Crunchy Cold – 1994

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

We were in the middle of some state, one of the rectangular ones, sorry I don’t know the name but such things aren’t important to me. Anyway Pyr was driving, and the car was really funky due to the heat, which brought forth the summer stickiness that I hate, the slow sweat that licks at your forehead all day and night. The towel we took from the first place was already full and salty, and I know how it tasted because I had it draped over my face like a wedding veil, which fit because we were married only a few weeks before. So, the towel was just sitting on top of me, and we were dripping back and forth as I laid dentist chaired back, and the road wind was flapping it off now and then, offering peaks of passing trees, signs, all the usual highway shit. Everything had that long day smell, that 200 mile burnt plastic odor that windows rolled all the way down couldn’t get rid of, and the tapes were starting to warp. I didn’t mind that much because I heard them all before over and over again anyway, but Pyr did, because they were his precious sounds, his music, and he was just that way about things. He was like Shit Shit everything’s falling apart so I took off the towel a bit and gave him a soft look, and the sun just sat there lounging right in front of us turning orange and red and so I knew it was getting late. I popped up the seat and leaned over and whispered in his ear something inspiring, he smiled that I’m tired of all this fucking driving but thanks anyway smile, so I brushed back his hair going There, there, we’ll stop soon, which was just the trick. Kicked around a cereal box or two and then back to the towel.

I don’t know if I said before but the towel was powder blue and so when I was under it the whole world was like a baby’s bonnet or something, soft and cuddly but still holding back that long, loud cry that’ll come when everyone’s asleep. It was like somewhere else, the beach maybe, with the wind rushing by like waves, and the bump bump of the road the sway of the water as it cradles you even though you’re all wet and coughing, wanting to go back to the sand. And when you do it sticks all over your feet, making you run back in but not too far, maybe just to the edge so it can come up and slip on by, grabbing at your ankles until you almost fall over, but you don’t because your strong and it’s hot and even though your tired you don’t want to get your hair wet again. It was almost like that, only with an engine.

Cars can be that way. When you’re going to the mall or something and the brake is kind of squeaky suddenly you’re Fuck why am I here and all that until the light turns red and you have to stop again. I always thought it was the vibration on your butt and that little clicker hypnotizing you click click click until everything’s a windshielded blur and the horns become your theme song and Drive you shit the chorus. Whatever it is, give me the keys and I’m out back in Pole Position land going around in circles preparing to qualify, lost with only the click click click until I find myself where I want to be. That’s why Pyr always drives I guess, he was born on the way to the hospital so he’s used to it. I wonder what that would be like, to stick out your head with everything all sirens and lights flashing and the road bump bumping, your mother on more of a TV tray than a bed, the paramedics with no mouths dancing around It’s a boy/girl let me slap it for you. If I remember right I first screamed safe at home, not that I would recall the actual moment, but that’s what mother said when she dusted the furniture, Here on the rug they didn’t have time to move me to the bedroom yeah right. Actually I think she was on the big bed for wasn’t it pretty obvious with the extra size the pain and all that something was up, better boil water. She was probably making one of her points like If you don’t clean the floor then how will you ever find anything, when it’s obvious that if it’s all out there spread around you’re bound to trip over what you want sooner or later.

I have a feeling you’re lost so back to the road. In the car, under the towel, world is hot and blue, and I’m hyped because nothing has gone wrong so far. Pyr is starting to bitch and I’m like We’re almost there O.K. but everything’s cool as I lay calm and the sun sets. He finds a tape from between my legs that still works, well, that why he says his hand was there, but a finger wiggle reveals a lot more than he thinks sometimes. A simple touch can have me rolling on the ceiling begging for something – it doesn’t matter what – and I won’t come down until I get it. If he does it wrong then I’m on top of him ordering what I want what I need and I take it no excuses no complaints. Either way, he was up to something, and it was almost 18 hours since the last twitch and moan so I was all squeezing my thighs around his hand forcing him to pull it out unless he didn’t want to. He was driving though so he just wiggled a bit and then left. I wasn’t surprised. Always gets me riled up only to trim the edges, when what I want is to bite into overgrown bushes, and bring forth that green smell, that perfect smell, can’t even come close to describe it. Who cares. It was late.

