Like celestial jelly on toast
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Coral. It was at a barbeque in Logan Square in early September. I was looking at my reflection in a car window, trying to determine whether or not my sunglasses made me look too much like a rapper and not enough like a writer. My public self-examinations must, to those watching me, look like a practice of narcissism. But in reality these assessments are less for my ego than they are to ensure I don’t look like the vagrant my mother leads me to believe I resemble.
I take the glasses on and off repeatedly trying to see which looked best. I studied my beak like nose and lips that rest in a permanent pucker.
“I look like a fucking muppet.” I growl and my reflection shakes its head in discontented consignment. Just then, as I was entering what was sure to be a spat of image-conscious torment, I saw a girl so immensely beautiful that at the sight of her, my amygdala deleted several terabytes of memory from itself so that I could fully remember and store those first few moments of our meeting in all of its unassuming magnificence. (Consequently I can no longer remember my Father’s birthday or place the color of my first car.)
She wore a black leather thigh high shorts that displayed her perfect, honey colored legs, knobby knees and crimson red Sperry’s, with no socks of course. She was draped in a blue tank top with some intricate yet absolutely meaningless print on it (Multicolor triangles with antlers.) Four silver bracelets accented her skinny right wrist, and the way they dangled and fell inside of each other was as elegant as it was understated. Her hair was silken with a hint caramel. Her eyebrows threaded in a staggeringly perfect arch that resembled what the arch of the gates of heaven must look like. Tan skin and sleepy eyes and peach sweet lips and a gait that was more of a glide but still vaguely unnerving, like a leaf on a harsh wind.
I put on the sunglasses, deciding it would be best to conceal my eyes so that this majestic, ethnically ambiguous, fashion savvy, nymph couldn’t see my heart melting through my stare. I gave myself one final look in the reflection of the car window, I practiced the smirk that a former girlfriend told me was ‘the best my mug ever got’ and decided that if I could maintain that exact face, maybe the girl wouldn’t notice that behind the ray bans and the grin I looked like a Simpsons character.
Coral walked in the middle of a stable of other girls, each lovely in her own right but to deny the matchless radiance seething from Coral would be as futile as trying to stick to your diet while piss drunk and alone on a Friday (living next to a McDonalds. Eating ranched bathed dressing)
The trick when approaching girls, I’ve learned over the years of strike outs and miserable defeats, is to come bearing gifts of good tidings. Imagine every woman is Pele, the Hawaiian volcano Goddess. You wouldn’t you ask Pele for a season of plentiful harvests without first throwing a few virgins into the mouth Mauna Loa. So why would you approach a woman without sacrificing proverbial virgins to a proverbial magmatic death.
I quickly begin looking for Wes, the home owner and resident drug dealer. I had devised a plan to purchase some of his weed along with some joint wraps, and then I’d approach the broad of babes, armed with charm and a few joints they’d be flattered and giggle and blush at my jokes about how the drummer of the band that was playing in the backyard looked like he was ejaculating every time he hit the cymbals.
I find Wes and purchase the a strain called ‘Devil’s Lettuce’. I ask him if it was ok for me to stay in his living room while I’m rolling the joints, he agrees after first making a vague threat to me about stealing his product. (“No problem, I just hope nothing goes missing.”)
I start rolling up but I’m rusty, rustier than the tin man before he met Dorothy, so the joints are coming out like swollen French fries and all the while I’m going over the scene in my head. I imagine myself a foot taller with my muscles filling my chambray like James Bond’s muscles fill his suit. I imagine telling her the pizza stain on my chinos is actually the blood of a purse snatcher I’d heroically foiled. I imagined her getting my Dragon Ball Z references and knowing the origin of my Final Fantasy tattoo. I imagine her voice, a valley girl falsetto with the tinge of urban I love.
I venture out the house and into the backyard where the band and hipsters take polaroid’s and I spot Coral with her group. The sun’s rays galvanized her, like an armor of honey. Sweet and sticky. I steel my resolve, pop some gum in my mouth and charge the group. Confidence is paramount to success is any avenue, vaginal or otherwise. I consider myself a confident individual, but when our eyes met that first time
“It’s amethyst. It’s supposed to ward off poisons. The Greeks would wear amethyst to promote sobriety and clear judgment. And yes I realize that I sound like a hypocrite for wearing amethyst while I’m on my second solo cup of merlot. But I’m a walking paradox.”
Everything I said sounded so caustic and lame but she skated across words with the self-assured grace of a pro-figure skater. She told me that she wanted to buy a male iguana and a female canary and at night she played Barry White hoping they’d mate and make a dragon and she said she wanted mummification to have a renaissance. She was completely nuts; everything I wanted but didn’t know existed. I closed my eyes and nodded, listening with the attentiveness old black women have in church. Her words were my sermon, and when she sheepishly asked me if she was talking too much, I wanted to smack her across the face and tell her that I never wanted her stop talking. I wanted to tell her that all the words I had ever heard before this very conversation were asinine garbage, and that all the words I’d hear after this would be nothing but the murmurings of worms, and that if I never heard her words again I’d cry like a man on death row hearing his favorite song for the last time.
She continued in that splendid manner for quite some time, and what was even more surprising than the fact her mouth was a fountain of divine non-sequiturs was the possibility that all of this was a means of flirting. That this conversation wasn’t one of transient courtesy, but that she was actually enjoying my company and the possibility of further (less clothed) company.
This revelation was almost too much to handle in my incredibly stoned state. If this was in fact flirting then I was doing a piss poor job at it. She was monopolizing the conversation, and although I was reveling in her mild lunacy I begin to realize that she knew nothing about me save for my name (which I’m sure she’d forgot) and the fact that I was stoned (my eyes were red as the devil’s dick). I felt the need to formulate words, to paint a picture in subtle strokes of the man I was, I’d talk about my job working with special needs kids. She’d think that was adorable.
“I’ll tell her about the time Jerome pooped in the waste basket.” I thought with an explosion of self-assuredness.
“Are you stupid? Girls don’t like stories about special needs children pooping in public.” A voice in my heads rings out, inciting a choir of others.
“Girls don’t like stories about poop at all. You’re so juvenile.”
“Well what else can we talk about; all I’ve got is poop stories.” I mutter, disgraced.
“That’s fucking sad, you’re an adult male, fixated on feces, you think this girls gonna sleep with you?”
“Sleep with him, hell she won’t even like him. You look like a muppet, you know. Like you wear a prosthetic felt nose.”
Anxiety builds from this internal exchange and as the volume mount I begin to get sucked out of the divinity of Coral as if by a black hole, the vacuum of my conscious. I know the vacuum all too well, it has eaten up many day with its permeating nastiness. I’ve developed a method of quelling the voices and the nervousness they bring in three steps. The first being the unclenching of my butt cheeks. A slack sphincter promotes a looser disposition, that’s why gays seem so jovial. The second is to smile, smiling as been scientifically proven to improve temperament. And the third is a tactic I learned from a former girlfriend, to talk, loudly, over the opposition with such ferocity that eventually, like the waves in the ocean, the voices crest and roll back. I unclench my asshole, crack and smile and get ready to open my mouth, just then she gets nudged by one of the women she’d come with, the two meet eyes, then she gives a sly gesture over to an entourage of men dressed in clothes I could neither afford nor wear without looking like an imposter to something much more chic than myself.
The men enter the backyard and they are greeted by handshakes and hugs and Corals voice loses it intent and I can tell the desire of talking to me is deflating and in a pang of desperation I grab her wrist and compliment her bracelets. Her skin isn’t as soft as I thought, it isn’t silk, its merely flesh, making her even more perfect in my mind. Her eyes give way to an indisposed soul. She frees her wrist subtly but full of intent. Coral says thank gives me a smile that says throw in the towel. She’s psychic, and I’m not blind. It took me milliseconds to realize that one of those dudes in this new posse was a suitor or a boyfriend of a prospect for all the love I wanted to receive. It’s better to leave then to be left so I hop of the cement and give myself a hearty stretch.
