Batman's Cabin

by Sarah Elmendorf

The postal delivery lady knows something is wrong when the mail starts piling up in Batman Rochester’s mailbox. A creature of military habit, Batman, who lives in the hunting camp on the hill above the Adirondack town of Santa Maria, New York, drag-legs it every day down his field grass and cobble driveway to get his mail.

Sometimes he’s even by the box waiting when she pull ups, an old buzzard with his one arm hanging useless by his side, black graying hair slicked back ‘50’s style. He is always surrounded by at least three or four unruly hounds. Rumor has it that he’s got thirteen at last count, all unlicensed, and that he hunts with them, in or out of season, and eats whatever he gets, even woodchuck.

Rumor has many things about him, mostly that he’s a drunken, rude, and uncivilized outlaw who keeps his pistols loaded and wouldn’t hesitate to shoot you if you came to the door and surprised him. Or even if you didn’t surprise him and you just happened to chap his ass that day.

He’s been in trouble with his neighbors, once for illegal dumping, corned beef and coffee cans and such, once for stealing chickens, and once for pissing in a pond, waving cheerfully midstream at a downstater’s wife when she emerges outraged on her porch to investigate.

But he grew up in Santa Maria, as did his father, built, painted, or repaired most of the houses in the town, so everyone just leaves him alone and tries to help him keep out of the big time trouble.

And he’s never been anything other than polite to her, clean flannel checked shirt, meeting her eyes briefly as he takes his mail, pale blue eyes behind thick lensed wire frame glasses, nod of the head, tip of the imaginary hat, always “Ma’am,” to acknowledge her, smelling faintly of Old Spice.

When the mail starts piling up, she figures he is just away for a vacation, seeing family or something. The dogs still come down a few times, but take off into the woods with their back hackles ruffled when she pulls her car up to the box.

She delivers his VA check on Monday of the second week, and when she finds it still in the box three days later, she parks her car and walks up the driveway.

“Mr. Rochester?” She calls, then more loudly, “Mr. Rochester?”

A rusty colored hound head pokes itself out from under the porch, growls at her, then pokes itself back under.

“Anyone here?” She says, listening hard. She can hear the clink and tinkle of spoon chimes hanging from the porch beam, a squeaking and rustling of puppies. Farther away she can hear the industry of bees in the thorn bushes, and even farther the sound of wind like the ocean in the canopy of maple, poplar and birch that surround the cabin’s big meadow.

When she takes a couple of steps closer to the cabin and hears the flies, gets a smell of him, she drives into town and goes right to the constable’s office.

* * *

Batman’s sons Guts H. Rochester and Whiskers L. Rochester handle the details. Guts is the poor fucker who has to help the police shovel what’s left of the old man into the body bag, sprinkle lime on the rug where he died crawling, somewhere, anywhere, for help. Guts and the Santa Maria dog warden also round up all the dogs and puppies and get them to the Humane Society in Barnevald.

Whiskers arranges for Batman’s cremation and burial in the South Ninah cemetery. They bury his ashes with a six of Budweiser and his military medals. Then Whiskers meets with the lawyer and negotiates the sale of the camp and dispensation of the proceeds. Before the closing, both Guts and Whiskers collect up their dad’s tools and guns and knives and a few other things he kept that belonged to their Gramma Isobelle.

They rip out the rug, shroud to their father with its thick black splash of death juice, and drag it out into the meadow away from the cabin. Guts’ wife makes him plant Chinese pink lily bulbs by the rug, although the wild and strong meadow grass will overgrow any bloom if no one keeps the lily patch clear.

Guts is drunk and crying when he pats dirt over the bulbs next to the stinking rug.

“I’m never coming back here,” he swears. “I can hear voices and see demons in this shithole.”

“Old bastard,” Whiskers agrees. He crushes his empty beer can, flips it towards the treeline. “I’m not coming back, either.”

Whiskers decides that he definitely needs to make a new start. He graduates from auto mechanics school, moves away from Santa Maria, New York, and settles in Yoayus, Tennessee with his wife Lori and their infant twin daughters.

