Monday, December 3, 2007

Matagorda 1965


They did this to me every fucking Easter until the old man died.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Goat Ropers Make Better Lovers

They were driving past the feed store on highway 35 when they decided they could live without the kids. And they figured, what with Charlie being 16 and able to work and Michael not far behind, the kids would be just fine too.

So they drove out to the county line and bought some more Gordons vodka and all the "Goat Ropers Make Better Lovers" and "I'd Rather Be a Roper Than a Doper" bumper stickers the liquor store had in stock and plastered them all over their Royal Dodge Monaco. Plastered them onto the trunk and the hood, the doors and side panels and fenders and windows. Even some on the windshield. Drove off through Matagorda county and toward Mexico when last seen.

I saw them at a Jack in the Box in Brownsville just by chance. They didn't recognize me at all. She came up to me and asked me if I'd had an accident outside her house once and come to her door and asked to use the sink to wash the blood from my face. I told her, "No ma'am, I grew up with your young 'uns. Y'all lived acros the alley from us, behind old man Bailey's."

She drew back and her friendly face changed and she said, "I ain't knowing no old man Bailey and I ain't got no kids."

But I knew it was her. I remembered her letting me into the living room lots of times. Asking me if I wanted a fried egg sandwich

Months later I asked Charlie why Michael didn't talk any more. Charlie told me he stopped talking when their parents left. He told me all about them leaving a note telling him to take care of everybody and make sure the youger ones stayed out of trouble.

I told him I had seen them in Brownsville. I told him how crazy his mom had acted. And about all the bumper stickers on the car.

Charlie didn't seem too mad about it. I suppose he was maybe too simple minded to linger too much in thought on the philosophical and psychological issues regarding parents abandoning a whole passel of kids to the charge of a sweet but stupid teenager.

Michael was not simple. He had been a sweet boy who always smiled and chattered beautifully the beautiful chatter of childhood bliss. A joy to be near and a joy to think of. He could never get his head around the thought that they had left him. Had left all of them.

He never spoke again. He never smiled. He followed Charlie around sometimes; and stayed on the periphery of any crowd. He threw rocks.

He walked highways late at night and looked for the chocolate brown Royal Dodge Monaco. He never saw it.

One night, near the feed store on highway 35, a truck driver went off the road and ran him over and kept going. The driver was never found. Neither were the parents.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

yep, it's me

One of my favorite things is schadenfreude.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

this old house

She had lived in one of those big houses on the bayou when her parents were still together so she knew the road well enough to guide me through with my headlights off and just the moon for light.

We found a spot without stars over it and it was cold and she hated it. We kept driving by her old house. Where she was happy once but now going near it brought her to hysterics. We would go away for a while but we kept coming back. She liked crying and I guess the crying she did for that house was about the best crying she got these days.

She said it made her feel good for me to come out there too and be part of this ritual. I was always worried that the people who now inhabited the house would come outside and see to the car, idling outside, with the wailing woman inside.

Sometimes, after we had been doing this for a few months, I would go home to her apartment with her and just hold her. She would always ask me not to try to make any moves on her because she was vulnerable and that it would be just rotten of me to pull something like that on someone so vulnerable.

I would just lay next to her and hold her and stroke her hair until she was asleep. It never took long.

One night, I told her I didn't want to drive by her old house and watch her cry anymore. She cried about that for a little while but I just sat in the drivers seat and looked straight ahead. Wouldn't put in drive. Wouldn't go.

She stopped crying after a while and asked me what I wanted to do.

It was warm now and I wanted to be under warm stars in warm wind that smelled like barnicles and spilled oil and sea gulls. I wanted to be near the river where I had been happy once.

Near the river where we could drink beer and smoke cigarettes and watch the water in the dying light.

Near the river where we could talk about ourselves and the river and the stars and the smell of oil. Or is it diesel?

Near the river where we could sing down by the river, down by the river.

We finished a twelve pack. Looking at the water throught the dying of the light and it's burial into the pitch. Side by side, her head on my shoulder. "You're sure a sweet guy."

"Am I?"

"You sure are," her voice had taken on a husky, tumescent quality. Her hand ran toward my crotch.

I started crying.

She tried to get my interest but I just stared forward. Stared at the river and cried.

After a few minutes she saw the tears and stopped what she was doing with her hands.

We looked at each other right in the eyes for a few minutes. My tears rolling down my cheeks.

"You want to go drive by my old house?" she asked me.

I nodded in assent.

When I told her I was gay, after we had cried in the car in front of her old house for about two hours, she took my hand and kissed it.

"Thank god!"

She had really been worried about my ability to restrain myself around her.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Marys. June 1988

I watched him sitting at the dark corner of the bar. Away from the jukebox and the bathrooms. In an area people seldom walked by.

I was nodding. Waiting for a connection. Everybody was nodding. Nodding off. Nodding at one another. Nodding at invisible demons. We were all waiting too. I had the luxury of knowing what I was waiting for. Not everybody in this bar at this time of night had that luxury.

I watched him sitting at the dark corner of the bar. Occasionally, when someone left the bar, he would dart out of the dark corner and pour the dregs of the abandoned glass into his maw. Then he would retreat back to his corner and gnaw on cocktail napkins.

God I wanted to go home. God I wanted a fix. God I wanted to stop watching this little rat faced man drinking the dregs of the glasses of strangers and eating cocktail napkins.

I could not. Not one of these things was possible at this moment in time. I couldn't have my fix without I connected.

I could not connect if I left the bar.

If I was at the bar the little ratfaced man in the dark corner drinking the dregs of the glasses of strangers and eating cocktail napkins held me transfixed.

My heart began to swell. My hands began to sweat. I teared up. Why was he eating the cocktail napkins?. Was he hungry? I pondered, for a while, what to do.

I sent a beer over to him. The bartender looked at me like I was crazy. I sent the guy a Budweiser.

When the bartender set the bottle in front of the rat faced man he asked him who sent it. The bartender pointed to me. The rat faced man looked over and raised the bottle to me. I raised mine to him. We both nodded.

He started to get up and walk over to me. To talk. There were about ten of us in that bar and we were all sitting apart. Nodding. In our own little worlds. Sitting apart and not talking to each other. Not being people. Just professional drunks. (That's why we go there.) He was going to connect.

I panicked. I had teared up and I was kind of enjoying the melancholy.

He just walked past me and into the bathroom.

Never even looked at me.

Perfect.

Friday, August 10, 2007

diet coke kills (a very short play)

Diet Coke Kills


Characters:

Zack
Jeff
Tom
Norman

Set:

A living room


(Lights up Zack sitting on couch watching television. Jeff enters.)

Zack

What are you doing home so early?

Jeff

What are you doing home at all?

Zack

Wigs on Fire fundraiser tonight. I needed to rest. I called in sick.

Jeff

You called in sick from your job to rest up for a party?

Zack

Priorities…I’m a host, girl!

Jeff

But Nedra!

Zack

Betsy!

Jeff

Don’t call me girl names!

Zack

You started it! Why are you home so early?

Jeff

To pack. I’m going hunting with my dad this week-end.

