Shrimp Juice

I woke in the dawn-lit trunk of a car left in a Walmart parking lot. Now mid-March the earth had heated so I slept sans shirt or pants. A film of grease born from sweat stuck like dust on a glue trap.

Corona darkened this new day. Spun earth to frenzy. Went from far-off drops to a battering storm. One that nurtured confusion. Not panic but an outcrop of that instinct. A need to hoard in case all had to hunker. I couldn’t even snag sanitizer to scald cum from hands before popping in contacts. Had to wash with a jug and orange soap on the far outskirts of this asphalt lot.

I felt too tired to wake so put a hand down my pants and boiled a batch of shrimp juice. Fingers agitated like flint on rock. Chk. Chk. Chk. Dead strikes. Warming blows. And then no fire but a spark. An ember arcing in air but for a second. The broth sat squalid like pus squeezed from a corpse. I sopped it with the crust of last night’s cum rag. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Physical relief stirred me from mental despondence. From a cocoon ever-recoated. I now heard the mid-morning chatter of frenzied shoppers. Their cars and conversations. Squeaky carts clanging by. Life’s essentials and more in a metal basket. This din a tone of earth’s cold clarion. A call to enter the unknown. The unknowable.

I lay in the last of my mess and wondered whether to leave my home, this massive lot, or scatter far from life to safety. No one knew what to do, myself included. I wondered if the interstate might close. If touching a park sink might sicken me. Wondered where I’d escape from burning sun should the library shutter. How I’d survive if I contracted the virus while living alone in a car.

I felt like a rodent smoked from its hole. From the depths of this dark and squalid cum chamber. My existence outside it the lazy routine of a morning shit and shopping. Of checking my unbathed beauty in a row of cheap mirrors. Of driving to the library. Of parking at night to watch a film then crawl to trunk for relief and rest. An insular nest of comfort.

As the outer world dissipated I worried more about a loss of inner life. Of a mental peace tilled from routine. I’d slunk so long beneath the floorboards that things on the surface failed to affect me. Yet now I watched with interest. I didn’t wish people to die but birthed from chaos an excitement stirred. It felt like earth was swirling and no one knew if a fresh mix might stick. These clanking carts and empty shelves just the start. For better or worse I deduced it’d stir me too.

I pondered what to do. Stay in this city or retreat to the rural place I was raised. Upend my little life of comfort. Such a small choice in the wake of the horrors that others faced. I was lucky to have such an option. And yet I couldn’t pull trigger. Hated that I had to. But there was no need to choose just then. Perhaps the next day. Or the one after that. For now I’d boil another hot shot of shrimp juice. Later step into the light. Become concurrent with concerns of the world. Or not. I didn’t know and barely cared.

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