When the old man finished telling Tabitha and I our future he stood, bowed, and then sat back down into his worn leather chair. Quietly he sat with an eerie calmness. His cap, midnight blue with yellow stars and moons, was tilted lazily over thin and unruly peppered gray hair. His face, pale, stubble, and wrinkled, ruined by age. Clear tape, at its bridge held together a pair of wire framed spectacles that enlarged his dark and quiet eyes. His mouth, a pair of thin lips over toothless gums, appeared to posses a half smirk that seem to say ‘Thanks for wasting your money and time with me, you dummies.’ which provoked me to ask ‘Are we suppose to believe that shit?’
‘Why not?’ asked the old man.
I didn’t respond, instead I turned to Tabitha who sat beside me. Her face was quiet, except for a disapproving flickering in her eyes.
‘Why do you have to be so cynical?’ She asked.
‘I inherited it from moneys.’ I said.
She rose and gave me a look that I thought only irritated Pit bulls were capable of. She then dug into her handbag and said ‘Besides, isn’t it good to hear good news about our future?’ She looked up from the handbag to the old man. ‘Even though he doesn’t believe it.’ She handed him a $20 bill in which he placed onto the desk.
‘There’s no truth, only skepticism in the mind of non believers.’ He said.
‘He got that from a fortune cookie.’ I said.
The old man smiled and nodded towards the $20 dollars on the desk and said. ‘Thank you.’ to Tabitha who smiled back and said ‘You’re welcome.’ and then asked ‘Do you have a restroom.’ The old man pointed to a door in the back.
‘You know you’re the only fortune teller claiming to be a witch.’ I said once Tabitha went into the restroom.
‘I’m a warlock.’ He said.
‘Witch, warlock, same thing, right?’
‘If warlocks had tits, I’d suppose.’ He laughed.
His laughter sounded like a choking puppy. I wasn’t sure rather I should run or give him the Heimlich. He was scaring me and all I wanted him to do was stop. ‘Tell me why anyone should believe you.’
‘Because I’m a warlock, one of the last ones left.’ He said after his laughter crawled to a cough and a smile.
‘I could never make myself believe you fortune tellers or Tarot card . . .’
‘I’m a warlock.’ He cut in.
‘Whatever.’ I said. ‘What I’m trying to say is, I don’t believe in none of that shit. Come on now, isn’t it normally thought of as crazy for a person to believe in something that doesn’t have concrete evidence that it exist?’
‘Well warlocks exist. I’m a warlock.’
‘Look,’ I said leaning towards the desk. ‘Tabby believes in fortunetellers, horoscopes, and all that other bullshit. She’s a wonderful person and I love her so much. But I must admit she’s a little bit gullible at times. And, you telling her how happy our future together will be and that I’m the perfect man for her will make her . . .’
‘Believe in you?’
‘Exactly, and I don’t need the pressure.’
‘Yeah pressure.’ I said. ‘I’m a fuck up. I bet you, the all knowing wizard, didn’t know that I was laid off today.’
‘I only know what I have to know.’
‘I think you don’t know shit!’
He pulled out a pen from his shirt pocket, drew a happy face on the $20 bill, and then slid it to me.
‘What’s that for?’ I asked.
‘Take it,’ he replied. ‘I’ll make you a believer.’
The front door opened behind me, a woman, attractive but aged, came inside. ‘Are you ready, Mulligan?’ she asked.
I stood as the restroom door opened. The woman sat onto the sofa against the wall. ‘I bet you believe that he’s a wizard, too, huh?’
‘I’m a warlock.’ The old man stated again.
The woman nodded and smiled.
‘It figures.’ I said as Tabitha joined us. I followed behind her as she headed to the front door saying her good byes.
‘You’re going to make him a believer, aren’t you?’ I heard the woman ask.
‘Sure.’ The old man replied.
I turned back to them and said. ‘A believer?’
‘Come on, the movie’s about to start.’ Tabitha said as the door was shutting between us.
‘Didn’t they use to kill people for witch back in the day?’ I smiled.
‘Do you believe in God?’ The woman asked.
‘Sometimes.’ I shrugged.
And then she asked. ‘Do you believe in magic?’
I shook my head.
‘How do you believe in God and not magic? What do you think Jesus was doing to create miracles? How do you think he turned water into wine?’
‘Jesus was a magician?’ I responded.
The woman sighed and said ‘No.’
The old man suddenly stood, raising his arms out in front of him with his hands back side up and fingers pointing towards me. ‘May the heavens and the earth be there to comfort and protect you.’ He said and then flopped back down into his chair, breaking into his choking laughter. The woman laughed as well.
I stood quiet in their laughter for a brief moment before I left out of the door into the soft breeze of the mid-summer evening. Tabitha was waiting for me across the street in front of the movie theater. She asked ‘What took you so long?’ as I approached her. I pulled out the $20 bill and said ‘Refund.’ She shook her head pushing my hand away. ‘What?’ I asked. She just stared at me. Her brown eyes sparkled from the glow of the street lamp directly above. It always amazed me how she could look so beautiful at any given moment.
‘Alex, you know that I love you with all my heart, right?’ She said. ‘But sometimes . . . I don’t know . . .’ She shook her head as she turned and begun walking towards the theater.
When I grabbed her hand she stopped and turned to me. ‘But sometimes you don’t know what?’ I asked.
‘Bullshit boop, you wanted to say sometimes you don’t know if you love me, or why you married me, or if your mom was right and you should had . . .’
She raised a finger to my lips, smiled and said ‘Shut boy. Don’t be stupid. I love you and I married you because I love you. And if I listened to my mom I’d probably married to a couple of bi-sexual midgets as long as they had good jobs and got along with her.’ She laughed, I smiled, and then she leaned in and kissed me. ‘Anyway I was going to say that sometimes I think you’re crazy. She turned, leading me by the hand.
‘Everybody’s crazy.’ I said. ‘That’s just a side effect of life.’
The next day begun like any other: Tabitha woke me up at 7am; I showered, dressed, ate, and then left for work. However Instead of going to work at the Hallman Paper Company warehouse where I lost my job because of downsizing, as my manager Harold; all donuts and beers, put in his usual polite mockery, I ended up at my cousin Phil’s house.
It was about 8:30am when I rung cousin Phil’s doorbell. He answered the door wearing briefs and nothing else. Eating a bowl of cereal, he smiled and said ‘Cousin, what’s up?’ His eyes squinted quizzically. ‘You didn’t have to work this morning?’
