shoots. Spring scores on the assist. Marla plays with her bra strap, probably
worried about tan lines, though she's dark as a penny already, a constant
bronze across her shoulder blades.
She's interested in anthropology,
she tells me, over a failed attempt at a picnic. The Brie has turned to
soup, the cake melted, the wine gone sweaty and foul.
That's one thing she doesn't do—sweat.
Not even in that ravine between her massive breasts. She stays dry as
a chalkboard, smooth as oven-fresh bread.
I mix my metaphors. I spill wine
on my pants. I find myself thinking asinine Penthouse Forum phrases like,
"She's got teeth made for blowjobs," whatever the hell that
She says the Nuer people stimulate
the ovaries of their cattle by blowing into their vaginas, and that their
word for God is an onomatopoeia for that blowing sound.
I tell her one of my great-uncles
was a cannibal, during the war. "Resorted to it," I
She seems vaguely interested and
I find myself imagining her on her knees, being fucked with some degree
of brutality by my ex-girlfriend, a police baton, and the purple-haired
counter guy at the place I go for coffee.
"This weather," she says,
licking some cheese off her wrist, "Is really something."
Later, I want to invite her back to my place, but they're
replacing the stack pipes. I've been pissing in old soda bottles. Nothing
weird, just necessity. Resorted to it. But I don't want to have
She says she lives with a roommate,
a guy she used to date, and that he doesn't take well to guests. I tell
her that I understand, which is only half a lie.
We make a second date to see the
Ancient Egyptian Mysteries exhibit touring at the museum. I try and kiss
her on the cheek, but her bus comes and I spend the rest of the night
drinking wine coolers, pissing in the empties, and watching a zombie film
festival on one of the Spanish channels.
Which is maybe all I have to say about Marla. We made
out a bit in a reconstructed tomb, and were heading toward something hotter,
I think, till she tried to prop her legs up on a glass case of amulets
and afterlife picnic baskets, which set off some kind of sensor and got
us banned from the museum.
The construction crew had removed
my front hall, then, and I didn't mind telling her that. She laughed,
sipping an overpriced downtown cocktail, as I explained that it wasn't
just the flooring, it was the whole floor. "I can see down
into the laundry room," I told her, "And I'm four stories up."
So another night alone, and this time it's that movie
with the two races of cavemen—cave people—Neanderthals and
whatever the other one is called. One's real stupid, protruding foreheads,
loincloths, clubs. The other is clever, with narrow faces, neat little
bark outfits, spears.
Anyway, the plot involves gang rape
and dinosaur attacks, and I think, how can you go wrong with that, cracking
open another Corona and screwing the top back on the last, which I've
pissed in, a habit that's getting hard to break.
There's a giant bear stalking around
the rocks of the cave mountain. Tigers roam the valley of forest caves.
The dinosaurs—a cheap special effects trick—seem only to exist
in a sort of no man's land, barren as a sound stage, which for some reason
the cave people keep stumbling into, down from their bear mountain, up
from their tiger valley...
When I wake up, I can't tell what's
in my beer bottle and the sun is coming through the windows and the hole
by my front door.
Spring is like this, feverish and
dreamy. I sit on the fire escape and smoke a cigarette, watching the construction
crew unload their trucks. Today they are using sandblasters and circular
saws. They warn me that there will be some noise, some dust.
There is no third date with Marla. There is never
a third date. The walls come down on the west side of the building, and
then they come back up again, looking the same. The wiring is removed,
the hot water tank. There is an installation of ceiling fans, a new model
of storm window.
Spring does not turn to summer. It
keeps its back to it, eyes shut, fists clinched.
Green things sprout for a few inches
and get stuck in the mud. Neighborhood kids hunt plastic eggs every morning.
The newspaper advertises the same sales on the same colors of shoes and
I begin to think that Marla never
existed, which isn't quite true, because surely these figments come from
somewhere, a bus passenger, perhaps, a waitress at some café.
The dreams from television are markedly
different, a sense of transparency, as when the pterodactyls descend on
me, a whole flock, or murder, or whatever the word is, big beige wings,
like drop cloth canvas, speckled with caulk or primer, smelling of dry
wall, vinyl paint...
Some methods of composition are much
like dreaming, a sort of unconscious collage, memories bubbling up like
gases through hot tar, so that in the end there is not so much a cut-up
of lecture notes, channel surfing, or fantasies, but a walkthrough diorama—a
full installation piece—with audio from answering machine tapes,
plastic wrapped firewood bundles, the aroma of appetizers served on first
dates, pages torn from field guides, the glossy covers of trade journals
for taxidermists, a blue wig, devotional candles, and aerosol cans of
deer musk, all swirling together into a soup so thick it grows hands that
ball in your collar and drag you down for a taste.