The Pink Missive
The panties were lying on the tile outside my door. I turned my head to the right, to the left, looked up the stairs, down the stairs. There was no one around, no one’s voice, just the harsh buzz of the building at rest. It was lonely as all hell that winter so I tucked my salsalito turkey and provolone hoagie from the bodega under my arm, palmed the panties, and hurried inside for a better look.
They were a faded pink, cotton, worn thin in the crotch, a turquoise butterfly stamped on the front, right above where I imagined the owner’s bush would end and her downy stomach hair begin. I paced with the panties held over my mouth and nose like a SARS mask. They smelled of Mountain Breeze detergent. Usually I’m not one for synthetic breezes, but right away I could tell those panties belonged to my perfectonehundredpercentamazingsoulmate. They belonged to a woman whose dresser drawers were full of a rainbow assortment of Victoria Secret undies and were a leftover from her more innocent days that she wore when laundry day approached. No doubt about it. They were a pink missive from the Patron Saint of Lonely Fat Bachelors.
I let my roommate Harry give them a sniff and he rolled his eyes back in his head and said, “Oh, I do love the meadow in the spring, when the buttercups are in bloom.”
“What do you think I should do?” I asked. “I’m sure these panties belong to my soulmate.”
“No doubt about that.”
“So what do I do?”
“You go door to door. If the panties fit, she’s the one for you.” I must have looked a little hesitant, because he added “If you don’t find her, I will.”
I couldn’t have that. Harry and I had a long history where every time I liked a girl, he’d bumble his way into bed with her somehow and then the girl and I would become lifelong friends after they broke up. I had to find that girl before he did. I put the hoagie in the fridge for after a passionate fuck with the girl of my dreams. We’d split it.
I gave a shave-and-a-haircut on the door of the apartment directly below mine. The floor shook and footsteps came thudding down what must have been a long hallway like ours. When the footsteps stopped the light in the peephole blinked out and I stood there for a good five minutes listening to heavy breathing behind the red metal door. I had no idea who lived there. I’d only met one of my neighbors, and that was when the guy living next to me locked himself out of his apartment and wanted to exit my bedroom window and cross the fire escape to his room. I let him, but I kept an eye on my wallet. Finally the door opened up.
She was geographic. Her body spanned continents and eras, and I wasn’t sure she’d fit through the door frame. Her wet and dirty gray hair clung to her forehead. She was eating off-brand orange cheese puffs from a jumbo-sized jar, orange fluff tucked up in rolls of her finger fat, and she was wearing a floral print muumuu that made her look like a prairie at dusk. But still, I thought I could sense she was beautiful once, maybe around the time Cleopatra was. I held the panties up to her thighs, too disgusted to roll them up one of her cankles. They wouldn’t fit.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she asked. Her voice was ogreish and tuba-toned.
“I’m looking for my soulmate.”
“If she fits in those, it ain’t me.”
“Do you have any daughters?” I asked.
“Yes I do,” she said, stuffing cheese puffs into her cheeks and smacking loudly.
“May I talk to them? I’m looking for my soulmate.”
“You got a telephone, you can talk to anybody,” she said.
“Ha-ha. Yes, or a computer. So no one else inside?”
“Bebe?” Bebe! Flapper sex on a gilded beach!
“My golden retriever.”
“Oh, I see.” I could never get off to bestiality, but I thought I could try. If that’s what the Patron Saint of Lonely Fat Bachelors wanted, that’s what the Patron Saint of Lonely Fat Bachelors would get. “Could I meet her? I like golden retrievers.”
“I don’t see why not.” She shifted her weight from foot to foot until she was facing down the hallway. A pool of sweat had gathered in the small of her back, and her muumuu had ridden up. Her backside had the overall appearance of a map showing a road leading to a pond and surrounded on all sides by the Great Plains. A man could get lost among those dead flowers and broken dreams. For all I knew, some had.
“Come here, Bebe!” the woman yelled. “Here Bebe!” Jingles came down the hallway, a dainty bell around a daintier collar.
