Handsignals. Not the best way to indicate a turn when you’re piloting a trailer full of pancaked cars. I got a pull off the pint of Ten High and wiped on my shoulder. We’d taken Division all the way out from Portland.
My companion was Flann. He’s an Irish Setter.   “Almost home now, boy,” I said. He seemed indifferent, his head out the passenger-side window, tongue flapping like a flag. How nice it’d be to reach the pint out to Flann, have him accept it in his paw and take a tug of his own. Fucking opposable thumbs. We waited at the light. I stuck my left arm straight out the window.
Light turned green and I snuck another pull off the Ten High waiting for a hole in the line of morning commuters coming the other way. Horns started in from behind. First one then a fucking chorus soon as the others remembered they had balls. I jabbed and rejabbed my arm out the window yelling, “Left, peckerheads. Left.” When the coast was clear I wedged the bottle between my thighs, shifted the fucker into first and started my turn. Cars were parked on both sides of 125th and my eyes darted from one endless line of shitboxes to the other. As I squeezed her in I kept checking my ass in the mirror. No metal on metal that I could hear and I straightened her out for the home stretch. “Hang on, boy,” I said. I leaned my snout over the wheel and gave it some gas. “Look out, you little slut. Here we come!”
She ripped my heart out and ate it like an apple. Her name is Maggie. I married her the day she turned eighteen and managed to keep her satisfied for a good two and a half. Once she started at the community college things took a turn. She’d say, “You never screw me anymore” She didn’t like the word fuck. I’d be like, “We do it every Sunday. Sunday’s our day.” And she’d step up to me and say, “Don’t I get you going no more?” and grab onto my soft package. She’s got long black curls and eyes so brown you can’t see the pupils. The sweetest pair of plums and a pouty little fartbox in back. None of it matters. For my thirtieth birthday God gave me a little trouble getting the old Johnson randy.
I say, “You think you can kick me out?”
She says, “I know I can.”
I say, “I own 50% of this house.”
She says, “You own “33.3%, dickhead. The money my daddy left me spotted the other third.”
Always had you by the short ones, this woman.
She says, “Maybe the reason you never screw me is you spend all your time tinkering with that truck out there.” And then get this. She goes, “That truck’s just a stand in for your penis you know.”
And I was like, huh? I say, “Could’ve fooled me.” Drew back the little curtain above the sink. “Looks like the same F-350 XL to me.”
And she says, “Sometimes something appears to be one thing but is really something else. It’s called symbiosis, you ape.”
Once she started her little book club she always had her nose in something. I knew she was reading all that old timey feminist shit by Madame Bovary and the like.
Then she kicks it up a notch. Goes, “Or maybe you’re just one of them pickle smootchers.”
And before I knew what’s what I’d backhanded her across the face.
Next day I pulled my penis out the driveway and parked it at my mother’s.
First thing I did was to go back and liberate Flann. I figured without me around it’d only be a day or two she’d have his fur in barrettes and a tray full of mimosas strapped to his back so she could trot him out in front of her booky friends. I remember when we first got him she kept saying, “We gotta get him fixed, we gotta get him fixed.” And I was like, “No one’s cutting my boy’s nuts off so you can just can it with all that.” And she tries telling me about these things called Neuticles and how they’re like fake nuts you strap on the dog made out of plastic or rubber and who knows what-all. And I say, “What the fuck are you even talking about?” And she says, “For his self-esteem.” And I say, “Why not just let the poor guy keep his nuts?” And she does her sigh thing and tosses her curls and says, “You just don’t get it.” That’s her easy out for everything. “Oh, no, I get it,” I say. And I should have known right then the path down which this shit would eventually lead.
Once the Hartman kid across the street tipped me off about the first car he saw there late night, everywhere I turned I’d be smelling pink. I’d wake up on the hide-a-bed in my mama’s den at odd hours of the morning staring up at the ceiling and next thing you know I’d be trying to smother myself with the pillow so I wouldn’t have to breathe cuz breathing meant I couldn’t even look at a light fixture without it making me think of Maggie’s nipples in the mouth of some dude that wasn’t me. Twisted shit.
