Jason Ed Collins

The Exit

Jason Ed Collins

She lay on her side, naked under the covers, which she had pulled up under her chin. The bed felt lighter, colder, and the blankets fell down over her shoulders and the small of her back more snugly than they had half an hour ago, when she’d last woken up and felt his chest swelling and compressing behind her with each passing breath. A creak in the floorboards. She opened her eyes, peeking through crescent slits, careful not to open them the whole way cause then he’d know she was awake. Secretly spying, she lay there, still, breathing through the desert of her mouth, only now she saw the fuzzy outline of his head, his shoulders, his bare torso bent over the clothing draped across the chair in the corner of the room. With his jeans in hand, the dimple in his ass cheek tensed, frowning at her over the top of the blankets piled at her feet. Her eyes barely open, still, watching him rummage around for the rest of his things. She couldn’t let him know she was watching. That would somehow make it more painful, awkward. The exit. They always leave. Sure, they say nice things, make it sound like they’ll hang around a while, until the next morning. Always leaving. On to the next warm body.
Another creak in the floorboards. She lifted her head and saw him tip-toeing through the door, hunched over, his arms full. He dropped a sock and reached over to pick it up and lost his boxers from the top of the pile. She sighed, and fell back on the pillow. “You even gonna say goodbye?” The floorboards quit creaking down the hall. She listened. “You there?”
“You . . . uhh . . . you wanted me out,” the awkward voice returned. “That’s what you said. Said you wanted me out first thing.”
She sat up in bed. “I said that?”
He nodded, confused, naked, and embarrassed down the hall.
“Made a big deal about it, remember?” He reached down with his wadded-up boxers and covered his man parts. “Told me to get out last night but I was too fucked up to drive.”
“Huhhh. Guess I did.” She fell back in bed, looking up at the patterns of light sneaking through the curtains and playing across the ceiling. Her head still awash, blinking. Through the alcoholic haze, she began to recall telling him to fuck off cause he wasn’t fucking her right. Just get off me. Stop. Leave me alone. He was sweaty, eager, and the coke gave him turtle dick. She heard the floorboards creaking down the hall and a moment later the front door shut.
They always leave.

Longing

Jason Ed Collins

I’d wake in the morning and trace the delicate lines of your neck, your collarbone, with my soft fingertip, exploring; the play of light and shadow beckoning me, imploring me. Then my lips would follow in reverse, gently gliding over your skin. Your head would fall back in my hands, and I’d softly kiss your neck once, twice, three times, and slide the very tip of my tongue up toward your ear, where my lips had just been, and gently ever so gently take your earlobe in my mouth, between my lips, my teeth, kissing it and gently sucking on it, and back to your neck I’d kiss it more firmly, your head still in my hands, silky locks of hair playing through my fingers. You’d moan. I’d back away, looking you in the eye, full of desire, and smile. Our lips would meet, drawn together ravenously, but we’d kiss with some restraint, our lips brushing each other’s in a get-to-know-you-again-dance, and then I’d latch onto your bottom lip, ever so gently sucking on it, tugging on it, then I’d take your top lip in mine, if…
…if I even knew your name.

