“The Girl From Yesterday” by Len Joy
My boob job cost me three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars at Dr. Gupta’s New You Clinic in Rolla. It was worth every penny. These boobs changed everything. I was a gawky six-footer with mousy brown hair and flat as a board. The only guy who ever paid me any mind was Wayne, and turned out Wayne was an asshole.
He got me pregnant when we were in high school. Check that. Trudy, my best friend, says, Anita, you shouldn’t say he got you pregnant, like you were some kind of spectator. So okay, Trudy, WE got pregnant. Wayne didn’t want to marry me (I think he always dreamed that one day he’d wake up handsome and find himself a prettier girl), but his father made him. His daddy’s a good man – a crankgrinder over at the Caterpillar plant, same place I work.
We got married just before my eighteenth birthday. Little Wayne came along and then Ariel two years later. My mom was sixteen when she had me. She never talked about my father, except to say he wasn’t from around here. She’s been a cashier at the Foodliner for twenty-five years. She says you can tell a lot about a person from their groceries. Said she had her doubts about Wayne even before he knocked me up. He’d come in the store every day to buy a two-pack of Little Debbie chocolate cupcakes. Never switched, even when the Foodliner was practically giving away their Twinkies. Boy had no sense, she said. I had to admit that was Wayne through and through. He’d find something he liked – TV show, beer, sexual position – and that was that. Imagination wasn’t his strong suit.
After Ariel was born, Wayne joined the National Guard. Said it was to make some extra money, but that wasn’t true. He thought it was a great gig. Every month a weekend out of town, beer money from the government for driving a truck around with a bunch of other hillbillies, and a chance to try his luck with those girls that hung around Fort Leonard Wood. Didn’t work out like he planned. They called up the Guard, and he got his ass sent to Iraq.
Right after he shipped out, my granny died and left me five thousand dollars. I didn’t tell Wayne. After the funeral, I was over at my mom’s and she had a copy of the West Plains Bugle. On the back page right there with the ads for liposuction and how to lose ten pounds in ten days I saw “Dr. Gupta’s Breast Enhancement Special.” I was a B cup, so I enhanced myself up to a double D.
Then I fixed my hair. Went to Monique’s Salon in Springfield and got a razored shag and changed the color from mousy to platinum. Stopped at the mall and bought a bunch of new tops. I was transformed.
A month later I met Trudy. I was in the parking lot of Graham’s Country Station over near West Plains, screaming at Kit Rollins as he peeled out of the parking lot. Kit had brought me to the bar, but dumped me when he ran into his old high school girlfriend. And then it started to rain. A freezing, stick-to-your-skin Missouri rain. I was about to become an ice statue when Trudy pulled up in her little old Camry and told me to get in the car.
Trudy’s got a good heart. She’s a mail carrier and has to deal with all sorts of situations. She said I wasn’t near as scary as Fred Tucker, who’d sit on his front porch in dirty boxers, scratching his balls, waiting for his disability check.
Me and Trudy have been hanging out together ever since. Trudy’s over forty, but she has the cutest little-girl face, and a nice trim bod. I know lots of guys are interested, but she’s pretty choosy. She’ll give a guy one dance and then sit down.
We were having good times until a couple weeks ago when Wayne came home. He should have told me he was coming. Lanny George had given me a ride home from Jake’s and we were fooling around when Wayne walked in on us. It looked worse than it was, but Wayne wouldn’t listen. Called me a whore, wanted to fight Lanny, but he didn’t push that. Wayne talks tough sometimes, but he’s a pussycat.
He’s back living with his dad for now. It was Trudy’s idea to change the locks. She said it was better to be safe than sorry. I guess she was right.
Tonight Trudy picked me up at my Mom’s place where I had dropped off the kids.
Where should we go? she asked.
I said, How about Jake’s?
Jake’s is sort of a biker–hillbilly bar. Mostly locals. Trudy didn’t say anything, just did this thing with her lip, sort of a sneer, acting like she was too good for Jake’s.
Hey. It’s a fun place, I said. A family bar.
She said, Yeah if your old man’s in the joint, or your mom’s turning tricks, it’s a great place for the family.
Sometimes Trudy’s a snob.
Well then, I said, it’s a perfect place for you because all you do is make fun of people. You don’t ever give any of these guys a chance.
