part 3: pencil as scalpel
You\’re going to regret this. What ? You\’re going to regret this. I\’m going to make you cry again. What ? Shut your fucking mouth, you prick. Two hours a week. Shut your fucking mouth.
Your clothes have not been machine washed in close to five weeks. You rinse your underpants in the shower, you scrub and scrub, and hot water rains down on your ochre aged body; but you dare not wash your socks.
The radiator in your mean little rented room is permanently cold to the touch. It is half way through December and you will never get them dried. Sick of constantly rotating your undergarments in the vague hope they might prove self-cleaning, you sneak out in this latest downpour and purchase the cheapest you can find.
Twelve pairs of stockings, like the days of Christmas, half as many boxers.
Room No. 6.
Scarcely big enough to accommodate a tangle of black thoughts; a worn pair of shoes drying too beneath a wash-hand basin, the brown nylon grip bleeding ropes of spoiled laundry when there is no space left behind jammed bureau drawers.
Ti jean\’s last dance in Big Sur cracked open on the bedsheets. Terminally crippled from a spinal injury. Slack jawed. Catching flies. Spitting bright red bubbles through the shredded pulp of a Florida orange.
Sitting barefoot in the middle of the floor, a sunlit rug browning in late afternoon, surrounded by lengths of copper tubing. Attaching paper notes to curling branches with surgical precision.
How do you like my emotion tree? Wetting the gummed margin of a cigarette paper with your tongue. It looks like it needs a Valium, doll.
So you fall back to the bed and try to count those dessicated insects entombed behind the glass ceiling shade. Fried there by the element tortured in the shape of a branding iron. Section 38. There are too many. Clusters of droppings where there once was fluttering.
Drawn there through the crack under the window on July\’s thermals. The air creeping there has long turned to ice.
Between hubcaps chasing trampolines down the street in 160mph winds to squirrels impaled on listing television antennae – more hurricanes, your son\’s first birthday, a quartered chicken smoking in the pan where you hide your head – you skulk in second hand bookstores when the subway is not flooded.
Looking to score. \”A writer of no literary consequence whatsoever.\”
Poor Alexander. The copy of \”Young Adam\” is decades removed from its first pressing. It is not, either, the book, that old acquaintance, you hankered after. The filmy jacket displays a women naked from the waist down. Submerged under water, legs splayed immodestly, an untidy parcel between her thighs spiraling up beneath a scrap of muslin.
She looks just like your wife, half drowned.
It is probably why you are drawn to it.