A shitload of time goes by. Both Guts and Whiskers brawl intolerably with their wives, get divorced, and turn into support-paying, part-time daddies. Guts still lives in Santa Maria. They miss each other and try to stay in touch, phone calls and e-mails, the annual visit, catching up on kiddy and bitchy ex news, workplace gossip, and current vehicle ownership and running condition status. They also enjoy comparing post-divorce whores.

Guts likes slim whores with long straight hair, any color, and the ability to balance a checkbook. Right now he's seeing an elementary school teacher named Jeanette. She likes cheap cigarettes, Portuguese fados, and the Beastie Boys. She sings country western karaoke, and wears stud seed pearl earrings, tiny horn rim glasses, and pink satin girl boxers that peek out of the waistband of her Levi's when she's bent over picking up kid toys or scouring the ring out of the bathtub.

Whiskers, who's in between steadies and trolling the internet for regular loving, doesn't care at all if his whores are smart, so long as they got a little meat on their bones. He is most definitely partial to what Old Man Mesh Loomis would call the big'uns.

He doesn't like them so big they need help up off the couch or up from the dinner table or anything like that, but just a little piggy --soft, large, big breasted and heavy thighed. A comfortable slow-moving whore.

Guts and Jeanette tease him. He can take a little teasing. It's all in fun.
"Fuck's up with the fat chicks?" Guts asks him, for about the gazillionth time in their lives.

Whiskers considers.

"They get right down to it," he says. "Don't waste a bit of time about it."

They are meditating one fine early summer morning, the three of them sitting cross-legged on long tangled grass in a little meadow by Guts' trailer, underneath old dying apple trees surrounded by berry bushes bearing tight green unripe fruit. The meadow is thick with temperature change, air pockets both cool and hot on their skins with the shadows of morning giving way to the rising sun. All around them are the whir of birdwing and liquid sound of birdsong as chickadee, mountain bluebird, and robin fly and alight, fly and alight frantically, building nests.

They are smoking a blunt away from the kids and parents. Whiskers has caught a ride up to New York with their Ma and step dad from Tennessee, looking to escape some police attention he's been getting lately in Yoayus.

"I can't even imagine what something that big'd look like," Jeanette says, passing him the blunt.

"Looks exactly like a turkey breast,” Whiskers explains, grinning. He takes a hit.

"Don't know how you do it," Guts the ass man marvels. “I’d need a friend along to hold her cheeks apart, just so I could get it in. It won't kill me to admit I ain't got three foot of cock."

"Thank god!" Jeanette giggles, "No shit, guy, how do you manage all that by yourself?"

"All you gotta do is bear down," Whiskers grins again, slowly, good-natured. "You can't give up. You just keep bearing down."

But even though he doesn't say anything about it to them, a big whore can be overpowering in sheer bulk, especially when she's surrendering herself in sex.

He remembers a guy he went to high school with, Davy Brewster, a.k.a. "Brewski." Just a little generous when he married her, Brewski's wife popped out two kids in that trailer they stayed in while saving up for a down payment on a house. After the kids, she quit her job and began eating, and when all was said and done, she tipped the digital scales in the bathroom near the pink plastic clothes hamper at three hundred pounds. Brewski loved her and all, but at three hundred pounds he quit liking so much to go into the bedroom at night after he'd eaten one of her fine goulash meals and put the kids down to sleep. He got the funniest feeling about her spread out in lingerie on the bed, all moist and sighing and waiting for him. Had to get drunk and proceed slowly with the lights off. And he wasn't a small man himself.

When he lets himself think about it, Whiskers finds he can relate, understands exactly what Brewski was going through. It's only a general form of anxiety, though, nothing he can't live with.

He doesn't say anything to Guts or Jeanette about it, but he suspects the anxiety is more or less the root of the police attention he's been getting recently in Tennessee.

Once he finishes up his vacation in Santa Maria and is back home, the anxiety often intensifies into fear. In the late night or early mornings, Whiskers wakes himself up out of a sound and sometimes drunken sleep, shouting. His own cold sweat has soaked his pillow and sheets. Sometimes he wakes up feeling hands tightening around his throat, or a pillow shoved into his mouth and nose. He can't breathe. He can't get air. His heart is thudding hard and painful against his rib cage like it's trying to bust free. Sometimes he smells an unfamiliar sweet musky smell in the dark air of his room. First his mouth is dry, and then what spit he does have glues his tongue to the roof of his mouth.