Zack

You’re not going to the fundraiser?

Jeff

Priorities.

Zack

But our special is black Russians; served out of a toilet. You’d rather kill Bambi?

Jeff

I’d rather kill something.

Zack

How does a vegan hunt?

Jeff

I go hunting to spend time with my dad. Not all gay men hate their fathers.

Zack

Blah blah blah. The girls are coming over to get ready. When are you leaving?

Jeff

Right now. My Dad’s waiting outside in the truck.

Zack

Where are you going?

Jeff (as he’s exiting to his room)

Out to the ranch in south Texas.

Zack

Oh. Ooo, look for some mushrooms while you’re out there.

(Doorbell rings. Zack answers door. Norman and Tom enter with full face, carrying bags full of drag.)

Zack

Jane! Marilyn! Did you ride the bus like that?

Norman

Yes. Why do you ask?

Zack

No reason. You guys doing a number tonight?

Norman

We’re not doing Jane and Marilyn this year. I’m sick of them. We’re going to be Diet coke girls.

Tom (to Zack)

Got any scotch girl?

Zack

(To Tom) Kitchen. (to Norman) Diet coke girls?

Tom

Got any ice girl?

Zack

(To Tom) Freezer. (to Norman) Diet coke girls? What the fuck is that?

Tom

Gotta joint girl?

Zack

Cigarette box.

Tom

Good girl.

Norman

You know, two girls dressed as giant diet coke cans. I’ve got inflatable costumes.

Tom (who has made himself a drink and joined the others)

Gotta light girl? (Zack lights Toms joint)

Zack

What kind of girls dress as cans?

Norman

We’ll have beehives!

Tom

Beehives girl!

Zack

Beehives?

Norman

Hair Mary!!

Zack

Oh!

(Jeff re-enters carrying lot’s of guns.)

Jeff

Ladies.

Tom

Hey stud! Gonna go kill some meat with daddy?

Jeff

How did you know?

Tom

We saw him in his big, butch truck outside. He tried his best to ignore us.

Jeff

Oh god.

Norman

You scared him girl. Waving your arms in the air and pulling your shirt up and shit.

Tom

I just wanted some acknowledgement of recognition.

Norman

Oh he recognizes you alright. You set his house on fire.

Tom

That was an accident. No charges were ever filed.

Jeff

Well thanks a lot. I should have a very pleasant drive to Del Rio now.

Tom

Do I get a kiss goodbye?

Jeff

Fuck you.

Zack

How many guns do you need?

Jeff

All of them.

Tom

All those guns. Karma karma karma girl. You’ll probably get shot in the ass with one of those guns.


(Jeff just glares at Tom; says see ya later to the others and exits.)

Norman

You really impressed him that time.

Tom

Oh fuck you Norman.

Zack

Why are you and Jeff always at each others throats?

Norman

Tom has a crush on Jeff.

Tom

Shut up Norman.

Norman

You shut up. Tom has a crush on Jeff and has occasionally stalked him.

Tom

Shut up Norman.

Zack

I had no idea.

Tom

Shut up Zack.

Norman

Oh it’s all so sad and sordid.

Tom

Shut Norman. I have never stalked him. I sometimes checked up on him is all.

Norman (singing)

Tom is a stalker. Tom is a stalker.

Tom

Fuck off Norman! Jeff and I have a special relationship.

Norman

Oh please!

Tom

Well we did.

Norman

You sucking his limp dick while he’s passed drunk out is not having a relationship.

Tom

Sucking dick is sucking dick.

Norman

Jeff doesn’t even remember it Tom. And he acts like you make him kind of sick.

Tom

He’s just shy. He doesn’t like to display his tender side.

(Zack howls with laughter.)

Norman

It is funny in a sad pathetic way. Like gay pentecostals.

Tom

I love you too darlings.

Zack

It’s all becoming so clear to me now.

Tom

Please. Nothing is ever clear. Are you really wearing that?

Norm

Yeah, are you really wearing that? We gotta fix you girl.


Lights out.




Lights up:

(Jeff sits in the living room drinking a beer with all his hunting stuff around him. The phone is ringing. During the following conversation with his mom, the mom should be under a special somewhere off to the side. But she should be seen.)


Jeff

Hello.

Mom (Lights up on Mom.)

Hi honey.

Jeff

Hi Mom.


Mom

Honey what happened?

Jeff

Dad saw Tom and Norman in make-up in front of the house. It looked like it was going to be a long weekend. We turned around in Sugarland. What did he say?

Mom

He didn’t say anything. He just stormed into the den and made himself a drink. He’s pouting in front of the television right now. Oh well, I just wondered what happened. I’m sorry your weekend was ruined.

Jeff

That’s okay. He’ll get over it and there’ll be other weekends.

Mom

Well okay. I just wanted to find out what was going on. I’ll let you go. I love you.

Jeff

I love you too Mom. Bye-bye.

Mom

Bye-bye.

(Lights out on Mom. Jeff starts to carry things into his room. Not the guns. The phone rings again. Show this guy too in the same place as Mom before.)

Jeff

Hello

Trick (Jovially)

Fuck you!!

Jeff (laughing)

Fuck you!!

Trick (louder)

Fuck you!!

Jeff (louder)

Fuck you!!

Trick (louder)

Fuck you!!

Jeff

What’s going on man?

Trick

Why don’t you come over and fuck me?

Jeff

Why don’t you come to Zacks party with me?

Trick

I’ve got an eight ball.

Jeff

I’ll be right there.

Exits.

Lights out.

Lights up.

(Zack enters and passes out on the couch. After a couple of moments the phone rings.)

Zack

Hello. Jeff, what’s up? Oh. Well, why didn’t you come to the party? Oh. Really? Who with? Oh. Really? Really? Oh really? Oh you slut! What? The guns? Yeah, they’re here. Hey, you’re not supposed to leave them out. You fucker. Okay. Where do they go? Sure. I’ll take care of it. No problem. See ya later.
(Zack hangs up the phone and starts to grab the guns when someone begins pounding frantically on the door. It’s Norman and Tom screaming from offstage, “Hurry, hurry let us in.” Or something like that.)

Zack (opening door and seeing the bloodied pair. Who are both freaked out, Tom crying, sobbing, hysterical.)


Oh my god! What happened? (He ushers them in)

Norman

We got bashed.

Zack

I’ll get some towels. Get him on the couch. Are you okay?

Norman

I think so. He took some pretty good licks though.

(Zack exits. Norman tries to comfort Tom. Zack returns with some towels, first aid kit, bottle of scotch. Starts to clean them up.)

Zack

What happened?

Tom (screams)

They tried to fucking kill us!

Zack

What? Who tried to kill you?

Norman

We picked up a couple of guys.

Tom

They were so cute!

Norman

They wanted to go to Bell Park for some reason.

Tom

We went for some reason.

Norman

They totally surprised us. And our costumes allowed almost no range of motion for self defense

Tom

Our wigs! Our wigs! Those fuckers took our wigs! Why did they take our wigs? (begins to cry anew)

Norman

The important thing is that we’re okay.

