This was the first of the Dotty Stories.
By Russell Rosander
Dotty and I have been having marital problems lately. She´s been a regular crocodile, snappin´ at me without provocation, every time I walk in the door. Every conversation lately, has turned into a battle in the gender wars. I can´t figure it out. If I try to tell her about some good lookin´ produce I saw on a vegetable vender´s truck in town, it gets turned into something about dishrags or being treated like a doormat.
I didn’t think imaginary wives could get like that. Considering imaginary people, by nature, are incapable of physical activity in the real world, I thought she would be happy that I did all the household chores like washing the dishes, cooking, sweepin´ and cleanin´ the toilet bowl, while all she had to do was lay about admiring her painted toenails. What more could a woman ask for. Admittedly, I´m not not the best housekeeper in the world, but hey, it works for me.
Dotty and I have only been together a short while. I´ve been livin´ here in Barra de Navidad for about four years now. I came here from the North Idaho panhandle with my significant other of the time pullin´ a beat up, nineteen seventy-one, thirty-one foot, Airstream Land Yacht aluminum trailer and parked on a lot I had bought the year before under some Parota trees.
For all the adventure of it, the trip down here was not a happy time for me. I had just retired from my job at age sixty-two and should have been elated. But, my partner was awfully sick and the journey was a trial. She knew she was dyin´ and told me she would only be happy if died in Barra She died less than a month after we got here.
After that experience, I was ready to spend some time alone. I didn’t want the responsibility of takin´ care of anybody but myself.
I took solace in my singularity and began making my home as comfortable a place as I could. Where I could be happy and live out my days.
I´ve been spending my time painting and writing poetry and have recently started writing short stories, which I have never done before.
I´ve also been exploring a new culture and a new environment that is really quite different from North Idaho. I´ve also been exploring spiritual avenues that I´ve neglected since my hippy days ended and other responsibilities of raising a family and making a living came to dominate my life.
Everything was progressing nicely when, one day, I realized that I was getting kinda lonely. I still don’t want to take on the onus of a real relationship with a real woman, then I thought, Hell, if children are allowed to have imaginary playmates, why can´t old people. Who is it that does all that allowin´ and disallowin´ anyway. I don’t remember taking some oath to some authority that allowed and disallowed any such thing. Anyhow, It seemed kinda doubtful that any real woman would want to take up with an crusty old coot with no teeth and barely any meat on his bones anyway.
So, porque no? I named her Dotty, after the little black spot on my side of the Ying/Yang symbol, the male/female principle. It couldn’t get me into too much trouble….could it?
As I was saying. We´ve been having our problems lately. I don’t mind when she gets on me about keepin´ the clutter down on the table or telling me that I need to take a bath ´cause I smell like something that crawled out of a pig slop barrel. After all, we share the good times too, laughing and carryin´ on till long into the night.
But, lately, she´s been getting´ real owley. Normally, (did I just use that word?) a peck on her rose-bud lips would make everything all right.
After all, I thought, she´s my invention. I get to pull the strings that make her mouth move. Right?
It was startin´ to scare me a little. I was startin´ to have doubts about this. Maybe it could be dangerous. Look at Vivia, the transvestite that runs the tienda in the colonia where I buy ice and go to use the internet. Check him/her out some Friday night when he/she is all gussied up to go out after he/she closes up the store. It´s enough to make even the staunchest sexually liberated male in the world feel a little queezy. Here´s a guy who´s little back dot has completely taken over. Now, he/she seems to be a black polliwog with a black eyeball. It´s almost like he´s more feminine than most women.
Don’t get me wrong, Vivia is a hell of a nice person. She´s kind and considerate to everyone and I consider her a friend.
So one night, were sitting in the parlor of the old seventy-one Land-yacht trying to think up something to talk about when she blurts out “God damn it, you little dip-shit, I can´t take this anymore. If something doesn’t give, I´m going to leave your sorry old ass!”
