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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 42

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remainscan be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 42

I didn’t have perfect faith. I doubted, in dark corners of my head, in the spaces between being awake and falling asleep.

The hospital gave me a walking cast and a nasty retard cane with a big rubber stopper on the end, but I stayed in my bed for a week.

A woman in the Bible had blood coming out of her for twelve years, and she sneaked up on Jesus and touched him and was healed. He told her it was her faith that healed her. But the scriptures also said you only needed the faith of a mustard seed. Maybe I didn’t even have that.

Dad brought food in and I only got up to pee.

Maybe there were too many doubts inside me, maybe I held too closely onto the stories in the blue book about the Lamanites. About how they were cursed with dark skin for being wicked. And the poisonous little question found its way around to the front of my brain: if there was no such thing as original sin, if Christ wiped out any responsibility for the sins of my fathers, how could I be born with my ancestors’ curse showing on my skin?

Maybe it was all my fault.

On the seventh day, I got out of bed. The house was empty. I stood in front of the mirror.

I was nearly six feet tall now, almost as brown as Dad.

I wore a white nightgown, wrinkled and stained. My hair hung almost to my waist, tangled, spreading out over my shoulders. I lifted an arm over my head.

Fifth position.

Out to the side.

Second position.

I let it drop.

I found a pair of scissors in my dresser and picked them up. I held them at my throat, and watched my eyes in the mirror. I pressed the points into my skin, watching. I pulled the scissors away and felt the mark I’d left. I couldn’t kill Alice. Alice was already gone, blinked out of existence on the exam table. I was someone else.

I grabbed a handful of hair, and cut it off. Then another, and another. Closer and closer to my head.

I limped across the hall to the bathroom, grabbed my razor. Scraped it across my skull, drawing blood, again and again, running my hand over my head to feel, erasing every bit of stubble, working faster, dry-shaving my head, down my neck, every bit of hair except for a single row down the middle of my skull. A cold glop of Dippity-Do made it stand straight up from my head. If Dad could claim he was Cherokee, I could be Mohawk. A proud and rebellious Lamanite. A doubting sinner.

I looked different, in the mirror. My eyebrows were higher. My face harder.

Back across the hall, and I slid out of my nightgown, pulled on some clothes. I fished the keys to the brown Olds, my Olds, and stepped out of the house. I got behind the wheel and started to drive, stomping on the gas and hurtling over the road.

I didn’t know where I was going. All that mattered was staying in motion, just me and car and road throwing itself under my wheels. I sped right out of Lemuel, onto the old highway that ran roughly parallel to the freeway, bumping and curving around the foothills, nothing but scrub oak and dirt and rocks to either side.

I slammed on my brakes when I caught sight of the low cinder-block building standing all alone at the side of the road. The neon letters above the door read The Whip. A plain white door and no windows, a few cars in the parking lot: a Dodge truck, a Camaro, a beat-to-hell Pinto and a couple of Japanese cars. I parked and hoisted myself out with my retard cane, and spit-straightened my mohawk.

It was daylight outside but night inside the bar. All guys hunkered down on their stools, and a man with greasy steel-colored hair leaning on the counter to look up at the baseball game on the T.V. I felt eyes grabbing at me, but when I looked back they’d slide off and drift back toward the TV. I sat down on one of the stools and waited. The bartender ignored me for as long as he could, then he shook out a bar towel and slapped it a couple of times against his thigh before moving into my range, his face still turned back toward the game.

I pointed at a bottle of beer in the fridge behind him and he reached it out, popped off the top and stuck it in front of me. Finally his eyes came around to my face. I waited for him to ask for ID, but instead he raised his chin in half a nod, then grabbed a glass and set that next to the bottle. I poured, watching the beer fill the glass, then lifted the glass to my mouth, the yeasty smell slamming me right back to the old trailer park and Jim and Mom.

Maybe it never was God’s hand that Jim saw, but a hallucination cooked up by his own brain. Maybe some part of him knew he’d be dead in a year if he kept pouring all his money down his throat, and his brain decided to grab him by the balls and say Pay attention. It was the god inside Jim telling him to save himself, and save the rest of us while he was at it. And the whole thing was a good ride, it was all free and extra and we managed to postpone a pretty ugly end for a few years, but the ride was over now for me. I’d had my time, and now it was up.

I gulped down as much of the beer as I could at once, and I couldn’t stop my lip curling up while I swallowed. I felt warm beery breath by my ear and looked around to see a man sitting next to me, his eyes almost focusing on my face. He was maybe in his forties, but with a rounded face like a baby. He started to say something, but I slid my hand into his. He looked down at our hands, then back up to me, and I stood up, grabbing my retard cane, and led him out of the bar.

I’d parked around the back of the bar, where it was still dirt, the hill sloping up and away. I got in the back seat and left the door open. He stood outside the car for a few seconds, looking around, then ducked in, reaching back to close the door with one hand and unbuttoning with the other. I slid up my skirt and heard his breath rasp out when he saw I wasn’t wearing anything underneath, and his hands were working faster now, as he unzipped and lifted himself out, only halfway hard, but he shoved in anyway, hardening inside me, breath in my ear, bottom lip wet, he looked down at where it was all happening like he was watching a porn flick or a science experiment, his baby face making a double chin, pushing harder, bottom lip hanging down.

Weeble eve, weeble eve, weeble eve.

Weeble eve in being chaste.

The man had a name embroidered on his jacket, cold metal buttons coming hard against my cheek, my lips: Duane.

Duane was letting out little grunts, his eyes scrunched shut, one hand reaching for my breast, mashing it around, mouth hanging open, breath coming faster, I could feel he was on the edge and lifted my hips to help him along, and then he stopped. I felt him bend and go rubbery inside me, then deflating like a balloon, skin shrinking sticky away from my inside walls. For the first time, he looked into my eyes, and I saw something else.

This man was afraid of me.

He pulled back clumsily, zipping up, looking around again, one last terrified glance at where I lay in the back seat, skirt hiked up, legs spread out, and then he was gone, a chill breeze blowing from the open door to cool the heat between my legs.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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