Tom

Fuck you Norman.

Zack

How did you get away?

Norman

They started laughing at the way we were screaming and slapping. They let go of us and we started running and then they started laughing so hard at the way we ran that we just got away.

Tom

They’re still out there Norman. They followed us a long way. They could be out there right now!

Zack

Oh my god! Do you think they followed you here?

Norman

I don’t know. But I ain’t going back out there.

Zack

Of course not! You guys can stay here. I’m calling the police!

Tom

No! No my god you can’t get the police over here!

Zack

Why

Tom

We’re drunk! And we’re on drugs! And we’re fags in make-up! They’ll just run us in and we’ll get beat up again.

Zack

Oh bullshit! You’re just being paranoid! You’ve been assaulted! You need to at least file a report.

Norman

He’s right Zack. It’s happened to us before.

Tom

Norman, what if they did follow us here? (sees guns) Is Jeff here?

Zack

He came and went. I was just about to put those away.

Tom (grabs a gun)

Let’s go get those fuckers!

Zack

Tom! Put it down!

Norman

Tom! Put the gun down!

Tom

Those fuckers deserve to die!

Norman

Tom put the fucking gun down!!

(The sound of Jeff and his trick can be heard outside screaming “fuck you” at each other like they did before over the phone)

Tom

It’s them!

Zack

No! It’s Jeff!

(Door opens. Jeff is in doorway. Tom shoots. )

Lights out

Lights up three to five beats later

Tom (standing over Jeff)

I fucking told you so!!

Zack

What?

Tom

I told him he’d probably get killed by one of his own guns.

Norman

Well girl, what you actually said was that he’d probably get shot in the ass with one of his own guns.

Tom

Fuck you Norman.

The End

Monday, July 2, 2007

meus apology ut Sinatra the movie




The producers made me change the title...

Monday, June 18, 2007

paved 3a

Ain’t Maryanne stood just inside the yard. Gasping for breath, scarf gone, hair disheveled. She bent over, putting both hands on her knees and gulped in draught after draught of cold, dry air demanding, “Is that my cigarettes you assholes are smoking?”

“No, they’s Ed’s.” I told her.

“Goddammit! Deborah, I told you to bring me my cigarettes and call my sponsor. Did you call my god damn sponsor?”

“No Nanaw. I forgot.”

“Forgot my ass. Now get in there and get on the phone and call Harry! You want me to start drinking again?”

“No Nanaw.”

“Bring me my Marlboros first! And you, you little son of a bitch.”

“Don’t start with me Ain’t Maryanne. You think this has been a good day for me? Huh?" I wouldn’t look at her. Couldn’t look at her. “You think I enjoyed sitting out there in the cold knowing he could go any minute? Drinking beer and thinking, ‘Oh shit, what if he has a fit or something’, you think I was having fun drinking to that?” I could feel her staring at me but I wouldn’t look. I just kept staring toward the river.

Deborah came out with Maryanne’s cigarettes and I shut up for a minute.

“Deborah, sweetie, why don’t you go in and pick out some records to play.” She said it in that high sing song voice a lot of people use when speaking to a retarded adult; a praxis which usually leaves all parties slightly embarrassed.

Deborah knew something was up. Offers like this didn’t come around often. She was to be allowed into the living room, amidst all the records with absolutely no adult supervision. This was big stuff man. On the other hand, Nanaw and Walter were definitely going to have at it and that would be fun to see. Ultimately, the realization that she would be able to take out the records and feel the grooves, all of them, unmolested and uninterrupted, won over the decision. She turned on her heel and was gone. You saw a flannel plaid shirttail flutter through the door and the same door slam and she was gone and we were completely out of her mind for as long as we chose to be.

“What are we gonna do now?”

“You’re gonna tell me what the hell you were doing taking that sick old man out in this cold weather. And getting him drunk! Jesus Christ you dumb ass. What in the hell were you thinking? I’ll tell you what you were thinking! You weren’t thinking at all! That’s what you were thinking. You goddam dumb ass. Do you know how much trouble you might be in? Huh? Do you? Jesus Christ!”

“I was thinking he was going to die any way so I thought I might as well do what ever he wanted. I was thinking that that’s what you’re supposed to do when people are dying. We’ve all known for months that this was going to happen. That he was going to die. Why are you getting pissed off at me because I went to the river with him and had a couple of beers? Huh? What if he’d died alone in that goddam stinking miserable trailer? Would that have been better? Huh? Jesus Christ!” I still couldn’t look at her. I knew I’d lose it if I did. “All we did was go two blocks away. All we did was sit there. That’s all we did. Just sat there. And he just died. He just lied down and died. I couldn’t stop it. I wouldn’t have if I could’ve either.”

“That’s hate full.”

“Is not. He was tired of being sick. He was ready to go. He talked about dying all the damn time. He was more than ready and he went. Poof! Gone! Can we please call somebody and get him picked up. We can’t leave him lay there.”

“I can’t figure you out boy.” She lit a cigarette.

“I’m thinking that’s a good thing.”

“Did he suffer?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t seem to.”

“What’d he do?”

“What?”

“Like, did he have a fit or something?”

“No. I was afraid he might, but he just grabbed his chest and said something or other. And died. Would you please call somebody and get him picked up!” I got up and walked around to the back porch, still never looking at her, shouting, “Get him picked up goddammit! Get him picked up!”

“You don’t even remember his last words? ‘He said something or other’? You are a dumbass! Jesus Christ”

Then she finished her cigarette. Acknowledged the cold to herself and went in to call whomever one calls to pick up a corpse.

Friday, June 15, 2007

meus apology ut Sinatra

Two drag queens in a bar:

Drag Queen number one:

"I hate California, it's cold, it's damp."

Drag Queen number two:

"Tramp."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

paved 3b

Ain’t Maryanne stopped at the front porch and caught her breath. She bent over and put her hands on her knees and gulped draught after draught of cold dry air. Deborah turned on her heel and went back inside. She suddenly remembered Maryanne telling her to bring the cigarettes and to call Harry. Plus she was scared of the way Maryanne looked.

I just sat there on the step and smoked my cigarette. Maryanne looked at me for a while. I could see her out of the corner of my eye. Disheveled and panting. Angry and hurt and scared, she glared at me wordlessly.

Presently she began to realize it was cold and she was barefoot. Her breath restored, she climbed the step onto the porch and entered the house. At the opened door, she turned to me, and in her most dramatic fashion asked, “When did you change?” Without waiting, she again turned and entered, slamming the door for effect.

I knew she would go in and call whatever authorities needed to be called in the event of a death. I smoked my cigarette and waited.

Soon a sheriff deputy came by and asked me some questions. I answered politely. A station wagon from the morgue came and picked up Ed.

Maryanne never came out of the house. I could feel her watching me from the window though.

The sheriff deputy gave his condolences and left. I sat out there until late afternoon. Looking out at the unpaved roads and the propane tanks in front of the trailers and the trash in the yards. Yard after yard of abandoned cars and toys. And tow headed children whose noses were never wiped because they didn’t have mothers who wiped children’s noses; and who wore old tube socks over their hands because that was the closest thing to mittens people like us had.

