Author Note: Thanks everyone, for the warm welcome back. I know you all must have a lot of questions to ask, and I suppose we’ll get to that another time. But first, I wanted to share a bit of my new book. So, enjoy.
In Which Our Hero Meets His Soulmate
Wilt Smallfarm sat in the parking lot, wondering where it all went wrong this time. The second hitch in the Navy had seemed like a good idea at the time, but it sure hadn’t worked out that way.
Now he was out, and back home in Wisconsin. Driving a truck. Six months after he’d lost his most recent radio gig in East Troy, his wife had moved in with the janitor there, who happened to look just like his daughter, right down to the kinky black hair. He’d waited a respectful four days before answering an ad in the dating magazine.
The Floater, aka Wilt’s brother Floyd, had been sitting at the far end of the bar, waiting for a signal that would tell him to swoop in for an extract or bail out and leave him. Wilt was waiting at a table near the jukebox, dressed in black slacks and a button down shirt with a pattern that defied easy description.
There had been no photo with the ad, but Wilt had no illusions that the woman, who said her name was Karen, would be any sort of beautiful. Wilt just needed a companion, someone nice he could talk to who would be nice to him back, who he could lure with his peculiar charm back to his place. Someone who didn’t smell like salt water and oily dungarees.
A woman came into the bar. She stood just inside the door, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness. Wilt was already at home in the dimness, and what he saw was a vision of beauty. She had a symmetric oval face, perfectly framed in feathered honey blond hair. She wore a white cowled sweater that clung to her in all the right places, a brown skirt and brown suede cowboy boots. He hoped this was Karen. He hoped it was not. Wilt knew a night with her would be a night in heaven, but he knew just as well that women like this had no time for a man of his peculiar interests.
Another woman came in a moment later. Dumpy and thick, with heavy Coke-bottle glasses and a gray cardigan. She was not Karen, she couldn’t be. She passed by The Vision, touched her shoulder and went to the bar. The Vision looked around the bar. Wilt waited.
The blonde tentatively moved through the tables, looking for the jukebox. This was a place Wilt knew but Karen did not. He was more comfortable. Maybe that was an error. She found the jukebox and headed in his direction. He smiled and raised his hand to wave and catch her eye.
She noticed him, kept coming. He stood up. As she neared the table, she pulled down a pair of glasses she had propped in her hair. The sexy librarian. She straightened them and looked him up and down with a critical eye.
“Karen? Hi, I’m Wilt Smallfarm. It’s a real pl-“
She cut him off, and her verdict was a blade to Wilt’s heart. “Nope. I can do better than you.”
And she spun and walked out of the place.
Now he got out of the car. He’d been sitting in the parking lot of a local Dixie Trucker’s Home. He’d never been inside this one because it was local, and the food was cheaper at Burger King. He couldn’t go home – Floyd had picked up the dumpy broad and taken her back home. He had no standards whatsoever, but at least he got his ticket punched once in a while. Their mother would be passed out by now so the noise wouldn’t wake her. Tom Collins and Valium was such a winning combination. He’d done three quick shooters of well scotch before getting in his car and driving aimlessly for a half hour. He’d been exceedingly fortunate not to encounter any cops, especially that fucker Mike Charles. He was just another pussy that Wilt and his brothers had taught a lesson in high school, but now he had a badge and a hard-on for the Smallfarm boys.
Wilt staggered once before straightening and at least approximating a sober stride into the truck stop. He walked into the restaurant side where he could smell coffee and pork tenderloin. It was late on a Wednesday night. The waitresses huddled near the coffeemaker, making small talk. The sign was turned to say “Seat Yourself” so Wilt grabbed a menu and headed for a booth.
Five minutes later a waitress brought him water and said “You need another minute, hon?” without slowing down, looping back to the group drinking coffee.
Another five minutes and the waitress came back, rattled off the specials in one long breath, and waited.
Wilt ordered coffee and an open-faced hot turkey sandwich. The waitress scribbled and turned to go. She said, “Hey Millie.”
A smoky voice said “Becky.”
The other woman stopped at Wilt’s table. She said, “Hey, sailor,” and winked.
“How did you know I was in the Navy?” Wilt said.
“It’s just an expression, honey. You look lonely. Want some company?” Millie said.
Millie popped her gum. “Scooch over.”
Wilt scooched. Millie wore a tight tank top and a sparkling miniskirt. Her brown hair was pulled back under a wide clip. She wore bright, candy-red lipstick that looked fresh, and blush to match. Lots of eye makeup and long fake lashes. She slid into the booth, her hip touching his. She smelled like lilacs.
“What’s your name, honey?”
He said “Wilt,” and swallowed, hard. “Wilt Smallfarm.”
“You a truck driver? I never seen you come in before.”
“Yeah, I drive. But I live around here. Why stop here when home’s so close?” he said.
“I get it. So what brings you in here tonight?” Millie asked.
“My blind date stood me up. I went for a drive, wound up here,” he said.
“Oh, that’s awful! She don’t know what she’s missing.”
Wilt gasped. Millie had his pants open and his weapon out and in her hand so quickly and expertly that he’d felt nothing. She was slowly stroking him. He groaned.
“Quiet down, sweetie. You ain’t never done this before, have you?”
Wilt shook his head. Millie laughed, but not in a mean way. “You’re cute,” she said. “You got any money?”
Wilt nodded. He could barely hear her over the blood rushing in his ears.
“Well, get it out.”
Wilt shifted to reach his wallet. Millie never missed a beat. She giggled. Wilt opened his wallet. How much? Should he ask? He pulled out a twenty and folded it on the table.
Clearly her left hand was as practiced as her right, because the bill vanished in a twinkling.
She said, “Oh, goody! They just hate it when I make a mess.” She slid under the table and went to work.
It was over before the coffee arrived. Millie now sat across from Wilt, re-applying lipstick using a compact mirror. She snapped it shut and smiled at him. “Good as new,” she said.
She started to slide out of the booth.
“Where are you going?” said Wilt.
“Back to work, of course.”
“Are you a hooker?”
Millie tapped a saucy finger against her cheek. Her nails were painted a frosty silver. She said, “Hooker? Nah. Let’s say I’m a…a temporary girlfriend.”
Wilt smiled. “That’s pretty good,” he said. “Can I see you again?”
“I’m here every night but Sunday.”
Wilt said, “Church?”
Millie laughed. “Oh, you’re such a cutie!” And she pinched his cheek and bounced away.
Three weeks later, after they’d finished up in the back seat of his car, he was pulling his pants back on and said, “What’s your real name?”
“That’s baloney. It’s a close enough name, but all your friends are named Destiny, Madison, Mercedes and Angel. Nobody who does what you do uses their real name. I didn’t even use my real name when I worked in radio.”
“Who’d listen to Wilton Smallfarm In The Morning?” Millie said.
“Exactly. So what’s your name?” Wilt said.
“Next time,” she said.
“Gail,” she told him. They were just having coffee. It still cost ten bucks.
He said, “Gail what?”
“Hodensack,” she said.
He snorted into his hand, trying not to laugh. “You need to marry me, like, today.”
“Why?” She lit a cigarette.
“Hodensack is German, did you know that? My mother is German.”
“Yeah. So? What does it mean?” she said.
“I don’t want to tell you,” he said.
She blew smoke at him. “Too late now. Give.”
“Hoden means testicle. Your name is Gail Ballsack.”