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In Which a Truck Driver Parked at a Rest Stop Outside of La Grange Experiences Trauma-Related Erectile Dysfunction

Story by Vincent Scarpa (Read author interview) June 24, 2014

art by Lucy Orloski

It had taken him three days to get out of New Jersey with the knowledge that no charges would be filed against him. Drugs and alcohol were ruled out on the spot, and ultimately the investigative conclusion was “human error,” and he was not the human they meant. The girl had come out of nowhere, materializing like magic through the windshield, not unlike the first deer he ever hit on the job, years ago in western Massachusetts. The deer had made a kinder sound. It had not, for example, screamed.

Tonight he’s sleeping in a rest stop outside of La Grange. A few miles back he was still plenty awake, had hours left in him, but then there had been someone on the CB radio preaching about the end of days, a fire and brimstone, beg for mercy kind of guy, and it had made him tired. Once in his sleeper, he realizes he has not masturbated since the night before the accident—there had been no opportunity after, therefore the level of interest was difficult to gauge—and so he slips his hand down the front of his jeans, feels his size and softness. Taped to the walls of his berth are pornographic photos he has clipped from magazines over the years: balloon-boobed bottle-blondes, brunettes parting the lips of their vaginas, shaved Korean teenagers with ballgags in their mouths like the apples in the mouths of roasted pigs. He strokes to no effect. Agitated, he looks out the windshield at the near-empty parking lot. A net of flies hovers around the nearest light post. He is half-heartedly looking for a sleeper-leaper—he has never understood nor favored the more common lot lizard; the comparison simply did not crystallize for him—but sees only a well-dressed woman walking back from the 24-hour store toward her Prius, holding a case of water and a carton of cigarettes. It’s just as well, he thinks. He is rarely given to seeking such services anyway, and in fact enjoys bucking the stereotype. He decides he will try himself again in the morning, and falls asleep to the crackling static of distant drivers coming through the wire, warning of the speed traps and zipper-hoggers and brake-check traffic for miles behind and ahead of him.

About the Author

Vincent Scarpa is a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas. His fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Baltimore Review, and Brevity. He is the 2012 recipient of the Norman Mailer College Fiction Award.

About the Artist

Lucy Orloski is from a tiny town in central Maine and now lives in Boston. Photo used via Flickr Creative Commons.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Four

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