He's got some good medical insurance for once in his life, so he goes to the employee clinic for a scrip and then to the pharmacy to buy an inhaler. He keeps the inhaler by his bedside, near his pistol and his whiskey. He puffs on it every time before he goes to sleep, and every time he wakes up. It's a lifesaver when he has the choking nightmares.

He feels powerless when he has to buy the inhaler. He can't talk to anyone he knows about his fear. He knows anyone he might tell, if they didn't die laughing, would never take him seriously and would forever discuss him behind his back. And he knows the way word gets around. People he doesn’t even know would giggle and look away when he walked into a room.

He thinks about Guts and Jeanette teasing him. Even members of his own family who love him wouldn't be able to always keep a straight face around him. He hooks up with and tries to cuddle with smaller whores, but cuddling with them is like cuddling a rack of bones.

His Ma asks him, "What happened to those two girls you were bringing around, Tina and Blanche? They both seemed like really nice girls."

And he has to say, "Too damn skinny." He leaves it at that and goes back to what he knows and loves best, fat whores.

But his fear becomes a phobia. The night frights keep happening. When he thinks about them during the day, in the store or at work, or even driving when he's by himself, he starts to get the shakes and that pounding fast heartbeat. He feels chilled, then overheated. His ears start ringing and he feels dizzy. He goes back to the clinic and pharmacy and gets blood pressure medication and an antidepressant. The medication helps a little bit but not enough.

He starts guzzling hooch, first buying a lot of local rotgut out of the back of some yellow-eyed black man's trunk, next drinking it mightily.

The hooch fucks with his love life royally. He hooks up drunk with this Internet Hottie he's been e-mailing regularly, like every day for a few weeks, on a popular personals site. She's not some skank, either, supported by the County or SSI, wanting to come over to his place right away, high on anti-depressants and whipping her ass and her hair around. No, she's a CNA with two little boys, employed full time by the hospital, studying for her LPN and looking for an LTR. She sends him a few pics of herself and her boys. Her folks live back in Louisiana, and she's cajun hot, voice a little zydeco, with white skin, a monroe lip piercing, dark hair and friendly black eyes.

He likes it that she makes him chase her a little. He asks and asks and she finally agrees to meet him at a local restaurant, where they share a fried chicken dinner with slaw, pinto beans and cornbread. She's got her leather sandal kicked off under the table and is running her little bare foot with its silver chain anklet and purple sparkly toenail paint inside his pant leg up his calf towards his knee and then back down again, over and over. He's into her and she's into him and they are telling each other what they want to do to each other when they get back to her apartment, and he just knows something spectacular will come of it. She's pretty and very oral, the way most big'uns are, and is talking dessert, a froth of white marabou on some handcuffs, immobilizing him, her tongue, her lips, chocolate sauce and whipped cream, cinnamon oil and honey.

Normally he's strictly a white bread, slab of meat, hot sauce, and pickled egg kinda guy, but listening to her he is developing a huge sweet tooth and that ain't all. Lucky's not the word, from what she's telling him. But then she casually informs him while talking about something else that her last boyfriend was a black man.

"Yeah?" he hears himself say, even though he knows it's the hooch talking, "If that's the case, I won't be able to do a damn thing for you, and I doubt any other white man will either." Abruptly he gets up out of the booth and away from her roving toes.

"Fuck you," the Internet Hottie says, but he can tell her heart isn't into it. She gives him a stricken look and begins to cry. Tears spill mascara down her cheeks, her mouth trembles, and then she ducks her head down so he can't look at her, all he can see is the top of her head, a white part in her dark southern curls.

He wants to comfort her, but he can't. He staggers over to the cash register and pays the bill. Everyone in the restaurant can hear the Internet Hottie's blatting.

An old lady sitting at another booth close to the restaurant's exit glares at him and clicks her tongue disapprovingly.

"And you," he tells her sternly, getting up close to her until he can smell her old lady perfume of dust, wintergreen, fruity talc powder, and the very faint pall of shit, "you need to watch your sphincter. It's been getting the upper hand. You need to keep a closer eye on it."

The sphincter thing, the outraged look on that ancient broad's face is pretty funny and he giggles about it while driving home, but he still goes home sad. He dials Hottie's cell to apologize, but she won't answer. He sends her an e-mail but she spams it back to him.