“I’d better make the rounds. See what the crew is up to.” I say, knowing full well the only members of my crew that were here were busy either with girls or dice.
“Alright. I like you, you’re a good listener.”
“Ha, it’s a necessity for a writer.”
“Oh you write?”
“Yeah. It’s my thing.” I say with insecure fugacity.
“Write about me.”
“Okay, what do you want the story to be about?”
“Love, of course. With a happy ending. It’s so cliché to end a love story with heartache. Happy endings are a rarity.”
“Believable ones at least.”
“Believable is a cliché to. Reality is played the fuck out.”
“You’ve got a mouth like a crossbow, you know that?”
“You should of said harpoon. And you’re a seal. A little baby seal with a cute mustache”
“Thanks. And that’s an awful statement.”
“Fuck seals, they don’t deserve fins. Fins should be reserved only for fish and mermaids.” She pauses for a minute, noticing with vested interest the group of mashers. Her faded lavender lips part curiously and she seems transfixed on one of the mashers like a cat is to a laser light on a wall.
“Whats my name?” She asks me without looking at me.
“Coral.” I say like a marine addressing his superior.
“And do you know what Coral is?”
I shake my head with the dutiful shame of that same marine.
“Well coral is made from the bones of fish.” And her eyes find mine and they are an opulent brown and I’m not sure how any man on the planet could get tired of looking into those eyes.
“And mermaids.” I whimper in a voice that was hopefully sweetly laconic, and not as intensely pitiful as I felt watching her walk away from me and into the trepidation volley of flirtation and burning sexual tension that often permeates the air space around the cool kids.
Hours pass and I start a drinking spree that I I’m sure annihilated several weeks off of the tail end of my life. I’m stumbling around the party, wedging myself in-between those tight circles people form when standing at social events. I mumble and slur and make no sense and I’m sure I embarrassed myself and a few of my friends but I don’t care too much because I spent an hour talking to a goddess only to find that she as penchants for suave dressers with trimmed facial hair. I’m mildly heartbroken, and the scars of this lose will run deep. It’s hard to get back up after a lose of love, its hard to see the world as right and just and pleasant after you’ve been robbed.
I don’t see too much more of Coral at the party, my speculations is that she was swept off her feet by one of the mashers and now has face buried in a pillow as she screams from the mashing she is receiving. Horrific thoughts on this warm evening, thinking about an unrequited love wiping another man’s jizz from the small of her back.
I find some solace in cigarettes and conversation with a group of a guys who look defeated and lousy and held together by paper mache, we are kindred spirits and to the rest of the party, of which occupancy is dwindling, we much look like a scale measuring heartache. At the beginning being and man named Rick, whose thick beard and college bookstore hoodie indicate that cares not for fashion or trend, kudos to him. And at the end, the epitome of a sad, sorry sap is yours truly, looking three sheets to the wind, my eyes barely open on my 5 ciggerete in the last 30 minutes, talking deafeningly brusque about absolutely nothing.
My night continues in this sad manner until I notice Coral running up the back stairs of the house into the kitchen. It’s a frantic run, and not the frantic run that says ‘I’ve got the fucking piss.’ And the frantic run that indicates ‘I need miles of space.’ Recognizing this immediately, I survey the circle I’ve formed with the other romantic misfits; they all seem to recognize the look on my face, that mask of idiotic hope. I bid them farewell and split for the interior of the house.
I make my way up the stairs onto the back porch and through the door and into the kitchen where there is a couple of people talking. I must have looked like I was on the hunt because without even saying anything I’m pointed into the direction of the living room by a hipster with a jewfro and a zorro mustache. I shoot him and nod and make a break for the living room which is peppered with cool looking people of fluctuating levels of drunkenness.
I would of walked passed Coral if I didn’t hear her call out.
“You’re still here?” She sniffles from under balled up mangy Kleenex.
“Yeah.” I say, sounding a little scared.
“I would of thought you’d gone home with some girl by now.” She says flattering me.
