Fiction: One Life to Live

By Mather Schneider

I’m not saying it was symbolic but his address was 8704 W. Lazy Street. I slowed my cab in front of his pre-fabricated house. He was standing on the porch in red shorts and a yellow T-shirt, maybe 60 years old, with a big long-haired German Shepherd. He had huge calves, the man not the shepherd, bulbous and grotesque things, like pregnant pink carp.

“Be right there, man, got my service dog with me, just open the back door and he’ll jump right in.”

I got out and opened the back door and the giant shepherd came bounding toward me and hopped in smiling.

In a minute the man came out and got in the back with the dog.

“How ya doing, what’s your name?” he said.


“Matt, great, can you roll the back window down, Franz likes to put his head out the window.”

I already knew where we were going, a pharmacy, because it was a medical voucher. I headed out of the neighborhood to the highway.

The guy was Italian with a New York accent, mobster wannabe, and he didn’t talk, he BELLOWED.

“Fuh-GIT about it, Matt! You ever listen to the news?”

“A couple days ago.”

“What about this Biden guy, eh? What a DICKHEAD! He’s trying to take our guns away!”


“I watch the news twenty-four-seven, I’m trying to educate myself, and it seems that all Obama can do is LIE LIE LIE. All these LIES, Ray, you know what I’m sayin’?”

“It’s Matt.”

“Right, sorry, where the hell did I get Ray from?”

“Don’t know.”

“Shit, you like this desert?”

“Yeah, I like it.”

“I just moved here, had to get out of New York. My fucking nephew stole all my money. We had this deli together and he embezzled 127 grand. When I found out about it, I put up all my collateral to save it, my Harley and my Mercedes and my Rolex and my 2 BMW’s. But it wasn’t enough, lost everything. I had to get the fuck out of there. I ain’t talking to the family now, I got no family, I’m starting fresh here in Arizona. Can we stop here for a coffee, Ray?”


I pulled into a Circle K. He left Franz with me and went in and got a cup of coffee. He was inside for at least 10 minutes.

“Jesus,” he said getting back in the cab. “The cappuccino machine was spitting fucking water, I had to tell the bitch to fill it up and do her fucking job. Fucking people, eh Ray?”

“Fucking people.”

“How long you lived in Arizona, Ray?”

“17 years.”

We came up on a traffic jam and I saw the cop lights and the fire truck lights about a mile in the distance. Dead stop.

“What the fuck’d you come this way for, Ray?”

“It’s the only way that makes any sense, how was I to know there’d be an accident?”

“Hey, take it easy, you could have gone the other way, just sayin’.”

Franz held his head out the window, smiling.

“So, Ray, you married?”

“Yep. You?”

“No. Was, though. Funny story. I was working at this bowling alley, living in the back, and the owner was a Hungarian guy, a real drunk asshole. He was married to this old hag but he had this young gal working for him who was here from Hungary. She was hot, Ray, I ain’t kiddin’, the old man wanted her for his own, but they was gonna deport her. So, the old man comes to me one day and he says if I marry the girl he’ll pay me 10 grand, right? What the fuck, I marry the bitch, I mean she was like 22, I was 38 at the time. I tell the old man he’s got to put us up in an apartment, so he does, you know. Well the first night we’re in bed and she takes off her clothes and she’s got all this hair on her legs. I tell the bitch, shave that shit off, man. She gets all pissed off, and she can hardly speak English, right, but she’s saying God gave me ears, God gave me arms, God gave me toes, and God gave me this hair on my legs. I tell her, I don’t give a shit what God gave you, shave that shit off. Well she did, you know, but the next day I was sitting on the couch watching Days of Our Lives, I got hooked on it, you know. Anyway, she comes running into the room, yelling, NO NO NO NO! She goes over to the television and changes the channel and looks at me and yells, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, ONE LIFE TO LIVE!”


“That was the end of it, Ray, I got it annulled.”

“Can’t blame you.”

“Does your wife work, Ray?”

“Yes, she works at McDonald’s”

“Well, it’s nice when women can have their little jobs, you know, for a little spending money, maybe to buy some lingerie or something, but my woman’s not gonna work. I’m gonna treat her like a queen, I treat all my women like queens, I just want them to stay in the house, lounge by the pool, make themselves look good. Whatever girl gets me is gonna be one lucky broad.”

