Storyglossia Issue 18, February 2007.

They Hail from East Lansing

by Adam Cushman


Deb is wearing a waify black thing with spaghetti straps and a two-dollar crystal around her neck. One of the straps is dangling off her shoulder and somewhere over Georgia, Roger squeezes into the airplane bathroom to masturbate. Someone knocks on the door and Roger stops for a minute, watching his purple-headed manhood wind down to thimble size. When he finishes, some of it shoots onto the mirror and Roger wipes it up with brown paper towels, but creates a layer of smear, then tries to flush them down with the blue toilet water. He walks down the aisle with his t-shirt caught in his zipper and nods at all the passengers before sitting back down with Deb. He still can't stop staring at her shoulders.




Deb knows Roger was masturbating because no one sweats this much from a shit. She doesn't look up from US magazine the entire flight, even in her one-word responses to Roger's stabs at conversation. Deb is a triple-platinum member of the mile-high-club and knows that she's the only one in the group who's done it on an airplane.




Rachel has red hair and lots of freckles on her chest and is almost as pretty as Deb but she has lots of freckles on her chest. Rachel refers to Roger as the "pudgy serial killer" who tags along with them. She thinks the way Roger stares at Deb is fucked and knows what she is talking about because she has an AS in Criminology. She refers to his enormous gold-rimmed spectacles as the "pedophile glasses." Rachel and Deb work for the law firm of Lyon, Steele and Cheetham as paralegals and have slept with their bosses. Deb has also slept with Rachel's boss, but Rachel doesn't know this. Rachel and her boss have been engaged for three months and have an understanding.




Gricela works for a loan servicing center and gets angry when the men she seldom goes to bed with go for her tits first thing. She threw up just after take off. Gricela doesn't like Rachel because she thinks Rachel makes fun of the fact that Gricela is Chinese. Rachel makes fun of the fact that Gricela is Chinese all the time, but never to her face. When Rachel drinks a lot she often hugs Gricela, frowns, and says how much she really loves her and that there is someone out there for everyone. Gricela buys black spandex shorts in bulk at Target, is in love with Roger and thinks that if there were any justice in the universe Deb would get horribly burned in an interstate car crash and Roger would forget about her. Roger has thought about this too, but would prefer that Deb was paralyzed or went blind or something. Everyone calls Gricela "Grissy" and Gricela hates this because it reminds her of a grizzly, which is a large and furry animal. Roger sometimes laughs when Rachel makes fun of the fact that Gricela is Chinese, but often tells her that what she is doing is mean and that he wishes she wouldn't. Roger uses the word "inappropriate" when saying this.




Roger has large hips, severe cowlicks and Psoriasis. He thinks Grissy is a good listener, but is embarrassed to be seen with a fat Chinese chick all the time, although he keeps quiet so Deb won't think he's a dick. How they met is Deb and Rachel were at the bar at Chilis a year ago and saw Grissy eating with a wiry, bespectacled guy who was one of those loveable retards with a hearing aid that everyone is nice to because they feel bad. Rachel called Grissy over and told her that Roger thought Grissy was cute, but was too shy to say hello. When Roger eventually came out of the bathroom, he couldn't figure out why Rachel and Deb were giggling, even when Grissy's eyes began to water.

Roger thinks Grissy smells like kitty litter and whacks off to Rachel even though he despises her. Roger's job is he works for Delta airlines as a customer service representative. Roger is the person wearing the red blazer at the airport. Roger claimed that he was able to get everybody's plane ticket free of charge, but actually only got a fifteen percent employee discount. Roger's favorite band is Foreigner and if there is a jukebox in any of the bars they go to, Roger always picks about five songs and two of the songs are always I Want To Know What Love Is. Deb hates I Want To Know What Love Is, because Roger stares at her doe-eyed when the song is playing. One time a humongous black guy Deb was talking to called Deb a skeeze when Roger brought her a Vodka Cranberry. Roger stared at him the way he stares at Deb when I Want To Know What Love Is is playing and the guy asked Roger if Roger had a problem. Deb smiled at Roger when Roger said that he didn't have a problem and went home with the guy that Roger didn't have a problem with and performed oral sex on him. Deb has bleached blonde hair that makes most women insane with jealousy because it's straight and long like the mane of a horse. Roger has never had oral sex and has never ridden a horse.


