By Jerry Johnson

“For the rain it raineth every day.”   – from Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare




“Aren’t you asleep?”

“No, I’m not asleep. I was watching the Moon through the window. And watching you sleep in the moonlight.”

“Through that window? The Moon? I can’t see it.”

“No, it’s gone now. It’s higher in the sky. That was an hour ago.”

“You’ve been awake for an hour? Aren’t you tired?”

“Yes, I’m tired, but I’m afraid to go to sleep.”


“I’m afraid that when I wake up you’ll be gone.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“I know you wouldn’t do that. I hope you wouldn’t. But you know, it happens. It’s happened.”


“I can’t help it. I know it’s stupid, but I keep having this image in my head of you in bed with Kristin.”

“Well, give it up, Cassie. It was your idea for us to tell each other about who we’d been with before.
And I wasn’t in love with her, anyway. It was just sex.”

“I know, I know. But I keep imagining you both naked. Together. In bed.”

“Look, that was before I even knew you. And we weren’t in bed. And I wasn’t naked.”

“Is that supposed to, like, make it better? Knowing you weren’t naked?”

“You want details?”


“Then get over it.”


“Turn around while I put on this dress. Don’t look. I said don’t look!”

“Okay, okay! I won’t look.”

“You can turn back around now. You can look. You like it? It’s called a shirt dress. Just a long shirt, see? Cost me twenty-two dollars – all the tip money I made yesterday. Know why I bought it?”

“No. Why?

“It’s my screwing dress. That’s what I’m calling it. Every time I wear it this spring I’m going to screw. With you. Probably with you. We’ll see how it works out.”


“Are you going to stay here tonight, Matthew?”

“Yeah, if that’s okay with you.”

“I have to teach an eight o’clock class.”

“I’ll go home so you can get some sleep.”

“No, you can stay. I can sleep fine when you’re here.”

“I’ll wake you up in time to get ready for your class.”

“You’ll wake me up and want to make love again.”

“You know you love it.”

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

“It’ll be a nice start to your day.”

“Makes it hard to concentrate on my teaching, though.”

“Come closer.”

“For a little while. You’re like a furnace. I get too warm when you hold me close. Good in January. Not so good in August.”

“Is tomorrow your composition class?”

“English literature.”

“What are you lecturing on?”


“Yeah, funny-funny Betsy.”

“No, seriously. Dragon myths in literature. Turn a little bit, Matthew. The hair on your chest, I don’t like it against my face.”

“Maybe you should find a guy who’s higher on the evolutionary ladder.”

“I’m learning to like Neanderthal.”

“You saying I’m an ape?”

“No, you’re not an ape. You’re a dragon, Matthew. You’re a dragon.”


“I said you’re a dragon.”

“I’m a dragon?”


“Bad breath?”

“No. Well, yes. But, no.”

“Claws, scales, wings, forked tail, breathes fire, kidnaps virgins?”

“That’s just the drawings, the pictures.”

“Everyone draws the same pictures, Betsy. Must be pretty close to the real thing.”

“They’re just an image. A symbol. The real dragons are men.”

“Men are dragons?”

“Men with power. Power that they use to steal. And hoard. And kill anyone who tries to take it from them.”


“Gold. And virgins.”

“No beer? No wine? No prime-cut steaks?”

“No. Gold and virgins. Which they can’t use. They can’t buy anything with the gold, and they can’t love the virgins. Not really love them. They can only own them. Hoard them.”

“Then why do they want them?”

“You’re the dragon, Matthew. You tell me.”

“Why do you keep saying I’m a dragon?”

“Because you stole me. And you think you own me.”

“Hey, babe, you weren’t a virgin.”

“Yes, I am. Virgins are women who haven’t had babies. Who don’t have a man. That’s what virgin means. That’s what I am.”

“You had a man.”

“Yes. And I left him for you.”

“You told me you wanted to break it off with him, Betsy.”

“You stole me from him. I thought you wanted me, but you just stole me from him.”

“You could go back to him.”

“No, I can’t. I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything because you use your power over me, and you’re not good for me.”

“I don’t have any power over you.”

“Yes, you do. You excite me every time you touch me. Our bodies fit together perfectly when we sleep in this bed. And the way me make love, I never had that before. I love you, Matthew, but you don’t love me.