Bebe slipped between the woman’s legs. She was as fat as her owner, looked like a body pillow covered in shag carpet. I knelt down and told her how beautiful a puppy she was and petted the length of her body, slipped the panties over her golden-haired haunches. She looked like someone had tried to shrink-wrap her ass in cotton. It was a no-go. I pulled the panties off fast and must have caught some of Bebe’s hair, because she gave a yelp and dashed back through the woman’s legs.
The woman shifted her feet back and forth faster than before but still clocked in below average.
I thought maybe I could pave over the situation with some manners. “Well, thank you ma’am. Have a good day.”
“You’re a sick kid. I could always tell. Nothing like Harry.” She reached out to pat my elbow in slow fat motion, smeared corn product on my sleeve. “Godspeed in your search though.”
Godspeed! The rate at which I was going to fuck this woman when I found her! On the wings of Hermes with my pink missive of lust and love and fervent passion I headed next door and gave two shave-and-a-haircuts for good measure. You can’t ever be too smooth, Harry always said. This time I could feel air flowing out from around the door frame, a breeze rolling down a hill and all around me. It had to be my woman.
She was plainplainplainwhitebreadamericana. I couldn’t describe her any better than I could describe an off-white wall in a suburban dentist’s office. Her face was as bland as a stock photo of sunflowers and I pictured her sitting in her apartment, her head following the sunlight all day. Still, I thought that could be good. Maybe the sex would be amazing and I could close my eyes and think of other, more describable women.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I live upstairs and I’m looking for my dream girl.”
“That’s nice,” she said, and stepped aside to let me in.
Plainplainwhitebreadamericanathat’snice. The walls of her apartment were white andbare except for thirty-one pairs of white granny panties tacked up in six columns of five with an extra to the right.
“Nice art piece,” I said.
“Oh, those are just my panties,” she said. “It’s easier to get to them that way. One for each day of the month.”
“What do you do with the extra ones in February?”
“I wash them anyway.”
The girl was simple. Simple and nice. She was like a computer fresh out of the box: the operating system and basic software were there but otherwise the hard drive was blank. It was all wrong. There was no way my perfect girl would have a wall full of granny panties, and besides, this girl was as thin as a flagpole. There was no point in even trying them on her.
As I turned to leave I spotted on the coffee table a blue vase clearly from Target and filled with roses clearly from the bodega. “Those are nice,” I said. “You live with a boyfriend?”
“Those are from Harry up in apartment 33,” she said. “Nice boy.”
Harry! Nice boy! Harry carrying groceries, Harry bringing flowers, Harry always one step ahead!
“You know Harry?”
“Sure, met him on the stairs. We have tea sometimes. Would you like some tea?”
“Tea. I don’t drink tea, sorry, I’m hyper enough without it. Maybe some other time? It was nice meeting you,” I said.
“It was nice meeting you, too” she said, her voice like a million corporate telephone menus speaking in unison.
As I went from door to door, the story was the same. Whenever there was an answer, the woman wasn’t right, and Harry had already been there and left. There was the cougar who answered the door in a red towel, a pink cursive A embroidered over her breast, just under where the towel was tucked into itself, which was just too much for me. The apartments filled with Hispanic families who had yet to be gentrified out of the neighborhood, whose daughters had long flown the coop. The girl with a smooth complexion like plastic and hair like the original Barbie’s, someone I could play house with but never love. Not a dream girl one.
The wind was leaving my sails. How did Harry know everyone in our building, while I knew no one? I went to the next apartment, my building superintendant’s, and gave three sharp raps. I didn’t have enough steam left to be smooth. A girl who came up to my navel answered the door. She was eating an icy pop, blue. Might have been the superintendent’s daughter, but I’d never met his family.
“What?” she asked. Blunt for a girl eating a blue icy pop. Red maybe, but not blue.
“I’m looking for my perfect dream girl,” I said.
“And I’m looking for a way out of this 8,363,710 horse town,” she said. I always liked sassy women. I could tell she was going to grow up into a vixen and stay that way. The way she ate her icy-pop suggested longevity. Maybe this was one of those child-bride things and I could propose to her right then, start sending her Barbie’s and Ken’s and then buying her a car and marrying her on her eighteenth birthday. I bent to slip the panties up over her pink jogging pants and she grabbed on to them before she knew what she was doing. She stared down at the panties for a moment like I’d handed her a flier for the Pedophile Elks Club, then turned and ran inside with them, the door slamming shut in my face, the drained icy pop wrapper left behind at my feet.
