Dog Farts and Dancer Girls
by Brady Allen
Emotions. They are misleading. Of this, he was sure.
They puttered along in the downtown traffic. Snowflakes were clinging desperately to the windshield in the borderline freezing weather, seeming to know that a sudden burst of sunshine could end their already short existence.
Anger: not as it appeared—beneath it was always sadness.
And sadness was impossible without first having happiness.
No wonder so many people are just generally fucked up. Emotions aren’t clear cut or reliable.
Next to him, she put on her makeup, looking into the mirror in the passenger-side visor. In her late thirties and she still had the face of a child, a face alive with curiosity, but with a certain sadness, too, if you looked deep into her eyes. This said that she must have been happy once, and the childlike quality said she wanted to be happy again. She had the look of a kid who has suddenly realized that she must grow up one day and that it won’t be everything she expects it to be.
He had a can of Coors between his legs. Ice cold from the cooler in the back seat. And he had one in his hand, sweating, almost empty.
She worked the mascara on her lashes. “So?” she asked.
Neither of them had spoken for five minutes or more, but he knew exactly what she was asking.
“Still thinking,” he said, taking a swig and emptying the can, crushing it and throwing it into the back seat, hitting his dog on the rump. Broad daylight and he paid no attention to whether or not there were cops around, or even goody-goody busybodies.
She flipped up the visor and leaned back against the headrest. “We’ve got to move beyond thinking. It’s important. Jesus.”
“It’s not easy,” he said, opening the Coors between his legs, “to talk about it without thinking first.”
“You sure didn’t think first before it happened.”
In the back seat of their old Buick, the dog sneezed and blew snot on the window. This only minutes after farting and causing a synchronized front window roll-down.
“Fucking dog,” she said.
“Shut up,” he said. “Waycross likes you.”
“Humping my leg isn’t like. It’s pornographic. It’s exploitation. Waycross is a porn dog.”
“I don’t think a dog can exploit a woman.” He looked at her sideways. “Besides, you used to be dirty.” He turned his head toward his window and muttered, “You used to be fun.”
She had nothing to say to this, and he smiled secretly behind his lips. She always shut up when she knew she’d said something stupid. Porn dog.
“So?” she said again some time later.
“I told you. I’m thinking.”
“Fuck it. Drop me at the house,” she said, and the dog farted again.
Joy wasn’t a heightened form of happiness; it was really relief. It was Thank god something happened that doesn’t suck up the ass.
They sat in a corner booth in the bar, and he couldn’t help but think of his dog. Waycross somehow defined their relationship. Even beyond humping her leg and farting.
She was checking her makeup again, peering this time into a compact the size of a golf ball and looking at herself in golf ball-sized chunks.
He hated golf.
But wasn’t hate just a form of jealousy that came about because of loneliness?
He smiled briefly, then realized it had nothing to do with golf. He didn’t hate golf because he was lonely, did he?
“So?” She was semi-smiling, too, as though his own smile had spread like a grinning rictus plague across the table.
“Thinking,” he said. And he was: of his dog, and of shooting golfers from behind one of those pretentious stone walls surrounding their private courses and country clubs.
And then his thoughts shifted to the dancer, the young dancer with the tight, round ass and innocent face. He’d met her nearly a year ago on campus. She had always walked out of class quickly to make it across campus to a dance class, her buttocks taut and quivering as she walked ahead of him—she had given him the strongest erections he’d ever had. He had thought of her frequently while he and his wife had lain in bed, not talking, not sleeping, not fucking or making love, and the erections were just as firm then on those lonely nights as they’d been upon first seeing her and following her along.
He felt guilty. But wasn’t guilt just a form of sadness that came from loneliness, which was brought about as a repercussion of anger or jealousy?
“We have to discuss it soon,” she said.
“Yeah, I know. Just give me a chance to think about it.”
“Oh, fuck,” she said. She got up and walked out.
He sat in his office at his desk, surrounded by books—Sartre and Freud and his John D. MacDonald collection, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, his books on Dali and Van Gogh, his own book: Relationships with the Nude—and he thought of the dancer girl, thought of what her ass had looked like under the leotards and tiny shorts, thought—
The phone rang. He picked it up and said his name.
“So,” she said, “are we going to talk about it tonight?”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll think about it,” he said. And continued to think of the dancer girl as he nestled the phone in its cradle.
“May I take your picture?” he had asked the dancer girl.
And she had said, “What do you mean?”
“I’m something of a painter, and I think you’d make an interesting subject.”
She had touched him on the arm, lightly, and said, “Calling a girl a subject will get you nowhere.” She chewed her bottom lip and looked away thoughtfully. “Unless it pays,” she smiled, touching him lightly on the hip.
“I’ll give you twenty dollars,” he said, and she giggled as she wrote down the time and place.
