Volume II, Issue 2
Fiction by Bob Gouge
Hes driving the cold desert night, six hours now, the big Chevy throbbing and hissing in the dark. The window screams, cracked just enough to suck out the stale smoke. Punching buttons, turning the dial, but theres nothing but static and Spanish and Jesus and he slams a tape in the player. Couldnt see what it was, it doesnt matter, just what was on top of the pile on the seat.
Its Cohen, Everybody Knows.
Its ok, it fits. All his tapes are old, hes getting old. Too old for this shit, he thinks.
T shirt, faded jeans, cowboy boots with high underslung heels, black vamps and cobalt blue tops, fancy sunburst stitching. Beat up brown leather jacket. His shoulder hurts, everything hurts, his neck and ass and legs, his eyes hurt.
He squeezes his shoulder hard, feels the soft leather. A jacket much like the one she wore, he thinks. Goddamn her.
He grips the wheel, sees that mark at the web of his thumb, no bigger than a postage stamp. The Japanese character for eye, stark black on his hand. Thats all he is now, eye and hand. He got that mark because of her, she sat and watched, smiled at it, kissed him when it was done.
This is crazy, this driving the night, he knows it, but it doesnt matter. Nothing does, just the night and the Chevy and the road and her. The eye on his hand. Everything else has turned to shit and it doesnt matter.
Mexicos just out the window, and he drives on through the night. Cohen singing about the sleepless beast. Shes half his age, for Christs sake, and all he can think of is her. Her skin glowing like the moon that first night, pale and firm and young and it burned him when he touched it and she asked what had taken him so long. He could taste her on the air, her smell when she turned and knelt and offered it to him. Offered that black mark at the base of her spine, that picture in a circle as big as his hand. Ancient and marked black into her pale skin. He looked at it and touched it, and lost himself in it.
The smell of her was thick and heavy in that little room as he spread her, on her knees, and he had her like that, first with his mouth and then with the rest of him. In the middle of it, he saw that he wasnt having her, she was having him. He was the one entered, by her smell and taste and the touch of her pale cool skin marked by an ancient black circle. Her voice and her sweat and her slick wet were all seeping into him. She was taking him, not the other way around. And it didnt matter, nothing mattered but this on the floor in the dim room, nothing but her.
She was having him.
Why him, he wasnt like her. But no, she said, he was, she had seen it when he looked at her. And later, in his rooms when she looked at the books on his shelves, the volumes of the old ones, she said he was like her. She pulled down the one of the dead photographer, said she liked him, and caught when she saw the inscription inside. You knew him? And in another room when he showed her the photographs on the wall, showed her the same one as in the book. The one the photographer had given him.
Others on the walls, she stopped at one of a dark woman in the shadows, her eyes burning. He had loved this one, she knew. A long time ago, a woman with burning eyes.
They had a short time together, he and the young one, until she moved on to meet her life. Then the photograph came to him in the mail, the photograph of her. Her pale moon skin gleaming and her small proud breasts and her look into the lens. It was hot and glazed and unfocused, somewhere out past the camera, and he knew she was having another, as she should. She should have many others, she was just beginning to meet her life. But that look in her eyes, that hot, glazed look. She sent it to him to show she could still have him, and that was what he was driving the night to meet out on the road. That look in her eyes, her mark on his hand.