Two Is A Crowd (Episode I)

It was five minutes before a bad day at work was almost over when I felt my pocket buzz, and before I even read it I knew it would have something to do with sex.  I should have gone home and ordered pizza the way I planned, but, I wanted to see them. Even if their text didn’t have a place or time to meet, just a train station and vague mention to what might happen phrased like a warning, Meant as an enticement. Succeeding in both.

Took a midnight train to forfeit soon as I logged into Instagram and saw how much fun other people were having. Punched my ticket at the deli in a $9 bottle of rum before the 1 train rolled in, and I roared in ready because Spotify had a playlist I hated ready for me.

Seventeen stops later, seventh Avenue opened up to me in swank high rises and suavely slacked strides clicking towards the distant turn-lights of neon bar signs. Overtly overdressed mademoiselles applauding down the avenue, distracting my attention with their contoured faces and purposely painted high cheekbones. New York is a terrible place to be unsure of where you’re going, with blackened windows at every bar and bouncers bishoping lines make everywhere seem like the place you should be.

They didn’t provide an exact address, so I thought actually finding Sam and Anna would be a mild goose chase; a red herring they text me to be annoying and their idea of funny. But as I exited Bleeker Street subway station to nobody, and my texts received no answer, I leaned against a lamp post. Annoyed and a little anxious to review the test she/he/they sent me, some clue I could Mapquest or decipher.

In a hidden seventh avenue lies a street
and Steppenwolf; some beast astray
that finds no home or joy in Greenwhich
or world that is strange
and incomprehensible to him.

Drunk texts after 1AM with “intellectuals” are annoying like this. Throwing a book reference with where we might have met is bush league, and I did leave my apartment thirty minutes after I said… yet. Something. Hard to label what in the aftermath that doesn’t come off as stupid. A certain taste in the air, the way the crowd of people on Bleeker moved and wavered between my cigarette smoke. I felt a scent, and like a psychic or lunatic I found myself heading in a  direction purely guided by instinct.

I would find them, I thought. Or I wouldn’t, and have a drink anyway. That’s what I thought as I wandered into The Slaughtered Lamb. A neat little dive bar quartered to a corner near sixth avenue where the streets get all whacky in Greenwich Village.

No bouncer at the door and a newly drawn sign “Welcoming Lost Souls To Oblivion…and $9 Cocktails. For Madmen Only.”

I made my way in.

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My Baby Takes The Morning Train, When Uber Pool Is Too Expensive (aka I’d Quit Tomorrow If Sheena Asked Me To Stay)

It was early morning, around six thirty AM I think. That un-Godly hour when men in construction work boots march soul-less towards the MTA, and a handful of office workers with long commutes start their day before the sun will. When transit is slow and sluggish, quiet besides the scuffle of winter coats and urban foliage stirring awake. Early birds and no worms.

I slouched off of the 39 Bus hungover as the moon on the horizon, dragging my feet towards Nine To Five with my body in tow. Hungry, because I’d ate too late last night. Angry at another schedule I couldn’t skip, because rent’s a bitch and cheesesteaks don’t grow on trees. Calling out was out of the question, and I didn’t have any sick days left anyway. Between the bus fares, nephews, and bottles of rum lining my recycling bin, I needed the money. But not desperately. Enough to get me out of bed when I’d rather be somewhere else.

Not a unique feeling, I noticed, as I watched a couple stop on the corner. He was about my height, not much more handsome with a handful of grays around his cobble-colored hair. She was all legs, nick-knacks dangling from her wrists, ears, neck, jacket, boots, lips; everywhere. Hands just barely held, calm and comfortable as they lazily rushed towards their obligations as the rest of us. They hit the corner and slowed, spoke some four to five words or syllables I tried my hardest to listen in on (all I could make out was ‘Don’t—this weekend—‘) and kissed each other on the cheek goodbye.

She clicked on toward the subway, he stood and stared at her go for a while. I stood there watching while he was wrestling with something. An idea maybe, words or feelings he should have shown or let shed. Or maybe he was throwing in the towel on the rat race, would have rather run down the block and take her by the hand back down where they came from. Board up the windows and lock the door at home, let the rent and bills pile up, spend all day listening to quiet comfort of her soft breathing on his chest, and the nick-knacks dangling off the dressers and coffee tables.

