“Chance Encounter,” by Chris Ridenour

Jul 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Prose

She was wearing what the parlance of the day widely referred to as a wife-beater and even in the dim light of the bar he could make out the tattoo on her back, the inscription “One Ring to Rule Them All” arrayed in a circle around a grinning Richard Simmons. ‘Great God of Tennis Ball Fuzz,’ he thought, ‘that’s the hottest thing I’ve ever seen.’ He wandered up to the bar and ordered a mimosa with bitters, then plopped down on the seat across from hers.

“Y’know, I’ve been coming here for years, and I’ve never seen you before. What’s yer name?”

“Easy there, Armadillo Pie,” she replied. There was a jaundice in her manner, or maybe an advanced case of cirrhosis was just giving her features a yellow cast. Lifting her hepatic belly down off the table, she laid it to rest on a black denim skirt festooned with a gross of bright yellow Walmart buttons. “I’ve been coming here for years, and never seen you before. How do I know that’s not a line?”

“No. In my underwear.” He lifted up his eye patch to better take in her fine central European features. “I mean I’ve been coming in my underwear for years.”

“Well, in that case, my name’s Esmeralda.” She crossed her legs nonchalantly, almost dislodging a kneepad. “But you can call me Kiki.”

“Fair enough. Carol it is. My name is Chance.” He took the umbrella out of his drink and chewed it slowly, almost casually. It was tough to swallow, but would pass through his alimentary canal with the same ease as the bark dust he’d eaten on the way over, some of which still hung at the corners of his mouth.

“I told you, Chip, it’s Davida.” Looking annoyed, she went back to scribbling on a piece of paper, half soaked, that lay in front of her. The grenadine in her beer had given it a pink cast, the color of flushed genitals.

“What’ve you got there?” he asked, and leaned in.

“Never mind.” Curling one hand around the nonsense on the page, she grew secretive, as if cribbing on an exam. “It’s a note for my roommate. She’s in third grade.”

“Wow! Third grade! What’s that like?” he wanted to know.

“Really hard for a nineteen-year-old,” she replied, and shook her mane of tangled yellow hair.

Each one of the liberty spikes in his Mohawk had a green olive impaled on it, and he plucked one away, tossing it into his mouth and tonguing at the pimento. “Mmfggnghth,” he offered.

“Yeah, me, too.” Reaching up, she pinched one of her breasts, then flapped both arms and recited one of the numerous Nantucket limericks.

“Fuck it!” he hollered along with her at the end, then grinned. “Wow, I never met anyone else before that knew Sylvia Plath by heart.”

“Actually, it’s William Stafford. You’re in Oregon now, Fartface.” There was a softer look in her eyes as she pulled her hair around and stuck the frayed ends into her mouth.

“I thought this was a tavern on the edge of the University of Iowa campus.” He looked perplexed. “What do you think of Marvin Bell?”

“Ding dong,” she answered, and put both thumbs in her nostrils.

“Mostly dong. A great big dong,” he added, and reached back to pull a pack of Parliaments from the ass side of his diaper.

“Holy Towels, Aquaman, that’s sexy.” She’d just watched him light the wrong end of a cigarette and shuddered with delight, then kicked off a shoe. One foot snaked across under the table, and now all seven toes were massaging his groin.

“Damn it, I think you should go home with me.”

She gave his balls a nudge with her heel. “Why don’t we just go back to your place?”

“Sunflowers!” he exclaimed. “Check please!” The barmaid came over and told him his drink was three dollars; he stroked his half a moustache thoughtfully, then took off one mitten and poured out better than five bucks worth of change next to the sputtering candle.

They walked back to his apartment, a small studio lined with Warhol-esque velvet paintings of key rings and Nabisco products. There was no furniture, save for a wooden pallet covered with rags and a hookah stopped up with a buttplug at its aperture. She dropped down onto the hardwood floor and made as if to do snow angels.

“I should warn you,” he offered grimly, “I have a necrophilia streak in me. We’ll probably have to ice down your vagina, and you’re going to have to remain very still.”

“That’s fine. Just don’t come inside me. Unless you’re going to leave some fruit there.” She nodded at him. “Or Cheetos. To appease the gnomes.”

“Of course. Don’t be a retarded pretzel.” He moved toward a door, kicking off his slippers as he went.

“Where are you going?” she asked as she pulled off her shirt, exposing nipples run through with chicken bones.

“To put in my neuticles.” Seeing her perplexed expression, he pressed on. “Fake testicles. My parents castrated me in a Bob Eubanks-officiated ceremony when I was eight.”

“And you can still do this?” she wondered, slicing at her skirt with a straight razor.

“Oh, I take hormone treatments. I’ll give you the spin cycle of your life, ya dirty sock.” He laughed like mad and spanked his own ass.

She grinned back. “All right, Molasses, hurry back.”

The door closed as she dropped her wool panties to the floor. On the far side of the room, she spotted a five-gallon drum with the Astroglide logo on the side and went to grab a handful to slap on the back of each knee, just in case. When she popped off the lid, though, there was nothing inside but several pounds of candy corn and a small booklet, tucked into the sugary mess.

“What’s this?” she queried, drawing it out as he emerged from the bathroom.

He flapped his hands, a bit flustered. “Oh, ah…nothing. Just my stamp collection.”

“You fucking weirdo!” she charged, and leaving her clothing in a heap on the oak flooring, stormed out of the flat, stark naked.


Chris Ridenour is a writer and artist whose work of either stripe has appeared in places ranging from Washington State to Quebec City. He lives in Portland with his wife and editor who are, happily, the same person.

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