How to Kill a Cougar from Close Range


Matthew Dexter

Like nomadic Pericú natives centuries earlier, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and tropical sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

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It was the day the maid found the weed under your desk, tucked inside a scrap of folded printer paper protruding above the metal crossbar screwed to the wooden desktop, and she asked if she should remove the ashes from your pipe and handed back the paper with the gentle expurgation that she assumed it was trash, yes, that was the afternoon the baby went for her first ride in the Toyota with the car seat positioned in the corner opposite where she was normally strapped. This new buckled-in position would be beneficial, allowing the driver better perspective for observing the angelic rear-facing countenance at red lights and stop signs. A perfect father never would have allowed his little pumpkin to travel forward-facing for longer than a few days, if not weeks, before realizing that babies under forty pounds needed to be facing the worn-leather–but he is not a perfect anything–and the battered baby seat nothing more than duct tape, colored rubber bands, and dried-up semen stains from dates with cougars. It is difficult for middle-aged married men and whores to find places to bump flesh, especially when they are poor and marriage is the ball and chain that mixes with the urine and fecal matter of child numero uno.


It was the maid’s first day on the job and you were embarrassed enough that it should come to inviting a young maiden into your desecrated palace; with iron-lunged defeat you open your lips and she touches your palms and smiles and you fall deep into that elevator shaft between your legs and her irises and you can feel your stomach rising like a child on a seesaw as you sink from her wrinkle-less forehead to freshly pedicured toes painted pink as the cherry blossoms ripening on the branches outside. The garden is all you keep up: organic tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumbers, basil. This is the playground where you buried the dogs that disappeared when the children were at nursery school. Their skulls shattered beneath the rusty shovel from the shed where you caught your husband sitting in a cobwebbed corner having his penis petted by the meanest looking cougar you have ever seen. Her arm muscles flexed with every pump of blood, this sadistic massage fueled by watermelon wine coolers and an unexpected afternoon thunderstorm. Drilling into her eyes, your husband with his shut, you stared down the wild animal in its new sanctuary, the grunts of the man who fathered your children, eyelids quivering with the brushstroke of lightning and the thunder making him jump with every carnal instinct and then shivering in carnival ecstasy. You approach, watching as the veins on her arms expand, purple and blue blood bursting through her wrist into his loins, pumping life into this middle-aged earthling, this hairy horrible specimen of Australopithecus, everything that went wrong with your family. The cougar bites her lips and jerks her head as the husband bursts and so close the shrapnel of this safari is nothing more than something for raindrops to wash away. You slink away into the storm, away from the madness, the animal inside of you already gnawing through your belly.


He backed out the driveway as hastily as if he were pulling his scarred penis out from one of his Felinae whores. He had beaten his appendage to a pulp as a teenager and bared that pink band on the inside like a trophy or ribbon from a swimming contest. He would do the backstroke through the sweat-waxed hair of his triumph, the trophy nothing more than ejaculation on a stomach and the number of the beast written in cursive. Dripping into the numbest of corners, he filled the air with the stench of passion and impregnated the conscience of invisible matter floating toward the spring draft borne from windows opened at the moment a woman lets herself go, completely, giving away everything she is, all she has known, all she can become, just for three seconds of knowing he is gone forever. Now imagining what he must have been thinking as his Firestone tires with their plastic hairs still unkempt, crunching against the cracks that led to the ramshackle hoarder’s paradise where you cooked his offspring. With each child, you lose a piece of yourself, the space between the clutter and the arteries pumping venom each time he rolls into your bed with the pussy juice clinging to his member, as if this secret club is something that he is too brilliant to forfeit.


She knows exactly what to do; when to do it too. You pass the kitchen–insurmountable for years–the maid god knows where. Later that evening after her first visit, the woman would call child protective services. She was the finest, but nothing could make a dent in the mess of your family since he spoiled it with his poisonous tail. You know severing all ties to sanity is always the last best option. The maid was god know where when your numero uno must have grabbed the orange scissors from the inner pockets of her figure skating jacket. You are confident in her training. It had taken months but the mission was complete as soon as those tires crunched onto the pavement and you lost sight of the Toyota as it drifted beyond asphalt into the camouflage of cherry blossoms and elderly oak and pine which sucked the air from your lungs. Beyond moldy boxes, you search for the labyrinth of Styrofoam and plastic and broken appliances which lead to the crib. The baby is missing. You can see that clearly–the crib is the cleanest thing in the


Sucking her toes in the back of the Toyota in her new corner, the baby grins, watching the windows as the car slows, worn-out brake pads squealing against the soda-soaked tarmac. The infant does not notice that her father is waiting in line at the Jack in the Box drive-through. Dad always opens his zipper because the manager is one of his cougars. He would whisper into the machine as numero uno gripped the scissors and waited for the perfect moment when the appendage was visible and as soon as he ordered a Sourdough Jack she could see her target expanding. She handed him the milkshakes and brown bags and he reached his arms out of the Toyota as he always did to offer a gesticulation similar to a gang sign or a virgin firing a rifle for the first time during an African safari. That is when the father had his membership revoked, his penis severed by the hands of numero uno and out the window the cougar watched as the girl tossed the magic wand into oncoming traffic and Dad far from perfect, he pulled out into pedestrians, one bouncing off his windshield as he drove with his left hand, glass covered in labyrinthine cracks, of life, and darkness all the baby could understand as the Greyhound drove through them and the colored rubber bands burst against her face and duct-taped mansion collapsed beneath a tin of smoking metal and crunched inertia.


Lunch was warm lard that afternoon. You have since stopped smoking, only to cherish the memory of what it must have sounded like. Acapulco is a fine place to become a cougar.

© Matthew Dexter

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