry basket in the back seat. I knew the place would provide at least free cloudy water and a plastic cup the size of what people sampled their urine in at a methadone clinic. The bed was made, the sheets like sandpaper and paper tin.

She was peaceful even with the television flashing high-octane info obscenities onto her face. I hassled to ease her awake as she was lying on my shoulder calling me Tommy or a foreigner’s name, telling me not to leave empties unattended without a coaster.

I almost didn’t wake her, but I had no choice. She dreamed of a world exempted; a world where drug and alcohol abuse didn’t ripen the shit piles blooming after the winter snow melts.

“Wakey, wakey. Let’s get nakey.”

She did without much help. In the dark room her cherry tips gripped at my face and it shimmered like it was prodded five times with a hot poker stick. Her one hand undid my buckle as expeditious as a mountain cat descends upon an unattended child. Hormones synthesized and secreted into rustling blood and the dopamine feeds were doperific.

The other hand lifted under my sweatshirt. I felt her front teeth bite firm on my hairy nipple; my eyes watered. I should have been someplace else, but somehow remained fixed.

A painful reminder if you thought everything was coming together, things could be coming along a lot smoother than if your nipple bleed onto an outdated golden carpet at a roadside fuck station. From the glare of the T.V commercial about fragrance-free tampons, I saw the tattoo on her shoulder blade—a lightning bolt sundering a tree in two, the first place my lips pressed.

Afterward, I fell asleep with a drink in my hand, the television still belching illegitimate opinions and other smeared shit. My dream that night, I was feeding a baby but not exactly feeding it. I taped tiny bits of baby food to the baby, hard crunchy baby food looking a lot like pellets of dog food.

A dog appeared, a Collie mix whimpering, running excitedly around the baby’s stool because the dog anticipated snatching scraps of that dried horse meat. Evidently the baby wasn’t completely useless; the bastard figured out how to peel off electric tape and spoke in Spanish about Picador fathers who neglected their children.

I heard the baby’s stomach rumbling but in actuality it was mine because that’s what happens when the low-grade bourbon bunkers down. When I woke up, the dream dispersed and the glass was empty; our hours were up because the phone was ringing, spittin’ out the unjust noise and that motel manager was the only shitwhistler in the world who knew where I was squatting.

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Brian Frazier

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Brian Frazier received a Masters in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Wayne State University located in Detroit, MI. Brian has also attended Naropa University’s MFA program located in Boulder, CO. He has been published in Naropa University’s and Wayne State University’s literary reviews. Brian has written and directed short films and has taught High School English and taught creative writing at local community colleges for a number of years. Brian currently works for the State of Michigan while trying to finish his MFA degree and get his novel published.

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