South Beach


When they leave baggage claim, Roger carries Deb's suitcase to the cab and to the hotel on Washington Avenue. Deb and Rachel are sharing a room next to Grissy, and Roger has a room on a different floor. After dinner at some Argentinean restaurant outside of the Lincoln Road Mall, Deb, Rachel, Grissy and Roger kick things off at Club Hedonism. Roger is wearing khaki shorts, a fluorescent green visor and has a disposable camera in his pocket. Deb and Rachel are wearing skintight dresses they bought at Express back home. Rachel's is tiger-striped and tighter than Deb's, plus it shows more of her tits. Rachel is more conscious of her tits than Deb is of her tits. Rachel is more conscious of Deb's tits than Deb is of Deb's tits. Rachel makes sure to hike her dress up to make her tits bulge. Rachel doesn't mind that this is painful.

The line at Hedonism stretches into the street. The doorman is named Sparky and he signals to Rachel who signals to Deb who signals to Roger and Grissy. Sparky has blond hair and beard and green eyes the size of ping- pong balls and allows Rachel, Deb and Grissy through the velvet curtains then stops Roger with the palm of his hand. Sparky says that he will have to pay the cover charge and that the cover charge is twenty dollars. Roger retrieves a twenty-dollar bill from a folded bank envelope in his pocket. Sparky looks at the floor and laughs a little, then tells Roger that the cover charge to get into Hedonism is twenty dollars "per head." Roger starts to say something, but Sparky physically turns him toward Ocean Drive.

When Roger enters Hedonism he sees Grissy waving at him and walks over to her. There is a line at the bar to order drinks and as much as Roger tries to signal the bartender the bartender doesn't acknowledge him. After ten minutes Roger throws his arms up like a bird and lets them slap against his sides when the bartender serves a skinny brown-haired girl who Roger knew had gotten in line only a minute ago. Grissy puts her hand on Roger's shoulder in a "be calm" manner. Roger scans the dance floor for Deb and Rachel with his mouth wide open and sees Deb waving with a big smile. Roger waves back, then he and Grissy join them. Roger chicken dances toward Deb and begins to grind against her playfully. Deb laughs like she is incredibly embarrassed, but allows him to do it, then turns around and grinds against his crotch. Rachel sees this and moves a few feet away to dance. A few shirtless Cuban kids who are dancing nearby slap Roger on the back and give him congratulatory looks. After the song ends, Deb whispers something in Roger's ear and Roger walks back over to the bar. Roger finds Grissy back at the bar already and when she purses her lips Roger puts a comforting hand on her shoulder and frowns. Roger orders two Vodka Cranberrys and an Amstel Light without a problem, then motions for Grissy to come back to the dance floor, but Grissy says she is tired and wants to get something to eat. When Roger gets back out to the floor, Rachel and Deb are dancing with Jose and Jesus with the "J" pronounced, respectively.


Jose and Jesus with the "J" Pronounced


Jose and Jesus with the "J" pronounced wear ribbed black and white Calvin Klein shirts and half a tube of gel in their hair. Jose is always smiling. Jesus doesn't speak English very well and rarely smiles because he always suspects he's being made fun of. Roger stands near them like the time he didn't have a problem with the humongous black guy in the bar back home that Deb blew calling Deb a skeeze. Roger tries to look comfortable by nodding in rhythm with the music and shaking his butt, until the drinks begin to spill. When the song is over Jose and Jesus slap sweaty hands and Jose says something in Spanish. Deb thanks Roger for the drink by kissing him on the cheek. Rachel takes her beer without looking at him. A song comes on by House of Pain and Roger starts hopping up and down, but Deb stops Roger with a gentle hand and yells in his ear that he should go be with Grissy because she doesn't think Grissy is having any fun. Deb lifts his chin and kisses him on the cheek in one fluid motion then goes back to dancing with Jesus with the "J" pronounced.




