I sneak out behind the recliner, behind the fake applause of Wheel of Fortune. Daddy sits, drinks Delsym, holds the remote in his Divine hand. This is what I believe: some little lady is meant for me. Like a heat-seeking missile, she will find me.
Daddy doesn’t even hear me leave. I am the rubber to his snap. I am the hardening frying pan eggs in the sink. He sits and counts his dollar bills. I walk along the overpass, hitting the bouncy chainlink, threatening it. I have slicked back my hair. I wear an Iron Cross around my neck. Matty let me meet some high school guys from the Nazi Low Riders last week. In Canyon Country, we drank beer and killed a snake.
I meet up with Matty and he’s brought some tin foil.
“I stole it from my mother,” he says.
We make masks and run through Albertsons. We get chased out by Larry, the manager. Matty’s going with Larry’s daughter, Tex. Tex is at home with her sisters. She has a dresser of blue nail polish and stickers, Cowboy Up, Can’t Sleep Clowns Will Eat Me. Her sisters do their nails and eat TV dinners on the carwashing towels.
Matty says he had her in her own bed and the mirror of her closet showed everything. I said, what’d she look like naked? He said, that’s not the kind of question you ask. He’s started wearing tennis shoes and keeping his socks real white.
We sit on high voltage and Matty makes up songs. “Some little lady da da da,” he sings. I throw rocks. “Some little lady is gonna get lucky tooo-niite,” Matty sings. It gets dark and Matty says he’s going to head over to Tex’s. I say I’m going over to my girl’s place too.
“Who is she, man, why won’t you let me meet her? At least tell me her name,” Matty says.
“We’re keeping things quiet,” I say. I’ve told him she goes to Continuation school. I say she’s new in town. She’s not like Tex and her desert rat family. My girl is from somewhere else.
“She’s Russian,” I say without thinking.
“No shit?” Matty looks halfway interested. “That’s kind of hot.”
I walk home and the moon has come out, and the rodeo’s on since it’s Thursday night. The lady’s voice on the loudspeaker is the same every week. I wonder what she looks like. The rodeo makes the air smell like shit and brings around the men in jeans and boots that stand around their horse wagons and talk about roping.
I get home and Daddy’s in bed, the TV’s off. Prissy is in bed, too, with her butcher paper taped all over the floor, her JC Penney catalog families. She’s picked out a whole wardrobe for her fake families. She’s bought them dining room tables and couches. She adds up the totals and gives herself fake budgets.
She wakes up when I open her door. She tells me to turn off her light. I do and go to my room.
Number 24, Number 24 riding Old Steel. The Rodeo is alive outside my room.
I smoke some weed with a Pepsi can and pick up my knife to carve something into the wall. I want to carve my Russian girl’s initials but I don’t know them.
Good Time. Round Two. Round Two, Gentlemen.
I take a tube of Dramamine.
It starts to kick in, and I feel the chills all over my body. I feel drunk and see bubbles in the corners of my bedroom. I know her initials are M.E. now. I carve them in Old English letters right above my bed.
“Some little lady is gonna get lucky tonight,” I copy Matty’s tune. He’s with Tex right now probably. He had stolen a bottle of Goldschlager, Tex’s favorite. She’d be explaining how the little flakes cut her throat and make her feel drunk faster, her long hair over her shoulders. Matty’s shoes would be white and he’d turn on Rap music when they were on her bed.
I live too far from everything. There’s not even streetlights out here, there’s not even the smell of food out here. There’s just big barns for planes and some old buildings. And the Rodeo Lady’s voice.
I stare at my Pantera poster until it breaks up into little pieces like tiny birthday candles. I go to sleep turned toward the wall.
I wake up to Prissy microwaving a circular can of lasagna. Daddy’s out of it and pours his Hangover Milk. Prissy has put a yarn ribbon around a ponytail. She sings The Sound of Music and I know she’s pretending she’s Prissy Von Trapp. Prissy has cursive PARFUMERIE all over her purple notebooks. She is going to sit under a new-planted tree at school. She is going to eat cafeteria food with her Science Bowl friends. Daddy is a zombie in the mornings. He goes outside to smoke a Parliament.
Prissy washes the cap of the lasagna, the bright blue with holes in the lid.
“What the fuck are you doing that for?” I say.