By this time Almost became There it is, which I knew because I’d been there before. Didn’t remember exactly when then, but as I grabbed his shoulder pointing to the dusty parking lot, I could hear long ago radiator hiss. When I was little we stopped there – car trouble and all that – but it seems so far away now, dream-like, that it feels like someone else’s life, a drive-in movie without the sound. I never understood why at drive-ins they just couldn’t set up one giant speaker and turn it up to 10, no more boxes no more trouble but that’s besides the point because you’re in a car and you should be driving not watching what good is a wheel if you don’t turn it. I would like it just fine if they told you to park your car in a lot somewhere and made you sit outside on cold concrete, while the single speaker blared and the fog slowly settled in, if you were by the water that is, and the picture so large sat like a billboard in front of you, only they were selling stars not car wax. That’s fine because people shine their hoods too much anyway, and I like water spots and dust, especially the red kind that the car kicked up when Pyr drainage-ditch dipped into the motel lot. It was empty except for us.

Actually I was kind of surprised about that because you would think that a motel would have people staying in it and all, but there we were parking by the chainlink that painted hollow shadows all over the car, and we were alone which I knew for certain because the sign even said vacancy in big red letters. Not that someone couldn’t have gone out to take a drive or something before nighttime but I doubt it, where could they go except to a cornfield or a silo or just back and forth on the highway until they ran out of gas. Anyway we were there at last, and so Pyr was like Cool, now I can get a shower and I nodded Fuck yes because he stank. All I wanted was to just get out of that fucking car which I was so sick of then, now too, so I threw the towel in the back seat, on top of the pillows, and hot-tub toed outside into the dying heat. And when I stood up on the loose ground, the same kind they have in the middle of baseball fields – which I would know since I walked on one once when my Dad’s friend invited us to the coliseum for a guided tour, and it was so fucking boring but we got free baseball shit which was cool – I felt more complete than any other time that I can remember. It was like home, except it wasn’t at all, you know?

Pyr didn’t. I was all This is so great while he just yawned and stretched up like he was trying to poke through the clouds. Then he popped the trunk and threw the bags on the ground, like a pissed-off luggage guy at the airport when you don’t tip enough, even if it’s because he’s an asshole. Not that Pyr was an asshole or anything, but he was fucking close when I tried to help, and he was like Baggage handling is next to godliness and pushed me away. So I spun around like a push top, the really clanky kind, and kicked a dust devil into his face. Well, almost that high, except some wind came out of nowhere just in time like it was planned or something, and slapped the dirt back to the ground. Made me wonder if he wasn’t just reaching for the clouds before, but actually shaking their hands, asking them to spit on me for him. Maybe not, but it did rain later.

I’m sorry if I’m getting ahead of myself or even a bit confused, but everything blurs together in the end when you’re looking back and trying to make sense. It’s not like I didn’t give you warning though, but since I haven’t got to the good part yet and I want you to be there with me, I’ll try to get things back in control. Anyway, after the wind killed my baby storm, well, actually it was just a cloud, but I wanted it to turn into a tornado or something and suck him up into the sky, after that Pyr went Why don’t you just go get a room O.K. and that made sense so I did. Up to the front part where all the signs were, like Welcome and Enjoy Your Stay and No Fucking Solicitors, well, maybe not that one, just normal motel shit, you know, hole in the ground smart assdom. The porch part was creaky wooden and kind of rotten so as your feet came down everything stopped for a second to make sure that you were walking, and the whole world laughed at you for making stupid noises, because you’re not supposed to draw attention to the cracks the faults the little things, that you know are wrong but no one else does, so they stuff you into envelopes and put you in a mail box somewhere to be sorted out later. What I mean is that the whole place was old, flat roofed, and when you stepped on it’s toes it gave out a little moan begging you to clip its nails. Looked like no one had done that for a while, with the walls flaky white, yellow showing through, and some weeds – Dandelions, I think – sticking out here and there by the horse-post fence thing which ran wild around the front side. Guess it was to stop runaway cars or something, because corn can do that to city people, make them all crazy wanting to look in the cobs for a second while they drive by, to see if it was actually there or just a hoax – corn actually being like carrots dug out of the ground, so you have to pull the stalks two handed and shake the dirt off – and when they do a crow flies by and makes them skid off the road into a ditch and flip over, dead. If they were going fast enough then they would surf dust belly-up to the fence, and crack through it so loud that the people inside could run out the back door and hop on the tractor before the water heater exploded, or maybe the oven because flat landers like gas. I don’t.