I didn’t say anything. A brief silence invaded until he turned and walked back into the house. I followed behind.
‘You like my Batman underoos?’ he asked, pointing a finger at the cartoon’s logo printed on the seat of his briefs.
Phil had moved into this house over a year ago and for some reason he have never brought any furniture other than flat screen TVs’, computers and beds for every room in the house; except for the beds in the kitchen and bathroom and that’s only because I had to convince him not to. He sat onto the edge of the living room bed.
‘I got laid off.’ I said, pacing.
‘How did you get fired from a paper company?’ He asked.
‘I got laid off.’
‘Well, how did you get laid off from a paper company?’ He said, full with sarcasm.
‘This coming from a guy who never worked a day in his life.’
‘That coming from a person who just lost his first job ever.’ He replied with a smile. ‘And selling weed all your life doesn’t count.’
‘Point made.’ I said with a smile.
Our attentions were pulled by a creak at the top off the staircase.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘I forgot to tell you that I had company.’ He lowered his voice. ‘Check her out, I think I’m in love. Serious, cousin, I think she’s the one.’
‘Really? How long have you been fucking with her.’
‘I met her yesterday.’ He said and then stood missing both my chuckle and disapproving head shake. He introduced the tall, slim, and chocolate woman coming down the steps as ‘Monica.’
‘What’s up.’ I said.
‘Hi.’ She replied in a soft voice as she got onto the bed. She slid under the Smurfs printed sheets, lying on her side facing the opposite direction from us. I gave Phil a thumps up. He smiled the smile of a man who just said I know.
Phil always seems to amaze me. His the only person I know that’s average in everything in life from looks to intellect, but always manage to date the most beautiful women and is, as a few critics had proclaimed, one of the last great American short story writers. He has one an N.A.A.C.P award and a National Book Club award for one of his story collections. The funny thing about that is I had convinced him not to sell drugs for a living as I did at the time but to find something he was good at. I went to prison for 3 years and I come out he’s my generations Ralph Ellison. Now he tells me that drug dealing is not for me and I need to find something that I’m good at. I wasn’t blessed or learned any skills so I found me a job.
‘She’s going to leave me.’ I said.
‘Why?’ He asked.
‘Because I’m a fuck up.’
‘You’re just worried about what her mom is going to say when she finds out. Or does she know already?’
I shook my head.
‘Does Tabby know?’
I shook my head again.
‘Why haven’t you told her yet?’
‘Tell her.’ Said Monica as she rolled. ‘Hand me a cigarette.’ She asked Phil. He gave her one and took one for himself. Monica sat upright and said ‘You look like you need one.’
‘He doesn’t smoke.’ Said Phil.
‘Really?’ She asked. ‘ Why not?’
‘Because I got bad feet.’
‘Huh?’ Monica said.
‘Cousin, you know that you’ll have to tell Tabby.’ Phil said.
‘No what I have to do is find a job or something before she finds out. I don’t want her to start thinking I’m going to sell weed again, because automatically she’ll start thinking that I’ll go back to jail.’
‘I understand all what you have said but if you don’t want to hustle again, then what’s the, or something meaning?’ Phil asked with a coy smile knowing what I was about to say.
‘Well,’ I hesitated and then finished with, ‘The state Lottery is up to 120 million dollars.’ That pulled a huge laugh out of the two of them, leaving me with the impression that they had missed my sincerity.
For the next few hours we smoked joints, listen to an eclectic playlist of music for the computer and ate cereal. Around 3 o’clock I decided it was time for me to go, I had to peep first. It was while I was in the bathroom I noticed the tale. It was brown and furry and real. I think it was connected to my tailbone. Although I remained calm I couldn’t believe it and wonder if I was dreaming, so I banged my head against the door a few times but when I became dizzy I came to the conclusion that I was awoke. I wanted to get a good view of the tail so I climbed onto the sink, after I removed my sneakers, socks, pants, and boxers so that I could get the full view of it in the medicine cabinet mirror. I had to stand side ways to get a good look. The tail wouldn’t stop moving like looking at your tongue in the mirror. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t notice it until then. Maybe I was turning into a werewolf and was going to go on a rampage and mane and eat Phil and Monica and then wake up naked underneath a bus in Winnipeg. Suddenly, the bathroom door opened causing me to turn and flinch. Losing my footing I jerked my body so that I would land onto my side and not my penis or tail. I succeeded painfully. On the floor I awkwardly sat upright avoiding my tail. I noticed Phil in the door way staring. I followed his eyes to my tail. I stood suddenly.
‘What’s that?’ He asked.
The amazed look in his eyes changed as they rose to my face. ‘Where’s my cousin?’ he asked as he stepped into the bathroom.
‘Where’s my cousin?’
‘I am your cousin dumb ass.’
‘No you’re . . . you’re the devil.’ He said and then leaped onto me. We fell. Although Phil and I are equally frail and deficient of muscles I couldn’t get him off of me. He punched, kicked, and wildly screaming ‘Help!’ Monica had came into the bathroom screaming and trying to pull us apart to no avail until, I guess out of fatigue, Phil stopped. He took deep breaths leaning against the sink. Monica eyes were wide in awe staring at my tail bouncing behind me. With one hand I wiped at the blood on the side of my swelling face, with my other hand I raised the tail so that she could get a better look. She smiled.
The bathroom sat thick with silence until I said ‘Phil, its me. I’m no devil.’
‘That’s what this is about?’ asked Monica ‘He thinks you’re the devil?’
‘Who else has a tail?’ Phil said.
‘Phil you’re a writer, you should be more understanding.’ I said.
He leaned up from the sink. ‘I just read a short story about a girl who gets involved with a guy with a tail and he ended up being the Devil.’ He was standing up right and seemed calm but his eyes still had that manic uncertainty of a crazy drunk with an empty beer bottle lose between hitting you with it or trying to eat it. Not sure what he would do next I put my hands up. Since I have zero knowledge of the art of boxing and was bare from the waist down with a tail swaying back and forth I felt weird, so I dropped my arms. Monica laughed. Phil laughed. Eventually I laughed.
After I dressed we gathered in the living room. Phil lit up a joint and said ‘My bad cousin but what would you have thought if I had a tail?’
‘You would have thought that I was the Devil.’ He said.
