Phantom Pain

12 Mar

Sometimes goofing around with a friend can inspire a story. Actually in this case it inspired more than one. But this is the first. I am lucky I have a couple of people that just seem to ignite my creativity by just riffing or hanging. I’m not sure what it is but it’s very enjoyable.

 

Phantom Pain

 

Have you ever forced yourself to do something that either scared the living shit right out of you or was just so completely out of character that nobody would believe you’d done it if you didn’t have visual proof? What about something incredibly stupid, humiliating even, just to challenge yourself? If your answer is no then you are not going to get why I decided to get Simone’s lips inked onto my inner thigh. Unless of course you have ever had Simone’s lips actually on your inner thigh and then I’m pretty sure you’re feeling me.

 

I have a lot of ink but it’s concentrated mostly on my left arm and back. I don’t like the look of random ink. I believe that placement of art on your body is even more important than placement of art on your walls. But in this case I was recreating a memory. I knew it was going to hurt. I wanted it to. It was appropriate that it did. And I wanted to feel… anxious, jittery… so I went to a shop I’d never been, in an area of town that got really fucking restless as soon as the streetlights came on and then someone usually shot them out again. Like I said “incredibly stupid”.

 

The neon sign was a vivid red against the black of the glass and the reflection of the bikes parked in front. I was hoping the bikes belonged to the bars on either side but I wasn’t holding my breath. Besides not all bikers were psychotic, some of them were sociopaths. Let’s face it nobody does charming like a sociopath. But I was not looking for a relationship; I was looking for an artist.

 

It took me a minute or twelve to get used to the dim. If it wasn’t for the buzz I would have thought the place was deserted but from the sound there were at least two people inking. Once my pupils dilated to the best of their ability I could see that there were three.  But that’s about all I could swear to. I couldn’t tell if they were male/female, white, brown, old, scarred, conjoined or scaled. The shape farthest away from the door beckoned. I found myself shuffling so as not to bump into anything violently. Funny, you’d think I would have turned and run. Not me, I was so scared I could feel the blood draining from my face and yet it just made everything seem more perfect.

 

By the time I got to the station I could see that the pale beckoning hand belonged to a woman of indeterminate age and not the ghost of Christmas Past. Her hair was long, dark and hung in her face. I have no idea what her eyes looked like. I could not see them. For all I knew she had no eyes. I told her what I was looking for. Pulled the letter with Simone’s lip print on it out of my pocket and held it out to her. She motioned for me to put the letter on her table. I took off my jeans and jumped up on the bench. I knew it was my imagination but it smelled of the fear of the countless others who had lain before me in anticipation of that first jolt. No two people tattoo the same. You could get an identical image done in exactly the same place by 8 different people and they will all feel completely different ranging from almost nothing to excruciating. I know this sounds nuts but I like it to hurt just enough to make it feel like a bit of a heroic quest. Not a Beowulf quest, I don’t think I have the pain tolerance for that but at least fording a raging river or walking into a gale. This was like neither.

 

To be completely honest I really couldn’t tell you what it felt like because I can’t remember getting the tattoo at all. I just know I got it because I can see it but other than that… nada. In fact I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the fucking place and where it was.

 

People who believe in ghosts believe that almost anything can be haunted. And conversely that anything dead can be a ghost like even a whale or a wolf spider. I don’t know about you but I find real spiders terrifying enough without adding a whole invisible, moving through walls and even your body, element. Fortunately I’m not a big believer in the paranormal so ectoplasmic arachnids remain the stuff of nightmares. I am however on the verge of believing in transmundane tattoo parlors because my new ink… is interactive.

 

I know, I sound nuts. Maybe I am. Not that I’m complaining. There was a reason I wanted to remember Simone’s lips on my inner thigh and now I feel them every night, many times a night. The only thing is I’m not getting a lot of sleep. Oh well I guess I can sleep when I’m dead.

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Semantics

5 Mar

Semantics

 

Would you say there’s something wrong with somebody who has never been loved? I mean romantically not platonically or in a familial way. And I’m not talking about sex… Is there a significant difference between making love, having sex and fucking? I mean aside from poets can people really tell the difference between having someone make love to you and having someone love fucking you?

