SHHH…LISTEN TO THE
sunny. High of 92 degrees. Enough humidity to sink an aircraft carrier. A man
has no business drinking coffee in this weather; it’s murder. But here I am
sweltering in this dingy little truck stop, knocking back coffee number three,
waiting on a hot little number who calls herself Ekko. I’m pretty damn sure
that’s not her real name, especially since I first met her in an internet
chat-room. You know how that goes.
Ekko is a nineteen-year-old,
blonde endowed with a perfect set of 34 C’s. I met her in an internet chat room
three weeks ago.
I glance at my watch and
scan the joint one
last time. The place is swarming with truckers, bikers, and Mexican itinerant
workers. All of them full of hard looks as they feast upon heaping stacks of
flapjacks and ham steaks. I can feel their eyes on me, probing me, sizing me
up. I must look like a foreigner to them, sitting here decked out in my
favorite comic book t-shirt and camo cargo shorts. Shit, listening to them talk
in their cryptic CB lingo about Harleys and rest-stop whores makes me FEEL like
a foreigner. I don’t think we even speak the same language. Why the fuck
Ekko picked this place to meet
is beyond me.
I knock back the remainder
of my coffee.
Meanest fucking brew I’ve ever had. The shit scours my bowels like a fiberglass
enema. Gonna’ take a quart of Mylanta to douse that fire. I wave down the
waitress and order a tall glass of chocolate milk with a matching donut.
A minute later she shuffles
back with the grub,
and just as I take a bite, I notice the woman outside peering in the window.
Shit, just to look at her: the ski-mask, the trench coat, the burgundy moon
boots with feathers tacked to them; it’s the kind of exquisitely creepy fashion
ensemble that announces, “Look at me! I’m psycho!”
I watch as the strange woman
scans the place,
her eyes slowly drifting from one table to the next. I try to avert my gaze but
it’s too late. She catches me watching her and the edges of her eyes pucker as
if she is trying to place me. She taps the window and waves. A bit unsure, I
point to myself and mouth “who me?”
The woman nods.
I reply with a tense wave,
hoping like hell
that will be the end of it.
No such fucking luck.
The strange woman darts
for the entrance,
eyeing me the entire way, then shuffles inside. As she weaves her way through
the maze of tables and booths, my body shudders with the nauseating realization
that this is Ekko, the woman who was supposed to be here two hours ago. I take
a deep breath and brace myself for the impending drama.
Ekko seats herself across
from me, plucks the
donut from my plate, wipes off the chocolate frosting, and slams it onto the
another breakfast murdered,” I remark. “Does this mean we’re still not on
A tense silence prevails.
Then very slowly, she
presses a finger to her lips.
to the echo,” she whispers,
tilting her head to the side as if straining to catch some distant voice.
That’s her quirky little way of greeting people. She thinks it’s clever. I, on
the other hand, think it’s annoying.
Ekko, cut the bullshit charade. Okay? Just tell me what this is all about.”
She stares vacantly at the
molested donut for a
moment then fishes a Marlboro from her pocket, lights it, and lets the smoke
tumble from her lips. “Nathan…I have a slight problem.”
shit? The whole ski mask and moon boot ensemble was my first clue. You look
like a fugitive from the fucking loony bin. Why don’t you take that ridiculous
do that, Nathan.”
hell not? Is it stapled to your head or something?”
“Just forget it. You
“Wouldn’t understand? Come on babe, try me.”
She shifts restlessly in
her seat, takes
another hit from the cigarette, then leans in close as if imparting a dark, shameful
secret. “I lost something when we were fooling around at that motel last
“What do you mean
‘lost something?’ You
promised me you weren’t a virgin.”
“NOT my VIRGINITY,
you arrogant cockhead.”
run that by me again.”
my right nostril.”
I take a deep breath and
hold it for a moment,
fighting like hell not to laugh. “Is that why you’re wearing the mask?”
Unable to contain my amusement,
I reach across
the table and pull the old “got your nose” trick, jamming my thumb between my
fingers. “Hey look, here it is. I found it.”
being serious,” she hisses, extinguishing her cigarette on the naked donut.
“Okay, fine. Let me
see your nose.”
It’s too hideous.” She hangs her head shamefully.
honey, you just don’t lose a nostril like you do a set of car keys. It’s
physically impossible. Maybe you need professional help.”
need professional help. I need YOU, Nathan. Please spend the night with me.”
that! You know I can’t. My wife is onto us, Ekko. She found those e-mails you
sent. Her and I have been fighting for three days straight because of them. I
got two kids to think about. I can’t put them through this. It’s not fair.”
are you saying?”
saying you and I are gonna’ have to cool it for a while.”
don’t do this, Nathan. I can’t bear to be without you.”
sorry, but I told you once things started to get ugly that it was over. It’s
not fair to my family.”
family? What about me? Can’t you see I’m pining away for you? Every day we are
apart I lose a little more of myself.”
Don’t know if it’s
all the bad coffee or the
humidity, but I start to feel dizzy and disoriented and everything suddenly
seems so unreal, Ekko, the mask, the missing nostril, the burly truckers, even
the molested donut. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want this over with.
“Listen Ekko, I got an eleven o’ clock appointment. I really have to go.”
I rise to leave and she
snatches me by the
wrist, yanks me back into my seat.
leave me,” she says, her eyes welling with tears. She strokes my hand for a
moment, then flies into a nervous rage and begins clawing at her head and
pounding on the table.
Ekko, calm down. People are staring.”
She shakes her head and
sneezes violently three
times. A rope of blood and snot streams through the mask, oozes to the table.
I can’t breathe. I can’t catch my breath,” she mutters, fumbling through her
pockets. A bottle spills from her hand, scattering tiny yellow and green pills
across the table. I try to help her, but she pushes me away. Then she cuts
loose with a dreadful howl and buckles to the floor, a motionless heap of
trench coat, snot and blood.
A creepy stillness grips
the joint. I can feel
anxious eyes probing me from every direction.
I plunk a $10 bill on the table, weave my way to the door, and step out
into the stifling August heat.
Fugett is a member of the slacker, fast food generation that has been
branded with an “X”. He sits in his pad all day consuming more oxygen than he’s
worth. He’s been doing it for nearly 48 years now & has become quite
efficient at it. Some day he hopes to be president of the “International
Society of Incontinent Gum Swallowers”, a support group for people who
compulsively swallow gum & piss themselves. Until that day arrives, he
occupies his time with cartooning, writing, filmmaking & editing.
If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe,
and Willy Wonka sired a
bastard child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped by dear friends and a freak by
passing strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his
skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most
part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school art
teacher. His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only
during October due to its macabre nature. If you want to see more of Michael’s
strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him on Instagram at