Then a car honked, he looked at his cell, and marched towards the 9 bus to work instead. He needed the money too, I guess, or couldn’t manage to break the habit. I looked at the 9 bus, marched towards the liquor store I knew would be open in an hour, and called The Boss on my cell.

Because I couldn’t either.

My Body Is A Temple (from the waist down) aka I Liked You Wayyyy More When You Didn’t Like Me

A kiss couldn’t contain me, I can’t be made still when my world is always rotating. Spinning on a spindle far as the bar can see, high as the stars orbiting Neptune on a lunar eclipse. Can’t call tonight quits so I’m proof-reading draft text messages I meant to send, trying to draw that fine line of flirting while running perfect circles around the moon.

“you don’t like Skylers mom”
“Am I that obvious?”
“no, but I can tell”
“What gave me away?”

He has honest eyes- two black marbles and red strings marinating in a pool of milk; soft and terrifying. Sometimes when he smiles his gaze will wince and flash the hot secret of what he really thinks; open windows that reveal a cold and sensitive man behind the blinds of polite social interractions. A long forehead full of forethought, with a strange canoo shaped scar bobbing down the river of his beard. He had a quality I couldn’t place but softly identified. A secret in his faded Caesar I had to unearth.

“im rlly good at reading people”

“Like a mystic? Forget Skylers mom, tell me the future, specifically in terms of lotto numbers.”

“venus is in mars and he’s not too crazy about pegging. your lucky number is 69”

“You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“no but i do kiss yours”

“I’ve always wanted a step-momdad.”

You cant stop the earth from shaking, no matter how hard you hold onto it. Your best bet is to grab a friend and ride the tremors, hope he isn’t going to make the night any more than the natural disaster I was meant to be. A social inventory insist that I am something of a catch- a little jaded, maybe, but more like blood diamonds than single mothers at 45. Twenty something erucater reprobate, “waist hip proportionate” (whatever the fuck that means,) that doesn’t mind a night full of fancy clothes and jazz bars or McFlurrys in a beat up Ford Escape around midnight. I’m down to clown or play sophisticated, depending on where my mood is. So long as I don’t have to justify why I think everyone should recycle and wearing denim jeans with dress shoes is a sin.

“I can’t think of what to say so I’m going with a very hopeful and loaded ‘wyd’.”
“laundry, little brother baby sitting”
“How old is he? And what’s his favorite color?”

I should be home with a book or jaw so cut it leaves dimples along my waist and pillows. Where I lay my head is home, and lately I like resting to the thought of him. I wonder what kind of lover he would be, in the romantic sense. Classical maybe, holding open doors and keeping between myself and traffic. Like I were a pet or songbird to protect. Or is he rather renaissance, regarding me with an equality and respect of a fellow human being. Dutch dinners and gender neutral nuances, bland sweet talk that means well but borders on boring, lacking that playful sentimentality of a baby-please.

“Hey.”
“hi”
“I miss you.”
“i know”

But that’s all I ever think about. Even in my raunchiest dreamy recluse I can never get to the actual sex part. My fantasies are underwhelming as the movies are- I only care about everything leading up to the moment before my mind fades to black and I’m suddenly out of breath or boredly staring at the ceiling from my pillow.

“Saturday, you and me and a dinner. You can talk about your baby brother and that stupid movie with Kate Blanched that you like. I’ll wear the shirt you said doesn’t make me look so ugly and you’ll make my face say something my mouth wasn’t ready to. It’ll be fun! Or not, and awkward. But whatever it is, I need it to be something more than what we are.”

Read on 1/18/2018

Lovers, By God Tell Me, Whats The Desperate One Of You To Do?

Raquel is pretty. Not hot, not sexy, bad, or “banging” but…pretty. Gorgeous, even.