 

What does it feel like to look into a face knowing that you will be spending the rest of your life with it? How do you see that face after fifteen, twenty, thirty years? Is it the same as when you have a cat from the time it’s a baby and even when the cat is going on eighteen years you still see the kitten in its face? I have never been able to do that with people just cats and occasionally a friend’s dog.

 

What makes people who need people so goddamned lucky?

 

I try very hard not to need people who are not professionals. I have no problem needing my psychiatrist or my dentist or my cable repairman, the Geek Squad, my cats, the occasional hooker, my pharmacist, but I prefer to want my friends. I can love friends. I am never in love with them. I never go to bed with them. So if you are my friend we will never end up naked and if we ever did… we weren’t really friends at the time.

 

Candy was my best friend. I told her everything. When I tell somebody things, confidential, not for just anybody’s ears things, I don’t do it for advice or to burden the person, I am just sharing facts. It is very important to me that friends get me right. So it caused me great concern when Candy… got me wrong.

 

To this day I still don’t understand it. I have gone over it and over it, day after day after month after year and it was not my fault. I know unequivocally that I said and did nothing to lead Candy to believe that I was interested in anything other than her companionship. When people saw us on the street and asked if we were together I made it crystal clear that we were friends. And everybody got it. I thought.

 

Miriam, my best friend says I was stupid not to see it coming; that I was naïve to think that just because you lay it all out for someone that they will respect where you are coming from. Miriam says people listen to what you say thinking all along that they can get you to change your mind later when they’ve worked on you a while. I never change my mind about people. If you give me reason not to trust you, I will never trust you. I may hang out with you and do shit with you, I might even help you but I will never place myself in a position where your behavior matters. I will never count on you. I will always have a back-up plan. Miriam says she knew Candy was in love with me from the first time she saw me. But I don’t believe it. If you love somebody you don’t betray them.

 

I gave Candy a key to my place. I gave it to her so that if something happened to me my cats would be okay. She gave me a key to her place too because her buzzer was always broken. We had a lot of things in common. Our favorite movie was Fulltime Killer starring Andy Lau. We both loved food so spicy that the first bite would make our foreheads bead with sweat. Candy hated pop music especially female vocalists with “girl” voices and so did I. We were the only lesbians we knew that did not enjoy Heart. We wore black jeans, detested kids, loved our steak blue, knew what a Viola Da Gamba was and read everything we could get our hands on by Gore Vidal.

 

Saturday mornings I would go to her place in my pajamas and she would make French toast with brioche and we would lie on the floor watching cartoons.  Wednesdays she would come to mine, watch American Horror Story and eat my pasta.  Two days a week we hung out. Does this seem like anything other than friends to you? Seriously I don’t know where Miriam gets her ideas. We were friends.

 

Until the Wednesday she came up behind me while I was cooking my hot Italian sausage, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olive sauce with rigatoni and started kissing my neck. I could feel her breasts pushing up against my back. She was naked. Her hands were moving towards the buttons on my shirt. Her breath was coming in soft little pants in my ear. I tried to imagine what I could possibly say to her to get her to stop. To push time back so that I could not feel her fingers slide across my chest causing every centimeter of skin touched to crawl.  I did not want to turn. Did not want to see her body quivering with anticipation for a lust I could not feel. I did not want her to see the loathing in my eyes. I felt like a cat cornered by adolescent boys. And the longer I waited, the longer I did nothing, praying she would notice my complete detachment, the angrier I became when she just continued grinding her hips into my… Until finally the thought of that pending suffocating kiss drove me into such a panic that I stopped chopping the red chili peppers and drove the knife backwards into her face.

 

At first there was no change just the same rhythmic rolling of her hips and then a spasm, then another more and more violent accompanied by a gush of hot soaking my hair, my clothes until her body slapped against the ceramic tiles.  The rigatoni was boiling. I picked one out with a fork and tasted it. Perfect. I turned off the burners, sprinkled the basil over the sauce and drained the rigatoni.

 

The pasta was the best I have ever made. American Horror Story was a repeat. Not that it was any excuse but I wondered if she’d known.

True Sentiment

28 Feb

So I am kind of cheating here because I wrote this story a while ago but I have had a kind of stressful couple of weeks and tonight my agida is over and I am inexplicably sleepy in that little kid conking out kind of way. I am blessed (and I rarely use this word) with amazing, loving, kind, fucktabulous friends. Two of whom in particular made it possible for me to breathe. Anyway I really love this story which is not typical of what I write at all but it deals with love and profound connection.

 

……………………………………………

True Sentiment

 

Magda and Elizabet were really more like sisters than friends. And really it would have been easier on both families if they had been for they loved each other with that obsessive intensity that only little girls are capable of. They truly believed that death would come if ever they were separated and in fact it almost did when at the tender age of 7 Elizabet came down with rheumatic fever.

Magda barely ate or slept for the two weeks that Elizabet lay near death in her room just across the alley from Magda’s own. In fact the distance between the two houses was so small that had Elizabet’s window been open Magda could have climbed across and sat with her friend but for the first time since the two girls had befriended each other the window was shut and locked.

And when the wait was finally over the news was not good. In fact from Magda’s perspective Elizabet might as well have passed away. The fever had left her friend blind and her parents were sending her hundreds of miles away to a place where Elizabet could continue her education in an environment that would also help her deal with her new dark world.

‘If only they had let her see Elizabet’ Magda thought ‘then maybe she would have lost her sight too and she could go with her friend and not be stuck here with no one to play with but roly-poly Yeorgi.’

The week before Elizabet was to go on the train with her parents Magda ran away and was missing for a day and a half before the milkman found her in a comatose state soaking wet on the bank of the river. She was so cold her lips were blue and when she finally regained consciousness she had been struck as sightless as her friend.

The village Doctor told Magda’s parents that he was certain that the girls sight would come back, that it was a case of psychological rather than physiological blindness but the child wept so piteously at the idea of being left behind in her new state of sightlessness that her parents finally relented and allowed her to go to the Institute for the Blind with her friend.

For the first time ever the girls had a fight. Magda found the school absolutely terrifying while Elizabet had assimilated in no time at all. They were still inseparable but Elizabet seemed to be positively gifted at overcoming the hardship of being blind while Magda struggled with everything. For some reason the comprehension of Braille eluded her and she could not tell China from England on the big globe that dominated the front of the Geography room. Before her accident Magda had been a gifted pianist but now she played so clumsily that her Liszt sounded like a toddler banging the keys. Elizabet on the other hand was becoming a competent flute player. But none of this mattered to Magda because she was with Elizabet. They shared all the same classes, slept side by side in the dormitory, bathed together and spent every free period heads practically conjoined whispering about the things only best friends talk about.

In fact Magda would have gladly spent the rest of her life-like this if it hadn’t been for the well-meaning Head Mistress who saw in Elizabet the making of a teacher somewhat like the famous Annie Sullivan. She had written to Elizabet’s parents who were of course delighted that Miss Hutsler thought Elizabet might be able to actually make a living for herself and gave the headmistress permission to do whatever she saw fit to make their handicapped child self-sufficient. Of course Magda was thrilled for her friend until she found out that it meant Elizabet would be leaving the Institute at the end of term to go to America and study at the school that Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller had set up for those gifted like Elizabet to become teachers for those living in perpetual twilight like herself.

It was then that a miraculous thing happened and Magda started to make huge strides in her own accomplishments. Soon she had recovered almost all her skill on the piano and she and Elizabeth would perform short concerts after the evening meal for the students and teachers in the conservatory. She even surpassed her friend in the sciences. But when it came to Braille she was only moderately adequate. Still however the headmistress decided that Magda too should go to America and become a teacher.

And there they stayed until Elizabet now 85 had been diagnosed with a tumor in her stomach that could not be removed. She wanted to die at home. But before that she wanted to revisit the Institute where the two girls had grown into women and found the means to live happily together which would have been a miracle even for sighted women.

Together they stood at the foot of the long staircase that led up to the enormous front doors. Arm in arm they wandered the deserted hallways until they came to the old geography room and Elizabet placed her hands on the enormous globe and gave it a spin.

It was only then that Elizabet took her friends face in her hands and said “Thank you for all these years my friend.” and kissed her on the lips.

Magda with tears in her eyes stared at her friend`s wrinkled and spotted face framed in the silver braids wound tightly around her head like a crown and said “How long have you known?”

