Jack Moody

A Series of Poor Decisions, Part 3

Within five minutes of talking you understand that there’s something wrong with her. You recognized her as the airy waitress at the restaurant down the block who always told you your aura was navy blue whenever you tried to order your food. Now you are sitting next to her at the Sparrow, six and a half drinks in, and she’s asking where’s that cute little tattooed girl you always came in with?

“Which?” you say.

She smirks. “Cockiness doesn’t suit you,” she replies.

“It’s not that. I just can’t seem to make ‘em stick around long enough to make an impression.”

She looks at you up and down through wide-brimmed glasses that magnify the brown in her eyes. Her face is gaunt and narrow. She is shark-like and the steady, intense gaze she keeps on you gives the worrying impression that at moment she may decide for no reason other than instinct to pounce and bite off your nose. You don’t remember ever finding her attractive before but figure you must have been wrong because now you do.

“Well it doesn’t matter,” she says, and sucks her vodka-soda up through a plastic straw. “Never liked her anyway.”

“Yeah. Neither did I, I guess.”

“Well, God obviously had different plans for you. You should be thanking Him for leading you away from all that before it got even worse.”

You cough. “What was that?”

“God,” she laughs. “You thought this wasn’t God’s choice? He was watching over you, like He always will. I could see the poison she was seeping into you, every time you came in. She was no good for you. I knew it. But He freed you, Henry.” She smiles wide, as if she’s reminded herself of the beauty of this reality she’s chosen. “And now you don’t ever have to look back. Right? Isn’t that wonderful?”

You look down the bar, to where Donahue, whom you came with, sits at a table with some people he knows. Donahue is a tall, Scottish college grad with a wild mane of red, curled hair and a deep red beard that makes him resemble what you might get if a pillaging Viking raped one of his ancestors—which may not be so far off. Donahue is your good friend and editor, but when not fixing up your whiskey-soaked ramblings, also serves as your impromptu caretaker, ensuring that you don’t get yourself in so much trouble you’ll end up dead or arrested, but just enough to keep the pages flowing for him to edit. He is staring at you intently, his eyes wide and locked in distress as if trying to communicate that a live bear is behind you. He is holding up his phone and pointing to it with violent stabs. You grin and give him the thumbs up, and turn back around to the God-fearing predator.

“Do you not believe in God,” she asks.

“Ah, uh. No. No, not really. I mean, there’s always the, uh, possibility but—no. Not really.”

There is a brief pause, and her eyes scan you up and down once more. This doesn’t give off the feeling it previously did. It’s like she’s reading your soul to decide if you’re already damned to Hell.

Before she can whip out the crucifix and holy water, you add: “I mean, do I believe that there’s some kind of force in the universe that’s more complicated than we can understand—something bigger than myself, in whatever form that may be? Do I believe in karma? Could you call that God? Sure. I’m not an asshole. Do I believe in the big, all-powerful bearded man in the sky—the hyper-violent Santa Clause figure, watching you and weighing your sins and good deeds, deciding whether or not you’re gonna spend eternity getting your foreskin repeatedly torn off and put back on by red-skinned demons after you die? No. I got enough of that in Catholic school.” You stop for a moment, realizing you may have laid it on a little strong there. You backpedal: “Ah, I mean, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, though. Whatever gets you through it isn’t my business. I’m glad you have something that works for you.”

You have always found religion fascinating, and have studied just about every one out there. It’s a vital part of each country and peoples’ culture and way of life. Many people have done many horrible things in the name of these religions, but you can’t fault the average layman who just wants to sing in a building with like-minded people once a week and imagine that infinite nothingness isn’t the result of their inevitable death. Besides, if it weren’t religion it would just be something else. You understand that. That’s the quintessential aspect of being a human, ever since our first ancestors looked up and saw bright white bolts of lightening striking the night sky. Without these stories making sense of what we otherwise couldn’t, we as a species never would have gotten as far as we did.

