They Should Write A Book About Our Love (Then File It Under Fiction)

“You’re the American who didn’t want to come meet me?”

“I’m shy,” I lied, covering my face and embellishing. She laughed, falsely, throwing her shoulders back in a sort of exaggeration of herself.

“So you’re afraid of women?”

“Only the very beautiful ones.”

Her large eyes examined me in a way that made me uncomfortable. Quick, darting, loaded and looking for something. It wasn’t the way people looked at each other and I felt she was assessing me, weighing the quality of my face and character the way butchers check livestock in the meat market. So I did the same: She was gorgeous, skin like honey and a small, sensual frame. A shape that curved in ways pleasing to the eyes and more primal urges. And my eyes must have betrayed me, because in her glass reflection I saw a spark. Some silent affirmation that decided – “Yes, this ones fine.”

Her chaperones played the masters of ceremonies, hyping her qualities and whispering in the sidelines all the dark things I should do. We sang and danced in Patchanka, crawled wildly up and down Obispo unhinged and ordering beers for the kindest faces. Took breaks from undertones and sexual tensions with relaxed conversations about the beauty of a well sung salsa, joked pleasantly about her not wearing a bra and how bad my Spanish was.

Every so often she would casually press her side against my body, run a hand along my chest or neck. Staring into my eyes with an odd look of surrender, of offering; as if saying yes to a question I wasn’t asking.

“I could never take you home,” I said to her very frankly.

“So you think I’m ugly,” She replied playfully with a shove.

“The opposite. You’re one of the prettiest women I’ve ever seen. If I shared a bed or afternoon with you, it would be like something out of a dream. I’d never stop showing pictures of you to people, saying- ‘Look, see here, isn’t she the loveliest woman you’ve ever seen? And can you believe she’s interested in a guy like me?’ But I get the impression you want something. The way you look at me, it makes me doubtful. I could never trust your affection, unless you told me what it is, what it was, you were after, what you need. I’d gladly give it to you, honestly. If I can- if you would tell me. After that, I would be sure. It would show in your eyes and I would know if you really desired me, then maybe I could desire you as well.”

The confession, playful as I meant it, made an impression I did not expect. The spark in her eyes faded, and for a moment was replaced by something bordering on human. A sort of softness settled into the edges of her corneas, as if I tumbled onto a core and center too sentimental for such a jest. And admittedly, in reflection, perhaps my remarks were cruel in their truthful.

She laughed, a sound that came from somewhere much deeper than what she falsetto’d before, and tilted her head at me with a sort of pity.

“Eres noble,” She said, in a tone that may have been a compliment, but rang more of disappointment.

“Noble?” I asked.

“It means you’re a fag,” Chimed the chaperone.

And the three of them wandered away, without me.

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The Diary of Noel Edwards 12/17/2017

December 17th, 2017

People tire me, but I am reminded that I am not the first or alone in my resentment, in my endless exhaustion of this assault on the senses. I have hope again- that misguided, miserable human condition. So terribly optimistic in a world that does not compliment it. I have hope again in humanity, and that perhaps people are actually capable of decency.

When I was in Cuba, two men stole a hundred dollars from me. The island was full of so many good-natured, humble, uninvested people, I over-trusted. It was around 5PM when I realized I’d actually run a bit short on money, and needed to exchange dollars for the local currency. The bank I usually exchanged in closed around 2-3PM. Rather than ask the large fancy hotels lining Parque Central, or taking the time to ask the sweet old grandmother who was renting me a room for two weeks, I took to drinking rum and smoking rolled cigarettes in Pachanka.

Worry is an emotion that comes very difficultly to me. I am quick to take all of life’s calamities with calm acceptance. Anxiety provides no assistance, so if I’m faced with not having money, losing a set of keys, or the great fear of unknowing what’s to come from my actions, I can sigh it away easily. Action is a kind of desperation – I’d rather drink and sleep, spend my days dreaming away my troubles and dreary existence. It’s a quality of myself I appreciate, and one my sisters say is irresponsible and my undoing, albeit with a bit of envy.