We finally got through the backed-up traffic and eased on by the two cars that were smashed-up. A cop was directing traffic.

“You like ranches, Ray?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“I’m gonna get me a ranch, all built up like a hacienda, you know, with a pool, gotta have a pool, and a couple of senoritas lying next to the pool. By the beach too, with some horses so I can ride my horses on the beach.”

“Sounds nice.”

“And I don’t just mean BY THE BEACH, I mean I want to fucking roll out of bed and fall into the fucking sand!”

“Now you’re talking!”

“Just gotta get myself out of this hole my nephew put me in. I had a ranch once before. I had two black stallions and a bunch of birds that I bred. I had me Cadillac too. All gone now. Oh, I had about 12 German Shepherds too, but none of them as nice as Franz here. How you doin’ Franz? Aht’s a goo-boy!”

“He’s a nice-looking dog.”

“He better be! He cost me five fucking grand, imported from Belgium. He’s a real pussy magnet. I used to get a lot of pussy Ray, you know what I’m sayin’?”

“How can I not, Ray?”

Just then I heard the horrible jingle jangle of the train bells and the arms coming down, and here comes a god damned train crossing over 29th Street. We sat and waited some more.

“What the fuck, you hit a train?”


“Fuggit about it. Yeah, I had a lot of money at one time, I had so much money one time I found ten grand under my car seat that I forgot about. I had so much money I used to go to the strip clubs you know, and I’d take four or five girls home with me EVERY NIGHT.”

“Even on Sundays?”

“Every fucking night, Ray. Every god damned fucking night. I had money coming out the wazzoo. Not anymore. Family will fuck you Ray, family will fuck you every fuckin’ time.”

The end of the train passed and we got moving again.

“We almost there, Ray? I think Franz has to take a dump.”


“Good. Oh, man, I need some pussy Ray. I’ve been alone for a while now. I mean, I know I’ve put on a little weight, but I’m on the Nutra-System now, and when I get fit again, I’m gonna have me some pussy. Also, when I get some money I’m gonna get my hacienda going. The way I’m living now is only temporary.”

“Franz ain’t gonna shit in my cab, is he?”

“He just might, Ray. If I was you, I’d pull over.”

I pulled over and he got Franz out and lit a cigarette. Franz just ran around sniffing the cactus and desert earth. A girl jogger came by and he scared the crap out of her, but he didn’t even take a leak.

“If you ain’t gonna do any business,” the Italian guy yelled, “let’s go, then!”

10 minutes later we pulled up to the pharmacy.

“Gotta get my meds, Ray. If you want to wait you can take me home. I’ll only be about 15 minutes.”

“Sure, man. I’ll wait.”

When he and Franz got out, I took off. See you, Ray.

I drove around for 30 minutes in the hot sun, listening to the radio. Every time some news came on, I switched the channel. I wondered why I had lied to the Italian guy about still being married. I thought about that hacienda he was talking about. It sounded nice.

I felt a shit coming on when I got another call on the cab monitor. I pulled up to a trailer park and a middle-aged Mexican woman came out. When she opened the back door to the cab to get in, she shrieked.

“What?” I said, looking in the back.

The seat was covered with German Shepherd hair.

“O my god! I’m allergic to dog hair!”

Then she sneezed, and sneezed, and sneezed again. My wife used to sneeze like that, over and over, like 20 times. After you sneeze so many times you just want to cry. I tried to clean off the hair with my hand but it was no good, I needed a vacuum and some duct tape. She stood outside in the sun. I got out and went over to her.

“I’m really sorry, ma’am, I can explain…”  

“Get away from me!”

She kept sneezing.

“Bless you,” I said.

“What’s your name? I’m calling your supervisor!”

“It’s Ray.”

She took off running for her front door. I think she started to cry. You just can’t deal with some people. She hadn’t even paid me. I jumped into the cab and made it to the nearest public bathroom, Himmel Park on Craycroft and Golflinks, without a second to spare.

Mather Schneider's poetry and prose have appeared in many places since 1994. He has 6 books available and lives in Mexico.