Ralph Benton

Big Betty’s Bad Day

This was Peckerwood Johnson’s lucky day. He rummaged through the dumpsters behind the mall, one eye open for an airsoft cop, one eye looking for anything to eat, wear, barter, or sell. Fleas leaped between his voluminous beard and the dumpster. A half-eaten Cinnabon went straight down the hatch. Socks, too small, but keep those, you never know. Whoa, what was this? He pulled out a bright yellow box, still sealed. “Big Betty… inflatable party doll,” he said. He sounded like a little boy who has opened the present he never dreamed in a hundred years he would get. Occasionally he had looked for a Big Betty, or one of her sisters, but they were like fifty bucks. His eyes stared back at the package’s flirtatious gaze. His soul filled with the thought of having a body to lie next to at night, under the bridge. It had been so long… so long. Big Betty’s eyes looked so kind. 

“Hey! You! Gethefuckouttamydumpsteryapieceofshit!” Peckerwood saw the Paul Blart wannabe huffing and jiggling towards him. He took off into the woods behind the loading docks, the yellow box clutched to his chest. He made a beeline for the Jiffy Mart, where the air pump was still free. He had a woman!

Jimbo Puffpants dragged himself upright, one hand after another, clinging to the lamp post in the park. He stood, swayed, took a step, bent over and vomited. It spurted out of him, red with wine and blood, spasm after spasm, until his ribs ached and his throat burned. Finally he spat a few times and stood up. Now he felt like a new man, especially after he pissed down his legs. The urine warmed him and softened the stiffened filth in the several pairs of trousers he wore. He thought about finding that bench at the bus stop to watch the high school girls bounce by, but he knew this robust feeling wouldn’t last. Booze, he had to find more booze. Thunderbird, shart-donnay, it didn’t matter, but he had to get something.

He dug through all the pockets in all the clothes that layered him. A few nickels and pennies. A single quarter. Fear prickled his spine. He couldn’t take the shakes again. It would kill him. He knew there was a long stoplight nearby, good for change and foldables. He pulled the crumpled cardboard from his shopping cart and shambled off to the Jiffy Market.

Peckerwood’s heart raced as he fiddled to get the air nozzle latched onto Big Betty’s valve. “You just piss off if a customer needs that pump, y’hear?” someone from the market yelled, but he was too excited to worry about some aproned clerk. Soon he heard the hiss, and Big Betty’s arms and legs trembled, flapped, and unfolded with a crinkle of fresh plastic. Her head, and her red mouth! He would be so happy tonight, so happy.

“Hey, whatcha got there?”

Peckerwood glanced over his shoulder. “Mind your ways, Jimbo, this ain’t nothin’ for you.” She was almost full, her tits high and perky.

“I need that, Peckerwood, I ain’t got time to wait for change. I can feel the shakes comin’ and it’s gonna be bad. You gimme that doll and I can get twenty for her at Russell’s place.” Jimbo had a thought and looked at Peckerwood all skewy. “You ain’t used her yet or nuthin’, have you?” He shook his head. “It don’ matter, just hand her over. I’ll give ya half, promise.” He stepped forward, arms outstretched, fingers grasping like a toddler wanting a lift.

Big Betty had filled to her full, curvy glory. “Fuck you, Jimbo, back off. Big Betty’s my girl, and she’s spending the night!” Peckerwood stepped away, but Jimbo was fighting for his life.

He grabbed for an arm, missed, grabbed at a leg and found purchase. Peckerwood wanted to flee, but he had to face the maddened Jimbo or lose Big Betty entirely. The battle was vicious, two implacable foes bent on victory yet mindful of their prey’s fragility.

A big-car honk sounded long and loud as an Escalade pulled up looking for the free air. A middle-aged woman with a short haircut hammered the horn in righteous rage. Water sprayed the combatants as the store clerk unleashed the hose coiled at the back of the store.

A gaggle of high school girls walked by, spellbound and disgusted in equal measure, fortunately unaware of the role they had almost played in Jimbo’s fantasy afternoon.

The end was nigh. Jimbo had his hand stuck in Big Betty’s life-like action mouth, while Peckerwood pulled on an arm. Now a breast was grabbed in the reckless, desperate melee.

With a terrible ripping of pink plastic and a sudden whoosh Big Betty collapsed to her former, foldable self. The store clerk turned off the water once he saw the fight was over. The Escalade now had room by the pump, but the lady refused to open her door until the combatants cleared the field. The girls had passed on from the terrible scene. 

Jimbo sat on the curb groaning as the tremors began. Peckerwood shook the water off. He wanted to kick Jimbo, but he knew what horrors the night held for him. He trundled back to the mall. Maybe it was still his lucky day.

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