The bank was closed, and would likely be closed the following morning as well, because it would be Sunday. With my last ten Cuban pesos I decided to buy a box of Hollywood cigarettes, and spend whatever was left on beer and some shots of rum at Pachanka.

Pachanka was a bar in Old Havana, my favorite for so many reasons. The walls were lined with tourist graffiti, names and declarations of love. A giant mural of a ship hung above the bar, painted with pirates and hooligans drinking and looking merry, some hanging drunk off the bow and sails. A band would occasionally play lazy, melodious salsa music, and the staff took a strange liking to me. They had an ashtray I took a liking to, a worn little clay looking oval embroidered with cuban flags, and they were kind enough to give it to me on my last day. I still have it, and as I write this now, I see it on my dresser and it fills me with a warm longing to go back again.

Another reason I loved Pachanka was Dianysia, but she is such a marvel and colossal subject of her own, I’ll leave her to this diary another day.

As I spent the afternoon in a cool and medium buzz of beer and company, two locals decided to join me. One thin with a pretty, boyish face and his hair in a pony tail. The other a bit stout with a cab drivers face. It could be hindsight, but I remember that initially that I was wary of them. They were as kind as any other Cuban, but had a habit of over-complimenting and offered insights to things I repeatedly told them I wasn’t in need of. Specifically clubs and women who would love to meet me. But I’m either a fool or my mothers son, loving people I shouldn’t. So I offered them seats beside me and bought each of them a beer.

“There’s another bar down the road we think you’d love. So many girls to talk and dance with. Wouldn’t you like to drink and smoke with a pretty woman at your side?”

“I already am,” I said, and I shot a big smile and nod towards Dianysia behind the bar. She laughed and shook her head, her curly locks falling like curtains around her face, causing my heart to sigh.

Alcohol brings out the worst in me – a kindness to every stranger and the assumption that we are all brothers. The initial hesitance faded, and before long I was laughing with Cab Driver and Pony Tail as if we were old friends. It’s because deep down I have always felt myself alone with humanity, and while I could accept that solitude in somber sobriety, being drunk made me homesick for something I will probably never know: a sense of belonging to somewhere, to something.

The night had settled in and I was feeling giddy and drunk. I stepped outside to smoke and the cars looked smaller than they should be, and the drizzling rain was singing silently to the bands salsa music inside and the old street lights flickering were like morse code reminding me my rent was due and insurance is bullshit because I was going to die one day and should enjoy it but my thoughts kept running away from me like sentences. Old Havana, small as it is, felt so endless. Stretching west and east and in every direction. I looked up and saw the moon and I had that young, fragile urge again to woo at the stars. I thought:

“You have grown old, Noel, and closed your heart to so many possibilities. Anything could happen if you would just let it.”

The joy and wonder erupting in my chest so momentarily,,,I knew it was diminishing. But that made it all the more beautiful, and my wanting to seize it before it vanished again forever.

Cab Driver and Pony Tail joined me, carting behind them a beautiful woman with large, searching eyes and her chest thrown upright. One of their friends from down the road, who I’m sure they called over to sway me.

“You’re the American who didn’t want to come meet me?” She said.
“I’m shy,” I lied, covering my face to exaggerate. And she laughed, falsely, throwing her shoulders back in a sort of exaggeration herself.

“So you’re afraid of women?”

“Only of the very beautiful ones.”

Her large eyes examined me in a way that made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t the way people looked at each other. I felt she was assessing me, weighing the quality of my face and character the way butchers check chickens in the meat market. And I did the same. She was gorgeous, skin like caramel and small framed. A shape that curved in ways pleasing to the eyes and primal urges. My eyes must have betrayed me, because in her glass reflection I saw a spark. Some silent affirmation that decided – “Yes, this one will do.”

Cab Driver and Pony Tail played the master of ceremonies, hyping her qualities and whispering to me in the sidelines of all the dark things I should do. We sang and danced in Pachanka, took breaks from loaded undertones and sexual tensions with relaxed conversations, joked pleasantly about how bad my Spanish was. Every so often she would casually press her side against my body, run a hand along my chest or neck. Staring into my eyes with an odd look of surrender, of offering. As if saying yes to a question I wasn’t asking.

