Low Road was a novel-sized draft that I started in 2012 and completed in 2015.
Work on a second draft halted until 2018.
What’s presented here is a heavily, HEAVILY, edited version. Although I conceived the work as being a critique of the “male perspective” (or the “male gaze”), I’m not sure any of that translated. Instead of being a commentary on the Bukowski-esque perspectives and lifestyles…Low Road might be viewed as a celebration of it.
While I wouldn’t say that the story’s subject, a glimpse into the life of Rod Townshend, is a thinly-veiled auto-biography of my OWN life…except for the excessive alcoholism in my 20s, which in that view, this IS a thinly-veiled auto-biography….but these were the concerns that I was facing from the time of conception until completion of the first draft.
Some time has passed. And much has happened.
I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t my best work. But this being my first completed novel (or at least rough-draft of a novel)…I’ve always thought: what if? It might not be an accurate representation of what I had originally envisioned, but it will at least be completed.
Mind you, it’s still a work in progress. I’ll only release one chapter at a time out of hope that it will force me to edit the other chapters. (And I know…that plan hasn’t always worked out)
But anyways, here it is….
by Wes Michael
I wouldn’t say that I’m a poker player. I don’t even know that I’m good. But it was the weekend. I wanted to be out with the cowboys and the slot machine junkies.
The older women across the table kept looking over. She must have been looking for a fuck. I attempted to keep myself engaged in the game. But the crowd around me was too distracting.
And there she was. Not the most attractive women in the room, but the one I wanted the most. Pale skin, thick legs, short jean skirt, long curly hair. I was too distracted to focus on poker. As the dealer continued to draw cards, it became apparent that this wasn’t my night. I was done.
“Perhaps you should stick to blackjack”, the older women across the table said to me.
“The only way to win at blackjack is to not play”, I replied.
Pale skinned beauty was at the bar with her white-trash friends. I proceeded to the bar, passing through the wild circus of ragged old souls. I ordered a whiskey coke. It was probably my fourth one of the day. I proceeded to think of some way to engage this woman. Nothing came to mind.
I continued to sip my drink.
The group kept laughing and carrying about. I opened my mouth. “Hi, my name’s Rod”, I said. That was the best I could come up with. It was surprisingly well-received.
“Hello”, the pale-skinned beauty replied. I realized her brown eyes. Her pupils fully dilated. She wore light gloss over her lips. She was also lightly freckled. I was hooked. I was taken back by her immediate interest. But she was slightly intoxicated as well.
“I’m Sandy”, “I’m Erin”, I’m….”all her friends replied to me. But I was only interested in one name:
“I’m Taryn”, she said.
“Nice to meet you Taryn, pleasure to meet all of you. Have I seen any of you all here before?”, I asked
“Doubt it. We’re just here for a few drinks. We’ve got a party to go to across the border in Arkansas.”
“Next round is on me”, I said. I was spending money I didn’t have. The bartender brought over three beers.
”And what are you having?” I asked Taryn. “Tequila”.
“Are you from around here?” I asked. “Yes, from West Siloam. Most of my friends live in Arkansas. All my family’s from Oklahoma, I’m part Cherokee.”
Everyone around here says they’re part Cherokee. She might have not known what she was talking about. Nevertheless I continued to be turned on. But the conversation had to cease quickly. It was time to leave.
“Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of each other in the future” I said.
“I’m sure”, she replied.
I remained at the bar and continued to sip on my cocktail. I sulked in silence at my lackluster night. But I didn’t remain alone for long. The older women at the poker table took a seat next to me.
“Tough luck, huh?” She asked. I started taking larger gulps of my whisky coke. “The story of my life”, I replied.
“I see you around here on occasion. A casino? This is for the old folks, darling. You’re just a boy.”
“I’m not a boy.” I replied.
“Honey, compared to me, you are a boy.”
I finished my drink and closed my tab. The night was done.
“Let me buy you another drink”, the women said. “My name’s Jeanne. I promise that I’m nice.”
I’m not able to turn down a free drink, so I agreed. The bartender brought me another whiskey coke. I was moving passed the point of drunk towards plastered. There’s not much of the conversation with Jeanne that I remember. I do recall is focusing on her body. Short blond hair. Tanned and thin. I couldn’t tell how old she was. I would have guessed early 50s. Clearly she was in shape. Her V-necked top easily exposed her cleavage. It was distracting.
At one point Jeanne got up and left, likely to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t know for sure. I thought our conversation was over. I walked outside and got out my cellphone. I tried to call my brother. It was probably past 2 in the morning.
I stood outside in the cold, right under the canopy. I was trying to sober up. Jeanne pulled up in her black SUV. “Did I strike out”, she asked? I attempted to slur out my words.
“I thought you disappeared.”
“Get in, I’ll give you a ride”.
I took my chance and I jumped into her SUV. I was too drunk to be concerned with safety. I just hoped that I wouldn’t throw up in her car. Jeanne pulled out of the parking lot and started heading west.
“Are you cold?” she asked.
“No”, I replied. That was complete bullshit.
I began to sober up. The reality of riding in a car with a strange woman was kicking in. It was getting me excited. I usually have a hard time getting an erection when I’m drunk. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. Jeanne reached out across the console to feel my crotch.
“Doesn’t take much, huh?”
“Sorry”, I replied. I don’t know why I would apologize for that. The entire time, I was at a loss for words.