Near twilight I got up and walked back to the river. Going up the dirt road I saw the mistletoe up high in the leafless hackberry trees and remembered harvesting it with Ed when I was a little kid.

We’d take mop handles and throw them into the trees like spears at the big bunches of it and knock it down. Ed would get drunk on ripple and give me some to take out the winter chill. He’d start laughing and acting like a kid himself. We’d act like we were throwing real spears at an enemy who thought he had camouflaged himself well. Then we’d go all over the neighborhood handing out the mistletoe to the people who couldn’t afford to buy xmas decorations, which was pretty much everybody.

Then, after dark, Ed would start thinking about his dead wife, and his dead kids and he’d start crying. It always freaked me out to see a grown up crying when I was a kid. I’d walk him home and tell him everything would be okay. He’d hug me hard and tell me I was a scholar and a gentleman in a very slurred voice. I sure missed Ed.

I walked past Ain’t Maryanne’s house shoe on the road and picked it up.

I went down to the shell dock and pulled the last beer out of the grass near the river. I went back to where we had been sitting just hours before. I pulled out the pack of benson and hedges and fished out the last cigarette and lit it. Then I smoked the last cigarette Ed would ever buy me and drank the last beer he would ever buy me.

Cried my eyes out. Cried great big, round, four year old boy tears. Cried out loud. Pounded my fists on the cold grass until it hurt. Threw my hands and face up to heaven (whatever the hell that is) like an old woman who just heard her grandbaby had died. I cried until it was well dark and my face was covered in tears and snot. Cried until I was done.

Then I got up and threw Ain’t Maryanne’s house shoe into the river.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

paved 2

Maryanne ran up the road toward the river in the chill gray. Charlie’s big, old CPT coat, almost long enough to cover the hem of her housedress, unbuttoned but hugged around her with arms lost in the sleeves, made her look like a child. She brought her hand up to her head to hold her scarf on in the wind as she spun around to the house to shout, “Deborah! Call my sponsor! And bring my cigarettes!” as she turned back, running, one of her house shoes came off. She hesitated, started to leave it, then came back and picked it up. She took off the other one and put them both in the pocket of Charlie’s coat and started running for the river barefoot.

Deborah and I watched her go. As soon as she was out of site, Deborah asked me for a cigarette.

“You got a thigarette?” It was hard to understand Deborah if you didn’t know her. Heavyset and lumbering, with a distinctive speech impediment, she wore her thirty five years like fifty five. She was what we in these parts call retarded.

I fished one out and gave it to her. I lit it and she held it that funny way, between her index and second finger, but at the very tip end. And she never brought it more than a half inch away from her lips. And she hot boxed it until it was gone. Then she asked for another.

“You got a thigarette? You killed Ed? You got any pot?”

“I just gave you a cigarette. I did not kill Ed, he died. You can’t smoke pot. It doesn’t go with your lithium.”

“Nanaw said you kill Ed she call police on you.”

“Nobody killed Ed. He’s been sick for a long time. He just died. No big deal.”

“My daddy died.”

“I know sweety.”

“You got any beer?”

“No.”

“You smell like beer.”

“I drank some with Ed.”

“Ed dead.”

“Yeah.”

“My daddy dead.”

“I know sweety.”

“He fell down in his apartment in the hallway between the bathroom and the bedroom and nobody find him for two weeks. He rot and the neighbors complain.”

“I know sweety.”

“They have to take him out with a shovel.”

“I know sweety, I’m the one who had to take him out.”

“That right. You got a thigarette?”

I fished out another one for her and one for myself. She sat next to me on the step as we watched Maryanne run back over the levee. Charlie’s big, old CPT coat open and flapping in the wind. Her braless, sagging breasts flapping back and forth under the house dress in rhythm to her stride. She had this frightened, angry, accusatory look in her eyes and her cheeks puffed and rippled. One of her house shoes flew out of the pocket of the coat but she never even noticed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

paved 1

“How are you feeling?”

“I am dying.”

“What do you mean?”

“I feel that I am dying.”

“You don’t look as though you’re dying.”

“I feel it.”

“It’s natural to die. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new chapter in existence. Either way it’s unavoidable.”

“Yes. Would you like to walk with me?”

“Do you feel that your death is imminent? Where are you walking?”

“All our deaths are imminent, you said yourself that death is unavoidable.”

“I’ll walk with you to the river.”

“Should we pick up some beer?”

“Okay”

“I feel my death will be longer in coming than I had anticipated earlier.”

“Let’s walk.” I said and rose. Taking my coat up from the back of my chair, putting it on, I walked to the door and made ready to exit.

Ed, too, put on his coat and muffler. He turned off the lights, made sure he had his wallet and keys and joined me at the door, “we’ll get a six pack and go sit on the levee and watch the winter go by okay?”

“Sounds good.”

We went through the door, out of the warm fetid trailer, into the cold wet wind. Hands in our pockets and heads down we trudged against the cold gusts to the seven eleven to get a six pack of Falstaff and a pack of Benson and Hedges menthol lights. Then back the other way to the levee that bordered the Brazos River near its mouth. We peaked the grassy mound of dirt and sat on the leeward side of the levee, watching the river eddy into the Gulf of Mexico.

We opened our beers drank them, holding them with icy fingers and smoked cigarette after cigarette under clouds the color of moonstones. Talking about the river and the gulf and the town. How, during hurricane Carla, everything was under water. How there were dead cattle and dead dogs and dead cats floating every where. And about how when the waters receded, the town seemed carpeted in dead animals. How that was a memory he’d take with him everywhere.

“And nobody seemed to care. Like that was the least of their worries. People had lost their homes and loved ones. The animals, who gave a shit about the animals? It just hurt my feelings. That people could care so little.”

“I guess if I had lost my house and stuff, I’d probably feel the same way.”

“Same way as I felt? Or the same way as everybody else felt?”

“Everybody else.”

“I thought you liked pets. I thought you loved animals”

“I do.”

“Then why would you not care?”

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t care, I’m just saying, I might be otherwise preoccupied.”

“Well, that’s just disappointing.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You didn’t see the magnitude of it.”

“I’m sure that would have changed my opinion significantly, if it was of great magnitude.”

“Don’t try to mollify me.”

“I’m not.”

“It was of great magnitude! I’m telling you, the streets, the yards were carpeted in dead pets and barnyard creatures!” He was getting agitated.

“I’m not trying to mollify you, Ed. I’m sure that if I had seen it I would agree with you. It must have been terrible.”

“Well it was.”

“I believe you.”

“I just feel bereft about that. I feel bereft that I didn’t see mankind live up to its potential. That its all over and we’ve got all this crap that’s supposed to make life better and we’re supposed to be enlightened and intelligent and we’re no better than when we lived in caves, or when we were drowning people for being heretics. People still drown cats for fun, you know.”

“Well, don’t feel bereft. Maybe people felt so bad about the drowned animals that they acted as though they didn’t care as some sort of psychological self defense.”

“You think?”