“I could say the same about you.” I state gravely.
“I should be so lucky.” Her eyes, those auburn gemstones are surrounded by red veins and the skin around them is puffy like the coats worn by rappers in the 90s.
“Stay right here, and whatever you do, don’t lose that look on your face.” I tell her before rushing off to find the friend whom was throwing the party, I eventually catch him and pull him away from a group of girls with remarkable breasts. (I mean all three of them had near perfect tits and it seemed like they were part of hidden camera social experiment about how the average person reacts to seeing 6 amazing breast. As if they had met at some amazing tit convention of on a forum for girls with lower back issues.)
He eventually sells me a 3 quarters drank handle of Bacardi for 15 dollars and shoes me away. I find Coral back in the dining room in the same corner, and the best part is she isn’t buried in her phone to give the illusion of preoccupies, instead she she gazes and her hands as they toy with a Doyle on the table. I slam down the bottle and place a red cup in front of her.
“Tell me all your woes.” I say.
And she tells me about the boy, Elliot, who she had been holding out hope for, for the last 5 months, she told me about the smooth words and the long kisses and the time they went to visit his grandmother in the nursing home and how much Elliot’s grandmother liked her and how she thought this could be the one and how tonight he broke it off and hoped in a cab with Kieran who, in Coral’s elaborate day time fantasies, had imagined would be in the bridal party of Coral’s wedding.
She exhales on my face and her breath is molten hot with the smell of booze. She kisses hard but not deep, the kinds of kisses you give someone whom you never plan to think of again. The kinds of port town whores would give navy men. Loveless and wet and my hands skirt underneath her shorts and I touch her pussy and its good and everything is like it should be, and by that a mean wet and inviting. I’m in there and she moans and digs nails into the back of my neck. But I can’t help but feel like she’d rather be with someone else. And the film on my fingers and the tongue in my mouth can’t feel the void in my heart. But we ride the whirlwind to a cab and cab to her studio and she is taking the lead and I’m following her orders.
“Shoe’s by the door.” She bark, rolling her shirt over her head. Once the shirts off she throws it into the shadowy recess of the closet, her hair falls down and resets it self in an identical mannerof her shoulders. Her bra is black and it pushes her breasts up and they look so good I call them photoshops.
“You can stop with the lines now. You’ve already won.” She laughs before unfastening the top button of her shorts. They hit they ground like a boxer with a glass chin after an uppercut. I’m hard enough to cut diamonds at the site of those lace panties and I want to give her another compliment, but I know too many sweet words work like salt on a fire. And I want this fire to burn all night.
I suck in my gut and lift up my shirt, I don’t have much of a body so she steadies her gaze on my face, she smiling and I go over to kiss her but as I grab her waist she tells me that I can’t stay afterwards. I say that after what I do to her she’ll never want me to leave, and I drop to my knees and eat like it’s my last fucking meal before I meet the gallows.
She falls over on the bed and she spreads her legs like celestial jelly on infinite toast.
And that night I work hard and she works hard and we allow each other to unzip and fume. And in the act our sweat soak bodies find peace in the exertion. We were two perfectly unraveled strangers lucky enough to find each other.
And after its all finished she makes a nest in between my arm and shoulder and even though I kind of have to pee and I’m slightly cotton mouthed, I don’t get up, because I know that moments like these are houses of cards.
In the morning she is still in the nook of my body, and I study her face and sexiness was sweated out and I notice the acne on
I didn’t have to work the next so I didn’t shower. I let her scent stick on me, let in sink deep. That next my victorious air was apparent even to strangers. I looked like I got a winning lottery ticket, and to be honest I would have traded one for the night I had. It was validation of a sort, I felt, a deep, sweet vindication. That I was infact a man, that I was capable and masculine and attractive. And no matter what happened in the future, those facts would remain chiseled into the side of all existence, like commandments or the faces of presidents or the names of dead solider. No matter what happened, nothing could take away my night with Coral. To feel attractive and capable.