“I could never take you home,” I said to her very frankly at one point.

“So you think I’m ugly,” She replied playfully with a shove.

“The opposite. You are one of the prettiest women I’ve ever seen. If I shared a bed or afternoon with you, it would be like something out of a dream. I’d never stop showing pictures of you to people, saying- ‘Look, see here, isn’t she the loveliest person you’ve ever seen? And can you believe she’s interested in a guy like me?’ But I get the impression you want something. The way look at me, it makes me doubtful. I could never trust your affections, unless you told me what you were after, what you need. I’d gladly give it to you, honestly. If I can. If you would tell me. After that, I would be sure. It would show in your eyes and I would know if you really desired me, then maybe I could desire you as well.”

The confession, playful as I meant it, made an impression I did not expect. The spark in her eyes faded, and for a moment was replaced by something bordering on human. A sort of softness settled into the edges of her corneas, as if I tumbled onto a core and center too sentimental for such a jest. And admittedly, in reflection, perhaps my remarks were cruel in their truthful. She laughed at my statement, a sound that came from somewhere much deeper than what she falsetto’d before, and tilted her head at me with a sort of pity.

“Eres noble,” She said, in a tone that may have been a compliment, but rang more of disappointment.

“Noble?” I asked.

“It means you have a good heart.”

She left to go to the bathroom while Cab Driver ordered us more beers, and as I watched her sway into the back rooms of Pachanka, I never saw her again.

A few more hours passed and I decided to bring the play to an end.

“It’s time for me to go home,” I said eventually. Exhausted of strength, and more importantly, my money.

“Let’s get him a cab,” offered Pony Tail.

“No,” I said. And should have left it at that. But I was drunk and made the terrible mistake of the following. “I’m walking, I’ve spent all my money and need to change some in the morning.”

“We know a place,” Cab Driver chimed. “It’s late and not legal, but we can take you now. So you don’t have to walk to your hotel.”

I should have known better, but I didn’t, so you can guess how the remainder goes. We left the bosom girl at Pachanka and went down the road. There was no violence, only an exchange of a hundred dollars and my abandonment on a corner, with a promise of returning shortly as they disappeared into a building. I waited for an hour, foolishly. Smoking my last four cigarettes and sighing at my own stupidity. Slowly, a rage building inside of me.

I wasn’t angry at Pony Tail or Cab Driver. I understood them, little that I knew about them. They were just like everyone else- needing, and doing what they needed to survive. No, my anger had a much larger and disastrous scope. I could feel it congealing, spreading around a cold and calloused heart. People were monsters – the site of blood excites them. Vultures – scavenging for a buck and feeling. My trust and accepting of them, wanting to be their friend and brother, my lack of worry was indeed my undoing.

I thought – if they can not accept me, if people were so unable to love me righteously, I would make myself unlovable. I would let the sober distance between us grow and take refuge on a high mountain of myself. I would stare down at their rotting cities and states of being, laughing. I would drink my rum and smoke my cigarettes, sing my songs and dance with a dark enjoyment of all their misfortunes. And should one of them be dumb enough to climb my barrier against humanity- for help, escape, or friendship, I would throw them off the mountain, or climb another one much higher. A skewed logic, but one I held all the same. Below the Cuban moon I was transforming, becoming something dark and terrible in this silent sidewalk.

In the darkness a man crept by and joined me on the sidewalk. I can’t recall his face, his name, or to be frank, if he were real or a hallucination of my sudden mania. I remember him recommending that I go home, and I responded that I would, once I was ready. He asked what I was doing alone, and I casually told him the story of the evening as best as I could remember it. Politely, but reserved; all the while climbing up my newly decided isolation. He must have sensed this, because he didn’t say anything for some time. But just sat with me and sighed occasionally at the moon.

“You don’t seem to care very much about yourself,” He finally said. “Which is a good thing. I imagine it’s why you find yourself above most people and situations. There is a strength in that. But if you choose to live in such a way, without regard to everything and everyone, you will never know joy. You will never truly know yourself completely.”

