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Friday, December 16, 2005

Dumpster in Connecticut by Colin Dardis

Sarah and I were in New York.
Sarah was a health therapist who works in a number of clinics in and around Belfast. One of her clients had won two tickets; all expenses paid, full board, to NY, and had asked her if she wanted to come along with him. This was during an Indian head massage; he thought it helped his receding hairline. Anyway, he was a retired school teacher: poor fucker probably had no one else to take along with him. Sarah and I talked about this over dinner in the Metro. She had roasted butternut squash on Italian rocket, followed by seared salmon on wild mushroom couscous with asparagus spears. I had salmon hearts with pear, complimented by Hungarian sausage with a vegetable medley, garnished with orange. Odd that I remember that. Maybe I can recall the meal because that night I told Sarah I would kill the old man.

There were two of us and one of him. And only two tickets. He was old and on his own, its important you remember that. Basically, his life was expendable. So that night, we talked about how we might kill Jack Carruthers. I think Sarah only cajoled me in order to have the conversation. Wine and dinner mean nothing to her unless there was some kind of mental stimulus to compliment her dining, even if she considered my homicidal musings just a fantasy.
I didn’t know how serious I was either. Maybe I just wanted to shake Sarah up a little in order to test her. Her middle class mundanity was beginning to annoy me. Anyhow, the old man came back for a reiki session the following Tuesday. He had been diagnosed with heart disease and therefore couldn’t fly. He then handed over an envelope to her: the fucker had transferred the flight tickets and everything else over to her name. We were going to the Big Apple! And the guy who was going to pop it anyway survived a little longer than he was expecting.
So, we get to the hotel. I want sex, but Sarah’s too tired from the jetlag. She turns to me and says that we have to go down and visit Old Man Carruthers’ brother and family while we’re over here, as a favour to Jack for giving us the tickets. Fuck that, I said. “He gave you the tickets, not me. I’m not wasting my time visiting some hick ex-pat and his inbred wife and kids. No fucking way.” She replied, like only a woman could, that she knew I would say that, and that’s why she waited ‘til we got here to tell me. She threatens to keep her legs shut for the whole two weeks we’re over here, and shit, I want pussy. She wins.

So like I said, we were in New York. But now I have to drive our rented car two hundred miles north in order to meet up with this shithead’s family, thinking all the way, ‘When the hell did Sarah gain a sense of moral duty?” I’m doing all the driving, while she’s reading Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘She Came To Stay’, the 1984 Flamingo edition that I lent her with the Guy Pene Dubois painting on the cover. I wanted to read my copy of ‘American Psycho’, so I ask ‘”Why the fuck are you not driving?” A reasonable question, I think. She looks at me liked I just kicked her mother to death. “Because I have my period,” as if this is explanation enough.
We argue until we reach a truck stop forty miles from our destination. The sign says ‘O’Hanagan’s’, and there’s a sign depicting a leprechaun pumping gas. It’s probably the only Irish truck stop in the whole of the desert plains. Immediately the owner, a sagging old cloth cat of a lady, picks up on our Irish accents, and falls in love with us. I don’t feel in the mood for small talk, so I mutter to Sarah to get me coffee and pancakes, and head off to the gents. I take two Xanax to calm myself down, balanced by what I think is enough milligrams of speed to get me through the rest of the journey, thinking that Sarah would have to take over and drive, menstruating or not.

I come out of the restroom and see some hairy-assed trucker monkey trying to crack onto Sarah, like his grasp of the English language was even enough to read the menu in this shithole diner. Thankfully, the cloth-lady has disappeared. I drop down beside Sarah, and the trucker looks at me like I’m the one who is interrupting something.
He grunts, “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” I stare with a wide eyed stare, “you can stop laying your sweaty, grease-ridden skin over the surface that me and my girlfriend are about to eat off and go and learn some manners. In fact, you can leave the vicinity completely.” I point to Sarah. “She’s no good to you anyway.” I pause to
compose myself in the sauntering heat. “She has her period.”
Truck monkey doesn’t like this. Either does Sarah. She starts shouting at me, saying that she was only asking for directions, pushing me out of the booth. During her near-spastic rant, she spots a few crumbs on my left nostril.
“For fuck’s sake Jack, are you freebasing again?” I shake my head, confused. “I can’t take this shit anymore. How am I suppose to take you to see the Carruthers when you’re high?!” She shoves past me, grabs the keys off the table, and seemingly within the same second, drives off, probably to eternal happiness with Old Man Carruthers and his inbred protégés. I’ve left standing with truck monkey, now joined by two friends of his, hair sprouting out from every possible angle.
“Round here, we treat women with respect.” He spits out the last word through plaque-heavy teeth. I wipe my nose and start to say something, but the drugs are kicking in, and my tongue is melting to the side of my jaw. I have time to note that the two truckers that have just joined us are wearing matching baseball caps before they picked me off and drag me towards a backdoor. One of them shouts out “Doris, just got some business to do out back here,” and I see the cloth-lady from the kitchen turn around and simply nod before I’m flung out the back.

I wake up surrounded in garbage, my nose so full of bloody snot that I might never snort anything again. My head and ribs feel like they’ve anatomically switched positions. There’s a pizza box of my lap, the carton saying “Tonio’s, the best pizzeria in the city.” For some reason, I open it up, and there’s a discarded coffee-stained map of the city inside. The sun sets in the dust above me as I look for a cigarette, and only find some matches from the New York hotel, with the telephone number for the old man’s brother written on the inside. I need to call and try to find Sarah to apologise, otherwise I’ll be stuck in this dump forever, but I can hardly move to lift myself thanks to the pasting I’ve received.

And that’s how I found myself in a dumpster in Connecticut.

Born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Colin Dardis is one of a number of Belfast performance poets emerging into the literary spotlight. He has been a regular performer of live poetry in Belfast, for the past five years and has worked as a Poet In Motion, for the New Belfast Community Arts Initiative, helping organise a number of one-off poetry events in Belfast. Notable appearances include the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Between The Lines and the Castlereagh Verbal Arts Festival.

Copyright Colin Dardis 2005