POLLYX by Shannon Peil

I got off work at 8pm to head home. My car took three tries to start, the old starter turning over and over without catching. I thought that maybe tonight I just wouldn’t go home. Tonight I just wouldn’t go anywhere. Maybe I wouldn’t go to work tomorrow. I don’t know.

The starter caught and the old engine in my Tercel rumbled and shook, idling more violently than normal. I depressed the gas a few times lightly while still parked, trying to keep it from dying. I was unsure if I would care if it died. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to go back to work tomorrow. I don’t know.

Maybe tomorrow when Heather tells me to restock the cans faster I will just pick one up, maybe a can of creamed corn, or maybe peaches, and smash it into her face. Maybe I will put my knees on her chest and beat her snotty face in with that can until it’s dented and her face is nothing. I wonder if her cheap dye job hair would look any better with thick, black blood matted into it. I don’t know.

I looked up at the sign across the parking lot, from the back near the shade where I left the Tercel this morning. The bright placard for the Haymart was buzzing every four seconds, kind of going dark and then blinking back on repeatedly. I heard the sound in my head, the one I listen to on my smoke breaks, but I know I am too far away to really be hearing it. It’s just stuck in my head. Like a can of creamed corn, or maybe peaches. I don’t know.

I put my car into first and head out of the parking lot, staring vacantly past the well-lit walkway. I pull an expired twinkie out of my pocket before I end up squishing it. I place it in the glovebox with the others and turn left out onto Main. There’s a few cars parked over across the street at the adult arcade, parked near the end of the lot like they were at Wendy’s, but no one is in the Wendy’s. The people are in the adult arcade, shopping for pornography or sitting in the back room. I thought about stopping in for a few minutes, but decided there were too many people inside. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. I don’t know.

I stop at a light and look over to see Paul walking out of the porn store. I’m not sure what to call the store, it doesn’t seem to have a name. It has a bright sign that says XXX in bright red letters, but I don’t think it actually has a name. Paul is walking towards his little Civic with his eyes to the ground and a matte black shopping bag. The matte black is protecting his shame. I think about honking, but realize I probably wouldn’t want anyone to honk at me while I hurried to my car from the porn store at 8pm on a Tuesday night. I wondered what kind of porn Paul likes. Maybe we could share sometime. I don’t know.

I zoned out for a few lights and blinked repeatedly as I realized I was in my driveway. I looked up at the trailer and lit a smoke, listening to the sound of Jeopardy coming through the living room window. By the time I killed the engine and got out, I heard the end music. She was probably going to talk to me now that the program was over. I lit another smoke and waited to hear mom get up and shut the bathroom door. I slipped inside quietly and headed to my room at the other end of the trailer. Maybe I should go back to the porn store, I thought. I don’t know.

I turned my fan and monitor on and started up Grindquest.

I looked around in the forest of Myridar and through the canopy of brilliantly green treetops at the sun. Rays beat down on my face gently and I smiled. I patted my black drake on the head and got onto his back. We started for the city of Noringdhar at a brisk pace, keeping care not to come too close to the Wyvern’s nest in the area. Someone said ‘Hey Wrath.’

I smiled.

Her name was Pollyx and she was a half-elven shadowmage. She was gorgeous, and kind. I loved the way her bright blonde hair spilled out from under her cowl, and the gentle blue glow of her eyes. I saw her standing at the city’s monumental stone archways at the entrance, waiting for me to approach. Zazz slid out of the shadows after I hopped off my drake and hugged Pollyx hello. He smirked and pushed my shoulder.

‘How’s it going, guys?’ Zazz asked, removing his Myrmidon’s Facemask of Brutality and replacing it with a dopey looking straw hat. He began to dance, waiting for us to respond. Pollyx told him she’d been waiting around for me all day so we could go farm some Vivid Redstones, and I smiled. I hopped back onto my drake and blew her a kiss.

I felt happy. I don’t know.

SHANNON PEIL lives and writes in Boulder, Colorado. His work has appeared in a few dozen online publications and a couple in print, but more notably he edits for people who actually know what they are doing at http://amphibi.us. He gets referred to as Ms. more often than not in e-mails.

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