“I want to keep it,” she says with Palmolive soap in her hands.
“You’re crazy. You’re so stupid and crazy.” I hate her. She is happy saving waterbottles and lids and washing them. She is happy cutting out women from the JCPenney catalog to be her mother.
“Your name is Priscilla Bird,” I say. She rolls her eyes.
She leaves for school with a Spirograph box and her butcher paper and her room is neat and her bed is always made. She has a Albertson’s bag of lids and caps. I slam cupboard doors and kick at the wall. Daddy comes back in and wants to know what the hell am I being so loud for?
“Everything’s loud to you,” I say. Daddy sets off and breaks a green plate, the kind from the department store in a set. I crouch and he finds my old Batmobile in the living room and throws it against the wall. He wants to know why I don’t part my hair anymore. Why I slick it back like a fag.
“Real men part their hair,” he tells me, holding me against the refrigerator. He smells like trees and Under the Sink.
He lets me go, and I shake it off. I repeat to myself Knock It Out. Just Knock It Out. But he starts again: “Are you a real man or are you a Yankee?” He says with milk around his lips.
“A real man,” I repeat and he’s out of it and it’s 7:45 and the morning knows school is starting. I can hear the muted bell, somewhere, in my ears maybe. Prissy is getting her seat in Homeroom. He hits me, and my head feels like a slow fish. He’s doing me a favor, he knows, he doesn’t want me selling rugs to ladies at some Mall Store. He doesn’t want me to get whupped by Ramiro Rubio again. He doesn’t want me not able to fuck M.E. I have to be able to; I’m going to buy her a watch one day. One of those little jewely kinds.
At school, Matty has a new jacket and Tex has to be sent to the Office cause her shirt shows her bra straps. Two inches across, Christina, Mr. Lopez says as he measures her shirt at her bony shoulders. Her friends protest, but she leaves the classroom with her referral like a hero, all tongue and a box of Fire Hots. Matty leans over his desk when she leaves; he is almost finished with the Sharpie and Exacto masterpiece, SEXY TEXY.
Matty tells me his mom’s boyfriend Glen is going to drive them to the Mall today, do I want to tag along, bring my girl? I agree, Mr. Lopez puts on the board Isosceles Triangles.
In the car, Tex eats Duvalin in her half-Mexican way. She licks the little spoon, the Futbol Hero on the flap cartoony like her makeup. Glen drives us, his arm out the window, the wind making it sound like tarp. We get closer to the Mall and town and I smell food and there’s other cars and Matty and I name off the cars we like. Subaru Impreza. Chevy Impala. I spot a new Mustang and Tex stops her licking and says Goddamn, that’s Hot.
“Where’s your girl?” Matty asks me. Tex lowers her face and looks at me with Goblin eyes.
“She couldn’t make it. She’s going to a modeling agency,” I say.
“Is she pretty?” Tex wants to know. She is excited to hear what I say like she is when the radio stations start coming in around Avenue A.
“She’s Russian,” Matty answers for me, upset Tex is paying me attention.
“Her last name is real hard to pronounce,” I say, “I can barely say it, she tries to teach it to me, it sounds sort of like Elephant.”
“Big tits?” Glen asks. He’s been half-listening to us.
“Glen!” Tex shouts. I nod.
Matty seems impressed but puts his arm around Tex and she pulls out a Blow Pop from her Lady and the Tramp purse and she dips it into Pelon Pelo Rico. Matty watches her suck. I stare out the window and decide Misses Elephant must live somewhere out here, not too far, where the radio stations come in.
At the mall, Matty and Tex take photos in the galleria. Tex takes off the shirt she wore to get out of the house and shows us her halter. Tex wants Playboy bunnies in the background. She rubs Sugar Cookie lotion all over her arms while they wait.
“Hold my cover shirt, will you,” she asks me. I walk around the mall with the T-shirt, waiting for them. I sit in front of Del Taco. The little girls in line look like Prissy with their ribboned ponytails, and I watch the saleswomen in the Jewelry store who wear blazers and have curly hair. Misses Elephant would know all about jewelry. I see a big advertisement for YMI jeans. A blonde girl lies on her side with her hair covering her tits. It says YMI JEANS LOVES YOU.
