I pause after urinating into a toilet that probably hasn’t been cleaned in months. Looking to the vending machine on the graffiti-stained wall, I wonder what sort of life a woman must have led to end up tasting a 75 cent vanilla ice cream-flavored condom sold in a filthy truck stop bathroom in Hays, Kansas a.k.a. the middle of fucking nowhere. I imagine an attractive teenage girl, straight off the farm, whose vivid dreams chase the possibility of making it far, far away from the rural redneck high school that has become her day-to-day reality. Her girl-next-door type looks bring her popularity, which brings her the title of Homecoming queen. She finds herself in the arms and beds of several boys, each of whom make casual promises to somehow show her the world she so desires. No such thing happens, but she does, at once, find herself pregnant and alone.
Shunned by her family, distanced from her classmates, she drops out of school, takes a job as a waitress at a local truck stop, and slumps into routine. Time passes. Her body isn’t what it used to be, and worry lines crease her face from every direction. But she still looks good to many of the rugged, paunchy, red-faced truck drivers who eat the giant platters of gravy-soaked chicken fried steak she serves to them at all hours of the day and night. And many of them want to fuck her. They pay well enough, and it’s hard to support a child on a rural waitress’s salary alone; so sometimes she fucks them. A few of her regulars make occasional promises to take her and her son with them, far away from that place, but they never do. And sometimes they make her taste the flavored condoms from the filthy truck stop bathroom. They taste of ice cream.
By Jon Neralich