There’s a quick double rap on my apartment door and my son, Elijah, opens the door and walks in like he’s paying the rent. He ain’t. “Pop, what’s up dude? What’re you watchin? Why don’t you have the game on? You got beer? I know you got beer.”
He goes directly into my tiny kitchen and comes back with two bottles of beer. He flops on the couch beside me.
‘We were fair game
but we have kept out of the cesspool.
We are strong.
We are the good ones.
Do not discover us
for we lie together all in green
like pond weeds.
Hold me, my young dear, hold me.’
Anne Sexton, Rapunzel
The sound at the end of the phone was a metallic female voice, not her mother’s. “I’m sorry.” Pause. Her mum’s voice: “ANGELA.” Pause, then the robot woman again.
“… cannot come to the phone right now. Please leave a message after the tone.”
“Mum, I don’t want you to worry, but please call me back if you can. I just wanted to tell you… I forgive you.”
Case File: Something’s Cooking Under Where?
6:58 PM: Dames play games with my head. They drive me to extremes. Run me off to sit in parking lots where the glow of the streetlamps glaze the top of my smoke rings in honey. Some dames disappear in the middle of the night. After twenty years. All because I was born to fight crime. All because I missed a few dinners, an anniversary or two, while out mopping vermin off the streets. Then she gets remarried, moves on with her life like I’m some speck of shit on the toilet rim that never spiraled down. I can only counter with three hundred sixty five canned chili dinners and a new leather duster. And now I’m about to attend my second class in an introduction to cooking course at the community college. I never dreamed there’d be a first, but canned chili only gets you so far before you reach colostomy bag status. So I sit here and wait. Watch the tall brunette, the curvy redhead, and the tattooed blond–my classmates–walk past and wonder which of these fair maidens slipped a favor in the front pocket of my duster last week. It’s a silly little thing. Pink silk with eyelet trim and a round cutout on one end. Some kind of exotic lingerie apparatus, I imagine. All I know is my pocket was bare at the start of class and later that night I found the kinky surprise. It’s a real mystery. Now the only thought in my mind as I step out of the car is: which of these dames wants to toss my bacon in the skillet?
Here we are at Week 187.
I was wondering about writers block. Strangely enough when I thought on this I felt so many memories flooding back. Really strong, vivid memories.
I don’t know why as I’ve never suffered from writers block.
It’ll come to me.
Verse 1 – days of innocence.
Those days are still fresh, they’re all that remain of that time, like bombshells after an explosion, or the remains of a decomposed dead animal. Those days when we chased grasshoppers in the small bush in our backyard. There were basically three types: one had intricate patterns on its body: yellow and black stripes, dotted with white; another had the skin of lush grasses, and it was why we found it on rare occasions. The last appeared only during the dry seasons. It had the body of scorched grasses, dusty brown. We would watch them jump from blade grass to blade grass, leaning the thin grasses. And we would crouch whenever we came close enough to any – I would put my finger across my lips to tell you to be quiet, like they could hear our voices and flee – and cup our palms closed on them. We didn’t want them to die. We would tie ropes around their legs and watch them jump, making creepy sounds, as far as the rope could get them.
The note reads:
‘Dear Garbage man, Please make sure you get ALL the trash out of the can.
Thanks! The Brewsters’
I stand there just holding the damp piece of paper. The A-L-L scrawled in all capital letters and underlined. The exclamation mark after the ‘Thanks.’ I look over at the white house nestled among the pruned Spanish oaks and ball the note up. The bathwater rain makes rivulets of space between the white maggots humping up my arms as I hoist the cans in the back of the truck. They feel muscular and clean inching their way under the cuffs of my gloves. My back burns, and the smell of cat urine puffs out of a half-tied bag as it smacks the bottom of the compactor. I grind my teeth and think about how Mrs. Brewster’s wrists must be so silky and warm. About how her perfume would just touch the air around my nostrils as I bit into her heavy breast. A drop of my sweat would fall in the deep divot between her collar bones and how she would moan about how strong I am. How powerful my arms are. I pound the side of the truck and give my driver the thumbs up. Next house.
Jake steps into the hall and comes across a staircase that he had never noticed before. The staircase leads to a suite of lavishly furnished rooms. This old house is grander than he had known.