The possum baby slashed and jerked its way around Joanna’s uterus in a river of milky white mucus and blood. “Ya muthafuckin’ beast!” she wailed at it, her back grindin’ into the bed while she sank her chewed up nails into that greasy motel mattress. “Get outta that dirty place! Get outta me!”
Child rearin’ wasn’t exactly new for the 44 year old meth addict: she’d had four human babies before — two of which got instantly slam-dunked into various dumpsters by her speed-dealing’ heartthrobs of yore, and the other two of ’em sold to Middle Eastern men on the black market by that con artist she ran with in the late ’90’s. But this particular freak about to see the dimming light of the United States of America was a first in her long, homeless and disease ridden lifetime. And all she could relay to welcome it into the world was “Get the fuck outta me!”
Screamin’ in English at a half possum — half human didn’t make a helluva lot of sense. Reynolds was there though — God bless Reynolds and that stanky denim jacket and all four of his teeth — to be with her in the blinds down interior of a Ventura Motel 6 room at the time of delivery. It wasn’t merely the work of a good Samaritan: she’d offered him the rest of her baggie full of peanut butter crank as long as he stayed to make sure she lived through this. And then he’d surely be gone.
“Now-now I can see its whiskers now, uh, Jo-anna,” he alerted her in his frantic, southern drawl, freaked the fuck out but pitching in all the same. The stench of the hatching even overpowered the On the Road funk emanatin’ from his pants. A little homeless crotch musk never troubled Joanna much, and she’d even let Reynolds cop a feel and hump away at her in his jeans that morning while she lip smacked through the half eaten bag of In-N-Out burger he’d surprised her with. “And its snout too!” he hollered. “I can see it! Oh lord god almighty you were right. We got ourselves a Goddamn real live possum baby comin’ out of that snatch! Praise Jesus!”
“Grab it! Pull it outta me! What’re you doin’?! Grab it!”
Reynolds crouched down like a baseball catcher, with his head level with her obliterated birth canal. He was backed all the way up with the TV pressin’ into his tailbone. Responsibility wasn’t too high on the ol’ priority list, and here he found himself in a doctor’s position — well, a village doctor for a traveling circus maybe. Truth is, he was terrified. More than the time he got jumped and slashed with aluminum cans for half of a moldy BLT at the Price Canyon encampment. And even more so than when he was taken hostage by a fraternity in Isla Vista and chained to a fence upside down in the nude by the train tracks. Those meatheads coated him in pancake syrup and feathered him, with two of the drunker jocks stepping in and raw dogging him in his 50-plus year old anus before leaving him for dead. That one took a week to walk off, but the nightmares continued. The astonished faces of those Amtrak passengers that caught the scene in transit still haunted him in his sleep.
That movie Titanic played on the screen behind Reynolds, and he’d bumped two lines before it started ‘cause he’d heard from one eyed Frank down in Albuquerque that it was a four hour movie “worth watchin’ to kill the time” and figured speed would be more appropriate than popcorn, seeing as there wasn’t a micro in the room nor a bag a’ kernels to begin with. But earlier on — just as Leonardo what’s his name was gettin’ the hots for his lady friend — the mattress got drenched by Joanna’s baby flood and next thing he knew he was shimmyin’ off her stained grey sweatpants and spreadin’ those flanks wide open.
“I-I-I can’t just grab it by the nose, Jo-Joanna. There’s teeth in there!” He stuck a hand toward it anyways but the thing hissed at him so loud the next room coulda’ heard it. “Ho lord God almighty it’s turnin’ itself around! It’s flippin’ a U-ey right inside ya no less!”
“Ahhh! It’s climbin’ up in me!” Joanna wailed and then upchucked a pile of grayish brown stew, nearly chokin’ on it ’cause of her face-up position. Most people would see that as a hazard and immediately rush to clear her airway, but Reynolds saw it as a waste of the bag of In-N-Out. But then again, that was some good ol’ fashioned dry humpin’ he was dumpster divin’ for. “Hey whatcha thankin’?! That’s a good double-double y’all’re hurlin’. I ain’t panhandlin’ till sun up’!”