There’s something so innocent in her sexy, and whatever makes her sweet so appealing isn’t from the swing of her hips or the way she makes her golden-nether eyes flutter. No, what I can’t resist is her simplicity of skin, the arch of her spine where the back dips like a sunset into her jeans. A smile full of secrets and a sigh carrying the anatomy of stars, clouds, and void. She’s a cosmic cutie; summer solstice for lips and planets where her eyes should be. A kiss full of whispers that fills you with a feeling easy to describe, but wouldn’t want to tell your mom about. A shame without the guilt to it, sin of the highest piety: she makes me emotionally horny.

There’s such a thing as natural talent; people that are good at something for no reason other than that they’re the one who’s doing it. Seduction is a skill, and whether she was aware of it or not, Raquel was gifted.

“Don’t you hate sports? Why do you have a baseball jersey?” Raquel asks, poking through my esteem and closet.

There’s two kinds of lust, I think. The kind we feel at movie stars or your brothers girlfriend- the one for the unreachable and endless. Then there’s the other especially reserved for that girl that makes funny faces when she wears your glasses, the one that’s yours but just out of reach and inches from your hands.

“So this is what it’s like to have a parole officer.”

She laughs, and the melody, I imagine, is the sound of galaxies being born.

“Is that your grandmother?” She asks, and I nod in a numb silence.

But another person in your heart can be terrifying, the way they echo so warm and easy to a place and memory. She has on socks with skulls across the ankle, size 6 Puma’s leaving imprints on the sands of my mind and studio apartment. Sunday nights well spent not doing much. Mum nothings in the sink, the kids are at the sitter, Making A Murderer on a loop and remnants of Peru leaving Pio Pio marks in green sauce. Taxicab confessions that don’t feel so scripted. Netflix and spills.

So many sanguine sensories, unforgettable as amnesia.

“You have her smile,” She says, and the picture of my grandmother keeps scowling.

Raquel is bright as ever in the darkness of my longing.

She walks along my room, my marble monastery, soft and curious. A note I scribbled on the dresser this morning calls her and she almost reaches to read it, but a reserve catches her and she flinches. She admires the scrap from a distance instead: observing it and the mess of books and loose change with a careful and aloof interest you’re scared to touch, like items in a museum.

I’ve never let a woman in my apartment. For sex or otherwise. I liked the privacy, the sanctity, the heaven of having a hell all to myself. A castle in the corner of a second story cloud- I’d left confidences in the kitchen with the cook too dark to share. The joys and pangs aisling my closet were biblical – an entire library of wounds and darlings these bare rooms bared witness to. Secrets of the deepest matters I’d sooner take to the grave than to a therapist.

So if these walls could talk, they wouldn’t be talking for very long.

“Your mirrors cracked,” She says, and I pretend I never noticed.

“I didn’t notice.” I said.

“Because you never use it.”

“Are you calling me ugly?”

Her face, bright and bold by the smooth bows of her eyebrows, is blue and blushed and full of so many beautiful things. I feel the way people must feel just before they get the idea of getting a tattoo of somebody else’s name – positive, but absolutely fucking insane.

I want to call her beautiful, but I know she would resent it. Raquel doesn’t take kindly to compliments. There were names, sources that I could cite vaguely on as to why. Gerald, David, Joseph and maybe a Tom or two. Men that swore their loves to the fullness moon but were waning, waxing girl-crush poetics until someone was late or a baby bump. Men that left nothing but a trail of dust, smoke, and children in her face.

Assholes or the usual suspects, who’s to say?, the only matter to mine being having to compete with the graves they left behind. I want to call her beautiful, to lay my affection for her luna eyes in words just like the wolves. But I couldn’t. So I didn’t say a word. Keeping my wants all to myself and watching her desperately from a distance, stuffing my lust into a look because she finds words and kisses so questionable.

A loaded look is better. Intent has a wider palate than the tongue.

“What is it?” She says. But I don’t say anything.

