When Doug was 4 he tripped over a small dog and clean bit off his tongue. The blood loss almost killed him. Doug has no memory of the accident. Of his childhood he only remembers the beatings his older brother gave him. He beat me the day I was born, Doug said. They brought me home from the hospital and he started beating me.

In school they said he was Learning Disabled. They called Doug ‘retard’ every day. He didn’t want to live. In high school he would sit in his car and put a knife blade against his wrist, but he never did it.

Doug met Heather at the back of a bar in Wrigleyville. He asked why her friends were ignoring her. She was only a little fat then and the goiter she has now was not yet growing. This was 10 years ago. Doug started to see Heather and one day he brought her home and her husband was at the door and he threatened Doug. I’m just bringing her home, Doug protested. I don’t see what’s the problem. Soon after her divorce Doug decided to marry her.

He took Heather to the park with two KFC dinners and a bottle of wine. Inside one of the fried chicken boxes Doug had hidden a poem he had written and inside the folded up poem he put the ring. When Heather was almost finished eating chicken she found the poem and the ring and she agreed to marry him. She found the whole thing very romantic.

They moved in together along with Heather's teenaged son who smoked cigarettes and was mean to Doug’s cats. Doug got into it with him and it was decided that the young man would have to go. Doug sees him on the bus sometimes and they don’t talk to each other. He’s got a job now as a security guard and makes $3 an hour more than Doug does.

The best job Doug ever had was working freight at Wick's Furniture. All the guys were Mexican and didn’t speak English and that didn’t bother him. When Wick's shut down he worked at another warehouse where a night manager named Ken would ride him all the time. He would bring Doug into his office every night and tell him he was stupid. One day Doug didn’t go back. He had enough. The day he quit he was thinking of taking the bus to St. Charles and killing Ken with a machete. But Doug didn't go. Instead he stayed home and beat his wife.

The first time he beat Heather he just pushed her around, pushed her against the wall, and then he threw her down. Doug pushed her around this time too, but then he grabbed her around the neck and he strangled her. She was stupid and lazy and fat and she wouldn't stop nagging him. She didn't work and she just lay in bed watching tv and ate all the food while he was away. It must have been before he was strangling her that the neighbors called the cops because when he was strangling her she wasn’t making any loud noises. Heather didn’t want to press charges but she was so marked up that the cops had to take him away. She was pulling at him and crying to let him stay.

In jail the black guys called him Billy Bob. One black guy called him Slim Shady. There are no doors to the bathroom and you pull the garbage can in front of the stall when you use the toilet. Everybody waits their turn for the shower. Doug walked on the shower floor in his bare feet and got some sort of athlete’s foot. It still comes back sometimes. The food was terrible and Doug doesn't eat lunch meat anymore because of the memory. Doug says he’ll never hit her again because he doesn’t want to go back. I’m not a good person, he says. I hate my fat cow wife but I deserve her. It’s my punishment for hitting on her.

The one vacation Doug took in his life was to see his father in Las Vegas. But it wasn’t a good vacation because his father was dead when he got there. His father had gone to Vegas to drink himself to death 6 months before. Now he keeps his father on top of the TV. When Doug shakes the TV the little wooden box leaks a little of his father onto the carpet.

Doug and Heather are on their second bankruptcy. After their car was repo-ed a man came and told them they owed 20,000 dollars. The bankruptcy people tell them they can’t ever have any property. They want proof of their wages and they want receipts for everything they buy. Doug doesn’t think he will be allowed to buy any more comic books or cowboy hats. They just started garnishing his wages too. The last few days before paychecks Doug has no money for food and doesn't eat.

Last week Doug and Heather pawned their wedding rings. Doug used his money to get a large tattoo of the Gemini symbol on his back. But the tattoo looks more like the pi symbol and there must have been some misunderstanding because the tattoo artist had added wings to it. Doug refuses to show anyone and doesn't like to think about it. It's on his back so he doesn't see it much. Anyway, says Doug, he plans to kill himself when he's 60. He doesn't want to be like that old man he sees at the bus stop. He can hardly get up the stairs onto the bus. 60 is long enough.

1 comment:

  1. Doug told these stories on his breaks from putting up light bulbs in the electrical aisle. It was during this time that he was trying to work out a rotten tooth which I assumed had rotted from all the Mountain Dew he drank. Doug would work it through the night with his tongue and on his breaks would try to loosen it with his fingers. One night he tried a pliers from hardware. Eventually it came out one morning when he was brushing his teeth.


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