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Friday, February 23, 2007

Tom cracked the seeds in his mouth, swallowing bits of broken corn. It disgusted me, that sound and the violent jaw movement. It disgusted me more than the fact that he wanted to watch me fuck his wife. Will there be cameras? I'd asked. I don't think so, she'd replied. Let me sleep on it, ok?
Now I sat with a belly full of wine staring at a movie that none of us were really watching. The apartment was a nice two-story loft set up, with en vogue furniture and Andy Warhol prints on the walls. Beth was majoring in art at the local university, and I guess Tom let her design the place with his checkbook in mind. For such a nice place, stocked with rack after rack of wine, it pissed me off that they hadn't offered me anything to eat other than popcorn. I hadn't eaten in at least a day and a half, and I hated popcorn. But what the hell, down the hatch.
Every now and again they would look at each other curiously and then look at me
--I felt their gazes and quickly took a sip from my wine glass, which they were constantly refilling. Using got me here, I thought. So why shouldn't using get me out of here? Or did I really want out? Usually, I let the booze make my decisions for me. It was easier that way. Why'd you take your pants off in church? one might ask. And I could simply reply, I was drunk. My bad. Drinking didn't plant the seed, never did, but it always helped move things forward. I've done strange things sober too, don't get me wrong. I have courage that doesn't come from a bottle. Plus, I'm no stranger to kinky shit.
I once got involved with one of those club kids. A seventeen year old girl who thought she should still dress like a thirteen year old. She had the candy necklaces and the pink pacifier. She spoke of the universe in terms of rave energy, and told me I wasn't out there enough for her that I should live a Joe Smith life, nine-to-five it while she explored the cosmos, listening to the same techno beats over and over again, watching pretty colors swirl around. I'll admit I've done some drugs in my short life thus far, but some people just... the point is, she wanted to have a threesome this one night, or morning, I think it was four or five, but she kept wigging out because she was doing so many whippets. I started touching on her and nibbling her neck and then all the sudden she pushed me away, sat up and said, I need a cigarette. What a crazy bitch. So we stopped, sort of sat around for a while, and then she starts licking the other girls breast and I'm thinking, Alright, let's try this again! But what does she do next? She sets the cherry of her cigarette right on this girl's poor little nipple. They start going back and forth, just loving it. I got my things and got the fuck, that's what I did. Walked back to my parent's house.
All this thinking about kinky shit reminded me of a story I'd heard. "So, this friend of a friend had this drinking problem," I started.
"We're not your psychiatrist. You can be honest with us," said Beth.
"No, no, you misunderstand. This isn't about the drinking itself. Anyway, this guy is drinking and he's dating this girl with a prosthetic eye. One of those fleshy ones. So one night, she's passed out and he's still horny, and he takes out the eye and he goes to town."
"Holy shit," said Tom. "He skull fucked the bitch!" he laughed brutally. Beth sat silently in disgust. And I suppose I levitated somewhere in between them. It was funny, in a cartoonish way, but to think about that girl... an actual human being...
"What was the point of that story, Jamison?" asked Beth in a serious tone. I had to think it over for a moment, but couldn't really come to any justification. I wasn't going to tell her about this x-happy psycho, and it wasn't like we were watching hardcore porn--the movie was a love story between a wounded fighter pilot and a traveling gypsy, which Beth of course had picked out. Walking through the movie rental store seemed to me a bit obvious, the three of us, but I'd been smoking before we got together that evening and I'm sure that colored everything nervously--flickering between desire and anxiety.
"I guess I just thought of it is all," I said. They were both older than me, by five years for her and damn near ten for him. When I met Beth she said I looked sixteen. I was buying a pack of cigarettes ahead of her in line and it was enough to make the cashier check my ID twice. I thought she was a real bitch and then I looked back at her. She smiled and brushed her hair back with delicate fingers, one of which held a wedding band. A few weeks later she applied where I worked, it being a small town, and we talked and talked, learning that I was legal but that she was married. What luck! I thought then in despair. Sitting on that couch I didn't know what to think.
"That's a pretty strange thing to just think, especially considering the situation," said Beth.
"And what is the situation?" I asked.
"You tell us," she replied.
"I'm getting some more wine," I said. "That's the situation." If I got drunk enough, I thought, I might just find my way through this. Don't talk to women when you're high and horny; it can only lead to trouble. The damnedest thing was I really did want to fuck her, quite wildly so, but there remained that obstacle: her husband watching from his armrest vantage point. How would I feel in the act? Hell, how would I feel afterward?
Also, the thought that this might be some sort of a trap crossed my mind. I hear that they commute sentences if a husband walks in on his wife with another man and then shoots the perpetrators. Did he want to murder his wife? Was I some sort of a pawn? I needed to quit smoking weed.