“I do love you, Bets.”

“No, you don’t. Not really. You won’t stay with me. You’ll never be my husband, and you will never let me have your baby. You just want to hoard me. You’re a dragon.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“No, I don’t want you to leave. That’s the worst part of this. You’re not good for me, and I don’t want you to leave.”


“Stop telling me how to live my life, Karl.”

“I’m not telling you how to live your life. I’m telling you that you’re messing up a chance to do something better with your life.”

“The fashion design classes?”

“Yes. The company will pay half the cost for you to take the first year of classes, Marion. It’s perfect for you.”

“They just want me to do it so I’ll take the assistant manager position.”

“So what’s wrong with that? It’s more money.”

“Because I’d have to work weekends.”

“That would be a good thing,”

“That would be a shitty thing. Everything I like to do is on the weekends.”

“Yeah, great weekends. You clock out from your sales job at 3 o’clock Friday and then party with your friends for two days. You get drunk, you get high, you spend all your money, you come home sick every Sunday morning, and then you drag your hung-over ass back to work at the store at 9 o’clock Monday morning.”

“You like to party, too, Karl. How do you think we hooked up in the first place? At a library reading group? Don’t give me some sermon from on high, you asshole.”

“Yeah, I like to have a good time. But not every weekend. And not like that. Not anymore. We’re not twenty, Marion, we’re twenty-eight. It’s time to do something else with your life.”

“Like what? Get married to you? Pop out a couple kids? Get a regular job?”

“Get a regular life. How long do you think you can do this? I thought it would be a wake-up call when Lissa died in January.”

“She was stupid. I’m not that stupid.”

“You’re acting pretty stupid lately.”

“Fuck you.”

“Yeah, great, Great answer. Think about it, Marion. Are you still going to be a ten-dollar-and-hour salesgirl when you’re thirty? Thirty-five? Forty?”

“Something will come along.”

“Yeah, freezing to death in the front seat of your stalled car when you’re passed out. Like Lissa. That’s what’s going to come along. Or maybe you’ll be one of those burnt-out hags at the homeless shelter begging for quarters to buy wine.”

“Shut up!”

“Tell the store manager you’ll take the classes at the tech school, Marion. If you hate it, you can quit.”

“Don’t tell me what to do with my life.”

“Get a life.”

“Fuck you.”


“How did we end up here in bed, Kristin? You wouldn’t even know me except for your roommate.”


“No, the other one. Your crazy roommate Jane. Crazy Jane. That’s what David calls her. Bitch is what I mostly call her. She is, too. A crazy bitch.”

“She’s just a little crazy, Michael. Selfish crazy.”

“No, she’s apeshit crazy. You know how I know? Because of what she did to me and Sean back in March. She calls him from Myrtle Beach to tell him she’s flying into the Cincinnati that Friday afternoon and he has to meet her there and drive her home to Parma Heights, way the hell up in Cleveland. He’s supposed to drive three hundred miles – Columbus to Cincinnati to Cleveland – to haul her rich ass home after spring break. She tells him it’s not that far. She’s so fucking crazy she can’t read a road map.”

“Selfish, like I said.”

“Crazy. I mean, Sean doesn’t even own a car, right? So she tells him to borrow mine. She has this tone in her voice like he owes her a big favor because she slept with him before she left on spring break. So he folds and tells her he’ll do it – pick her up at the Cincinnati airport, and drive her home to Cleveland. Because he owes her. Jesus.”

“Why didn’t he tell her ‘no’?”

“C’mom, you know Sean. He thinks she’s in love with him. So first he asks to borrow my car, and I say okay. Then he asks me to make the trip with him. Then he says I should just go by myself because he has a lot of shit to do. I say to him, ‘no fucking way,’ and he says $20. I say no. He says $25 and gas money. I say no. He says $50 and gas money. I think about it. I mean that’s pretty good money for one day of driving. And she’ll probably sleep the whole time anyway. So I say okay, $50 and gas money means $100 total. Now. In cash. And he says, ‘Done deal.’”

“Did you get it up-front?”

