What shocked me was that he actually followed through with something: that he began, worked through the middle and then finished it. And shoved me in the dumpster at six in the morning on a Sunday. I think the coke was wearing off and so he lost some of his touch. Oh, Donny. Donny put me in the dumpster. Dumpster Donny.
There is no time in the dumpster, just a past I faintly recall in short, unseemly bright brain blasts, a jagged flashlight kaleidoscope in my mind. I am sitting in the dumpster and then I am pulling into the parking lot of the temp agency; I am sitting in the dumpster and I am eating dinner with Sean, Sean who smells wishing I were sailing on an ocean; I am looking at grandpa, so tall before a blue sky, while grandma counts cardinals from the gazebo. I am thinking about abortions at the dinner table, though I’m not even close to needing one; my mom sprays herself with hairspray while telling me to pull my dress down; we’re going to church, and I am crammed in this dumpster, arm stretched over and behind head, legs doing god knows what beneath—salsa dancing, pretzeling, blood tick-tocking the seconds away until it can reasonably flow again. Chitty-chitty bang-bang, Mary Tyler Moore, I’m all crunched up in a dumpster.
I don’t even remember what I did, and to be truthful I don’t think I did anything to make him mad. All I remember is the grimy corners in that house, the dirty-carpeted, tan-colored bedroom floor with Donny’s dirty white t-shirts and McDonald’s wrappers and nothing else to tie the room together. The only cool thing he ever really did was ride a motorcycle. Oh and he’s a Christian, I guess. Whatever that means. Also he was good at shuffleboard.
It seemed obvious I wasn’t really dead. I guess lying on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood sure seems like death. When he left the room I reached back with my hand and felt the pattern of the linoleum underneath the puddle, and I thought of how dirty it was, and how it was even more soiled now with the blood trying to soak down, and the fact that there was a chance I’d never live to clean it up, and then how funny it was that Donny didn’t even know that deep down I am a neat freak, and how good it felt that I had no intentions of ever telling him once I got out of this mess.
Something Donny never understood was that my stay in the dirty, awful corner of life he lived in was always meant to be short-lived. Basically there was an invisible sign on my shirt that said “VISITOR,” and then my name underneath. Pam. When I met him at the bar that night I’d decided to go out with him, as a joke, or some kind of journalistic expedition, the results of which had unknown fate. Only we didn’t really go out, we stayed in and watched Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure on VHS, twice, after he spent twenty minutes hooking up the VCR, a twenty minutes I spent trying not to look at the dog-chewed couch or touch it with any unclothed part of my body. Then he said something about paying rent, which hit me funny because for some reason I’d assumed he was squatting, or had some other way around it.
A conversation outside. I hear high heels on her and he sounds like he’s carrying a heavy object. I imagine a microwave.
“…but I told him not to tell anybody.”
“Well do you think he has?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really think she knows…”
“Do you think he told her? Do you think he’d tell June?”
“Would he really do that?”
“Maybe…No. I don’t know. I’m just so fucking paranoid. I mean, maybe it’s not a big…”
Clip-clip, away they go, free to move their appendages however they damn well please in the non-dumpster world.
He fucked me up pretty bad, but if not for my leg jammed against my chest I’d be able to get out of here just fine. Am I bleeding? I cannot tell. It is more than possible that my entire bone structure has fused together in the seconds or days I’ve been inside this dumpster, like those gangly driftwood things I used to pull out of the lake back then.
I knock to pass the time, hoping that somebody recognizes the noise as human and opens the lid. It’s my only way of staying sane, my only thing to do other than try to estimate how much blood has been lost. It’s dark in here, but not nearly as dark as I always pictured, or as scary. As it turns out, I’m just a woman in a dumpster, just like there are women in dresses and thrift stores and space shuttles.
I bang with my left arm, which is surprisingly dry and able—wouldn’t you think it should be bloody?—If someone were to walk by and hear the banging and open the thing it wouldn’t be worth the shock and horror or the explanation I’d owe them. My ideal situation would be that somebody hears the bang, stops and opens the thing, tips it sideways, walks away, no questions asked, and then I get out, quietly and swiftly.
I just wish I had a telescope to look around with. Then, when no one was looking, I’d get out by myself: throw my weight around until I had the thing on the ground and could crawl out and walk off like I was just some dirty female, nothing to see here. But I don’t like scenes—I wouldn’t want to tip in front of a moving car, or a blind person, or a person who can see for that matter—I’m not one of those battered women. I’m just a clean woman, temporarily soiled and bloodied with a pop can jabbing my ass for a brief moment. This is a one-time deal, folks. Folks, this shit is depressing.
I mean I didn’t even see it coming.
And then there he came—
Such a surprise,
We had just gotten out of the truck and were going inside the house, through the back gate, and I didn’t have any real immediate plan except for going to the bathroom and I think Donny was on the phone, making a deal, or talking to the dog or something, getting tired and cranky like he always does in the early afternoon. There was a cigarette in his hand. I walked along the broken, dark wood planks of the floor to the bathroom door and put my hand on the handle and had just begun to turn when something came down on the top of my head, the place where it must have been soft right after I was born, the crown, or whatever it’s called. I fell down on the hallway floor, and I could tell that as he looked down on me, his face upside down, that he was thinking of smashing my face with the heel of his boot.
Sometimes there is a bit of reverb when I pound, a tink and then a sub-tink, the bigger tink’s child, maybe it could run off and tell someone. Bam, bam, bam, every knock is a question, not a statement, or even a statement begging a question.
Jenna Beyer was a designer and blog writer for Paper Darts from 2009-2011. She has also written for the Ivory Tower and the Minnesota Daily.
All rights reserved to Jenna Beyer.