Eventually we pulled onto a small dirt road which led to a large stone house. I got out of the car and stumbled my way towards the front porch. Jeanne followed close behind. When I climbed up the stairs, she laid a huge kiss on me. I was slightly taken back.
I was unsure of how much she had to drink.
Jeanne unlocked the front door and I followed her inside. She immediately charged her way through the house and up the stairs towards her bedroom. She told me to wait in the living room. I began to admire the house. Jeanne was clearly a woman of means. The décor was a mix between some modern style and log cabin. It felt more like a hotel lobby than someone’s house. I continued to scan the living room and kitchen. Then I noticed the bar.
My drunk was wearing off and I was beginning to feel nervous. I found some silver tequila and shot it back. Jeanne came out wearing a robe. I assumed that lingerie was beneath it.
“Why don’t you pour me a shot”, she said. I poured her a shot and I took another one just for good measure. I was quickly regaining my buzz.
“You know, I don’t think that I caught your name.” Jeanne stated.
“Rod”, I replied.
“That’s a very fitting name”. Jeanne flipped a switch then the moderately dimmed room became darker. Then she sensuously moved across the room. When she reached the fireplace, she dropped her robe.
There was no lingerie, just bare nudity. I admired her backside from the bar. Her tan lines suited her thin and fit body. I was quickly aroused and I began to frantically remove my clothes. Her backside was still facing me while she tended to the fire. I snuck up behind her and started kissing her neck.
We fooled around in the living room for a while before moving to the upstairs bedroom.
I dreamt well that night. It was an unusually deep sleep. When I awoke, I was surprised to find myself in a foreign place. Dynamite sex and alcohol destroyed my memory. I frantically tried to recall the events of the night, wondering if I did anything stupid. Perhaps I did. But I looked over and saw that Jeanne asleep next to me. She was completely nude on top of the covers. Her backside was towards me. I got aroused again. It felt good against the silk sheets.
Jeanne must have heard me rustling around. She flipped over and smiled. “Good morning”. She leaned in to kiss my neck and moved her hands all over my body. We exchanged a few dirty words and I thought that I was going to climax again. But she left me hangin’.
“I’m gonna take a shower.” She said and went to the bathroom. I laid there for a while. Was this girl crazy? Does she want something from me?
Is she going to give me a ride back to my car?!
A few minutes later, I heard the front door open. Was it her husband? If that was the case, then I wasn’t going to put my clothes on. As mad as he would be, I doubt that he would want to fight a naked man. But I listened intently, waiting for someone to come into the bedroom. Instead all I heard was a TV come on. After a while, the sound of what I’m sure was a video game began to echo across the house.
I got out of the bed, and slowly put my clothes on. I quietly made my way out of the bedroom to get a glimpse of the individual. I walked down the hallway, down the stairs and towards the kitchen. As I began to tiptoe into the living room, a girl popped up from around the corner. We startled each other.
“Hello”, I said.
“Hello”, the girl replied with some puzzlement.
“I’m with Jeanne.”
“Oh!” She laughed with a sigh of relief. “Don’t worry, I’m not her daughter.”
“Okay?” I said with equal bewilderment.
“I’m dating her son. He’s in there playing video games.”
I go around the corner, and there he was glued to the TV.
“So…who are you?” the girls asks.
She tells me her name is Angel. We go into the living room to join Philip, Jeanne’s son. He stood up to shake my hand. He was quite taller than me. I’d guess he was about 19 with long shaggy brown hair and round glasses. He looked like John Lennon. But he had huge hands that dominated my comparatively small ones. This went awkwardly with his scrawny frame and nerdy appearance which vacated any possibility that he was a threat to anyone.
He didn’t have much to say.
Angel looked about Philip’s age. Even though it was cold outside, she continued to wear a pair of white pajama shorts. She also had long brown well-conditioned hair and blue eyes. She was a cute girl that I only minimally took notice in. I was severely hung over. We chatted for a little bit before Angel proceeded to curl up next Phillip on the white couch. He continued to play his games. After several minutes of silence, Jeanne came out of the bathroom, completely refreshed.
“Can I get you anything? Would you like breakfast?” She asked.
“No, I must get back home. I’ve got a busy day today.” I was ready to get the fuck out of this weird situation. I don’t believe I’ve ever met someone’s family after a one night stand.
As we rode back to the casino to retrieve my car, there were a few moments of awkward silence. But I was perfectly fine with the quiet. Yet Jeanne had to speak up.
“So, how old are you anyway?” She asked.
“24” I replied.
“Are you fucking serious?!”
“I’m perfectly legal.”
“My son is 20. I can’t believe it. I thought that I would never get 20 year old ass again.” She said.
I wasn’t interested in probing any further. But Jeanne kept insisting on conversation.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how old I am?” she asks.
“I thought a gentleman should never ask.” I replied.
“Well shit, I was about to say 25.”
I filled the air with general banter until we pulled into the casino parking lot. My 99 Ford pickup was still there. It was still a piece of shit. But I was tired and ready to go home.
“Thank you for the ride…and the memories”, I said.
“It doesn’t have to be just one memory”. Jeanne pulled out a business card and wrote her personal number on the back.
“Give me a call and we’ll do this again”.
It read Jeanne Armand, Senior Vice-President of Osage Bank.