He pours himself a drink, lies down in his damp messed up bed sheets and for some reason starts thinking of his father's cabin. Very few women had ever been to that cabin, and then only when there was no other way possible of getting pussy. It was one of his father's rules.

He thinks of Batman’s shroud in the ten acre meadow in front of the cabin, and the pink lilies he and Guts planted.

He remembers hunting in a morning snow storm one year in late November, early December, naked except for his boots and high on beer and methamphetamine, running through that meadow, shouting a war cry and firing into the sheets of snow at a herd of six, seven deer as he ran. He dropped two of them, and remembers most vividly the red drag stains covered so soon by the quick falling snow, and how, although the snowflakes stung his blooded skin when they hit, he strangely wasn't at all cold.

Guts and Batman came running out of the cabin shortly after they heard his shots, his father with a coupla good sharp knives and an extra coat, laughing, and Guts saying "You fuckin' guy!" as they helped him open up, clean out, and then skin the deer.

He starts having black outs. Then he has to put up with all this surreal shit people tell him he did while under the influence. He can't believe half the shit they say. It's way too surreal.

One time he remembers vaguely buying some hooch, drinking it, and then going down to talk to one of his current whores where she works in housekeeping at a local motel. He remembers that neither she nor her supervisor were too happy to see him, threatened to call the police. So he drove home. He can't remember driving home or what he did when he got there. He remembers that at some point right before he fell asleep he loaded his pistols.

His brother Guts calls him the next day and plays a message he apparently left on Guts' answering machine.

"Hey, you fuck." he hears his own pissed off voice slur. "I know you're fuckin' there. Pick up the fuckin' fuckin' fuck. Fuck you."

His whore tells him that sometime the previous evening, while driving home at breakneck speed, he lost control of his 1976 Cordoba and spun it up over a curb, performed a spectacular aerial vehicular flip over the heads of some very surprised children who are playing a game of Statues on their lawn.

The owner of the lawn and the kids' father is an emergency police dispatcher. He was skilsawing some boards in his garage with door open so he could keep an eye, and he saw the vehicular flip. He arm wrenched and ass kicked all the kids into the house, and then started screaming at Whiskers.

Whiskers, strapped in by his seat belt, suffered only a little bleeding from a cut on his wrist and one on his jaw. He got annoyed at the guy's harangue and figured it was a good idea to get the fuck out of there. The Cordoba, built like a tank and, like Whiskers, only jostled a little, only dented a little, is still in prime running condition.

The emergency dispatch father chased Whiskers down the street, yelling out Whiskers' license plate number. Whiskers' whore tells him that she found out all of this because she left work early and drove to Whiskers' house to see if he was okay. When she got there the place was crawling with police.

The emergency dispatch father was there too, foaming at the mouth and demanding justice. He's the one who told her what happened. It wasn't like he wanted especially to talk to her, he even got hostile when he found out she was Whiskers' honey and called her an obese cunt when she told him to calm down. He was just telling anyone who was there, over and over, anyone who got within earshot.

The police whacked on the door for about a half hour, but the house was dark and Whiskers didn't answer. Inside his dogs jumped growling up on the bed, protecting him where he lay insensible and drooling. The police politely muzzled the emergency dispatch father and said they'd catch up with Whiskers the next day at work. Everyone left. Whiskers' whore said she stayed, circling the house and calling out his name. She knocked on the doors and windows for about another half hour.

The doors were locked, both the front and back doors, and she told him she thought about forcing one of his windows and getting in that way but she decided not too because she was afraid she'd get stuck.

Whiskers is relieved she decided against it. He figures out that he was loading his pistols probably to shoot anybody who forced entry into his house.

He realizes his phobia has now got him completely under its thumb, if all that shit really happened, which it probably did, because the next morning, the police do show up at his workplace and he does get arrested.

He has a mouth that tastes like a boiled asshole, a nasty hooch headache, and, short fused, he somewhat unwisely resists the arrest. The police tussle and reason with him for a while, but they eventually just pepper spray the crap out of him and throw him to the ground and restrain him.

His mother lets him sit tender faced and puffy eyed in the Yoayus County Jail for two days and even puts a collect call block on her number so he can't get in touch with her.

