She was no Ingrid. She was more of a Pat, or even a “Chuck,” but she was no Ingrid. An Ingrid would never own a truck stop on 85, and an Ingrid would never tell blue jokes to men who haven’t bathed in a couple weeks. When her daughter, my lover, took me there to eat, Ingrid always saved us a booth in the corner, away from Manuel, Jim, and Shaky, because those three stank more than anyone.
While she was alive and in her thirties and forties, Ingrid had two wishes. One of them was to bowl a perfect game. A perfect game is 300, all strikes, plus the two extra strikes you get at the end for bowling all strikes in the previous frames. She never bowled a perfect game.
Her second wish was to make love to Criss Angel. Mr Angel was a bit of a humdinger. A Casanova. He liked the ladies, and he liked them large. He also liked the boys–at least this is what my lover and I heard (no libel suits, please)–and the boys were the kind of boys who liked getting paid for sexual favors. Also, we heard the boys he liked–all rumor, of course–were skinny boys from Midwestern states.
As an aside, my lover and I think it’s a bit pretentious to spell your name like Criss and not Chris.
Ingrid never did get to make love to Criss Angel. But that’s not to say she didn’t get damn close. In 2009, Mr. Angel and Ingrid enjoyed champagne and strawberries in his suite at The Luxor. He had a fancy bathroom. Ingrid liked to tell her poker partners that Mr. Angel drank too much bubbly that night and couldn’t get it up. She and he parted ways, sans penetration.
Five years later, the two met in Dollywood. Ingrid was rather hush-hush about the encounter. They stayed in a cabin. She told us he wanted to go on the water rides. The log flume. When my lover quizzed Ingrid about the evening, she said the log flume made Mr. Angel queasy. We found this hard to believe because we all know the log flume makes everyone horny.
When they met for a third time in 2019, the washed-up Mindfreak was subsisting on heroin-boys, coffee, and cracker Snak-Paks. He showed up in her motel lobby. My lover and I were there, watching Les Bleus football–my lover had a thing for Basque country, the Napoleonic Wars, and baguettes, and felt some affinity for anything French.
Ingrid dropped her crossword puzzle and went to him. She held him like a baby, but her hand slipped down his torso and seized a handful of whatever she could find in his pants. I’ll wrap it up here by saying that, although Criss Angel spent the night in Ingrid’s motel room, after she brought him French toast and orange juice, he dropped dead right in front of the dresser.
For weeks, Ingrid liked to tell her poker partners that he stuck it to her right before he hit the ground–that he was stuffed in and subsequently slid out of her vagina with his last breath–but we know she was taking a shit when he kicked it. Two months to the day after Mr. Angel died, so did Ingrid.
My lover and I now run Ingrid’s truck stop. We let Manny, Jim, and Shaky sit wherever they want; they were pallbearers at Ingrid’s funeral, and that casket was no joke.
My lover has been depressed since her mother’s death, and nothing–not my mouth, not flaxseed waffles, not bonsai–help her move on. I try to stay upbeat. We smoke a lot of cigarettes. She can’t even put the effort into inhaling. She hasn’t eaten my pussy in months.
Even Manny, Jim, and Shaky notice her blues. Manny tells her she looks like she lost weight. She has not. Jim says her custard pie is better than ever. Custard isn’t my favorite, but when I taste it, it’s the same as before. Shaky just winks at her a lot. It’s all he can do.
We go to bed high and hungry all the time. I feel bad eating when she never does. Sometimes, I’ll sneak into our motel bathroom and scoff down a smuggled juice box and Swiss Rolls. I eat like a squirrel, with the chocolatey outer shell melting between my greedy squirrel claws as I munch away. I make fierce eye contact with myself in the mirror as I eat. I am a bad girlfriend.
After my fifth Swiss Roll this week, I return to the bed, light a joint, and pass it to my lover. I only smoke so she doesn’t smell the artificial flavorings on my breath.
The TV is muted. The TV is always on and muted. It stays on the one channel to her liking. The channel features old sitcoms. At 2 a.m. every night, I know by heart the reflections and shadows that will hit the ceiling. I don’t even need the theme song. Red, red, pink, shadow, shadow, white, blue, red, red, pink. Black. Commercials, multi, too many possibilities to keep track of patterns. I do know the commercial for dog food with bits of real bacon, however; the ceiling takes on a lot of orange, then. The flashes go back to blue. Usually blue.
Now, she drops sideways, her head in my lap. She says, “We need to re-gravel the parking lot.”
