Sultan was where they trembled on this grey earth. where their souls resided, where they locked. they were inseparable since birth though never related. they were each other's parent, mentor, and priestess. it didn't matter their parentage or stock, it was the two of them, but the two of them, all that mattered on this forsaken rock was the two of them. what they thought, felt, and spoke was but a tip to how they rumbled inside. they wore matching sleeves but not matching vests. they were the grand dames, the grey ladies of this world no one knew about. and there wasn't gonna be a movie. they bumped all the roughs and tumbles this worrisome existence has to offer at every corner, getting more and more frightened with each turn, not through, around and off the cliff, surviving only because they bumped into each other. they needed each other not so much because it wouldn't be the same without the other, it simply wouldn't be life at all. if you were to scrutinize each of their faces you'd see no lines, no wrinkles of abuse or a subtle smash-in of bad decisions. their eyes are relatively still bright after all. no surgery, no makeup, just constant squinting. having a narrow view avoids a lot of problems down the lines. you would come to see them not as old ladies or Bavarian biddies or bloviating bluehairs, but as women of a certain age. a certain ancient age. when you had to live, you couldn't avoid it. i suppose that's the key word here. you took one look at them and recognized just how lived-in they were. how their bodies wiggled with a breadth of life, how their words shook with longevity.
Gladyce: yes dear, we're still in WA. where we'll stay. why leave? Washington is so crisp this time of month. the apples are all dead and the pumpkins have dried up.
Doryce: there's enough orange-red in your period blood for a whole new season.
Gladyce: hush you. nature is meant to be silenced.
Doryce: don't discount me out. i'm still revving my engines for a man before i'm through. i've got a lifetime of virgin juice in my briar patch so steep the next hunk i orgasm on will be eternally covered and petrified. it'll come out of his gullet!
they both laugh. they both have penetrating laughs.
Gladyce: speaking of discounts, what's your preferred method of feminine wipe? Carefree or StayFresh?
Doryce: whichever one Bama's holding. now scoot your fat ass over so i can take a look at this miracle white ash. if i miss a snowflake i'll never see another one quite the same again in my lifetime.
Gladyce: you're the one with the fat ass. you're already seated. that's your fat ass!
Doryce takes a moment to wipe off her bespectacles, which are so small they're smaller than her pupils and might as well be contacts.
Doryce: the drug store here is a sham. always taking advantage of what they think are little old fragile helpless defenseless ladies who have just had their insurances dropped and their life savings raided. hiking up the prices in small illegible ticker print. don't they know who we are? we're the greatest generation. the last one there'll ever be.
Gladyce: oh stop your griping. though it is legitimate. that Bama must have a nice butt for football. you're always complaining how you hate it here. we really need to take the young person's advice. smell the flowers, they were here before us.
Doryce: you sure?
Gladyce: well i can't hear that well. take a moment to admire the singing snowflurries of Snohomish.
Doryce: like the song of Dolores.
Gladyce: and Lake Tye Park.
Doryce: THE Park?
Gladyce: Tye Park. so beautiful down there. the waves off the waters sparkle but they're missing something. i wish our park was like that.
Doryce: we got no lake. the only thing our muni park has going for it is that it's local. and Night Burger, have you been there lately?
Gladyce: what? you went somewhere without me?
Doryce: no of course not. i'm asking remember? that place had such character. it was falling apart and had sharp wood shavings sticking out in all the booths. that ethnic man who took your tips. the ceramic little statue man by the cash register. and that beautiful big board menu sign made up entirely of orders written in chalk. two giant flaps which folded out. that thing was so heavy i still don't how they kept it up without it falling on their exposed buttholes. i talked to the manager when they were at the temporary location. handsome fella, Burn.
Gladyce: Bama's brother.
Doryce: he was jiving me all up and down the street how the remodel was gonna blow my vagina off. well the new place looks like a dentist's office. that happens to strangely serve burgers in the waiting room. it is so damn modern with those grey severe corners the antiseptic fumes wafting off their buttholes shut my eyes before they had a chance to be gouged.
Gladyce: how are the new garlic fries tho? i forgot to order them.
Doryce: you should move to Nevada with me.
Gladyce: oh great. oh no, we are not gonna end up a cliché. we are a unique couple of birds. why are you always moving me down south? you salty or somethin'?
Gladyce: patience. the bus will be here before we're dead. you packed your food for our picnic? not the picnic food mind you, i'm just talking about your food.
Doryce: yes i got my prescriptions right here by my arm. in a tiny cute white bag like they used to serve drugstore ice cream in. square scoops.
Gladyce: you pop those pills like candy.
Doryce: is ice cream technically candy? oh i hate that bus of ours. i wish the dude would just let us ride the wheelchair access lift once.