So she gave me that look like she’s my mother and said, Your problem, Anita, is you give everyone a chance. You fall for a line from guys like Kit or Lanny just because they ignored you in high school. Now you’ve got tits and they’re all over you.
Not true, I said, but I didn’t give her the finger or anything, like I would if I didn’t sort of think she might be right.
You can do better. You’re smart and funny. Don’t settle for those losers, she said.
What about you? I said. Don’t you ever want to meet someone? You like being alone?
The minute I said it, I wished I hadn’t, cause she got all sad-faced and started concentrating real hard on her driving.
There are worse things than being alone, she whispered.
I decided she was probably right so I shut up.
We didn’t talk the rest of the way to the bar. Jake’s is a couple miles out of town. The parking lot is just a big field full of potholes and ruts. The front lot was packed with Harleys and pickups. Trudy’s Camry rocked through the potholes as she headed to the back.
Where you going? I asked.
She gave me a look. Said she thought the family parking was in the rear. We laughed and everything was okay again.
While we waited in line for the bouncer to check our IDs, Trudy reminded me that she’s on call so I might have to get my own ride home. She’s an EMT – part of the Maple Springs volunteer fire department. She gave me her pep talk about how I shouldn’t drink too much or run off and do coke with any of the patrons and she did this little air quotes thing when she said patrons, just in case I’d forgotten what she thought of Jake’s customers.
We had hardly sat down at the bar in the back, when the guy next to me offered to buy us both drinks. Gregory or Randall, some fancy-boy name like that. He was a pretty boy. Dreamy blue eyes, with his hair all slicked back. He was too old to have ignored me in high school, which I took as a good sign. When he asked me to dance I said okay.
So me and GregoryRandall were dancing. Well I was dancing, he was moving like the Tinman, but with a leer. I didn’t mind because I was looking good in my ruby-red basketball shorts and wifebeater. After every song the bar gal walked by with Jager shots and GregoryRandall kept pounding them down. They didn’t improve his dancing. Trudy came over and yelled in my ear that she’d been paged.
I gotta take off, she said. You’re on your own. Don’t fall in love tonight.
How am I going to get home? I asked.
Call a taxi. They’re a lot cheaper than any of these guys, and she gave a look over at RandallGregory like he was a radioactive piece of shit, which it turned out he was.
Five minutes after Trudy left, RG told me he wanted to go party. Grabbed my hand and started dragging me toward the door like I was his slave. I yanked my arm away and told him I wasn’t interested. I headed back to my barstool and he grabbed me, all red-faced, like no chick had ever turned him down or something.
What’s the deal? You saving yourself for your dyke friend?
She’s hotter than you, pansy boy.
I sat down and tried to ignore him, but he grabbed my shoulder and spun me around.
You stupid bimbo, he said.
When I was a flat-chested brown-haired girl, nobody called me stupid, so I punched him in the nose. Turned out the pretty boy was a bleeder. I didn’t hit him that hard, but he gushed blood. The guys at the bar laughed as the bouncer dragged RandallGregory away. Then he came back and told me I had to leave too. Same rules for chicks and guys.
I was out in front of Jake’s hunting through my bag for my cellphone so I could call the Maple Springs taxi when I heard this deep voice behind me.
Need a ride, lady?
I turned around. It was this old guy I’d seen around the bar a few times. I remembered him because he was missing a bunch of fingers on one hand. I’d never heard him say anything before tonight.
Oh, I said, and stared at him like I really was a dumb blonde.
A ride. Do you need a ride? he asked again.
He stood ramrod straight, his arms at his sides, like he didn’t know what to do with them. I was surprised – he was taller than me. I hadn’t really looked at him close before. Probably cause of the hand. His face was all leathery, like boots after they get nice and broke in, and his hair was short, wheat-colored. He didn’t look all that bad for an old guy.
My truck’s over there, he said, pointing to the far end of the parking lot about three freaking miles away. Name’s Dancer. I’ll give you a ride.
Anita, I said. Why you parked in the next county? You some sort of exercise nut?
Too many drunks around here, he said, and he sort of half smiled.
We started walking toward his pickup when Wayne’s ugly purple truck bounced into the parking lot. He slammed on the brakes and jumped out. He was dressed like Johnny Cash – black cowboy shirt with mother of pearl snaps, black wranglers and silvered lizard-skin boots. Still had his army haircut though, and that sort of ruined the effect.
Hey, Anita baby, how ya doing? Taking gramps out for a walk? Didn’t get a chance the other day to tell you how hot you look as a blonde. And those tits are awesome.
