About the Writer
James Yates is a contributing editor to Longform.org. A graduate of the MFA program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, his fiction has appeared in Hobart, matchbook literary magazine, Vol 1. Brooklyn, WhiskeyPaper, and other publications.
He currently works as an adjunct writing instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
During our brief time together, Brandon made one accurate statement. Almost everything that came out his mouth-his political conspiracy theories, soliloquies of the ego, the tales about fistfights and shady dealings he thought I’d find sexy as hell-was bullshit. If you believed Brandon, which I sure as hell didn’t, he’d loved and lived from one end of the Gulf Coast to the next, from his shitty hometown in Florida, to Mississippi to Alabama, to Louisiana to the Mexican beaches, thinking himself a loveable roughneck. Really, he just moved from jobs and women from coast to coast; my bed just happened to be one of his temporary stops. But on our third date, sitting on the deck, under the stars, both dying to get laid but being all polite about it, he smiled as said “you know what? We’re just a couple of love bugs.”
This was the kind of romantic shit guys down here think is a one-way ticket into my pants, but damn if Brandon wasn’t right, even if he didn’t mean it literally. I don’t remember how I responded. I think I just said “aww” and climbed onto his lap.
We were ugly and beautiful at the same time. Depends on the angle-sometimes a love bug can look pretty, like a ladybug, or creepy, like a cockroach. Brandon had his muscles and his lazy eye. I had my big tits and my front tooth that didn’t point the same direction as the others. It all depended on how you approached us.
He loved cars, floated around the ones he liked, even in parking lots, even if a stranger was goddamn sitting in it, thinking Brandon was about to steal it. You couldn’t keep that boy away from shiny chrome and big wheels. Because I was with him, I had to tag along, nod and say “oooh” and “oh yeah” as he circled and rattled off specifications and insisted he’d get his own car eventually.
But when I tried to make him humor me, when I talked about a thoughtful TV show or a book, he just scattered. He thought I was great for making babies, nothing else. Couldn’t even give me a bullshit “that’s interesting” whenever we talked about anything besides cars and sex. I’m not saying I was worldly, that I was trying to make myself look better than him, but shit, I couldn’t see why we couldn’t at least try to be more than a stereotype, an expectation.
Whether we liked it (him) or not (me), we defined ourselves by how often we fucked; when he went down on me, I was torn between how good it felt and how good it was that he had a couple minutes to use his mouth for something besides talking. It got to the point where we might as well have been bouncing off walls and windows, genitals attached, walking with him leading on all fours, me trailing behind the other way.
It was when he talked about settling down, about wanting to be joined at the hip rather than the crotch, I wasn’t having it. He begged, threatened, used every mind game you can imagine, but I knew his type. We were destined to last a couple of summer weeks, no more. He was devastated, insisted this was what he’d been looking for all along, but we couldn’t keep those love bug tendencies away from their natural order. We appeared out of nowhere, made a nuisance of ourselves, and had to disappear. He couldn’t believe we weren’t a thing meant for many years.
But in the end, we defied those insect ways: I died before he did.