“No. Of course he doesn’t have the money up front, but like an idiot I drive down to Cincinnati anyway and her flight is an hour late and I’m already dog-assed tired of how this day is going, and when she gets off the plane we have to go to the baggage carousel to get like ten pieces of her luggage and haul it to the car, and this all takes so long I have to pay another five bucks in parking fees. Jesus. And I’m still looking at a four-hour drive to Parma Heights where her rich goddamned parents live.”

“You know what Robert calls her? He called her ‘the President of the Parma Heights Wet Dream Club.’ What is that supposed to mean?”

“You figure it out. But she doesn’t dream. Hell, she doesn’t even sleep. She have insomnia or something? I mean, you’re her roommate. She have some kind of sleep disorder? Maybe it was all the coke that went up her nose at Myrtle Beach. She was wide awake and talked and talked and talked the whole goddamned drive. She never shut the fuck up for five minutes. Mostly about herself. Totally about herself. What she called her ‘innermost self.’ Trust me, there ain’t a whole lot in there. So we get to Columbus and she decides she’s too tired to make the drive to Cleveland and it’s dark and raining and I’m okay with that idea and ask her, ‘Where do you want me to drop you off?’ and she says, ‘I’ll just stay at your place tonight and arrange a ride home tomorrow.’ And like an idiot I say, ‘Okay.’”

“Bad decision.”

“Hey, I’m totally aware of that. Now. I drive to my place and we take all her luggage out of the car and pile it in the kitchen so it won’t get stolen and she breaks out this bag of dope, which was really good dope, and we smoke almost half of it and she falls asleep on the couch and I go to bed. Next morning I’m making coffee and Sean comes in and looks over the situation and says, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ And you know what Crazy Jane says? You know what the bitch says? She says, ‘You don’t owe him any explanation, Michael.’”

“Oh no!”

“Yes. Oh, yes. So of course he thinks I was bonking his new girlfriend all night and no matter how many times I tell him ‘It never happened’ he was pissed and hasn’t talked to me for like a month. But last week she dropped him like a hot rock and he’s mostly over it. Never paid me the $100, though. Crazy Jane. Crazy bitch. She still your roommate?”

“No. She moved in with her boyfriend.”


“Why do you get out of bed in the middle of the night to smoke?”

“I don’t know, Shar. Nicotine addiction, I guess. It helps me think.”

“I wake up and you’re not here beside me, and then I smell the cigarette smoke coming from the kitchen.”

“I’ll go out on the porch when summer comes.”

“I don’t want you to go anywhere. I want you to be here beside me.”

“Sometimes I have to get up to write something down. If I smoke a couple cigarettes it helps me write.”

“Why don’t you wait until morning?”

“Because sometimes at night, when you’re asleep and everything is quiet, that’s when it comes to me – how to write about certain things. How to say it. And I have to write it down right then or I’ll lose it.”

“Things. Like what?”

“Feelings. A want or a fear or an excitement — things that have been down inside me and that come pushing out. Spilling out.”

“Like what you wrote about your father?”

“Yeah, like that.”

“Not nice things?”

“Sometimes nice things.”

“If you get out of bed to write about me, write nice things, okay?”

“Okay, sure.”


“Jesus, Robert, you’re so hung up on Kathleen. What do you see in her anyway? She’s like wooden. Icy. You think she’s so sexy, but she’s the most sexless person I ever met.”

“C’mon Cassie, you can’t say she’s sexless, exactly. She flirts with every man in her life. Flaunts her body. Puts on this ‘come and take me’ act. But if you come on to her, she jumps behind this wall.”

“You came on to her?”

“Not me. David. She went to New York with him for a weekend and he thought they had something going. But he says the first night they went to bed she freaked out. Started making love with him and them freaked out.”

“I told you she’s the ice queen.”

“Okay, but why? Don’t you wonder why? Fear? Anxiety? I don’t know. She gets angry with anyone who comes on to her sexually. Flirts and then gets angry. Always posing as some hot chick. Phony. Do you think she was raped?”

“No, she hasn’t been raped. She’s never had sex at all.”

“How do you know?”

“She told Kristin, and Kristin told me.”

“Maybe she’s a lesbian. But she can’t admit it to herself.”