Monica laughed. ‘You really thought he was the Devil because you recently wrote a story about a person with a tail actually ended up the Devil?’
He shrugged. ‘I don’t know, I’m an artist and I’m always high off of OG Kush. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.’
‘’Just up Phil, you were scared and panicked. I saw it in your eyes.’ I said.
‘I never said I wasn’t scared.’ He replied. ‘I’m always scared.’
‘You weren’t born with that tail?’ Monica asked me.
‘Yeah but I don’t wear it much because it’s hard to find a pair of sneakers to match it.’ I said.
Monica made a half smile and a half smirk before saying ‘What I meant to ask was, did it just pop up today or you had it for a while?’ The smirk completely surrendered to the smile.
‘It just popped up in the bathroom, I believe.’ I replied.
‘What do you think it is?’ Phil asked.
‘An extra more flexible dick.’ I answered.
‘It’s a tail, Phil.’ Monica helped out.
‘A human can’t grow a tail!’ He demanded. ‘Only in fiction is such shit possible.’
But this wasn’t fiction. This was my life. ‘I have to get home.’ I stood.
‘What are you going to tail your wife?’ Monica said and then laughed. When she noticed she was the only one laughed she explained ‘Tail and tell.’
Phil laughed. I walked to the door.
‘Cousin,’ He said catching up with me. I stopped in the doorway but he motioned for me to continue. Still in his briefs, we walked to the corner. ‘So what you think about Monica?’
I stopped and looked at him. ‘I have a tail hanging out my ass and you want to know what I think about some girl. I don’t care about her.’
‘Calm down, cousin.’
‘Calm down? You attacked me because you thought I was the devil. Now you’re telling me to calm down?’
‘You’re right, I guess. But what are you going to do?’
‘You have to tell Tabby about your tail.’ He paused. ‘You really have a tail.’ He shook his head.
‘A doctor should be able to move it, right?’
‘Sure, I guess. But don’t you want to know the when, where, why, and how you got it? What if you do get it removed and it grows back?’
Just then, I thought about the old man from the night before. The Warlock!
‘You alright?’ Phil asked.
‘Do you believe in warlocks or witches and magic.’
‘I don’t know.’ He said. ‘I never thought a human could grow a tail. But then again I am a writer. And well . . .’ He shrugged. ‘You should go onto the tonight show. You know, get some publicity, and write a book. I can hook you up with my agent and . . .’
‘I’ll call you later.’ I said as I begun to cross the street. ‘I’m going to need you to drive me some where, alright?’
‘Alright.’ He replied.
On the ride home I wondered if any other person on the train had a tail or wings or anything else strange beneath their clothes.
My plan was to go home, lie to my wife about work, act as if everything was normal, and then call Phil to take me to see the old man. However the moment I opened the apartment’s door my plan crashed and burned to the sound of Tabitha’s mother’s voice.
Inside of the apartment my mother-in-law, who I affectionately out of spite call Godzilla, sat big and wide on the sofa watching television. As I headed across the living room she gave me a sideways glare of contempt.
‘Hi.’ I said tossing my jacket onto the back of the sofa.
Godzilla knocked the jacket onto the floor and then said, ‘Hang that up. That’s no place for a man’s coat.’
I ignored her and went into the kitchen where Tabitha was smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of coffee at the table. She looked up at me immediately noticed my swollen face, that I had completely forgot about.
‘What happened?’ She said and stood.
‘Nothing.’ I said and sat.
‘Let me get you some ice.’
‘I’ll be okay.’
‘Are you sure?’ She said and sat.
She stared at my face with somber eyes in which made me wonder how her eyes would look if she seen my tail.
‘What happen?’ She asked, again.
I thought about telling her the truth, That Phil and I were fighting because he thought that I was the devil when saw my tail, but the way it sounded in my head was the way an insane resident at a mental hospital would explain why his cup of gelatin was dripping from the ceiling. I laughed.
‘What’s so funny?’ She asked as the somber in her eyes dropped into curiosity. She sniffed the air and then leaned in and sniffed my shirt.
‘What?’ I asked.
She leaned back and said, ‘You’re high.’
‘High?’ I said, remembering the joints I smoked with Phil and Monica.
‘Don’t play stupid. I can smell the weed.’
I stammered senselessly before giving up and staring in a smiling stupor.
‘Why didn’t you tell me you had got laid off?’ She said; which ran into me like a bull, and then she stood. ‘What’s going on with you?’
‘Well . . . I . . . um . . . you know I . . . I’m . . um . . . a . . .a fuck up.’
‘You scare me sometimes.’
‘Maybe we shouldn’t have married so soon.’
It felt as if someone was playing kickball with my heart.
‘Don’t get all worried.’ She continued. ‘I’m not going to leave you. You’re the love of my life but I do think we rushed into this.’
I sat in stare with my mouth open, too stun to say anything. She walked over to the sink as the kitchen filled with silence before her mom came in.
‘You ready girl?’ Godzilla said.
‘Yeah, just give me a minute to do these dishes.’ Tabitha replied.
Her mother waddled to the table and sat down. ‘My feet are killing me.’
I was stuck in a stare off in nowhere in particular thinking about what Tabitha had said until Godzilla interrupted with ‘I heard that your sorry ass got fired.’
‘He didn’t get fired mom,’ Tabitha said. ‘He was laid off.’
‘I remember when my first husband got fired. I cheated on him as a punishment.’
‘You cheated on my daddy?’ Tabitha asked.
‘No, I cheated with your daddy.’
‘Infidelity is a fault of character.’ I said and then stood, ready to make my escape from the present of Godzilla.
‘That’s crap!’ Godzilla said. ‘I think adultery is need and underrated. Especially on the woman’s behalf. Once they realized that they married the wrong man and they knew that they should have married Malik Carter. I mean what else could they do other than cheat? Do you understand me Tabby?’ She paused. ‘I know Malik is a little chunky but that’s alright, a man is supposed to have a little meat on him; for the bed and to protect you. Your anorexic husband can’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag with a shotgun.’ She laughed.
I left out of the kitchen and went to the bedroom chuckling to myself as I wondered what Godzilla would of said if she had saw my tail.
In the bedroom I called Phil’s place. A woman answered with ‘Hello, Phillip West’s residence.’
‘This is his cousin, Alex. I need to talk to him.’
‘Alex? . . . Oh, okay, you’re the cousin with the tail, right?’
