There’s a paper plate on the counter and a plastic fork and it hurts my heart to see them just sitting there so i make an egg. I pour a little bit of sunflower oil into my small red frying pan and stick it on the hot plate. I put some pepper on the egg while it fries and think about how i don’t want to eat the egg, just wanna watch the egg fry forever. Wanna put the egg on the plate and give the plastic fork hope and purpose. I like when fried eggs are one day old and turn to rubber. I slip the egg off the pan and the hot oil makes some kinda kitchen crop circles on the plate. I look out the window just in time to see something smack into my window and realize it was a bird. I say ‘Well shit, bird’ and watch the egg sit. It’s dark outside because i want it to be. I’m bored, but i love being bored. Sometimes at night i like to ride the bus around Charlottesville. I like to ride the bus that goes all the way out 29 N to Wal*Mart and then ride it back downtown. Sometimes i do this over and over and watch the people. The Wal*Mart bound bus is always full of Shifflets. Almost all of the white people i was in jail with were Shifflets. Except for Crack Chicken. No one knew her real name, but she showed me a picture of her football player son wearing a blue jersey who had a square head and a square jaw and whose eyes were a bit too far apart so i’m pretty sure Crack Chicken was also a Shifflet. Crack Chicken was like a church bell, almost every hour on the hour Crack Chicken would pretend to be a chicken and turn her frail lookin’ arms into folded wings and bend down while scratching at the ground with her jail flip flop and craning her neck this way and that. Then Crack Chicken would reach down and make big squawking sounds and hold up a little invisible rock to her eye. Crack chicken would pretend to stick the piece of crack in a crack pipe and let out all kinds of squawking noises as she flapped her arm wings real fast and scratched the ground a lot. Then all of the Shifflets and the guards would clap for Crack Chicken. I wouldn’t usually clap along with the guards and the Shifflets cause i was usually laying on my bunk with bits of smushed up bread from the five a.m. breakfast shoved in my ears, but i held a deep appreciation for Crack Chicken. I needed Crack Chicken because there was no other way to tell what time it was in the block. When Crack Chicken did her first performance at the five a.m. meal, i would break off a chunk of my Styrofoam cup and take a slice of bread and hide it in my sports bra. Go back to my cell and break off a smaller piece of the Styrofoam and put it under my pillow so i would know five a.m. had passed. Every time i would hear Crack Chicken’s muffled squawking through the bread in my ears, i would break off another piece of Styrofoam and stick it under my pillow. Once i got seven pieces it would be time for lunch.
I open the Wild Turkey and take a swig from the bottle then pour a few shots worth into the half empty Diet Coke bottle. Now the bottle is full again. I pop a Xanax bar in my mouth and let it melt. Put on my sneakers and toss a notebook and the whiskey cola into a tote bag. Then i turn out the lights and lock the door, walk on out of Hog Waller up to East Main St. and catch the free bus out to Wal*Mart. As soon as i sit down i recognize the bleach fried hair of Chastity Shifflet. Her fake straw colored hair is pulled high and slapped up into one of those donut buns. Chastity is wearing baggy grey sweatpants and a very tight pink tank top. There is a tattoo of a baby’s footprint on her upper left shoulder and under the baby’s footprint it says: Cheyanne Marie 12/16/2016 – 04/29/2017. Shifflett women are always losing their babies or their brothers or their boyfriends are heading to jail for whooping on their baby’s mama’s other baby’s daddies. Chastity was in rehab with me. I move farther to the back of the bus. If a Shifflett doesn’t like you it’s best to remove yourself from their crosseyed line of fire. The bus stops and goes and stops and goes. We