By staff writer NG Hatfield
March 21, 2007
Though it was supposedly for emergency-use only, the little glass side door of the rubber factory swung open fully and without sound. It hit the cement wall adjacent hard enough to crack the glass, had not the owners installed rubber coatings on all of the doors. Years earlier, several employees had joyously sprung out of the building, fracturing the main entrance doors a few times. The rubber coating was handy, but not nearly as satisfying, the old man thought as he left the building.
Outside, he was the last person through these doors. He grabbed his cigarettes from his jean jacket pocket and headed for the very end of the parking lot. Near halfway, a thud from inside the plant drew his attention. Probably a machine getting settled, he thought, and looked back to check. There, the rubber factory’s smokestacks were dormant, though black and phallic. The old man shivered; he ought to stop looking at God’s Big Black Cock, he thought.
He took a few more steps toward the truck, which was now alone in a parking lot the size of at least ten rubber factories. It was a rustything; only four years old; the salt from the interstates mixed with several drunken, late-night wrecks served to accelerate the oxidation processes along the fenders and in little auburn splotches on the black doors. When he drank, it was usually a tree or a mailbox, nothing human. Well, that’s not true. But Judge Walker said it wasn’t his fault, and at least he hadn’t killed the whore.
“A look of terror emerged as she saw her husband. You’re—you’ve—you’ve got the Jew!”
The old man got in the truck and clicked on the interior lights to find a book of matches. It was ten. Time for a smoke and a drink.
The truck coughed, started and the old man put on the radio. Elvis. Yes, he thought, and drove a few minutes listening to “Heartbreak Hotel” until a pair of red and blue flashing lights appeared in his rearview.
“Hey Marlon,” the officer said.
This cop was a young one. The youngest in the whole county. He wore his hat on the back of his head, which accentuated his youth more than even the long, red sideburns and freckles—that Irish war paint—could.
“What are you doin’ goin’ twenty in a fifty, Marlon?” The officer repeated his name like a teacher would a cumbersome student.
“Just got off work. Must’ve not been paying attention.”
“Well let’s see your license and registration.”
“Goddamnit.” The old man arched his sore back and picked his ass off the felt seat. His wallet was water-logged leather, but full of cash.
“Thanks, I’ll be right back Marlon.”
Fuck you, the old man thought, you fucking Mick Pig.
Looking in rearview, the lights flickered red, blue still. The old man swore under his breath; it was waiting that pissed him off the most. The drink specials at McLaugherty’s ended at eleven; he’d only be able to get one or two beers for cheap, now.
After a few long minutes, the boy returned with his hat down, nearly over his eyes.
“You’ve got a problem, Marlon. Step out of the truck.”
“A problem? Step out? What the hell is the fucking problem? I’ve been a resident of this county for all my fucking life and there’s never been a problem in going under the fucking speed limit.”
“You’re a Jew.”
The officer pulled his gun. “Get out, Marlon. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
“No,” he clicked on his flashlight, pressed it close to the gun and started shining it frantically throughout the cab of the truck, “according to the computer, it says you recently turned to a Jew,” turning impatient and more indignant, “Now get the fuck of the truck, Marlon.”
“Recently?” The old man rubbed the back of his neck; he could feel the little hairs rise for the first time since his court date.
“In the last hour. Now this is the last time I’m goin’ to say it. Get. Out.”
The flashlight was in the old man’s eyes now. He stepped onto the dirty road. “Shit,” the old man said, leaning back in the truck as it drifted forward a little.
He slammed the truck’s gears into park. It was going to be a long night.
The officer returned home at six. He tossed the stiff-rimmed hat on the modest orange couch where his wife had left him a pair of black boxer-briefs and a white t-shirt. The graveyard shift was always the toughest and thusly, he was exhausted. The shower his wife assumed he would take could wait until he got up.
He traipsed into the little bedroom, taking off pieces of clothing with each advancing step. Shirt and pants were tossed on the beige carpet. Socks and underwear were begrudgingly stuffed into the hamper.
In the room, the coffee table lamp was still on, as was the television; a thick, pink book was lying on his wife’s modest breasts. Her dark red hair had fallen over the navy blue pillows. The smooth cotton sheets had fallen blithely along her legs: long and smooth. Her stomach, well-defined, was only slightly covered, allowing just enough for the officer’s memory to lapse to times in which they had fucked. She was, in all regards, beautiful. Seeing her in such a state reminded the young man of how difficult it was to find that beautiful tranquility on the job. Plus, seeing her naked always gave him an erection.
“One of the perks of the job,” he said aloud, smiling to himself.
The officer clicked off the light and watched the television for a moment: the news. Something about murders in Bismarck, nothing too out of the ordinary, he thought.
Turning the television off, he bent down to kiss his wife on the ear—as he usually did when he returned home. But, he wasn’t so graceful this time; he slipped hard on the sleek sheets and crashed his elbow into his wife’s exposed hip.
She woke. Groggy, though strangely quick to jump, the young woman sat up to greet her husband. Her eyes were still covered in makeup, she must have just passed out after her shift, the officer thought. Saying no words, she squinted and then looked startled.
“It’s me, baby.”
She squinted again, rubbed her eyes and then hands after she saw that the makeup had slightly covered the sides of her index fingers. This was her usual wake-up routine, and the young man loved it. It was as though she was the epitome of innocence. Though now, a look of terror emerged as she saw her husband. “You’re—you’ve—you’ve got the Jew!”
No other words were spoken, his wife had darted out of the bed, breasts bouncing as she sprinted through the hallway and out to the garage. The officer had followed, his penis waving almost comically, but the door to the garage caught him in the face as he saw his wife for the last time.
Hours later, the inherent shock of this occurrence still had the young man in a state of almost catatonic stupor, but eventually he felt the warmth of blood leak from his nose down to his mouth and neck. Finally the officer decided he should clean up before he would (or could) go to his wife’s sister’s house, to, at the very least, get an idea of where the girl had gone and what the hell she was talking about.
He grabbed the white t-shirt from the couch and walked to the bathroom to stick it under the sink. The water felt good through the shirt, cold on his burning, tired hands.
Looking in the mirror with the damp cotton shirt, the officer saw what he had already suspected. It was real now. His nose was longer, narrower. A black substance, almost like tar, had congealed from his upper lip down to his chest hair.
And if it wasn’t for this, the officer might not have panicked. If not for seeing this black amalgam of sweat and hair and tar-blood, he might not have walked out of the house to his cruiser. If not for realizing that his wife was gone for good, the officer might not have grabbed his pistol from the seat, stuck it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. But he had seen the tar-blood, and he had realized it: he was a Jew, too.
There was no hope for humanity.