By Justus E. Taylor

4,083 Words

Copyright 1997 by Justus E. Taylor

space "I consider this dedication today as possibly the most meaningful tribute, I, as President of these United States have ever paid to the body politic of this great nation. That is because this monument, to the Unknown Person, symbolizes the toils, struggles, disappointments and bravery of the ninety-nine percent of our people who pay their bills, raise their children, clean their houses, wash their cars, use Hamburger Helper and do a thousand other difficult things during their anonymous lifetimes. They are heroes. We never hear of them, but they are sitting next to each of us right now. We will never see them on TV, but collectively they are more important than any president, any general, any star or athlete. They are the real America, and this monument here in Arlington National Cemetery is for them! Thank you."

space The scene on the TV immediately shifted to a news anchorman who began commenting about the fact that it was an election year and there seemed to be no act of grandstanding that was too corny or facetious for the vote hungry President or his opponents. Delroy got up from the table in the air-conditioned lunchroom of the Richter Mercedes Benz dealership of Hudson, New York, and switched off the old black-and-white TV that sat on a high shelf in a corner of the room. In the middle of the few seconds of silence while he did this, his stomach loudly announced, "pergloogle, pergloogle, pergloogle." The four other workers in the room broke into peals of laughter and Knuckles, the company joker, asked Delroy the familiar question, "You had somethin fishy for dinner again last night Delroy?" And the laughter broke out anew, as it had been doing for at least three weeks.

space Dr. Havytmaid's partly cleaned 1997 E-Class Mercedes looked almost inviting to Delroy Baker as he returned to his work station in a corner of the dealership's garage. The corner contained the pressure washer, the hoses, the vacuum cleaner, the steam cleaning machine, assorted brushes, soft towels, glass cleaner, body wax and a tire sidewall glaze called "Armor All." He felt he had been at war with his twenty-two-year-old stomach for several weeks and that he was losing. That is, if you judged by how often his stomach was making those weird noises and by how loud they were getting. He opened all of the car's doors and began checking for litter between the seat cushions and under the seats too, feeling glad that since the doctor brought the car in every month, he never had that much cleaning to do.

space "Probably takes it off his taxes," he was muttering to himself as his hand swept beneath the driver's seat-and pushed out a folded copy of the Wall Street Journal. He picked up the paper and unfolded it, revealing the front page, and also causing a pair of silk panties to fall to floor. A used and dried condom was stuck to the top of the page, partly obstructing the word "Journal," so that at first glance the name of the paper seemed to be "The Wall Street Urinal." After he picked up the panties, and before he threw them in the trash, it crossed his mind that maybe he should save them. They might be worth some money to the doctor...or to his wife! But he threw them in the trash because, in truth, he was afraid of the doctor. Afraid of losing his job. He needed this job even though he considered it his punishment for dropping out of high school with still a year to go. And although he was a well-built five-foot eight and a half, no amount of fantasizing had ever made him believe that he would someday be a TV or movie star. Not even in porn.

space As Delroy was about to chuck the newspaper into the trash, the word "Brain," in a title on the front page caught his eye and he stopped to read the column. In moments he was transfixed by the story of a report in a medical journal that said that it had recently been discovered that every person had two brains--one in the skull and one in the stomach and intestines. They called the new discovery the, "Visceral Brain," and it was said to be able to sense danger and well-being. It could cause the other brain to experience fear, along with a desire to dash to the nearest toilet. Delroy was fascinated. This information seemed especially intended for him. He considered that he had not been able to manage in school with the only brain he thought he had, but now all of a sudden here was this miracle that said his body had a second thinking place. A place where he might be a genius! His stomach happened to growl loudly at that very moment, "urp!"

space He became so engrossed in his reading that he failed to notice the approach of one of the assistant managers, Mr. Stenson. Stenson ripped the paper from Delroy's hands and glared at him. Delroy frantically rummaged through his mind for some plausible explanation, while Stenson looked at the paper and realized he had grabbed a handful of dried condom. He grimaced, somewhat daintily, and threw the paper aside as he impishly asked Delroy, "Looking through the want ads, I hope?" "No sir, no sir," Delroy yelled after Stenson as he walked away.

space Fear of losing his job made Delroy work faster than usual on the doctor's car the rest of the afternoon. But it also gave him the idea of playing the Lotto daily number that evening so that he might get some extra money in his pocket, just in case Stenson was going to fire him. He tried to think up a good three-digit number, to play "straight" for a dollar that might bring him as much as five hundred.

space By five minutes of five, he hadn't decided on any numbers. He started to get desperate. Then he realized what would be the perfect number to play, the doctor's license plate number, MD 069. Just as this thought passed through his mind, his stomach commented on the choice with, "zurb, wugup, rrrrrrr."

