Mojo Nixon is God

Third Place, the 14th Annual 'Austin Chronicle' Short Story Contest

Momma's calling three times a day now.

Momma says: I called Dr. Galavant this morning and he said if you'd come on home he'd be glad to take a look at you.

I say: No, Momma. I'm not going to the doctor. Especially that Dr. Galavant.

What's wrong with Dr. Galavant?

Dr. Galavant's the pediatrician, Momma. He can't help.

She says: Dr. Galavant said you have to go to the doctor.

And besides, Momma, he's those got awful hands. Remember? All those bumps and dark spots.

He said Lolly could burst any minute and you could die or worse.

If I go to any doctor, I'm going to a doctor here.

Momma clears her throat. She says: Darling, I heard Dr. Galavant got his hands looked at down in Waco. It's all cleared up now. It was warts or mold or something. Bunny Burns' little girl ran out of the office crying one day so he shut up the office and went on down to Waco and it's all cleared up now. Let me get an appointment for you.

You want me to come all the way home to see a doctor who can't cure his own warts?

She says: I want you to do something.

Why?

She says: Baby, what are you saying?

***

And that's about how it's been since I woke up one morning last month and found my right breast implant had fallen six inches and was hovering over my ribcage. A floppy sock of stretched skin and my deformed nipple dangled where Lolly, the perfectly round sack of silicone, used to be. Momma and I named them Lolly and Dolly in the hospital while I was waiting to be rolled into surgery last January. Lolly is the right one. Dolly is the left. We had laughed together and she ran her fingernails up and down my arm while voices called through loudspeakers in the hall outside my door. After years of promising the implants to me and Momma, Daddy bought them for my Christmas present and now I think Momma and I named them that day so we could all talk about it without my father ever having to say the word breasts.

***

I pick up.

She says: Does Lolly hurt?

No. I look down at my stomach where Lolly now rests and say: She just feels funny.

Dr. Galavant told me to ask if she hurts, because if she hurts ...

She doesn't hurt. I'm getting ready for work. I have to go.

Call me on your lunch break.

No.

She says: Daddy wants to say hello.

I hear her hand the phone over. I picture her nodding at him and mouthing the words, Talk to her.

Hello, Lucinda?

I pull the phone back from my ear a little. Daddy has a tendency to shout into the phone, as if he has to send his voice the entire distance of the call.

I say: Hi, Daddy.

He says: Your mother says you need to get on home and see Dr. Galavant.

Daddy, I'm taking care of this.

I think you should listen to her and come on home.

Daddy, I listened before.

Now, I know damned well that Lolly and Dolly were your mother's idea, but I'm telling you to come home and get yourself fixed. Your mother says you're running around down there like some sort of freak show. Like something off the television!

Very quietly, I say: Yes, Daddy. That's it exactly.

Now, Lucinda ...

Daddy ...

He shouts: This is all a bunch of horseshit!

Momma gets back on.

I have to go to work, Momma.

Call me on your lunch break.

I say: Okay.

***

I probably did call her on my lunch break that day, because the girls at the office have stopped talking to me all together. We used to go for salads at the cafe next door and meet for drinks at the Blue Door on Thursdays. The girls had been so excited about Lolly and Dolly, told me it was the beginning of a new life for me, even encouraged me to go for a D cup, said they'd do the same if they had the money. But when Lolly dropped, all that was over. I'm sure they didn't know what to say.

I did call the surgeon who put Lolly and Dolly in. I talked to his nurse and she said to come in right away. She sounded worried, but for who I couldn't tell. So I hung up the phone and sat on the edge of my bed and never went. I told Momma that I wasn't going to see the surgeon, that I'd find somebody else. But I haven't.

I'm not sure why I won't see a doctor now.

***

Momma says: You're doing this to hurt me, Lucinda. To make me pay.

No, Momma.

Lolly and Dolly were my idea and you're mad because it didn't all work out. You didn't get everything you were promised.

I look at the brown, plain, sameness of the corners of my cubicle and begin to see all too clearly the dust that scooped itself onto the edges of the computer screen, wedged itself around the buttons on the phone, spread thin along the tops of my books.

No, Momma, I say. That's not it.