“That was good coke, wasn’t it? I mean that was really great coke. It just opened me up, you know? Opened everything up. My eyes wide open. My mind, my body, maybe my soul. Everything. Did you feel that, too? That it opened you up?”

“It was good. Not great, but good. Must have been great for you. Never saw you dance like that.”

“Wow, yeah. This was the weirdest night ever, wasn’t it? Well, no, not the weirdest. The weirdest night ever was my freshman year. My fourth day here. On campus, I mean. Me and my roommate…”


“Yeah, Cassie. We had known each other for what, a week? And that was mostly on the phone. This night, it was a Friday, we went out to hit the High Street bars ’cause neither of us had ever been in a college bar before, and, you know, we wanted to see what it was all about. We thought, light beer – who could get drunk on that? It just gives you a headache and makes you pee a lot. We did though. We got really drunk. We were singing with the band, dancing, and then we both started to feel a little bit sick and couldn’t finish our second pitcher. Walking home, I mean, home to our dorm, we turned the wrong way on 14th Avenue and must have walked five blocks away from campus before we figured it out.

“Bad neighborhood.”

“Yeah, we could see that. We looked around and Cassie said, ‘There’s a McDonald’s sign. We need to go there.’ So we cut through an alley to 13th Avenue and started walking back toward High Street and we met this guy coming toward us with a McDonald’s sack, and Cassie – she was drunk, I mean she was really, really drunk – she stepped in front of him and said ‘You’re the best-looking guy I’ve seen so far tonight,’ and he laughed and said, ‘Well, you’re the best-looking girl I’ve seen tonight.’ So she put her arms around his neck and stood on her tip-toes and kissed him on the mouth, I mean a real deep kiss, and he dropped his sack and put his arms around her and pulled her up against him and they kept kissing for like five minutes.”

“With you looking on?”

“What could I do? Walk away and leave her there with some strange guy?”

“Grab her and drag her away.”

“Yeah, big strong Cassie and little puny me. Anyway, there were cars were parked all along 13th and we found one with the doors unlocked and got in. I was kneeling on the front seat watching Cassie and this guy making out in the back seat, and he took off her top and then her shorts and underwear and I was watching him do her and I was eighteen and had never seen anyone doing it before. Then we switched places and Cassie was in the front seat getting dressed and watching him do me in the back seat. I didn’t have all my clothes off like her, though, just my skirt pulled up. Cassie, she was really drunk – I mean really, really drunk – and she kept saying to him ‘Are you using a rubber? Are you sure you’re using a rubber?’ Which he wasn’t but it didn’t make any difference, I guess, because he didn’t come inside of her or me either. Wasn’t that weird? Maybe he was gay.”

“Probably. Lots of gay guys fuck two women in the back seat of a car on a Friday night.”

“Don’t be a smartass. It was a serious question. So we got out of the car and got our clothes arranged and Cassie lays one last big kiss on this guy’s mouth and we walk back to campus. When we got to the dorm neither of us had a key to our room, so Cassie went down the hall to the room of a girl she knew from high school and knocked on the door until she let us in, and boy was she pissed. But she let us sleep in the floor of her room, which was fine with me because we were really drunk. Did I tell you how drunk we were? I mean, we were really, really drunk.”

“You mentioned that, yes.”

“The next morning I woke up and had to pee really bad and in the rest room I found out my underwear was on inside-out, so I knew all that weird shit really happened. I woke up Cassie and said to her, ‘Holy Jesus, Cas, that really happened! I mean all of that really happened. We did that!’ And she said she was hung over and was going to throw up, but she didn’t, she just sat there on the floor and held her head. After a while she said, ‘That poor guy. When he went out last night, probably all he wanted was a cheeseburger and an order of fries.’ And I started laughing and so did she and we laughed so hard she peed in her pants. Not a lot, just a little. So I would have to say that was the weirdest night ever. Tonight was pretty close, though.”


“I don’t want to compare sexual styles. That’s not why I’m telling you this. But my husband, all he ever did was get on top of me and pump away until he was done. He didn’t do any of the things you do with me.”


“Don’t act stupid. You know what I’m talking about. I was nineteen when we got married, so I didn’t know there was anything else. I was stupid to drop out of college to get married. That was the worst decision I ever made in my life. He was a senior and was on the football team and I was a freshman and didn’t know anything.”

