A ghost of a Texas breeze whipped the night air up and around the old trailer house. It rattled in the faded tin siding, and the air swelled with the smell of creosote and tarbush. All Woodrow Bleeker could smell was the whiskey on his own breath. He sat on the tailgate of his pickup looking wistfully at the aging trailer and listening to the twang of Hank Williams on the radio. His britches were in a bunch around his ankles, and he had a clothespin clipped to the tip of his penis. He hated the trailer house with all his heart.
He owned the trailer outright and had so for twenty years. It sat on a small five-acre plot of scrub tucked tidily into the edge of the middle of nowhere. A fifty-seven-foot, 1953 Marshfield-Tenwyde Deluxe, a marvel of the modern age; the intended castle of a queen.
Woodrow took a slow rip of whiskey, grimaced hard, and attached another clothespin to his pecker. The pain was blistering. There was nothing sexual in what he was doing, far from it, it was an act of discipline, moreover, it was a penance. It was Woodrow’s way of keeping the past in the past.
At the moment, no one lived in the trailer. In fact, no one had ever lived in the trailer. Furthermore, no one would ever live in the trailer. It had become a shrine of sorts, an alter of self-flagellation; the sealed tomb of long-dead dreams. From time to time, Woodrow would park in the driveway and attend to his atonement, but it never once occurred to him to go inside. Inside was off-limits. Woodrow likened such irreverent trespass to taking a piss in the Holy of Holies.
With plans to marry Prudence McGillicuddy after high school, he’d bought the small home, brand spanking new, as a wedding gift. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but he’d spent every dime he had on their cozy, little love nest. Eventually, he and Prudence would build a proper house on a hill, a little further off the road, and live out their days in wedded bliss amid the pitter-patter of tiny feet. Man and woman cleaved together as one in holy matrimony. A dreamer’s dream.
For all that, due to the lack of integrity maintained by his betrothed and circumstances beyond his control, mostly financial, Woodrow’s dream was never realized. One sad day, a rich man caught the twinkle in Prudence’s eye, and, like a thief in the night, he’d whisked her away. Woodrow hated rich men almost as much as he hated his fifty-seven-foot marvel of the modern age.
In broad daylight, right in front of God and everybody, the rich man had stolen his blushing bride and left poor Woodrow with nothing but memories in his heart and a limp pecker in his hand. Before the dust had settled, before the first cracks in Woodrow’s heart had even formed, Prudence was barefoot and pregnant and living far away in a big house in Dallas. Woodrow was brokenhearted.
“Sometimes we love too deeply,” Jubal McGuiness had once told him. Jubal had been married eight times, so, if anyone was wise in such matters, it was him. “Perhaps it is providential. Life’s a peculiar business, Woodrow.” Jubal meant well, but blaming fate brought little to comfort to such a deeply wounded man.
Woodrow took a swig of whiskey and clipped another clothespin to his pecker. How had he allowed himself to be emotionally snookered so? He felt like a fool, through and through.
Another breeze bothered the siding on the trailer. Even though it was nearly as old as the surrounding hills, the trailer was brand spanking new on the inside. Top-o-the line living, with more modern amenities than a 1953 housewife could shake a stick at. Out front, there was a mailbox, the ruins of a flower garden, and the sunrise. In the back of it all was the sunset and a porch to watch it from. Beyond that, miles and miles of West Texas in a fair mood. What more could a queen ask for?
Woodrow winced as he clipped another clothespin to the end of his pecker. He chased the pain with several bubbles of whiskey. Thinking back on Prudence, painful as it was, he’d often wonder if she had bewildered him. By the time the clothespins and whiskey were used up, as usual, he’d have it in his mind that there was no other possible explanation.
Like most of the girls in Texas, Prudence McGillicuddy was as beautiful as the day is long. But, the thing that truly set her apart, the thing that put Woodrow in an asshole over appetite tumble for much of his life, was not her beauty but the fact that she could suck the shine off glass. Prudence McGillicuddy was a marvel of the modern age her own self.
