After Ten Years of posting on this blog, after thousands of words that made up the torpid, lucid stories of modern madness, I've wrote a book. If you like this blog, you'll my book.
Be sure to pick it up
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
(Btw Sorry for the wait on the book. But It wasn't ready for that March release and judging by the way I'm cutting and adding stuff it probably won't be ready in April either. But when it comes out, signed copies for all for making)
1. Apologized for that comment about tattooed woman. I should have told you that while i like tattooed women, that you are great with no tattoos,That your natural, un-inked, skin is like a painting, and carries with it something hidden and classic and sexy, and that tattooed girls are like motorcycles and cocaine, risky luxuries that ultimately aren't for me.
2. Went on a cruise with. The thought of us together in a small cabin somewhere sailing over the Atlantic (or Pacific, your choice.) is so romantic I can hardly stand it without throwing myself in to a dank despair at the idea it won't ever happen. I'm the opposite of clastrobic, claustromaniac I'm told it is. i enjoy tiny spaces and being held up in them and i enjoy your bare legs against mine and to spend a week with you on a ship seems like magic, seems kind of like heaven. We could of got ripped-out-the-frame drunk and smoked cigarettes like we'd never need lungs and the next morning we could zombie about the deck and smell salt in the air and you could tan and i could people watch and maybe we could go swim with manta rays. I like the way they have wing-like fins, they seem like a creature God made after talking to Salvidor Dali
3. Taken a tour of a museum and have someone explain to us why paintings are good. Then we could of have gotten into an argument on the walk to the train station about whether the tour guide was right. And on the train we'd mildly resent each other, because both of us are smart and neither of us was wrong but then back at the apartment we'd fuck each other selflessly and eat and watch Mad Men and we wouldn't argue because we both know mad men is good is we don't need anyone to explain why.
4. I wish we could have collected loose change for a year, split the money evenly and bought the other one surprise gift.
5. I wish i would have fucked you harder during that thunder storm that last the whole day. The thunder boomed so loud it triggered car alarms. You told me you feel bad for animals during storms like that, I agreed thinking it childish but you were sincere. The lighting cut through walls it seemed, like divine x-rays or some being not bound by our 3-dimensional restrictions. I think about how, with the windows cracked, the temperature in my room was perfect. I think about that rain breeze and I think about your legs on mine and i feel alive the way Neruda most have when he wrote Always.
6.Fucked in more parking lots. We were 8 months in and yes sometimes lethargy leads us to prosaic nights indoors but other times adventure and whiskey led us to sex in public and conversations so voracious and spirited they were nearly as good as fucking.
(Ok no more about fucking, i know you have a man now)
(Also no more involving booze)
(Ok no more about fucking, i know you have a man now)
(Also no more involving booze)
7. I should have told you about 2010 and how it was almost all over for me, and how i still get the shakes.
8. I should have tried to understand your shakes better. But to be fair you didn't make it easy, but nothing worth the long haul is easy.
9. Carried you to bed more often when you feel asleep on the couch or in the basement after you drank too much. It made me feel like a man, you made me feel capable of providing and protecting and i don't always feel that way because i'm constantly in danger and in desire. The Buddha says to end desire is to end suffering but sometimes i think the Buddha talks outta his ass.
10. I should of let you know that i was bullied and beat up and rejected. I think i put up a front that made you sympathize less when i acted like a baby. Although i think i acted like a baby too much. Too bad they don't make adult pacifiers.
11. I should of played in your hair more. I should have cherished your hair like it was fucking Egyptian silk or French wine or Colombian blow. I should have washed it for you and brushed it and wrote 2 poems a day to it. I should have let your hair motivate me to get a promotion and knock you up so our kids could have inherited your hair. And when our daughter brought over a suitor I'd chase them away claiming they only want you for your hair.
12. We should have got matching gym shoes like annoying instagram couples cause even though that annoys the piss outta me it also makes me a little jealous and i think the jealousy of strangers is a silent fuel for relationships. I almost deleted that one but i know you get it.
14. We should have laughed more in general. Your snaggle teeth and puesdo-asshole sounding cackle "gave me life." Thats what all you dramatic girls are saying now right? Gave me life. As if your mother and God and atoms did nothing.
15. I guess we're all something different behind closed doors with our pants off.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
'Florida feels like an ancient place or a video game level. The heat lays on top of you like glaze on a honey bun. Fields of cattails swaying autonomously much like cats. Salt water makes the atmosphere feel like its been washed thought some sort of autoclave. Overalls are worn un-ironically I want nothing more than to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer and listening to her play music, what a peaceful apocalypse, what a romantic reckoning.' Willis wrote pretentiously in his green note book.
He sat there, full of artistic revelry at his words. He brought the Balmain pen to his lips and stared out the windows of the bus trying his best to seem brooding and pensive to anyone looking. He secretly hoped they'd the Balmain pen he received in a gift basket at a wedding. He loved the Balmain pen, he claimed it wrote better, and it made his thought translate better on paper. He was a lousy writer and a pretentious twat and but he didn't deserve what was coming to him this evening.
But folks rarely get what they deserve in this world.
When Willis got to Louise's house he notice the scene a little bare to the sight of a wake. Only one car sat outside the house, and one in the driver way adjacent to the home. It was a small blue two level, with a massive wooden with a few chairs and a low wooden card table on it. The porch was raised and underneath, blocked of by criss-crossing wooden planks was a deep, and eerie area of thick plants that seemed to move in random spot. On the porch to women dressed in black stood facing the home, talking to someone inside. As Willis approached he saw Louise peek over one of the ladies shoulders, and with a look of surprised, she nearly screamed; "Willis!"
"There she is!" Willis said, putting his bag down, outstretching his arms. He noticed for the first time in a year, the deep cuts that made Louise face, her skin pale, and lightly moist from the sweat of a long hot day, she walked around the two morning women and hurried down the steps to embrace Willis.
"I've missed you." She breathed out. Her air smelled like jasmine and sweat and Willis dug it. Willis looked briefly at the porch to see the women putting on sun glasses and nodding to one other. He then noticed the strange wood underneath the house begin to jump and spaz with a little more frequency. Must be the wind he thought, must be crickets.
Willis buried his self in Louise auburn hair and breathed a deep relaxed breath. Louise introduced the two women has aunts, and then they were off. Louise explained that everyone left the repass early, her grandmother was beloved and the day had taken a toll on Louise so she kicked them out early. Willis asked if he'd be a burden to the healing, she shook her head and grabbed his face and said; 'You're just who i need."
They got him settled in a guest room, both of them feeling the certain pull in the air that he would not be sleeping there, and they went off with a six pack to the backyard to catch
“Are left overs fine with you? I got a whole mess in the fridge.”
“They’ll be fine. Aslong as we don’t have to eat today's kills.”
“Nah, these things so small even a little bity 22 rips em up to bad to eat.”
“Grisly las you are.”
