Thursday, April 16, 2015
Fountain City? 20 mins, I texted.
Sure, Dean replied.
I nervously slid my fingers around the sweaty cup when Dean sat down across from me and waived to the server. As he spoke, my heart started racing.
“Coffee, light cream and sugar,” he told the skinny Goth chick that worked the floor of the café.
I knew I’d be leaving soon, headed for basic training, and so did he. I couldn’t go without telling him. I wouldn’t be able to move on. After a few moments, I couldn’t tell if my palms were sweaty from nerves, or the watered down iced coffee I’d been sipping.
“Well, you’re leaving tomorrow, right? We’d probably do better if you’d actually talk to me, instead of, well, ya know, not talking to me,” Dean said, prodding me in that annoying way that only he could.
I’m in love with you. I’m in love with you. I’m in love with you. I couldn’t hear anything else, I’d tried to think of an eloquent way to tell him, to ease him into everything, but I knew it was coming, like word vomit, like I’d been dosed with truth serum and I was giving him the answer to a question he didn’t ask.
“I’m in love with you!” I blurted, and instantly my face reddened like a rooster’s crown and my eyes stung with tears and embarrassment.
Dean stared at me, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. He didn’t have to say anything—his eyes said everything.
“Par, I’m sorry, I do love you, but…”
I watched his face and mouth move and saw that his hands were giving nonverbal signals, but I couldn’t hear him. I only heard the garbled white noise of his vocal frequency—a cadence that belongs to my mother.
“Par, you fucking lesbian, I wish you’d stop hanging out with that dyke, what’s her name, Deena, De, whatever the fuck you call her,” my mother yells.
“His name is Dean, mom. Dean is not a lesbian because he is male,” I correct her, trying to be as deadpan as possible.
“She is a freak! Par, you know what, I don’t need this, just stop fucking hanging around with that dyke. I don’t like her, him, it, whatever,” her hands shake as she fumbles with the prescription pill bottle. Her bony fingers wrap around its childproof lid, she grunts and struggles to open the container, but it does not give in to her wanting hands.
She shoves the bottle at me.
“Open this damn thing. You know how my hands are when I haven’t taken my medicine,” mother says, as if I’ve never bore witness to her floundering in an overmedicated stupor.
I take the bottle and open the lid. I should flush these muthafuckers, I think. Instead, I hand them back to her.
“When your daddy gets home I’ll let him handle you,” she threatens. Too bad daddy’s busy plowing his secretary.
“Okay, mom, I’m going out now, I’ll be back later,” I say, cupping my hand around my mouth to exaggerate my tone as if she were deaf. She doesn’t try to stop me, her pills are more important.
“Par, are you listening to me? I’m sorry,” Dean said, his hand holding mine.
I looked down, and though I’d heard nothing of his excuses and apologies, I understood everything.
“Please, say something,” he pleaded.
“I’m taking a red-eye tonight, my flight leaves at 11:45,” I said.
“But we had plans for pre-departure lunch tomorrow!” he reminded me, as though I’d forgotten.
“I’m sorry too,” I told him. He watched silently as I collected my bag and left a twenty on the table.
“Keep the change, enjoy your lunch,” I said over my shoulder.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Wheeled outside and left by his caregiver.
And then it started to rain.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
The doctor wore spectacles with peach-coloured lenses. The Man with the Revolving Head said, “His eyes look like nipples through a latex brassiere, and if he arches his back they will be crushed and flattened against the glass.” But even though he said it out loud, the doctor didn’t hear him. Because the Man with the Revolving Head was sitting on a chair in front of the doctor’s desk, whereas his face was directly facing the wall backwards behind himself, a wall upon which there were two anatomical illustrations – one male, one female – exactly framing an optician’s abstract poem to see if you can see. He swiftly committed it to memory before rejoining the plane of his body to face the doctor. The doctor was tapping a pink photo-cornered tablet of desk-top blotting paper with the eraser end of a Staedtler pencil. He said (the doctor said),
“Tell me something. Do you sleep facing the pillow, or do you sleep facing the ceiling? If,” and he made the pencil describe a circle around the thumb and first finger of his left hand, “you do not consider this an egregious question.”
“Facing means where your face faces,” replied the Man with the Revolving Head. “Which makes your question no more relevant than were it asked of a man with insomnia or vertigo. Less so, in fact. Now, if you will excuse me, doctor.”
He stood up in one easy, balletic movement, turned abruptly around, and stayed facing the doctor, whose gaze was focused a few inches below his chin, between his shoulder blades. Then he swiveled his head to match his body and exited the consulting room, not needing to pause to maintain perfect eye contact with the pretty mini-skirted receptionist as he walked away from her, and who, in turn, watched him all along the corridor until, like a Marcel Duchamp painting, he was cut into planes by the revolving door.
