I never would have called, but I was desperate. And I never would have come out and said those things to Pike’s girl on the phone, but her voice in my hand, so close to my head.

I pictured her full lips brushing against my ear. I remembered how she smiled at me that time I’d stopped over to get a bag at the house. Nothing crazy, her smile, but enough to stay in my thoughts. We were all pretty high, watching some talk show that was on and Pike was all sprawled out on the couch laughing at some little stuttering kid born without feet when I caught her eye. Anyway, just goes to show you the kind of guy Pike is.

On the phone I told her I had the money. Which I didn’t. But I did have my half of the rent. She said I could come over. I got dressed.

You’d think I would have talked myself out of a very bad plan. On the bus. Down the sidewalk. Up the steps and past Pike’s weight bench. Did I mention I was desperate?

Tina answered the door and my dreams with one flutter of her elongaged eyelashes. You think I knew something was up? Nope. Because love does things to your sensory system. And weed. Weed does that too.

I cruised on into Pike’s house like I hadn’t been ducking him for months. Some horoscope hotline commercial was on TV and candles were lit. Tina had on a tank top and shorts that showed off that snake tattoo on her legs. She was gorgeous, from those turquoise eyelids down to her toenails, painted a lively shade of traffic-halting yellow that reminded me of windswept Dollar General bags fluttering in the tree branches along the expressway.

Then that voice. “Turtle, I ‘m glad you’ve come.”

She closed the door behind me, and as bad as I wanted some weed I wanted this girl more. More than a place to live. More than that Mickie D’s bag  on the couch, leaking a savory thick canola oil fumes that cut through the fog of incense. More than anything.

She gave me that smile. Then she reached out and touched my lips, speaking to me again in a honey coated rasp.

“You have the money?”

I nodded, reached in my pocket and found a wad of cash and handed it over to her. I would have handed her anything. Tucker was going to kill me about the rent and all but I wasn’t thinking about that because I wasn’t thinking at all and I leaned in and kissed her–like really kissed her and she kissed me back and we were kissing right there with the infomercial going on when someone said, “Turtle, my man.”

Yeah, that someone. The TV was blaring about what lay ahead for the day and how I should call now to get a personalized reading.

…there will be tension in the air…

Pike was grinning from the doorway, his weird eyes all revved up in their sockets. Tina still had a hold of my neck with her claws, which I kind of liked but then again, Pike. I needed to run.

“Don’t look so surprised, Turtle.”

Tina pat me on the head, like you would a puppy, then she swished over and handed Pike the cash. She spoke close tin his ear but loud enough so that I could hear that sticky voice of hers.

“I wish you would look at me the way he does, muchacho.”

Pike chuckled, counting my rent money, which was still short but he lit up the blunt in his mouth. Exhaled. I had to give it to him, the guy had a knack for drama. He could play himself in the movie version of his life. In no hurry he folded up my money and just sort of appraised me as I stood there about to piss myself.

“You hear that? She likes you, Turtle.”

I was happy to hear it, but kind of bummed because the horoscope was right about the tension in the day and all. But Pike simply nodded for the door.


I went. Out the door and down the porch. Rent-less and weed-less, free as the day I walked. But I was alive, I knew it.

Because I was in love.



–Pete Fanning/2016


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