***

Momma and Daddy sent me down here for nursing school five years ago because Momma loves nurses. On her soaps, she says, the nurses are the girls with the most character. They're always pretty and obviously very intelligent and caring. They are tucked in and white and curvy and helpful and full of potential. On every show, she says. Every one. Momma said I had all the qualities of a nurse. Except for the figure. And lucky girl I am, if we could just convince Daddy, then that, too, could be mine. Now nursing school didn't stick, but for six weeks last December, with Lolly and Dolly brand new and high and hard as melons, I suppose I did have it all.

***

Daddy calls.

He shouts: This is horseshit, Lucinda. I'm coming down there. You're coming home.

***

Since I stopped going to the Blue Door with the girls from the office, I've been taking myself to a place around the corner from my apartment. I'll dress myself in a skirt and top, button my windbreaker up over myself and walk around the corner, through the quiet neighborhood, looking in the windows of the houses. There's usually a good crowd and sometimes a band sets up in the front corner near the door. It's dark and loud and hardly anybody knows me. The bartender is a nice guy. He's always telling me to relax and have fun. Telling me to take my jacket off. Telling me jokes about polar bears and nuns and men with pigs. They always start with a nun or a man with a pig coming into a bar. Once in a while, he'll buy me beer.

If you saw me, you'd never know about Lolly. She stays hidden under my windbreaker pretty much. You can tell there's nothing where my right breast should be, but you might think I'd had cancer or been in an accident. It's only when I take my jacket off that Lolly appears. A bulge near my stomach.

I spend a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror–something I never did before the surgery. Those weeks in December, before Lolly and Dolly, I stood bare-chested in front of the bathroom mirror every night and imagined what I would become. I began to memorize the exact details of my reflection. Every bone and curve I penciled on my brain because I knew I would never look the same and I suppose I wanted to recall that picture of myself, my old self – flat. Plain.

Now what I see fascinates me. Now, I can't take my eyes off myself.

***

One day Momma left 27 messages.

***

I stayed at the bar around the corner later than usual the other night. A band was playing and the place was stuffed with folks. Strange though, like from out of town, tourists or passers through. Most of the men were bald and had long, long beards and tattoos on their arms. One woman had a thin fabric tail sticking out of a hole in the back of her jeans. She'd dance and hold the tail. When she stood still, it dropped to the floor and when she walked, it swept up dust and bottle caps. Every so often, she would take it up and shake it clean. Two bald men asked me to dance that night. I said no, but just as I was about to leave, a young man in a ball cap made his way up to me. He walked real slow. His cap was pulled down, so I could barely see his face, but I saw that he had green circular tattoos running all along his neck. He looked up and asked me to dance and showed me his face, which on every single part was stained dark with a tattoo. Circles and circles. His eyelids, his lips, his nose. All green and blue and swirling like a whirlpool.

***

Momma says: I found a specialist in Dallas who will see you.

I'm not coming home, Momma.

She says: He can put Lolly back in her place and you'll only be in the hospital for one night.

No, Momma.

Daddy'll pay for it all. He said so yesterday.

What if I just stay like this, Momma? What's so wrong with that?

What?

I'm saying that maybe I won't get Lolly taken out.

She says nothing. Then: Of course you have to have it done. Dr. Galavant said you could die.

We've known that all along. They told us that before the surgery.

No, no. You couldn't have died from the implants. They didn't say that.

Yes, they did Momma. I say: You just didn't hear.

She says: No. I don't believe that.

***

I'm not talking to Momma much these last days because she's about to need some answers. She'll send Daddy down here soon enough, whether we talk on the phone or not, and if I did pick up, I'd probably end up telling her about Lolly's starting to hurt, shifting and sore, especially in the morning, and my nipple turning darker, almost black now. I'd tell her that I haven't gone to work this week. And I might even tell her about the guy with the tattoos on his face and how he followed me into the bathroom after I gave him a dance.

I was in there catching my breath, reading the scribble on the walls. Felicia is a slut. I hate Bobby Garland. Mojo Nixon is god. I stood up – pushed myself up really – hips first, so as not to move Lolly too much, and let my skirt drop back over my legs.

I was thinking that I know what mojo is and how it works, and maybe someone with a name like mojo should be god and when I stepped out of the stall, he was standing there. The young man with the tattoos, holding on to my windbreaker.

It went slow, his hands over me, over Lolly and Dolly, his elbows at odd angles as he took them both in his hands, looking like a mime feeling his way along invisible walls. He whispered in my ear. I can't remember what. All I know is that I didn't close my eyes and as he got closer the swirls and circles on his face and neck melted into one faded color. A green. Blue and green. end story

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