Fiction Funny Romance

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

As I, Martin Hernandez, look up from my morning-after shower… I see a spider (daddy long legs) spinning an ant in its web. The morning-after wasn’t rough, it was horrifically whimsical. Like getting beautifully drunk, but spending the night with a ghost everyone can see, hear, and fear. 

I met Shelly online: Tinder. But I was spun in like that ant on the web. Her pictures showed a vibrant and smiling girl. Skin and makeup doused in beauty, and her dress sunnier then El Sol. I was lonely and so was she. I rolled the dice. 

Nowadays, people can paint perfect pictures of themselves and con, both themselves and you, into believing their life is better — GREAT. When in reality, they’re a living corpse, dripping blood on the floor, panting slowly; and in a raspy dead voice, saying, “HELP ME.” 

But no one will. 

“Just drive up a little passed the street,” she texted. 


And so I did. I had parked farther than instructed, or did I? She couldn’t explain coherently. When she walked up, she had a sun dress on, sure, but it was dim and grim over her unpleasant disposition juxtaposing her photos. 

Her skin was ravaged by scars, her arms and legs had deep slashes … and one on her arm, near a razor blade tattoo, was a gnarly gash, deeper than the others. I didn’t care otherwise. The only thing startling me was the stark contrast. The surreality of the moment. Was I in some sort of hell for failed lovers? Because I looked over on my left arm and saw 10 gashes and slashes, myself. Always there to remind me of THAT time. Thanks for the reminder, Martin! 

We stopped for cigarettes at a gas station and headed into town to a dive bar, The Crescent Star. I loved the place. There is no where else Honesty and Clarity circumvents freely. The men and women covered in tattoos, smoking mountains of cigarettes, drinking like Armageddon’s taking place, and the random dogs congregating — looking for scraps of cheap chips or crackers. These were smart people, wholesome. 

“I do my own taxes,” said a man we didn’t ever get the name of. Let’s call him “Billy.” “Been doing so forever,” he said, leaning on the plastic patio chair. 

Billy then divulged his life story without flinching. He’d gone into “bankruptcy” once, but was saved when doing his own research and learning the word, “depreciation.” “My properties never depreciated, so I was leaving money on the table.” 

He then regaled us about the “mud wrestling” and “hotrod” events happening in town —“sometime in December.” 

And lastly, about the property he was looking to sell.

“I’ll probably give my renters $4,000 to move when I sell the place.” 

I asked him why. 

“Because they lived there forever, and if they didn’t pay the rent, I couldn’t pay the mortgage.” 

He was a good man, and quickly nestled up to our table for a cigarette. I didn’t mind. Shelly could barely finish a sentence without stumbling over her thoughts. Though, she articulated how “angry” she was, well. 

“The people on the bus I take; I don’t give a fuck anymore. I just yell at them. Because they won’t stop. You can’t believe how often I get harassed!”

Not long after Billy went for another drink, a chihuahua put on his best puppy face in front of Shelly. 

“Chester loves girls,” said a “Mexican” man. 

“He speaks Spanish; all chihuahuas are Mexican,” he said speaking to Chester in spanglish. “He’s here on a work visa from Mexico… you know, as a service dog.” 

Shelly had a surprise for me. And it was only a few stores down. It was an oddity store. There was a jarred pig (“Salty Peet”), lizards, an infected pig kidney, pig brain, and another pig with the description: “Kinda,” the sweetest stillborn, “deformed,” lil piglet you’ll ever meet — NOT FOR SALE. She bought a $30 necklace filled with lavender and other herbs. I bought a pair of sunglasses. 

We went back to The Crescent Star and got hammered. Then hungry, and went to another bar serving food. We had appetizers. But by the time we got there, Shelly was dropping out of consciousness. We spent time outside to “get some air.” She smoked her vape and palely sat on a chair while leaning against my side. I held her shoulder. We went back inside but Shelly couldn’t eat. So I ate most of it, because I was atrociously hungry. Throughout the night I had been texting another girl — one I’ve physically seen before online and been talking to for a spell. An angel with dark, straight hair. A gorgeously devious but warm smile. So, I continued to text her and ate while Shelly was passed out and leaning on me. I still held her shoulder. It was the least I could do. I drove her home solemnly and wearily tired. We hugged and she stumbled to her door. “I’ve got to work at 12, but I got to do laundry that I didn’t finish before leaving. Then I got to take the bus and be there by 10. The walk there is about 20 minutes.”

I got home and couldn’t even jerk off. I just fell into my pillow and slammed into sleep like a car crash. My brain still untangling itself from the nights’ web, and the fog of character I thought visible. Who am I? 

IN THE MORNING: After my shower, and finally gaining the courage to jerk it, I sat on the toilet and got down to Business. I received a text message from Shelly: “I don’t expect a response or anything but just wanted to say sorry for getting so twisted last night.” I didn’t respond; put my Bukowski book by the crapper where it belongs and made fabulously strong coffee and read the morning news. What a wonderful world… red roses too…bombs for me and you… PING! “You’ve got a match!”

August 26, 2022 17:31

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10:24 Sep 08, 2022

Really great piece - I enjoyed getting into the headspace of Martin even if it was bleak it felt gritty and real.


Troy Chavez
14:02 Sep 08, 2022

Thank you, Melanie! Much appreciated. I like pieces you can feel with your hands.


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Kendall Defoe
20:01 Aug 26, 2022

Bukowski would have been proud...and this is an interesting look at the mind and the body in different directions pursuing different goals.


Troy Chavez
02:12 Aug 28, 2022

You made me shed a tear. It’s nice when someone reads my writing, but when someone comments thoughtfully and be thoroughly versed in what I wrote, I look at my time spent on the typer and realize I’m not wasting my time. Thank you for your comments!


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