pass by four different Krogers on the way to Wal*Mart and at least three Food Lions. A lot of people get off the bus when we stop at the Kmart near the Applebee’s. A guy gets on the bus still holding a mixed drink in his hand. It’s mostly ice. He slumps down in the seat across the aisle from me and i watch him as he tries to catch the straw with his tongue moving it all around. Then he drops the drink on the ground and the glass rolls under the seats to the front of the bus when we stop at Emmett Street. An old woman gets onto the bus wearing those dark tan diabetes stockings beneath a floral knee length skirt and sits down right next to Chastity Shifflett. The bus moves on and we pass Country Cookin’ and the gay nightclub that’s connected to my favorite Mexican restaurant Guadalajara and then the Domino’s Pizza i worked at for only two weeks a few winters ago. Cocaine is a great drug for delivering pizza as long as you are good at doing cocaine. I was good at doing cocaine, but i wasn’t good at doing cocaine in the snow while driving with six pizzas stacked on the front seat of my Jeep. I was trying to do a bump off the webbing between my right thumb and forefinger while flying up 29 N past the Shell Station when i had to slam on the brakes and slid straight into the back of a bus used to transport handicapped elders. All the pizzas went flying onto the dashboard and the floor and the little open vial of cocaine spilled into the cupholder between the seats. The bus signaled it was pulling over to the Goodwill parking lot and so i followed. Grabbed the straw out of an old empty Taco Bell cup and snorted as much of the cocaine out of the cup holder as i could then poured some water from a plastic Dasani bottle into the cup holder and mixed it up with the Taco Bell straw. Got out of my Jeep and ran over to the handicap transport bus. ‘All y’all alright in there? This ice sure is slippery, good lord’. The bus driver woman looked at my Dominos uniform. ‘Meh, just a little scratch, how are your pizzas’. Fuck the pizzas, i thought, i just lost all my blow. ‘Yeah they’re a bit messed up now’ i sort of half laughed while sniffing. ‘I don’t think we need to call the police for this do you?’ I sniffed again and said ‘Nah, nah, sorry about that, oh god’. Then i drove on back to Dominos, dropped all the pizzas by the front door and drove away while throwing my Dominos visor out the Jeep window. On Old Ivy Rd. an old man wearing a Star Wars flat brim gets on the bus with two huge Slurpees from 7-11 and my jealousy of the drinks is overwhelming. I realize one of the Slurpees is the cola kind and decide this dude is fucked up straight psycho for that choice and get off the bus at the next stop then walk two miles back to my apartment. When you take Xanax time isn’t linear, you can do whatever you want whenever you want. It makes no difference because you can sort the memories out later. You can walk an extra mile home and then just forget about it being anything extra at all. I get back to my apartment, check the metal mailbox that is always empty, take another chunk of a bar and drink some more Wild Turkey. I lay on the futon and turn on the small flat screen my friend Cankle gave me when she got a huge new one. Cankle is the best and watching QVC while drinking Wild Turkey under a Xanax moon is the nicest i’ve ever felt with her. The host ladies are those bleach blonde bow legged southern Baptist potluck picnic kind of ladies. The stretchy capri pant wearin’ kind of ladies i grew up around. The ladies say things to each other like ‘Daisies are the happiest flowers, if you know what i mean’ and ‘Azalea and lime, the classic cracker combo for getting out of the golf cart at the happiest place on earth’. I say ‘QVC is the new opioid crisis’ and then i watch them sell off the plaid Bermuda shorts with bling and the three-quarter sleeve blouses with bling and the nose hair trimmers and listen to crispy tanned ladies discuss this season’s nail polish trends as they wave their hands in front of the cameras.
In the checkout line at Kroger the cashier’s name tag says Elvis. I look at Cankle and Cankle looks at me and we open our eyes real wide at each other. We love things like this. We look at Elvis and Elvis drops the Monster Energy can on the ground, picks it back up. I love Elvis the way i love my old ass neighbor’s lavender crushed velvet chaise lounge with the silver accents and the broken leg. Elvis is for love as much as Elvis is for heartbreak and i reckon anybody named Elvis is in for a world of daily turmoil just like a baby. I look at Cankle and say that poor baby is a baby then i laugh and laugh. It’s overwhelming, the heart crushing pain and irony of it all. I never want to come back to Kroger again. In the parking lot Cankle looks at me with those eyes that say do you have any Xanax and i hand her a bar from my pocket. Cankle pops the Xanax and cracks open her Monster Energy, a classic Charlottesville speedball. I want a margarita. I take a Watson from my pocket and put it in my mouth thinking ‘Cheers France’. I wanna talk to Cankle about dudes and chicks and just straight up fucking. We head down Market St. and we head past the Robert E. Lee statue and we pull into the Guadalajara parking lot. Guadalajara has a sign that says Lunch Specials for limited time and it has been a limited time for only the past nine years and there is a fountain in the middle of the patio that is never flowing. We sit outside on the patio next to the dry fountain and a waiter brings us chips and salsa. We each order a jumbo margarita and a shot of tequila. I get my margarita on the rocks and Cankle gets hers frozen. I order some tacos and Cankle gets some kinda burrito, the really good kind. Cankle loves frozen things and i love tacos. The green drinks come and a smile spreads across my face like shit smearing across a diaper. Across from our table sits a woman with the ears of an elf and the ass of a donkey. She has on those sunglasses that are thick sunglasses with rhinestones on the sides. The kind of woman that goes to Wal*Mart late at night wearing the sunglasses pushed up on her head like a crown. Like she has a shocker bumper sticker on her car. She’s got enchilada sauce on her lips and she’s all alone. I think about licking the enchilada sauce off her mouth and kissing her. Cankle pulls out a one hitter and passes it to me. I take a hit and hand it back and then she packs it again for me. Her hands look like big soft butter sculptures as she hands me the pipe. I take another hit real slowly and think about magic. There’s something magic in wiping the tears off of your face onto your trousers at three a.m. with your best friend by your side. Friendship is good like that, so soft and buttery and filled with magic. I want Cankle to love me like it’s a magic show filled with life and death. Cankle is so beautiful and it hurts me all over to think about her that way. I watch Cankle eat her burrito and drink more margarita and eat more burrito and i am just a little boy sometimes, wanting juicey juice and cookies. I am a baby with no hair, i am a cherub angel. Fuck. I want Cankle to be my best friend again like old times. I wanna see Cankle every day. The woman with the sunglasses across has gotten up and there is a small void in me now. The waiter removes her empty glass from the table and picks up her plate. I tell Cankle i wanna fuck a woman who reminds me of my childhood friend Sarah’s dapple grey pony. I wanna fuck a woman with tits like a house fire. I say ‘I just wish i knew someone i could bring sprigs of lavender to’ and then i say to Cankle ‘I’m real romantic like that’ and Cankle says ‘Yea’. Cankle says she’s seeing an old man named Corn and i say Corn out loud a lot of times and stretch my legs out under the table and kick Cankle in the shin. Cankle loves older dudes who look like people from movies. Cankle dates Ben Stiller and Cankle fucks Adam Sandler even though he’s married and it goes on like this forever. The waiter comes by our table and i order a Dos Equis and head to the bathroom. There’s nothing in the bathroom except for a huge mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a trash can and a vase of fake flowers on the counter near the soap dispenser. I look in the mirror and my hair looks good and there’s food on my face. I wipe my face on my arm and go into a stall where i piss and i piss and i piss. I leave the piss in the pot and look in the mirror again. I pull my shirt up and look at my belly and i pull my shirt up more and i shake my belly in the mirror and make weird faces at myself. I feel drunk and dumb and great. I wanna run through a field with Cankle after a lightning storm. I pull my shirt down and wipe more food off my face and then i kick the little black trash can over cause i can. I look deep into the mirror and tell the mirror ‘Nothing is more sacred than you, bitch’. Then i spit on the mirror and the spit slowly moves down the mirror, glistening.
Recommended reading: Sugar Run by Mesha Maren, The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway, and Cherry by Nico walker, Foghorn Leghorn by Big bruiser Dope Boy, Welfare by Steve Anwyll, Alexander Chee’s essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, and any poems you can find by Maya Martinez.