Monday, April 6, 2015
I ask what they’ll say when I’ve done this. For the moment I’m holding tight which is funny because in the end I aim to fall. All my life I’ve wanted to fly, and now I will, in just a moment. My knuckles have gone white with waiting.
They don’t know. My family, my fiancé, they can’t understand when even I don’t. The time to do this was when it was all going wrong. That time I lost my home maybe, when the fear gripped so tight I couldn’t speak properly to the people at the shelter. When I was hiding bruises and pretending that he wasn’t doing the things he did, mistaking that fear for love. When I left all that behind to walk into another mess, only that time wasn’t so bad and I thought I could do it. No money or means, no hope either with an illness that left my mind crippled and the fear never left but I got better, and I started looking up again.
I’ve taken a tighter grip so I can lean over, breath like a cloud and fingers cold.
The time to do this wasn’t when things were going well. I grew wings and flew, I’m flying and still going up and all around me people smile and compliment me on how average I am and that is when I soar. I’ve never been so high as to achieve….
I’m still going up and it’s a long way down. It’s different now there’s something to lose and the fear stops my mind altogether. All those people flying alongside me and they can see the ground too, they know how hard they’ll hit if their wings are broken and yet they climb higher still. I won’t go higher.
I’m holding on tighter still, leaning out even further. I’ll fly, I’ll taste a moment without fear and it will be perfect.
But not today
Thursday, April 2, 2015
As the ginger lad in a snot-stained Spiderman t-shirt pushes his toy fire engine around the floor of the waiting room, the whiny voice of one of his favorite cartoon characters whispers, “Pssst, hey kid, want some candy?”
Drool trickles down his chin, he drop his fire truck, and eagerly nods his head.
“Come closer. I got lotsa sweet sugary candy in here. Stick your tongue in the holes and I’ll put some candy on it,” the electrical outlet on the wall whispers seductively.
The previously immobile lips of the ventriloquist finally move, breaking into a smile as the ginger lad’s wet pink tongue inches towards the electrical socket.
Monday, March 30, 2015
i always thought my mom was a nice person.
there were basically two reasons one, that she never beat me even though i was a total asshole of a kid.
and two, she had a couple of cats and a dog and she always fed them and treated them right.
but recently, i was talking to a woman that my mom worked with at a supermarket for a long time and she told me a couple of things that made me wonder if i was wrong.
the first thing , she said my mom lent her a book once that she never gave back and that my mom told her was the greatest book she ever read.
the book was “the fountainhead” by ayn rand!
and this woman also told me that my mom’s favorite book as a kid was little black sambo!
i thought it was kind of strange that my mom never mentioned these books to me, but why
would the woman lie?
also my mom and i never talked much except for her telling me how stupid and full of shit i was, though as i say i was pretty hard to take and she never beat me.
here i was starting to think maybe i was in the wrong with her but maybe she was just as much in the wrong or more, you know?
anyway, it just goes to show you never really know about people.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
I can mark the time I got truly interested in Miss Jade, and that was just after she tried for some forty-odd minutes to sell me a block of 2,000 shares of common stock in The West Grove Costume Factory. I’ll confide that actually it wouldn’t have been impossible for her to have succeeded, but I was lightly turned off when she kept emphasizing that “the boys at West Grove know their niche—they specialize in making milkmaid, princess, and witch outfits—and they’ve never strayed or ventured outside of what they do best.” However, the thought that lodged in my mind after hearing what she said was that if I invested my money there, I’d be taking a position in a prejudiced outfit, a group of bruisers strong enough and wise enough to, yes, labor within the channel of their expertise, but not strong enough or concerned enough to manufacture make-believe duds for guys. So I smiled at Miss Jade and told her no thanks, it ain’t the time right now for me to be buying stock, but that doesn’t mean by a long shot I have no interest in you yourself, Miss Jade; a good and sincere interest, fueled by my wanting to probe more deeply your obvious business acumen. (I didn’t say beans about another genuine want: to do some pinky-finger to thumb-wide spreads and pivots of my writing hand across what looked to me like a pair of polka dot panties spanning her spherical ass.) But the business-acumen compliment was probably all it took to spook Miss Jade, and she began to rapidly skip away from me—the polka-dot globe fast-fell from sight—and I think that’s when my interest in her really started to throb and spike.
Monday, March 23, 2015
She was in the dark corner and I was sitting on a cat-torn sofa watching her dance to Lou Christie on the radio. She told me, “In ’78 the snow knocked out the power and I sat on my parents’ big bed with my brother all huddled up and I thought I was important because my little battery radio was all the electricity in the house.”
Now she thought it again, a stout little redhead in clothes that passed for lingerie dancing in the darkness, as I had neglected or forgotten or failed to pay the electric bill, and had nothing left after buying beer to have it reconnected.
