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The Night a Corndog Basket in Tennessee Saved My Life

Cock D. discovers what it means to lose the one you love (hint: in the back of a pickup in the bar parking lot), and picks himself up with some booze from a hobo and an American classic: the corn dog.
Illustration by Joshua David Stein

We first discovered the fictional character known as Cock Daniels, or "Cock D." on Yelp, where he was busy writing longform stories about his culinary adventures around Nashville's overlooked gems, dive bars, and dark corners. As we read through his stories, we quickly realized that this epic series of demented tales—which is like reading a cross between Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential—should find a proper internet home. It was also flagged as inappropriate on Yelp. Written by a real-life respectable chef who will remain anonymous, this is the second installment in this ongoing literary series. Meet Cock D., as in, "the D's short for Daniels, and the Cock's not short for shit."

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Location: Drifter's BBQ, East Nashville

Cock D. here,

I feel as though it's been a while since I've eaten anywhere worthy of mention. Half a week ago, I fell hard for a woman with a tattoo of a timber wolf running out of her crotch and down her left thigh, breathing fire and fully erect, with the vein structure of a sequoia tree. Decent food became an afterthought. We ate cold hotdogs, smoked menthols, and dabbled in the kind of marathon lovemaking typically reserved for Cubans and middle-schoolers. She was a miracle of proportion and exhibited a way that has eluded me for most of my sexual existence. It was like riding a magic carpet made of cured meats and pungent cheeses, fueled by grape Mad Dog 20/20 and violent lust. She made me not want to drink and abuse hard drugs as much. She was 35, but looked 32. She was an idealist and taut as a toddler. Leather clung to her slender body like lambskin. Her name was Alice, and I figured I could love her.

Then she met Sewell. A true American bastard. He's an artisan of asshole and a conqueror of the innocent. He's also famously well-endowed. It's been called the "The Forearm," "Magic Hat #12," "El Martillo," and "The Piecemaker," but he always called it "The Murder-Raper."

A couple of nights ago at the Beer Barrel on Gallatin, Sewell snuck her a couple of pills he stole from his mother, and before I had the chance to intervene, Sewell's got Alice bent over the back of his termite truck tailgate in the parking lot, howling at the moon and moving in uncontrolled jerks, blue jeans barely below the crest of massive balls. His breaths were replaced by, "Ah shit… ah shit" in 2/4 time. And in all that confused, unholy madness, between the sounds of hedonistic grunts and bodily friction, I thought I heard the faint whispers of a pleased woman. Those sounds of pleasure stopped me from stopping the engagement. I just watched. I wanted to blame the pills, I wanted to blame Sewell, but those pills could've been harmless, as Sewell's mother's been dead since '98, and how can you blame a son of a bitch for being one? I had become self-aware, and my mechanics began to fail. My heart felt like it was shitting on my stomach, which then shit on my intestines, which made me shit my pants.

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I turned to the street and I walked cowardly through the night and into the morning: impotent, beaten, and soiled. I offered a bum on Douglas Avenue company and a cigarette to help him finish his fifth of Evan Green.

I woke up from a fever dream in Five Points covered in my own filth, steeped in lowliness and a freezing sweat. I gathered myself, wiped my ass with my dead brother Norman's POW bandana, and wandered toward Drifters BBQ. I thought about Alice and those cold hotdogs. I thought about Sewell's unnatural movements. I wanted to take my switchblade and plunge it into my belly, right there in the middle of Five Points, like a shamed samurai surrounded by sworn enemies. Sprawled naked in the middle of East Nashville's famed intersection; arms and legs pointed to either end of 11th and Clearview, bleeding out slow, dick to Woodland. A modern day Vitruvian Man: vengeful, drunk, and dying. But I was hungry and needed the nourishment of a bad memory.

I made my way up a steep hill to Drifter's BBQ. I walked in to find a pretty young girl behind the bar. She glowed with the spirit and naivety of a gaggle of orphaned boys playing an impromptu game of baseball in the middle of a dirt road. She was beauty, and if I had the ability to feel the basic human emotion of love in that moment, I might have fallen for her. She didn't offer much for conversation, most likely 'cause I smelled of my own shit, but her presence was warming and reminded me of a better man's childhood, free of responsibility or molestation. She filled a hole in me, and was at least nice enough to let a scoundrel stay for lunch.

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I ordered the corndog basket and a Pabst.

"Would you like to add an extra corndog?" she asked me.

"How much?"

"$2" she replied.

"Fucking A' right I want to add an extra corndog," I shouted.

While they were quite possibly the best corndogs I had ever consumed outside of the Wilson County Fair, I couldn't help but think of Sewell's magnificent piece every time I shoved that massive hunk of batter-fired tubular beef meat down my tattered throat. I three-bit both of them. The yellow mustard smeared across my face like a sad clown. I gave the girl a short goodbye, and started the long walk home.

Drifter's seems nice enough. I imagine I should've ordered some barbecue, but I was on the descent and needed a physical reaffirmation, a glimpse of what Alice might have felt. I got a look at their mountainous barbecue nacho plate as I was walked out the door. It looked like Pancho Villa took a colossal shit on top of a pile of Tostitos. Call me 'interested.' Apparently, they have a decent happy hour and live music from time to time, but you can't smoke inside, and there's too many damn kids. Three stars.

Cock D. out.