Elizabet smiled and shook her head. “I have known from the beginning Magda. I may be blind but I have always been able to see you.”

The two friends continued their tour arm in arm even after the sun had disappeared from the sky and they were wandering in the dark. Even though the electricity was still on in the long-deserted school Magda did not turn on the lights. She was after all with Elizabet and as long as they were together Magda had everything she needed.

Lucid Dreaming

21 Feb

Lucid Dreaming

 

Lisa awoke one night to find herself sitting cross legged on her dresser staring at her sleeping body and she wasn’t even high. She was however thoroughly disgusted to discover that she snored like a man. And that her utter bitch of an ex had been right all along.

 

Never having been outside her body before she wasn’t too sure what the rules were. She remembered reading once that there was a slender silver thread that kept your spirit linked to your body if you were experiencing astral projection but she did not seem to have one so maybe she was dying. The blankets looked like they were moving rhythmically but that could just be the cat. She needed to go and listen to her heart beat, feel her forehead and see if she felt clammy or whatever you do to see if someone is healthy. She tried climbing off of the dresser but found it was taking forever. It was as if the floor was moving farther away with each step she took towards it. Lisa could not believe she was destined to spend whatever the fuck this was eternity or the onset of night terrors on top of a white Ikea dresser. There had to be some way down.

 

Maybe she could fly? In every dream Lisa had ever had about flying all she had done to take off was raise her arms and then lean forward so that all her weight was in her abdomen and then lift her legs straight out, which was exactly how she had taught herself how to swim. Maybe she should try that now.

 

She shut her eyes and let herself fall. When she didn’t hit ground she opened her eyes and found she was floating directly over the bed. Nefertiti opened one blue eye and then another. Using the pretext of an urgent bath to camouflage her interest, the cat began to calculate just how much energy it would require to leap upon her floating mistress and if it would be worth the effort.

 

Lisa swam down to her snoring self and wondered if maybe she wasn’t snoring at all, if maybe what she was hearing was Cheyne-Stokes or the death rattle or whatever it was called.  Hovering inches above the prostrate form Lisa pulled the covers down. The sleeping or dying Lisa rolled over and tried to pull the covers back under her chin. A fight ensued until the hovering Lisa pulled so hard the sleeper awoke glaring angrily into her own eyes.

 

Lisa leapt out of bed, heart racing. Just one night she would like to sleep all the way through without waking herself up.

 

 

Cristina Part 2

13 Feb

Cristina Part 2

Christmas is to crazy what full moons are to lycanthropy. I do not know why but I suspect it is the noise and the repetition. There is more repetition at Christmas then at any other statutory holiday. Fa la la la la la la la.

I do not enjoy repetition or noise. Which is why I do not like children. Children can repeat one syllable for an entire day fall asleep and then start over the next day without breaking their rhythm or changing their intonation.

The other thing in my opinion that contributes to the rise of mental crisis during this time of year are turkeys. I do not like to eat things that are stuffed. To me the whole concept of removing everything the turkey was born with to put other stuff in borders on the psychopathic. And people are so blasé about the whole thing like there is nothing objectionable to having a conversation while your hand is shoved up a dead bird’s orifice. You can not make me eat something that you have had your whole hand in. I do not like outside things going inside and visa versa. Especially if those inside things are red.

Red is a very busy color. Christmas is also a very red time of year. Santa Claus wears a red suit which is why he is able to travel from one side of the world to the other in less than 12 hours. He could never get all those presents delivered if he was wearing blue. I do not need to tell you why.

Dr. Ableman says there is no direct correlation between color and events. But I know that Dr. Ableman prevaricates. I know this because every Christmas he tells me that my husband is here to visit and I know I have never been married. I know this because marriage would interfere with my waitressing. Single waitresses make much better tips. I do not make a lot of tips here. Not even when I go to all the trouble of freshly squeezing a pineapple to make juice. The people here especially the nurses are very cheap. I do not however let it deter me from giving good service.

