Shipwrecked in Prospero's Pasture

by Melanie Browne

The stranger is whispering in my ear. Secret things about ATM machines, how they find them abandoned in the middle of national forests, crisp twenties still locked inside. I file a broken nail with a matchbook someone left at the bar. The stranger has beautiful eyes. He is too close all of a sudden, putting one hand on my knee. I worry that if I take him home he might have to kill me because I now know things about cash machines that I shouldn't. I drink another wine spritzer. His eyes are dark and stormy, so I recite bits of Prospero's monologue from the Tempest. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded sleep."

He nods at me, drunk. He pulls at my arm leading me towards his car. I can smell his suede jacket. The radio plays Traffic's Freedom Rider. Or maybe that's only the sound the strangers tires make as they squeal out of the parking lot. He tells me we are "Gonna rob us a machine."

I'm too drunk to comprehend what he is saying, and he's too drunk to drive. I hear myself yelling for him to pull over. He tells me I'm Bonnie, and he's Clyde, but "just a little older with some erectile dysfunction problems, otherwise known as ED." I tell him that's alright, as long as he's a good kisser. When I wake up I'm still in the stranger's car. My cheek is glued to the window with perspiration. I look out the window. We seem to be in the middle of a field. I see a couple of cows in the distance. They look bored. The stranger is not in the car. I pull on the door handle and look around the field.

The sun is bright, it must be noon already. I walk around to the back of the car and that's when I see the stranger, on his knees, stabbing a cash machine on the end of a chain with an ice pick. Before he gets a chance to look up, I run across the field, past the cows, to a dirt road. He might be Clyde, but I'm no Bonnie.

BIO: Melanie Browne's poetry can be found at various online journals including Madswirl, Commonline, and Houston Literary Review. She has poetry and fiction forthcoming in Word Riot,Yellow Mama, Writers' Bloc (Rutgers), and 34th Parallel. She is a co-editor at Leaf Garden Press. She lives in Texas with her husband and three children.