‘Yes.’ I said reluctantly.
‘This is Monica. What did your wife say about it?’
‘I didn’t tell her yet.’
‘Secrets are relationship destroyers.’ She said. ‘Although our relationship is new I have told Phil everything about me. No secrets. So now he won’t become surprise when someone tells him that I was born a man.’
‘She’s joking.’ Said Phil’s voice invading the phone.
‘Phil,’ I said and waited until his laughter had stopped. ‘I need you to pick me up and take me downtown to see about my tail.’
‘Alright but after I finish moving the rest of Monica things in.’ He said.
‘You’re moving her in?’
‘She’s the one. How many beautiful and successful women would just laugh and understand that your cousin is a freak with a tail. And you know understanding is one of the keys to a great relationship.’
‘The key to a great relationship is weed.’
‘Did you tell her that you were fired?’
‘She already knew.’
‘Did you ever wonder if she had casted a spell on you; giving you that tail?’ He said.
‘I’m serious cousin.’ He said. ‘Wives do things like that all the time.’
‘No they don’t.’
‘Remember when that lady cut off her husband’s dick and tossed it onto the side of the road?
‘What does that have to do with me having a tail?’
‘Ask her watch she’ll tell you.’
Ask her what?’
‘If she put a spell on you.’
‘I’m not asking her that.’
‘Because I think I know who did it.’ The old man face flashed across my thoughts, which almost caused me to laugh. Because if he had something to do with me having a tale I would have to believe in magic and with a tale dangling in the back of my pants I’m forced to believe in extraordinary things such as magic, Santa Claus, The Tooth fairy, and that Topic and Biggie smalls are alive and well performing as opening acts for Michael Jackson at an resort casino on one of Jupiter’s moons.
‘You okay?’ Phil asked.
‘Yeah, I’m cool.’ I said. ‘When you’re finished moving Monica in call me.’
‘Okay.’ He said and hung up.
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
I turned to Tabitha standing in the doorway. ‘Huh?’
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ She repeated, as her eyes dropped down to the phone suspiciously. ‘Who were you talking to?
‘God. He has a new toll free number. They say it’s better than prayer.’ Quietly she stared as I continued with. ‘When did we start asking each other who we’re talking to on the phone?’
‘Why?’ She replied. ‘What are you afraid to tell me?’
‘Are you cheating on me?’
‘You sound like Godzilla.’
‘Shut up!’ She said. ‘I hate when you call my mom that, her name is Catherine. And no she doesn’t have anything to do with this.’ Her soft brown face was filled with anger as she walked towards me. ‘Who were you talking to, to your side bitch?’ She asked, close in my face, voice loud.
‘Phil.’ I said. ‘Go ahead and press redial if you don’t believe me.’ I tried to sound forceful and assertive but instead it came out whiny.
As she picked the phone up I flopped onto the bed landing awkwardly sending a pain up my spine causing me to jump.
‘What’s wrong with you now?’ Tabitha said.
I shook my head and took backwards steps away from her as I rubbed my lower back and tail.
‘Oh, hey Phil, It’s me Tabby. I was . . . um . . . calling to . . . um.’ She paused; looking at me.
I was sure that Phil was telling her about my tail.
‘Oh, alright, I’ll see you later.’ Tabitha said and then hung up. Her eyes had begun to water. A tear ran down her cheeks. She sat onto the edge of the bed with her head down.
‘What’s wrong?’ I said.
‘I’m sorry.’ She replied.
What was she sorry about? If Phil had told her about my tail and it made her start crying and become sorry did that mean Phil was right? Did she really cast a spell on me? That would of been nonsense, I was sure of that. However, I had a tail and nonsensical felt as if it was the only logical way of thinking at that moment. ‘Sorry about what?’ I asked, carefully sitting beside her on the bed.
‘About thinking you were cheating. You’re right, my mom . . .’ She broke into soft sobs.
I moved closer to and embraced her. My tail moved inside my jeans against her leg. ’What’s that?’ She asked and stood.
I looked down at the slightly moving lump on the side of my leg and then up to Tabitha. She wiped at the streaks of tears that stained her cheeks. Her eyes focused on my pants leg. I wanted to run or spontaneously combust. I stood.
‘What’s that?’ She asked again, this time with a smile.
‘Nothing.’ I said. ‘I think Godzil . . . I. . . I mean I think your mom is calling you.’
She tried to make a serious face but she couldn’t stop smiling. ‘Stop acting like a little boy.’ She said. ‘And show me what’s in your pants.’
‘You already know what’s in my pants.’ I had begun to take backward steps towards the door.
‘Where are you going?’
She leaped forward grabbing my pants at the waistband. ‘Help! Rape!’ I said. When I tried to grab her we had both fell. On the floor she stuck a hand into the back of my jeans and grabbing a hold of the tail. She released it and stood. Her face was covered in glee and curiosity. I stood.
‘Let me see it?’ She said.
‘The tail. Let me see the tail?’
‘How the fuck did you know I had a tail?’
‘I didn’t, but you just told me. She said. ‘Besides that’s what it felt like. What else could it be?’
I unbuttoned my jeans, dropping them and boxers. I then turned around.
‘You really have a fucking tail?!’ Tabitha said as she walked towards me.
As she rubbed the tail up and down an odd but relaxing feel good sensation hugged me. I had grown an erection.
‘That’s not natural.’ The voice of Godzilla interrupted. She stood in the doorway. ‘No man is supposed to let no one play with his ass.’
Panic had begun to creep inside of me.
Tabitha laughed and then said ‘That’s not what’s going on.’ She turned me around to show her mother my tail.
‘What on God’s green earth is hanging out of his ass?!’ Godzilla yelled.
I dropped my head onto Tabitha’s shoulders, asking God to smite me at that moment.
She lifted up my tail and said ‘It’s a tail. A real live tail. Come and feel it, mom.’
‘The devil is a liar.’ Godzilla said. ‘I’m too old to be into that kinky shit.’
I pulled up my boxers and jeans.
‘Why the hell did you marry someone with a tail?’ Godzilla continued.
‘He wasn’t born with it.’ Tabitha said. ‘He didn’t even have it last night. I don’t . . .’
‘Well, he must have been cheating on you with a voodoo witch or something.’ Godzilla said.
‘I don’t know where it came from.’ I said.
