Gangrene Queen

She's Always a Woman

As the gang continued on their journey, Ace sat in the passenger’s seat glancing over a map.

“Hey, there’s a place called Dumbass, Texas,” Ace pointed out as the others laughed.

“That’sssss a perfect name for a place in thissss state,” Snake agreed as he snickered.

“Uh, guys, it’s pronounced Dumas,” Angela corrected. She wondered who left him in charge of the map if he couldn’t even read. “And does anyone have any idea how long until we’re in New York? This is taking forever!”

“Are we there yet?” Arturo asked. Soon he and Angela began asking together in unison, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Eventually, Snake joined in. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Finally, Big Billy began asking with a big, happy smile on his face, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

“Shut up! We’re not even close!” Ace snapped. Grubber blew a raspberry of exasperation.

The rest of the day remained quite boring. As Grubber drove onward through long stretched of nothing, the rest of the gang either napped or sang along to whatever radio stations they could get. Unfortunately, since they were rapidly approaching the Midwest, there were times where all they could get were country stations. Every hour, they stopped to let Big Billy take a bathroom break. Once they got back on the road, Angela kept herself entertained with a round of punch-buggy. Of course, she seemed to be the only one playing.

“Punch-buggy red!” She cried as they passed a red Volkswagen. She slugged Arturo in the arm.

“Geez, Angie!” Arturo complained as he rubbed his aching arm. “You definitely don’t hit like a girl!”

“Punch-buggy blue!” Angela called out five minutes later as a blue Volkswagen drove by. Angela jabbed Snake in the shoulder.

“That’sssss not cool,” Snake pouted. “That hurtsssss.”

“Don’t be a bad sport!” Angela cajoled. “Punch-buggy’s fun!”

The gang drove past a semi-truck.

“Punch-buggy!” Big Billy cried as he punched Angela in the shoulder. The shock sent her careening into Snake on the other side of the back seat.

“Dude!” Angela cried in pain. A purple ring formed on her green skin. “That wasn’t even a Volkswagen!”

“Billy, you touch her again and I’ll kick your ass,” Ace threatened.

“But I wanted to play punch-buggy too!” Big Billy whined as tears dribbled down his face. He began to wail loudly.

“Fine!” Ace snapped impatiently. “I got a new idea for a game! How’s about we play the quiet game? The first person to talk is the loser!”

“Ooh! What does the winner getsss?” Snake wanted to know. But of course, he went ignored. Everyone went dead silent.

There was only ten minutes of peace and quiet. Grubber began fiddling with the radio stations with the hope of something other than static and country music when he stumbled upon a station playing a fast new wave tune with a catchy bass backed up by female vocals.

“Oooh! I love this song!” Angela cried. “It’s ‘Tonite’ by The Go-Gos!”

“I guessss Angie loses the quiet game,” Snake pointed out.

“So do you!” Arturo laughed. Realizing he just spoke up, he said, “Oh wait, so do I.”

“Pull over and crank up the radio!” Angela demanded. “I got an idea!”

Grubber slammed on the breaks as the car sat parked in the middle of the highway. Angela hopped out of the convertible into the barren corn field as Ace began to wonder if Angela had finally lost her mind. He then remember that this was one of Angela’s moments of complete unpredictability. Those moments had already grown on him.

Angela began to perform a very elaborate ballet routine, the beat of the bass seeming to pulse through her veins. The rest of the gang cheered her on as Ace stared through his shades longingly and lustfully. Angela did turns, swift jumps, kicks, and deep, quick plies, almost as though she were floating gracefully along the ground.

A semi drove by and honked the horn at the dancing girl in the middle of the field. A pick-up truck passed by and the occupants stopped to take Angela’s photo. And plenty of other passers-by threw money at her.

Three minutes later, Angela hopped back into the convertible as Arturo sat on her lap. Angela began counting up the money that random people driving along the highway had thrown at her.

“Angie, that was a great idea!” Ace said approvingly. “How’d ya know people would stop and throw money at ya?”

“I guess people will pay to see anything out here since there’s nothing but corn and lots of it,” Angela laughed as her face flushed. Any word of praise from Ace still made her turn bright red. “One thing’s for sure, we’re actually gonna stop somewhere tonight, even if it’s just a cheap motel. I honestly have no idea how Grubber’s been able to drive when he hasn’t slept for about three days.”

The rest of the day remained, surprisingly, very quiet. The gang drove through McDonald’s and scared the hell out of the person at the drive-thru window just for being, well, green. The sun began to slowly sink in the opposite direction that the gang was headed, turning the vast Midwestern sky in shades of red and orange. As night fell, the gang found themselves entering Oklahoma. A heavy layer of frost blanketed the prairie.

“What’d I say?” Angela pointed out. “Nothing but corn. And it’s ice cold.”

