);

TUNA SANDWICH by Jennifer Greidus

He orders tuna salad because he always orders tuna salad. Today, he also orders bacon potato soup. It’s too hot for soup. He likes to wipe his pretty mouth with the back of a hand. He sneers at the waitresses and only pays attention to the ones with fat tits. One of them, Trina, is my favorite waitress. Her tits are fat. I want to tell her to cover them up. Her skirt is tight, too, and the material that’s supposed to hide the zipper is pulled too far to do its job. He’s not an ass man, though.

My mother’s tits are like that, fallen and fat. Jiggly. To the trucker sitting next to him, Tuna Sandwich whispers, “ A loose handful’s where it’s at, am I right?”

I know my mother’s a whore. But lots of the mothers that Tuna Sandwich fucked weren’t whores. Trina’s a mom, and she’s never whored. Her skin is too pale and clear to be that of a cocksucker. Plus, Trina lets me sit in her booth without ordering anything but seltzer for seven nights straight during the dinner rush. She’s kind. I bet she knits and watches TV until exactly ten p.m. Trina lets me sit here with seltzer and saltines just so I can stare at this fuck who pumped cum in my mother and sliced her cunt when he was done.

I still popped out of her, though. Nine months later. My mother likes to tell me that it’s almost a blessing, her sliced cunt, because she had a wider hole to push me out of.

I have been useless to her until now. She loves me, yeah. She always saves me the last piece of donut. But I was in tow wherever she went: welfare office, subsidized child care drop-off, the casino parking lots at two a.m., Hank’s to buy weed and share rum that I was occasionally allowed to sip if I was quiet. I was always quiet.

I was also always useless. For sixteen years, she used the room next to mine to blow guys for ten dollars because she was too scarred up to fuck. If I were a good son, I would have gotten a job. I just stayed in bed and hoped she was focused enough to make them ejaculate quickly so I could sleep.

When she saw him–Tuna Sandwich–she peeped. My mother never does anything quieter than guffaw. It’s the only way I knew; she peeped, turned me around by the shoulders, and we left the convenience store without papers, Fritos, or grape Gatorade.

Now, I spit a thick gob onto my fingertips, walk behind Tuna Sandwich, and fling it into his greasy hair. Trina sees me and lifts an eyebrow. She smiles, then, because Tuna Sandwich calls her Trina Tits-a-lot. He has tucked money into the shirt pocket of her uniform while copping a feel more than once. Until now, her only revenge was wiping her pussy juice on his tuna sandwich white bread.

For me, Trina lifted his keys. Trina told me she serves him his last cup of coffee at 10 p.m. and that my six green pills will be crushed in it. Trina told me he’s small but strong.

She joins me in the men’s room, drops his motel key in my hand, and slaps my ass. “You look so fuckin’ good tonight. I’m not going to see you in here tomorrow, am I?”

“No.”

“Do good work.” She kisses my cheek, straightens her skirt, and leaves me be.

————

Tuna Sandwich wakes up on a creeper. When I said, “Do you sell those dolly things? You know, the ones that go under cars?” the auto parts guy sneered at me. I’m sixteen, for one, and I’m frail, for two. Also, I lisp a little. He asked me if I needed help getting it into my van, and it sucked, because I did.

If I woke up on a creeper in my motel room, it would take me a minute or two to panic. I’d be almost curious when I came to. I might take some time to assess. It wouldn’t make any sense to a good person.

It doesn’t take Tuna Sandwich but twelve seconds to panic, though, because I know the fuck knows he’s led the kind of life where waking up cocooned to a creeper with rope and bungee cords and duct tape over your mouth is the kind of thing he’s been waiting to come around the corner since puberty.

He shakes his head like a dog after a swim. He groans through the tape. I smile from the bed. I was watching Fixture, the one where Kimmy does the bull run in Barcelona. I turn up the TV, super loud. I go to him. I hover.

He’s using his feet and lower legs to push himself away from me. He bumps his head into the wall and squeezes his eyes closed. His nostrils are blown to the size of dimes. His eyes burn: what, what, what.

He knows what. It’s a hundred whats.

It’s me taking off his shoes and socks and jamming my mom’s metal emery board under his big toenail what. It’s me dragging his faggot ass over to the writing table so I can steady myself on the chair, stand on his chest, and stomp up and down on him until I’m sure I’ve broken ribs what. It’s me moving to his balls and cracking down with my heel. It’s me plunging the emery board into his right eyeball.

Best of all, it’s me struggling to cut through the cartilage of his throat with my Swiss Army knife, because I am sixteen, frail, and lispy. A hundred whats let me take my time, and his left eyeball screams at me the whole time I do.

I’m going to sit here. I’m going to sit here and see what kind of piece of shit person shows up looking for this cocksucker because they missed him. No one will miss him. No one. I’ll be sitting here for days, sucking in his stench until I’m bored and go to Atlantic City.  

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