Young Prince

Jason Ed Collins

From “Lessons From My Pops,” a Collection of Flash Fiction

In our kitchen, sitting at the table for one of those serious talks. Even my dog Rascal obeyed, and lay on his bed, tail between his legs. My sandwich smelled good, but I didn’t touch my BLT. These talks with my mom and dad got me uptight.
“Auntie’s not letting B— drink,” they said. “So no drinking at your graduation party.”
I nodded my head, asked to be excused, and walked away. I was due at the Steakhouse for work: another twelve hour day, paying for the car I’d bought because I’d mowed down a telephone pole with the Chevy Corsica my parents had given me back in February.
Long ass day, man. Sweaty and pissed off after work, I returned home and sparked one up on the back steps with my dog, Rascal. Darkness and clouds allowed no stars, no light.
The sun rose high and hot that next day. I parked my Firebird Formula at the century old family farm on Rock Road and walked down Dwyer with a 12 pack of Mich’s in hand. Long hair tied back, sunglasses on, I left my shirt half unbottoned and still felt sweat bead on my belly.
I needed a sip.
Helloes, handshakes, hugs and kisses everywhere, as I stepped onto Uncle Brim’s property. Parting the crowd, my mom gave me that look—you know that look, kinda look says, “Boy, I’m gonna have yer ass soon as people aren’t around to see it.”
My old man nodded his head from across the football field and kept talking to the fire chief. It was time—my time. I popped a bottle and got to it.
My Ibanez got lonely about 8 beers in, so I took the guitar out of its case and stepped on stage with cousin R— that afternoon. Smiles, laughs, dancing, and still my old man across the big lawn. He nodded his head once more, as I put the guitar away.
Adrenaline pumped, I was ravenous. I played horseshoes and ate steak before nightfall. That night, I made out with five different lovelies in the dark, ate steamed clams and drained a keg of Labatt Blue around the roaring bonfire.
My old man sought me out in the black night.
“I’m getting ready to head home,” he said. “Auntie wants you to stay away from B—’s friend. Be good, ya heard?”
“Man, you’re like a stop sign and I’m trying to go places.”
My old man laughed and walked away.
I took that ex of mine to the camping trailer my pops had left in the rear of the big lot, so I didn’t have to drive—an unspoken gift; the mark of a father’s hand making sure his son got home safely, when it was time.
I was down; she was down. I got the good good she’d held out on giving me three long years ago. That mouth was wonderful.
I said an Our Father and made the sign of the cross before closing my eyes.
That night—that one night—I slept the sleep of a prince. God bless the Summer of ’99.

Somewhere to Be

Jason Ed Collins

John, my favorite Canuck, and I were sitting over our second round in the dark Herna bar near my flat, a stratus cloud of silvery-violet smoke hanging overhead, the four digital slot machines on the opposite wall unattended, only six people sitting underneath the neon lights at the bar, the same six when we’d walked in, MC Hammer dancing on the television screen over the door, “2 Legit 2 Quit” playing on the video-jukebox, steady bass pulsing through the legs of our chairs amongst the host of empty tables in the back of the room.

I reached up to rub my eyes, and John asked: “What’s wrong with you?”

I shook my head. “Just tired.”

“Lenka keep you up all night?”

“More bad dreams.”

“Oh.” John looked disappointed. He reached for his beer.

“But I did spend the day with her.”

“So what are you doing with me?”

“She’s getting married.”

Beer sprayed from his mouth. It soaked the table and dampened my lap.

“What!”

“That’s what I said. She’s getting married.”

“What are you talking about?” He wiped suds from his goatee. “She’s not wearing a ring.”

“I know. I asked the same question.” I cleared my throat. “She’s marrying some Norwegian bloke. He’s thirty-three. He doesn’t give a fuck if she wears a ring or not. He doesn’t care if she refuses to be branded. He just wants to marry her. She’s crazy. This guy’s way too old for her.”

John shook his head. “I don’t believe this.”

“Believe it, dude.”

“How old is she?”

“She’s newly nineteen.”

“And how old are you?” Cocking his head, squinting suspiciously: “She’s in high school, man. What are you? Twenty-four?”

“Funny asshole. I’m twenty-three.”

John reached for his chub, laughing.

“Fuck off,” I barked. “I’m not pursuing her.”

“Right, uhh huhh,” John said. “Is that what you tell your girlfriend?”

“Ohh, now he wants to hear about her.” I plucked my smokes from the table and leaned back. “For months he refuses to listen to me speak of her, but now he wants to bring her up. That’s convenient.”

“Well?”

“Where was this concern when you were telling me that people come, people go, that I should get over the past?” Butane filled my nose as I lit a cigarette and sucked down a piney drag. “You seemed little concerned when I told you that’s not how it works.”

