by Roberta Allen



In the country, the disabled woman, drunk on gin and stoned on weed, drove over to my house from her own, a good half-hour away, and banged on the door to see if I, a woman who doesn't drive, wanted to go dancing at a club later on, since her phone, which she had balanced on the edge of the tub and forgotten, had fallen into the bath water as she orgasmed, having masturbated to a picture of a half-naked basketball star in The New Yorker, which was probably not as crazy as my consenting to go out with her after cooking dinner for us both, though hours later, when even the band had stopped and it came time to go home, since she was drunker than ever and, having smoked more weed, glassy- eyed and swaying, I refused to drive with her, choosing instead to be driven by her married pal, whose husband was a stay-at-home type, and who seemed slightly less inebriated and spacey though she claimed she wasn't and, in that state, proceeded to do Gurdjieff breathing exercises in the car "to ground herself," as she put it, before dropping me off on her way to another bar where she and the disabled woman would continue, she said with a wink, "living on the edge."


My car is a little animal. A dog. One of those little white fluffy lap dogs. A Bichon Frise, friendly, gentle, cheerful, with spirally curls and sensitive skin. But I'm supposed to see it as a killer--a pitbull perhaps that tears people apart. At least "Killer" is what my cousin's husband calls my car. I call him "the hysterical man," especially when he sits in the passenger seat and I am the one behind the wheel. Maybe his faulty eyesight makes him see accidents where there are none and makes him sweat till the little white car, sick from his stink, wants to explode, which is not far from how I feel when I smell his fear and his long red hair flies even without wind, desperate to escape his malodorous scent. "Killer" is not his only word for my old Cabriolet convertible. "This is a two-ton weapon!" he shouts. But, to me, it is still small and fluffy as it cradles me in its arms, licks my face with its warm pink tongue. I want to lose myself in its embrace, which may be the reason why the hysterical red-haired man is scared.


By the time it was clear that the man couldn't start the outboard motor, after offering to take Sylvia, a Spanish secretary, and myself to the island where we both were staying, we were already out to sea with no way back. "Where are the oars?" she kept screaming, as though her screams had the power to make the oars appear, when, in fact, her screams scared the men on the first two boats who might have saved us.



Copyright 2007 by Roberta Allen