space By six o'clock that evening Delroy had already stopped in at a drug store and played 069 straight and in every possible combination. He had also downed two Whoppers and a soda at Burger King, on Columbia Street, only a block from Morley's bar, his favorite hangout. The clock behind the bar said 6:03 as he entered, to find his neighbor and fellow Mercedes worker, Knuckles, holding forth to five or six beer drinkers who were willing to listen, with his free advice about everything. Delroy almost immediately exited, for fear of some of Knuckles's teasing about his stomach, but reconsidered when he noted that Knuckles was totally involved with his little audience. He asked Smitty the bartender for a beer and slipped into the corner of the bar's return, by the wall, where he could listen to Knuckles's stuff--which was often very funny, as long as it wasn't about you. Knuckles himself was comical to look at since he was this huge six-foot-two-incher with a mid-life belly that pushed his belt buckle down to where his fly once was, causing his jeans to bunch up on his thighs, and making the belly look like a boxer's medicine ball about to drop in between two elongated bananas that were his legs. He had years ago gone bald on top and had mixed gray on the sides. He used his stentorian voice to the fullest, hoping to always drown out everyone else's thoughts and perhaps to rattle the glasses on the back bar.

space "Young women say 'no' too much, "Knuckles intoned, while loudly smacking his beer mug down on the bar. "But you can get used to that. The trouble is, old women say "yes" too much, and who needs them? I'd rather have a cold beer! Ha, ha, ha. When you're talkin about old women, men need the fore-play! When it comes to those old mamas, all they can do for me is point me to where the young babes are. He, he, snort! When you're young, pussy is a prize to be won. When you're an old married man, it's a job to be done. I've got this friend. He likes me, says I'm so smart. He's so rich he never sees shit--has a guy on salary to flush his toilet. Yeah, no crap! I mean it. Ha, ha. Well he says most people are simply too lazy to get rich. They think the world owes them a living. My friend says there's only two times when the world owes you a living, when you're just born, and when you've worked long and hard enough to qualify for your pension! I asked him the other day how he made so much money and he told me it was the stock market. So I asked him what he thought of the stock market now, and he said, 'bye, bye, buy, buy, bye, buy! You get it? He, ha, ha, ha, gulp, ha."

spaceDelroy had nearly spit out his beer a couple of times as he listened, but his stomach had been totally silent until the last bit, about the stock market. Then it had made a loud comment of, "oooo, ook, flimp," which he took to mean that there might be some future in trying to learn about stocks. Happening to glance up at the clock, he was surprised to see that it was already 7:45. He immediately felt rushed, since he was planning to drive his highly polished, but old, Chevy out to the community college in Greenport. There he would attend a public lecture on support groups--for people who have no problems, and for people who don't have friends. He often attended lectures at the school, not to learn anything, but simply to meet intellectual types of girls who would usually feel so superior to him that they were very comfortable in going to bed with him.

space Dashing from Morley's, Delroy started up the Chevy on the first try and swiftly pulled out into the flow of traffic. At first he was going to follow Columbia Street all the way down to Third and then cut over but he got a bad feeling about that and decided to cut over at Fifth and go down Warren. At the very moment that he made this decision his stomach seemed to approve with, "uggle, dirap, rop!" When he made his left turn onto Third from Warren, his attention was caught by flashing red lights in his rear view mirror and he heard the sounds of pistol fire coming out of the block that he had by-passed.

space At the lecture, Delroy carefully chose a seat next to a girl who happened to be plump and wore glasses, but who also appeared to be alone. He was reassured when she gave him a nod and a tiny smile as he took his seat. She was wearing a sleeveless cotton top of deep blue with white pants and white strapped sandles that had minute flecks of red. Noting that her shoulder-length hair was very well groomed, he glanced at her hands and was satisfied to see that she wore only a school ring. He calculated that her outfit coordinated well with his blue denim shirt, open down to the third button, giving only a glimpse of the small winged dagger tattoo on his chest. He had on blue jeans and low-cut deck sneakers and he was careful in crossing his legs, away from her, so that the bottom of his shoe wouldn't be a threat to her white pants. As he did this his gut agreed, giving him, "eee, rumph," which was loud, in and of itself, but happened to coincide with a smattering of applause for a point that the speaker was making. So it went unnoticed by everyone except Delroy himself.

