Kiss Me

Good Night




     When I got home to my little hole-in-the-wall, I poured myself a drink.  Something was wrong.  But I didn't know what.

     Her name was Echo.  I had just met her that night, taken her out, and taken her home.  I didn't know if it was me.  Or her.  Or the world.  But something was definitely wrong.  Something was not as it should be.  Something was screwing up everything.  But what?

     I poured myself another drink.  It was in the air.  It was in my mind.  It was in the whiskey I was drinking.

     It was melancholy ~ magnified, expanded, blown all out of proportion ~ like an ant hill that looks like a mountain, like a road that looks endless, like a woman who looks like a goddess.

     It was melancholy alright ~ and as I drank it got worse ~  like a goddess who sheds her clothes and reveals rattlesnake scales, like a road that has fooled you and is all of a sudden too steep, like an ant hill that explodes in your face like a volcano.

     I poured myself a third drink.  And a fourth.  And a fifth ~ and finally lost count.  I was blasted.

     It all began when Echo sat down beside me in my least favorite bar, Oinky's.  It's a dump ~ like a dump truck.  But it's where I disappear when it's time for me not to be around.  It's where I go when I have no place else to go.

     Sitting next to me, Echo said, "Take me out."  I was unaware of the fact that the next stool over was no longer vacant.  I was startled.  When I turned to see where that delicious voice in my ear came from, and saw ~ for a moment, a real quick one, I was scared shitless.

     The last time a woman as beautiful as Echo had ever talked to me, was before I was born, in my prenatal dreams.  And let me confess, or brag, I have been face to face and even intimate with mighty beautiful women a time or two in my shovel full of dirt called life.  But never ~ never! ~ have I ever been so stunned by beauty ~ so pure, so simple, so God fearing sweet ~ in a woman's face as I was when I turned to look at this woman when she said to me, "Take me out."

     She was more than a dream come true.  She was a dream splattered in my face.  I was half way through a pitcher of beer.  I don't know if I had beer on my lips or what, but after I gulped, I licked 'em and said, "Okay, but I'm in my dump truck tonight."

     She eyed me up and down and said, "We can go to a drive-in.  Sit in the last row."

     I threw some money on the bar, and without much of a smile, said, "Let's go."

     I didn't know where she came from.  I didn't see her in the bar any moments earlier.  She was just suddenly, unexplicably there amongst the roughed-up all-male patrons of Oinky's.

     We left.

     As I drove down the boulevard in my bashed in fender, mud cake, one hell of a mule dump truck, I noted the now unveiled melancholy in this woman's eyes ~ and this was the melancholy I was referring to a few moments earlier.  It was spreading, painting my world an unheard of color, when she said, "Let's get a bottle."

     "Of wine?" I asked.

     "Whiskey," she said.

     Jesus Christ, Mother Mary, angels of God, saints in heaven and blasphemous sinners ~ I stopped at a liquor store and bought one.

     Echo (we had by now introduced ourselves to each other) cracked the seal with a long painted fingernail and hoisted the bottle of whiskey to her lips after a red traffic light turned green and we were on our way ~ to the drive-in theatre.

     She smelled like a garden ~ a garden accented with all kinds of flowers ~ or some kind of Isis perfume.  Her dirty blond hair, long and wavy and flowing over her shoulders, could have actually been dirty and still shine in mine eyes.  Her shapely body was curved around the broken down seat of my (yes, it's a 1949 International) dump truck like a first-place blue ribbon draped over a carved-up table in a Mexican bar.  Echo was mine tonight and I glowed.

     But that melancholy in her blue blue eyes persisted ~ like a mongrel dog that won't stop following you when you're wearing a tuxedo and on your way to some place exotic, say, like the Hotel Del Coronado.

     Of course, I wasn't wearing a tuxedo.  I was, as usual, in my work clothes.  And they were dirty.

     And we were not on our way to the Hotel Del Coronado.  After all, I refuse to pay the toll over that damn bridge to the island of Coronado ~ just to have a little fun.

     There are about two drive-in theatres left in the city and we went to one of 'em.  We sat through a couple of class-B nightmares you might call movies if you're stoned ~ and I took her home.

     On the porch of her house in La Jolla, a swank star-studded neighborhood, we stood quietly looking into each others eyes.  The front door was already opened.  That's when she said, "Kiss me good night."