Just ignore him, I said.
Ignore who? Dancer said.
Wayne stopped smiling. Listen old man, I got business to take care of with my lady, so get your sorry drunk ass out of here.
You’re in our way, Dancer said.
Our way? Fuck you.
And then Wayne punched Dancer in the face. It surprised me because he’s not a fighter. But my surprise was nothing compared to Wayne’s. Dancer didn’t fall down. He sort of bent with the punch, like a pine tree whipped by a gust of wind, and then he snapped back.
That was a mistake, Dancer said.
Wayne stepped back. He put up his fists and started bobbing up and down. A mistake? I’ll show you a mistake, mister. He started bouncing up and down like he was Rocky Balboa.
Dancer just stood there, hands still down by his sides, like he was bored. Wayne lunged at him and threw another punch. The next thing I knew Wayne was on the ground, screaming like a girl. He was holding his knee, yelling, He broke my fucking leg. That motherfucker broke my fucking leg.
Dancer leaned over him. It ain’t broke son. You’ll be okay in a few minutes. Time to go, Anita.
We stepped around Wayne and got in Dancer’s truck. It was a twenty minute drive to my place and he didn’t say ten words. His face was red and swolled up under his cheek, so I told him to come in so I could give him an ice pack.
Okay, he said.
Does it hurt? I asked.
We sat down on my couch and he held the ice pack on his cheek.
He wrinkled up his face. Ten years ago he wouldn’t have landed that punch, he said. Nice place you got here. You got kids? He gave me that half-smile again. Wayne Jr. had left his trucks all over the living room, and Ariel had a dozen naked Barbies sleeping on the coffee table.
My Mom’s taking care of them tonight, I said. Sorry about the mess. The Wayne mess too.
He shook his head like it was nothing. He shifted on the couch trying to find a comfortable position.
What’s the deal with Wayne, he asked.
So I told him about me and Wayne, even the part about getting caught with Lanny cause I didn’t want to make it sound like I was some poor little victim.
You met him in high school? he asked.
I smiled, remembering how it felt to finally have a boyfriend. Wayne was a goofy kid, I said. Nobody paid him any mind. And I was this gawky giant, taller than all of the boys. We were a couple lonely losers.
What about your kids? he asked.
I love my babies. Wayne does too. But he wasn’t ready. Wayne wanted to get laid, he didn’t want to be a father. My mom always said that no father was better than a bad father.
She’s right, he said.
You got kids, I asked?
I waited for him to explain, but he just rubbed his jaw with his good hand and stared at me. I guess it was supposed to be my job to keep the conversation going.
Wayne looked sort of freaked when you were still standing after he hit you, I said.
There’s an art to taking a punch, he said. Probably something you should know if you’re going to keep getting in bar fights.
Show me, I said, and I patted his neck with a towel where the ice pack was dripping on him.
He put the ice pack down and turned to face me on the couch. He took my hands and made fists with them. Then he had me hold them up like I was a boxer.
When you see the punch coming, shorten your neck. Bring your shoulders up to brace yourself.
He slipped his hands into my armpits and pushed up my shoulders so I was sort of hunched up like a turtle hiding in its shell. He had a nice touch and he didn’t even try to cop a feel.
Then the punch won’t snap your neck.
He took his right hand, the one that had all its fingers, and he brought it up to my cheek, in a slow motion punch.
When you get hit, roll with the punch.
He took my face in his hands and gently twisted it away from where the punch would have landed.
Step back. Get your hands up to protect your face.
You didn’t do that, I said. You just stood there like Wayne’s punch was a mosquito bite.
I don’t have a pretty face like you.
Nobody ever told me I was pretty. Not my Mom. Not Wayne. No one.
I know another boxing move, I said.
I wrapped my arms around him and squeezed tight. My boobs pressed into his chest.
This is called a clinch, right?
I could tell he was trying to think of something to say. I kissed him. Hard. A real kiss. He kissed back. He was a good kisser.
I gave him a little love-bite on his earlobe.
You should have given the guy in the bar that lesson, I whispered.
Right. He didn’t cover up and look what happened to him.
And his face was almost as pretty as mine.
I cupped my hands under my chin and batted my eyelashes, like I was some kind of southern belle. We both laughed. He had a good laugh, sort of a surprise cause he looked so serious. I sat back on the couch and pulled my top off.