A week later I’m heading home from work on the 72 bus when my phone erupts into a block of closely spaced text message alarms. When I see that the screen reads “1 unread message(s). Coral.”, I hear the scream of bottle rockets tearing through the sky, I smile on the train the way you’d imagine a teenage girl. I look at a girl sitting adjacent from me on the back of the bus and my smile extracts a smile from her and I unlock my phone and read the first line of the message and it reads;
Hey Adam, this is Coral. We met at Chandlers and Ray’s party and we had sex? Well there is no easy way to say this, and I belive in flat talking and plain speaking so I’ll just come out with it. I’m pregnant, and I’m 100% sure it’s by you. It’s been a miserable two weeks. I;ve been a pussy about telling you because, well, its just akward. And this next part is going to be even more akward, but again, plain speaking is key; I’m not keeping it. I don’t know you, and even if I did neither of us are ready, especially me. I havnt told anyone, me and you are literally thee only to being on the planet who know. We are in the VIP section of the fucked up/secret reality club. The procedor costs 350.00, an amount I’s ashamed to say I cant fully coer right now. I’m going to need half the money (175.00) from you. Please text or call me back soon. The longer we wait, the more money (and damage it will do to me) this will cost. Alright. Talk to you soon. Do not tell anyone. Bye.
My ears felt hot, and I saw myself sitting in a stupor on my futon as light smeared the room as if it were the bleeding carcuss of an elk being dragged by a dog.
“Shit..” the words exist my mouth an echo like the liberty bells being rung in the grand canyon. (In greek myhthology Echo was the name of a nymph who was on the pay roll for the soul purpose of talking to Hera as a means to distract her from her husbands, Zues, numerous affairs and infidelities.)
I don’t reply to the text immediately, instead I microwave a burrito and put on a reality show about people with mental disabilities trying to dates.
I’d drink, but I havnt got the money to have ideal alchol around, I havnt got the money for ideal booze or ideal bus rides or ideal abortions.
I think about Coral, her thin face, with her skin so damn smooth. It was so damn smooth. And she moaned like bird call, a primal way of communicating. She knew all the right things to, as if she was from the future. As if she’d lived our moment 600 times before.
She looked like something inbetween the states of evloultion, like something half human and half whatever comes after us that future folk will deny they eveolved from like we do with chimps.
Her lips pursed and full, painted a organic pink, a coral pink. (how do girls know all the minute colors in the swatches, it’s like car people knowing the make and year and extraneous series of number that follow.)
Her legs were tines of smooth marble, but not the sediment, tines of marble cake, immaculate yet begging to be devoured,
I sit on my couch and watch as this man who’se face is on a slant dicuss how lonely he is, and I’m spirally into the dark place and I look at my all purpose cleaner my momther sent me in her monthly care packages and I consider the option
I robotically grab for the phone and call.
The phone rings, and in my head I can see her grabbing her phone in the hurried/trained manner a kung fu artist can grab a house fly in the grasp of chopsticks. I can see her reading my name and taking a deep breath, I can see her getting ready for what is to be a human experience. And as we all know human expirences are with out a doubt the scariest.
“Hey there.” She says with a starling calm, but I don’t know wht it s starltilng it’s the calm shes had forever. Well atleast our forever.
“Hi.” I say, completely vacant of tact or purpose or anything admirable. I feel a knife twisting in-between my solar plexsise.
“Whats my name?” She inserted with some air of sly apathy. As if it didn’t matter, as if this moment didn’t matter. As if I got lucky, as if this meeting was a fluke, like a first time bowler getting a stike out on his first roll, like gambler hitting a Royal Flush in the first hand, it doesn’t make them a good boweler or a seasoned gambler, it wasn’t providence or phrophesy, just a dirty fucking fluke.
In that moment my heart exploded and was pieced back together by a magnamious
“Coral.” I say like a marine addressing his superior.
“And so you know what Coral is?”
I shake my head with the shame of that same marine.
“Well Coral is made for the bones of fish.”
TATTOO OF PINK BOXING GLOVES.
On the train Ilook across from me at