Do you know why else I know Dr. Ableman is prevaricating about my being married? Every year it is a different man claiming to be my husband. First off it was a young man in a very well-tailored suit with a smart striped shirt. This year it is an old man in a leather jacket and a turtleneck sweater. I am far too young to be married to such an old man. He must be at least 50!!! And I would never be the wife of anyone who wore a turtleneck. I think they look obscene. I do not need to tell you why.

Most times I am polite and ask the imposter if he would like to see a menu. Although quite frankly I am always relieved when he says no because there are no menus. I do not understand how they expect me to be a good waitress with no menus. I offer to squeeze him a pineapple or get him a smart cocktail. And usually he smiles and says no and goes away. This year was different. This year he touched me. Everybody knows you are not allowed to touch your waitress. Everybody knows this. But he tried to take my hand in his and I could not breathe and I tried to pull away and he kept holding on and everything got very loud and red. And then I was in my room and I could not sit up because there were straps around me. I have no idea how this happened. But I blame it on the red.

Christmas is no holiday for a waitress, no indeed. Christmas is to waiting what June is to weddings. The holidays make people very loud. Sometimes they are angry loud and sometimes they are happy loud. Here they are sometimes both at the same time. There are always more people here at Christmas than any other time. And it is all I can do to keep up with the rush. I like to try to greet people as soon as they arrive. There is nothing worse than sitting at your table and not knowing who your server is.

Today Dr. Ableman was wearing a sweater with polar bears on it and a red tie. I have never seen this sweater before. But I have seen the tie. This is the tie that he always wears with his grey plaid jacket. I do not think he should be wearing it with this sweater. I think he should put on his jacket. And I do not like a sweater that has animals on it. I also do not like an animal print. Whenever I see an animal print I can’t stop looking for the eyes. I cannot concentrate on anything that Dr. Ableman is saying because the polar bears are looking at me. And just so you know none of them are drinking coke. I do not drink coke either. I drink water.

Dr. Ableman is talking about the man. The man who touched me. He is telling me that he will not be coming again. He is telling me that the man came this year to tell me that. Only he says “my husband.” And I say I do not care because I DO NOT HAVE A HUSBAND. Dr. Ableman suggests that I take a look at some pictures that the stranger has left for me. I ask if I am supposed to tell him what I think they look like and he says no. Just look.

They are pictures of somebody’s family. There is a mommy, a daddy and two little girls. They look very pale and shiny. They are too clean. They make my eyes hurt. They live in a big house. I think there must be at least a thousand other people living there because it is so big but Dr. Ableman says no only the four very clean people live there. And the dog. It is a small black dog with a flat face and big ears like a bat. Or maybe it is a bat. I do not know. The pictures are very loud.

Christmas is an incredibly busy time of year for us waitresses no matter where we are working. And by Christmas I mean the day after Halloween till December 30th. Out there you can tell it is Christmas because when you wake up November morning there are colored lights everywhere and all the store windows are filled with fairies and Santas and beautiful mannequins wearing clothes that you only wear at Christmas unless you have a lot of money and then you wear gold and silver all the time although I did watch a show once that said metallics are fashionable all year-long and it’s especially chic to mix your metals. I personally prefer to keep my metals separate. I also do not like my bra and panties touching so I keep them in separate drawers and never absolutely never wear a one piece bathing suit or a leotard like dancers wear.

In here you can tell it is Christmas because the halls are full of people wandering around looking lost and sad. Some of them have bandages on their wrists. I have never had bandages on my wrists although I think they look very stylish in a Michael Jackson kind of way.

I like to wait until they have decided where they are most comfortable and then I make my way over with a big smile and tell them what the specials are. I would give them menus but for some reason we are still waiting for them to come from the printers. Personally I would fire these printers because we have been waiting at least 5 years. Call me crazy but I do not see how you can possibly make any money as a printer if you take over 5 years to print 100 menus. But then this is a government contract so…

I try to work as much as possible during Christmas. It keeps my mind off things. Things like ribbons of red that steam and melt. And carolers that sing so loud my ears hurt. Christmas is so loud it makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball under my bed only that is the first place they look for me when I disappear off the floor. Sometimes I wish they would hire someone else so that I would not be the only waitress here. I have asked Dr. Ableman time and time again. I have told him that it is impossible to give good service and make any tips if you are serving over 100 people at a time. In fact to be honest with you I have not got a single tip in all the time I have been here and I am an excellent waitress. I bring the water right away and never make you wait for your cream. I will even bring you ketchup to put on your French toast without raising even one eyebrow.