Do you want to fuck me? I asked.
His mouth dropped open, not like he was surprised, more like he was trying to catch his breath. The smile lines around his mouth twitched. He tried not to, but he couldn’t keep his eyes from checking out my boobs. He reached around and unclasped my bra. We kissed and his good hand made little circles around my nipple. He broke the kiss and nuzzled my breasts.
You like? I asked.
You don’t have to do this, he said.
What’s wrong? You don’t want me?
It’s not that.
I’m too old.
Come on, I said.
I took his hand and led him to my bedroom. He sat down on the bed. I pulled off his boots and he tugged off his jeans. He had tight, hard muscles in his arms and shoulders and a flat belly with no ass at all. In the shadows from the hall light, I could see the guy he used to be.
I slipped off my shorts and panties. I snuggled up next to him with my head on his chest. I could feel his heart thumping, slow and steady.
How old are your kids? he asked.
Wayne Junior is ten and Ariel is almost eight, I said.
I flipped over on top of him. He ran his hands down my back and kneaded
I saw that baseball glove on the floor. Does your boy play Little League? he asked.
All of sudden he’s Mr. Small Talk.
That’s Ariel’s glove. Trudy says Ariel is the Albert Pujols of the Landis Park T-Ball league.
He snorted. Not another Cardinal fan. Is Trudy the gal that was at the bar with you tonight?
She’s my best friend. Takes Ariel to her t-ball games when I work overtime. I started grinding on him and gave him a long deep kiss, figuring that would shut him up, but it didn’t.
You work at the plant? he asked, when we came up for air.
I gave up and rolled over on my back.
Yeah, but I’ve been thinking about taking classes at the community college. Get my associates degree. Trudy thinks I could become a nurse. She says I’m good with people. Especially old people, I said and I gave him a look.
He laughed. I guess she’s right about that. Sounds like a good woman.
I climbed back on top.
I’ll be sure to introduce you next time we go out, I whispered in his ear.
This time he kissed me. And then he started to rub my pussy. He had a good touch. I stroked his cock and he got hard. I straddled him and he slid in easy. He cupped my breasts and we rocked back and forth slowly. His eyes were closed. His stub hand tickled my boob.
What happened to your hand? I asked.
He took his hand off my breast and looked at it like he’d never seen it before. Like it didn’t belong to him. His cock went soft and slipped out, but he didn’t seem to care.
Industrial accident, he said. He looked ten years older, like my question had drained the life out of him.
I started to say I was sorry, that I didn’t mean to be nosy, when I heard a screech of tires. A few seconds later Wayne was pounding on the door, screaming my name.
Want me to talk to him? Dancer asked.
No, I’ll do it. I know how to handle him. He won’t be any trouble I said.
I didn’t even bother to throw on my bathrobe. Just walked out and yelled at Wayne through the front door.
Wayne, stop the pounding.
Anita, let me in. I’m sorry babe. I’m sorry. Come on, let me in. I miss you, honey.
Go home. Don’t make me call your father.
He stopped banging on the door. He was out of breath. He gasped for air, then he started to sob.
Wayne, just go home. We can talk tomorrow.
I heard him shuffle off, sniffling, but he must have spotted Dancer’s truck across the street, because he came back and started pounding again.
Are you screwing that old man, you cunt? How could you do that to me?
I’m calling the cops if you don’t leave right now Wayne.
Did he tell you how he lost his fingers? He tried to rip-off the Company. The sick fuck cut off his own motherfucking fingers, Anita!
Go home, Wayne!
He pounded the door one last time and then it was quiet. I heard the starter grind and then tires squealing as he raced off.
I walked back into the living room. Dancer was dressed, standing in the middle of the room, hands dangling at his sides again, like when I met him.
Time to go, he said.
I didn’t say anything, but I put my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder. He didn’t try to hug back.
It wasn’t like that, he said.
He’s drunk Dancer. Don’t go.
I was young and stupid.
He unclasped my hands and backed away from me.
I reached for his hands. Please stay.
He shook his head. I made a mistake, he said. The kind you can’t make right. The kind you just have to live with.
I hugged him and he pressed his lips lightly on my forehead. Then he turned and started for the door. He got halfway and then stopped to pick up one of Ariel’s naked Barbies. He looked at the doll and then at me and he smiled.
Take care of those kids, he said. He put the doll on the coffee table.
I will, I said as I watched him walk away.