You tell her all this. You just fail to mention that maybe it wasn’t such a great thing that we did make it this far, and that religion has turned into nothing different than any other money-grubbing, power-hungry, pedophile-hiding institution that only serves as another way to keep stupid people content, poor people even poorer, and ensuring that we as a whole don’t ask too many questions that may not be too conducive to their centuries-old, systematic destruction of free thought and healthy chaos.

Yes, seeing as you are planning on sleeping with this good Christian woman, you leave that part out.

“Plus,” you say, and take a sip from your drink, “it’s not like you’re a Scientologist or anything.”

There’s a palpable moment of tension as her eyes bore into you. “I’m a born-again Christian,” she says. “I converted from Scientology.”

The whiskey goes down your windpipe. Through the coughing fit you manage to sputter, “Well…welcome back!”

She slaps you on the back. “You alright there?”

“Yeah, yeah. Wrong tube.”

“Well, good,” she laughs. “I can’t have you dying on me yet. At least not until I’m done with you.” She winks and stands up. “I’m going to the bathroom. But I’d like to keep talking to you. You’re smart. And open-minded. A lot of smart guys aren’t open-minded. And vice versa. Don’t you go anywhere until I’m back. I think we should take this to my place and I can offend you with more of my beliefs.”

“I’m not easily offended,” you tell her.

“Good. That’s good. Be right back.”

The second she’s gone Donahue beelines over to your barstool. “Man, you gotta check your texts.”

“Oh, that’s what that meant?”

“Listen, I’m trying to help you. As your editor I insist we leave this bar right now and go somewhere else before she comes back.”

“Why’s that?”

“She’s crazy. Do I need to spell that out? You’ve spent the last half-hour talking to her.”

“Yeah, I gathered. A bit pious, isn’t she? But hey, I don’t judge, baby.”

“A bit? Trust me, Henry, I’m trying to help you here.”

“Yes, and I appreciate that.” You pat him on the forehead and tickle his chin. “But from what I hear, this is God’s plan.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Exactly!” You hold up your drink and guzzle the watered down remains. “She’s not a Westboro Baptist or anything is she?”

“No, but—”

“Yeah I didn’t get that vibe. Feel like she would have led with the ‘death to fags’ angle pretty quickly. She’s not gonna try to indoctrinate me into a death cult then? Fuck me and hand me the Kool-Aid for the approaching inter-dimensional spaceship?”

“Don’t be a dick. You just gotta listen to me—I know her. You don’t need to get tangled up in that.”

“Oh come on, Donny, now you’re just tempting me. At this point I gotta find out.”

“Has she brought up her love of all things Trump yet?”

Your eyes light up. “Oh ho ho, not yet. Should I ask?”

“Yes. Yes you should.”

“Well, that settles it then. You’ve convinced me.”

Donahue sighs and grabs your shoulder. “Okay, good. Good. Then let’s get out of here now then? I’m guessing the convent is gonna be wondering where she escaped to pretty soon anyway.”

You look across the room and see that she’s on her way back over. “No, no, you shoo. How can I possibly not go through with this now?”

His face drops down to the floor. “I don’t know, moral integrity? Oh yeah. I forgot you’re incapable of possessing that.”

Just before she reaches the two of you, Donahue gives his final warning, like an ashamed father: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“If I had a nickel.” You smile at him with the whiskey sloshing around the inside of your head like a storm is raging across your brain cells.

He grimaces and shoots you his best frustrated, defeated look before retreating back to his table.

I’m not mad I’m just disappointed.

Your poor decision sits back down beside you, glancing over questioningly at Donahue. “So, you coming or what?”

“Does Christ have stigmata?”

She forces a snort. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

***

You sit with her in a small, gated backyard. The cigarette passes between the two of you, and past the gate, beyond the hill below, is the freeway. It is empty and quiet and dark. A wall of discarded trash like a protective barrier lines the shadowed asphalt. It is all you can seem to focus on. The roads are like veins running down the mangled arm of a dead drug addict. They are dried up and no longer hum with the movement of blood. They are of no use. You prefer it this way—the quiet lifelessness. It allows the beating of your own heart to fill the insides of your ears and remind you that there is still time to change. How you choose to take it, though, is that it means tonight you do not yet have to.

“What do you want to do with your life?” she asks.

This knocks you off guard, though you don’t know why, as the majority of your life you have never had a problem deciding what path you want to take. Through one way or another, the answers have always been there glowing in your face and you have attached yourself wholeheartedly to that next option that inevitably presents itself. And when that next path has dried up and halted at a dead-end, you have never needed to float aimlessly in the purgatory between decisions. The next step has always shown itself to you and you promptly move forward in that direction. You recognize that you are lucky in this regard. Most people wander their entire lives searching for purpose. Purpose has always found you. There has always been some new path to traverse.

Despite this, inexplicably you respond, “Sometimes I think I know and sometimes I don’t.” Though you decide there may still be some truth to this.

“I want to do something big,” she says, blowing out smoke. “I always knew I would. I’m gonna join the Air Force.”

“The Air Force? Why?”

Without the hesitation you imagine a semi-sane person would feel before disclosing this type of thing, she proudly declares, “So when the time comes I’ll be first in line to join President Trump’s Space Force.”

You give yourself a moment to absorb this. “Like, the outer space…force?”

“Yeah,” she says. “I wanna be the first woman on the moon.”

“Well, that’s noble.”

“So I can see for myself if the Nazis really put bases up there.”

“Ah.”

“And think about it,” she points the cigarette at you from between two fingers, “how else am I ever gonna really be able to prove the Earth is flat unless I go up there and see it with my own eyes?”

You are now fascinated by this woman, and wish for nothing more than to keep listening to everything she has to say, and then to fuck her. You have never fucked a flat-earther, and would consider it an honor to have the opportunity to attempt fucking the crazy out of her.

“That’s a fantastic point,” you say.

Her eyes narrow to slits. “You’re making fun of me aren’t you?”

You don’t wish to lie to this person, and so are overcome with relief when she continues talking without waiting for an answer: “That’s fine though, it’s not like I don’t get it all the time. But you have your opinions and I have mine. And we can each respect them, can’t we?”

“Of course,” you reply, and you mean this. You would rather have an open-minded ex-space alien worshipping, Trump supporting, born-again Christian flat-earther than a close-minded liberal any goddamn day of the week.

“I figured,” she says. “That’s why I like you. I’m guessing you’re not a big Trump supporter either. No one seems to be in this town. I love the man. I think he’s the greatest president we’ve ever had, and I’m proud I voted for him. I don’t have a problem telling people that. You don’t feel the same. And that’s okay.”

“How do you know? My MAGA hat’s just in the wash right now.”

“Very funny. All I’m saying is we don’t need to share the same political beliefs to have good sex. Right? Unless that violates your moral codes.”

“It would violate my moral codes not to. I mean, I think the guy’s a fucking idiot and he’s probably on the spectrum, but hey who isn’t, y’know? I can ignore my political leanings for fifteen to twenty minutes.”

“Make it thirty.”

“Deal.”

She grins and reaches out to slide her hand up your thigh.

“Just one thing,” you say, putting out your cigarette. “When you’re about to come, call me Donald.”

The act is the closest to patriotic you have or will ever feel. You decide this is your duty as an American, and with each violent thrust causing her to scream and convulse, it is as if you are fucking her with the American Flag itself. You decide this is a metaphor for every war against bigotry, tyranny and racism, and what you are doing now you are doing in the name of freedom and liberty. With your dick, you are fighting back for the greater good and you will not lose. It is at the moment the King James Bible vibrating on the bed stand finally falls to the floor, and the female ejaculate rockets directly into your face like a well-aimed Scud missile, that the thought briefly but genuinely comes to you: “I should run for Senate.”

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