The Dog Shack
by Wendi White
I call about the job and Louie asks me to come by but wear my shorts, my short shorts. So I shimmy into blinding white hot pants with rhinestone studs and ride my ten-speed to The Dog Shack to become a carhop. Easy. Louie wants to know my age and weight, and while looking at my application, asks me to turn around so he can glance up and appraise my ass. It’s no lie. I get the job by the seat of my pants.
All summer I schlep chilidogs and fries across hot asphalt to station wagons packed with screaming kids and swim floats bound for the lake. I hang plastic trays off car windows and pass time between orders snatching napkins from bushes at the lot’s edge. That’s where this guy parks every night at the end of my shift, after my friends peel out to drink beer in the woods. That’s where he watches my job-winning backside as I walk to the window with his order.
One night, as I’m asking if he wants chopped onions or cheese on his foot long, he whispers, “I want you to see what I have here.” I’m seventeen and stupid and so I follow his instructions. In the dashboard light I see his naked butt, hear it squeaking back and forth on the vinyl seat, and just make out his disgusting dick in his hand. I run screaming into the shop for Louie, who keeps a bat behind the counter, and he lunges out the door waving it like a flag. “Come here you pervert; I’ll murder you,” he growls. I never see the guy again, but I quit anyway because as nasty as the flashing was, you know what was worse? Both the pervert and I knew Louie wasn’t lying.
PHOTO: The Dog Shack (Hudson Falls, New York).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t write much confessional poetry, but every blue moon or so, a memory pounces and demands I encase it within the amber of a poem. I oblige the memories that seem to transcend my own history and speak to our shared condition. This one snuck up on me and clubbed me over the head.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendi White is a poet and provocateur currently musing among the herons and egrets of Coastal Virginia’s tidewater region. She recently earned her MFA from Old Dominion University and her day job has her mentoring students at ODU’s Women’s Center. At home she keeps one husband, two sons, a garden where tomatoes abound every other year, and too many books to count.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here I am in all my mid-life glory. Seventeen seems so very long ago.