July 27, 1989
His trailer was crammed in a single lot at the Speckled Trout Mobile Home Park, only a stone’s throw from the channel. The smell of burnt rubber and dead fish hung in the air. Over the pines, the cranes of Barbour’s Cut Terminal banged stacks of cargo crates onto mammoth vessels. Drayton carried his lunch pail through the lightless courtyard and waved at a group of plant workers. They were hunched around a smelly oil drum fire like sentries at some backwoods leper colony.
You got a stog? yelled one, a fatcheeked welder everyone called Ogre. He wore a thin ponytail and a ball cap over his bald dome.
I only got one, Drayton said.
Well that’s good. I can only smoke one at a time. Ogre took it and lit it off the fire. I get paid Friday, he said, and held out a bottle of Mad Dog.
Nah, I gotta run, Drayton said.
Sit down and holler awhile, said Dusty. He was a lanky welder with a lazy eye, dressed in ragged overalls speckled with burn holes. Drayton could never tell which eye to look at so he just looked at the ground.
Ain’t no use bein in no hurry, Ogre said.
I got dinner waitin on me.
Just for awhile.
Drayton sighed. He plopped down on a log and grabbed the bottle.
You heard about ol Shane, Dusty said.
I don’t believe so.
Got his pecker stuck in a vacuum.
Judas Priest, Ogre said. What’d he have it jammed in there for?
He was checking it for mites, what the hell you think he had it in there for.
Always figured Shane for a pud puller.
Act like you ain’t never done it, Dusty said.
Not in no goddam hoover I ain’t.
Quit interruptin me, Dusty said.
I’m sorry. I am. Just go ahead.
Like I was saying. Old Shane you recall spends lot of time over there at Grandma Viv’s place.
Always thought there was something strange tween the two of em. Carryin on with an old broad like that.
Here you go again, Dusty said.
Anyway, he was over at her trailer the other night, and they was watching game shows and she was making him supper. He’d been slaving away puttin roofs on houses all day and needed a good meal, by god. She made some of those meatballs in tomato gravy like she does.
Hot damn, Ogre said, licking his lips.
Well she told him go in there and take a shower so’s he wouldn’t be stinkin up her couch from all his sweat. Told him she got hot water and all. Towels are right there in the linen closet. So ol Shane, he heads to rinse off but as he’s walkin through her bedroom he can’t help but notice she has one of them new vacuums by her closet. One of them fancy upright ones with the big cylinder in the middle and all them fancy attachments in a little case.
Madison could use one of those, Drayton said, wincing at the sulfuric wine. She’s getting tired of sweeping that dirty carpet.
Any-way, Dusty said, waving the smoke from his eyes. Shane always had it in his head one of them vacuums would make for a fine little companion, if you know what I mean. But he ain’t never seen a real one. So he peeks back down the hallway and Grandma Viv’s sittin there on the couch, the TV blarin about big money and no whammies and shit. And then he sneaks back in the room and wheels that vacuum in the bathroom and strips down nekkid. Flips the switch and climbs in that steamin shower with the hose in his hand.
Which hose, Ogre laughed, and winked at Drayton.
I wish you would just shut up, Dusty barked.
Go on with your perverted ass story, Ogre said.
Well Shane didn’t waste any time. He turns his back to the shower head and feels that blazin water on his neck and just jams that son of a bitch right on his little pecker. And Whoop! That tube just gobbled up his whole crotch and by god stretched everything but the jimmies to the max.
Great toads of fire, Ogre said.
Yup. Wouldn’t let go, neither.
He couldn’t get it off?
Hell no that suction was too strong. Shane never figured on account of how much power that vacuum has. Like I told you, it was a highdollar one.
What’d he do? Ogre cried, his fat cheeks red as strawberries.
He screamed like a ninny, what the hell you think he did? Fell over backwards and banged his head on the tub. Blood starts spurtin everwhere and he’s layin there in the bottom of the shower, screaming like hell jumped up, beating his fists about the walls, shrieking for some relief. And ol Grandma Viv, boy she comes around the corner, hollerin about What’d ye do Shane, what’d ye do, and she sees him layin there in the tub with that vacuum cleaner hose sucked up on his beans and franks, eyes wide as bug eyes, screamin Get this damn thing off me Grandma it’s plumb gonna eat me alive.
God in his mercy, Ogre said.
I knowed it. Well Viv she flips the switch off and that machine just slowly grinds to a halt. Shane pops the hose off and he ain’t even embarrassed about it cause it was such a relief by god. But he ain’t got long to enjoy it cause Viv come around the corner, waving a umbrella above her head, screamin Get out of my trailer you redneck pervert, and she starts beatin him about his head and shoulders, so Shane jumps out of that tub and runs back down the hallway and busts out her front door, running for his very life. He made it about halfway through the courtyard fore the blood loss caught up with him. He stopped, did a little twirl like one of them ballerinas, and fell over plumb backwards.
Stone cold dead, Ogre said.
Hell no he wasn’t dead. Just knocked out is all. But when the sheriff’s department showed up they couldn’t tell one way or the other. There he lay, on his back in the middle of the courtyard, covered in blood, his purple pecker standin at full attention, all swole up like a boiled orange.
I bet he don’t get no more lovin from a vacuum cleaner, Ogre said.
Well it was a hell of a ride to the city jail, I can tell you that.
I gotta run, Drayton said, standing up.
Hell you just got here, Dusty said.