Life at my mother’s turned out to be a less temporary arrangement than I had in mind. Crawling back on my hands and knees wasn’t a figure of speech but a daily ritual. Finally after a dozen such sorry attempts Maggie refused to unbolt the new Titan she’d installed and just yelled from the bedroom window, “I don’t want you no more! Don’t you get it?” And okay, I kind of lost it a tad. Smashed in through the bathroom. At least this time I lashed out at non-living things. Her grandmother’s Hummel collection took the brunt of it. Now Maggie’s got a bullshit restraining order says I can’t come within five hundred yards. But don’t you worry, I got the Hartman kid writing down makes, models, and plates. Believe me. I know who’s been in and out.
We started out around midnight. You might call me a pussy for not knocking on their front doors with a cocked fist but trust me, going after their rigs was much worse. I got things going by walking down to 115th and taking a tire iron to the window of Jimbo’s shitheap Chevy. (Guy drives a faggy little white S-10. I can’t believe she’d stoop so low.) Luckily all Maggie’s indiscretions drove American vehicles. Those Jap trucks are impossible to hotwire. I drove the S-10 to the yards under the Morrison Bridge where Rico was waiting in my truck. We’ve both been hauling for the Walsh brothers since they started shit up five years ago. Rico chauffeured me to the next destination and then went back to the yards to wait. I thought it’d take at least a hundred bucks to enlist Rico. In the end all it took was a fifth of Ten High and the April issue of Pink Winker. “Flann’ll keep you company,” I told him and my boy woofed an affirmative.
Turns out all the trucks were within five hundred yards of my house and so were not only in the place from whence I was restrained but also all belonged to dudes that I at least shook hands and drank a brew with if not had dinner at their homes with their saggy-ass wives and banshee kidsis all that what they call irony? Well fuck me
Gresham to Portland, Portland to Gresham. Back and forth we went, Rico and me getting drunker and drunker, Flann in the bed with his head sticking into the cab through the little slide-window. Three hours later we had all five trucks at the yards lined up in front of the machine like the condemned. Pancaking those fuckers was one of the more satisfying feelings I’ve enjoyed this lifetime. Now that was marriage counseling. Smashing glass, screeching crunch of metal. Jimbo’s S-10. Randy’s F-150. Jasper’s Ram. Don’s Sierra. And especially pleasurable was Larry’s souped up Tahoeblack lights and fuzzy seat covers. What a douchebag.
It was near on six a.m. when we got it all loaded and strapped down on the twenty-four-footer. Rico gave me a hug and with a tear in his eye told me it was the single best night of his life. He took my truck and I took Flann and off we went. After I turned onto Division, Rico pulled up alongside and yelled out the passenger window that my blinkers were out. I wasn’t about to stop and change a fuse.
So there we were, me and Flann, barreling down 125th. I saw my house up ahead. 33.3% my hairy ass. Right about now Maggie’d be sitting at the kitchen table with her first cup of coffee and the Jumble.
I cut it a little wide as we approached and then turned right back in and aimed her for the front lawn. Brung her in right between an oak and a hydrant. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, boy!” I said, and we hit the curb with a thud that bounced my head off the ceiling. Flann let out a howl. The Ten High tumbled to the floor. We were headed right for the front porch and I slammed both feet on clutch and brake and wheeled it left with everything I had. The tires ate some lawn and we came to a stop just before hitting the Peterson’s shrubbery.
Flann cowered on the floor. “It’s okay, boy. We made it.”
Maggie came running out from around back holding her robe at the neck screaming, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” as if that lazy-ass had an opinion.
I opened the door and hopped down and Flann trotted out behind me. Now I knew how Napoleon felt.
Maggie’s hair was wet and her big browns were wild. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”
Answer a question with a question I always say.
“Any of these penises look familiar?”