“Knowing the depths of your own soul is rare and beautiful, but some reflection must come from the outside. Some battle, some conflict must come to test what you believe yourself to be. How can you be sure you’re brave if you have never braved the world? How can you know you’re good if you do not do good for others? Until you can abandon yourself, in a friend, or a woman, to see life and other people through their eyes, you will never be alive. You will be a child: alone and content, but only from not knowing better.”

“Life was made for the living. To only stand for something is insufficient. A man must decide whether he will be another cog in this chaos of life, the oil which helps it turn, or the hammer that shatters before building anew.”

“So tell me…have you decided?” He asked.

“Decided what?” I responded.

“Will you fight, or will you perish like a dog?”

People tire me, but I am reminded of the necessity in this assault on the senses. I have hope again- that misguided, miserable human condition. I have hope again in humanity, and that perhaps people are actually capable of decency.

I am ready to fight again.

You Have To Smile To Say Her Name

I can see what Hemingway saw in Cuba.

Old Havana opened to me like the wet, stale parts of a pleasant dream you’ve been interrupted from. The people are nice enough to be kind but let you alone, Havana’s dilapidated but pristine architecture remains hauntingly beautiful, and what drunk can pass up top shelf rum for two dollars and fifty cents a shot? (Only 6 bucks for the bottle in every bodega outside the tourist traps.) A writer’s paradise nestled 110 miles shy from the great liberated bays of Florida.

Cuban sun hums the kind of heat that makes sex feel more like a pass time than a necessity of the body. The women are rather beautiful, decked in their humble but strapless dresses, skirts, and generic bootie shorts. Their skin a light mahogany, turned crisp as chocolate candied in barrels of sugar cane and caramel. All busy-bodied on with their ways to work, children, friends or other excitements. None of their eyes occupied that bored, detached, and conceited vanity so common in the gorge-ous types of Tinderellas; carting their full makeup and empty hearts up Amsterdam back home. And although they were not oblivious to their spark of specific intelligence we have a habit to dare call beauty, even the Cuban courtesan maintained a modesty and meekness in their character I’ve yet to see in any American demeanor.

But no temptress, addiction, or wile siren had ever made me more drunk with love than fair Dianysia.

Dianysia, hailing from the distant lands of the Antilles, ebony skin stirring like molten rum and cokes. When I first stared into those dark pools of milk and caramel we dare call eyes, a dark and maddening desire filled my heart and all extremities. Like burning alive, but on a smaller scale- my nerves tingled in a calm excitement and I become painfully aware of life. Sensitive to the slightest touch. When her mouth curved that methane smile I was called…no, pulled towards her uncontrollably, like a marionette by a string.

She was a waitress in a bar called Patchanka near Old Havana. I’d stopped only to rest my feet, but as I finished my drink a small band manifested itself near the entrance. They began to play a soft but quickly paced Cuban salsa, sharp and lively but to a calm and hazy melody. As I listened Dianysia came bursting from the bar counter, conjured from the bottled merlots and ambrosia lined along the shelf.

She had an energy and tenacity I immediately couldn’t keep myself from. I liked to watch her work, to see her briskly bouncing from one end of the shop to the other, writing furtively with a furrowed brow, or barking jokes and groans at customers or other staff. There was something so fun in her folly and playful in her unpleasant, and when a certain chord of a certain song saxed around us in a certain way, the dark image she presented would melt to swaying shoulders and whispered hymns. Quiet prayers and praise to songs I imagine we sung only for her.  I sensed some kind of history between her and the brass musician.

“You like the way he plays?” I pestered, nodding at the saxophone player swooning the local fans.

“Me gusta la musica, no los musicos.” She replied flatly, not bothering to look up from the order she was jotting.

“But without musicians there wouldn’t be any music,” I pressed. Annoyingly, I knew, but having a taste of sharp tongue I couldn’t resist getting another.

“Entonces solo me gusta las canciones de la playa y el mar.”

“Beaches and…rivers? Then it sounds like you prefer water, not music.” I said.

She let her pen down confidently, raised the veils of her dark brown eyes to glare at me combatively.

“Y tu? Porque te sientas solo en un lugar de companeors.”