I´ve heard these ominous words before in previous stages of my life. “Wait just a damned minute, Dotty. You know your just a figment of my imagination. You don’t even exist outside my head and you can´t go anywhere or do anything without my say-so!”
I tell you. That did it. She came back at me steamin´ like a locomotive.
“Figment? I´m your figment? Did you just call me a figment? How the hell do you know that you´re not my figment? Have you ever thought of that? What proof have you got anyway?”
“Hell!” I replied, “I created you and I can un-create you, you ungrateful image! Who do you think you are, talking to me like that?” I was beginning to wonder what I had un-leashed upon myself.
“Don’t even go there, little man. I know everything your thinking ´cause we share the same brain cells, but if you think you created me, you’ve got another think coming. I´ve been around since before you even knew what a dot was. I´m every woman you’ve ever known in your whole, god damned, miserable life. What I´m trying to tell you is, that I´m sick and tired of being locked up in your little pumpkin-eater pumpkin. You go to town and hang out with your friends and I´m always left here sittin´ by myself. I´m bored silly!”
“Well, considering you’re a figment, what would happen if I did take you to town. Nobody could see you or hear you but me. What´d my friends think if I just started talkin´ to the breeze. They´d think I should be locked up. Where would we be then?”
“What! Do you think there´s some kind of super secret Federal Imagination Police out there somewhere? Honey buns, you know I love you but you get some weird ideas sometimes. I don’t know, maybe I´m jealous, but how do you think I feel when you come home and re-shape me to look like some little hottie you saw somewhere in town and then you start undressin´ me and then you start…….”
I cut her off.
I´d thought I was gettin´ the upper hand there for a while, but evidently not. “That ain´t exactly the same thing as messin´ around on ya, is it? I know you like it just as much as……”
“That’s it! Just how excitin´ do you think that ancient, shriveled up old pecker or yours is, anyway? I´m going out. I´m gonna go over to El Aguacate and make me some friends of my own. I´ll just get into somebody else´s head.”
“Wait a minute! That’s cheatin´! I won´t have you getting´ into some other guy´s head and giving him what you give me!”
“Well, how about I get into another woman´s head. What are you afraid of? What´s the harm in that? You have friends, why can´t I?”
An image of a bunch of women sitting around inside my skull drinking coffee and chatterin´ away about all kinds of shit about me flashed before my eyes. “You listen hear, figment……..”
“That´s it! You´re not listenin´ to me!” and the screen door slammed behind her as she disappeared into the darkness. I just sat there, listening to the silence banging around the room.
After a few minutes, I got my bearings. I knew I had gone too far. I opened the door and followed her out into the night, headed for El Aguacate.
I spotted her walking across the jardin. It was cena time, the Mexican evening meal. The taco stands were hoppin´ and families sat around tables in the street while children ran around everywhere. I front of some of the houses, old people sat in plastic chairs shakin´ their heads whenever a car full of teen-agers drove by blasting Techno-pop from oversized speakers. Other kids were practicing traditional dances in front of a boom-box playing old rancho music.
She turned down a dark street and I followed at a distance, staying out of sight. She stopped in front of a crummy looking casita and just stood there listening.
A man and a woman were arguin´ loudly inside. It seems the gender wars have spread over here too. I could hear words that aren’t in the Spanish/English dictionary being used. Hateful words, yelled so loud they coulda drowned out the banda music coming from down the street. I couldn’t understand a lot of it, but I could get the tone. The guy was aggressive. The woman, pleading. Then there was the thwack, thwack, thwack of somebody hittin´ someone and things crashing and breaking.
Dotty ducked into the bushes just in time after we heard “You don´t want to fuck me? Well, guess what? I know somebody who will and like it!” The door flew open and he strode out, bristling with anger. Behind him, the woman was crying, long deep sobs that would tear at the heart of even the most hardened psycho-path.
