Isaac Eustice

A Texas Blues Song

Early Spring–Bluebonnets and Mesquite by Julian Onderdonk

At 17, when I lived in Texas, I worked at a cereal factory. I worked beside a crack-head named Steven. He was always getting injured at work; sliced his thumb open so good with a box-cutter once they sent him home (it was gushing blood everywhere). I took box-cutters home, accidentally in my jeans pockets, and for some reason my father assumed I used them to chop up lines of some drug, which wasn’t true, but it didn’t matter. Steven came back to work with a toothache. He couldn’t afford to pay the dentist, so he pulled his own tooth out with pliers.

He succeeded in shattering the tooth, leaving just the raw, throbbing nerve exposed, and that made the damn thing hurt ten times worse. Steven, being a great innovator, rubbed cocaine directly on the gum, to numb the horrible electric pain, which worked, I guess, but then he was too high, and one day he was driving a fork-lift, and he crashed into a beam, straight into a fire-extinguisher, and green gas flooded out gassing us all, so that we had to cover our faces with our shirts, coughing and gagging all day. At the end of the shift, Steven told me he had no money for gas, and no gas, and he had a wife and kid far away he needed to get back to, so could he borrow a few bucks to put in his tank? It seemed like a reasonable request, so I rode with him to the gas station, put a few gallons on my debit card. Then he drove me back to the factory, where my mom was waiting to pick me up. When she saw me getting out of his car, her mind went crazy with awful ideas about this dirty-faced guy and his old car, and when we got home she took me aside, looked me dead in the eyes and asked, for real: “Isaac, tell me, are you a prostitute?” I told her to fuck off and walked away, out the front door and off down the sidewalk, lit a cig and called my friend Angela.

Sometimes I would smoke pot with Angela. She had a kid, and word on the street was she was a real prostitute, on Craigslist, but the girl was kind to me, and I could probably sleep on her couch, since, of all people, she certainly knew what it was like to be misunderstood.


About the writer:
Isaac Eustice is a self-taught American writer, who has lived in 5 states and Mexico, and who works as a dish-washer. His life, once wild and eventful, has slowed to a calm, peaceful, reclusive pace as he works on his prose and pursues a BA in English Literature. He is a fan of the writings of the Lost Generation and has many bad, amateur tattoos.

Image: Early Spring–Bluebonnets and Mesquite by Julian Onderdonk (1822-1922). Oil on panel. 8.7 x 12 inches. 1919. Public domain.