“Fuck yer panhandlin’!” she gargled, hoisting her head up to look at the roving ball beneath her foresty pubic mound that reeked like a sack of decomposin’ Walla Walla Onions. “You listen to me Reynolds! Stop bouncing around like a hillbilly with a car battery hooked up to yer nips and grab that rodent outta me with yer bare hands and stab it good!”
Reynolds ran his hands through his mullet and took a deep breath. It was time. And he knew what he had to do. He had to pull the sucker out and stab it to death with the dull blade of his Swiss Army Knife, then stuff it in the plastic Taco Bell bag and give it some rapid fire dumpster service. Hell, all things considered, that was nothin’ for the snortable reward at stake. He sure had done worse things for the candy.
“All right now, Joanna, all right… Spread ’em-spread ’em wide, baby.” Just then a long pink tail dropped right out of her spasmodic vagina, and that was enough for Reynolds to shriek and wretch his own bile onto the green motel carpet.
“Ya big cryin’ pussy, Reynolds! Look atcha! Don’t make me pull that son-of-a-bitch out by myself!”
Amid the rustic dialect in that tall order, and the pain and the terror, Joanna’s last few remainin’ brain cells traveled back to this little monster’s inception. Drugged by a trucker somewhere along I-5, raped and abandoned in a roadside field in the central valley, she miraculously came to with nothin’ on but a leather jacket and that big white ass of hers pointin’ straight to the sky. But her wrists were broken and she was covered in ants, ticks, dirt and weeds. Unable to push herself up, it wasn’t long till the nearly mythical Perry the Possumman appeared with his band of murmuring marsupials and that sinister whiskered snout of his — from his mama’s side of the family, if you believe homeless folklore. A known fashion imitator of Truman Capote, he ashed his cigar out, unzipped his slacks and had his way with her, while the little ones hissed and nipped away at her sore-covered thighs. Afterward, Perry gave her a hiss and rubbed his snout tenderly against the bridge of her nose, before struttin’ on down the line.
Judging by her newfound precision in dumpster diving, accelerated gestation period, and the tiny pocket this fetus vacated inside of her, she knew this wasn’t any ol’ offspring. This was something else, and it was going straight back to hell where it belonged.
“All right Jo-anna! All right! I’m ’onna rip it on outta there. Jus’-jus’ get ready now.”
“Shut the fuck up in there!” a man’s voice from the next room boomed, followed by pounding on the wall. “I’m watchin’ the game over here!”
“Hey what’s the score?!” Reynolds fired back, earnestly wanting to know.
“Fuck you,” the man replied.
“Reynolds yer about as good as a tater with green branches growin’ out of it!”
“Hey, them are still good eatin’. And you can plant a whole shitload a’ taters with just one a’ them.”
Joanna hoisted herself up and with both hands, gripped onto that slithering tail, took a deep breath through the grey crust all over her lips, then looked head on at Reynolds. “Just have that fuckin’ blade ready, Reynolds. Ya hear me? Can you do that ya fuckin’ idiot?!”
“On a count a’ three?” he asked her, opening up that Swiss Army Knife.
“Count it off!” she screamed.
“Okay, okay.” He got his catcher’s squat going again and squinted his eyes. “Uh… uh one! Okay… okay… five!”
Joanna scowled and looked at him. “Two’s next, shit for brains.”
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Two! And…”
She tightened her grip around that tail again and started grunting through her nostrils. “Three!” she screamed on her own and power yanked that creature right out with superhuman force. It swung away from her, all bloody in motion and snarling, before smacking Reynolds in the face and knocking him back off his feet with the possum baby falling with him. He knocked the back of his head into the dresser top on the way down, and was deep in space by the time he hit carpet. They lay on the cigarette burned motel room floor in embrace, the thing cradled warmly under Reynolds’ wing as they snored in unison.
The two were spooning as Joanna snuck right out of room 313, with that baggie of peanut butter crank stuffed down her sweatpants and the air of Ventura tasting just like freedom.