I don’t have anything against this Manolo guy, so it is not personal. Hell, I wouldn’t even know about him if not for my girlfriend shopping for shoes. If I said ugly things about him it is not because of the fact that we wasted a better part of the afternoon shopping shoes either. I would have said the same things comfortably seated on my couch at home with a beer in hand. I mean, any way you slice it, spending a grand on a pair of shoes is ridiculous. All I said was any one who designs these shoes to be sold at that price, Manolo or whoever, is a shameless robber. OK, granted I used stronger language than that. But still, it’s just shoes, albeit super expensive ones.
I don’t know why this makes her mad. It’s not like she knows this Manolo guy either. But I know she is mad even before she says a word. I know she is mad even when she smiles while she says I should stop being jealous. I know she is mad because she looks at me between my eyes. All these little clues you subconsciously learn. If she looks at my ears I know she is lying.
Stop being jealous of his success, she says. Jealous? No. Honest. I would tell it to his face that what he is doing is daylight robbery. Not that he would care for what I have to say. But still, a man’s got to have integrity.
Apparently people can tell if shoes are the genuine thing or cheap imitation. And apparently if I can’t, then I either have no taste in shoes or need my eyes checked. Maybe because my frames are not Cartier, I joke. Not the funniest of jokes to laugh out loud like I do but still, not so crass as for her to call me an ass.
I am not sure why I am even in this store with her. More likely than not we will break up before the end of the month. She’s pretty and smart. Mostly. But still, she shops for shoes made by an unscrupulous robber.
The bright lights are coming back to focus. The yelling of the crowd is getting clearer. I feel hands pulling me back at the waist. I see I am punching someone. There’s blood all over. From his face for sure but also could be from my knuckles. I am not sure. I stop punching and let go of my opponent and he crumples to a heap on the floor. The crowd is cheering me or booing me. Depends on whom they put their money on I guess.
I turn away from the makeshift ring and don’t look back at the body on the floor. That was not me that did that. I was somewhere else. I was a dog, a bull terrier. Bred to fight. Full of rage. Snarling. Ready to tear everything in front of me to shreds. And if I failed to, if I was the one knocked out, my breeders would put me to rest for I would be useless to them.
At least that’s what I convinced myself this night.
Next time I might convince myself that my opponent insulted my family and threatened to kill me. Or maybe that he is a scumbag rapist that deserves justice. Doesn’t matter what. All that matters is I disengage myself from reality long enough to pummel a complete stranger to within a few blows short of death.
It is always a split second that makes the difference. My left jab connects with his jaw but he plows through it. He is fast. Before my right hook can connect and floor him his right elbow has swung over my left arm. I can hear the crunch before I feel anything. My nose is definitely broken and worse is to come. Both his arms are free and swinging. After a flurry of punches he takes a break to catch his breath and to admire the damage. To his shock and to the shock of those who are close enough to see my face I am smiling. If you can call it smiling. My lips are torn but definitely curled up.
The trick is to disengage from reality. And today I am a vehicle. Careening downhill, too fast and out of control. I am going to crash and burn but I am going to lay waste everything in front of me. I spit out blood, take a deep breath and charge.
I was walking with my head down,
my hands in my pockets,
whistling a tune,
when I came across the lug nut.
There it lay staring back at me,
willing me to pick it up,
round and shiny.
What is your story, I wondered.
He’s on her, thrusting and panting. She wants to make sounds and say dirty things like she has seen the girls in the x-rated videos do because she thinks he likes that. She wants to tell him to fuck her like she’s the last woman in earth. She wants to tell him to tug her hair and call her his slave. She wants to tell him to use her like his sex toy, rough and hard. She wants to tell him to ravish her like an animal while they do the doggy, the snail and the butterfly. She wants to tell him not to stop till her knuckles are white from clutching the sheets. She wants to tell him not to stop till her words are a jumble of vowels. Ooh, baby. That’s all she manages to blurt out and even that feels dirty.
The blackness of the night
Silently strips the rose
Of its dress of pretty petals
The stillness of the night
Epitomized by the sedan,
Sad to be lonely and cold
Above it, a swarm of insects
Do their dance of confusion
Around their God, the street light
And the boy staring out his window
Studying, instead of Frost and Whitman,
The rose, the sedan and the bugs
If only they didn’t write in tongues
So he could complete his paper
And get a deserved good night’s sleep
The cloud shields the sun
Cool, I smile, but the poor worm
Never saw the bird
I anxiously look at my watch. As if my train will magically appear if I stare at my watch hard enough. I hate, hate, hate wasting time doing nothing. Don’t get all smart-alecky on me and tell me all the time I sit surfing the web and watching silly cat videos is wasting my time doing nothing. This here is really doing nothing.
Someone has carved a heart shape into the wooden seat and the initials A and J on either side of the heart. A loves J. Or loved J. Or J wished A loved J. Funny how the heart is burdened with love. It’s not enough to tirelessly pump blood into the veins. Shouldn’t the brain be blamed for thoughts of love? Or in the case of the teenage boy who I suspected of this particular vandalism, his penis? So here I am on the platform, waiting for my 8.48, along with someone’s love, which is also presumably waiting to catch the 8.48 to get the hell out of there.
It’s a day for tourists to line up along the bridge and gaze in awe at the scenery around them. I line up but as I lean over the railing I hardly see the beauty they do. I worry I might fall. I always worry. What if a bus hits me when I cross the road? What if lightning strikes me on a rainy day? The ceiling fan could fall on me when I am asleep. A bug could bury itself under my skin when I am gardening. My heart could give in at any moment and the rest of my body would follow. What if I am having my bath when that happens, totally undressed? How embarrassing would that be.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
Someone please put a muzzle on the neighbor’s dog. I wonder if the bitch senses exactly when I sit down to relax and decides that is the time to bark the loudest. It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a firearm.
Sometimes my idea of relaxing is to listen to melancholic music. Music to slit my wrists to is what I call it. I can crank the music up but I’ll probably go deaf before I can drown out the barks. Maybe I should listen to jazz and pretend the dog is just another musician, playing his notes in his own time signature like everyone else on the band. No offense to jazz musicians.
Sometimes I cook to relax. The tears streaming down my cheeks could be either from the onions or from a rather poignant memory stirred by the music to slit my wrists to that is playing in the background.
Bark. Bark. Bark.
Oh, this knife would make a wonderful weapon. The dirge that is playing is the perfect soundtrack to the mayhem playing out in my head.
I am tempted to call animal services. But my neighbor is ailing. The dog is probably his only companion in his old age.
So I bite my tongue. The moment passes. I can get back to focus on caramelizing the onions. And letting the music wash over me, barks and all.
I finally have the courage to approach her.
“Hey,” she says and smiles.
Finally I blurt, “I had a pickup line and all but your beauty is too breathtaking. I forgot everything.”
“Cute,” she says and smiles again, “Does that ever work?”
“I have no idea,” I say and grin, “But I am eager to find out.”
“I think it might. A little bit. Took you a long time to approach me. I have seen you looking at me, you know.”
I blush. “Nerves of steel here. But I did mean what I said. Your looks, I mean”
“Thank you. I’ll wait for you to recollect your line.”
I think for a bit. “How about ‘Do you have any raisins? No? How about a date?’”
“Jeez. You are a natural”
“You make me be like one.”
That smile again. “You do this for a living, don’t you?”
I am about to answer when … blackness.