Florida feels like parade through an ancient world Willis thought, watching Louise, in the black skirt, her hair tied in bun, a hunting rifle in hoisted up, aiming down the sight toward the garden her grandmother started when she herself was a little girl. Now that she is gone, and so is Louise's mother, her father, the perennial non-factor never even showed up to the wake as.
“Hear that?” Louise turned her head a tick in Willis's direction.
“You don’t have the ears for it yet, that’s alright, you’ll learn.”
She shoots Willis a sly smile and shifts her head back toward the tall green stalks and the vines, limbs and branches that tangled around her other like a tuft of steel wool. She had it all in her garden, peonies, hibiscus, tulips all lined with cattywompus, she was a surgeon with seed planting.
“Why are you so quite back there anyway?” She says, standing, hips cocked.
“Admiring the work of your green thumb.”
“Oh really, here I was thinking you were staring at my ass this whole time.”
It was a sight from any angle, but from the back she looked like distant waves, calm and longing to be painted Willis thought, wishing he could run inside and use his bailman pen to document the thought.
“Not this time.” He says, settling to say something vaguely, like he always does. Did.
Louise and Willis have never had sex. While Willis thought of Louise as truly beautiful,more than once having stared at her with lascivious thoughts, he never made a pass. And despite his flaws, numbered and vast as they are, Louise found Willis to have a certain kind of charm and way that made him very interesting. But passive interest is hardly cause for Louise's 'friendship' with Willis. Why she'd picked him for all this, was really a mystery even to Louise herself, serendipity maybe. Or maybe it was just happenstance and opportunity that gave way to their reunion.
I guess you'd have to ask her.
They'd met on a college tour of South America, Willis possessed no real interest in travel and went only as an attempt to pounce on girls drunk with the excitement of being a stranger in a strange land. He essentially spent 5,000 (of his parents money) to get laid. Louise was an architecture major, seeing great artistry in buildings and sculptures, and her family were some kind of southern new money, so they frequently paid her way on such adventures. They met through mutual friends and started what seemed a legitimate companionship. They drank and rode bikes in Ciudad de Asunción. Went boating in the Rio Negro. It was in The Chaco the Willis watched Louise throw a blade and kill a rather large Agouti.
The knife was a scrimshawed with a outline of Florida with a skull and crossbones inside as if it were a star to mark Tallahasse. That was the first time I was introduced to her affinity for killing rodents, she spoke then of her grandmother's prized garden (that was featured in the Lafetye County newspaper 12 times in ten years.) and how it was under constant threat of rodents. How her grandmother taught her how to hold a rifle, how to squeeze, not pull the trigger, how to aim the sight a centimeter under and to the left of every small target, and most importantly how to kill with a single bullet, never injure, you wouldn’t want one of God’s creatures to suffer the pain of walking around with a blood spurting, smoldering bullet hole in them, to end life, quickly and sufficiently with well place, always fatal shots.
After the trip ended they vowed to stay in touch. And a few weeks later an email came into Willis's inbox and he felt a surge of glee like the type a dog feels when the dog bell rings. “Louise Rossana LaPomeret” was the sender. The email was long and full of tangents and she ended it with ‘xoxo’ that Willis admittedly thought too much about.
Willis wrote back trying to seem debonair and scholarly, after all he had made such a big to-do about literature and art while they were on tour that he couldn’t send her hap-hazard words. So he crafted his messages with the diligence of an origami master, and she did so in kind. And they talked like this frequently ,becoming embedded in each other's day. They enjoyed their puesdo-intellectual talks, and they enjoyed knowing that after a hard day at work, they'd have a few pages in their inbox waiting for them.
Sometime after Willis received an email from Louise saying that her long sick Grandmother had passed away. Willis sent his condolences and Louise, much to his surprise, sent him an invitation to the funeral and a few days in Florida. Willis jumped at the opportunity, asking for a loan from his brother and purchasing a plane ticket that same day. He'd land at Gainesville airport and take a, train followed by a shuttle followed by a cab to Mayo. He'd be late to the funeral, but just in time for the repast that was held at a house that the dearly departed left in a will to Louise.
"Why does you garden attract so many lizards anyway?"
“it’s the strawberries.” Louise spoke in an errie rehearsed tone Willis only faintly thought eerie.
“Stawberries huh.” Willis spoke. He then got up and made his way off the porch but before his loafer could hit the grass Louise whipped around, and with a grin that could make the sun blush said “Shoes off.”
“Shoes off?” Willis said, noticing Louise bare feet, they were good feet, plump and pale and with a small blue and black bracelet ornamenting her left ankle. If I was one of those foot fetisherz-ers, Willis thought, he’d be in a real moral bind looking at the grass shoot between her toes, the perfect contrast.
“Yeah, shoes off. Grandma’s rule. Walkin’ around here with your shoes on and you’re liable to step on a snake. And looks like you’ve put on some pounds since Spain. You step on a snake and its curtains for the poor critter.”
Willis laughs a laugh somewhere between a man laughing at a precocious kid and a man laughing at an article in the paper to get someone’s attention.
“You realize the irony of saying that with a rifle in your hand and two dead... what were those called again?
“Skinkers. And there's no irony I need to get.” Louise said matter of fact-ly. She was now completely facing Willis who was sitting on the porch steps undoing his shoes, to realize his dress socks that Louise would have surely admired if not for the fact she was entering a monologue.
“Snakes don’t do nothing to this garden cept keep it safe, keep it protected. Like they done for centuries, mellinias. Grandma respected the snakes, she had a theory that, you know how we all was allegedly amphibious hordes that sprung from the water up on dry land? Gran used to say that when all the other amphibians was trudging out the water on their weak legs, trying to to figure out how to run and climb and dig, snakes didn’t feel the need to grow legs. They knew it would only get in the way of learning other things, like hunting. She used to say snakes were the missing link between us and the million years life spent underwater. They were the only thing connecting us back to what we used to be.”
“She sounds like an interesting woman. I would have loved to meet her.” Willis says in somber tone. His shoes off sat neatly on the porch steps. He steps onto the sun baked grass and feels hippyish and holistic and in some way new. Even though he still had his socks on, even though his skin wasn’t touching this old earth.
“She was.” Louise nods. Something dances behind her eyes, she looks down toward the grass, leaning a sliver of her weight on her rifle that is barrel down, in front of her. Whatever thoughts she had rest their works when Willis walks past her toward the garden.
“So strawberries?” Willis says, his eyes squinting whilst they scan the garden for them.
“Yeah, lizards love strawberries.”
“Guess it’s a good chaser for spiders.”
“What else do you grow here that’s edible.”
“Well Gran was partial to all sorts of veggies.”
“Yeah over there peppers. Got some radhies in the back by the fence. Oh and cabbage. Damn granny loved cabbage.”
They move around the yard in silence for a little while, each inspecting things, like they were in a museum waiting to be yanked to tears by a painting, waiting to be flooded with meaning after seeing a clay sculptures of two men wrestling.