Had I a trusting family member who didn't view me as a complete disgrace and failure, I would have picked up the phone and asked for advice. The closest thing I had to a caring mother since mine passed away was my high school teacher Cynthia, who had let me feel her up one afternoon after class and still sent me letters asking how I was holding up. We had gone into her Buick and driven to the Wal-Mart parking lot and fooled around in the backseat. She couldn't take me to her place since she was living with a married man--he was legally separated, don't judge!--and I was still living with my parents, so Wal-Mart it was. I think I was fifteen, though I don't really remember those times too well.
"So Beth tells me you're at the college. What are you studying up there?" asked Tom in half-interest.
I hadn't even graduated from high school yet and probably wasn't going to. "I really like English," I said. Since I'd moved out on my own I hadn't gone to class at all and spent all my money in the best way possible--maintaining a constant state of altered reality. I couldn't remember the title of the last book I'd read. My mind always jumped around too much for all that. But then it came to me: "I've been reading As I Lay Dying."
"Faulkner. I'm impressed. What do you think of it so far?" he asked.
"I like what he does with Conscience. Of the characters," I fumbled, trying to remember what Cynthia said before we were in the back of her Buick all the time and I could only manage to stare at her breasts during class.
"Stream-of-Consciousness was most innovative for his time. If you like that try Sanctuary. That book has one of my favorite scenes in all of literature." Then he switched gears to a more business like tone. "So is that your major then? What are you planning to do with it when you get out into the real world?"
I had to think fast. What came to mind was the truth, and it had gotten me out of many awkward corners. "I'm so drunk!" I played it up, waving my glass around. Only I wasn't that drunk, and then she put her hand on my thigh and it looked like things were about to get rolling. I sobered up fast. "Let me freshen up real quick," I said. They smiled at each other and I went to the bathroom. There I frantically called Cynthia.
"Jamison? What's the matter?" she asked.
"I need to talk. It's a sex thing."
"I told you, I can't talk to you like that anymore. There's a lot of pressure out there about us, and Harold and I are getting married and..."
"I didn't call to talk dirty, Cynthia. I'm in a bit of a predicament. I need your advice." I told her about everything.
"Is she worth it?" she asked.
"I don't know. I was high when she called," I said.
"You were high when we first, you know." There was a silence, unbearable. "Was I worth it?" she asked, quieter.
"You know you were worth it," I said.
"Am I a bad person? Are we bad people for everything?" FUCK! I thought. Not now, please just be a steady rock right now. How was it that adults could be so insecure, more insecure than even me at times? A knock came at the door.
"Who are you talking to?" asked Beth.
"My, my mother just called. Give me a minute," I said. That shut her up.
"Did you just say I was your dead mother?" asked Cynthia.
"Is that a problem?" I asked.
"If you don't have a problem with it then I guess I shouldn't either. You're something else you know, Jamison. You have such a mind, such a wonderful soul too, and you just don't know how to apply it all. You get into these situations."
"Ok Mom," I replied.
"Is she still there?" Cynthia asked.
"Uh-huh," I lied.
"Do what you feel is right," she said.
"What's right?" I asked, confused. "What the hell's that supposed to mean? Is that some sort of a joke?"
"You're so tough, and yet so terribly vulnerable. I wish I could, I don't know, just stuff you inside me and keep you safe from the rest of the world."
"I'm hanging up now," I said and closed my phone.
In fourth grade we learned about Zeus. I'm sure the other kids learned about a whole lot of other shit too, but I learned about Zeus. When he saw a pretty girl he went and took her, struck down her husband with a lightning bolt or something. I liked that. At recess I went and kissed all the girls on the playground, some of them I had to hold down, and no one did a thing. I don't think they knew what to do. So the principal sat me down for a long talk, and then they sent me out to one of those child psychologists, who talked to me about all my sexual urges. I swore he was going to drop drawers and grab me any minute, but some people don't meet our expectations. So I got out easy, just a few pointless sessions and then I stopped kissing girls for a good long while. The point here is that I learned about Zeus, and so I did then what I occasionally do, and I prayed to him, right there in that bathroom.
"Zeus," I prayed. "What would you do?" But of course I knew what he would do. He'd go in and knock out Tom and have his way with Tom's pretty little wifey. Considering Tom was a military type, I didn't see this as the best possible solution. If only I was a god. O Humanity, what a terrible joke!
Maybe I could get some money out of this thing. I knew that wasn't part of the deal, but I could tell him that he could take pictures if he just gave me some money. Where would they end up though? That was the big question.
Somehow, in all that time spent in the bathroom I had overlooked my greatest asset in that house. I consulted the medicine cabinet: Aspirin, Benadril, Viagra. No thank you, I thought. And then I found the money: Percocet. I whipped out my wallet, pulling out a dollar and my license. I crushed up a few pills, and by a few I mean four, and put them in equal amounts up my nostrils. I left one pill in the bottle. I wasn't complete asshole.
I staggered then out of the bathroom, found Beth, and started groping her crotch.
"Alright," said her husband. And then a moment later: "Whoa now, tiger, slow down." I was clawing at her jeans. The light looked like something out of Monet and everyone seemed to be talking inside my head. Her sexuality pushed down on me like bricks as she tongued deep into my mouth.
"I'm going to," I started but collapsed mid-thought. My head hit table and I didn't get up for what seemed like just a second.