One fine Texas evening, with the scent of creosote and tarbush…and whiskey and romance in the air, Prudence had lowered her face into Woodrow’s lap and gave him the kiss to end all kisses. For a moment, a wonderfully wonderful moment, time stood still. Without ever losing eye contact with Woodrow, Prudence sucked every ounce of common sense he had right out through the end of his pecker. On that fine evening, Heaven had brushed up hard against West Texas and left a scar. A gregorian chant had filled Woodrow’s ears and drowned Hank Williams in a cacophony of harps and trumpets. He didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. He’d fallen straight in love.
Of course, there would be a wedding, but having Prudence’s mouth on him in such an intimate way seemed more binding than any vow of marriage. In the few seconds of sexual afterglow, with his leg twitching like a dreaming dog, Woodrow declared his undying love for her and vowed to make her a queen. Woodrow did not take vows, oaths, or pledges lightly, his promises might as well be carved in stone.
Woodrow’s profound endearment had been compounded by the fact that he was pure as the driven snow before Prudence had applied her ministrations. With no prior acts of sodomy to compare it to, Prudence’s expertise had translated tenfold into a deep and everlasting fire in Woodrow’s heart.
It was not entirely an unreciprocated flame born of that fine Texas evening, Prudence, too, had found herself experiencing feelings she’d never before known. While Woodrow was too poor to be considered her soulmate, to young Prudence’s delight, Woodrow Bleeker was hung like a government mule. When she finally showed Woodrow what a pecker was truly intended for, he’d touched parts of Prudence that no man, before or since, would come close to.
Had Woodrow been aware of all this he might have been able to salvage his pride and clothespins and whiskey would not be such a necessity in the healing of his heart. The privilege of this information might have changed Woodrow’s whole outlook on life.
Woodrow took another pull of whiskey and added another clothespin.
The siding on the trailer squeaked and creaked. The faded curtains looked like lonely spirits in the dark windows of the trailer. It’s said that the ghost of a Comanchero wandered this particular part of the Chihuahua. They say he’s looking for a paint horse he’d lost in a game of chance. Woodrow didn’t figure the ghost of an Indian had any reason to stay in the trailer, but he was welcome to it if he ever needed to get out of the weather.
In all the times Woodrow had performed his penitence, he’d never seen the Indian or his paint horse, but, the whiskey would cause him to look for them every once in a while. He’d hobble around in the dark, among unseen rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, with a red nose and a red pecker, half-hoping something would kill him dead.
Woodrow parked his truck in the same spot every time. The same spot where Prudence had kissed him and his mule goodbye — saying goodbye to something and forgetting it are two different things altogether. Woodrow was never far from Prudence’s mind. Unbeknownst to Woodrow, since her rich husband died, she was his for the asking. Since, and — far too often for her own deliverance — before his death, she imagined herself impaled on Woodrow’s massive pecker. (This, too, might have given Woodrow a different evaluation of his circumstances.) — He parked in the same spot and watched his own sad ghost walk the empty realm of his lost queen. He figured that he and the Comanchero were both fools.
Woodrow took another snort and clipped another pin.
The clothespin was his redemption while the whiskey only added guilt to his grief. The clothespin his strength, the whiskey his weakness. He knew he shouldn’t numb the very pain he was inflicting; purgation without suffering is without merit, however, he imagined he would be a raging drunk should he waive the clothespins altogether. Drinking away sorrow and regret required continuous attention and serious devotion, the clothespins seemed to lend abiding results and allowed him to function in society.
Jubal McGuiness, wise and understanding of matters of the heart, had once given Woodrow a certain cure for his malady. He told Woodrow to stretch his pecker out on a table and beat it flat with a hammer. “It will solve your problems, Woodrow. Every damn difficulty that arises in a man’s life originates in his pecker. If man had any goddamn sense at all, he’d beat it flat the first time he saw it harden.”
Woodrow had tested the heft of a hammer on occasion but decided to stick with clothespins and whiskey. Why fix something that ain’t broke?