Matty shows me their photos, and Tex is worried her eyebrows are uneven. Matty buys a Super Size Cherry Coke and an Oreo Milkshake for Tex and we walk around in loops until Tex is bored and Matty starts saying Too Many Fucking Strollers. Then we call Glen on the Sears Payphone and he comes and picks us up. He parks behind a hedge near the Auto Center and lets us take hits off his color-changing pipe. He tells Tex she looks like Britney Spears, and I can tell Matty’s getting mad.
On the way home we pass Ward Road and the night lights tell me that’s where Misses Elephant must live. I’m sure if I’d go to the store and sit outside she’d come in to buy those Iced Coffees rich women drink and her pants would be sheer so her thongline would show.
I come home to a big fight. Prissy’s spilled some sort of candy all over the kitchen floor and her getting the broom out caused too much noise and interrupted Daddy’s TV. He tells her to pick up the mess on her knees. No Noise or Brooms. I start to help her clean it up, and Daddy calls me Sprinkles. Prissy laughs at first but when Daddy gets up from his chair she says, Lets Be Nice.
No let’s call him Sprinkles, Daddy says. Never mind if he won’t look at me now. It doesn’t really matter anyways. The world is full of people who won’t look at me. He could look at me, if I give him something to look at. Come on Sprinkles, you Traitor.
My fingers are jammed. I will tape them up with cloth tape later.
Daddy can’t stand us any longer so he goes to the Tipsy Bull. Prissy watches to make sure his Dodge Dynasty leaves the driveway. Then she closes all the blinds to the house and sprays Baby Soft perfume over every room. She windexes his remote and TV Tray. She brings out her Wal-Mart stereo and puts on her girl’s music. She rolls the waistband of her plaid skirt and carries some clothes out and sets them on the couch.
“I’m having a fashion show, don’t watch, Peetree, unless you want to help.”
She has brought in the long door mirror from her room and puts it on a chair so she can see her whole body.
I shut myself in my room and poke holes with a pushpin in a Dr. Pepper can.
“Over and Over I Feel It Boyfriend You’re Alone, JELLYHEAD,” Prissy’s songs play.
I wish the Rodeo was on tonight. I flip through Daddy’s porn and pretend the Wild MILF centerfold is Misses Elephant. I smoke weed and comb my hair out of its slickness. I part it, on the right, like my father does.
Prissy’s fashion show ends when Daddy comes home. She locks herself in the bathroom. I hear her unzipping her backpack. I have to pee but she’ll be in there all night. She sets up her textbooks on the toilet like a desk and sits on the floor. If I even knock, she starts screaming.
We used to take baths together. I once felt like a liar sitting in the tub with her naked and I confessed to her that I told Kathrin Mendoza I had a two-story home. That was my only real lie at the time. It was hard to tell Prissy. I had to, though. I couldn’t look at her when I did it. Prissy shrugged and played with her Barbie dolls named Acton and Hesperia. She draped the wet washcloth against her chest. It’s a shirt, she said. It clung to her and showed the slight bumps of her breasts. She wanted me to be Acton. Make him swim, she said. Make him fuck, she said.
I accidentally burn my thumb with the lighter. I hear Daddy stumble down the hall to go to bed. Prissy hears him, too, in the little rectangle bathroom.
Somewhere off Ward Road, Misses Elephant wants to be rode like a pony, wants to be rode shotshack. I’m not some boy too far to know how to treat a little lady. I’m not some boy too far to know what lines on paved streets look like. No one calls me Sprinkles or Idiot. I can thrust the air. Misses Elephant is a real woman. She’s not slurpy in plaid like Prissy. She’s not asking for it and hiding in the bathroom. She’s not bent over Duvalin, her hair like a blanket, like a child’s sin.
Misses Elephant pushes up her glasses, Soviet-style. She comes towards the camera. Vaht? Vaht? It’s like a music video when they first came out and the screen would break into little squares.
She’s wearing hot pink bicycle shorts and she’s dancing for me. Her loudspeaker voice is all over the grass and the little girls making up families. Her loudspeaker voice would say,
“I take the roofs off all these shitty box houses and I watch you.”
She’d blink her eyes behind her oversized glasses. Misses Elephant Loves You. Her eyes tell me so.
I see Misses Elephant like that, she’d suck a pop, she’d shake her ass, She’d Watch It All.