Down and Out on Burnet Road

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A158 down and out

Jewish learning was torture for Paul as a child. Even at the age of eight the idea that there was a man in the sky who didn’t want him to eat pepperoni pizza offended him, and he always made a point to sneak Slim Jims, and occasionally pork rinds, into the temple. Whenever he got in trouble, his teacher somehow managed to bring the holocaust into the discussion of Paul’s disrespect for Jewish tradition. Jews had a real hard-on for the holocaust, Paul thought to himself. It was like the ultimate bondage porn.

He sat up, shook himself out of his self-pity and sent a text message to Danny and gay Tom seeing if they wanted to grab a drink at LaLa’s in a few hours. They both replied yes.

Paul managed to finish reading one of the Borges stories, one about a man getting crucified by farmers, before getting into his car, driving up Lamar, turning back onto Burnet and stopping at the Top Notch for a greasy Jalapeno laden cheeseburger. Paul ate the burger while sitting in his car as NPR calmly explained the fiscal apocalypse in which America now descended. He drove home to the Pepperwood apartments and he put the AC on full blast even though it was only March. He stripped off all clothes and lay in bed feeling the cold air blow all over his body. Tom Waits and Sofia Loren stared down at him from the walls. He closed his eyes and thought of Katrine. He imagined her on top of him, her small breasts hanging over his face. After he pleasured himself, he felt guilty for thinking so much of Katrine.

After lying in bed for an hour and never really sleeping, he walked naked into the other room and put on a Lightnin’ Hopkins record and then grabbed a Shiner from the fridge before hopping in the shower. He sipped the cold beer and thought about masturbating again but didn’t. What is up with my libido? he thought. Ever since coming home, most of his thinking had been done by his crotch. Instead of conducting thorough job searches, he spent the day thinking of ways to fulfill his desires.

He left the empty beer bottle in the shower and grabbed another, flipped over the record and put on some shorts. He watched South Park for three hours.

After eating a slice of leftover pizza, Paul pulled on a pair of gray Levi’s and a white button down shirt. He opened his door and saw the sun setting over Westlake Hills.

“Jesus, I’m a piece of shit.” He muttered. He put in his headphones and walked to LaLa’s.

Tom and Danny had beat him there and were inside drinking whiskey sours. Tom smoked a cigarette. You could still get away with that sometimes at LaLa’s, a bar that permanently looked like Christmas 1970 with a jukebox stuck in 1965. Buddy Holly played, then Frank Sinatra then Nina Simone.

Tom caught Paul up his management a promotion at Whole Foods, a career development that had positive implications for the whole group. The old lady waitress came over to Paul and he ordered a Jameson on the rocks.

When the drink came he held up and said “Good to be back, guys.” They toasted and proceeded to pour a lot of whiskey down their throats. Tom got a call and stepped outside for a minute and returned smiling.

“You get free Madonna tickets or something?” Danny teased.

“You know it, girl!” Replied Tom in a gay lisp that was not his.

“No, I just heard from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while.”

“Lady Gaga?” asked Paul.

“You guys are such dicks.”

“Isn’t that why you like us?” chided Danny.


An hour later Paul got up to play a song on the jukebox. As he flipped through the albums a pair of hands covered his eyes.

“Guess who?” challenged a girl’s voice.

Paul turned around. It was Jen. She raised her heavily braceleted arms in the air and wrapped them around Paul squeezing him while lifting her feet in the air. He grabbed her around the waist and carried her to a chair and kissed the top of her head as he sat her down.

He was filled with an unexpected sense of joy at this little surprise and the remnants of the day’s earlier bitterness slipped away.

“Well how you been, little lady?’ he spouted, slapping the table.

“I’m better now that I’m here in Austin with my boys!”

“What, you haven’t been enjoying buying diamonds and driving BMWs or whatever you people in Dallas do?”

“You’re such a hater.”

“No, I’m just an asshole.”

“But you’re my asshole.”

“Well thanks, babe.”

The group chatted and joked and for a moment Paul spaced out, and staring out into space he felt Jen’s hand on his thigh. He looked over at her and she smiled.

They left her car in the parking lot and she walked with him, her arm in his. She looked good. She had gained five pounds maybe, but still. Her brown hair was pulled back in a loose bun and her ample chest near spilled from her low cut sequined black shirt. They walked up the stairs to his apartment and he kissed her at the top of the stairwell. They went inside and he went to get a glass of water for them to share. When he walked into his room, she stood before him, naked. Her pale white skin shone like the moon in his dark room. Her pubic hair was trimmed in a thin vertical strip. He took a sip of water and placed the glass on his dresser. He walked to her and kissed her on the neck and smelled her hair. She put her hands on his hips and then pushed him on the bed.

When she took him in her mouth he felt as if a large weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He thought of the cleansing rain at the end of Ben-Hur. When he came, she promptly got up, kissed his belly and pranced over to the bathroom to wash out her mouth. He sat on the edge of the bed and when she returned he held her by the hips and kissed her belly and turned her around kissed the top of her pear-shaped buttocks. She sat in his lap and he held her there for some time. They lay in silence before she gently climbed on top of him and they made love. They rested only briefly before they went at it again, this time with her on her hands and knees. She fell asleep soon after but he lay awake. The way the moon came through the window and reflected off her body made him wish he could paint.

He lay on his back and put his hands behind his head and stared up at Tom Waits and Sophia Loren. At least for now, all his problems were solved.

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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.