‘Tabby I’ll be in the car.’ Godzilla said. ‘And hurry up I’m trying to get as far away as possible from your freak ass husband. He might be contagious and I’m too old to have to explain some shit like that.’ She turned away from us and then disappeared from the doorway.
‘It popped up out of no where.’ I said to Tabitha. ‘It didn’t grow or nothing. I was using Phil’s bathroom and all of a sudden I had a tail. That’s why my face is like this. Phil thought I was the Devil and attacked me.
‘It’s not funny.’ I said.
‘I’m not laughing at that. She said. ‘Well, okay, yes I am. He really thought you were the devil.’
A silence invaded as her face dropped into a mixture of joy and melancholy. Finally, she said. ‘I’m pregnant.’
‘I meant we’re pregnant.’
‘How long have you knew?’
‘I missed my period a few days ago. So I went to the doctor today and he confirmed it. I’m 3 and half months.’
Her eyes watered as she leaned into me. I held her in my arms trying to stir my emotions into happy but depression was all I had.
We slowly broke our embrace before she wiped at her eyes.
‘Because you’re pregnant and I was laid off is what made you say that you think we married too fast?’ I said and then sat.
‘No. I don’t really think that at all.’ She said. ‘I was just listening to the bullshit of my mom.’
‘What are we going to do now?’
She kissed my forehead before saying. ‘Don’t worry we’ll be fine.’
‘I have a tail.’
‘What am I going to do about this tail?’ I was essentially asking myself.
‘I’m going to drop my mom off.’ She said as she headed towards the door. ‘And when I get back we’ll talk.’ Everything will be fine. We’re a team.
Before she walled off she blew me a kiss. I caught it and mashed it into the left side of my chest.
After she left I sat lost in thought. Becoming a father scared the hell out of me. I have always been irresponsible, lazy, and a fuck up. I was pretty sure that there were many fucked up people in this world but I bet that I was the only fucked up person who was unemployed and had a tail at the same time. But I wanted to be a father especially of Tabitha’s children. She was my first love and she loved me for who I was.
Before I answered the ringing phone I imagined the look on Tabitha’s face after I came home from grocery shopping and forgot our baby at the supermarket.
‘Hello.’ I said into the phone. On the floor I noticed a piece of paper.
‘Is this Alex?’ A woman’s voice said.
‘Hello.’ The woman’s voice said.
‘Yeah this is Alex.’
‘It’s me, Monica. Phil told me to let you know that he’s on his way.’
‘Oh, alright.’ I said.
I hung up the phone and then picked up the piece of paper from the floor. It was a 20 dollar bill with a red happy face drawn on it. I remembered the old man drawing the happy face as he proclaimed he would make me a believer. I thought about my wagging tail as I balled the bill up.
‘I wouldn’t do that if I was you.’ Said the voice of a little child.
I dropped the crumpled legal tender onto the floor as I looked frantically around the room.
‘Down here.’ The voice said.
I looked down and 20 dollar bill was standing, long side up, with what appeared to be little white arms and legs sticking out of it. The red inked happy face looked as if it was three dimensional.
‘My name is bill.’ It said.
‘What the fuck?’ I jumped up onto the bed.
First a tail and then talking money. Things were getting out of hand.
‘The bill jumped and climbed onto the bed. It had grown twice its original size.
‘Mr. Warlock.’ I said while looking around the room expecting the old man to step from behind a door clapping his hands and saying ‘I got you. I bet you’re a believer now.’
The bill stood in front of me on the bed and laughed the laugh of a possessed child from a low budget horror flick and then said. ‘Fuck a warlock. I want your soul.’
‘I need my soul.’
‘Give me your soul or I’ll be forced to take it.’
I didn’t respond.
The brief silence that stood between us caused me to realize that I was talking to an enlarged USD. Suddenly it leaped at me. Sharp metallic pains pierced the calf of my left leg. I kicked into the air until the thing released from its bite. I didn’t know where it landed but I had to get out of the room. I slowly stepped off of the bed. The pain in my leg pulled at me. I could feel the blood running down my leg but I ignored it. I walked in a half crouch half stoop towards the door. My mind raced in circles. The only thing that was clear in my head was that I had to get out of the apartment. Fuck what it was. Fuck where it came from. Run.
At the bedroom’s doorway the light in the room suddenly goes out. The hallway lights also went out. The glare of the street lamp’s dingy yellow glow streaked from the hallway window across the carpet. I took slow pre-cautious steps out of the room, not sure where the bill was. I looked back at the doorway when I heard a creak and what appeared to be the silhouette of a small fat child standing there waving thin arms.
‘Give me your soul, dame it.’ Said the childish voice which had a soft static like echo behind it. It was the bill, but not the bill. It somehow grew and changed into something. I had no plans on investigating. I ran in a sloppy impatient dart and slipped onto the floor. Not worrying where the thing was I pushed myself upward to continue my escape but it jumped onto my back. It was now the weight of a fat 6 year old. I started shaking and punching at the thing. Its hands, small and meaty with finger nails of wood, had blood drawing grips into my shoulders. I ran us backwards into the wall. Its grip eased as it fell to the floor. I turned to it. It sat quiet and dead like. Its big green head rested forward on its chest. Its torso was green, hard, and shinny. Its arms and legs were flexible white poles with green meaty fist for hands and feet. I thought about kicking or punching it or tossing it out of the window but for some reason I never thought to run until its head popped up. Its eyes were red dots and its mouth a line that curved and split into a smile as it said. ‘I will be the beneficiary of your soul.’
I have no knowledge or training for dealing with little green monsters wanting to highjack souls so I had to keep to my initial plan, which was to run. I ran out of the apartment, and in a forward stumble I hurried down the stairs. To my surprise the little monster stood in front of the door. I didn’t have time to wonder how it got there because my goal was to get on the other side of the door. With gleeful energy it charged at me the way a fat kid would charge at a MacDonald’s. In the small hallway my only escape would have been to run back up the stairs, which I’m sure, would have been stupid. Suddenly the little monster leaped at me. I swung my body into a well-simulated roundhouse kick. There was no impact; I missed the little bastard entirely. The weight of the errant kick threw my equilibrium off, sending me to the floor. I landed on my back, and once again I was reminded by pain that I had a tail. Although a tingling sensation screamed with echoes from my lower back up my spine with agony I had no time to dwell in the pain because the little monster was air borne. I bent my legs and then kicked upward. The impact felt as if I kicked a large rock. The little monster landed by the stairs with a thump. I pushed my self to my feet and then ran out of the front door, slamming it behind me. I kept an eye on the door as I ran backwards down the walkway. The monster burst threw the door in a head first dive landing on its back rolling forward onto its feet. It jumped up and down laughing with destructive excitement. I ran into the street. The block was quiet as usual. The pursuing monster and the silence provoked me to scream; to call attention to myself. I wasn’t screaming out anything rational, such as ‘There’s a monster chasing me.’ or ‘Call 911.’ Instead what came out was ‘The British are coming.’