“I like to have company, not companions.” I said. She laughed, a loud and raspy percussion I wouldn’t describe as a noise, but as an instrument or natural clamor. Like water rustling down a river, or thunder.

“Pareces que prefiere alcohol, no la compania.” She spat, and before I could respond, darted back towards the bar. Feeling the sting of being shunned, I took to the rum and drank with an added gusto to assuage my wounded pride.

Moderation is a myth to me. I can never kind of- I must always either be entirely or absolutely not. I’ve never bothered to take much care of myself because my body is not a temple. It hungers, rages, consumes. It swallows and devours everything like a fire. Not knowing self-control, a little lightened by the Antillean sun, and the quick but soft songs pulsing me along, I’d been near my sixth or seventh glass before I realized the sun and my sobriety had sunk so long ago.

Dianysia banged another glass of Santiago rum before my glassy eyes, smiling so wickedly and inviting. I was confused and attributed to my being drunk. Was she serving me the entire night? Hadn’t I tried to talk to her but found her not interested? Why was she so suddenly pleased at me now but not before?

“Me gusta tambien los lunaticos.” She said, laughing, Her raspy echoed in my chest over and over. With a twist she picked up a purse, I don’t know if it was hers, and danced out the bar counter and far away from Patchanka. And I watched her, still confused and a little drunk, but enjoying her all the while. She turned the corner of the entrance, my senses re-emerged and she was gone.

The saxophonist was standing across from me, a look of worry and warning in his empty eyes.

“She’s stubborn,” Was all he said.

“I like a girl that’s sure of herself.” I replied.

“Difficult. ”

“Well nothing good ever came easy.”

“Crazy.”

“I don’t get along well with sane people.”

“She’ll always go against you.”

“Who wants to be around people that only agree with you?”

He cooked his head as if he were staring at a rorschach, laughed a little insincerely then followed up with an honest smile that bordered on pity.

“That girl’s going to make you lonely.” He sighed. I finished off the glass of rum, but already I could feel sobriety coming for me like the sun.

“I know.” I said.

When I Said That I Would Never Forget You, I Meant It As A Threat

On rare occasion, I love being wired like a guy. Where at a glance and eyeful fuck I can forget women bite their nails or have bad dreams, and for a night or afternoon are fun and fresh as snow.

There are degrees of sex, and Sheila’s had a thoughtless and intimate excellence. She removed her top, threw it to the side with a careless confidence that left me awed. With the fluid wave of her bangled and slender wrist, she cast aside any remaining notion of neglect or lingering resentment between us. With the stroke of her warming touch and kiss it no longer mattered why-weren’t-you-there or never-called-me-back. Lust, although a primitive emotion, makes a lovely anesthetic.

Hesitance gone, caution numbed, I closed the breach between us and found her excitement waiting like an old friend. Our hands and lips, once so familiar, explored the whispered wants of each others skin once more. Silked and shuddering, we dissolved to a desire that was a devastation of man and woman, of what was expected or instilled in us. A thousand years of evolution torn asunder, become nothing to the nature Nature had adorned us in. The windows shut, the doors barred in- for a time the world had no place or say in anything, and in that freedom our instincts made demands that we surrendered to.

Her honey-darling skin was a temple that took me with open arms. She was a poem, a fire, a mountain in the distance that shook and filled me with a burning wander-lust. Such supple breast and forgiving lips, she accepted me entiretly with a hushed thrill and gasp that simmered as our bodies found a silent groove and rhythm.

I laid her across the mattress, her hair long and tangled like Medusa- the ancient hymns and sacrifices of the Greeks and Incas riddled along the veins of her skin like snakes. I ran my tongue along these secrets and found a magic I’d only read and felt no part of. At times and touch she folded under my caress and presented herself like a gift, waiting to be loved and intensively undone. Her passion came in tides and suddenly she would revolt, rise and take control. Eager and commanding, she left me powerless and quaking under the demand of her wild search for her fulfillment.

