Saturday Afternoon at Winco
William Garnett
He isn't that old. He's probably thirty-five. Maybe thirty-six. "Chocolate," he says to the lady with the purple sweatshirt that says University of Washington. She has a turtleneck. No. She has a neck like a turtle. It just goes up into her chin. There isn't much of a chin actually, it's more like a neck. And that isn't all of it. Her eyes bug out and her nose is hooked. She looks like a turtle.
"Here," she says, and moves like a turtle.
"Thanks honey," he says.
Maybe she's his sister, or a cousin, a very distant cousin who stopped into town and picked up a University of Washington sweatshirt.
"Mommy," says a little boy as he runs up to her clutching a box of Mrs. Smith's chocolate covered peanut butter bars.
"No son," he says.
"But..." the boy starts in.
"Listen to your father. Yogurt," the turtleneck lady says.
It's his wife. It really is. He went and had sex with a turtle and now he has a son that is part turtle. I feel awkward inside as I watch them talking and looking around at the shelves. The guy sleeps with a turtle each night who dreams reptile dreams deep inside her reptile brain, her medulla oblongata. She puts on her shell and does a little turtle dance, then slips into bed with him with that hooknose, and they do it like turtles, all slow and quiet.
That must be frustrating at times for him. He wants to scream and pound away like a monkey, but she won't let him. Turtles don't fuck like monkeys. He's a monkey though. He's got the hair and the opposable thumb. Do monkeys fuck turtles? Apparently. It's hard to know. It's not the kind of information you get to see on the Discovery Channel. They don't show that stuff. It might cause complications.
But he's a monkey and he fucks turtles. Not all monkeys do. But late at night, when the turtle has crawled off to bed to dream deep reptile medulla oblongata dreams of lettuce fields and pond water, the monkey man slips away to the den to do what monkeys do when they get caged up and horny. He unzips his pants and logs on, finds a free site filled with monkeys with enormous breasts. He pulls out his little monkey dick and strokes it to the endless supply of monkey chicks until he's spent and mumbling.
"But mom!" the monkey-turtle boy says. "I don't like yogurt."
"You will son. You will," says the monkey man.
The turtle lady looks at the monkey-man and blinks slowly, and then she looks at the monkey-turtle boy and does the same thing. She slowly draws in a breath and then holds it in for a minute, maybe two, I'm not sure at this point, because I'm not certain how long turtles can hold their breath and I don't have a stopwatch."
"Honey," my wife says and tugs on my jacket. "Let's go."
"But the...," I say, my hand gesturing toward the turtle lady who is still holding her breath.
"This way," she says and it sounds like a hiss, and now I'm thinking I'm sleeping with a snake woman. I've been fucking a snake, and here I am, a monkey man just like the other monkey man with the turtle lady. As I'm dragged along down the aisle, the monkey man's eyes meet mine and it's an instant cognition. We know the score and the game hasn't really started yet. He nods to me, slowly, almost like a turtle, and I nod back. In this moment, we're brothers, we're kin, passing each other in this miserable world of rows and rows of products and perishables, of laundry lists and garbage days, and nights with overbearing amphibians and impossible reptiles. If only we could rise above the soda cans and popcorn long enough to see what we've been screwing we might have a chance. We might get free, maybe go to a bar or catch a ball game. It's Saturday. It's Saturday and there's college football on the television, and ice cold beer stashed away in the old refrigerator in the garage. Grab some hot wings and a titty show with some monkey chicks who don't have reptile thoughts and amphibian dreams; who don't slip slow poison into each late night cream puff and glass of milk.
But it's too late. She has his head clean off before I turn down the aisle. "Jesus Christ," I say.
"Would you hurry up?" my wife snaps, and her fangs glisten in the overhead light.
William Garnett is currently walking down the sidewalk toward his truck in Corvallis, OR. Still no title for the book he's recently completed. He's considering a move to the desert where he can dry out and not worry about the mold that is growing in his shower.