Oh God, oh God, Tom! Tom, what do we do? Dammit, I told you this was a bad idea. No, no, he won't be alright, Tom. Check the medicine cabinet, I thought I heard him snorting. Fucking drug addict. I knew it! Voices throbbing like a muscle. Clattering, then weightlessness. All of it at once, yet none of it happening at all, like a dream, like clips from a movie, like our weak memories of childhood--how we can never piece together that un-chronological existence before school time regiment. Then nothing, a silence like death. But only for a moment. Lights. Drink this. No more drink. We'll put a tube down your throat if you don't drink this. Down the hatch. Black film coating my insides, bright, bright swirling above. Their apartment sure was fucked up. Were they filming with all these lights? Was I having sex? I searched for my penis, couldn't find it. Black silence again.

"Excuse me, nurse?" I asked when I came to. "How did I get here?"
"A taxi brought you. Do you remember where you were last night?" she asked.
"Not a clue," I lied. I guess I hadn't gotten laid after all that night.
"They had to pump your stomach, you know," she said, moving a little closer.
"What did they find?"
"More like what didn't they find?" she said.
"You're cute, come here," I said.
"You are a sick little duck, aren't you, hun?" She seemed concerned, genuinely concerned. I hadn't seen a look like that in a good long while. Seeing her like that just made me want to get high.
She came and sat down on the edge of the bed, patting the sheets down. "Now listen. I think you'd better start being honest with yourself if you ever plan on making anything of yourself. At some point in your life, hopefully, you'll have what others of us have had. That is, a moment of clarity. When you came in you kept asking what we had done with the place. Said it looked different than last time. Where were you?" Silence. "You're obviously not ready, but someday, maybe tomorrow, maybe ten years from now, you'll go to pick up whatever it is you're picking up and something inside of you will change. Just like that. This is not your first time here is it?" I shook my head. "If you keep on like you're keeping on it won't be your last. And this is actually not so bad a place to end up after a night like yours must have been. You're lucky that whoever put you in that taxi did. You could be dead. If you go back out there and don't think things over, you will be dead. Maybe tomorrow, maybe ten years from now."
"We all die some day," I interrupted.
"But wouldn't you rather die with dignity? Wouldn't you rather die beside someone you love dearly and have spent a whole life with than on the floor of some strange girl's dorm room?"
"She wasn't a stranger," I argued.
"Did you love her dearly or her you?" she asked. It was like a needle that question. "Just promise me that when you get out of here you'll think it over. I'm not saying quit using or drinking or anything. I'm not in the position to tell you what to do. Just think. Maybe you haven't lost enough yet. I don't know. There's a poem I'd like to share with you though." I rolled my eyes. "I'll just share a few lines: 'I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or/ next-to-last, of three loved houses went./ The art of losing isn't hard to master... Even losing you....'" she trailed off. "I even lost my fucking dog," she laughed. "Came home one night and crashed the car into the fence. Didn't even notice until the next morning. Oh what a morning. The last thing to go. My lovely Jessabelle. You're only eighteen though, right. Got a lot more to lose. You don't have to listen to a cynic like me right?" With that she left. How could a cute girl like that be such a fucking psycho? I thought.
That afternoon I walked home from the hospital, another hefty bill under my arm, and a stabbing pain in my head. The walk wasn't long, only about a mile, and when I got there Troy was loading a bowl on my coffee table.
"You want a beer?" he asked.
"Nah, I'm laying off that shit for a while." I replied. I reached over and took the pipe. I stopped for a moment, looking down at the swirls in the glass, how they seemed to consume each other in those chaotic hues.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"Of course not." I took a hit.

something story length almost from Cadet Steve

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You had me at bits of broken corn.

I don't know how you do it, but every piece of yours I have read feels like a snippet taken straight from your life. The balance of reality and emotion always seems too perfect to be fabricated in the least.

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