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“Life Is A Series Of Dogs”- BORDERLAND’s Excerpt #12

Don’t know if this is something that will actually make it into the book, but we’ll see. Felt compelled to write it because I’ve neglected this project and I apologize for that. No excuses.

So, this is for Trouble and “Neil” and Daisy and any of the other girls who have been touched by her and anyone else who has received one of her amazing puppies.

Life Is A Series Of Dogs

My roommate and I drive up Poudre Canyon, soaked in river water with an eight week old puppy curled and shaking in the back seat, silt and mineral-rich water glistening in her black coat. We were turned away from the campsite by the rangers because we refused to pay seventeen dollars for a half hours worth of playing with the puppy by the waterside. We packed up and drove along the water’s edge, looking for a spot with the least amount of rocks to relax by.

The puppy is asleep and I love her, though I’m certain there is less love for me on her side at the moment. Trouble sold her to me. Picked her out for me and everything. She chose right. Always intuitive and knowing beneath her bubbly exterior. No, perhaps it is that very exterior that makes the interior, where that certain spark of understanding comes from. I always believed wisdom came from those who were perpetually serious, callous. Men and women you couldn’t stand to be around unless they were doling out advice you knew was vital. Trouble is nothing like that. Talking to her is like talking to that aunt you can’t help but love and tell all your secrets. In the club she would approach me and hug me and it was never forced, never the fake show of affection I felt so many times from women I’m certain resent me or just men in general. Trouble is genuine through and through and for that many are grateful. Think of her as a rigid spine of steel. The middle. A neutral ground where everyone can rely, everyone can relate. Feel accepted.

The day Zilla brought me to see Trouble’s puppies for the first time, she was dressed in a tank top and shorts. Only a few days before she had helped me finish my piercing apprenticeship by allowing me to pierce her nipples. If there was any sign that anything like the sort had happened between her, my mentor, her husband and I, it was not in her eyes. She walked me into the garage and there in a homemade corral where almost a dozen balls of black and white and faun colored fur. They mewled and crawled and wagged their little tails. Several came to where I stood immediately, arching and standing, whining for attention.

“Which one is she?” I asked Trouble.

“That one,” she replied, pointing to a serene ball of black laying behind the others. Only her toes and a small strip on her stomach were white. “You can go in and pick her up if you want.”

Trouble smiled the entire time and when I took the puppy out and placed her on the lawn to play with her she sat on the cement step before her door and watched and her lips did not uncurl while I remained. Even on her own stoop nothing about Trouble changed. She remained the mother figure, the loving aunt. A tower of warmth and light. You want something dark? Perhaps in her past. Who knows. It no longer remained. Zilla stayed in the car, checking his messages.

When I gave the puppy back to Trouble and clambered into Zilla’s car, I asked him if he had seen her. Seen the dog.

“Yeah,” he answered in his bass voice, not looking over to me, “[The puppy] is fucking adorable.”

“Yeah, she is.”

“Man, I can’t wait to eat that puppy,” he added before pulling off back into the street.

Trouble is a ziggurat of cheerful light that saunters about like a monolith from the times before iPods and earbuds, back when myriad gods were all folks knew. All of that presence stuffed within a five foot and some inches frame. Her uniform is a Budweiser bikini which she wears almost every night. The owners ask her to change into something else but she rarely does and regardless of the fact that she’s a mother and into her thirties, that bright light doesn’t just shine forth, it attracts every poor bastard looking to experience the hometown girl and every dancer who needs an unbiased shoulder to cry and confide upon. A simply beauty who never left the town she went to high school in. Her white toothed smile and cornflower blue eyes. The one girl no one says a damn bad word about and rightfully so. Dirt could be dug and damage done but why mess with the only one who seems devoid of doubt? Why cast down an idol when it’s clear that idol is only giving guidance and love?

The puppy Trouble picked for me is calm and sweet, unlike any other puppy I’ve met. Perhaps it’s because of her amalgamation mutt mix of big breeds or maybe it’s her natural born demeanor. Either/or, it’s who she is. She lays out on the kitchen floor and ignores all goings-on. A stone sphinx, some marble-cast gargoyle guardian. She is precious. I love her.

Trouble and Neil, her husband and one of the DJ’s at the club, stand in my kitchen and unload a glitter-covered gift-bag filled with extra dog food and squeak toys and a miniature braided rope for tug-o-war and her short vet record and even her last deworming shot.

As Trouble feeds my puppy the sweet nectar that will keep her intestines clear, Neil stands barrel chested and serious, intimidating for a man fairly my senior. He wears glasses and a red t-shirt and I want to make him laugh to break the tension that is probably on my side alone. I can never tell if he dislikes me or not.

They say their goodbye’s to the puppy and I thank them and walk them out to their car and wonder what my life would have been like had I not met them both.

Though I have yet to meet him, I’ve seen pictures of my puppy’s older brother. He resembles an enormous black golden retriever. I imagine that Trouble picked him for Daisy in a similar way she picked my puppy for me.

Most recent pictures I see of Daisy are her with the puppy as he grows. Pictures of him sleeping. Pictures of him in the car. Pictures of them both on the bed or couch. A picture of him curled around the toilet, passed out. His entire life documented on the internet for the world to see. Daisy told me more than once that her dog was all the man she needed.