After a moment, the silence is broken with a;
“I guess the dandelion are edible as well.” Louise slyly said, looking out the corner of eyes with a vulpine smirk.
“Fuck you I’m not eating a dandelion. I’m from the city but if you think one of your country girl tricks is going to get me to put anything from this garden in my mouth without first being steam washed you’re high as I want to be.”
Louse gave a laugh that sounded like she had a punctured lung.
“Dandelion wine you fool.”
Willis was interested..
“A lot of people, gardeners, well and people in general hate dandelions. And I get it, invasive species, common dredged, not incredibly visually appealing. Kinda like you.” Louise spits, Willis snickers.
“But in Finland they call dandelion the butter flower. For its buttery taste.”
The dandelion has many foreign names, in Sweden its called the Worm Rose, in Italian its call -piss-a-beds, because of its Diuretic properties. But neither of them know this, nor does it matter because they are both in positive spirits, Louise more so than Willis, and in the house she shows him the fridge with 2 plain, unmarked bottles. Willis can see the faint white paper still gripping to the adhesive on the bottles. Inside the bottles is a honey yellow warm looking liquid with miniature flecks of something floating around.
Willis asks; “Did you grandmother make bottle these?”
Louise nods absently.
“These must be her last two bottles she ever made.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Louise grabs them, exams them for a tick. Then says, in her voice, that’s humbly steeped in accent but elevated by wise female charisma; “She want us both to have one.
And so they drank the wine out of the bottles and listened to records and talked like used to, in Spain, half flirty, half like old war buddies. Eventually the day turned into a hurried night with the sounds of cicadas and crickets formed the natural orchestra.This was intimacy, and not the sexual intimacy that can muddle the self and feels transparent. They drank until Willis head spun, Louise noticed his face reddening and speech becoming slurred and walked him to the guest room, setting him down on the bed, removing his shoes, and stroking his forehead.
"Hey come on, do I have to sleep in here all by myself, I can't lay with you in your bed for awhile."
"Hmm not tonight lover." She sighed sadly.
"Alright, hey,' he said grabbing her hand, and kissing it. "I'm sorry about your grandmother, but I'm happy she brought us back in the same room."
Another sad sigh, but this time with a smile.
"Me too Willis."
As Willis slept, he felt a deep discomfort. Surely it was because he'd missed a chance to sleep with Louise, but he'd get another, he didn't return to New York for another 3 days, they still had time.
Louise was knelling down in the back yard, tapping the ground with two finger. The car from earlier in the pulled up to the house. Willis hears the car door shut. Louise is rolling rolling around the lawn making noises that are only vaguely human. The front door opens. Willis hears the screen door close, he moves to get off of the bed. Louse's body is now having spasms on the lawn. One of the women from early comes to the back to check on her, caressing her face. Willis gets out of the bed, places his feet on the ground, narrowly avoiding stepping on a snake he doesn't notice. He stumbles to the living rooms. The second hears Willis's uncoordinated foot steps and hides in corner outside of Willis's vision. Louise wakes from her trance and her eyes, like her aunts, are now yellow and reptilian. Willis is struck over the head with a club and dragged out to the backyard. Louise un-hinges her jaw. Willis's comes to with half his body in Louise body, he begins to scream and strikes Louise hard before he is retrained on either side by the Aunts. They don't stop the screaming, instead Willis's mouth is invaded by snakes. He's done before too long.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Ken Thiedman was a lawyer with over 2 and a half decades of bailing out mobsters and thieves and a hitman known in criminal circles as ‘Heart attack Hank’ whom was responsible for the murders of six people, including two women and a small child. Grisly deaths, spread across 4 states, high profile targets; Politicians and one Retired actress. The media made a carnival out of it, the trial lasted around 3 months and despite certain articles of damning evidence (footprints, audio recordings, and even the testimony of a man claiming to have been a witness to an alleged strangling of one of the victims.) Heart Attack Hank was exonerated on all charges, live coverage of the trial ended with a bone-chilling wink from Hank to the camera man. The nation collectively shit their pants.
Ken was of Cuban descent, tall and stocky. No facial hair, he hand a slick, sleek brown face framed with perfect eye brows and lips women from the Valley or Manhattan pay top dollar for. He was fucking gorgeous and I say this as a man who loves women more than I love freedom, food and the right to vote or hold office. Ken was also in the practice of taking long silences inbetween thoughts to stare at you. My Thai friend said it was a power issue, he said that Mongol warlords would do it to other Warlords to infiltrate the confidence and soul of enemies, he said that Ken wouldn’t actually be looking in your eyes but at your ear lobe, but ones eyes, always seeing slight, mundane illusions inflicted by our brains and their isistant misreadings of the multiudes of others actions, beilve he is staring past our eyes, into our souls we keep shaded and hidden and solitary, like a dairy, like a secret to rich and soaked in personality to reveal.
Ken joined me on the veranda of the hotel I was staying in while I was avoiding Lathary’s goons. I’ll never forget, even though I was 6 mimosa’s into my afternoon, what his first words were to me when he pulled out his chair and sat down across from me.
“I know who juo are, and juo know who I am. Lets not phuck aroun’. In my bag, there is a pistal. You can take de bag up into your room and blow jour brains out and on thee walls. That way jou can sorta dodge all de bullsheet that is to follow these meeting. Is dhat somethen jou would be interested in?”
I shook my head sheepishly, but still maintain eye contact.
“Good, becase that would hav made my flight very much pointless.” He laughs, and waves the waiter over. Orders himself a beer and a egg with crabmeat a garlic. He order me a Tom Collins.
“I’ve been drinking mimosas. I’d sort of like to stay on that path.”
“No moar of jour bullshit faggot mimosas. That for 16 year olds and woman at bridal showers. Jou are a mans in thee company of a mans and jou will dra-ink as such.”
I laugh it off, semi-offended but also not trying to get into a altercation with a 6’5 cuban with a pistol in his brief case. He was like a wolf, Ken was. Like a Stevie Ray Vaughn lick with some tribal drums and faint chanting in the back ground.
Our drinks came before he said another word. My mimosa was watery orange juice and had somehow lost its taste after he insulted it.
“I ordered jou a Tom Kollins because its my truth syrum, I’ve foun’ that no maan can lie with a stomach full of Tom Kollins. So before we talk anymore, jou need to drienk thee whole. Fucking. Thing.”
I’m sorta petrified and scared and I think about how if Tam was still around we’d laugh at Ken’s accent and machismo and then when have a fuck session were she secretly francize I was Ken and I secretly fantasize I have an accent.
But Tam is gone and Ken is here as a direct result of that.