Anyway the front door was a screen – with a big dog-rip at the bottom, like it just had to go and couldn’t wait to bark – and through it you could see a desk. Not that I saw it or anything, for when I jingled inside, kicking up the doormat a bit, all that was there for me was the icebox. The Icebox. Silver-metal half red painted sofa, with cool ice written all over it, really. In general store letters – no one cares if you drip a bit – it sang at me like an ice cream truck, except you didn’t have to run after it trailing nickels, no it just sat there stupid waiting for you to come over and put your head inside. I always liked to taste crunchy cold, let my tongue stick to a big fat cube fresh out of the freezer tray, and just suck away at it, melting it slowly, as I sat on the porch or walked around the block just looking and thinking. That’s what I remembered when I went up to the icebox, lazy cloud days and a numb mouth, and I hardly noticed anything else in the room, except maybe the map above it, all dot-lined and tiny printed, not even helpful, well, maybe to those who already know where they are, and want to double check, to lick themselves on the back. I hate maps, hate borders and capitals and perfect scale, and I never get lost, because I’m always happy where I end up. Happy to look down some strange alley and see nothing but black, glad to ask someone for directions just to hear their voice, and how it shakes because they feel so good showing you all the shit they know, all the places they’ve been that you haven’t. Personally I don’t give a fuck what they know, I just want some pocket change and a good pair of shoes, and to get where I’m going, where I’m supposed to be. And when I touched the icebox – my sweaty fingers shining the handle – and lifted the lid, I knew I was there. The right place.

So I didn’t wait one click to grab a wax-coated paper bucket off the top part, and scoop down deep inside, making that perfect ice noise – like a rake against concrete only without the wince – and up came little clear chunks of heaven, steaming. It was bite-sized ice, the kind that you can stick between your toes after a long run, and I couldn’t help but just stare at it, to smell it, and don’t let anyone tell you that ice, or water even, doesn’t have a smell, because it does, like the minute after you turn the shower off and slap the water down the drain, like 6 AM on a rainy day when you first throw off the cold covers, or like laying back-down in the middle of a field, when the stars are popping up one by one, and the grass is crying dew. Ice smells like all that, only more, it’s the base that every other scent is thrown on top of. I never told anyone this before, but when I was little I used to open the freezer and lie down in front of it for hours, reading the labels off popsicle boxes, or trying to imagine the chickens at the TV dinner factory hopping around on one leg, and all the cold would jump down to the floor and then float around the kitchen, while the grate at the bottom of the frigerator hummed hot air, trying to suck back in its secrets. But I wouldn’t let it, I’d take dirty towels from the laundry room and stuff them along the base, and watch it cough, its mouth wide open, helpless as the ice slowly melted. And, as soon as the frosty walls started to drip, I’d grab a chair and stand tippy-toed on it, take all the boxes and unlabeled bags out and stack them on the counter, and then crawl inside the freezer as far as I could go, letting the slow water mingle though my hair, sticking strands together, and close the door behind me. If you ever wondered if the light stays on when the door is closed well it doesn’t, all that is left is cold dark, frozen rain puddles, and the whisper mumble of forced stillness. Balled up, my face pressed against the far corner, I’d take in that clean smell, imagining myself as tomorrow’s dinner, ready to be thawed out, until the air started to fall to the ground, water started to sneak up my ankles, and my heart yelled at me, making me kick at the door with socked feet. It would wheeze for a moment and then slowly creak open, I’d dangle my legs back out, feel for the chair’s back-rest, and lower myself down. Put everything exactly back into its place, turn up the dial to coldest for an hour or two, and when my mom came home she’d find me off in a closet somewhere, playing with coat hangers. I only did it three times, until she got suspicious after finding sock lint in the ice tray, but by then I was too big anyway, so I didn’t give a shit. Some things aren’t meant to last.

Anyway, after a few seconds of looking, feeling the cold slip through the bucket onto my palms, I couldn’t wait any longer so I raised it up to my mouth, stuck out my tongue and wormed deep down into the pile, not even worrying about my shades, which scratched against the top, fogging up a bit but I didn’t need to see just to taste, to slide the chunks over the roof of my mouth, making as if to swallow but at the last moment slapping to a cheek, killing them with back teeth, sharp. It was perfect, like a commercial in a show you forgot to tape when you really have to pee, except that when my jaw was exploding I couldn’t hear him come up behind me. I hate that.