“Well?”

“Well, you should have seen it, man.” I stared into his bulbous brown eyes and sighed. “I’m sitting there playing it cool, trying not to lie, but trying not to commit; and she keeps hammering away with questions.” Shaking my head, I sucked down another drag. “Should have known there was a reason she was playing the Grand Inquisitor.”

John laughed. “You of all people.”

I looked up to see the bartender approaching with two shot glasses in hand. Dropping the shots on our table, he tugged awkwardly at his tee shirt and stuck his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans. A mischievous grin played over his ruddy face.

“Dvě Becherovku pro Američanky.”

“What’d he say?” John asked.

I lifted my eyebrows. “How many months have you been here?”

“Quit fucking around. What’d he say?”

Laughing, I looked back and forth between them.
“Two Becherovkas for the Americans.”

“Hey now,” John piped up. “I’m Canadian. Get it?” He thumped his fingers on his chest. “I’m not American. I am from Ca-na-da.”

The barman pointed to a couple thirty-something blondes at the bar. They smiled. One waved with a roll of her fingers. The bartender said they wanted to party.

“Děkuju vam,” I said, raising the shot and giving them a nod. I threw it back, the smell of Christmas trees opening my sinuses. “Tell them we’re not interested.”

“What are you talking about?” John reached for his shot. “Who says we’re not interested?”

“You might be. But I’m not.” I puffed on my smoke. “Go have a good time. I’m not trying to get in the way.”

“You’re not helping any.”

“Tak.” The bartender looked back and forth between us.

I sighed.
“Tak, můj tlustý kanadský přítel by zde rád servítky s krásných dívek. Ale budete muset říct, nejsem k dispozici.” John looked on with interest as I continued stumbling over my words with the bartender. “Je velmi ráda party a má hodně peněz v kapse, a tak dámy měly přijít a připojit se k němu. Já, já, nebude moci zůstat. Musím být někde.”

“Tak, mluviš dobry Čeština.”

“Díky moc.” I smiled. “A můžu mít ještě dvě.”

The barman nodded and walked back across the room. Once behind the hardwood, he told the ladies what I’d said. They looked at us askance, giggling and covering their mouths, and turned back to their drinks.

“What’d you say?” John asked.

“Don’t say I’m not any help.”

“What’d you say?”

I took a final drag and snuffed out my cigarette.
“Told him you were down.”

“What else you say?”

“Nothing.”

“That’s it?”

I nodded.

“Seemed like you said more than that.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Hey, man, I didn’t invent the language. You’ll have to bring that up with the ladies. I’m just dealing with seven cases.”

“Prosím.” The bartender set two fresh pilsners down. He yanked the towel from around his neck and wiped up the beer that John had spat all over the table.

“Diky,” I said, as he turned and walked away. Turning back to our conversation: “And I also took the liberty of ordering a couple more drinks. Thought we’d get you good and lubed up for the big party, eh?” John shook his head, laughing.
“Na zdraví.”

“Ahh, you know that one.”

We toasted and thumped our glasses on the table and lifted our beers. My throat tingled from the cold. Hearing Guns ‘N Roses howling on the video-jukebox, I looked up to see Axel Rose twisting and shaking on the screen. Slash and Duff in the background, Axel screaming through the bar:

Sweet child of my—eeeee—eye—eeee⎯ine. Sweet child of mmmiiinnnnnnneeeeee.

I felt the blonde’s eyes on me from across the room.

“When are they getting married?”

“This summer,” I said, turning my gaze from the ladies. “She’s off to Norway this weekend to be with the husband-to-be. ‘I know I’ll probably be with him forever,’ she says. ‘I’ll never find anyone that treats me better than he does. He would do anything for me.’”

“Sounds like a good reason.”

