I knelt at stiffening Stuart Little.
I suspected he was the warmest notch in Deerthug’s belt.
He is my milken, apolitical nephew. Feds don’t recognize nuptials that made us kin. His circulatory system announces itself through clear, Danish shell.
Deerthug is an all-American huntsman. He’ll snipe anything fortunate enough to have survived the Great Flood. He fantasizes about killing things that did not. He preaches, “If it flies, it dies.”
TJ, her mom, and I were sprinkled about Deerthug’s homestead. After Slowpoke Gonazalez’ aroma began burning my nostrils, I stood.
I flip-flopped across human hair littering the lawn, to makeshift kennel. I squatted to visit Deerthug’s stepmom’s bitch’s litter. Only a few puppies had begun opening eyes. Glimpsing life in store, they snapped shut.
TJ and her mom were in the farmhouse, yelling, “Hurry up and get your stuff! We’ve got a long drive to the trailer!” at Deerthug. I scampered across hair, up warped sidesteps, and past laundry room aluminum haystack (Busch Light cans).
I joined family in kitchen. We stood on linoleum. Deceased deer wearing Barney Fife expressions stared from the walls.
The puppies’ father excavated nearby. His jaws were widening an incomplete doggy door he had chewed through dining room wall. Fiberglass scraped his teeth.
Deerthug slung his crap over his shoulder. We waved bye to his dad, who was smoking his breakfast. We headed to the car.
TJ’s mom climbed into the driver’s seat. TJ released the passenger seat and tipped it forwards. “Kids in back,” she said.
I climbed in first. Deerthug followed.
My hat that allows me to fantasize that I’m Faye Dunaway in Chinatown rested on the armrest. Deerthug grabbed it. He slid it on.
“Careful,” I warned. “That’s my sexy hat.”
“I’m sexy, too,” insisted Deerthug.
TJ’s mom drove gravel roads. She ignored us.
TJ snapped, “You can’t both be sexy!”
Deerthug, displaying the wisdom of Solomon and the wit of Dr. Seuss, replied, “Okay. I’m Sexy 1.” He slung emaciated arm around my shoulder. “And she’s Sexy 2.”
We barreled from gravel to dirt to asphalt. We accidentally merged with a Shirley Jacksonesque community’s Independence Day parade route.
Parade goers squinted at us, their eyes begging the question, “Who invited Herbie, Fully Loaded?”
I gave the crowds a racially ambiguous grin and waved.
The drive to Wisconsin was relentlessly corny.
Somebody had told Deerthug that I write, so he unilaterally decided we ought to collaborate and write a story together. I slid my bee notebook from my purse and jotted ideas he blathered. A narrative emerged, a narrative about a hardscrabble but benevolent wolf bearing Deerthug’s Christian name. This wolf resides in Alaska but during his hero’s journey, he leaves.
Strangely, along the wolf’s way, he pardons many animals a wolf typically consumes to reach daily caloric intake.
The following excerpt appears without Deerthug’s permission:
In case it appears illegibile, the excerpt reads: Ch. 6. A fox named Myriam arrives. She’s hungry she begs for food.
I asked Deerthug, “Did the wolf really leave Alaska because of of Sarah Palin?”
Deerthug asked, “Who’s that?”
“She’s a lady. She was governor.”
Deerthug exclaimed, “That ain’t right!”
“A lady governor?”
“It’s bad luck to have ladies in charge.”
“Why?” I asked. “The only difference is the lady parts. Our brains are the same color. I’ve got a pink brain. You’ve got a pink brain.”
“Nope,” Deerthug argued. “Mine’s red.”
“Nope,” I argued. “It’s pink.”
“Bring me a saw. Let’s find out.”
How does one continue cooperating with those who demean you? This, I believe, is the true plight of womanhood.
We carried on.
Though I was unfit for leadership, Deerthug allowed me to finish transcribing, crafting, and editing his masterpiece. Then, Deerthug decided, since we are the Peaches and Herb of our generation, we should extend our creative streak.
“Let’s write a song!” he proposed.
“Okay.” I agreed. “But it must be a rap.”
I worried I had opened Pandora’s Snatch. Not so. Here is what we came up with, with Deerthug impressively beatboxing:
I’m a tree! T-R-double E: Tree!
I’m a tree! Dogs like to a pee on me!
Growin’ leaves by day,
Growin’ bark by night,
For lunch, TJ’s mom parallel parked in what I mistook for a ghost town.
We headed into a diner. A waitress in her twenty-fourth month of pregnancy seated us. I peeled open my menu. The sight of the word cappuccino made me cream.
“Oh my god, I’ll have a cappuccino!”
“Me, too,” said Deerthug.
(In the backseat, I had whispered to him, “Caffeine is writing juice…”)
Our waitress waddled to the kitchen, emerged nursing child, and slid mugs before us.
I stared at my hydrogenated drink. My face fell. I had imagined a fine Italian machine steaming my beverage, not the contracting bitch schlepping to the gas station to push a button.
Over BLTs, TJ invited Deerthug to visit us in California. She described to him the new experiences he could have. He could try tamales. Eat pad thai. Observe traffic.
I asked him, “Have you ever eaten papaya?”
TJ asked, “Have you ever eaten Mexican food?”
“’Cuz I don’t like people spittin’ in my food.”
His comment went down the wrong pipe. My mouth flew open. Wet, ground BLT blew out of my face and into everybody’s plates.
Mexicans do spit in food.
On the way out of the ghost town, the adults in the front seats glared as I cracked up at a yellow sign.
I turned to Deerthug. I whispered, “It’s not like they can hear me.”
Travel combined with menstruation makes me delirious.
The further north we got, the higher the temperature rose. Once we got to Wisconsin, it was hot enough to bake pound cake in my ass.
We stopped to stock up on Chinese provisions, and in the Prairie du Chien Walmart parking lot, TJ and her mother cantankerously climbed out, yelling at Deerthug and me, “Her-E!”
“Women,” I groaned.
I looked at Deerthug. I shook my head.
“There are women,” Deerthug replied. “And then there’s Mary-um.”
As a family, we strolled into Walmart. We checked our ammo at the door.
We roved the produce area.
I examined the bakery case.
Deerthug tugged at my mom jeans. “I need shadin’ pencils!”
“Why?” I asked. “You plannin’ on sketchin’ my upper lip?”
“Yeah. And drawins for my book.”
We plucked pencils and a notepad off their hangers. Then, we ran to finger the Redbox. We picked Zookeeper for the grown-ups and Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies for ourselves.
We loaded the VW with our bags, drove through Prairie and Lynxville, and arrived at the trailer.
Deerthug ran down to his Dad’s trailer to grab shoes that fit him properly. After fifteen minutes, he tore back into the mobile living room, chest heaving.
He announced, “Trailer’s full of guacamole! Bats!”
We rode in TJs’s dad’s truck to Ferryville, up past the hamlet of Gays Mills, for supper.
TJ’s mom’s wizard sleeve welcomed the pizza…
…but a hot beave came between her and her old man.
After beave and pizza, TJ’s dad drove us to a lover’s lane to admire the majesty of the mighty Mississipp. Standing on the lookout, I felt like Samuel Clemens. I longed for a pen name. I longed to write a book about a raft, a white boy, and a black man who only exists in order for others to reach enlightenement. Had this book been written in the past, it would’ve been a forerunner of the Blind Side.