Glynn Germany is a short story writer working from the high desert of Albuquerque. Recently retired, he has returned to a long-standing writing habit that refuses to die, despite his best efforts.
I wanted a puppy; nothing wrong with a girl wanting a pup and for sure not something worth dying over, especially not the poor thing when he didn't do nothing wrong but poop on the floor and that's what all puppies do so it ain't worth shooting him for. Babs was crazy that night, pissed at me and all, but it still wasn't right.
I first met Babs at this bar off Central. I was just a kid, trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing, and wanted to check things out. This place, though, was a major letdown, full of normal people being normal; I even had a few guys hit on me, them not knowing and all. I'm not a bad looker when I want to be. I brushed those guys off and was about to leave when Babs slid onto the stool next to me. She looked me over, head to heels, and said, all hot breath, "Is it me, or are you hot down there?"
Stupid, right? Who the hell talks like that? But she did, serious as can be. Took my breath away. Even with that stupid pickup line she had me hook, line, sinker, fishing pole, beer cooler, and tampon. Before long we're at her place rolling in each other, both cats and catnip all at the same time. She answered questions I didn't even know I had, and I was her shadow from that point on.
I found out fast, though, that she was bad news and I should get away—far away, but that wasn't too easy. You know how at the end of Lolita when Mr. X is trying to kill Mr. Y for helping her escape, only Mr. Y is like, real fat and all Mr. X has is this little pop shooter of a gun, it can't hurt anything, so Mr. X keeps plugging away at Mr. Y but it don't do much good, Mr. Y being fat and all, and he staggers about saying "My dear sir, that does hurt, please stop" and stumbles off with Mr. X following, one pervert chasing another, and it seems to take, ten or fifteen pages and nothing happens? That's how it was when I tried breaking up with Babs, at least at first, when she was still trying to win me over. I'd tell her we weren't good for each other and how I wanted to see someone else and she'd nod, say "Yes, you're right" and nibble on my ear and slide her hand down and soon enough I forget what I was talking about and we get it on, one pervert after another.
What's a girl to do? She'd still be yanking my string if the cops hadn't blown her away.
I moved in and she quit being nice when she saw I wasn't going anywhere. Pointed out I how I didn't deserve nice and I was lucky she'd picked me up when she did. By the time she was through I was begging her to let me hang around, sleep on the floor, whatever.
Sometimes she'd get where she couldn't stand the sight of me, which meant she'd found someone new and pretty to play with, and she'd tell me to get out of her face and I'd have to go stay at my place, feeling bad because I know I'm not much and if even Babs don't want me, then I must be extra bad. I'd be down until she'd show up and jerk me back into her life.
She never kept the others more than a day or two, then she'd kick them out and kick me back in. I found out later that she kept me longer than anyone else she'd ever picked up. I was proud of that; thought it showed I was something special after all.
I was lonesome because she didn't waste time with me anymore, only kept me around to be cute. Arm candy. After a while, I was wanting greener pastures. I wasn't sure how to do it—damned sure couldn't talk it over with her—but I promised myself I'd keep my eyes open, look for something better.
It was during one of Babs' 'get out of my face' periods, when she was munching on some chocolate she'd picked up and I'm being scarce until she got her fill. I was making the rounds of the bars; everybody knew me now as Babs' girl and they asked where the boss lady is, "Hey, Cindy Lou, where's Momma Grinch?" and stuff like that, me being Cindy and all. I rolled my eyes and they all laughed because they know what the hell is going down, but they treated me well and kept my spirits up.
I was in Lits, hanging out at the bar, when this guy walked in with a box of Chihuahua pups, trying to find them a home. I wanted them all but knew that wasn't too smart because Babs wouldn't let me have one, much less a whole pack, so I picked one and called him Taco, being a Chihuahua and all. Cute name, huh?
Me and this guy get to talking while Taco is chewing on my finger, and I find out his name is Guy. What the hell, you know, a guy named Guy. He's tall and lean, in jeans and t-shirt, smelling of cigarettes, with hair that keeps getting in his eyes. We laugh about his name being Guy and he's making eyes at me, him not knowing and all, and I'm kind of liking the attention, so we wind up at his place, the three of us—me, Guy, and Taco. (I don't remember what happened to the rest of the pups. I was kinda distracted.)
Well, in no time he's ringing my doorbell and I'm answering as if I've been doing this all my life, which wasn't the case because, like I told you, I thought I was a lefty. Who would've known I was a switch hitter?