My roommate is passing out on her bed with my puppy by her chest and her own cat bove her head. The puppy looks up at me and I put my face to her face and she breaths tired puppy breathes and I kiss her nose and leave the apartment.

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In Fort Collins & “Never Ever Did”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #10

Update 4/13/2012: Back in Fort Collins, living in the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in as an adult or a child. Things are changing, jobs are changing. Still a piercing apprentice, still writing. Said I’d never come back to this town, told people how much I hated it, how fucking stupid it was.

Now look at me. Made a motherfucking liar of myself.

Oh well. Now read what you came here to read.

 

CSU Campus outside my balcony.

———-

I never notice her until she brushes passed. Any interaction with her is rare. She keeps to herself. Nightmare in her pewter cloak, shrouded like a figment in the back of the strip club. Ignoring the world, face buried deep in the pages of a mass market paperback about rogue angels and demons who harbor human emotions, she looks as if she’s as comfortable in her lingerie and high heels as she is at home in sweats and a t-shirt. Anytime we make eye contact or I talk to her I feel as if I’m bothering her. Her answers are stunted, her gaze is cold, her voice disinterested. She scares me a little.

“If there’s one girl in here,” Pumpkin says to me one night as we sit at his throne, smoking his menthols, “If there’s one girl in here, if you ever wanted to date one, it’s her.”

“It’s who?” I ask.

“Her,” Pumpkin points his finger to a six foot woman with a pixie haircut wrapped in a cloak model walking to the bathroom.

“Her? What? Why? No way.”

Pumpkin laughs his hearty laugh and shakes his head.

“Nightmare?”

“Yeah, dude.”

“She’s not my type. Girls like Vanessa and Aurora are.”

“Stay as far a fucking way from them as you can. If you ever decide to go after a girl in this place that’s the one.”

“Not happening. Besides, I’m pretty sure she hates me.”

“I have this knot in my right ankle,” Nightmare tells me, showing me from beneath a long blue dress. It’s the kind of outfit 9th century nobility wore, showing only the shape of her toned shoulders and narrow hips.

“Why not get a massage then?”

“They’re like callouses. If I get a massage it will make it worse.”

On stage Nightmare is a dark liquid. Darkness seems to envelop even the neon underwear she sports. She can be slow and sexual, quick and seductive. Her motions and movements, her choices, her actions, all of it is filled to the brim with forced symbolism, creating imagery to go with her name- the outfits, the songs she dances to. Everything is crafted to make you remember her name. To invoke nightmares. During the song that is her namesake she halts at the end of the chorus, arching her back as she lays across the stage or leans against the pole and while the band sings she lip syncs, reminding us all.

“OOOOOOO, YOUR FUCKING NIGHTMARE!”

“My grandmother made this for my wedding. My ex wore his Air Force uniform,” they were married in Cheyenne. A small ceremony. They had met on the internet through a social network where you rate other people and hopefully get their attention.

As Nightmare walks by me her scent reminds me of childhood. A Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret memory from my mother’s bedroom. I’m taken back to her arrays of perfumes and lotions lined across the white counter top, reflected back by the large mirrors latched to the walls. Memories of when I was young enough to wander in on my mother naked, her breasts hanging down as she hits her forties. Her blonde hair up in a tan towel as she spends hours making herself up to go to the super market or hang out around the house.

What an inappropriate vision to be conjured, especially by a woman in a fucking cloak.

“You have bedroom eyes,” Bailey tells Nightmare across the back table, smiling, teeth showing like a shy concubine.

“I what?” Nightmare wraps her cloak tight around her slender body and takes a drag from her cigarette.

“Bedroom eyes,” Bailey smiles wider.

Vanessa pays no attention to the conversation, drawing a picture of a buffalo out of squiggles and shitty lines.

Nightmare and her ex split in the winter, the divorce itself still floating in the atmosphere and cumulonimbus clouds that stretch from Wyoming to Alaska where she relocated to be with him.

She would find messages and texts between him and old ex’s or women he’d met on dating websites. Exchanges about how he wanted to put his tongue inside their cunts, about pulling their hair while fucking them up against walls.

“One day we went to buy perfume,” she tells me in the same uninterested voice she uses to tell any tale or vocalize any statement. From the tone she might as well be talking about groceries. “[He] tells me he likes how the perfume smells to him, but that he doesn’t need [a scent] because my natural aroma attracted him. I knew it was over then.”

One night the wind is horrendous to the point where they close I-25 and 85 and those of us who live in Colorado wait for news, sit around wondering if we’ll be able to get home or if we’ll be stuck in Cheyenne. The club is slow, most customers already gone. It’s only the girls, the bartender, DJ and myself. Bailey tells me if things stay shitty we can get a room together.

“I don’t have money for a room,” I say, embarrassed.

“It’s okay, dude. Don’t worry about it.”

I sit around, waiting, wondering what will happen and then she comes up out of nowhere.

“Hey,” Nightmare says, hovering over me, five inches taller than me in her heels.

“Hey.”

“You can stay at my place if you don’t want to drive home.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Well, it’s up to you,” she walks off, back to work.

I think it over for about an hour and I’m not sure why I say yes. I find her at the bar.

“Okay, I’ll stay with you.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, why not?”

“Okay,” she tells me her address and tells me to meet her there after the club closes., “But don’t tell anyone. No one.”

“Yeah, dude, I know.”

Fate sealed. Road taken. No going back now.

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