Fear makes me say crazy things.
I was running so fast that when I tried to make a sharp turn at the corner I went wide while trying to slow down without stopping. With a diving tackle the monster knocked me into a parked car. What followed was a flurry of punches to my head and face. I started to become dizzy as black spots invaded my vision. I was going to die. I was sure of it. I was going to die a fuck up. A 23 years old fuck up. And, the fashion that I was going to exit the world wouldn’t help my image. I could see the headlines:
An unemployed fuck up with a tail whup to death by a little green monster — In related news the green little monster runs and is elected to city council.
But I couldn’t die. It wouldn’t have been right. It wouldn’t have felt right. My wife was pregnant. Although the punching had stopped I had to dig up the strength from deep down inside of me and swung a wild punch where the monster’s head should had been, instead I hit Phil in the stomach.
‘What the fuck, man?’ Phil grunted.
Disoriented I climbed up the car to a stand. ‘Where did it go?’ I said.
Phil’s eyes opened wide as he stood upright. ‘Get into the car.’ He said before diving into the open driver’s side door. As I ran around the car to the passenger side I noticed the little monster with a tire iron lodged in the top of its head running towards me. Phil pulled off in a frantic swerve. Through the rear window I watched the little monster stop and pulled the tire iron out of his head. He stared at me with frustration and anger in his inhuman face that sent a fear of dying into me that would have a hold on me until I die or at the least until I’ll smoke a joint.
Once Phil thought it was safe he drove into a gas station. We both got out of the car. Still silent as we were the whole time we stared at each other over the roof of the car until he said ‘I don’t think that I could write a story as weird as your life. 1st you were fired, 2nd a tail, and 3rd your getting beat senseless in the street by some deformed child.’ He shook his head.
I shrugged and then touched my face. It felt like ground beef. Phil turned away from me to lean against the car and lit a cigarette. I looked around expecting to see the little monster running at me as I walked around the car.
Phil looked at me, exhaling smoke through his nostrils. A corner of his mouth rose into a smile as he asked ‘What the hell was that thing?’
‘A 20 dollar bill.’ I replied.
He shook his head, looking down at the cigarette.
‘Last night,’ I had begun. ‘before the movies, Tabby thought it would be fun to have our futures told. You know, she’s into shit like that. When she went to the bathroom I told the old man, who claimed to be a warlock, that his little business was bullshit.’ I made a quick chuckle of a man who was trying to find humor as he stood before a firing squad. ‘ Then he says he’ll make me a believer.’
Phil looked at me. ‘A believer?’
I nodded and shrugged.
‘So what are we going to do next?’ He asked.
‘You’re going to drive me to the old man’s store front on Chestnut Street, across from the movie theater.’
‘Then we’re going to break dance on card board for change.’
‘The only plan I have is to tell him to make all of this shit stop.’ I said.
Phil went to the rear of his car. ‘Come here for a second.’ He said as he opened the car’s trunk.
A car pulled up to one of the pumps. I watched as a guy stepped out. He went up to the attendant’s window and then to the side of the station where the bathrooms were. I joined Phil at the trunk.
‘Look at these babies.’ He said, holding a revolver in each of hands.
‘What the fuck are you doing with those?’ I looked around the gas station. ‘Put those back into the trunk before someone sees you.’
‘This is our protection.’ He barked back.
He handed me one of the guns. And the fuck up took it, because he was right we did need protection. However I still asked ‘What am I suppose to do with this?’
‘Shoot shit.’ He said. ‘Shoot that thing that was punching the shit out of you. You should be thanking me.’
‘I never owned a gun or shot one before. And, neither have you.’ I laid the gun back into the trunk.
‘I have, if you count arcade games.’
‘Phil, this is not the time to be a dumbass.’
‘I’m trying to help.’ He said. ‘Situations like this should be handled with excessive force. Believe me, I’m an expert at these things.’
‘What things?’ I said as I walked back to the passenger side of the car.
Things like humans growing tails and little green men.’
‘What makes you an expert in that?’
He shut the trunk. ‘I write fiction.’
‘You do a lot of drugs.’
‘That’s true, but I have read and wrote shit just like this. I’m better suited in this sort of situation then you are.’
Before I could comment on the gun still in his hand, someone screamed ‘Help!’ in a high pitch woman’s voice. It was the guy from the other car. He was naked, stumbling in a frantic dash from the side of the attendant’s station.
‘You think your little monster had something to do with that?’ Phil asked.
‘Not really, the guy just likes to run around naked and screaming for help. Maybe it’s a new fad.’ I opened the door. ‘Let’s not find out what’s really happening.’
Phil ignored me, taking slow steps towards the attendant’s station.
‘Phil, let’s go!’ I called out.
The naked man ran into the street. The little green monster ran from behind the attendant’s station.
‘Look! Look!’ Phil yelled.
The monster darted back behind the attendant’s station when Phil started shooting. The gun’s recoil caused his shooting arm to jerk violently in every direction as he took backward steps before he tripped and fail. I ducked inside the car trying not to get hit by a random bullet. Phil crawled back into the and quickly drove away.
I looked back for the little monster; he was nowhere in site neither was the car that belonged to the screaming guy, who had started a circus on the other side of the gas station.
‘You’re crazy.’ I said, once we were a good distance away and Phil had started to drive normal.
‘I think I hit him.’
‘I think you shot a screw loose in your head.’ I said. ‘You can’t shoot.’
‘Sure I can.’
‘You couldn’t hit your target accidently if you had to.’
‘Turn left here.’ I said. ‘We’re going to Chestnut Street.’
‘Where do you think the monster is?’
Although he seemed enthusiastic, by the way his voice cracked when he asked ‘Where do you think the monster is?’ I knew he was as scared as I was. And, since I needed him to be calm, because he was driving, I didn’t tell him that I thought the monster was driving the naked guy’s car a short distance behind us. So I shrugged and said ‘Tabby’s pregnant.’