“Yeah, I'm freezing,” Snake complained as his lips turned blue. Every time he breathed out, his breath became invisible in a puff of foggy steam. “We better find a place to stay soon, because it is fucking cold.”

Grubber blew a raspberry as he cranked up the heater and hit the button to raise up the roof on the convertible.

Ace said nothing. Instead, he could feel warmth engulf him. It was almost overwhelming. Before he could take off his vest, everything around him melted away. He wasn’t sure where he was anymore, but it was still night. The moon was full and the air around him was very, very warm. He looked around him. Nothing but sand and cacti for miles.

“Damn, how’d I end up back in the desert?” He asked himself. Ace’s eyes fell on Angela. Her hair swept along her bare shoulders and her wide, brown eyes followed him seductively. She wore a red belly dance costume with gold coins that jangled whenever she walked.

“I'm pretty sure this is one of those garage thingies now,” Ace said as he grinned from ear to ear.

Angela began to dance seductively as “Desert Rose” by Sting played in the background.

“If this is a dream,” Ace said out loud to himself, “I don’t think I ever wanna wake up.”

“Please wake up,” Angela told him gently. “Pretty please, please wake up.”

Meanwhile, the convertible had stopped outside of a Motel 6. Grubber had already gone inside to reserve rooms for everyone (or to possibly scare the living shit out of the person working at the front desk) and Angela had hopped out of the convertible and walked up to the passenger’s seat to try and wake up Ace. His breath was shallow and quiet.

“Pretty please! Please wake up,” Angela begged gently. But no answer. “He’s out like a light,” Angela said, trying to mask the concern in her voice. “That’s a first. He’s never the first one to fall asleep.” She took his limp, slender hands into hers. “He’s ice cold.”

“That’s why I'm ditching you losers and I'm going to get a bed!” Snake announced as he darted away.

“Come on Angie, I'm sure he’ll be fine,” Arturo said impatiently. “We had the heater cranked up on full-blast!”

“Yeah, but we had the hood of the convertible down the whole time, so it didn’t do us any good,” Angela reminded him.

Angela unbuckled Ace and lifted him out of the passenger’s seat.

“Damn! You’re strong!” Arturo said in awe.

Angela wasn’t sure how she did it, but she carried Ace as Arturo walked alongside her and Big Billy happily followed.

When Ace woke up, he panicked for a moment; he didn’t know where he was. He took off his shades and his eyes adjusted to the darkness around him. The new setting was a dirty motel room that reeked of cigarette smoke and vomit. Ace looked over to find Angela underneath the thin comforter, sleeping peacefully. Her brown eyes opened slowly as she gazed up at him with a smile.

“Did I wake you?” He whispered.

“Maybe,” she admitted sleepily. “I'm just glad you’re all right.”

“Did you carry me in here?” Ace asked in disbelief.

“Who else could’ve done it?” Angela replied with a yawn. She sat up slowly and looked him in the eyes.

“Damn,” Ace said quietly. “I guess we’re even after the time I carried you to bed when you had too much to drink.” He paused before adding, “Thanks.”

“I did what I had to do,” Angela said modestly.

He couldn’t believe that he’d been sleeping next to her, and he wasn’t really even sure for how long. Then again, that didn’t matter. He stared at her longingly, his dark eyes locked on hers. They leaned into each other and kissed each other just as passionately as they had the first time. His hands ran down her back and unhooked her bra as he reached toward her chest.

Angela couldn’t believe what was happening. Fireworks exploded in her head and her heart thudded audibly against her ribcage. This was the first time a non-medical person was touching her chest.

And she liked it. She didn’t want him to ever, ever stop.

But he did. He pulled away. And she could tell he was about to unzip his pants. Angela grabbed him by the wrist.

The next thing Ace knew, he was sitting on the cold, concrete balcony outside the room. Angela tossed a pillow at him.

“Come on Angie!” Ace begged. “I thought you wanted to go all the way!”

“We can always do that in the sequel!” Angela said firmly as the fourth wall came crumbling down. “I’ll let you back in when you behave yourself!” She slammed the door.

As Ace sat there on the frigid, stony balcony overlooking a whole lot of nothing over the plains, a million questions popped up in his brain. How was a seemingly naive girl so strong? How was she using her strength to be loving one minute and cold the next? And most importantly:

How was he going to rid himself of this sexual hunger on this balcony and do it discreetly?

Of course, he didn’t have time to answer any of those questions because the rest of the gang found him as they walked down the balcony. Ace stood up.

“What’re yous guys doing here?” Ace asked.

“We wanted to knowssss if youssss wanted to make crank callsssss with usssss,” Snake offered.

“It’s hilarious! We’ve already sent three dozen pillows to the room on the end of the balcony and we’ve arranged a three AM wakeup call for everybody in the building!” Arturo told him excitedly.

For now, Ace would be perfectly content making crank calls with his friends just like old times. For now, he’d have to remember one little thing: Angela was a woman. Women just don’t make sense.

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