Cheryl starts her homeless career, hikes onto the freeway onramp. This is the spiritual center of L.A., she says aloud, to no one. One spot of every freeway onramp is its heart and soul, and I’ve found it.
Two gloves join her, no person, just two gloves floating in the air, traveling together. One is a fingerless glove caked with motor oil, the other, bloody black leather. Cheryl recognizes it as O.J. Simpson’s. O.J., she knows, is down the road in a prison cell in Vegas, but his glove still roams the land committing fresh murders.
Cheryl grabs it, kills it, buries it in the artichoke field adjoining the onramp. Maybe it’s not really an artichoke field, but it looks like artichokes to her. Not long in the future she’ll be up in Castroville, squatting in a field, peeing, and the farmer will come running up, yelling at her, Don’t piss in my artichoke field! But that was still some weeks in the future.
Cheryl returns to the onramp and finds her backpack gone. Did you steal my backpack, she asks the motor-oil drenched glove.
No, I wouldn’t do that, says the glove, even though you killed my travelling companion and buried her in that onion field.
Cheryl grabs the motor-oil soaked glove and shoves it down her pants, where it stimulates her clitoris all the way through the Inland Empire and across Arizona. She experiences nearly continuous orgasms, and would not let the oil soaked glove out of her pants, despite his pleas to let him go, at least to get a little air. Cheryl threatens him. She says if he stops stimulating her clitoris, she’ll chop him into a million pieces and bury him in a field, like she did with OJ Simpson’s glove.
Motor Oil says: I’m not like O.J. Simpson’s glove. I didn’t murder anyone.
Cheryl says: It doesn’t matter. I’ll kill you anyway. I’m full of rage and hate. I’ll kill you anyway.
Cheryl’s orgasms peak at the Grand Canyon, as she stands on the glass floor the Indians built over oblivion. Cheryl pulls her anti-psychotic pills out of the pocket of her tight jeans and throws them over the edge. I don’t need those anymore, she tells the captive glove. The pills grow fiery comet tails and streak to the bottom of the canyon, freaking out the mules in a mule train, freaking out the tourists on their backs. The most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen, Cheryl mutters to herself.
Dry, brown leaves are in the gutters, I kick them through them, a poignant pleasure. My car died so I can’t drive my girlfriend to the hospital. We have to walk. We’re new in town and don’t know anyone. We were told there’s work here, but there’s not. On every corner there’s a beggar with a sign that says: Anything Helps God Bless. God always has to come into it. One beggar holds a sign that says: HELP NEED, an error in translation, I guess. One holds a sign that says: I Beg.
Under the McDonald’s overhang, two men and two women snort a drug through a McDonald’s straw. I wish I had a dollar, so me and my girl could buy some pink slime molded into the shape of a hamburger.
My girl got bit by a feral cat. Death by cat seems too cruel, so we walk up to 38th Street to the Lutheran Hospital. My girl’s already delirious. A Jew would suck out the venom, she says. My stomach’s contracted into a hard walnut. I imagine cracking that walnut, and eating it. A social worker hands me bus fare.
A young woman boards the bus and sits down next to me. She’s plain, a Midwesterner transplanted to Denver, I think. We’re on Colfax. Is this the stop for the library, she asks?
No, that’s still a half-mile. I’ll tell you when we get there.
This is only the second time I’m riding the bus, she says. I lost my license. In fact, I just spent ten days in jail for not paying a speeding ticket. She tells me the whole weird story.
Had you ever been in jail before?
Never. I’ve never done anything wrong.
The bus pulls to the curb. She stands.
I say: Not yet.
She walks down the aisle of the bus. The front door opens with a hiss. She pulls out a steak knife and stabs the bus driver in the shoulder. He cries out in surprise and pain.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over six hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including CRAB FAT MAGAZINE. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.