Lauren Spohrer
Happy Birthday

"Who wants cake?" Richard asked. His shirt said Facehumper. Everyone liked
his sense of humor. He was seventeen years older than me but it was my
birthday party.

He picked up a Sky Mall and began flipping through its pages quickly.
    "You seen these camouflaged fan blades in here? Turn any fan into a
camo fan," he said.

Neely brought her androgynous tongue to my birthday party and went to work
on Richard.
    "I won't tolerate your pussy slang," she told him.
I loved listening to her run him down, but I later came to believe that
Neely's joke was a sort of clue, one that hinted at some secrets they'd
never let me in on.

Neely got her earring stuck in her hair. She wore ugly jewelry and when a
piece broke she used a red epoxy. While some people considered her a genius,
I still sought after the earlier model: fill a gap, extend an assumption, or
correct something.

He didn't cry again until the three of us got to the hotel. Neely and I wore
nightgowns. I asked Richard if I could get him a beer and he started to cry
with his mouth closed, it sounded like a woman laughing in the next room.
Neely looked at him and said, "Oh, you're crying!"

The sun was coming up and Neely and I went after the shipment. Finally, the
boss came and told us that there was a problem with the gas. He said we
would not ship that day, and to go home. We gathered our purses and walked
out past the men. They saluted the freedom that was all of ours. It was
springtime, and we were tan.

My mother disagreed with me about how a book ended. She became angry and
began to yell. Go back and read it earlier, my mother said. Then she died
and I'll lay a wager that she wasted her energies on some very pagan shit.