Tam was my woeful ingénue, I learned that word after she died and it break my heart that I didn’t recognize her has that when she was alive, when she was mine, when she’d sing Leonard Cohen naked in bed plucking at her guitar. When we’d hold hands and breathe deep on cigarettes and wonder why can’t a love this strong, this real, be visible, like rainbows or the aurora borealis. Why couldn’t the world feel our love? Why couldn’t the dictionary have a separate definition, or atleast an addendum to the word love that described her and I. It was the sorta of love that enslaves the imagination, like the idea of Santa to a child, like the idea of blood to a shark. We loved so hard it could have crushed the universe and I guess that’s why the universe, being the coward that it is, took her from me. My woeful ingénue, what I’d looked for all my life.
To be continued...never..maybe
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Irene was enrolled in an art school in the Midwest were she took pictures of meadows and lovers. ‘Lovers’ is too intimate a word for her bues; Patrick, Rob and Allen. She just fucked them a few times over the course of a few months but they each had a striking physical quality that were to her keen eye as a corner of a wallet poking out of loose pocket to a thief. Patrick played football in high school although he wasn’t so much a player as he was a large mass of meat that intimidated players. He was a creative writing major, and he wrote honest but painfully trite pieces about his father and drunken nights in cars, which, taking from experience, is a common stage for dramas written by young hacks. (Including myself.)
She didn’t like Patrick much. He was startlingly simple from his attire to his Neanderthal -esqe way of eating. (Heaping fork/spoonful’s shoved into his face like a jailed man whom is afraid of having his meal stolen.) She hated how he crowded her when they slept, she especially hated that he lived with his parents and sometimes he, albeit innocently, coerced her into spending the night at his parents house where they slept in the den on a dog hair covered futon. Patrick’s parents loved her, he had not had many girls over during high school and seeing Irene, all dark haired and smirking like a girl in on a joke told to her by the president or the cool girls at the mall, they were happy to accommodate her in hopes that she’d stay with Patrick. After all, Patricks father was a security guard and his mother on disability and the idea of shelling out the tuition to send there son to school for something so nebulous and not financially lucrative as creative writing was a touch pill to swallow, so anything right Patrick did they cherished and smothered. They even had a picture of the two on the refrigerator. Patrick, giant sized and lumbering with his arm Irene who smiled, but a rehearsed smile that masked the distance she wanted from 6’5 Patrick and his simple, bleak family.
She photographed Patrick first. Black and White photo’s of him walking down a crowed city street holding her coffee and his energy drink. She was attracted to him in that moment more than she’d been in all their knowing of each other. With his hands full, his dusty grey hoodie and K-Mart pants it ignited something in her core, in the sticky reaches of her brain and she fell in love not with Patrick but the huge, black and white oaf that showed in the photos. Patrick could sense a rise in her energy that afternoon. She seemed manic and feral in a way that excited the writer in Patrick and as he watched her hop from angle to angle, snapping a hundred shots a minute he felt, for the first time in their short union like he wasn’t winging it, like he wasn’t a burden but that he was as special to her as she was to him. He smiled awkwardly and hopefully and although the heat from her coffee pained him he’d hold it there for close to 20 minutes as she photographed him. With his hands full he was severally handicapped, unable to write or tie his shoes or open doors and there was something in this perceived inability that rang out as true. That afternoon she gave him only the 2nd blowjob in their 3 months (Swatting his hands away from her hair and face, even forcibly placing them on his rotund hairy stomach with the same intent one would use to scold a puppy.) and called it quits the two days later.
Rob was next. He rode a dirt bike and worked in the kitchen of a restaurant. He had neck tattoos and a bun that was a millennial girls wet dream. Rob was a certified babe, scruffy face, gruff voice, but short dressing in all black. A son of the dark emo days, he sledded the CDs for Otis Redding albums and rolled cigarettes and talked about net neutrality and never said ‘bitch’ or ‘cunt’ or ‘faggot’ (Anymore.) Most women who gush but Irene, was in many regards gorgeous. Ample chest, full lips, no notable ass but thighs that were as classically feminine as they were genderless and ideal, as if a unisex prosthetic. And her eyes, seemed to see exoskeletons in color. She never seemed intimidated, never bowed or broken she could when a staring contest with Medusa. Rob had girls but never on the caliber of Irene. They met at a house party and kissed on the balcony. Irene left intentionally before they could exchange numbers but a few weeks later popped in his restaurant ‘casually’ with a few friends. Rob played it cool and Irene’s friends swooned and blushed and giggle and had immoral thought but Irene played coy. They met that night and Rob spent $250 on diner and drinks and cabs and ubers and a caricature drawn by a man claiming to be blind who need to molest their faces in order to perfect his sketch. They didn’t fuck that night because Irene was too drunk but in the morning they had a slow sort of sex that looked like a caterpillar walking up a mirror on his reflection. The sun painted Rob’s blue room and although she didn’t particularly like that his ‘bed’ was two mattresses stacked on the floor, she felt inspired looking at his naked tattooed, fit form, rolling cigarettes and talking shit about the bands his friends were in. She excused herself from his apartment but came back 10 minutes later with a disposable camera. He was making breakfast, Irene made Rob stop, go back in his room, and take his clothes off. He asked her if she’d take her clothes off too and she did. And Rob stared and her naked body, her pubic hair was dark and matted and looked irresistible tucked between her thighs. Her naked form made Rob hard, so they fucked but not just to fuck but to get rid of the pesky hard on. Because Irene had bought the camera to take photos of him soft and naked and dressed down and preforming cool or hip or mysterious. She had him continue making breakfast; eggs and sausage patties and hash browns. She wished she could make scratch and sniff prints of these photos.
She wanted photos of his tattoos and little pink prick and hair in a messy albeit still, painfully, amazing bun. She wanted a vulnerable Rob, she photographed him until the camera was full and they fucked again but never spoke. Not Rob’s choice.
Allen was third. He was comedian and he was a friend of a friend of a friend. Allen had ease dropped a conversation Irene and her friend Harley were having at a bar about a girl they disliked named Nicole.
“Anyone named Nicole is problematic.” He said. They looked at him. His short hair and glasses and sheepish eyes, his uneven mustache, and a smile that said ‘I’m an alright person. Alright is powerful word because its nether good nor bad, alright is layered and complex. Alright is storied and deep and needs inspection. Alright is neither day nor night, buts its dawn and dusk. In many ways alright is the most realistic condition we can ask for.” That night Allen’s shaky charm and the sentence; ‘If you’re going to have a threesome, we might as well have it with a black guy.” Whispered by a drunken Harley, lead the three of them to Harley apartment for a threesome that wasn’t nearly as cool as pornography has lead the masses to believe. The next morning Harley rushed to work, leaving Irene and Allen alone. It was awkward, they needed Harley, they needed that third energy from when their own became too reactionary and not proactive enough. They stumbled through conversation before Allen cut his losses and went home.
Days later Irene ran into him after class and they, feeling energized and maybe a little hopeful, had coffee and talked and it was good. Irene found Allen attractive in a sort of plant on a window seal type of way, as if she knew that in the right dirt he’d grow into something timeless and iconic but instead he was homogenized and put in a cheap thrift store pot. Allen thought Irene talked like a movie character, as if the greatest minds from stage, screen, prose, poetry, politics and music’s crafted her words. He wanted to be better for her, to work hard and open veins and build inverted pyramids all to prove his worth to her. He though of Harley, who was more conventionally pretty, but Irene was the one he loved, he could tell from the moment she turned her head to meet his brown eyes; Her hair whipped back and it made a sort of ‘stage curtain pulling back’ affect. They began dating and Allen’s ex girlfriend scoffed at his new white girlfriend and one time Patrick saw the two holding hands and felt small and alone. It may have been love but they were on shaky ground. Allen didn’t have a job and thus felt inadequate and Irene’s affection needed gusts of unbridled confidence like fires need air and kindle and eventually they became strangers. Irene never photographed him personally, but she had did have several pictures of the two of them others had taken on Facebook. She grabbed her camera, a Canon ESOS 5D she’d saved 3 months paychecks for, and she pulled up all the images from her and Allen’s 7 months and took pictures of all of them from her computer screen. Then she edited them, almost like mixing paint, the images became liquid a distorted, one could make out and hand her or a leg there but for the most part it was a conglomeration of photos superimposed on one another like candle wax melted together.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
I had just finished eating my McDonalds, mouth still dank and warm from the chewing of the burger, when I looked across to the driver’s seat and saw Hilary’s face, and the scowl that sat on her face like a reluctant mask, I knew she was upset that I’d bought McDonalds, I knew she was furious I’d eaten the burger because of all the effort she had put into the making of the sandwich and other surprise dishes for the trip, and I knew she’d get off Scot-free in 9 out if 10 court room trials if she killed me for not also buying her a burger or some fries or an ice tea the way she likes it (sugarless and devoid of taste.) I knew all this before I ate the burger but still defiantly, like a child or an abused dog, I ate the burger because who is my girlfriend to tell me when and where and under what extraneous conditions I can eat my mother fucking McDouble.
“Are you going to pout the whole drive?” I ask with vile terseness, the sort that has and will continue to beget arguments ranging in intensity from tawdry recreational-bouts to ‘I’m packing my fucking shit up and calling my mother to come get me you pig.’.
“Just shut up Otis.” Hillary says, index and thumb fingers massaging her the bridge of her nose. Her skin is graham cracker brown but sometimes, without any accurate explanation I've been able to concoct in the last 4 years of our on courtship, her digits will go ghost pale, as if the blood in her fingers freeze.
“I’m serious, I was hungry and we have literally a 3 hour fucking drive. What did you ant me to do starve?”
“Correction I have a 3 hour drive, you have a 3 hour time to nap and make eyes at women in sedans.”
“That was one fucking time and I tell you literally every time you bring that up, which is tortuously often, that she looked like my cousin my family hasn't seen in 2 years.” Which was true, the woman did look my cousin Shawn, but there wasn't any real inkling in my head that the woman I saw in that sedan was Shawn, I was in fact, regrettably (but only to a point) looking at her cleavage which was ample and prosperous and usually I stop myself but the fact that she looked like my cousin combined with the sheer magnitude of those most stupendous tits made a shameful, exotic, erotic cocktail that my weak brain couldn't (Nor really wanted to.) resist.
“Whatever Otis we are getting on 87 and you know how much I hate highways so please just give me a fucking break, I can wear my face however I want, so just leave me alone and enjoy your burger.” She sends me that last verbal knife and it cuts but not deep enough for me to continue, after all she is driving, I opted out because I’m a little weary of 87. Last time I drove down 87 I had a flat tire and my decrease in speed coupled with the distinct lack of awareness of the material, physical realm (He was on his phone) of some jackass named Roger Welda lead to me being violently rear ended. The collision that lead to a fractured wrist that swelled and morphed to the size and hue of a grapefruit. While in my hospital bed, Hilary talked to me, like she hadn't in years, about her Dad and Mom and her new hobby of knitting and how when she was in college she’d do headstands while reading school books because it made her feel like an ‘efficient ass bitch’. I watched her small mouth, never opening too wide but articulating fully. Her lips, full but not bulbous, looking slightly like duck bills and slightly the curved line that divides yin from yang. I saw them as thoroughly kissable and magnificent and for the rest of the night, long after patient visitation hours were over and Hilary had driven to our apartment, I thought of those lips and the their peach color and soft majesty and the all the sudden the agonizing sensation of a wrist full of splintered bones didn't bother me so thoroughly. I’m sure the Hydrocodone drip and hospital bed blowjob played their fair share in my recovery as well.
We’re on the first hour of the trip cruising on 87 and we haven’t said a word which isn't the most ideal way to start what was intended to be a restorative excursion to an un-meddled by human hands, tranquil, woodland paradise known as the Catskill Forest Preserve. When I moved to the east coast 5 years ago from the Midwest I’d heard the name Catskill’s mentioned in various contexts and it always seemed like it had a faint familiarity, like a song you hear in an elevator know the chorus to but aren't quite sure where you've heard before. She proposed it the trip four days after returning from wherever the fuck she went after our big fight. My natural reaction was distinct aversion, 3 days in the woods sounded terrible. Terribly dull, terribly dirty, terribly inconveniencing, terribly Caucasian, just plain terrible. But in order to fix things that are severely (fatally) damage, one must withstand terrible circumstances, like paying a swindling mechanic to fix a carburetor or allowing the pimple faced intern to send not-so- sly-but he thinks are very sly- insults at you as he fixes the Xerox machine. We must endure unsavory things for the betterment of one’s personal standing.
Hilary love’s camping, loves nature, loves animals and insects and I’m sure would choose to be reincarnated as a tree rather than a Saudi princess or Amazon Warrior. She is a child of the tree’s, she’s the Lorax’s hot sister. (Mustache and Danny Devito voice included.)The Catskills were her idea, having been only once as a small girl, her mother took her and her brother for a Parent-Kid bonding weekend that completely changed the families’ paradigm after the father took his third and what would be his final impromptu, unannounced, motorcycle pilgrimage to visit a brother no one had ever met in Alaska. Having a dad leave on a motorcycle vacation is one thing, having that dad abandon a family of 3 without a goodbye or clear reason, instead leaving 35,000 dollars in a shoe box on the bed is a whole other. They struggled that first year without their father, even though to hear her tell it he was always sort of a shit bag; inconsiderate, harsh, absent even when he was around, but still, a kids need a father and a mother needs someone to help lighten the load, both financially and when the endless menagerie of bullshit two teenagers can conjure. At any rate she claims that 6 days and 5 nights in the Catskills repaired what could have been a tragic reality of a broken home. And if it can mend family ties, it has to be able to mend what we have.
“Look at that!” She says as she reaches for the nob to turn the radio down. (The radio; whose music to play and when to play it was another volatile issue that could have catapulted us into a verbal melee so for sake of shaky peace I decided to relinquish control of the tunes to her. Mature of me, isn't it?)