space The lecture ended promptly at nine and this pleased Delroy. He always suffered during lectures that dragged on and made him wait to get to his real business. As the audience filed out of the lecture hall, he made sure that he stayed close behind his quarry and he sensed her tracking his location out of the corner of her eye. As soon as there was a little space to maneuver, he eased up next to her and said, "Excuse me, but ..." and then he asked what he always asked the girl he had picked out to try and screw. "Could you explain to me what he(she) meant when she(he) said, "Society cries out for a better solution to this problem?" By the way, my name is Delroy. What's yours?"

space Clara happily identified herself and then charitably began explaining, "Well, I don't know if he said exactly that, in those exact words I mean, but generally what he meant was...."

space Clara was starved for attention. She was a five-foot-four bundle of raw emotional bruises. For the prior four of her twenty-six years she had been living with her medical student boy friend and footing all the bills from her job as an assistant-to-the-editor of a medium size literary magazine. It wasn't merely understood, she was always told by Arnold that when he finished medical school they would get married. Held make it all up to her by letting her stay home and be a writer, mother and homemaker. But a few weeks before graduation, Arnold couldn't stand her being over-weight ("so fat," he actually said) hated everything she cooked, complained that the house wasn't clean enough (even though she could have been diagnosed anal compulsive) said she was smothering him and nagging him and that he was "Outta here!" On graduation day he was already moving in with one of his graduating classmates, a trans-sexual future plastic surgeon from a wealthy family.

spaceBy 10:05 p.m., Delroy was sitting at Clara's spotless kitchen table in her one-bedroom apartment a few miles from the school. Nursing a cup of "instant cappuccino," he was convincingly playing the role which usually brought him success. "I'm kinda embarrassed to tell you this, but I quit in my third year of high school because my mom got sick and couldn't work any more. She had supported me all my life. You see, my father was a union organizer, in the South. You know, textile mill workers in Alabama, Georgia and places like that. Know what I mean? So what happens? The owners frame him for killing a manager of one of the mills and he winds up dying in a fight in prison. I was only two at the time. Can't even remember what he looked like. But that's life. I don't feel sorry for myself. All I've ever wanted is just to have somebody to love, besides Mom, you know what I mean." He happily made a mental note that Clara's eyes had misted over. He passed her a tissue from one of several boxes near him and she used it to dab at the corners of her eyes.

space The thoughtful side of Delroy recalled Knuckles's mention of foreplay as he rolled around and caressed and massaged Clara in her bed, while smugly complimenting himself on his patience. After all, the next day was Friday, a work day, and it was now past one in the morning. It kept occurring to him that he had to drive all the way back home.

space To complete the softening-up process and to distract Clara while he entered her, he relied on a line that he always used. Abruptly staring into her eyes, he intoned gravely: "So we meet again Professor Moriarty! Allow me to compliment you on a very clever disguise!" Clara burst out laughing, but quickly subdued that impulse just in case Delroy might think she was too superficial for the intimate moment. But she made a mental note of how masterful he was.

space Presently, he eased himself into the saddle and began a series of motions which he was sure he had invented, since so many girls had told him what a great lover he was. But then it started. "Blaw, wurgup, ooguliump! Wonak, gupup, ooot! sisss, purgle, sisss, peep! glunk, urnk, ooohh!" They were so loud that there was no hope of ignoring them. Clara even stopped the purring noises and her heavy breathing which were so soothing to his ego minutes before.

space What to do? Delroy's rate of perspiration doubled in an instant. The noises didn't stop. He imagined he was about to get that old cramp in the muscles of his butt. The noises continued. He stopped all the kissing and put his face past hers, down into the pillow, to think. The stomach pursued him with, "clid, clop-clid, ssss!" Finally, in desperate panic, he burst loudly into song. Somehow, the only song he could force into his head was "Old McDonald Had a Farm." But he gave it his best tenor anyway. Anything to cover those damned stomach demons! "With a moo moo here and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, cluck cluck here, and a cluck cluck there, here a cluck, there a cluck, everywhere a...."

space Clara was speechless. Her whole body tensed so strongly that she could have fired him out of her like he was a rocket from a bazooka! But her intellect took over and she regained control an instant later. While she continued to roll her hips and ease up and down in halting rhythm with him, she thought about the situation. Since she had been with Arnold for so many years, she allowed that she might be behind the times. Or maybe it was a class thing? Something among only blue-collar people, she speculated. Maybe the simple folk had discovered a turn-on the intellectuals had never dreamed of? In any case, it might not do any harm? At least this guy wouldn't be able to say she was too snooty. She managed to chime in, right on the beat, with, "an oink oink here and an oink oink there, here an oink, there an oink, everywhere an oink oink...."