“It’s has a certain plausibility. Maybe by convincing others it didn’t matter, they were attempting to convince themselves it didn’t matter, so that they wouldn’t be emotionally burdened.”

“I like it.”

We both looked back out to the river. The wind would blow over the levee behind us, just grazing the top of our hatless heads, and move the tall, tan colored grasses and dead cattail stalks with sharp, hissing thrusts. We watched the muddy water swirl faster and faster as it went downstream and turned into gulf. And we sipped our beers and smoked our cigarettes again in silence.

I could feel Ed’s face turn to me. I turned to meet his eyes. They were glazed. His face had gone from pallid to gray. “I don’t feel so good.”

“Oh shit Ed.” I didn’t move.

“Remember.”

“I do.”

“I’m gonna lay down now.”

“Okay.” I looked away from him and back to the river.

“Hold my beer.” He handed me his beer and laid back into the soft dead grass on the old levee that protected Velasco from the Brazos River.

I looked at the river and finished my beer. Then I finished his. When both beers were gone I lit a cigarette. Ed was wheezing there on the grass next to me. I pulled the next to last beer from the bag and opened it.

I heard Ed say, “Thanks, buddy, I love you.”

I never looked over. But I said, “I love you too, man.”

About halfway through that beer he stopped wheezing. I never moved. I just finished my beer and watched the river swirl.

After about half an hour I looked over at where Ed had been. I felt for a pulse. It was long gone. His hands were cold and stiff. I went and hid the last beer in the grass closer to the water and headed back toward town. To Ain’t Maryanne’s house to start the whole round of bullshit.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

happy mothers day

Dottie’s was a shit hole bar, with an oyster shell hillock serving as a parking lot, sitting off a big drainage ditch on highway 35. It was ramshackle and dark and it smelled bad. But it wasn’t filled with people like our parents. It was filled with the guys who didn’t waste any time trying to fool anybody. Guys who had just turned themselves over to alcoholism in their early twenties sat on barstools and ruined their smooth, pink livers. We were there too.

We knew the barmaid and she’d let Tammy bring in her own six-pack of Michelob Light from the seven eleven. They didn’t serve Michelob Light at the bar and ever since Tammy got pregnant it was the only beer she could drink without getting heartburn.

We’d hang out there all night long smoking cigarettes and drinking, me and Tammy and Rhonda Sue and Dottie. Playing songs on the jukebox. Sometimes Billy would hang out with us too. Occasionally the drunks in the bar would listen in and sometimes join in on our conversations. We’d all take turns going back and forth to the seven eleven to get Tammy more six-packs of Michelob Light.

Late at night when we were all shit faced, sometimes, the baby would kick. Tammy would make us all touch her stomach.

We’d laugh and maybe say whoa or something and then light more cigarettes and drink more beers. Maybe we’d put some more quarters in the jukebox.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Todd and Margie

She wiped her ass over and over. Inspecting the paper closely after each wipe. When she could see no more fecal matter she carefully brought the paper to her nose and inhaled. She cocked her head, thought for a moment, then dropped the paper into the toilet bowl and flushed.

“That was disgusting.” A strange voice speaking quietly but echoing off the tile.

She gave a start. Her panties were still around her calves. Frightened. Very frightened. She was also more than a little embarrassed.

“What? Is someone here?” she wanted to scream but her voice caught and her question came out as a croak. She felt short of breath. She fumbled and, somehow, couldn’t get control of her panties and get them up so that she could run.

“You know I’m here Margaret. You make me come in here every day with you. I hate it. It’s disgusting. Your shit smells like you eat cat food. But I do this because it’s my job and I don’t complain or make comments. But this new thing of yours, this scat sniffing thing, is more than I can sit by and watch quietly. Why are you smelling your toilet paper?”

“Who the hell are you?” Her heart was palpitating. She was starting to sweat on her upper lip and armpits. She could feel rivulets of it course down her ribs. Her legs were getting raw from her futile attempts to claw her panties up her lap. Where was she?

“I’m your home healthcare worker Margaret. And stop scratching yourself!”

“Who?”

“I’m the guy who comes over every day at four and makes your dinner and gives you your meds and watches television with you. And who now, unfortunately, has to accompany you to the toilet so you won’t break a hip. Or hit your head. Or drown yourself.”

“I’m ready to wipe now!”

“That’ll be our new drinking game Margaret. Every time you say that I’ll have a drink. You’ve already wiped. May I leave?”

“No! I’ll need you to hold me steady so I don’t fall.”

“Marg…”

“Hold me steady!”

She was recovering her senses. She was home. She had her slave or servant or whatever he called himself there to help.

“Hold me steady now!” she felt steady enough to bellow, “I’m not feeling too steady and if I should fall there would be hell to pay for both of us. So hold me steady while I wipe! And tell me your name again.”

“My name is Todd. And you just wiped yourself and you smelled the paper and you flushed and you didn’t fall. So let’s just get you up and get your clothes on you and go in the den and watch Highway to Heaven or Match Game or some other shit and let’s forget I ever saw what I just saw.

“What’s this about a drinking game?”

“Never mind Margaret. I was just being a smart ass.”

“I want a drink!”

“Margaret.”

“When I was a little girl, during the depression, my daddy used to tell us only one wipe, only one square, we got to be careful with the paper he’d say, that stuff don’t grow on trees you know!”

“Well actually…”

“But now I’m a grown woman and I got my own money and I can wipe my ass all I want. And I can wipe it so goddam many times until it takes off all the stink. And if you don’t like it you can just kiss it you hear me?”

“Yes Margaret I hear you.”

“And you stop calling me Margaret like you think I think I’m Princess Margaret or something. I know you’re being a smartass. I may be old but I ain’t dumb. Now you get me off this throne and get my drawers up and get me a goddam drink. ”

“Yes Ma…”

“Call me Margie honey. I’m drinking scotch.”

He helped her back to her couch. Covered her legs with her old knitted blanket with the doghair still there from a beloved pet dead some few months. She refused to let anyone wash it. She wanted the hair to stay there. And the smell too. She wanted to remember. Smell was one of the few things that could take her where she wanted to go. She could take a big whiff of that rank blanket and see her departed beloved and feel he was there. She remembered so little now. She went in and out of states of mind in which sometimes she knew who and where she was and some in which a great fear overcame her. She would suddenly not know where she was or how she got there. The people around her were strangers. How was she to know if they meant harm? She knew it. She was going. The blanket helped her hold onto something. And she knew the dog hair gave it that power damn it. And it would only be washed over her dead body.

Once settled on the couch, the television on, the remote clicking. Hours going by, cigarettes smoked until the butts overflowed the huge amber glass ashtray purchased at some garage sale. Neither of them speaking. Neither of them thinking.

Each of them knowing that thinking would devolve into a different remembering and that remembering would hurt.

Margie hurt for her lost years and her going mind. For her family, for the world, for her dead dog whom she missed far far more than her dead husband. Mostly she ached from the crushing weight of memory. And the fear of losing her faculties before losing her life.