‘Yup, she told me today.’
‘Congratulation.’ He looked over to me. ‘You don’t look all that happy.’
‘If my wife was having my first born, I’d be jumping up and down with joy right about now.’
‘Well it’s hard to jump up and down with joy while running for your life from a monster.’ For a while I forgot I had a tail until I moved and aggravated it. ‘Dame it.’
‘I hurt my tail.’
Suddenly the car was pushed forward into the car in front of us. Phil and I managed to get out of the car unharmed. The naked guy’s car was smashed and smoking against the back of Phil’s. I caught a glimpse of the monster’s face through the smashed windshield, and then it was gone. I looked around, the crashed cars started to draw attention. When I looked back to the windshield the little monster busted through it. I backed up ready to run. The growing crowd made a collective awe that caught the attention of the little monster once it landed. I could hear police sirens off in the distance. I continued to back away as the little monster jumped onto the top of Phil’s car. It bowed. There was a scattered response from the crowd; some were in disgust of the grotesque midget while others were amazed. Some of the crowd even clapped and cheered which caused the little monster to jump up and down in excitement and joy. I took this opportunity to get away by walking backwards down the street between the rows of cars and the rapidly growing crowd. Police and firemen begun to show up and take control of the situation, their presence escalated the little monster’s joy of attention. On top of the car it started flipping and dancing.
I was at the corner when a hand grabbed my shoulder. I turned, stumbling backwards. It was Phil. I completely forgot about him. ‘Look.’ He said pointing down the street. I turned. The little monster was no longer on top of Phil’s car. Phil who looked around lost and confused replaced it. He held one of his guns in his hand. The police yelled instructions to him as they surrounded the car with their guns up. When Phil dropped the gun and threw his hands into the air the police moved in. The crowd protested. As I turned around I wondered how Phil could be in two places at once.
‘Give me your soul!’ The little monster yelled.
I tried to back up and it punched me in the stomach. I doubled over and it punched me in the face. Yellow cartoon stars with red boots danced across my vision. I stumbled against a woman. She pushed me away and ran. I hurried to my feet and ran in the opposite direction of the woman with selfish hope that the monster chased her instead. My hope crashed and burned when I looked back and the little monster was still in pursuit. I ran as hard and as fast as I could until I was tackled by a police officer. He knocked the wind out of me. He stood while I was on my back trying to catch my breath. More officers had begun surrounded me. I could hear a variety of voices as a new crowd of people were forming.
Where did the little green monster go? I sat upright screaming, ‘The monster, where’s the monster?’
One of the officers above kicked me in the chest. I fell back. ‘Shut the fuck up!’ he screamed down at me. ‘You’re crazy; your friend with the gun is crazy. There’s no monster. No one seen no fucking monster.’
‘Calm down Ralph.’ Another officer said before leading him away.
From my view all I could see were legs, shoes, and tires. Although I didn’t see the little monster I sensed his presence. It was larking about trying to get me. I felt like a waiting victim, like an insect before a foot stepped on it. And then suddenly the voice of the little monster said, ‘Give me your soul.’
I screamed, ‘The monster! The monster!’ As I quickly made it to my feet a flurry of punches and kicks knocked me around. I ended face down on the street and hand cuffed. Then I was lifted by what felt like a hundred hands and tossed into a police wagon. The doors were slammed and I was left in the darkness. My face was numb. My body felt as if someone used it as a track for a herd of junkies competing in a hundred yard dash for a hit of their drug of choice. The wagon smelled the way a preacher would describe damnation; it made me dizzy ad although my mind was a little fuzzy but I was perfectly aware that it was only a matter of time before the little monster would appear. Being cuffed and locked in a dark police wagon meant certain death. I screamed for help.
After a time of unconsciousness I awoke on the ground without being cuffed. People were running by in terror as I stood. I stopped a guy running by and asked him ‘What’s going on?’ He pointed up into the sky and said in the voice of Fred Sanford, ‘A monster you big dummy.’ I looked up and the little monster was the size of King Kong holding onto a tall building. Tabitha was lying in its open palm. ‘Alex.’ She called out. ‘I want you to meet my new husband. My mother thought it would be good for me to remarry once you were locked up. She chose the monster for me because he’s big and strong enough to protect me. Plus he has a job.’ Something slapped me across the face before the world faded to black. Suddenly a rush of colors in a disoriented glare flooded my sight as I opened my eyes.
‘We could have dropped his ass off of a building and he still wouldn’t had woke up.’ I heard a voice say.
I blinked repeatedly trying to focus my vision. When I tried to wipe my eyes I realized that I was still hand cuffed.
‘That doesn’t make any sense.’ Another voice said. ‘If we dropped him from a building of course he wouldn’t wake up because he’d die from the fall.’
Slowly my vision became clear. Two officers stood in front of me. Both were short and wide, one was black; his name was Johnson, the other one was white; his name was Carter.
‘Look he’s alive.’ said Carter.
I was sitting on the ground between two patrol cars. I noticed more patrol cars and wagons. The officers lifted me to my feet. I was in a police precinct’s parking lot.
‘Thought you had died for a minute there.’ Johnson said.
‘We should have let Hugo bring him.’ Carter said. ‘He made the arrest.’
‘Waiting for Hugo after making an arrest that drew news crews is like waiting for Christ to return.’
Johnson held me by the arm as we followed behind Carter to the building. ‘And, I hope we don’t have to wait until he gets here to leave. I’m hungry.’
I stopped. Johnson stopped. He tighten his grip on my arm and said, ‘Didn’t you already have enough of getting our ass beat.’
Carter stopped and turned to us. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘I don’t know. He just stopped.’ Johnson said. ‘I could slam and drag him but the other guys did a pretty rough job on him. Look at his face.’
‘I bet he’s going to try to sue.’ Carter said, continuing towards the building.
‘Shit, I would.’ Johnson said giving me a tug.
I didn’t move. ‘Listen.’
‘No! You listen’ Said Johnson. ‘I don’t want to but I really will slam and drag you if I have to. He tugged at my arm again.
I made reluctant steps. I pay my taxes and vote. And you’re locking me up for running for my life.’
As Carter went up the steps to the door Johnson stopped and said. ‘You’re not going to start that monster shit again, are you?’
Carter opened the door and the little monster dove into him, knocking him down the steps.