     I did ~ and went home to my own little hole-in-the-wall.  Now, wrapped around the rest of our bottle of whiskey, I contemplated that moment and other moments of the evening and I contemplated them sadly.  When Echo had said, "Kiss me good night," it was the saddest thing I'd ever heard in my entire life.

     I also remembered part of the conversation we had had at the drive-in.  It went something like this:

     "See this sensuous evening gown I'm wearing ?" moistly said Echo.  The gown was backless and sleeveless and had a generous V-neckline.  The neckline was what I noticed most of all ~ and happily.  Echo's breasts, turbulently exposed, were sticky and yummy looking in the humid night.  I could almost see a nipple.  "See this sensuous evening gown?" she repeated.

     "I see what's in it," said I ~ and burped.

     "Well," she said, "It's made of the same substance of which a rich man is made ~ bull-shit."

     "I'm certainly not going to argue with that," I said.  "Far as I'm concerned, you'd look good in a gunny sack."

     "Well," she said, and her melancholy was wickedly placing one toe in the grave.  "All that effort.  All that energy.  For what?"

     I shrugged.

     "Bull-shit!" she said.

     In my hole-in-the-wall, I poured myself another drink.  Actually, I just drank it from the bottle, and continued to dwell in my memories of the evening.

     She had then told me a little story.  It was the story of Saint Francis ~ and the poverty within which he was clothed ~ a story her mother told her when she was a little girl long ago.

     "I wanna be Lady Poverty," said Echo.  Her eyes were a brim with tears.  "Dainty and meek and holy, in russet gown, with my eyes cast down..."

     And she cried for about an hour.  I tried to sympathetically throw an arm around her but she gritted, "Don't touch me, you bastard."

     "What ever you say, Lady Poverty," I replied ~ and watched the movie, way out there on the horizon, as we sat quiet as a crucifixion in my dump truck in the back row.

     Then, not but an hour later on her porch, she told me, "Kiss me good night."

     When I did, her tongue like a Cleopatra snake crawled into my mouth, explored me down to the basement of my soul, took a nap there like it was her new home, might just as well have asked how much was the rent.

     I chewed on the prospects.

     Her beautiful arms wrapped around my neck and my raggedy cheek rested on her golden shoulder.  She even ground her feminine mystique into me as if we were high-school kids slow dancing to the song, "Summer-time" ~ a ten minute version.  Then, suddenly, the front door was closed and locked and she was behind it.

     Something was wrong.

     In my own home, I bumped into the walls until I was standing in front of the long mirror on the closet door.  There I was, empty bottle in hand, glaring at the devil.  No, it was just me ~ all brawn, a lack of education and too much hair.

     I staggered out onto my own porch, was sickened by the view I had of the night time sky engulfed in telephone wires ~ as if my life was a jigsaw puzzle.  Pieces were missing.  And something was terribly, unforgivably, unredeemably wrong!

     Somewhere in my mind, I swear to God, there's a church.  At the moment, a heathen couple were fornicating on its front steps.  A nameless bum half concealed in the bushes was pissing on it.  And a crashing jet airliner just wiped out its bell tower.  The church in my mind was going to turn into a frog any second and hop away if I didn't do something ~ but what?

     I was so a tilt with drink that all I had left was spastic impulse.  I hurled the empty bottle into the middle of the street.  It shattered at three o'clock in the morning.  I hopped into my car and it wouldn't start.  So it was a dump truck night ~ completely.

     The old mule brayed through the red lights of the empty streets on its way back to La Jolla.  Policemen chased after it.  It was going too fast.  And I was brazenly drunk at the wheel.  I skidded to a halt on Echo's lawn.

     I shattered her front door open with my shoulder.  In my drunken stupor I had forgotten about door bells.  I raced through the house screaming her name.  I found her in the back yard.  She was hanging by the neck from a rope looped across the branch of a tree.  Her legs were kicking in the air.  The stool under her was on its side.


     I guess I found a knife in the kitchen, climbed up the tree and cut the rope.  I could have just cut it where it was tied to a water faucet, for the rope was thrown over the branch.  Or I could have used the tipped over stool.  But no, I had actually climbed the tree to cut the rope from which Echo was hanging herself.

     Damn rope.

     Surrounded by cops standing around docilely in the night, I loosened the primitive hangman's noose around her neck, took her in my arms and cried, "Echo!!!"

     When she could finally talk, I think it was about two weeks later, she was lying in a hospital bed.  She said, "This could be the beginning of a wonderful relationship."

     It was.

(Copyright Clyde Collins 1989/2010)