“You never told me about that.”

“Well, I’m telling you now. Four years later I knew it was a big mistake. By then I had two babies and we were living in Japan and he was a Navy officer and all I had was two babies in diapers and a government house on the base. An apartment, really. No job, no nothing. Just feeding babies and changing diapers and going to the PX and cleaning the apartment. All my friends were other officers’ wives. We got together once or twice a week and drank a lot of wine and complained a lot and laughed a lot. Babysat each other’s kids. Ran errands for each other. Shared a lot of Navy Wife stories. But it wasn’t like having real friends, the kind of friends you grew up with or the friends you made at college. I lost all those friends when I got married.”

“Why did you marry him in the first place?”

“You know why? Sex. I thought about it a long time, and the reason I got married was because I wanted to have sex. Not for love. Because, the way I grew up, the family I had, girls couldn’t have sex until they got married. So I got married so that I could have sex. It wasn’t love. After a long time I had to admit to myself that it wasn’t love. It was for sex. And it wasn’t so great.”

“Now you want love?”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to fall in love with you. I knew that from the first time. I took a look at you and said to myself, ‘What’s to love?’”

“Nice compliment.”

“Listen, we’re both doing this for the same reasons. You understand that, right? You came along at a good time for me, though. I thought, here I am thirty-five years old and divorced and I’m never going to have sex again and I never really had sex, not the way I wanted anyway. I didn’t know anything. I’m five years older than you, but you know more than me.”

“You’re a fast learner, though.”

“You’re a good teacher. Those things we do, I only read about them before now. It was all women’s magazine stuff. Stupid. But it’s not stupid now. It’s what I want. For a while, anyway. That’s why I’m telling you all this. There isn’t going to be any ‘tomorrow’ talk for us. I’ve had too many years of ‘tomorrows.’ Talk about today. Tell me you liked today, that you liked being with me today. That I make you feel good the same way you make me feel good. Tell me that you like me. Not love me; like me. Want me. Now, hold me up against you.”

“Scooch over here beside me.”

“Put your arm across me here. Don’t go to sleep. My husband, he always rolled over and went to sleep.”


“What’s with having to run the water in the sink every time you go to the bathroom, Cassie? It’s like you’re two years old or something.”

“Why does that bother you?”

“I don’t know, but it does. It does kind of bother me. I don’t know why it bothers me, it just does.”

“Yeah, well your hair on the bar of soap bothers me. A lot. But I don’t make a big scene about it.”

“You’re telling me this now? Okay, I have body hair, see, so some of it gets stuck on the bar of soap. You want me to spend ten minutes picking it all off every time after I shower?”

“Yeah, that’s what a normal person would do.”

“Yeah? Well I want you to stop running the water in the sink when you pee. That’s not normal.”

“You’re a being a jerk.”

“So are you. Fine, good. You know what? I’m going back to my place. This isn’t working. I’ll come by tomorrow and get my clothes. And my bar of soap, if it bothers you so goddamned much.”


“How did you get that scar, Andrew?”

“This one on my hand?”

“No. Over your left eye.”

“A piece of shrapnel hit me in the face.”

“What’s shrapnel? A bullet?”

“No, not a bullet. A piece of metal from a bomb or a grenade. When a grenade explodes, pieces of metal go flying. One hit me in the face.”

“From a bomb.”

“An RPG – a rocket-propelled grenade.”

“Who shot you?”

“Some raghead.”


“A Taliban. In Helmand. In Afghanistan. Baghran, a shithole village up in the mountains.”

“Did you see him?”

“No. But my squad leader did.”

“Did he run away?”

“No. My squad killed him. Him and two others.”

“Did you ever kill anybody, Andrew?”

“I don’t know. Mostly you just fire at targets of opportunity, you know. Places where they might be hiding. Shooting from.”

“Is it… terrible?”

“Killing someone?”


“You’re trained, Shar, that’s all. You’re ordered to fire, so you fire. You shoot with a SAW, you hit a target, they just come apart.”

“A saw?”

“An S-A-W. Squad Automatic Weapon. SAW. A machine gun.”

“That’s what you had?”


“And you saw it kill people.”


