"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Henry Slough Chapter IV


“Why can’t life be simple”, wondered Dina DiMarco, when she thought of Joe Fannon’s tight, muscled buns bunching as he walked up the ladder; his hard arms, tatooed and brown, pulling up the climb.  True, Fannon was Henry’s co-worker at the construction company, and those crews were so tight that screwing him would be like screwing Henry’s brother.  But the temptation.  While Henry was in Indian Country, the construction site moved to the North End, and Dina walked right past it on her way home from work.  She had a few beers with them on most days, shot the shit until they had to lock everything up.  Fannon was a carpenter like Henry, a bit older, and hot.  Henry was nice, but retracted – this was the only word she could think of that described his complaisance and good nature.  She wanted someone more outgoing, confident, and, well, manly.  She knew that Fannon liked her and it was only a matter of time until they did it.

Dina was right about crew brotherhood, and Fannon was a little more circumspect about fucking than he would ordinarily be.  Henry, a little on the douche-bag side – OK – but still one of the guys; but whatever honor he had or thought he had easily eroded when Dina Big Tits showed up on the site and gave him a big hug.  He’s not from here, he reasoned, and would certainly go back to Minnesota.  Maybe he’d move to the reservation with the fat Pima twins, now that would be something.  “What actually is a reservation?”, he wondered.  Either teepees or casinos, probably, although who lived in Southern Minnesota, anyway except Indians and that’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul if they gambled there.  Must be teepees.  In any case, Slough will be out of here, so it’s OK to fuck his chick.  It’s in men’s DNA to fuck chicks, survival of the fittest and all that shit, so better me than Douche Bag Henry; but what am I thinking about? What about her DNA? Dumbass parents and that drooling wop grandfather.  Rationalization complete, he asked her out on a date the next time she came to the site.

They ate in a Lebanese place in Somerville – Joe thought it would be a good idea to get out a little and that Arab food would be exotic. Mistake because the smell of lamb made her sick and a contingent of Korean businessmen took over half the restaurant, got drunk, and stumbled over Dina every time they went to the bathroom.  A quick bow of apology, but they stumbled over her on the way back.  They went back to his apartment after the meal, and that was that.

While all this was going on, Henry was with his parents in Prairieville and the twins were on the rez, at least as far as he knew.  It was so relaxing to be at home, having home-cooked meals, enjoying the late summer on the farm.  He knew he should get back to Boston, but stayed on anyway until September.  He got up early, walked through the fields of ripening corn like he did when he was a kid, always excited by the rustling of the leaves.  When he was little he read an old Indian legend that said that there were spirits in the Corn, they came on the wind, and the rustling was their dance.

In the evening he sat out on the porch with his mother, drinking iced tea, looking over the fields, so flat that they extended to the horizon.  He loved the airshow the swallows and swifts put on - diving, climbing, darting after insects.  At some prearranged hour the swallows departed and in came the second shift, the bats, which had none of the grace of swallows and swifts, more jerky and stuttering movements; and they squeaked like rats, which they were, his mother was always afraid of getting one caught in her hair, an old wives’ tale for sure, for in all his life he never actually saw that happen.

He didn’t talk to Dina as much as he thought he would, or wanted.  When he called, he always got her machine, and even though middle Henry had never had a jealous thought in his life, he began to wonder why she never answered or returned his calls.  It was a cell phone which she always had with her, and so she could easily answer, but he just assumed that she was busy at work, or with her parents, or on the bus, and couldn’t talk.  After a week-and-a-half of this, he began to worry.  At first it was just a nagging, nettling thought that went away; but as time passed, he began to see her with other guys.  She had been friendly with the guys at the site, nothing more; but now he began to see the relationship differently; and couldn’t get the image of her on her back with her legs around Petey Brogan.  Henry was so clueless about most things that he picked up on nothing with her and Joe Fannon.  To him Petey was the horse-cock that was doing his Dina.

From then on the morning walks were infected, the Indian spirits were far removed into the ether; he was jumpy and restless and couldn’t sit on the porch in the evening.  His mother was a nosey pest, and the birds and bats were just nuisance and noise.  He booked his trip back to Boston, and told his disappointed parents that he was leaving.

All well and good, but he didn’t count on the Pima twins coming back so soon to Prairieville and move into the bunkhouse.  This was to be their office-cum-factory and the Branch Office of Northern Minnesota Crank Works, Ltd.

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