“At what Hilary?” I mutter, not feeling like matching her energy, even though I could, and should and would have if my head wasn't so far up ass.
“That!” She sang, her voice concise, full of feminine edge.
I look over through her window and we are zooming past a road side stand of some sort with a large ceramic Native American in front of it. The statue is about two stories high and is missing a leg from the knee down. Yet there it stood, as I can only assume it as been for a great long time.
Hillary turns her head sharply and looks at me with a child-like glee. She is sick of being mad, she is beckoning me to be as well.
“What do you think his name is?” I ask, cracking a smile myself that I hope doesn't look fake because I’m not faking it, I’m happy I just don’t know how to smile.
“Hmmmm…Travis.” She says unsure, now with both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
“Nah, Travis is too cool a name for a one legged Indian.”
“Mark is too white a name for an Indian.”
“Yeah but who knows Native American names.” She says with a sneer.
“They used Animal names I think. Like little bear or black fish and something.”
“Oh where did you learn that from? Some cartoon when you were a kid.”
“No really that what they used I think.” I reach back to where I’d heard this bit of information, and I’m almost certain she was right, that it had been a cartoon but I say nothing.
“They probably called him flamingo.” She says thoughtfully, eyes level on the road.
“Why flamingo?” I ask.
“Because the way he stands reminded them of the way flamingos stand, on one leg in the water.”
I let out a pleased sounding introspective grunt. She leaves the radio on low for awhile longer, hoping I say something. But I’m tongue tied, I consider saying something about eating a flamingo, or talking about Native Americans more, or something about how her legs have a brown tint like egg rolls fried to perfection and how she has a smile better than a hundred dollar bill found in your pants before you put them in the wash, but it all seems shallow and pedantic and grossly insensitive given my transgressions (The ones that brought us to this trip). So I let the silence bubble until she turns the volume back up, unsatisfied with me. Almost more than I am.
Three toll booths, four highway wrecks and a piss break at a Sunoco later and the only thing we have said in the car of substance was “You should change out of your work clothes. I bought you some more comfortable camping attire. Its in the red duffel bag in the back seat.” I oblige her and before too long I’m out of my Fred Perry sweater and into some blue, ventilated shorts that come up a little above the knee, an orange tee shirt with a cartoon of a duck repelling down a rock wall and some red hiking shoes and ankle socks. She smiles breezily at me, potentialy because of the similarities in our outfits; She wears a red under-armor with shorts and red shoes. Her hair is tied into a bun that resembles an obsidian birds nest. Stray, wavy strands poking out at random, she looks bookish, she looks literary. And in many she is literary; her appearance is something akin to a dream I had as a little boy, looking at racially ambiguous children actors and rueing the fact that there were no girls that looked like that outside of a Hollywood production studio. She’s short with with curly hair and skinny limbs and one time I saw her stretch her skinny arms over her head as she woke up and it made her head seem adorably gigantic. Modest hips but surprisingly plump ass, good breasts, and perfect areolas. She has a birthmark on her right elbow. It splotchy like eczema but the pattern is identical to the Galapagos islands.
She’s unique, anal-retentive about covers, blows her nose in her palms in the showers. Sometimes she wakes up whimpering and it’s a sound that could break any heart. She’s trouble, but life is trouble and she is my life, well sometimes.
It’s nearing dusk when we first see the rolling mountains, they look like humps in the backs of giants. It’s fairly majestic looking. How the sun erupts over the mountains like foam out of a champagne bottle. How the wings of the birds arch and fall and look like mouths smiling and frowning in bi-polar glory. Hilary puts her hand on her thigh and I grab it from her. I feel a warmth like a flare or a fire or a bag of popcorn. I’m happy, for the first time maybe in weeks.
After a short drive through a pathetic looking town we pull into a camp ground. We pay $85 for a parking voucher for three days. As we unload the car I survey the area. Cars of all makes and models and colors and conditions make up the population of the lot. We strap back packs on, I’m carrying the tent we bought for the occasion, it’s a four person with this conveit little interior for zipper for dirty shoes. The packs were heavy, sleeping bags, pots and kettles, ponchos, two pairs of boots, toilet tries, a flash light that could easily double. I felt the weight, and I’m 5 ‘9 and relatively strong for a man my size. I cant imagine she packed our packs much differently, maybe 5 pound difference, maybe she even decided to pack her bag the heaviest, knowing that if my bag was too heavy I’d complain and bitch and say something hurtful, that’s the type of person she is, a person who is willing to bare the weight for what she believes in.
Shes got a brown paper bag that looks like it has weight on it. I’m excited to see what she made for food. On our first date she made me chicken nuggets in spaghetti sauce. She blamed it on college living but that’s hardly an excuse. I didn't hate it, but she shamed her so for it I thought that maybe I should. She’s come along way since that first dinner, since that first day. From nuggets in sauce to whatever deliciousness was in the bag. From being my student in my Thursday poetry writing class to the woman I’d signed the lease to a two flat in Brooklyn with. From that girl to this woman.
Fuck what have I done? How did we get here?
The forest has an undeniable charm, the crunch of leaves, the foreign, yet unmistakably earthy sounds that emits from the woods like the faint echo of lapping waves in a conch.
“There are a lot of couples it seems.” She says, reaching back to grab my hand. I was going to reach in my pocket for a Marlboro but the warm grip of her hand a this time seems more appealing than sweet stench of a doom stick. She tells me that she wants our own private land, where no one can see or hear us, so we hike east. I make a comment about visiting the Catskills winery that she waves off. I look at the brown bag she has tucked under her arm. I’m sure amongst the food there is some sort of alcoholic beverage. A bottle of Merlot, or a sixer of high life. Something to whet my pallet, to get the old talk-muscle going, something to help me get over the silence that I struggle with sometimes. Especially on this trip, especially when I’m certain this is our last chance to fix what we have.
What’s broken you ask? Well the short answer is trust, but short answers would be unfair in a story this long. I met Hilary at NYU, where I teach creative writing and poetry and must recently a copy writing class because the administration didn't like the “flow of my work load” so they gave me three bullshit copy writing classes. At any rate, I met Hilary her sophomore year. NYU is host to a slew of beautiful undergrads, from all around the known world, and while I’ve been enticed by a uncovered thigh here or a giggle there, I’ve never been moved to act until I met Hilary.
Her writing was layered and often sad and the class really respected her work. During my mid-semester one on one workshops with the students (A thing us creative writing teachers do in lieu of a midterm.) I was a tad drunk from a lunch meeting I had with a few other professors in the department (Another thing we creative writing teachers do in lieu of responsibility and professionalism.) we talked for 15 minutes about a poem she’d written about climbing a mountain to say good bye to someone, then the rest of the meeting was me talking rather pompously about my writing and her telling me about restaurants she orders from. She made me feel young, she made new shit feel possible, she was only 20 and I was 27 but I was suffering from something like the bends do to me mother’s passing and she reminded me of my mother but in ways I don’t want to talk about. But I will say that they both reminded me of houses on prairies, like dreams of people who slept in a pre-television age.
