Continued from: Beneath the Weeping Tree: Part 11— The Wolf Den
Cooper stared at the tub while he slid the grimy jeans down his legs and pulled out of his shirt. A rust-colored stain crowned the porcelain floor and crinkles of dried out hair sprouted through the drain holes. It was strange that his mother was always telling him to take a shower—she seemed awfully concerned with cleanliness for someone who didn’t make much of an effort to sanitize the bathroom, or any other part of the apartment, for that matter. Sometimes he sat on the toilet and ran the shower to give her the impression that he was following through on her instructions. And on other occasions, he’d step into the sprinkling water, penis in hand and stroke himself into the floor of the wet tub. Pangs of guilt would ensue the masturbation but he grew to not care much one way or the other. After all, he figured, the place was already brimming with strangeness. How was a little jizz going to hurt?
He cranked the knob and the faucet squeaked on. When he stepped into the flow, the water chilled his body, rippling goose bumps across his chest and arms. The slimy bar of soap almost slipped out of his hands, but once the water warmed up he began to lather his face and neck. He thought briefly about touching himself, gathering images of Suzy Becker, eyes sealed shut. There she was in the shower with him, her exacting fingers cupping his butt as she rocked from heel to toe in front of him, brushing his lips with her own each time she got close. He imagined the oversized tee shirt draped over her wet body, nipples budding through, inviting his touch. He reached to reel her in, her naked thighs twining with his own, his penis throbbing, hard enough to nail in the safety rails on his tree platform, if need be. She distributed kisses on his face and then on his chest, working her way toward his belly. And at last, she giggled, but the giggle evolved to a cackle and he looked down into her eyes, and it was Mrs. Bradford’s eyes leering up at him. Hellooooooww? Where do you think you’re going young man? The fantasy evaporated and Cooper’s penis quickly shriveled in his hand. He opened his eyes and twitched his head back and forth like a wet dog, trying to shake himself free of the image. The fantasy seemed the nearest thing to sacrilege that he could conjure—Suzy Becker’s supple body with Mrs. Bradford’s bug-eyed, old face attached—like a bag of trash replacing the angel affixed to the top of a Christmas tree.
The water quickly lost its comforting warmth and instead felt repulsive to his skin. He rushed through the routine of shampooing his hair, cropping up thick foam with his hurrying fingers. “Where the fuck am I gonna get a hammer,” he whispered, suddenly thinking about the safety rails on the tree platform. He probably wouldn’t even go out there after dinner, but the problem lingered just the same. It was a weekend job and that gave him a few days to figure out a solution. If there was a man in the house, there’d be a better chance of having some tools around. The closest thing to a tool box in the apartment was a box full of tacks and string and tape. His mom’s unspoken motto seemed to be: “If it can’t be done with the hands alone, then it ain’t getting done . . . call the maintenance man.” Cooper rinsed his hair, took another shot of water to each arm pit and capped the shampoo bottle. Another of his mom’s pet peeves.
“Dinner’s almost ready . . . about three minutes. So hustle up.”
She’d hollered through the paneled door to him. He took a final rinse, thankful that she had respected his privacy enough to leave the door shut. It got to be pretty annoying when, at fifteen, your mother still felt she had the right to come in and brush her teeth while you were in the shower. Or even while you were taking a shit. Maybe she’ll be stopping that, he hoped, shutting down the water.
Continued from: Beneath the Weeping Tree: Part 13 — Here’s Looking at You, Kid