Down and Out on Burnet Road

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A158 down and out

For a period of four months in early 2012 Paul, Seth, Danny, the two Toms, Jen and later on Katrine had gone to the White Horse every Thursday. It was the closest thing any of them had to going to church, or synagogue for that matter. They drank cheap bourbon and spun to honky tonk in a chaotic mosh pit of a dance floor. It was on one of these nights that Paul met Katrine. She stood on the back patio with a long cigarette dangling from her mouth and a whiskey neat in her hand. She sported a well maintained little flapper haircut and wore 90 style Guess jeans. Paul asked to bum a smoke and when she said “sure” in her cute little accent, he lusted for her. They talked about France and Sartre and some about politics and when Paul asked her to dance again, she said sure.

She danced very well and held herself close against him. His arousal pained itself against his tight Wranglers. A week later he invited her over to his apartment for dinner and they got half way through a Godard film before he kissed her and lead her to his bedroom. They kissed slowly at first, romantically and then wildly licking each other’s necks. Then Paul tore off her flowy white t-shirt and held her close to him as he sucked her nipples. He peeled off her tight red pants and kissed down her belly as he slid her white panties down to her ankles and slid his forefinger up her leg. He buried his head in the thick black muff between her legs and when she came she held a pillow over her face.

This was the only time she came over. No explanation was ever given to Paul and after handwriting a heartfelt letter to which there was no reply he deleted her contact information from every facet of communication and attempted to erase her from his mind. But a month later she appeared at the White Horse and fell in with the group as if nothing had happened. It was at this point Paul decided to accept the internship with a foreign policy think tank in New York. He left Austin in late May.

When the full time job prospects were non-existent and the money ran out he decided to come home.

“Maybe we will. We haven’t been going out that much. I guess we’re getting old.”

“They have pills for that. Well, I will leave y’all to your pancakes or omelets or whatever. Here’s a few bucks for the coffee.”

“Thanks, Paul. Have a good one.”

“You too – and seriously, come next week. Katrine – save a dance for me.”

She looked up and just shyly waved.

Paul stepped out of the Omlettry and into the bright sun of Burnet Road. He sat in his red 2008 Camry and clicked through his iPod for five minutes before finally just putting on some Townes Van Zandt and heading south. He had nothing to do that day. He reached the end of Burnet and took a right on 45th and headed to the highway. He looped around on the access road and got on Barton Springs and went to the park. He took his poncho liner out of the trunk and lay under a tree and tried to read some Borges short stories but he couldn’t think of anything but Katrine. He wasn’t sure who he hated more, Katrine or Seth. What did she see in his effeminate waifishness anyway?

Seth had been a good friend, but he was a civilian through and through and did not share the same “bro code” of ethics that Paul’s army friends had. But Paul had distanced himself from his army friends after the last deployment. He wasn’t sure why. Maybe it brought back bad memories, memories of people who were now dead. But most likely it was because Paul grown to loathe almost everything about the army. The bad haircuts, the conservative diatribes, the macho bullshit. He found himself in limbo between his Neanderthal army pals and his college friends who were in a word…pussies. But at least they were interesting.

He stared up at the cloudless blue sky and heard a family running and playing nearby. He looked over and there were five of them plus a yellow lab. The father, a six-foot tall Aryan in Oakleys, carried an infant in what looked to be a very expensive carrier that looked similar to tactical gear. It was even coyote tan like a plate carrier vest.

Paul thought about family. If he just had a girlfriend all his problems would be solved, he often thought. Which lead him to think about his life choices. What if he had done a more traditional nice Jewish boy life plan, going to law or medical school instead of carrying a machine gun across the deserts of ancient Babylon? Maybe he would be married and happy and rich. When he had returned from basic training he went to a Chanukah party at the home of some family friends.

As he recounted the details of his time at Fort Benning, a four year old ran around the table with a foam sword. The mother of the four year old, Annette Schwartz, looked at Paul with eyes that betrayed shock and pity. She was thirtyish and her husband, Isaac, was a pudgy, mildly effeminate lawyer for Dell Computers. Paul’s haircut was even too intense for her. As soon as Paul finished talking to her, Uncle Dan, with his orange skin and grey hair, put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, he’ll (meaning the child) grow up to be a doctor.”

This incident symbolized a separation Paul had from the rest of the Jewish Community that been growing ever since Hebrew School art class. When assigned to draw “What Israel means”, Paul drew a picture of an IDF tank.

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I live in a cabin in West Texas where I eat salted meat. drink bourbon and await the apocalypse. I have a cat named Rufus who enjoys Frito Lay bean deep and a bitter ex-wife who spends my money furnishing her upper West Side flat. I love the films of Dario Argento and John Ford. My father was an oil man and my mother the heiress to a diamond fortune that was hijacked by some revolution Africa.