space Delroy didn't get home until three in the morning. He didn't disturb anyone else's sleep. He lived alone, and his father hadn't died in prison, or ever been a union organizer. He was still the town drunk in Kinderhook. The tired Delroy was simultaneously very depressed and also elated that he had escaped Clara without her telling him to his face that he was a nut case! (But between you and me that was exactly what she thought. In spades! It even occurred to her that maybe it was something contagious, and she should throw out the sheets and mattress and sleep on the couch until pay day.) Delroy lay awake most of the wee hours trying to figure out what to do about that stomach of his. On the one hand, it was causing all kinds of embarrassment. On the other, he had come to believe there was some kind of special knowledge there, like what they called ESP. But if it was gonna kill his sex life, what good was it really? But maybe it was gonna make him hit the daily number and held have two weeks extra pay by the end of that same day.

space Being late for work didn't help to settle his mind, of course. He slipped past Stenson, to punch his time card and hurried,to his work station. Dr. Havytmaid always picked up his car a little before lunch time, so Delroy wanted to be sure it was ready. He would have to drive it around front to deliver it to the doc and he hated to do that, although he liked the five dollar tip held get. The last time he had deliveredthe car to the doc-showing off to his twenty-two-year old slut of a girl friend-had loudly said that Delroy was probably some hick from the sticks where hospitals didn't have ICU's. They had I seen youse! And the two of them had laughed at Delroy like he was some kind of show.

space By chance, just as Delroy was about to drive the car around, Knuckles happened along and asked Delroy to give him a ride up to the front, near the show rooms. Since he didn't like Knuckles, Delroy wasn't happy about this but he preferred to get on Knuckles's good side as much as possible. So when the doctor saw his car he saw the giant Knuckles riding next to Delroy and the doctor su ddenly remembered making fun of Delroy when he picked up his car the month before. Was that hick bringing up the reserves? He hadn't really meant any harm by the little joke, he assured himself. When the car stopped and Knuckles got out and went directly into the show room, the doctor breathed easier, although he was still doing an unaccustomed amount of sweating. He was standing with his young squeeze, and with his long slender build, the graying at the temples and the black bag in hand, he was the image of a successful father perhaps driving his over-dressed daughter to her drama class.

space A stern faced Delroy hopped out of the car and began to inch his way backwards, away from the open door, expecting Dr. Havytmaid to press a five-dollar bill into his hand and slide behind the wheel, as he usually did. But today was different. The doctor took Delroy by the arm and walked him about ten feet from the car, where he began a rambling discourse that totally surprised Delroy.
"My good fellow, did you happen to, uh, what I mean is if you find ...things in cars, would you, I mean do you sort of save them for the owner, or would they go into the trash, sort of automatically...if they didn't seem valuable or were simply like ... uh ... newspapers, or things? My wife said.I forgot to bring home the Journal after I dropped off the car yesterday, and I was wondering if..."

space By this time, Delroy had gotten the drift of what the doctor's problem was. His instinct told him this was a chnace to make a killing. At last, the big bucks, and at the expense of a real prick. He resolved that he would start by playing cat-and-mouse with the doc, by pretending his memory wasn't quite clear as to whether he had found anything in the Mercedes. "I kinda think I mighta ..." he began. But then it started! "Gurgle-li-glonk. Ooook. urgle, b-lurp." The sounds were so startling that the doctor's eyes widened and he jumped backwards in a pure reflex, hoping to figure out what species Delroy was.

space Partly out of embarrassment and partly out of fear of the doctor's customer power, Delroy switched his intentions in mid-stomach-growl and said reassuringly, "Oh, now I remember. I found some old newspaper under one of the seats and I threw it away. I didn't even open it to look at the date. Maybe I should have, uh?" And Delroy winked at the doctor.

space Dr. Havytmaid's sense of relief flashed across his face, then resonated through his body with an obvious relaxation of his shoulders. He took back his jump away from Delroy, while he also pulled his well-stuffed money clip from his pocket. He extracted a fifty-dollar bill from the top and pressed it into Delroy's hand, just as he slid behind the wheel of the Mercedes. "By the way," the doctor added to Delroy, "let me write you this prescription for an extra strong simethicone. It'll get rid of that gas, or whatever it is on your stomach. See you next month, my good man."

space Receiving the fifty reminded Deiroy that he had never checked to see if he had won any money with the doctor's license plate number. Since it was the lunch hour, he punched out and headed for the drug store. As he walked he thought about getting the doctor's prescription filled while in the store. He wasn't sure whether he would. It didn't help him to decide when he arrived at the store and learned he had hit the number for five-hundred dollars. He also worried that if he took the simethicone he might wind up feeling guilty... like he'd had an abortion! He waited for his stomach to comment.


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