He mounted an old beat up Italica motorbike. The engine roared to life and he turned into the street. The single headlamp was blinkin´ on and off with every dip and bump as his taillights disappeared down the cobbled street.
Dotty ran inside the door and closed it behind her. I stood outside and listened to the woman´s moans as they gradually quieted to a whimper. Dotty didn’t come back out. I sat outside on an upturned plastic bucket for a couple of hours and then got up and headed for home.
The streets were quiet then. The only sounds all the way home were the long-haul semis blastin´ through on the highway, hittin´ their “jake brakes” each time they came to a tope (speed bump). The mile home seemed like ten and I stepped into the emptiness inside my little trailer.
I didn’t go to bed. I just sat there in my chair until I fell asleep. Nothing seemed to matter any more now that Dotty was gone.
I was dreamin´ I was standing alone in a field of white as far as you could see in any direction without any other color when I heard someone or something crashing through the garden outside. Then I heard a long, keening wail and I woke up, but the sound didn’t stop.
Someone started pounding on my door. I got up and found my flashlight and poked it up to the widow to stop the reflection from blinding me, and peered outside.
He froze like a deer in headlights and stopped screaming for a second. Then he resumed his awful howl. It was the man from El Aguacate who had been abusin´ his wife. I thought maybe he was here to kill me ´cause Dotty was messin´ with their lives, but then, I saw the terror in his eyes.
Blood was streaming down his face and his eyes glowed red, but from fear, not hate. His clothes were shredded from the cuts of the thousands of sharp thorns in the brush. Blood was running down his scratched up arms and was dripping from his finger tips. He let out another howl, “Ayudaaaaa! (help!)” that threatened to burst my eardrums. I yelled “Basta! (stop it!)” and he fell into a heap in front of my door.
I went out and knelt beside him. He was still conscious and moaning, “Mi espousa, mi espousa. Ella is loco! (My wife, my wife. She is crazy!)” From what I had seen, he seemed to be the loco one.
Gradually, I figured out what he was saying. He told me he had come home from Bar de Gus, a whorehouse out on the highway. She came out when he pulled up and she seemed like a different person. She had a heavy piece of re-bar in her hand and she swung it at his head and hit him. She kept beating on him until he was down and then went to work on the motorbike. She smashed the heck out of it and then turned and come back at him. He managed to get up and run and kept running until he saw the light in my trailer and came up for help.
He was fading fast. I helped him up and we stumbled down the dirt road towards the little hospital in the colonia. We fell several times over the tall weeds in my driveway. When we finally got close enough, I yelled to the night guards and they came running. They got him inside the emergency room door just as he passed out.
I waited outside, talking with the guards, telling them about what happened, leaving the part out about Dotty. Those guys wear uniforms and look kinda official, you never know. Now I know why writers use nom-de-plumes.
The doctor came out after a while, and told me the man had a concussion and had some broken bones and a lotta cuts, but he was gonna live. They had sent for the ambulance to take him to the big Red Cross hospital in Cihuatlan where they could keep an eye on him for a few days.
I was so tired, I could barely see the lightning bugs on the way home. It was starting to get light when I reached the door.
Dotty was waiting for me inside.
“Where you been?” she asked.
“Took a man to the hospital.”
“Good” she said.
“Is the woman O.K.?”
“More than O.K. She´s better than she´s been in a long time. That bastard had been beating on her for years. She´d never fought back or even called the cops. She said guys like him just pay money that the families need to survive and they let them go. I got into her head and gave her the courage to stand up for herself.”
It was then that I realized that Dotty, my lonely imaginary wife had a life of her own. She was no more my creation than my left foot.
I looked into her eyes with a totally new respect and love.
“It was kinda fun.” She said.
I just sat down and didn’t say a word.
“So, when are you going to introduce me to your friends?” She asked.
I picked up my notebook and wrote: By the way, Dotty says “Nice to meet you.”