What the Hell Is It?
"What the hell is it?"
"Shit Jean, I don't know."
"Is it dead?"
Jean poked at it with a stick.
"Ain't never seen anything like it."
"Shit Jean, me neither."
Jean rolled up her sleeve, exposing the squid tattoo on her left biceps. She lit a smoke and let the tick drop to the ground. Margie started wiggling and making little noises. This irritated Jean. "Girl, why do you have to be so damned wiry all the time? Why don't you just get a grip on yourself? I mean the goddamned thing is dead–whatever it is–so why don't you just...."
It was moving.
Toward the stick.
Margie's brain snapped like a rubber band. "Maybe it's some kind of space creature like from a UFO or something! Or, no, wait–like one of them freaks of nature. You know, like a bigfoot or something, and it's going for the stick because it's like nature. It wants to be in its natural habitat!"
Jean slapped Margie hard.
Margie looked at the moving thing with saucer- eyes and pondered the metaphysical ramifications this sighting might have. It didn't take long. Jean stubbed out her Virginia Slim with the toe of her jewel covered sandal. Both women were transfixed. Jean broke the silence.
"I'm going back to the trailer and find some bug spray or a fly swatter or some goddamned thing to kill it with!" Before Margie could stop her, Jean had taken off for the trailer.
The thing had attached itself to the side of the stick.
Margie gasped. It was black and shiny, and Margie couldn't take her eyes off her own reflection in the thing's pulpy body. She wanted to touch it; she reached out and just let her hand hover over the top of it. It made her hand hot. The sun was beating down on her dark roots. Sweat poured down her neck onto her halter top and dripped from the tips of her breasts onto the ground.
The thing began to move toward the damp spots her sweat had made.
"Oh my god! It wants to be near alive things! It wants to be near things that are...alive!" Her pale pink lips began to flutter, and something rumbled through her belly. She was hungry. She was driven. She was on fire. Hot and queasy, she fantasized how the thing might move along her body and how it might make her feel. Visions of sizzling bacon and spankings and the little white dress with the fake pearls that she was confirmed in bobbed in her liquid brain. "Margie, what the hell is wrong with you? Has the sun fried your pea brain? Get the hell away from it! I said, GET AWAY YOU FUCKIN MORON!" Margie turned to look at Jean. Her hair was wild, and white foam gurgled at the corners of her little heart shaped mouth. "Jesus Margie. Get back–I don't want to hurt you."
Jean held the swirly pink bowling ball high into the air, and her skinny arms twitched from the weight of it. "Goddamn it Margie–MOVE!"
But there wasn't any Margie anymore. She had become something wild. Her eyes were black like the thing resting calmly on the toe of her Cherokees. Across Jean's arm, the squid's tentacles stretched widely as she raised the pink weapon higher. Something cracked and Jean let loose a pinched whimper. Her legs gave way and she dropped the bowling ball. Margie had bitten her and was tearing at her kneecap, growling like a big dog. The ball came down hard on the thing on Margie's toe. Margie, yelping, rolled into a ball, like a potato bug.
Jean collapsed in the sand. She cradled her bloody knee with one hand, and with the other she gently rolled the bowling ball over. And it was gone. The thing had disappeared completely. She looked over at Margie and saw the blood oozing from her right foot. She reached out to touch it–but there wasn't any Margie anymore. "Margie look at me. Let me see your face. Come on now, look at me." The potato bug girl uncurled and rolled over in the sand. She parted her lips and said, "It was questions and answers. It was chances...and you killed it." Jean's tenderness had dried up. "It was a black shiny piece of shit like some kind of bug from the dinosaur days, and you're goddamned right I killed it! And sure as shit I'd kill it again if it dropped out of a flying saucer right now and dragged its squishy ass across my best friend's toe! Jesus Margie, you ought to thank me."
Margie winced, "It made me think."
"I'll say it made you think! Made you think you were a fricken pit bull! LOOK AT MY KNEE! Well, it made me think too–made me think I'll go on back to the trailer and open a Bud and a bag of pork rinds and forget the whole fuckin thing! That's what it made me think."
Margie sat up and looked straight ahead. "I'm not going back to the trailer."
"Okay you fuckin fruitcake. You just sit here and wait for the second coming, and when you get tired of it you just–"
"I'm not going back!"
Whatever Margie! What. Ever. Don't miss Oprah–it's a good one today." Jean limped back to the trailer and went inside.
Margie sat there a good long time. She began to shake and her eyes rolled back. She began to speak of the visions she could see on the TV screens of her eyelids. She began to speak of things that she had never seen before in her tiny life. It was overwhelming–the endless possibilities afforded to her virgin imagination. She began to writhe in the sand with such intensity that sparks began to fly up from the sand and bounce off her head like comets.
Jean watched from the window. "I'm every woman..." echoed through the TV set. Applause rang out through the open door of the trailer as Jean limped desperately to Margie. Jean stopped suddenly and squeaked, dropping her Bud in the sand.
Margie was sputtering and shaking violently, assaulted by her own creativity. For the first time in her life she was deeply moved. And she couldn't take it. Her head began to split in half and finally exploded, flinging its contents across the Sunny Day trailer park.
Jean fell to her knees, covered with Margie's brain splatter and cried, "Margie! No!
But there wasn't any Margie anymore.