First Christmas back from college and El Paso is a stark and lonely place. My dad’s asleep in his easy chair. Mom’s got the caldo de pollo simmering on the stove for me. But something else simmers in my private heart. This want deeper than carnal grinds me down. This unquiet urge slowly reams me out.
I’m locked in my room, poring through my high school yearbook, studying the florid signatures of all my pretty classmates beseeching me to call whenever I’m in town. Hearts for punctuation. Smiley faces dotting the i’s. 2 Sweet 2 B 4 Got 10… What can they possibly mean except U R 4 Got 10 already?
Dad knocks on the door and asks if I’m okay. I tell him I’m going to see a friend. But it’s late, he says. Not late for me. It’s 10:30, he says. That’s early, I tell him. When they’re in bed, I take the keys and go.
The roads are quiet. The sky is overcast. Bing Crosby on the radio wants to make me cry. I follow the city lodestar, there on the Franklin Mountains, the giant five-pointed pentagram of bright electric bulbs that light up every Christmas. I pull into a bar to drink but it’s strange sitting by myself with all these older blinder boozers who can hardly finish a sentence, so I leave. I almost hit another bar but the lone drunk with his pecker out is pissing the word “NO” on the wall outside. I don’t want a drink. I don’t need a drink. I need a girl, some girl to lie to, hold, feel against me, someone to give me a little nighttime CPR, for god’s sake. Just one time. One night. That’s all.