flirting with an empty head

Aristotle has been flirting with an empty head for quite some time. It is pointless to lay the nib down when it refuses to engage the flesh. Ink has an uncanny ability to drive drunk. Vicious vehicles those writing implements, going in loops between lines. When clearing crap out of your head, lame-ass words are shit squatters like perching dogs in a park. No surprises there, he muses. At least it’s not his brain vomiting for laughs–just his prose. Since his pens are inkless and his head is running on fumes, only one solution remains. There in Aristotle’s garage sleeps a loaded tank. Why not go to fucking Tijuana?

Aristotle jumps into his patchwork Maverick. His ass hitting the erratic seat coils sets them to moaning. After many years of repression, these springs are dangerously close to ripping through their blue plaid prison. Aristotle knows the old Ford could go Flintstone on him at any moment. And though the writer can’t regurgitate a decent sentence, his baser instincts assure the old V6 has one last ride. They’ll both see Tijuana.

They log three nights sleeping near shoulders made of asphalt dermis. Midway through and making good time, Aristotle stops in an off-road bar, The Speckled Pig. He’s wallowing in pity beyond what’s normal even for him. The writer envisions his own speckles–brown and smelling of shit–just like his two unfinished novels. Stories he once made love to more genuinely than the last three women he’d bedded beneath and above his threadbare sheets have abandoned him.

Beyond The Speckled Pig’s bulky stub of a door, a gentleman–looking more worn out than Aristotle–slops beer into tall mugs. A dingy rag dangles over his boxy shoulder. Aristotle thinks back to the shining white dishtowel that once lived on his nana. His beloved grandmother long since removed from the word-sucking world. His dry writer’s brain refocuses on libations and the heavy lip of the old bar. Behind the unintended distressed wood trots a frozen pig. A large taxidermied sow splattered with bright polka dots poses on a weight-bearing shelf-irony? Aristotle introduces himself to the speckled carcass first then the bartender. He learns Frank’s mother, Martha gave the money for the bar. It is her portrait hanging dearly next to the painted sow, also named Martha. Aristotle wonders if Frank the bartender–already drunk at 10 AM–nurses Oedipal issues but chooses beer googles over eye gouging.

The writer can’t place a reason why–maybe the pig made him think of cow which made him think of dairy–he is craving White Russians. It happens that old Frank was more than just an Oedipal suffering lush. He mixed one hell of a White Russian. Between cream pours, Aristotle learns the barkeep’s history. How his great grandparents came from Norway, Poland, Bulgaria and possibly Budapest though Frank isn’t really sure of any of those places. It is sundown when Aristotle steps out of The Speckled Pig. He’s fallen in love with her rank darkness, but is too exhausted for romance. In the dirt lot, the Maverick’s tired white paint shines almost new in the fading sun. Aristotle jumps through the car’s open window and crashes to sleep.

The next morning the two travelers make it to San Diego. The Mav’s V6 sputtering a bit. The writer can’t think of a reason why he feels the urge to walk through the zoo–maybe the pig made him think of a cow made him think of a hippo–but he parks the Maverick and throws fifty bucks down. Aristotle walks by all the large animal enclosures. The grace, the beauty, their regal indifference. These beasts’ choices are locked in collars.

After the zoo, Aristotle and the Maverick make it Tijuana’s border. It is the Maverick’s last ride. She dies in Puerta Este’s parking facility. He rubs her faded hood and doesn’t look back. Aristotle pays twenty-one bucks, shows his passport then spends a few hours browsing vendor enclosures. He spots what nana used to affectionately call her, Mary on the half shell–the Madonna statue in her tomato garden. He hasn’t thought of nana for a very long time and these last few days she’s visited twice. This past year Aristotle’s words had gotten stuck in enclosures, ideas drove to places then died in the parking lot, his characters were without history–roots, his pens stiffened to taxidermied shells. The sentimentally absurd Franks of the world had stories to tell.

And so does Aristotle…

Paper Shadow

Paper Shadow

I thought this little character was about right for Aristotle’s woes. I created him 2 years ago when I was on a roll with these graphics until I sputtered on them like the Maverick…




4 thoughts on “flirting with an empty head

  1. AM, your voice (again) is so strong here, you’re hitting all the right notes (so many wonderful turns of phrase, like “asphalt dermis”), and you’re definitely in the narrative driver’s seat, whether heading to Tijuana or wherever. 🙂 Great story about story making/telling (and Paper Shadow a perfect, apt graphic). DS

    Liked by 1 person

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