Today Dr. Ableman asked me a question. It made me very nervous because I do not like to answer questions of a personal nature. I am happy to answer any and all questions about our freshly squeezed pineapple juice and what exact vegetables are in our mélange but I do not feel that it is a part of my job description to talk about why I do not like red.

These Walls Can Speak

7 Feb

These Walls Can Speak

At first I could not breathe between these walls, there was no room for my lungs to expand, no air just insulation and dust. So tightly was I packed between the two by fours and the drywall that I could not even open my mouth to scream so I whispered my despair. So soft was my pleading that only those who understood the utter hopelessness of deliverance from those who are stronger came to offer the solace of their teeth and claws, mandibles and pincers.

My thoughts grew stronger with every tear at my flesh. When my eyes left their sockets carried away ever so delicately between the tiny white razor sharp teeth of my rodent deliverers I began to truly see. I saw deep into the heart of my killer. I was able to count the minutest rays on the tail end star on Cassiopeia.

My ears were harvested by an enterprising centipede which left me free to hear the steps of a flea on a bar of soap. Touch, taste and smell were lost completely but in their place was the capacity to focus like never before. I was thought and emotion. And they constantly warred within me till I became the stuff that night terrors are made of. And yet underneath it all I was able to dredge up a fleeting moment or two of sheer optimism.

This feeling had nothing to do with God. I have never been a believer, not even when those hands were around my neck did I hedge my bets and call out. I died in silence just like I lived. I am not however silent in my death. My bones crack like sapless branches behind the headboard of their bed. I articulate my condemnation in their ears as they sleep, their dogs howling in solidarity.

I make their most precious things disappear or lie broken where they will cut their feet. And I write on every wall, on every surface, on every inch of awareness that killing me has only anchored me deeper in their lives. That I am here behind these walls where they have placed me and I am waiting for them to join me.

Who I Really Am

31 Jan

Who I Really Am

You look deep into my eyes and say you know me, that you have always known me. You touch my skin and tell me that even in a thousand years the feel of it against your fingertips will still thrill you like nothing else. You bury your face in my hair and inhale me like opium whispering that I am the dragon that you chase. You catch my tears on your tongue, store my words in your memory, intuit my unspoken needs and yet you couldn’t have it more wrong.

You believe me to be who I seem. Not just the woman I allow you to see. And you trust that because I have confessed my abuse and all the sundry sins and pervasive agonies that you have the depth, the breadth, the entirety of my now and forever. When all you have is your own desire reflected back.

How can you comprehend me when I am not complete? I am still in chrysalis form. If I have no idea how I will emerge, how can you? I may break out with razor-sharp cheekbones and slash open your thighs. Or I could erupt as an infinitesimal swarm of incandescence splattered across the pre-dawn sky. I might be a liar, a cheat, a butcher of books and chocolates. Perhaps I am your mother, your daughter or you with a better imagination and vocabulary. If I could choose I would be your undertaker and lay to rest all your unrealistic expectations of me. I would be your incompetent surgeon, the one who nicked your vocal cords while performing a perfectly standard tonsillectomy. I would be the one who stuck the pin in all your bubbles and laughed uproariously as you dashed about frantically with your duck tape.

How can you see into me when I am coated in lead? I am a bottomless lake. I am the quicksand that will pull you under when you feel the most secure. I am the laugh that is pointed in your direction, the water that spills on your lap. I am not your friend. I am not your enemy. I have never been your lover in this or any other life although it is possible that we may have fucked.

Although I walk beside you, I am not of you. We do not read the same words though we scan the same page. I do not taste the dark richness of your coffee. You do not feel the rasp of my regret. I cannot smell your sincerity. You fail to hear my truth.

You have never known me.

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Most of the stories here will be first drafts like this one. I may work on one over a period of weeks or sometimes just chat. Feel free to ask me questions, comment on anything but spelling and grammar. You can even ask me to write about something. I can’t guarantee that I will do it, or that I will do it right away but I will if the idea appeals to me. I do have to warn you though that I likely won’t take your idea in the direction you hoped for.