Every so often she would lift a corner of the blanket and inhale. Remembering hurt. But not remembering was scarier.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

burt

I said I love Burt Lancaster and he dropped his hat. And he asked me who in the hell is Burt Lancaster.

I fucked him anyway.

But the hope was all gone.

Then, when he tried to stab me, and tried to make me stay, I wished I hadn't spent my money on crudetes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

motown 1991

We were hanging out on the patio of the Venture-N. Early evening just before twilight. Warm weather but not too warm. Sitting on the benches under the mulberry tree around the old rusty patio table. Passing joints and drinking draft beer out of real glass beer mugs. About five of us. Not talking much because we didn't really need to. Just toking and drinking and looking up every now and then into a sky that was handing it's blue over to red for a while.

Tad leaned in and started nibbling my beard, biting the ends off the coarse whiskers. Then he was nuzzling my neck, hand in my crotch, fondling.

I was pretty surprised, he had always been very aloof around me. He was one of the dreaded doyenne of the bitchy social set I occasionally orbited but never quite landed in.

But you know how that goes. I would watch those mean hateful queens out of the corner of my eyes all night just waiting for some signal that they might invite me into their warm, fragrant nidus. I only hate cliques because I've never been invited into one.

And here was Tad(!) nibbling my beard. We went into the bar and had more drinks and went back out to the patio and groped each other again, and kissed a lot and on and on. Back and forth at the Venture-N for a while and then over to Mary's for drinks and groping on their patio. Then off to the Ripcord for more of same. I wanted as many people as possible to see me with him. He was a short, hairy, wiry, balding man with a big red beard and one of those tough but thoroughly a bottom deportments.

As the hour grew late it was time to settle on where to go to have sex. His place had a lover and mine was a filthy mess. I didn't want him, or anybody else, to see it.

We settled on the baths at Westheimer and Fannin which, because of its location and clientele of late, was called the Motown Spa. He had a pass and we just wanted a place to fuck for a few hours.

As luck would have it the attendant knew us both.

"Oh, my! Look what the cat dragged in! Whatever are you girls up to tonight?"

"Nuthin."

"Nuthin?! Mmhm, how's your husband Tad?"

"He's fine Billy, I got a pass for a room. And I wanna buy Zack a locker for the night."

"Oh hello Zack, I didn't recognize you there honey" he lied. "Tad gonna buy you a locker?"

"Yeah."

"I'm gonna need to see your I.D. sweetie."

I handed it to him, Tad paid my entry fee, and in we went. Through the dirty anteroom with its old second hand second rate hotel lobby chairs. Over the dingy, dull vinyl tiles we walked to the stairs and climbed up to the warren of rooms.

The upstairs area was a long hallway with six or seven rooms on either side. The lighting was cave inspired. The carpet low pile and low grade, a bit tacky on your feet and dark in color. The ceiling was acoustic tile stained by years and years of cigarette smoke. The walls and doors were painted black. It was like a scary German movie.

If the tenants of the rooms weren't inside of them fucking a stranger, or getting fucked by one, they were standing in the doorways leering, or groping themselves, or with a pleading look in their eyes. Some of them attractive, those aloof and preening. Some of them trolls, and who knows what their faces said as no one ever made eye contact with them.

We went into our room and fucked for hours. Intense greasy, hot, sex that left bruises on our bodies and fragrance in our beards for days.

Later, near sunrise, we went to the second story terrace and sat in the hot tub. Stretching out nude under the hot, bubbling water, the strong smell of chlorine burning our noses and eyes.

Tad got out of the tub, stretched and sauntered off into the steam room. I lolled my head back and contemplated my own bed and the thought that I'd have to go soon and walk the dogs.

Suddenly Tad ran from the steam room and, rushing up to me said, "Dude, there's some guy laying on the floor of the steam room!"

"What, is he dead?" I asked, jokingly of course.

"I think he might be, you're a nurse, you should go look." He was totally serious and looked very scared.

I got out of the jacuzzi and walked naked into the steam room.

The steam was on so the room was cloudy and hot and wet. It had the smell of a middle school locker room. Like wet gym socks and sweaty tidie whities. The small, white floor tiles were sort of cool and slimy feeling. The same small white tiles with dingy grout covered the walls and benches.

There he was. Right between my feet. A middle aged, middle height, overweight hispanic male. Nude, a bottle of poppers in his left hand. His eyes were open but, because of the steam, they didn't have that dead look. They were still moist and seemed to be looking just past me. And he had a sort of relaxed smile on his face.

Remembering my CPR training I grabbed his shoulders and started to shake him, saying, "Hey, are you okay?" But I knew as soon as my fingers met his shoulders that he was dead. I still felt for a pulse.

I ran back out and told Tad the guy was indeed dead. He asked if I was sure. I thought about it a second and ran back into the steam room, grabbed the body firmly and shook the hell out of him yelling, "hey, hey, are you okay?" I felt for a pulse again, there was none. He was pretty stiff too.

I left the steam room and walked back to where Tad was again lounging in the hot tub, which I thought was kind of weird since he was the one who originally found the corpse. I told him the man was indeed dead. Then I went and told the attendant. He didn't believe me at first. I had to convince him.

The police were called. Tad and I got the hell out of there. I didn't want to have to answer a bunch of questions from a bunch of judgemental pigs. Plus, I was coming down pretty hard from a night of partying and fucking. And my dogs needed to be walked.

Tad dropped me off at home. I walked the dogs straight to Mary's and had a couple of screwdrivers. Tad was there. He was telling everybody about our adventure at the baths. They were all laughing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

doy

gentlemen, draw your knives:
i am a knife!
i am a knife!
if only i were a fife
but i am a knife

Monday, April 9, 2007

1966

In the summer we walked up the oyster shell road over the levee and down to the river bank. We had a bucket and cane poles. The reels were old big wooden twine spools and the line was heavy gauge and dark green, not really fishing line at all. There were red and white plastic bobbers, and hooks, and tear drop shaped lead sinkers at the end of the line.

The sky was gray and the wind was blowing comfortably warm on the skin and through my moms hair. The leaves on the Chinese Tallow trees were whispering.

We walked to the ancient, dodgy pier and clambored on. I ran to the end and laid on my stomach to look over the edge into the water. My mom followed me and quietly sat down the bucket and baited her hook. "Are you going to fish Walter?"

"No. I want to swim."

"You can't swim. You don't know how."

"I'm sure if I just jumped in I would swim. Michael says that's how he learned, his brother just threw him into a lake and he swam."

"Well this is no lake."

I looked over at her. She was wearing red canvas shoes with white laces and tan soles. She was wearing red and white pedal pushers that matched her shoes and a blue peasant blouse with lace trim on the sleeves and the collar. Her hair was brown and shoulder length. I thought she was beautiful. She looked down and smiled at me. I smiled back and looked back into the river, trying to see fish through the putty colored water.

I was five.

I don't remember catching a fish. But I remember walking home with one thrashing around in a bucket.

