Sunday, February 23, 2014

girl here girl there

This stranger takes two towels into the bathroom to shower. Dampens them both. One almost dripping. Not a trace of steam when she finally exits. Toothpaste stain on the mirror.

And from across the world she still writes letters. Daily. I feel obligated to open them. Some days I read them. Some days I sit down to write her back. I mail her nothing.

This stranger eats what I serve without comment. More Cabernet? Yes. My soap smells good on her. The shampoo not so much. While she pushes my food around her plate like a child, I make a note to find a good shampoo. Something more fully pungent.

And once, when she and I were we, I felt as if a bullet could not pierce my skin. My mind sharpened and my body strengthened. Dealing bottoms and seconds on Lyle Avenue in a room full of punk guineas and mobsters and taking down all the cash. She couldn't have been prouder.

This stranger is less awkward without clothes. Her description is unnecessary. She is of a type that I favor. Who has sex with a complete stranger? With a little imagination they all can be so familiar. When she bounces I encourage her to tilt her head back, throw her hair back. Just a bit more. Yes, like that.

And when they put their fists to my face and their heels to my ribs she was nowhere to be found. She stayed nowhere while I was in the hospital. And after. While I tried to learn to run twenty balls with mangled fingers. While I hardened. While I planned on those motherfuckers.

Her head rests on my chest. I decide I don't hate the shampoo. Push a finger across her scalp. Then two. Like a witless rumination.

The alarm clock rings now. I push her off of me. Dress myself. She is lethargic or she languishes. I don't care. Get out, girl. Get up and get out, girl. She frowns or maybe she pouts. Silly silly silly girl. Get the fuck out. Now, goddammit.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Games to play at the motel (when down on your luck)

The swarthy man seemed surprised that we had the same laptop ("They are the same!") and maybe this was enough for him to persist through the difficulties in getting me connected. Maybe it was just professional pride - Free Internet – it said on the sign. On the office window too. Either way he pushed through with sweat running down from his scalp to the carpet. He looked very tired. Maybe the sweat made him look worse. His little girl – they showed up hand in hand, “Her mother is at the store,” his explanation - swiped a quarter off the dresser when she thought I wasn't looking. She seemed well-practiced.

After the rub and tug girl toweled off and checked the mirror for the last time, moving her pouty lips counter-clockwise for good luck, she left. Then I drew open the curtain. I shuffled the cards and settled in for a game of solitaire to pass the time. My eyes half on the asphalt and half on the swimming pool across the parking lot. No eye candy, just children jumping and splashing. Cheap thin walls mean I could hear every word. Children speak such nonsense.

I shuffled on while listening to the children. Eventually there came faces against the window. Not leering faces but hopeful greedy faces. Then knocks on the door. One man brought a table from his room and another some chairs. I popped one of the beers I'd iced earlier and sent a boy for whiskey and donuts. He asked to play but this was to be a man's game. I thought to laugh at his ignorance but did not. Ten bucks for the errand, kid, and you come out way ahead I told him. Believe me when I tell ya, you come out way the fuck ahead.

Sam from 104 had like ten pockets and pulled money out of all of them. He had a grave face and gambled like it. Lifeless, mechanical, run off and out from the first whiff of danger. Totally dead money. I raise, said Morris, a great low voice that almost rumbled. I raise. Again. Again. Morris, the aggressive guy, raise raise raise. Morris who liked hearing his own voice almost as much as I did. I would listen to him read the obituaries. Sweet Morris. You've got pocket two's I told him, the time he pushed all-in. You’ve got shit, I told him. Pay me to see, he said, the time his voice didn't rumble so much. Yes, I will pay.

After they all left and I had gone to bed there came a knock. It was the boy. He had sneaked out and so I let him in and we played gin rummy. I turned on the HBO so he could see some tits and listen to the fake moaning. I gave him some of the whiskey and a few cigarettes. I took all of his money and he owes me thirty more that he promised to steal today from his mother's purse. He left satisfied enough. Dumb fucking kid. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: "No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom."