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.