‘Hello Alex.’ The little monster said as he stood.
Both officers were cursing the little monster, going for their guns. Carter fired from the ground. Johnson, who stood in front of me, fired his gun, as well. The monster disappeared. Until they both ran out of shots.
‘This is some bullshit.’ Carter said, still on the ground, before the little monster started punching him with super human speed while laughing wildly.
Johnson grabbed my arm and we ducked between two patrol cars. As he loaded his gun I said, ‘I’m a wizard.’
‘You’re not a fucking wizard.’
‘Yes I am.’ I said. ‘You have to believe me. I told you there was a monster, and look, there’s a monster.’
He looked at me and then stood to see what the monster was doing to his partner. I didn’t take a look for myself but how Carter was crying for help and the look on Johnson’s face I was pretty sure the site wasn’t pretty.
‘Okay,’ Johnson said as he sat beside me. ‘You’re a wizard, now what?’
‘Take these cuffs off of me so I can vanquish the demon back to its realm.’ I said, fighting back a smile.
He took the cuffs off of my wrist and said, ‘Do what you do.’
I stood. Johnson stood. The little monster stopped punching Carter and looked up at us. I ran.
‘Hey!’ I heard Johnson say behind me.
As I ran out of the parking lot I looked over my shoulder and the little monster tackled Johnson. I ran for a good 20 blocks or so, running off of pure fear before I had to stop and catch my breath. I looked up at the street sign and it read: Chestnut Street.
During the few blocks to the old man’s storefront I expect the little monster to pop up but it didn’t. The old man’s place was closed. I peered into the window and after my eyes adjusted to the darkness beyond it I noticed that the place was empty.
‘Give me your soul.’ I turned expecting the little green monster. Instead it was Woody Allen, laughing. Confusion is not a strong enough word for the state that I was in. His laughter crawled to a smile before he said, ‘Do . . . Do you know who I am?’
‘Is that . . . you know . . . a question or an answer?’
His eyes smiled behind his spectacles. ‘I am Woody Allen.’
I didn’t respond.
‘I’m . . . well . . . you know . . .I’m God.’
I didn’t know why Woody Allen was here or why he was claiming to be God but all I knew was that I needed to find the old man before the little monster showed up again. Then I wondered if Woody Allen was the monster.
‘I’m not a monster. Unless . . . well . . . during sex. I’m known to get a little grotesque. I once ate a leg during one causal romp in the sheets.
‘How did you know what I was thinking about?’ I asked.
‘You’re not God. You’re Woody Allen.’
‘I am God,’ He said. ‘ Woody Allen the God.’
‘I thought you were an atheist.’
‘I am.’ He nodded.
‘How could God be an atheist?’ I said. ‘That means you don’t believe in yourself.’
‘Well . . . yeah, sure . . . we . . . we all have our self-esteem problems at times. That . . . That’s why I create.’
I decided to play along and said, ‘Well God I’m being chased by a monster, I have a tail, my wife is . . .’
‘I am no longer God.’ He cut in.
‘I am no longer God. I quit.’
‘Look, the only reason I took the gig was because I’m working on a movie about God. You know . . . a . . . a neurotic God living in Manhattan. And, I . . . I was going to cast myself as the led. Who . . . who else right? So . . . so I figured since Oprah resigned last month I’d fill the spot to get a little practice.’
‘Look kid, the real God knows one really know anything about.’
‘A monster is trying to kill me.’
‘I know . . . I know. Why do you think I’m here.’
‘Are you going to get the warlock to make it stop?’
‘He’s no warlock, he’s a con-man.’
He nodded. ‘A confident-trickster, he’s really good too. He even convinced me to let him be in my next film. He’ll be an extra, maybe I’d cast him as a fish or a parked car or something.’
‘Give me your soul!’ The little monster was air-borne. I prepared myself to be pounced on. Woody Allen lifted a hand and the monster froze in mid-air. ‘Don’t worry.’ He said.
My eyes moved from the motionless monster to him. He snapped his fingers and the monster disappeared.
‘I don’t understand.’ I said. ‘What the hell is going on?’
‘Do you really have to know?’ He asked.
‘Yeah, because I don’t understand.’
‘That . . . That’s the problem with people.’ He said. ‘Everybody needs a reason for everything. What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? Why . . . Why not just live?’
‘Before all of this shit I was living my life. I never cared about reasons.’
‘And that’s your problem.’
‘I don’t understand.’ I said.
‘Didn’t you just hear what I said?’
‘Yeah, that’s why . . .’
‘Close your eyes.’ He said.
‘What, you don’t trust me?’
I shook my head.
‘Don’t make me bring the monster back.’
I shut my eyes.
‘Alex,’ A Tabitha’s voice said ‘What are you doing?’
I opened my eyes.
‘If you don’t want to go in there, we won’t but stop acting like a child.’
I turned. The storefront was lit. The old man sat at his desk reading something. I felt my face. It was no longer swollen. ‘I’m lost.’ I said.
‘What?’ Tabitha said.
I ran a hand in the back of my pants. No tail. I should have been in joy instead of confusion.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ Tabitha said.
‘I think I lost my mind.’
‘That’s old. I mean what’s wrong with you now?’
I shrugged and then asked ‘Did we go in there yet?’
‘No.’ She said. ‘What’s wrong with you? Have you been doing drugs with Phil again?’
I shook my head.
‘Don’t forget when you thought you were a flying monkey from the Wiz movie when you took acid with him.’
‘I’m not high.’ I said.
‘Then what’s wrong with you?’
‘I really don’t know.’
‘Come on.’ She said and headed across the street.
I took one last look at the old man. He looked up from his readings and smiled. His face turned into Woody Allen’s and then Spike Lee’s, briefly, before returning back to its normal look. The old man went back to his reading.
‘Alex,’ Tabitha called out from across the street. ‘Come on.’
As I approached her I asked, ‘Are you pregnant?’
‘How’d you know?’
‘I found out earlier today.’ She said. ‘I was going to tell you later.’
We hugged. As we headed into the movie theater I told her I was laid off. ‘But I’ll think we’ll be okay.’
‘We will.’ She said and kissed me on the cheek.
I was confused about the events of the day. I questioned myself if they even occurred. My mind kept remembering Woody Allen’s words ‘Why not just live.’ It didn’t add any insight or help my confusion about the hell I went through but I kept remembering those words.
Tuck your tail and run . . . .