We began to date and eventually yet rather rapidly fell in love. And there are a multitude of happy stories in the years with occupied each other lives. But this is a story of Hillary and I and our camping trip to get over our fight that was caused by me cheating. With a student. In our apartment.
The girl, the student I mean, was young and white and wide hipped and represented something all self-respecting men of color try to avoid. The death trap of the white girl, with her eyes and charm and skin the color of a glass of milk after a slice of cake. I get sick and need a drink just thinking about it.
She’s a student, which has been a fucking foible in my past. The people in my department look at me differently. The women on staff subject me to cruel jokes and the men have a note of jealous-bitterness when Hilary is brought up. The chairman of my department brought it up once at a Christmas party, pulling me aside, with a firm grip on my arm, and a glare that was, if I’m being honest and why shouldn't I be by this point, scary. He told me that the only reason I hadn't been terminated was because he liked my story I had published in the New Yorker and that it made the creative writing department look good in the eyes of the rest of the school, it made asking for funding for a new computer lab a bit easier.
But that was many years ago and Hilary is now out of college and working at a high school in Queens as a guidance counselor. She tells me stories about kids going hungry, for both food and love. Horror stories, shes strong, her job is considerably harder than mine. That’s because she lives a harder life than me, but its high time I stop saying that, as if its any sort of constellation for living a shitty life and not considering the feelings of people I love or even mildly know.
She’s just about as pro as one can be when it comes to hiking. She attributes all of her wilderness know how to girl scouts but her brief stint in Girl Scout Troop 63061 occurred nearly two decades ago so I doubt it was that influential. She’s good, she can identify birds and turds and poison ivy by the smell in the wind, not just the cheap leaf counting method. She trudges on and we make conversation and things are pleasant, the bugs aren't unbearable, the weather is temperate and after awhile the weight of the pack gets melded with your natural body weight so you don’t even notice the flapping it does or the way it passively, yet most defiantly pulls against your shoulder.
I had a student once who hiked the entirety of the Adirondacks in a month. He wrote about it constantly, his adventures with other hikers, apparitions of the past, addiction, he wrote very vehemently about it week in a week out. I would read his assignments and sometimes quote them for Hilary and watch her face light up and feel a pang of jealously but it dissolved because I would not tell her that the quote was from a handsome, square jawed, outdoorsy student of mine but that the quotes came from me, that I camped as a young man and I still had a connection to the commodity that was nature. The truth was I am a city man, tried and true, I prefer subways over streams, the waling of addicts and derelicts over birds, and the smell of exhaust and street food over morning dew and honey suckle. But I could never confess this to Hilary, this was one of the many things I felt improper for in our relationship. I loved her and she loved me but some of the things we individually loved the other hated and its hard to encounter someone (a square jawed, woodman.) who shares similar interests with a loved one and not fabricate a reality in which those two parties hit it off and leave you to waste away.
As we walk through the rather dense foliage we feel a change in the air, something like the feeling when you walk into a house and you you know a TV is on, even if its on mute. The air felt busy, it felt young, completely strange but also familiar. After awhile Hillary stops me by putting her hand on my stomach, then she turns around, her eyebrows raised. She pinches the front of my shirt to pull me down to her level, then she whispers; "They're fucking."
I give her a confused look, then she points down a small hill to a blue tint. Poking out of the tents entrance flap are two sets of legs, one on top of the other, one toned and hairy, the other shorter and dainty. The hairy set of legs pulsates, slowly and rhythmically, implying long deep thurts, and the feet on the bottom set of legs sway as if leaves in a mild breeze. The scene is hot and made all the hotter by th fact that the couples faces are obstructed, they could be anyone. We crotch down and listen as the moans echo lightly, we do this for awhile. I put my hand on the nape of Hilary'd neck, and she reaches her hand back and places it on the inside of my thigh. We sit like this, until it is time to move on. For awhile I think about that young couple fucking in half way out of their tent, I think about it and these mesh shorts don;t do well enough to conceal the growth I'm getting from watching Hilary's ass in her shorts. We haven't fucked in weeks. Sometimes its easy to lay in bed, knowing the wrong that I've done can;t possibly arouse her. But some nights, I'll catch a glimpse of her bare thighs or, if she showers, the way her hair lays on the back of her neck, and I can't help but want a piece of her.
Eventually we find a spot, Hilary doesn't think it’s ideal, but it will do. We set up the tent, which is surprisingly easy and start a small fire. Now it’s time for the grub. She finally opens up the paper bag to reveal some Tupperware full of the Shepard’s Pie her mother taught her to make, it’s a little cold but also in the bag is a special outdoor skillet so that we can warm it the perfection on the fire. Also in the bag is 4 ham and salami sandwich, my absolute favorite. Some crackers, cheddar cheese, and pepperoni. Also in the bag are paper plates, napkins, and a bottle of Suntory, expensive Japanese whisky that we drank on my birthday three years ago on what we both consider to be the best night of our relationship.
I grab her hands and thank her, and we smile and I feel warm.
She hands me the bottle and then goes back to gazing into the fire. Her face is glowing like it should all the time. I drink the beer, I let in the chemical change, any reason to let loose, any reason to be an asshole.
“What do you want from me?” I know the answer. Every idiot does. She wants honesty and love and trust and compassion and truth and clean towels and effort and cock and food and a kiss on the head in the morning.
“I don’t want to do this.” She says, her eyes lost in the orange blaze.
“Well I do.” I’m rearing up to go, there is no stopping me, I’m a machine hell-bent on tears and tragedy.
“Otis just stop, lets get along. Do you want to lay down?” She says looking up at me.
“I don’t want to fucking lay down.” I breathe hot and take a pull from the bottle.
I’m an alcoholic, I’m abusive with words and in the past I've been a monster worthy of fathers or mothers brandishing shotguns. I've tried to change and I've made head way. But sometimes I get so angry I see red and I’m like a bull and there is no reasoning, no compassion, I’m a small creature who will destroy anything to make itself feel large, to feel like anything other than a speck whose feeling don’t exist.
“I’m not yelling. Why do you think every time I raise my voice beyond a whisper its yelling. Grow up Hilary, really.”
“Please, okay, just stop.” She says through sighs. She won’t cry, she only cries when there is silence.
“It’s just ridiculous; I told you I made a mistake. I told you that I fucked up but fuck look at everything I've done for you. I pay the fucking rent, I bought that car, I don so much.”
“So you’re saying that your respect comes to price? You're saying that you can fucking cheat on me with a teenager cause you pay for things?” She’s revving up herself. She’s often right in arguments, but I can’t let her ever know.
“No but I am saying that I’m allowed to make mistakes.”
