The Dorito Man
I couldn’t believe that the Dorito man had disappeared. His truck was always parked outside the ranch where he lived a pretty ordinary life with his wife and two kids. He seemed sane, always greeted me with, Hello runaround Sue, tipping his Mets’ hat to bow and giving me a big smile. I felt safe seeing the black logo, Doritos floating on his small white truck. For chrissakes I didn’t even know the Dorito man’s name.
My street was all-American from the outside but every house had a secret. Rose’s kids were all crazy. Sean, the sanest, had Down’s syndrome but Rose, his mother, refused to have him live in a halfway house and go on with a life of his own. Sean was thirty and strolled up and down our street, looking for someone to talk to instead of staying in the house with his brother who believed he was a general. Danny marched up and down the street in his father’s old marine uniform. The rest of the time he dressed in his mother’s clothes.
Next door, Ralph lived alone in his neat brick family home, worked at Shoprite and did some gardening on the side. Maybe something illegal on the side too. Now fifty, he was in a constant battle with his brothers and sisters for ownership of his parents’ house. He took out his frustration on his one eyed dog named Judy. I’d hear him screaming every morning: “You bitch Judy! Don’t pull so hard! You bitch… Whoa!” On my other side an ex-Vietnam vet rented. He owned Shamey’s bar uptown, had a steady girlfriend, Laura. I nicknamed her Laura I love you, because late at night he and Laura would have these break ups. 3 A.M. was the bewitching hour. The streetlights off and the sky only lit by the moon. I’d bolt upright and read the big red numbers on the alarm clock. Yup, 3:30. A house door would slam and then the car door. Laura I love you would yell, “You just want my dick and my money!” And Laura would yell back, “Your dick and your money can go to hell.” And then a bellow: “Laura I loooove you. Don’t gooooo Laura.”
The Dorito man seemed normal. He parked his truck outside his house, hugged his kids and wife and went to his kid’s softball games.. But last night he disappeared. I really did feel sorry for his wife, Gail, a pretty woman. I’d see her at games, yelling, “Good eye, good eye,” for her skinny kid who played outfield. The kid, I didn’t know her name either, couldn’t really play softball but the girls’ teams were very fair. Not like the boys’ Little League where the parents wanted blood. The year Bobby pitched and his team was losing, parents hissed at me. One father said, “If your son doesn’t win this game, I’ll kill him.” I worked up a sweat, held in my anger. But I really did believe the father.
I tried to put the Dorito man’s disappearance out of my mind but kept looking out the window, hoping he would be back. Had to stop. Had to think about Pete, my new boyfriend and as good as gold. Been divorced as long as I could remember too many years. Dated, lived with, given up on, still seeing, a couple of men when Pete showed up at Margarita World. Pete Primo, my new love. I told everyone I would go with him anywhere he said. I said that but don’t know if I believed it.
We were leaving in the morning for a road trip, right across Rt. 66, in Pete’s new comfortable SUV. Pete had back problems but his special driver’s seat would massage and heat him all across America. At night, I’d massage and heat him in the special deal motels.
First stop, Memphis—Graceland. In the exhibit, Pete wanted to grab all of Elvis’s costumes and wear them. He did a few rounds of Blue Suede Shoes but the other Elvis devotees just told him to shut up. “We want to hear Elvis, not some Elvis impersonator!” Elvis songs were piped into all the rooms. The tour guide said Pete was almost as good as the Japanese Prime Minister Koizuma who loved Elvis so much the President had to fly him to Graceland in his special Air Force One.
That afternoon, in the bright sun of Tennessee, we jumped in the pool and danced in the low end to some of Elvis’s greatest hits recorded on Pete’s phone.
The bikers upstairs came out to watch and sang along with us. I swam up to one biker, looked closely. He was smiling and seemed to be a real nice guy. Hanging onto the edge of the pool, I looked up and asked, “Is that a skull in your eye?”
“Sure is lady. Do you think Elvis would have liked it?”
“Maybe.” Pete swam over and pulled me under and then up to the deep end. He kissed me, didn’t care who was looking. No one looked. Had to give the bikers credit. Walking back to our room, Pete sang Love Me Tender, a sweet buzz in my ear. He touched all the right spots under water and I believed I’d travel anywhere with Pete Primo.
After eating a rib eye dinner with all the fixings at the Graceland Diner, we raced back to the motel. The sky was so clear, it felt like the full moon could come down for a visit. Pete said “I love you Sue.” I didn’t answer but we held hands like we were 14 and slowed down to stroll to Motel 66.
I stopped dead in my tracks and yelled, “Pete look! Remember I told you The Dorito Man was missing from our street, well, a Dorito truck is parked right next to our SUV.
Pete looked at me like I was crazy but my heart was racing.
Do you think it’s him? Should I knock on his door?”
Pete said, “Do you know how many Dorito trucks there are in the US of A. Come on Sue.”
But nothing could stop me. I peeked inside the window– this was my Dorito man’s truck. A St. Christopher medal dangled from the mirror, a sticker on the back, Go Mets. I knocked on his motel door, the one I figured was his. No one answered.
“C’mon Sue, enough!”
Back in the room, Pete mixed some martinis.
I couldn’t let go. I sat in the desk chair to look out the window. “I bet it’s him. God damn, what’s he doing in Memphis?”
“Maybe he came to see Graceland!” Pete said.
After our usual in and out sex, I sat up and asked, “What if the Dorito man was kidnapped?”
“ Why would he be driving his own truck?”
I closed the blinds, turned off the lights. The moon seemed so close–it could’ve been painted on black velvet. I looked out at the parking lot again and the Dorito truck was backing out. Pete yelled, “Your bare naked Sue.” Nothing would stop me. Nothing. I grabbed my coat, ran out the door, yelling, and chasing. “Wait, wait, Mr. Dorito Man.” He stopped, opened the door and I knew it was written in the stars.
Mare Leonard’s poems have been published in the Vietnam publication at Perfume River, Rats Ass Review, Figroot, Sweet Tree, Eunoia, Unbroken, Ariel Chart Resist: Glass, Bindweed and. Finally a new chapbook, The Dark Inside the Hooded Coat was published at Finishing Line Press this year.