On the Way to the Shopping Center

From Pink Chalk, 2018.

On the Way to the Shopping Center

Oh I looked like death
my cousins were so confused
Drop her off
one of them said
What a mess she is
and dripping
At the hospital
funeral home
or hairdresser
which one?
my grandmother said
How much money
do you have in your purse, dear
I’ll use my credit card
I said
shaking my head like a dog
drops flying
cousins ducking
I have enough cash for a tip
Hairdresser it is
my grandmother said
gunning the engine
screeching out into the road
Yes, hairdresser it is
They’ll bring you back
From where? my youngest cousin asked
all of our heads snapping back
at the acceleration
None of your business
I said sharpish
Is there a towel in this car
I can use to wrap around the hitchhiker
He’s sliming the back seat
And all their heads
my grandmother’s included
swiveled to stare
Cut it out it’s rude
I said
Their heads snapped forward
manners remembered
the car swerved back into the lane
The hitchhiker continued to slime
whimper a little
were those tears in two of his three eyes?
I hoped I had done the right thing
pulling him from the wreck of
that giant tin can (I mean it literally)
with a motor
radar dish
and random death rays
shooting out
sizzling the brush along the creek
obviously something shorted out
it seemed to me
and me
Oh I still looked like death.
Step on it
I said
We’ve got a lot to straighten out
I’ll think more clearly
once I’ve got this slime
washed out of my hair
and the color put back to right
The hitchhiker’s glistening face
took on a hurt expression
I patted his second right hand
Sorry, I said
Mucus is a fine look for you
We sped down the road
My grandmother
my cousins
my hitchhiker
and me
on the way to the hairdresser
to remove
interstellar goo
from my hair
on a Monday afternoon
in the summer.


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