She made me hold her hand when we crossed the street.

walt, zack; zack, walt. part one: 1978

PDAP is where they sent people like me in the seventies in Brazoria County. Kids who were obviously in trouble but came from families with no resources for real drug rehabilitation. It was an A.A. model with a focus on all mind altering chemicals. They were sort of like a cult. Heavy, heavy focus on a "higher power". Or "turning it over to god." We met in churches and had meetings on the twelve steps. When people spoke at meetings they would say their names and all in the circle would repeat, in unison, "Hello......." Whatever their name was. Upon completion of their made to shock and awe story of alcohol or drug use, said person would close by saying, "Uh, that's all I got to say. I love y'all." Whereupon the whole group would, in unison, say, "I love you too...." Whatever their name was. Then someone would raise his or her hand and try to one-up the story just told.

I ended up there after getting busted for psilocyben muchrooms. A really funny story in its own right.

There was a really cool guy there named Doug. He was another druggy kid whose parents dumped him off every Tuesday and Thursday at the Methodist church hoping somebody would just fix him. He was this surfer type guy with a waspy waist and broad shoulders. Skinny well toned arms and legs. And long brown hair like James Taylor. Sigh.

In PDAP, like A.A., you get sponsors. After a couple of meetings I asked Doug to be my sponsor. Finally I could speak to someone close to me in age who understood a rough parental/child symbiosis. Plus the whole total honesty and baring your soul ideology of the program, usually meant to subvert and induct, actually had a freeing affect on me. I got it all out and moved on. To the extent an idiot adolescent can actually do that.

Doug and I became inseperable. I would be lying if I said I didn't harbor romantic feelings toward him. I certainly did. (Years later, I would find him again and find out whether he ever had those feelings for me.) But homosexuality was frowned upon in all aspects of my life back then and I denied it to myself until I believed it was a passing phase I had pretty much conquered.

At that age, at least for me, certain people influenced me more than others. If so and so liked hot dogs, so did I. If later they began to hate hot dogs and prefered frito pies, I had the same change of heart. Doug was my person of that age. I wore 501 jeans because he did. He hated ABBA, so did I. He had an Alfa Romeo, I wanted one.

One day as we were riding around talking about making amends to whomever we had hurt, as is stipulated in the 8th step, or what's stupider, people who still smoke pot, or people who listen to disco, he told me, "You don't look like a Walter, you look like a Zack."

Of course my dad would never go for that.

But some day.........

Thursday, April 5, 2007

turtle cove 1979

I bought this Dodge Maxivan from a friend of my step father my senior year. It had an eight track tape player and two captains seats. That was it. The rest was completely empty. A cargo van. It was ripe for a cool seventies customizing. Shag carpet, quadraphonic sound, velvet covered banquette, wet bar. Yeah I did none of that. I put in an old twin bed and hung up a Lord of the Rings poster and that was it. It got cold as hell in the winter and the stereo could not be heard past the two seats but we regularly filled that ugly tan monstrosity to capacity and drove through rice fields and suburbs and past pastures and prisons, cases of Lone Star and ten dollar bags of weed being consumed as well as gallons and gallons of gasoline at seventy cents per.

My friend Clint and I were the only ones out that night. I don't know where everyone else happened to be, but it was just us.

We were the wise guys of the crowd we hung with. Each of us always competing for who could get the best zing in. We got pretty mean with each other at times but we had a certain sympatico amongst ourselves. We sensed ourselves somehow different from them and somehow akin to each other. We were on the same wavelength as it were.

That night we had been through a couple of beers as well as a couple of joints and driven all over the town, and its myriad surrounding farm to market roads, looking for something to do to no avail. We still had the better part of a twelvepack and plenty of weed on us. We parked in a field and just sat in the van and drank more beer and smoked more joints. Cold clear night. Out in small towns you can see the stars at night and there were a million of them. No moon but so many bright stars in the sky. We sat under the spreading oak trees and periodically turned on the engine to run the heater. We were pretty stoned and were getting antsy just sitting in my van in a field.

"Hey Clint, wanna drive down to the beach?"

"What for? It's freezing and there ain't nothin' to do down there neither."

"I dunno, I'm just fucking bored."

We drank another beer. Losing more inhibitions.

"Hey Walter, we should do something crazy."

"Like what?"

"I dunno."

Clint thought he looked like Andy Gibb. I never saw it back then, but now that I look at old high school yearbooks I have to agree with him. Whatever. I thought he was cute.

"Hey Clint, lets drive down to the beach with no clothes on."

"What?!"

"Seriously. You said we should do something crazy. What could be crazier than driving down to the beach in freezing weather with no clothes on?"

He agreed I had a point there. It was something two guys from there usually did not do in the dead of winter in the dead of night. At least as far as we knew.

So we stripped to nothing and drove down to the beach, eighteen years old and stark naked.

Proved to be rather uneventful. A little uncomfortable as the seat were vinyl.

We drove down the backroads to the beach drinking more beer and smoking more joints. Drove up and down the beach too. Nobody out, passed maybe three of four cars the whole trip.

Coming home, we were driving across the top of a levee, The twinkling of a million stars above and the twinkling if a million lightbulbs of a refinery to my left. On my right roadways were cut into the levee leading to the marshes where people fished and crabbed by day and partied by night. There were about a half dozen of these roadways along the seven mile length of the levee before you get to the highway. Between these roads were fishing villages with houses on stilts. I turned down one of these roads farthest away from the nearest copse of shantys. Blissfully desserted it was.

I went down to the end of the road and turned the van around. Put it in park. Cut the ignition.

The air was very thick. We each opened another beer. We were naked. We were trembling.

We started joking with each other, lighthearted insults. Getting meaner but never hurtful. As if to invoke a shove on the shoulder, as in, "Ah, fuck you." And then shove him on the shoulder. And then he says, "Ah, fuck you!" and then shoves me on the shoulder. Which is exactly what happened. Then we started shoving each other a lot. Then we started sort of wrestling. Each of us in our captain seat in the front of the van so we had to lean over real far. So our heads and hands were near each others laps. So our hands were landing in each others laps. Getting nearer and nearer.

We touched each other. We had sex, sort of. Kissing, touching. We were way too young and green to do anything serious or hardcore. Plus we were scared as hell. Gay wasn't something allowed in that world, in that time. It was scary and thrilling and confusing and a lot of things I'll never be able to put into words. It was something I will never forget. That first real coming together with another man in a real way. Not some adolescent circle jerk, but real kissing and holding and caressing, exploring another human I was attracted to who was attracted to me. Damn! Eighteen!

We put our clothes on and drove back up the levee. We didn't talk for a while. Driving past the chemical plants and back into the darkness we looked at the stars. Then he said, "Please don't tell anybody what happened."

"I won't."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

heroin 1983

I lived in this great old Cape Cod style house on Avenue P in Galveston. It was painted New England blue and had a huge deck as wide as the whole house where the front porch once was.
Our house was on the route of one of the Galveston tour trains and it was a running joke among my roomates and I that every time we heard the train approach we would run out onto the deck and wave and scream, "Hi tourists!" For some reason almost all Galvestonians hate tourists.

Carolyn and I were sitting at the dining room table smoking pot as she unwrapped the foil and showed me the tarry substance inside. "My brother says it's really good shit and we should'nt take too much at once."