Our highs peaked, settled, then took wind and climbed much higher. We gave and took of one another until there was nothing left to be given. Consumed by consumption, a gentle tide came like an earthquake and swept our frenzy to exhaustion. And as we lay catching our breaths, I traced my love into a poem on her back in fingerprints.

“I’m quitting soon,” I said, and she took it to mean the cigarette.

“Good. You know I hate that it lingers.”

“Like my affection,” I said. But she didn’t move, scoff, or breathe.

“You’re so heavy,” she said finally. “I worry that I can’t keep up. That you’ll get bored eventually with someone like me. Some day you’ll up and leave, and you won’t look back. I know you don’t. You’ll leave one day like I’m not enough, like nothing ever is.”

They say there are times life presents us moments of greatness that define us. Where what we do will shape not just your life, but the world and those around you. In my bleeting heart I felt it to be one of those moments, and in that moment I was speechless.

“You’re terrifying,” she said.

I nodded and stared absently at the short distance between us. While the reality of one-and-only has always remained for me a distant implausability, for a touch and moment she was mine, if only for the night and orgasm. The night done, we picked up the fragments of ourselves scattered about the room like clothes. And despite the withhold we both know we’ll find ourselves here again, in a month or week or decade thereafter. Two torn souls tearing a room and each other for satisfaction.

The smoke may clear, but the dust, much like our hearts, never does quite settle.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous: Isabella

I’ve never been good at listening to other people’s problems and I’m chronically late to pity parties. I don’t have the patience for whine and dining, I’d rather jump straight to bed where the daily inconsequentials about yourself take a back seat to the deeper things that are at play. Most people are old fashioned and like to take things slow after sex, consider honest truths about themselves too “intimate” to be shared before the flesh or so immediately. I suppose that must make me a slut, spreading my heart to the first pair of honey eyes and warm thighs with a violent pulse.

I don’t blame the shame because I’m no romantic and either way it doesn’t last. Nothing does. Maybe that’s why I have a tendency to hit it and quit it, emotion wise. And sometimes when I’m standing in a grocery line or watching a movie I have this incredible urge to stand up and yell. I never do so I never know what I would actually say. It can’t be anything healthy, whatever it is that’s pent up, but I’ll never let it out. That might be counterintuitive but that’s life.

Nature can turn against itself. My cat likes to chew on plastic.

“There’s something in the way you look at me,” she says. “I don’t think anyone’s ever looked at me like you do.”

Isabella doesn’t drink, she simmers. When I stare into those bright, cloudy pools of milk and caramel she calls eyes a dark desire fills my heart and all extremities. Like burning alive on a smaller scale, and there is no lie in her fire. My nerves tingle in a calm excitement and I become painfully aware, sensitive to the slightest touch that tethers our bodies. Her beautiful mouth curves a smile and I’m called…no, tugged and compelled towards her like a marionette by a string.

“Do you have a wife?” She asks me casually, and I answer no. “A girlfriend then,” she presses, and in the soft intimacy of her legs wrapped in mine, I confess to so-and-so’s. To my heart having grown brash, bitter and unstable. That I don’t trust these whimsies and so called feelings, for they’ve betrayed me, and in their wake I find less beauty in life and even lesser of myself. Sentiments leave a wound and I’ve never been able to resist a scab. Yet it was in that flame of deception and lies that I was tempered, and I was surprised to find my mettle too strong to be melded.

Outside five burros are crying to the dry, arid sunrise. A cricket chirps, two coyotes wail at the moon, and between the bitter thymes of El Torito and Sergio Vargas it begins to rain. Begins to wet the still and thirsty earth so yearning for its due. Isabella mewls and I feel her warm heart thump against the imprint of palm. the crease and edges of her skin smooth and tell a story to my fingertips like braille. Its five am and soon a cab will call me down to home and other sunsets. The notion numbs me. I can’t bare the thought, to leave her side or moment unfulfilled, but what matter that we lay together when sleep tears us apart and a dream will keep us separate.

“Will you stay the night?” She asks. And I nod to confess so.

The coyotes howl and somewhere back home my cat is chewing happily on a garbage bag. I kiss her sweet lips and feel the the ashes of my soul ignite my passion once again.

Love, like life, must find a way.