“Are those mistakes fucking one of your teenage students in our bed, in out apartment you fucking pig.”
“Where was I supposed to go, her dorm.”
“Yeah you should have gone to her dorm so all those little fucking freshman could see you for the old, creepy pathetic bastard you are.” Her jab goes straight to the heart. She means nothing by it but the word ‘bastard’ means someone from a broken home, someone lacking parents. My mom died before I got to ask her so many things; her favorite color, her goals as a child, if she really liked my book. I felt parent less because my dad was entering a state where he wasn't going to be the strong man I knew. I felt like a bastard and she said it not knowing and it was at that moment I felt ripped open, like an envelope and letter ripped do to excitement.
“You're such a bitch.”
“Oh now I’m a bitch.”
“Yeah, you are.”
“Whatever, Otis, look at yourself.” The words I rue the most. ‘Look at myself.’ Who’d want to look at themselves if they were in my position. Fat, aging, in the woods, cheating, arguing, ruining love, ruining life, about to make a gigantic mistake.
“Look at your fucking self.” I say, wondering if Hillary ever loved my writing, ever loved the man I was on the page, ever loved my art. Not sure why any of that
“This trip is a waste of time, We are leaving in the morning.” She tells me. I hate that she called that, not because I want to be in power like she thinks, but because I want to be with her. But what a shitty job of showing it I’m doing.
We sit in silence and watch the fire. Well she watches the fire and I watch her with careful glances, careful not to get caught staring at her illuminated face, carefully so that she didn't know I cared, carefully as to imitate hate. I’m such a asshole, I’m not that great a person. After a while the weight of the situation hits me, the silence (That I’m causing.) dissects, so I stand up.
“Where are you going Otis?”
"Away from you." When we were young, or I should say 'younger' because we are quite young, we used to call each other 'dude' in arguments. It was a sign that we had devolved as Hilary and Otis and become faceless, nameless, dudes, inhuman, mannequins. We no longer call one anther 'dude' but the intent, the desire to see outside the person still exist in both of us.
I charge forward, through the woods, away from the fire we started and into something less populated, into something darker. My ears are burning, that what happens when I get like this. My ears become warm enough to fry eggs on, and its almost like the baking warmth from my ears bakes the section of me brain that regulates common sense, because in a situation like this common sense would decree I turn around and make nice with the woman I love cause the sun’s descending like the volume on porn when your wife/mother/father/boss enters the room.
But my ears are hot and I’m marching into the deep, dark, haunted regions of the Catskills. And to think I took off work for this.
An in detriment amount of time later and the moon is up painting the forest in a ghastly grey, as if under a spectral veil. The temperature dropped as well and these shorts aren't enough to stave off whats becoming a bitterly cold night. I don’t know where Hilary or our fire or our tent is. In my tizzy I forgot some essentials like a flash light and a poncho, and although the trees tower over me and their leaves umbrella me, cold droplets still make their way down on me.
Hilary is probably in the tent, infinitely more pissed off than I am, and with so much more cause. I feel choked. I feel like giving up and digging a hole in the moist soil to sleep in, using dirt as a pillow, blanket and bed, waking in the morning and screaming Hilary’s name for her to come help me, as self-fish as that sounds. But I don’t stop, I instead keep walking, through thorns bushes and poison oak and spider webs that cause mini-panic attacks every time I walk through one. The darkness grows and the only light I have is from my cellphone, and the battery is rapidly dying. Every now and then a beep goes off signaling that I have a voice mail, I am un-able to check it though because this forest is a nullifies satellite signals. This worries me; has Hilary tried to contact me, has my boss left a message, am I fired, did he to find out about me and the student? I’m in miasma of all feelings shitty.
Last time Hilary left a message on my phone it was to tell me that she had watched a baby bird fall from a tree die. She called during one of my classes and when I called a 15 minute bathroom break (Although at NYU bathroom breaks are essentially cigarettes breaks.) I checked the message, and her voice was soaked in disbelief. I knew exactly what face she was making. I had my students write her letter after they returned from their breaks. We read them that night and laughed, then she became upset at the thought I might have fucked one of the letter writers.
Eventually the woods become painting into a lumisncent grey light that is quite beautiful. I enter a clearing and for the first time feel the full impact of the rain. It’s not coming down hard, but it is fast and between its conception in the heavens to its magnificent flight to earth it freezes. It miserable but as I trudge through the soaked grass the slosh of my feet are akin to the sloth of the feet of knights trudge into a blood soaked battle field. In the distance to my left I see a large man-made structure that towers above the tree, I make my way to it over the sopping wet grass. The water leaks through my shoes and every step I make has the most uncomfortable slosh, my drunk is wearing off, morphing into a sluggish, morose tiredness. The rain pelts me, brutally, and I feel like a sort of death, I feel like a sort of soaked denizen of hell.
I approach the structure and I recognize it to be a Fire Tower. Fire Tower’s were built on the highest peaks of the region and they were manned 24 hours a day by park rangers. It’s said that from the top of a Fire Tower a ranger could see any telltale signs of a fire. There used to hundreds of these things, but since the 90s these things became obsolete due satellite monitoring and helicopter surveillance. A few conservation groups decided to save a handful, and here I am looking at one.
I climb the tower, hoping to see flashlights or camp fires or that couple fucking again, any sign of human life. But once I climb the metal steps, at the landing at the top, all I see is a shadow on the wet ground casted by myself. I look at the shadow and wave to it, it waves back mysteriously. I accept the shadow to be me, I far away me from another demision that is directly affected by this demision. I understand that I will always have this shadow, but it will always be in my control, it will always be at my beck and call, me and the height of the sun in the sky. Well in this case the moon.
Looking out at the arces of woods, I know Hilary is out there, I know somewhere in this dense collection of foliage is the woman I love, the woman I thought would be the last stop on the railroad that was my love life, but this shadow is still waving because I’m making it wave. This shadow is still here. I curse and spit on the shadow. Then I see two lights heading my way from the clearing. Finally some life, maybe they will have compasses or food or clothes, finally I can back to humanity, maybe its that couple we saw earlier, maybe they can walk me back to Hillary and she can thank them and we can live maybe trade partners and become swingers in the woods, maybe that is what will save our relationship. My shadow takes catches the spit right in the neck. I make my way down the wet stairs.
Hilary must be worried sick, she must be cold and scared. All I want to do is hold her. I make a misstep on the stairs. I slip and in trying to catch my grip, to stave my balance I twist me body and the gravity of my weight is too much and it makes my descent worse. I bounce down the stairs like a soceer ball kicked down a rocky hill. When I settle at the bottom of the tower my ears are ringing and I taste nickles, I cough hot liquid. I hear something faintly in the distance. Maybe its Hilary I think. Maybe I’ll have to go to hospital, maybe she will drive me and talk to me. Maybe we can make it up. But maybe what I hear is my mother or angels or ghosts or nothing. Maybe I hear my shadow.