"Is that it?" I wasnt sure she wasn't fucking with me. "I thought it was white and that it was powder. That shit looks like tar."

"It's called Rio Grande mud stupid. It's black tar herion. It's from Mexico. Gah. Damn Walter, that white powder shit is from the movies. I swear, stupid ass white boy." She was giggling.

I was the token white guy and they all assumed I was incredibly naive and ignorant as far as what was what in this particular subculture. They were for the most part right. I had no idea until years later I was hanging around with a bunch of Mexican mafia guys who only didn't kill me because I had befriended a capos little sister in college.

It was said little sister in my dining room at the moment schooling me in the proper protocol for riding the horse, as it were.

"Okay, remember all the shit we learned in that nursing class about starting IV's? Totally works. Only real secret here is, you're gonna want to puke real bad when the rush hits you. Trust me here, don't fight it. Just run to the nearest toilet and let it go. Empty your stomach, you'll feel better and you can start enjoying your buzz. Where's your nearest bathroom?"

I pointed out the half bath, first door down the hall.

"You want me to hit you? Or do you want to hit yourself?"

She was kind of crazy and I had taken the nursing class on starting IV's so I opted to hit myself.

"Suit yourself, why don't you go first so if you have any problems I can help out and I won't be rushing or anything."

She was really very considerate.

She took a small exacto knife out of her kit and cut a chunk off of the oozy black pearl in the aluminum foil and put it on a spoon she had bent backwards like all junkies do, so the well of the spoon will set flat on the table and not spill a precious drop. Then she took the exacto knife and cut a tiny piece of filter off the end of a cigarette. Then she pulled out a u100 syringe and sent me into the kitchen to get a cup of water. She drew a bit of water from the cup. Squirted it into the spoon, picked up the spoon, lit a bic lighter under it, brought it to a boil and melted the precious, precious black pearl into a small ungodly bit of soul poison soup. She dropped the bit of cigarette filter into the mix and drew up the potion through it.

All the while I watched as in a trance. Forgetting it was real. Like it was some kind of movie or performance art I was watching. She held the syringe to the light, thumped the bubbles to the top and pushed up the plunger to dispell the air.

"Here ya go man. Here's a tourniquet. Don't forget about the puking."

She handed me the syringe, and tourniquet, the syringe was still warm. My heart was thudding. I wrapped the thick rubber band around my bicep, bending forward to hold it taut with my teeth. The veins in the crook of my elbow bulged. I placed the needle, bevel up, in the middle of the biggest one. I pressed gently but firmly, just like they had taught in the nursing class. Pop. Through the flesh. Is it in? Pull back the plunger. Blood flows back! Yes! Direct hit! Release the tourniquet. Push in the plunger, not too fast. Just right. Just right. Just right.

I feel my lunch start rumbling but my head, man, is swimming, man.

Carolyn, "Run, dude go puke! Hurry! Dude you're gonna puke on the carpet!"

I take off for the bathroom and puke into the bowl. I feel relieved and then it really hits me.

I'd just finished vomitting when Carolyn came in and did the same. We both just sat on the bathroom floor for hours talking about everything. Very slowly. Very slowly.

Later we took a drive down the sea wall in her old Impala. Springtime. Sunset. Beautiful day, the wind in my hair as I let my head loll on the back of the seat. Best day, best feeling ever in my life to that point. I leaned back and looked over at Carolyn and said, "Man, I sure can see how you could get addicted to this shit."

"Stupid ass white boy, I told you this shit was good. Let's go hang out at my brothers."

Friday, March 30, 2007

county fair 1977

I was in love with this girl named Bonnie. She had little apples on her chest. Long brunette hair. Hair with bangs that feathered back just like they were supposed to in the seventies. She was in one of my classes and she was always so sweet to me and she moved her hair around just like Jan Brady did. Sigh.

I asked her if she wanted to meet me at the fair and she smiled and said yes. I could have swooned.

I had a date! Yay! I'll bet that will fix everything!

We agreed to meet at the corner of the pavillion nearest the Lions Club booth. My heart sank when I saw that she was with about five of her girl friends. I had wanted to hold her hand or do whatever they did. I didn't have the guts to do that in front of all those mean leering teenage girls.

That wasn't much of an issue anyway, as soon as I got near them they started talking and walking toward the midway.

Bonnie said, "Hi we're going to the rides," and followed her friends.

What to you do? I started following. Bonnie and I made small talk for a few moments. Then her friends started walking faster. And so did she.

I started walking faster to keep up. The faster I went, the faster they went, turning their heads, flinging their long feathering hair, chagrined to see me keeping pace and going ever faster until they were practically trotting.

Then, they stopped, huddled, and the more pragmatic of the group approached me, wearing a bandana halter top, smoking a Marlboro Red, "Walter, we're gonna go meet up with some guys."

"What? What am I?"

She just chuckles in her way too low for a ninth grade girl voice and saunters back to the huddle, says something to the girls whereupon they all laugh, even sweet, sweet Bonnie, take a merry look in my general direction and practically skip away, to the beer gardens.

I was so bummed. I went and traded my puca shell necklace to a senior for some beer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

garden party 1989

My boyfriend wanted me to go. He had his roommate, supposedly a costume designer with the San Francisco Opera, make me a rhinestone bustier. Boyfriend himself, an actor, even put on my make-up, picked out and touseled my long red wig and wrapped me up, naked from the waist down, with a whole roll of Saran Wrap. Then he told me guys in drag turned him off.

That guy was a total bastard.

He refused to go into the party with me. "I don't want to go to no drag party, I'll just drive over to the bar and wait for ya."

So I went to the party without my date. He sat on his ass at the Venture-N and drank gin and tonic using cash he got from writing a hot check on my account.

That guy was totally hot. I feel I should say that.

After the Garden party I rode with some friends to Venture-N and there was hot bastard boyfriend. Drunk. With a trick.

I was horrified. I did all the stupid queeny things a young inexperienced gay man does. I begged him to talk to me, cajoled, got angry and tried to order him. Nothing is more ridiculous than a really angry man in drag trying to be butch during an argument. I finally realized this and threw my mug of beer into his face and fled the bar followed by one of my friends.

Then I had to go back in and ask him for my keys.

I ran out to my truck in the parking lot where he had parked it and got in to drive away. But it was a stick shift and that damn Saran Wrap mini skirt was too tight. I got out of the truck and tried to pull it off but I was all sweaty and it was stuck fast. Then I tried to rip it off but it was a whole roll and that shit is strong.

I burst into tears. In the parking lot. On Main Street. In drag.

My friend came to the rescue. He found the end of the Saran Wrap and, with a volume and tone only a true fellow traveler can project in such times, screamed, "Spin sister, spin!" I threw up my hands and spun like Ann Miller. He started laughing and so did I. By the time that Saran Wrap was off I was fine. Naked from the waist down on Main Street in full face, but laughing at least.

We got into the truck, went to my place so I could wash my face and get on some jeans and a tee shirt.

Then we went to Marys...naturally