She starts to undress in a loud silence, and I watch the subtle fluxes of her spine rippling a Rorschach. Dark and mesmerizing shifts slithering beneath her skin like snakes. She came to me that night like dreams, unexpected and all at once, waiting and ready to take my love and passion like a guillotine. Tracing her finger along my chest and hands, reading the cuts and grooves like a wound or tarot card. I hold her close and not at all, run my hand along her face and side in a distant admiration. The way you hold a marble that shines a certain way when you hold it against the sunlight. I turn cruel and deliberate. At times I found arches on her neck, thighs and lips I would love fiercely. And when I feel her ache, feel her breath and heart pause and quiver, I retreat to a tender but empty caress, then say her name when I meant to sigh.

“What is it,” She whispers, somewhere between exasperation and a beg. “What is it, don’t you want to?”

I’ve never liked sex, although I have enjoyed it. The act goes rotten with analysis if you spend more than a thought on it. As a man, anyway. To penetrate a woman…Christ. There’s a moment before momentum moans you on when the act feels terrible and invasive. But nature has its safeguards, and before you have the mind or heart to turn away, a certain sight or sound boils the blood and instinct takes the wheel. Then all is lost, and all is gained.

We’re all slaves to the pleasure principle.

But this was hard to phrase, so instead I traced my name across her chest with my fingertips. Stuck on the stillness that makes my skin feel useless.

“You’re so strange,” She says, bordering between pensive and thoughtful. “When you’re in the moment you really are, but when you’re not…you go somewhere.”

I’ve been told that I have the eyes of a pianist – sad and a little lonely. That I looked like the kind of man to slam a door behind him. I can’t remember who said what. The dead tell no tales and I’ve still got grave dirt under my fingernails. My own Gerald’s and David’s I buried in women and bottles, people that left me pregnant with hurt and my own undoing.

“Where do you go?”

And they’re both the same, aren’t they? Children and a heartache. Sometimes you love or just fucking hate them, but no matter what there’s no ripping them from your veins. Incomplete or inconvenient as they are, they’re yours.

“Nowhere,” I lie.

Because even when they die, they’re yours.

Do You Like Me? □ Yes ☑ No (aka The Art of Keeping Up With Innocence)

Sixth grade roaming an empty elementary school
hungry, but we didn’t know
for what. One day left, then, Summer-
and the heat goes up like teacher shrugs
for homework and nobody cared.

Justin was cool- backwards cap, and young,
and pretty, and a boyish face.
Jessica was tall like high school, and I
heard she got expelled for smoking weed
in the girls bathroom.
Tamara was black and bored and blue all over:
anything anyone ever said she made pretty,
mean faces at.
Tanya had shiny hair
down to her shoulders,
a simple but bright smile,
her brother or dads oversized overalls.

I liked Tanya, but Tanya only liked to hit me.
“Two for flinching bitch,” she would say.
Punch, punch, and sore arms.
We played spin the bottle, because Justin.
Second turn I spin, and it lands on Tanya.
She looks at me and laughs, loud. “Nope, no way.”
Nobody minds. They shrug and we keep playing.
Even I understand, because reasons.
Spin the bottle turns to spin the Justin.
Tanya kisses him and her face shines Christmas,
like what she always wanted. Jessica pretends
to enjoy it and Tamara gives him a peck on the cheek and
blushes.

The girls smoke in the girl’s bathroom, the boy’s don’t.
Justin looked bored because we didn’t have much to talk
about, but we weren’t old enough to know that,
or have phones
to pretend to stare at
awkwardly.
He said he’ll be right back, but then he wasn’t,
and Tamara walked away like I wasn’t even there.
Then Jessica left.
Then Tanya left.
No one is in the hall and I’m going to go see Michael
because everyone else is gone
and social embarrassment hasn’t dawned on me.

I’m about to leave but an arm grabs from behind
and shoves me into the stairs. I’m scared and I see
it’s Tanya. She liked to hit me. I’m more scared so
I closed my eyes and I braced for punches and sore arms
but nothing is happening. I opened my eyes and
she was standing close enough that I can count
the denim strips on her overalls. She leans in,
she kisses me? Is this a kiss? I’m confused and
we stay like that for a while. I stop, to breathe.
She leans back and I’m confused
but happy? Because she saw it on my face and laughs
again,
loudly.

“Tell anyone I’ll kill you,” she had said.
“And two for flinching, bitch”
Punch, punch, and sore arms.