So, Chloe and I were in this sex shop in Decatur. We’d been on the road for a while and stopped over to see friends. Afterward, we went out driving, just to see the place. The sex shop was an incidental thing. We got inside there and Chloe started running the aisles, trying on sexy lingerie--over her clothes, unfortunately--and strap on penises and making me try them on, too. The clerk was a hateful old bat who didn’t say a word to us when we walked into the store. When she’d had enough of us, she told us to get the hell out of there. I gave her my fake penis, but Chloe was a different story. Chloe had strapped her penis around her head and left it on as she ran out the door and down the street. The unpleasant clerk took out after her, screaming “Stop! I’ll get you!”
I was right behind the screaming woman. For some reason, she limped on her right leg and couldn’t move too fast. I caught up with her at an alley just past the sex shop and, keeping an eye on Chloe’s rapidly shrinking form a block further down, shoved the screaming clerk as hard as I could into the alley. I watched her fall a good eight or ten feet away from the sidewalk. She was screaming now, bellowing.
“Police! Somebody get the police!”
I walked into the alley and told her to shut up.
“Somebody help me!”
“Shut the fuck up.”
It was harder than you might think to get my hands around her throat, but I did and I squeezed hard until I was sure it was finished. I placed her body behind a couple of garbage cans so that it couldn’t easily be seen from the street and was about to get out of there and look for Chloe when the boy appeared on the sidewalk, pretty much where I was when I pushed the woman in here. He was maybe ten, maybe twelve. Brave. Looking right at me.
“You okay, mister?”
I had a choice. Chloe would be blocks away by now. Maybe to the car, maybe even back on the interstate. Maybe I could find her. Just run past the kid and hope for the best. Or, I could take care of this last detail and then look for her.
“I hurt my leg,” I said to the boy. “Did you hear me yelling?”
He nodded and said “yes sir.”
He had seen me, but he didn’t know what I had done. If I wanted to, I could just walk away.
“Can you come help me? Just let me lean on you till I can get to my car?” He hesitated for a moment, then took his first step toward me.
“Okay,” he said.
As he got closer, my every thought was about Chloe. She might as well be in another country.
“Thank you,” I said, sure I was smiling. When he got close, I saw that he had blue eyes and freckles, a good looking kid. I took his hand and held it. My other hand covered his mouth.
You’d be amazed how many people hear a scream and decide to nose around for trouble. Only a moment after I had laid the boy beside the sex shop lady, here came another rubber necker. This one was an old man, at least fifty, rail thin with rheumy eyes.
“What’s going on back there?”
“Something bad happened, mister. Can you help me?” So, he was a dumbass, too, and I had to find a way to wedge him in. The alley was getting crowded, but the universe is nothing if not funny, in a spiteful sort of way. A young girl with a cat wandered by on the street and passed a fleeting glance my way. I ran out and got her, but not the cat. The cat scratched me and ran off, which was a shame, because I’ve always enjoyed strangling cats. I was tired of trying to keep things tidy, so I pretty much tossed the girl half on top of the boy, half on top of rheumy eyes. After that, I got out of there fast. Jesus Christ. What a morning.
I wandered the streets for a while, looking for Chloe, but had no luck. After a time, I found myself once again in front of Julie’s Sex Shop. Since I had no pressing engagements, I went inside. There was a new clerk at the counter in the back of the store. She had a penis strapped around her forehead. Chloe.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey.” I complemented her on the penis.
“It’s a strap on,” she said, then, “Listen, this isn’t working out. I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with you and I think we need to say goodbye. I’ve decided to stay here at the sex shop. You do what you want.”
That hurt, right inside my heart.
“Well, I happen to know they need a new clerk,” I said. “But listen, let’s not do anything stupid. Before you decide your future, come let me show you something.”
She was reluctant to come with me, but did. I took her to the alley and showed her the pile I’d made.
“Holy Toledo,” she said.
“It’s kind of a mess.”
“Did you do this for me?”
“Pretty much. Yes, I guess so.”
“Well, okay then. You can come back to the shop.”
We went back and worked at the sex shop for a couple of hours. A balding old lady came in and bought a large, curved pink dildo.
“Where’s Julia?” she asked Chloe.
“Tell her Trixie said to feel better soon.”
When Trixie left, Chloe turned to me. “Can you believe that was Julia herself when we came in here? To be the owner, she had the worst customer service I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to be associated with that kind of attitude and I can’t work here anymore.”
I followed her outside and straight to the car, two blocks away.
“I still think there’s something wrong with you,” she said. “I’m pretty sure of it. But I guess that’s okay. I’m going to get in this car and drive away. If you want to wait in this spot, I might come back, might not. It’s your call.”
And that’s what she did. I waited for twenty minutes, then started feeling like a chump. The only places I knew to go were the sex shop and the alley. I flipped a coin and it came up heads. Sex shop it was. Just as I turned to go, here came Chloe’s car. She stopped beside me. I opened the door and climbed in. The whole backseat was filled with sex toys. Chloe had gone back to the shop and pretty much cleaned out the place before she came for me.
“Chloe,” I said, “I am on fire with love.
“Yeah, well, that’s the way it goes.”
It wasn’t long before we were back on the interstate. Decatur is a fucked up town. If I ever go back there, I’m bringing my own fun with me.