“Yeah, of course, it makes perfect sense to stay with someone for fear of not finding someone else. Fuck that! I told her she was crazy. ‘You’re nineteen years old!”’ I said. “‘What kind of a motive is that?’ And she goes on to make me feel like a dick. Turns out it’s not so nice growing up a half-breed⎯that’s what she calls herself, dude. She had to tell the kids in school her father was Korean because the Czechs hate the Chinese and Vietnamese so much. Her teachers used to stand up in front of class telling everyone how inferior mixed-race children are, taking no notice of her crying in her seat. Marriage to her is bullshit, bro. It’s nothing. It’s just a means to a maroon passport.”

“She wants to move away?”

“Yeah, for a while,” I said, snatching my pack and pulling out another smoke. “She plans on marrying this bloke this summer and staying with him in Norway for ten days. Then she’s coming back to Prague for the summer to study English.”

“That’s convenient.”

I lit my cigarette.
“What are you talking about?”

“Just that it’s convenient,” John said, offering a coy smirk. “That’s all. I’m just saying it’s convenient that you teach English and she’s coming back a short ten days after getting married to study for the summer. Do you not see what you’re getting yourself into?”

I shook my head.
“What are you getting at?”

“You know what I’m getting at.”

“She’s taking lessons at a language school.”

“Yeah, followed by private lessons with you every night.”

“Whatever,” I barked, blowing a stream of smoke over his words. “Anyway, then she’s going back to Norway in the fall to study psychology for three years. She wants to be an analyst. And by the time she takes her degree she’ll have learned Norwegian and she’ll have full citizenship. Then she can come back to Prague. ‘As a foreigner,’ she says, ‘saying fuck off to all the Czechs.’”

“This girl’s nuts.”

I reached for my beer, slogging down a gulp, and set it back down. “Look at this.”
John’s eyes followed the nod of my head.

“Ahoj, Američanky.” The girl who’d waved at me stepped up and ran her cold fingertips over the back of my neck. Her smiling friend followed and sidled up beside John. “Slyšeli jsme, že chcete strany. Tak pojďme na party.”

I dropped my cigarette into the ashtray.

“I am not American, okay?” John slapped his hand down on the table, our glasses chattering. The girls jumped in fright. “I heard American in there somewhere. I am Canadian. Ca-na-dian. Do you know what that means?” Laughing by now, he looked over at me and then back and forth between the ladies. “I swear, you hear somebody speaking English and you automatically think he’s one of these assholes who sews the Maple Leaf on his backpack and pretends he’s not running from daddy GW just so all you Europeans will be nice to him.” Brandishing his bag from the floor, he went on. “Do you see this? This is for real.”

The girls didn’t understand.
I shrugged my shoulders, smirking, and said that even Canadians like to party.

“Jo, a co vy?” my leggy blonde asked. She squeezed my neck and ran her fingers over my scalp; tugging on my hair, she yanked my head back and fell in my lap. With her arm slung around my neck, her firm buttocks shifted back and forth over my swelling cock. I latched onto her bony hips and picked her up.

“It’s been fun, dude, but I’ve got to split.” Rising from the table, I turned to the ladies. “Musím někde být.”

“Wait a minute,” John said, his brow furrowed. “Where you going?”

“I’ve gotta run. Don’t worry, you’re a big boy. You’ll be all right.”

I pulled my coat from my chair and plucked my smoke from the ashtray.

“Ahoj, kočky!”

I gave the bartender a nod on my way out, my cigarette hanging from my mouth, and looked up to see Axel Rose still prancing around on the screen; his jarring voice grew louder as I neared the video-jukebox.

Sweet child of my—eeeee—eye—eeee⎯ine. Sweet child of mmmyyiiiiinnnnnnneeeeee.

“Sweet dreams, Goldilocks,” John shouted behind me. “Hope the nightmares don’t keep you up for too long.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I murmured, walking under the glow of neon lights. I raised a blind middle finger over my shoulder and burst through the door, stepping into the eerie, dark night.