“Can’t you ask your friends for some cash?” she demanded.
She did not understand the luxury of friends or cash. the upstairs neighbors were blasting blues so loud that the plaster fell in chucks— bad blues, blues by a boy who never slept on the streets, who never missed a meal, or stubbed his toe, who always had a full bottle, who had a woman waiting outside his door in case the one he had inside got tiresome with talk.
Lou Christie went off and Van Morrison came on. She liked the oldies station. It was HER radio. She danced and poured an open beer can all over her tits and her face, then shook her hair and little white flecks went flying into the night. She swaggered over to me, leant down and let her breasts hang in my face, smelling of sweat and warm cheap beer. She laughed and purred through her lips and I smoked. Ash fell on the orangebrown sofa.
She flung her head back, splattering me with flecks of beer foam from the tips of her pussyred hair. Then she went and danced in the open window. All the blueness of a black night without electricity caressed her jealously, and I drank my pussywarm beer.
Electricity makes our beer cold; we take this for granted. Electricity powers the blue motel sign that flicks on and off, shades her fat thighs and arms so that they are almost lovable. She forgot that I had no friends. She forgot that I had no chance. She remembered fucking and danced like it. Whoever said death was more beautiful than love knew neither. The blue light on her thighs, the beer in her hair, her laughing, her blistered mouth painted over in red lipstick came to me and knelt, pulling me by both hands into the black bedroom.
I fantasized about her death, prayed that she would die by morning, then climbed up on to the mattress without sheets and took off my shorts.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Not long before third grade, Mom and I were having a quiet dinner at Luby’s. She never liked cooking. The friendly man appeared at our table, asking Mom how she’d been, inquiring why my father wasn’t with us, and I didn’t know how to act. Mom and Dad’s main rules for interactions with their friends were to be polite, don’t intrude, and always mention my stellar grades.
I thought my father was invincible. Each time he left town to protect a judge or jurors, I pictured him pulling his piece on some husky-voiced bad guy. I thought it was noble wanting to save the day. Not realistic, but still noble.
The friendly man joined us for dinner, paid for the dinner. Mom smiled throughout the meal, but it became more pained as we ate. I can’t remember how he talked Mom into letting him follow us back home. All I knew was that we were under attack, and there was no guarantee she could save us. As I played with my Hot Wheels in the living room, Mom and the friendly man sat in two facing recliners. Mom was adept with others. People always thought she liked them, but most were wrong. That night, however, I sensed her panic. When the friendly man stepped out to make a call, she whispered that I should announce in front of him that it was time for my bath, followed by bed. Leave her alone with him?
Dumbly splashing in the tub, I didn’t know how long to wait. I was terrified of what I might see if I left too soon. Finally, I heard tires screech, a vehicle speeding down our street. Mom slipped inside the bathroom. She tried to breathe, had to try harder. She said I was a good boy. I needed to hear that. Was that man her friend? She insisted I never mention him again. I sat useless in my lukewarm bath. At that moment, I loved my mother more than I ever would again.
Monday, March 16, 2015
The bar is unusually empty for a Saturday and Alabama’s kicking Old Miss butt on the TV. Unfortunately, it’s half-time and commercial after commercial uses catchy slogans trying to convince me how to vote.
“You shouldn’t be listening to such nonsense. Rot your brain, it will.”
I look up and see my cantankerous Uncle Raymond.
“Hey there. Just waiting for half-time to be over. Sit.”
He orders a beer. “Politicians—they’re all liars and crooks, so which one wins doesn’t really matter.”
He takes a long draught of his beer and gives out with a sigh.
“Uncle Raymond, you look a bit down. What’s happening?”
“Just came from the vet. Daisy’s gone. With the arthritis she could barely walk anymore. I kept putting it off, but it wasn’t fair to her, she hurt so bad.”
Moisture glistens in Uncle Raymond’s eyes. Daisy, a scrappy little mutt, has been his constant companion for sixteen years—also a fixture in our neighborhood bar. I know how much she meant to him. In his divorce, to get Daisy he let Aunt Helen have everything else.
So we just sit and drink.
Otto, my bookie’s idiot nephew, comes in to collect on my losing Thursday night football bet. As I’m counting out the cash Otto turns to Raymond.
“Where’s that ugly fucking mongrel of yours?”
“Catch you later,” Uncle Raymond says to me and leaves.
I help Otto and his bloody broken nose off the floor.
“It’s not polite—and it’s definitely not very smart to insult Daisy. Raymond likes dogs one whole hell of a lot more than he does people.”
I stuff my bet money in his pocket and push him toward the door. I order another beer from Sam the bartender, who is as silent as ever.
My beer arrives just in time for the second half kickoff.