The hollow pain in Roger's stomach feels similar to the hollow pains he has felt all the other times Deb has hooked up with other guys in front of him, but stings more because Roger is paying for the trip. Roger tells Grissy that if he doesn't get out of there he might confront Jesus with the "J" pronounced and uses the word "confront." Grissy says that maybe they should go somewhere quiet before Roger does something rash. Grissy uses the word "rash" when making this suggestion. Roger stares at Deb while pushing through the crowd toward the front but Deb doesn't look at him. Rachel looks at Roger before she begins kissing Jose like she is trying to extract venom. Roger and Grissy get their hands stamped so they have the option of returning to Hedonism. When Roger is a few feet away from the club he kicks a rusty green garbage can that takes a few seconds to spin to a stop. A couple of guys wearing football jerseys with other people's names on them laugh and one of them, whose real name is not Cope, makes a sarcastic comment regarding Grissy's weight and her being Chinese and wearing Spandex. Grissy apologizes and calls after Roger a few times but Roger doesn't turn around. Roger continues walking for almost a quarter of a mile until he sits down on a curb beside a newspaper machine that offers free publications for individuals willing to pay hired professionals for safe and discreet sexual intercourse. Roger sinks his head in his hands and bawls. Grissy sits and stares at Roger as a long string of drool hangs from his bottom lip. After Roger stops crying, Grissy says that Deb will never take Roger seriously as long as she knows that Roger will do anything she wants. Roger tells Grissy all he has ever wanted to do is hold Deb in his arms, stare at the sky and squeeze and that one day he will. Roger adds that he often sits in his bedroom with the lights out, hugging Deb's yearbook picture and listening to I Want To Know What Love Is on repeat. Roger doesn't mention that lately he's often sat in his apartment in darkness for hours with no music playing at all. Grissy touches Roger's leg and tells him that Deb is crazy not to want to be with Roger because Roger is the perfect guy. Roger has never been looked at in the way that Grissy is looking at him, but has fantasized many times that Deb is looking at him this way. Grissy has only been looked at this way by her Stepfather, who is not Chinese. Roger kisses Grissy who presses Roger's face in her hands. Grissy doesn't mind that Roger's tongue licks the roof of her mouth. Neither of them notice the encouraging hoots and hollers of male passerby. Grissy slides her hand under Roger's shorts and takes note that Roger's penis, when erect, is considerably larger than she imagined it would be, although when she feels that he is not circumcised, she rubs his thigh instead. When they stop kissing Roger tells Grissy that he is in love with her and Grissy looks in the other direction. When Roger asks why she is crying Grissy tells him that he shouldn't say this unless he means it. Roger lifts Grissy's face by the chin the way Deb lifted Roger's face by the chin inside Hedonism and tells Grissy that he wants to marry her. Roger says that he can arrange for them to fly to Las Vegas in the morning. Roger asks Grissy why her hands are shaking and Grissy apologizes. Grissy suggests that they go back to Roger's room.


Roger's Hotel Room


Roger and Grissy stop twice to make out along the way. Once they're in the elevator, Roger throws Grissy against the wall in hopes of making out more, but her head slams against a mounted picture of a Sailboat instead. Roger asks Grissy if she is okay and Grissy apologizes. When they get to Roger's hotel room door, Roger slides the plastic key card into the slot but it beeps a few times before the lock clicks open. After Roger closes the door Grissy is on her knees unzipping Roger's khakis and sees that Roger is wearing boxer shorts with cartoon lipstick prints. Grissy slides down the boxers with the cartoon lipstick prints and Roger closes his eyes and spits a lot of curse words although he isn't angry anymore.


Time Lapse


When Roger wakes up to answer the door he winces from the Indian burns on his thighs. His shoulder is red and blue from Grissy's chowing on it and this is why Roger eventually lost his erection. Grissy pretends to be asleep and puts extra pressure on her eyelids to keep them from fluttering. Roger is only wearing his boxers when he opens the door and sees Deb standing with her shoulders slouched and smeared mascara. Deb tells Roger that Jesus with the "J" pronounced punched Rachel in the eye.