“We’ll see,” she smiled.
“Would you—can you pose nu—is it okay if—?”
“We’ll see.” She turned and walked away.
The image of her butt stayed in his mind until it came time for the pictures. Lust, he thought. That might be a feeling I can trust.
He took a bite of his clam chowder and looked around the kitchen. Their house seemed foreign to him.
“So?” his wife asked while she looked into her compact.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m still thinking.” His dog rested at his feet, under the table.
“Tomorrow,” she said. “Tomorrow we talk about it, or we don’t talk about it at all.”
He nodded and started humming an old Willie Nelson song to himself.
She sighed. Waycross licked her leg under the table. “I told you to leave that fucking dog outside,” she said.
He took another bite of his clam chowder, thought absently of those crazy Russian writers he loved so, and tried to will his dog to fart.
The dancer girl had been a few minutes early. She had taken her clothes off without his asking.
She had asked him to get naked, too. Her pubis had been hairy and soft looking, and he liked that. She seemed to know he’d like it, and she confirmed it when she put her mouth on his cock and took it all down her throat. That’s what he’d thought then: Jesus, she took my cock down her throat. And then he had felt bad for thinking it, felt crude, until she’d said, later, as they rested naked, side by side on the hardwood floor, semen trickling from between her legs, “Were you surprised I swallowed your whole cock?”
He’d never heard a woman talk like this. Never. Not even his wife back when she’d been . . . different. And he still thought that not many did.
Surprise can only follow expectations, can only follow judgment. I misjudged her, that’s all. Even though I don’t even know how I judged her to be.
“Yes,” he said, “I was.” He considered this statement. “I mean, not because it’s so big or anything, but . . .”
She looked at him funny then, and he knew what she thought. He started, “I didn’t mean—”
“Save it,” she said. “I’m not a slut. Lots of girls do it.”
This statement, this thought, lots of girls—a room full of dancer girls in leotards and tights—aroused him again, and she rolled over without hesitation, straddling him, not bothering with her mouth.
“We’re going to talk about it today.” His wife plucked at her eyebrows with a pair of tweezers.
“No more thinking about it.”
“So what do you have to say about it?”
Waycross humped a pillow in the corner of the room.
“Fuck. Just get out. And take the damn dog. I’m going to have to trash that pillow.”
He had painted her body the next time she’d come by, and she refused his twenty dollars.
She was a delicate canvas, and at the same time, a wall for foul-mouthed graffiti. She was sensuous, but she also talked dirty, acted dirty. All, apparently, for free.
“Do you still love your—do you still love her?” she asked, her fingers grazing his thigh as she stretched out between his legs, her breath hot on the underside of his balls.
He didn’t say anything.
“You shouldn’t ask.”
She wiggled and wormed up his body, hovered over him, kissed him lightly on the lips.
“You shouldn’t ask,” he said again. “Because—”
She filled his mouth with her tongue.
Once again, they did. And she was art in motion.
“I don’t love her,” he’d told his wife when he found out the dancer girl was pregnant, and that there was no way she was having an abortion.
“Fuck you,” she said and kicked his dog on the way out of the room.
He stayed with the dancer girl, and lived, mostly, out of his office on campus. Every call home to his wife during the nine months had resulted in a hang up, mostly his before he’d even said a word.
“I may have loved her a little, just a little,” he said to his wife on the telephone after the dancer girl died—complications after childbirth. Something rare but not unheard of.
He cried briefly but wasn’t sure why.
In the car again, remotely neutral territory but for the dog, who licked himself in the backseat.
“Well?” she said.
Waycross farted just as he answered her. “I think maybe I’d probably like to raise the baby,” he said, “and I understand if you can’t . . . won’t . . . help.” The dog’s trumpeting was affirmation.
“Fucking dog.” She paused. “I’d like you to drop me back at the house,” she said.
“I thought you wanted to talk about it.”
“We just did.” She pressed herself against the passenger-side door. “Fuck,” she said.
He stared straight ahead, unsure but decided. He spent almost all of his free time in the infant ward holding his daughter. She’d be released in a day. His sister had flown in from California to help for a bit.
“I guess I don’t have to raise the baby,” he said, looking in the rearview mirror, watching Waycross lick his crotch again, “but I will and—I mean, I want to.”
He thought of the dancer girl, walking away from him, her shapely ass growing smaller and smaller, until it was but a pinprick in the membrane of memory, and then he re-imagined her and she was as clear as ever again. All this while wondering, also, about the futility of guilt.
* * *
Brady Allen lives and writes in Dayton, OH. He has published stories in the genres of horror, crime, literary, and magical realism in magazines, anthologies, and journals in the US, England, and Ireland. Twice he has received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and he has received an Individual Fellowship in Fiction from the Ohio Arts Council. You can learn more at www.bradyallen.com