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  • To Mr. & Mrs. Tempe
  • Jared Shaffer (bio)

Passing through the outskirts of Tempe today, I decide to spend the night with Anna. She opens her door wearing only a Top Gun tee-shirt and a pair of high-heeled flip-flops. I appreciate her transparency.

Later that night, I am sitting with my back against the foot of her bed while she lies above me, running her fingers through my hair. I wish I could hear everything she says twice: as soon as she says it and then an echo of her voice bouncing off the wood paneling in front of us. She always speaks as though she were a new planet forming, ideas colliding randomly like huge asteroids hurtling towards one another in space.

"I think God has given up on us. He saw the violence, the discrimination, the overall indecency, and he said, 'Forget it, I'm going to Mercury!'"

"Not to mention he kicked us out of Eden over an apple," I say.

"Now as for Jesus, that's who we could really use. I mean he cared enough to die and then come back. What a madman, but we need that."

"It's too bad. He's probably stuck on Mercury."

Grabbing the beer bottle out of my hand, she stands up on the bed, balancing herself on one leg. [End Page 7] She hurls the bottle at the wall and giggles as the glass rains down on the carpet.

"Who is going to clean that up?" she asks. "Who the heck is going to clean that up?"

I stare at Tom Cruise's motionless and crumpled face on the floor. He is smiling and giving me a thumbs-up.

She begs to come with me on the interstate the next morning, pushing her breasts up against my chest as relentlessly as grandmothers force sweets into the hands of their departing families.

"I have a wife Anna," I tell her.

She motions to her bed like a magician revealing that his female assistant has not, in fact, been chopped in half.

"That's different. When I get back on the highway my life becomes my job again, a job I do to feed my family. To bring you along, well I feel like it would be breaking some sort of unwritten rule."

"Family, wife, job, job, family, wife," she says. "Didn't you understand me last night? The world is ending soon. You're going to miss me when the road splits in half and swallows you and that truck. Or when the clouds turn vertically and start to come after you like tornados. Damn that'll be fun, and I bet you won't be thinking about the time your wife brought home new throw pillows."

Now her feet are dangling out of the truck's window, and her head rests in my lap. Every time I switch gears the truck hiccups, sliding her Aviators down the bridge of her nose. On deserted four-lane stretches I spin the wheel like we are on an old pirate ship in the midst of a hurricane. She tumbles from the leather seat and lies sprawled out on the cabin floor, pretending to be dead.

"Oh no, I hate to kill another one this way."

"It's worse than you think," she says. "I'm paralyzed from the neck down."

"So you can talk, but we can't have sex?"

She climbs back into the seat and gently slaps my cheek.

"What are you hauling in this bad boy anyway?"



"Over two tons back there."

"Don't you know a honey wagon is the name for the trucks that empty Port-a-Johns?"

"This is actual honey though-"

"Which means, we are transporting over two tons of shit from Arizona to Oregon." She makes the shape of a circle with her fingertips and then pushes them apart, raising her eyebrows while mouthing the word boom.

Somewhere in Nevada we are pouring honey into each other's mouths. It's a gas [End Page 8] station just north of Reno that's also a Taco Bell, that's also a 24-hour Laundromat. We are sitting on...


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pp. 7-12
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2012
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