Why Jesus with the "J" Pronounced Punched Rachel in the Eye


Deb sniffs the air and remarks that it smells like a dirty diaper and then asks Roger why he is in his room so early. When Grissy walks over wearing Roger's button down shirt and her spandex, Deb scratches underneath her eye and doesn't look at Roger or Grissy when she asks them how long they have been fucking, but says the last word louder than the others. Grissy moves next to Roger and sees that Roger's bottom lip has begun to tremble. Grissy asks Roger if they should tell Deb. Deb raises an eyebrow at Roger and Roger sits down and hugs his knees to his chest. Roger does not seem to notice that the gold doorstopper with the cream-colored rubber cap is jamming into his back. Deb snorts in disgust then tells Grissy that Rachel cockblocked her, and Deb uses the word cockblocked even though she and Rachel do not have penises. Deb says that Rachel waited until Deb was in the bathroom then told Jesus that if he walked out to the beach with her that he would be glad that he did. Deb says that Rachel said that when they got there Jesus took off his pants and that as he did she saw Deb and Jose walking toward them. Rachel said that she laughed because she thought it was fucked up that Deb and Jose were coming, but that Jesus thought she was laughing at something else and punched Rachel in the eye before quickly pulling up his pants. Deb says that she saw Rachel fall down and ran over to them and that Rachel was swinging her purse at Jesus. Deb looks at Roger when she says that Jesus punched Rachel again and that that time Jose started laughing.


Roger's Duty


Deb asks Roger if he plans to do something or if he thinks that some guy punching Rachel twice is an okay thing. Roger says that what was done to Rachel is not okay, even though he has fantasized about doing worse things to Rachel on more than one occasion. Deb tells Roger that she saw Jose and Jesus walk back into Hedonism after they left the beach and that Rachel is in their room with a black eye. Roger asks Deb if she is okay and Deb says that she would be a lot better if the man of the group had been around to protect the women he had all but begged to come with him and that if he cannot, she wishes to go back to East Lansing. Grissy looks at Roger and starts to say something but doesn't. Roger stands, wipes his nose with his naked arm, pushes his chest out and says that he is going to get dressed.


Roger's Can of Whoop-Ass


Sparky lets Roger back into Hedonism without a glance and Roger immediately goes to the bartender and says "whiskey" in a deep voice. The bartender brings him a shot of Wild Turkey and Roger tips the glass back and takes the contents down in one gulp. Roger exhales loudly, then feels his throat tighten and the inside of his cheeks get hot. When he opens his eyes, he sees that Jose is standing next to him, waiting to be served. Jose is already smiling when he sees Roger staring, although Jose doesn't recognize Roger. After he pays for his Medouri Sour and takes a sip Jose pats Roger on the shoulder and Roger raises his fist in a threatening manner. Jose jumps a little, then starts laughing very hard. Jose takes Roger's fist in his hand and lowers his arm, then walks toward the dance floor. Roger takes a few steps after him, then stops and throws up all over his Reeboks.


The Second Day


Roger wakes up in an alley off Ocean Drive below an air conditioning unit that is dripping brown fluid. The noise from the air conditioner made Roger think that he was still on an airplane. Roger squints from the piercing sun that bounces off the two white walls of chipped concrete into his bloodshot eyes. The hair on his arms is stuck in bunches. An empty bottle of Wild Turkey sits on his lap wrapped in a plastic bag. Roger stands up and everything turns white for a second. He gets angry after digging through his pockets and finding that his bank envelope is gone. When he gets to the edge of the alley, he sees three girls walking across the street toward the beach, carrying brightly colored towels. Roger looks at his hand, then punches the concrete wall. He looks at his hand again and sees that his knuckles are red. Roger punches the wall a few more times until some of the skin is scraped off each knuckle. Once the girls are across the street, two Cuban kids pass by them and wave their arms flirtatiously. Roger sinks his head and begins breathing heavily as he notes that the redhead doesn't appear to have any marks or bruises on her face. He heads toward them with stalker's eyes and sprints across the street.

From the distance, it looks like someone pressed fast-forward as he grabs a fistful of golden hair and yanks before she knows what's happened. The redhead can't pry him loose, even when she resorts to throwing rock hard punches that make hollow popping sounds and doesn't care that her bikini top has landed on the sidewalk. The obese Chinese friend screams at the top of her lungs like her arm has been hacked off. A siren blares as he pulls the blonde one close and squeezes her from behind until both of their faces turn to blood.

Copyright©2007 Adam Cushman