Into the Blackness Above the Creek by Gwen Beatty

The billboard was supposed to say, “Boys! Come get a look at Annie’s Apples!” with a big picture of some broad holding two apples in front of her tits, and a big arrow pointing to the next exit so that truckers would have a place to go halfway to wherever they were supposed to be. The billboard wasn’t supposed to get me fired.

I didn’t mean to be out there in the dark, drunk, pasting up giant sheets of the apple-titted lady out of order. I told this story to the girl in the passenger seat of my Honda. She wasn’t impressed. She seemed more interested in the content of the billboard, and not interested in me at all.

I stared at the run in her tights. It was a dime-sized circle that began just below her knee then shot straight up between her thighs into her crotch, which I hoped was supple and warm like how I imagine the crotches of girls in pornos are. By the way she looked at my forehead instead of my eyes as I talked, I knew I’d never find out anything about her crotch.

I had exhausted the billboard story. I pulled onto the shoulder just before the bridge. “Are you coming with me?” I said.

She pushed the hem of her skirt back over her knee.

*

My first job was in a concession stand at a hockey rink. I was supposed to be putting hot dogs in buns, but I became the beer guy after some other guy stopped showing up.  I poured a lot of beer on my feet, but I got paid fifty cents more an hour.

I spent the majority of those early paychecks on two shelter dogs, a Pomeranian and a Husky. I wanted to make a Pomsky, but I couldn’t get them to fuck. I don’t know, maybe one of them was fixed.

They’re both dead. I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

*

I could see the hole in her tights again, until her thighs tightened and pushed together. We sat on the edge of the bridge squinting into the dark. She hadn’t looked at me in five minutes.

The bones above her chest met carefully and outlined a series of goosebumps that rose up and fell back with the breeze. I followed her line of sight into the blackness above the creek, imagining us there in the emptiness, her holding me there. I imagined the heat of her, the humidity of her breath close in my ear.

On the bridge, I reached for her hand and said, “Can I kiss you?”

She held her stare over the water.

“I’m scared.”

*

My Uncle Jack used to run neighborhood dogfights, and he always said he “did it for the bitches.” My Uncle Jack had lots of girlfriends.

Uncle Jack used to drive me out to a bridge on the edge of town with however many dead, or sometimes dying, dogs he had in his backyard after the dogfights. Sometimes I’d hold them if they were still alive. The potholes in the gravel road made the dogs in the truck bed tumble around together.

Uncle Jack hated the radio. The dogs made their own heavy death march.

“You gotta have somethin’ girls want, but never give it to ‘em. Or at least give it to ‘em slow.”

He cracked one Coors, then another, and set one down in the dirt next to me with a wink. He started pulling dead dogs from the truck and throwing them over the bridge into the creek. They never sank as fast as I thought they should have. They all sat together on the top of the water for a while. Bloated, noses paled.

I picked up the beer and held it in the air in front of me. “I don’t have anything girls want, though.”

He chuckled and gripped my shoulder a little too hard, his hand cold from the carcasses, the sweat on his beer.


Gwen Beatty is Associate Fiction Editor of Cease, Cows. She is a sorority dropout who plays in several fictitious bands that all sound exactly like Cheap Trick. She very recently tasted honey for the first time. You can find her on twitter @gabetwee