portion of the artwork for William Walker's story

William Walker

“There are some fine women out there, and their men are spitting on them at home, telling them again that they have divot-thighs,” Soapie said. He was driving his 1970 Cutlass. “Ninety-seven percent of the females bitching to store managers about some goddamn thing or other are acting out against the horrific realization that they have become as desexualized as Home Depot ads, and it's up to men like us to show them that good times are to be had, in this, the apex of their sexual maturation. I know women. I was married four years, and my wife came home one night and told me she needed to figure out who she was because she didn’t want to become her mother. The next day, she lost control of her car, slammed into a tree and perished. Dead. Here’s the house we lived in up on the right.” Soapie pointed over the illuminated dash.

And with that, Soapie’s Cutlass leaped off the road and plunged down into the lawn, and I folded with the shocks and was launched into the car door as we wildly spun a doughnut and then swung the other direction, throwing turf to complete an 8. I braced against the metal glove box, and Soapie’s car sprayed gravel and whipped out onto the road where the rubber caught, and my neck ripped back, and we blasted forth.

“I’m just toying with you. That wasn’t our yard at all,” said Soapie. We were doing 80, and he held his laugh as we blew the four-way stop. “The rest is true, though. She’s gone. We just didn’t live at that house.”

Soapie told me that the night before he handcuffed drug addicts in the parking deck. “You should come tonight for the rush. You fuck with them a little, tell them you’re a cop and put your knee in their back so they squirm and cry.”

* * *

Soapie squealed out of the parking deck with the guy grunting loudly in the trunk.

“Quiet back there, motherfucker. This is a staged intervention to get you off drugs and back to the good Lord, Jesus Christ.”

We rumbled across the bridge and out past the suburbs where the August corn had begun to desiccate and rattle.

“Relax and finish your beer, bro. You’d see the headlights of a car’s approach on the phone wires.”

We looked at the moon out over the stalks.

“Hey, you asleep in there?” he said. “Watch how this junkie dances when he thinks I’m about to blast him.”

Soapie belched and we slung our bottles into the field. He removed the pistol from his waistband, and when he popped the trunk the guy sprang and grazed Soapie’s head with the lug wrench from the jack, but his feet got tangled and he tumbled face first into the pavement, and as I scrambled backwards with my hands in the air, there was a gunshot and then another and the kid’s face was a bloody mess beneath the tailpipe.

“Stupid fuck just cost himself his life.” Smoke curled from the 9mm in Soapie’s hand. “Jesus Christ, look at the blood on my shoes.”

“Your shoes?”

“Get yourself straight and grab his legs.”

Nobody would’ve paused if that guy’s veins had popped ramming needles into his neck in the parking deck, but when they picked the corn and discovered the body, the papers turned him a child of God; his mother said that he was a poet, and the police declared that they would bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice.

It’s been six years, and I’m not saying that every day I don’t regret that night with Soapie, but what I am saying is that any God that lets my phone ring clean out of the blue, all these years later, with Soapie on the other end, saying, “I’m getting married, and I want you to be my best man,” is a vindictive God filled with resentment and terror, a God I do not want my children to worship. Because he’s going to eat them. He’s going to devour us all alive.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 52 | Fall/Winter 2018