Now I'm all confused. I thought Babs had answered my questions and now here is some fella messing everything up, but it seems he came along at the right time because, as I said, I'd decided to make some changes and this was about as changed as I could have imagined.
And here's the big thing—he's into me because of who I am, not some power trip the way it was with Babs. He seems to like me for being me. As if I'm something special. Talk about being confused.
Since Babs was still into her hot chocolate for a few days, me and Guy used that time to get into each other. We hit all the spots, him and me with Taco poking his head out of my bag, which was cute and people would hang about and pet him (Taco, not Guy). We were all having a good time.
Until Babs found out.
She kicked her chocolate bar out pronto and dragged me back by the hair. Guy wanted to be a hero, but I didn't want him mixed up in it and told him to blow. He took Taco with him.
'What the hell was I doing?' she shouted at me. One minute out of her sight and I wander into the gutter with the first fella I meet, and too stupid to get paid for my goods, a worthless tramp. I couldn't even whore right.
I suspect she was more pissed that I was hanging out with a man than the fact that I'd been skipping out on her. Some dude must have messed her up once, because she hated all men. Her favorite joke was, "What do you call that useless flap of skin on the end of a penis? A man." That pretty well summed it up.
She went to work on me, wore me out. I guess she was trying to make sure I didn't get confused again about which way the wind blew. Maybe she had something to prove. It was good, but I was feeling bad now that Babs had set me straight about how worthless I was, while I kept remembering Guy and how that was pretty good.
This kept up for a few weeks, until she found some new hotty and kicked me out again, but first she told me not to be hanging with Guy again. I didn't say anything but she must have seen something in my face that got her pissed.
"If you chase that dick again, we're through. You can't come back here."
"Fine," I said, which wasn't the answer she wanted. Hell, I surprised myself. Way to go, girl!
I could see she wanted to get nasty, but she had this chick waiting. Babs got antsy when she had someone new waiting, the way a druggie gets when he's late for his hit. She fidgeted about a bit, then said all mean, "I'm not through with you."
Sounded like hot air to me. I assumed we were through and went straight back to Guy and starting toting Taco around again.
A few days later, I was back at Lits, got Taco up on the bar, waiting for Guy to show up when there's a commotion at the door. Babs comes stomping toward me and Taco, waving a gun about as if she was trying to aim at everybody all at once. Everybody runs. Not a freaking hero in the group.
"I told you we weren't through," she said in a quiet voice that gave me goosebumps. I was used to her yelling, but this was something new.
"I'm not coming back," I said. I held my head up to show her I was serious. Bravest thing I ever did.
She was quiet, as if figuring things out. Her eyes were wild and I suspect her latest chocolate got her some bad stuff. We were standing there, eyeball to eyeball, and I was wondering what she's planning to do, and I think she was too, when she must have decided. She turned and shot poor little Taco three times, like she enjoyed the noise.
Taco's all ripped apart, blood everywhere, him yelping and jerking and flopping about and I can see his insides and his heart, all beating for nothing. I remember it all, to this day. Like I said, he didn't do nothing worth dying for.
Now she points the gun at me. I put up my hands toward her, as if I was going to swat the bullets away. Don't laugh; it was the best I could come up with at the moment.
I don't believe she meant to shoot me, but the thing went off. Got me in the hand. And now I'm the one yelping and spurting blood everywhere. My hand is still messed up. See? Doctors said something medical that meant too much meat and not enough bone. Boneless wings.
Babs seemed as surprised and upset as I was. I'd never seen her when she wasn't in charge, but that moment I could tell she had screwed up big time and didn't know what to do next. For once, she couldn't bully her way out of this mess. She cried and was blubbering 'ImsorryImsorryImsorry' when the cops showed up.
Cops is always bad news, but our cops is even worse bad news. They got this 'What the fuck, shoot 'em' attitude that gets people pissed off, especially the ones they're shooting. The cops came barging in, take one look at Babs and blew her away. The first shot was enough to kill her, but they plugged her five or six times more, just for good measure.
Next, they turned to me and I thought for a minute they would blow me away, too, 'cause they still got bullets, but then Guy is there holding me in his arms and telling me everything will be okay and him not getting upset about me getting blood all over him.
And he was right.
It's him and me now, and little Annie in diapers, trying to ride Taco Two who is nothing like the original, all ears and slobber and big as a horse.
Funny, but I miss Babs sometimes. Crazy, right? She treated me like crap, killed poor Taco, and almost blew me away too. One long stretch of bad road, for sure, but sometimes bad roads is all there is from there to here, I guess. At least the scenery was interesting.