When she finally lifts the block, she answers the phone screaming, "I'm so sick of your shit. I've eaten just about all the shit I can handle from you! You're just like your goddam father!"

When he says, "Ma, you gotta get me outta here," she just hangs up. Later on her man comes to her where she's sitting weeping at the kitchen table, drinking Michelob Lights and listening to Toby Keith warble It's a Little Too Late.

"Hon, he is your son," her man tells her.

She blows her nose and lets herself be folded into her man's arms. "He is just like Batman," she sobs. "Every time he comes through that door, I get the deyjah voo. It's mostly his eyes."

Whiskers has the same beautiful glacier blue eyes as did his father. They are wicked angel eyes, lit up from his inside flame either good or evil, depending on his mood and level of intoxication.

Before he quit taking his blood pressure and heart meds and stroked out savage and lonely in that hunting camp years ago, Batman used to get blasted and beat on her. At first she used to try to beat back on him, didn't usually take much shit from anybody, but she was no match for him. He had a soldier's and a hunter's ferocity and she could tell somewhere in the pit of her stomach that killing made him the most happy he was ever going to get in his life.

Married to her just back from his second tour in Nam, he did love her tenderly and for a long time, but violence followed him into their union and demonized it. Once he tried to drown her in the bathtub while the boys, both little ones in their footed pajamas, looked on and shrieked and yipped like coyotes.

As well as the violence, more and more towards the end, there were his absences, and then telephone prayers from the jailhouse were the common thing, all honey and baby and a good woman like her standing by his side. She was mildly embarrassed every time he'd get up to his outlaw tricks, because she worked for seven years as a secretary for the Santa Maria City PD.

A carpenter, he also started fucking anything he could halfway nail down. Some weeks he would come home only as a sort of surprise visit, hung over, and with his peter raw from misuse. He'd lie on the couch in semi-darkness under one of her handmade quilts and gripe at the boys for having cartoons up too loud, or tell her to do things she wasn't of a mind to do, considering.

"Honey, fix me some hash and eggs, " he'd say in a low voice, or coaxing her, "Sugar girl, come rub my balls."

"He's got a lot of Batman in him," she says now, her words muffled in her man's tear dampened shirt collar.

"But he's not Batman," he tells her, stroking her hair. "He's himself. And he's got a lot of you in him, too."

She thinks about it for another day and then posts Whiskers' bail.

Luckily he doesn't lose his job, but as a condition for continued employment, is forced by his employer at the trucking company to take advantage of the company's EAP program. As part of his counseling requirement for the EAP, he picks up a Yoayus community guide when he drives downtown on a conditional license into Yoayus to buy cigarettes before reporting to work. He reads the guide and winds up of all places in the world at a phobia support group meeting eight o'clock on a Friday night.

Surprisingly, that meeting, and others he shows up at afterwards, help lessen the frequency of the choking nightmares and daytime panic attacks. Whiskers stops buying hooch from the yellow-eyed black man's trunk and sticks to drinking cheap beer like everybody else. The surreal stories about what he does when he's in hooch world grind to a halt.

Whiskers and a few other group members splinter into a smaller support group. Mostly they just meet in a room of the hospital basement, drink bitter coffee, and try to focus on the many positive qualities of their girlfriends or wives, all heavy assed whores last to first. Sometimes they all get together with their whores at someone's house, play cards, listen to music, dance, have some beers, and grill chicken, ribs, hamburger, sausage and corn and onions. All the whores try to outdo each other making pasta salads, berry pies and peach shortcakes.

One guy, Rodger, remembers a little Greek from high school and they call their gathering "Gynechubbaphobia Support Group." As they explain to newcomers, the group meetings help a man get over the paralyzing fear of being smothered when his trembling chubby love slave lowers herself, like some unusual night blooming flower, onto his expecting face.


Sarah Elmendorf is a saucy hag living in New York State with two teens and a plethora of other beasties. She works a steady graveyard shift in corrections, more intermittently in education, and has a solar powered hovel and a truck that would run on E85 if any were to be found locally. An excerpt from a novel in progress, Workplace Surprise is her first publication.

Batman's Cabin
© 2008 by Sarah Elmendorf





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