I say, “First, we get the septic fixed.” Even as I say this, I swear that I can hear the pipes burbling.
“The septic is fine.”
“It is not fine. There are floaty things in everyone’s toilet. All the time. And sometimes even in the bathtubs.”
“It’s more satisfying to re-gravel. We see where the money goes.”
“Septic first,” I insist.
We have arguments all the time. I let her win. We never do anything, anyway.
We look left when the metal closet door slides open. It’s where my lover keeps all the shoes she never wears. She has a lot of shoes. We mostly keep our clothing on chairs and the floor. It’s a closet door that has jammed and come off the track so many times, we just decided never to open it again.
It’s not even graceful, the revelation. Criss Angel is in a tuck-n-roll position on the top shelf of the closet. There is no mirror magic. He doesn’t glide. He’s not in one place and then suddenly in another. We don’t Ohhhh. We don’t Ahhhh. He just plummets from the top shelf, arms and legs scrabbling at the shoes, and lands on his back. He groans.
This ghost of Criss Angel is always nude.
This ghost of Criss Angel comes once or twice a week.
My lover and I sigh.
Mr. Angel has a penis that looks like bamboo shoots. Like six shoots tied parallel with twine. He’s still wearing all that makeup. Ingrid loved the makeup. She did hers like his and went dancing or bowling. Mr. Angel’s nipples are like dinner plates. Crystalline sockets for eyes. His mouth is French. His nose is Polish. I think his teeth might be Welsh.
Which one of you wants me? His mouth moves. My lover and I know what he’s saying, but he’s not making any noise.
“Neither one of us wants you,” my lover says and sits up. He asks us this every time.
Let’s have a coffee.
“No one wants a coffee,” my lover says.
Mr. Angel plays with the twine around his penis. His hips gyrate. His eye sockets dim. His body flickers. I need Ingrid’s holes. I need some holes. Anyone’s holes.
“Not it,” my lover says.
“Not it,” I say.
“What are you going to do with that bamboo penis, anyway?” My lover smirks.
Just some milk, then. I’ve had no cow’s milk for ages.
My lover stands, sighs, and puts on her robe. “Cow’s milk, and then you fuck off?”
Cow’s milk. Criss Angel moans. His crystalline tongue swipes across his French lips.
My lover sighs again and puts on her slippers. She finger-combs her hair in the mirror over the TV stand. “My mother should be here moaning, not you. You had three million chances to make love and fill my mother’s holes.” My lover grimaces as she says that. She kisses my cheek and heads for the door.
Mr. Angel’s dinner-plate nipples perk up. Ingrid had two wishes.
“We know,” my lover and I say. “Making love to you and bowling a perfect game.”
Criss Angel’s nipples perk up further. He gyrates. Bowling a perfect game.
“Do you want your milk or not?”
Thunderbird Lanes. Never forget.
After another month of Criss Angel visits, which usually come in the middle of Punky Brewster, my lover and I pull out the topographic map and make a plan. We stand like generals over an if > then flowchart on our round card table in the motel room.
We are concerned about all the cow’s milk–my lover is vegan–and the special two-part Perils of Punky is coming up this week. We don’t want to miss it.
“We can’t do anything with that bamboo penis,” I say.
“He talks about the fucking bowling a lot.”
“We can’t take him bowling.”
“How about we bowl? Maybe Ingrid keeps shipping him back so that we’ll bowl.”
We pull ourselves together. My lover calls the emergency sewer hotline. I get the gravel crew on the books for Wednesday. We brush ourselves off. We finish a joint. We unpack Ingrid’s bowling shirt.
I am a size four, and my lover is a size twelve. But Ingrid was top-heavy, sort of an upside-down pear. A size eighteen. Regardless, my lover and I take turns wearing her bowling shirt. It is light purple–maybe it’s lavender if you’re into being specific about tones and shades–and her name is on the right breast pocket. You can’t hold anything in there, the pocket, because it’s sewn shut. Her name is in cursive, purple thread–eggplant if you’re into tones and shades.
We bowl like hell in her memory. We bowl so Criss Angel will stay away. We bowl the fuck out of bowling. No one bowls like we do. I never so much as won a trophy in my life, but I have the heart of a lion when it comes to bowling.
We pick off 300-games like nobody’s business.
A few times during the week, the metal doors of our closet creak. The more we bowl, the less they creak. Mr. Angel never tumbles out. My lover can sleep without the TV. She eats my pussy. She kisses me a lot with a face full of pussy juice. We bowl even when we’re sick. We bowl on Christmas.