Denim Lemonade As SPF 4

by Henry Goldkamp

Whatever happened to that used tanning bed? Its dimensions—a perfect fit for the bed of your work truck—feel divinely ordained. “free stuff” and only posted 41 minutes ago: Must pick up, will help with loading the plastic plug-in coffin of vanity, never minding that you live in a two-bedroom with a roommate ignorant of this whim, your tan plans of privacy buzzing purple-blue, upgrading from the roof of pigeon shits and fear of being caught naked, alone, oily, a dead fishskin on steaming tar, the type no one you know eats, picks it away and asks for an extra plate to set on.

Ignition’s been fired long ago, steam in mirrors, wired dip—pond or puddle, perhaps, and you see the house numbers are even, so odds are on the other side. There it is, the house you’ve read about. Cranking down your muddy window: “This the place for a free tanning bed?” The air is ripe with brine as the reddened man “Oh man you just missed it by a minute. Somebody else picked it up”s you. Disappointment cannot be blocked like a sun. Absorbing his saliva diffuse: You flip the bitch, the truck, your charred vanity like a burger. Ointment splurges on you like a Malibu Rum sponge.

Seething as you drive home. You wonder what kind of oils your hoosier acquaintance used. His bed smell of artificial coconuts, his favorite Van Morrison song, his loves, this month’s electric bill after powering on your tight Las Vegas die over each eyelid, searing yourself into a white skillet, busting up power wheels in your front yard when the Bud Ice gets at you, when two Missouri coasts start closing in, when child support is harder to understand than community college applications, praying for money that could increase your value. But it’s not how much power does it use, but how much power could it generate? Considering this at a red light, 10W-30 drips out the invisible pan, a rainbow estuary of Gravois’ hot gutter.