That was it, I figured. I could see my shadow under the fluorescent light: another six weeks of lonely New York winter. I’d never find my dream girl without those panties, so I might as well get used to being alone, buy a comforter to shield from the cold and ear plugs to block out Harry’s effeminate sex squeals. I headed back to my apartment. I was halfway up the first flight of stairs when I heard the door open behind me.
There was a soft, calm light, a heavenly meringue beat. Long, flowing, saintly hair. A noble maroon bathrobe. It was Him, our brother of Grace, the Patron Saint of Lonely Fat Bachelors. He walked with divine purpose in my direction, his eyebrows getting bushier and blacker as he came closer, but then it was just my building superintendent, Victor or Vector or Vance. I couldn’t ever remember his name.
When he got to me he stuffed the panties into my mouth and told me to listen. I didn’t mind so much—have you ever tasted a spring breeze so soon after the winter, so fresh?—but then he grabbed my collar and got in my face, brought me back from my fantasy of rolling hills and golden locks.
“Listen,” he said. “Three tenants have called me. You need to stop going door to door with panties. If I get one more complaint.”
He let me go and I thought it was over, I could go huddle up with some hentai porn, but as I started to pull away he head-butted me in my nose.
“Why can’t you be more like Harry?” he asked. “Harry brings me home-made salsa. Hombre makes a muy picante dip.”
I stumbled back upstairs. The blood from my nose ran into my mouth and it started to taste like my dream girl was becoming a dream woman. I was partway to my room when I noticed Harry’s door was ajar and moaning and squealing was issuing forth from the threshold. I peeked inside. Harry was lying on his back and a woman was grinding up and down and around on top of him, thrashing her hair around and raking Harry’s hairless and boyish chest with her long red nails. She looked like Cleopatra + Cindy Crawford + Calamity Jane + The Babysitter + Audrey Hepburn + Eve + Lindsey Lohan + Tyra Banks + Bebe Daniels + Audrey Tautou + Karen O + The Girl Next Door + Kobe Tai + Aphrodite + Toni Morrison. Harry had a pair of red silk panties stuffed in his mouth and his hands and feet were tied to the bed frame. He looked at me and winked.
I paced, I fumed. I stacked the old pizza boxes up and placed the bloodied panties on top with a vinyl copy of the Harold and Maude soundtrack turned backwards, Cat Steven’s blissed-out face looking down at the panties like he understood it all. I crossed myself mouthnipplenipplegroin and said a little prayer: Patron Saint of Lonely Fat Bachelors, our Brother of Grace, bring bad fortune on Harry and bring me a girl. I vowed to challenge Harry to a gentleman’s duel the next time we were alone.
That was my dream girl and Harry was writhing underneath her and there was nothing I could think to do about it. I lay in my bed with the sheets bunched in my hands, my brain boiling, the pillow hard and unsupportive. To calm my mind I pictured a new and different and more perfect soulmate in a green German beer maid outfit with white stockings and red garters, prancing through a rolling meadow full of clovers and buttercups, parsnips and forget-me-nots, her green skirt bouncing up to reveal the pink panties, myself in green lederhosen merrily bounding toward her, her happy expression and open arms, my happy expression and open arms, and then I was on her, and licking her, and she tasted like a fresh mountain spring, like flowering snowballs, and then I was in her, bent over in the grass, the panties pushed aside, and I thrust into her until I planted seed aplenty. We curled up next to each other in the grass, picked buttercups and sniffed them. She held two of the golden blooms over her nipples and smiled at me. We left the rolling meadow and went back to our log cabin where we produced many blond babies. We kept a vase of sunflowers, to remind us to appreciate the small things in life. Once a month we visited the shrine of our Patron Saint to pay homage and say thanks for what he had given us. And when the babies were asleep at night, my soulmate would read me a bedtime story about the American prince who went door to door to find the woman whom the panties fit, and then brought her into his castle for long, lusty nights, and I would bend her over my knee and lift her skirt to spank her over the panties, and whisper into her ear, “you are a very, very naughty girl, Frau Cinderella.”
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