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Black Dick

Grant's new El Camino, by all rights, should be mine

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I must admit I'm jealous of Grant's Black Dick. "Jesus God! Where did you find that?" I hollered when I saw it. "I want it! Let me have it! It totally reminds me of high school! Gimme! Gimme!"

But Grant is stingy with his Dick, as he is with everything. He even says he'd never let me move in with him, for one, though I have a feeling if I did so anyway he'd let me stay, that's why he won't tell me where he hides his house key, for fear I'd settle in behind his back. Lary, on the other hand, practically begs me to move in with him every day. What other reason is there for the fact that he hasn't asked for his house key back since his cat abandoned him and no longer needs me to pretend to feed her during his long absences? Every day that his house key stays put in my hot palm is just a big signal broadcasting how he hopes to come home one day to find me living there.

But believe me, I won't fall for that one again. The last time I lived at Lary's place I ended up picking a tick off me. A tick! I have a total tick phobia -- I mean a foaming-at-the-mouth, fall-down-in-spasms phobia -- and seeing a tick on me freaked me out so bad that my skeleton practically ripped itself from my very flesh and ran howling down the street. To this day, Lary insists it probably was not even a tick, but a chocolate sprinkle or something, but how would he know? He was in Cancun and I'd placed a panic call to him at his hotel.

"Bitch," he said. "Leave me alone."

"A tick! A tick! A tick!" I kept screeching.

Click.

But at least Lary would share his Black Dick with me if he had one. I know this because he keeps his spare car keys behind his bookshelf in a copper bowl covered with toilet paper, old ointment and small-animal bones -- in other words, right there out in the open. It's a total invitation, if you ask me, to take any one of his fleet of cars on a joy ride. I have my eye on the old Jaguar under the tarp on his car port, but it's been sitting there for 15 years with no tires and only half an engine, practically fusing itself to the concrete with rust rivulets, so I don't think my chances of tearing up the asphalt with it are very good.

Grant's Black Dick, though, is in perfect condition, or so says its original owner in Nashville. It's been owned by the same family for 30 years, the craigslist.org listing boasted, with only 76,000 original miles. When Grant forwarded me the listing, complete with "photo essay" of the 1977 cherry-ass black El Camino with red upholstery and polished chrome, the subject heading read, "Meet Black Dick." Grant names all his cars. The latest, a corroded orange late '60s model Ford truck, he named Fish Stick. He can keep Fish Stick, but when I saw Dick, the first thing I did was grab the phone.

"I have to have that car! Grant, I mean it, step aside, this car is for me, not you, me. Mine," I insisted, trying to sound threatening (or something).

"Bitch, shut your ass up," Grant said. "You can come with me to Nashville to pick it up, but make no mistake, this Dick is mine."

"Mine!" I screamed.

I swear, Grant Henry is so damn greedy. He has absolutely no history whatsoever (that I know of), with a '70s-model El Camino. That old orange Ford truck is more his history, as he grew up in Florida and Acworth where people drove those things. The day he bought it he pulled it to the front of Atlanta's biggest trendy-cesspool of a restaurant, revved the engine and yelled, "Ya'll serve fish sticks?"

He couldn't pull that off with an El Camino. I, on the other hand, spent my junior year in high school next to my friend Kathy in her El Camino, which was not black, but white, and in perfect condition. Everything Kathy had was in perfect condition, except she didn't take all that good care of herself. She was young and fairly resilient, though, physically, at least. I remember she got beat up once by a couple of police officers after she stormed her ex-boyfriend's AA meeting to scream at him. She used to storm her dad's AA meetings to scream at him and they let her do it then, but I guess the game board changes when it's your ex-boyfriend.

After that I remember driving around with her in her El Camino, laughing so hard I thought we'd cough up all the booze we bought with our fake I.D.s. She cried a lot, too, though. She was such a strong person physically, with ab muscles laid out like riverstones under her skin, that you'd have thought she was strong emotionally, too, but she did things to hurt herself, and others, though thankfully I wasn't one of the others. The last I heard she was living in a trailer in Lomita, still driving her perfect El Camino. I heard also that she isn't so angry anymore.

Actually, I added that last part out of hope, because I can't fathom her survival otherwise. But I still quake with wry laughter every time I remember Kathy that night she burst into her ex-boyfriend's AA meeting. "You dick!" she screamed, her fists flying. "You black dick!"

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."

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