“I thought you said you didn’t know if you killed someone.”

“Well, you do You do know. Let’s not talk about this.”


“I love to do this.”

“Well, I love when you do it.”

“When you’re small, and then I make you big, I like that better than when you’re big before I even start.”

“What’s the difference?”

“I like to know I’m the one who made you big.”

“You’re the only suspect. There’s no other woman here.”

“Oh, shut up! You know what I mean.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Don’t you like to know that you’re the one who made me wet?”

“Do I make you wet?”

“With one kiss.”

“Like this?”

“Um-hmm. Like that.”

“Take off your skirt.”

“No, not yet. I’m not done with you yet.”


“I made a mistake.”

“A mistake?”

“Yes, a big mistake. A huge mistake. The biggest mistake of my life.”

“Drinking the quart of tequila and snorting three lines of coke?”

“No. After that. Getting on the motorcycle with you. That was a mistake.”

“You don’t want to go to Taos?”

“I don’t want to go to Taos with you.”

“Yesterday you said you did. New Mexico. Your dream. ‘Can I ride with you, Tooley-man? Please!’ Remember that? Remember begging? This was all your idea.”

“I know. And it was a mistake. I can see now that it was a big mistake.”

“Now? At midnight night. In Tulsa. In a $40 motel room. When it’s pouring down rain all across Oklahoma? Hey, what a perfect fucking time to decide you made a mistake. So what the hell do you want to do?”

“I want to go back to Ohio.”

“You want to go back to Ohio? Now? Right now?”


“And what do you expect me to do? Get back on the bike in this fucking monsoon and take you to the bus station?”

“I don’t know. I just know I don’t want to be here.”

“Look, we’re not going anywhere tonight, okay? You take the bed, I’ll roll out my sleeping bag on the floor. In the morning, when it stops raining, then we’ll ride to the bus station. But that’s as far as I’m taking you. Because I’m going on to Taos.”

“Okay, okay. No. No it’s not okay. I don’t want to be here with you in this creepy motel room. I’m not sleeping here with you. I want to go home.”

“Listen, Marion, if that’s your real name, you’re not sleeping with me. I don’t want to have sex with you. Not now. Not ever. I don’t want to stay here anymore than you do. But here’s a couple hard-ass facts for you to consider: One, this was the last vacant room in the motel, probably in all of goddamn Tulsa; and Two, it’s raining like a tall horse pissing on a flat rock. So unless you got a fucking magic wand in your backpack, we got no other place to go, and we got no way to get there because we’re not going back out into that storm on the bike.”

“I don’t care if I get wet.”

“Well I care if I get wet, and I’m not taking my bike back out into this goddamn hurricane. I just got it dried off and parked under the shelter house.”

“Sure, of course, because nothing’s more important than your stupid Harley.”

“It’s not a Harley, you bitch, it’s a Triumph. I’ve told you a dozen times it’s a Triumph. You want to hook-up with a Harley rider, get yourself some leather. And a lizard tattoo on your ass.”

“My ass already has a tattoo from the rock-hard jump seat on your crummy Triumph.”

“Would that be the same jump seat that made you have an orgasm last night?”

“I was drunk, you asshole.”

“Well, why don’t you get drunk again tonight? Cause you’re a total crazy bitch when you’re sober.”

“Fuck you.”

“In your dreams. I wouldn’t fuck you with a borrowed prick.”

“You are a prick. A big shit-ass prick.”

“Listen, you bitch, there’s a sports bar on the other side of the motel office, and I’m going there for a couple beers. When I come back, you can be drunk, you can be high, you can be asleep, you can be gone. You can be anything you goddamn want, but you can’t be talking to me again. Ever.”

“You’re making me cry! I told you this was all a mistake. I’m sorry. It was a big mistake.”

“You’re a big mistake.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t talk to me.”

About the Author:

jerry Johnson

Former newspaper reporter, editor, columnist, and college public relations director Jerry Johnson is the author of two novels and four collections of essays and short stories. He posts outdoor essays on his blog Dispatches from a Northern Town ( http://dispatchesfromanotherntown.com ).
He and his wife, Patti, live in the upper Midwest in a 130-year-old log house on the small farm they manage for wildlife habitat.