Sure he fucking loved it because he was all A quarter tapping me on my shoulder making me throw the ice up into the air bend-spinning around squeezing a fist for the groin, on automatic pilot like I was back there or something, because strange hands asking lead to dumpsters and no money. Crouched down with fake hail hitting the floor, he jumped back clear to the desk, the one I didn’t see until then – wasn’t much; old, brown, you know – and he was like Hold it, I just wanted a quarter for the ice, which was already melting into the floor cracks. I couldn’t help but laugh at him, only it came out like a soda in your nose cough, because I still had some in my mouth, well, I did until then. It flew-slid across the floor, picking up some shoe dust, and stopped at his feet. Are you all right? he open handed, and I was like I guess so as I took them and he helped me up. His hands were strong and kind of sweaty, which usually meant that either he washed them too much or liked to touch, and as I swayed to my feet I was hoping the second. What was all that? he grinned as I brushed back hair pocketing the shades – taking in red shorts, bare chest – and the best I could come up with was I don’t know, maybe we can find out later. Grabbed his eyes and gave a passing car stare – the kind you don’t expect to see again – and he fumbled O.K. Whatever and went back behind the desk, out of his league.

That was cool because I’m patient, especially when it comes to reeling in what I like and he was pretty much it. Reminded me of this library guy when I was little, he used to work at the check-out desk and I would always get these stacks of books – didn’t matter if I wanted them or not – so that I could just look at his big eyes made bigger by glasses, while he shucked and branded them. And I would keep them longer than I should of, so I could take them up to the return counter one by one, pleading to get out of jail free. He would adjust his tie and squint at the fine sheet really careful, and then smile and say I didn’t see these, putting them on a book truck. I would sigh chin-low and see myself on top of him, reaching inside his pants, feeling for it, but I doubt he knew, don’t think he even cared, not that way. His ring finger choked so loud each time I saw it, make me want to put it under the paper cutter in the back and just chop red, and as he screamed or cried or whatever I would take some of that book cover tape and scratch paper to wrap up his hand, careful not to stick any right on the bone, and then kiss him on the ear hoping to suck out all the thoughts of anyone else but me. Anyway I was way too young, hadn’t even had a period yet, so all I could do was go off in the library bathroom and stare at the mirror, waiting to change into something that he would want, something that could take him. By the time that happened he had already gone, all that was left was the fine sheet, which I stole and hung up inside my closet, to calculate the cost of wanting while I chose what to wear. It always was too much.

Actually, the guy at the motel was nothing like him, except for his fingers maybe, although his were free to wiggle their own way. Free to wiggle my way, and they almost did, but I’m jumping ahead again, breaking all the book rules, making a mess of things. Good. Fuck grammar I used to say to my 8th English teacher during detention, and she would be like That’s not a complete sentence young lady and knock me over with a yard stick. Well, not actually over because I could sue her ass, just into the desk making my number 2 hop to the floor point first. No, the guy at the motel was more like a garbage man, all noisy and dented, slamming doors while you sleep, turning dreams of swimming pools into bathtubs, when the water is gray and everything starts to itch from the heat. When I watched him shuffle through drawers looking for a pen, he gave me this feeling that Pyr could never hack up even if he wanted to, kind of like sitting on the porch waiting for the lightning to come, the hair on the back of your neck standing up just a little. And when he found a Bic and said So, what can I do for you, I wanted to take him right there, but I couldn’t because the front door jingled and Pyr came in banging the bags around, obviously out of it. He was all Have you got it yet? and the motel guy – I’ll save his name for later – came with a quickness Number two is all set, and pulled some keys out of his pocket. Thank you I leaned forward, taking the keys from his hand, making sure to reach between his fingers some, scratching the edges gently with my fingernails. Everything was all shining really great then , so let me just step a bit while he gives me the pen to sign the guest book, so I can show you where everything was, how it was perfect.

O.K. Obviously we were in some sort of room, and it was typical motel type, with two doors, one behind the desk, and one in front – the screen, remember? Icebox was over to the left – well, universal left, like when you watch the sun set – and it was about so high, up to my waist. Map above it was old, hanging by only two tacks, which was cool because it would flap a bit in the fan-wind that came from the corner, where there was this big blade in a flat birdcage on top of a coatrack kind of pole, and even if you couldn’t actually feel it blowing around, due to the heat you dragged in, there were these shoelaces tied to the action end, flapping around like shredded flags. One was white and the others were brown and black, but you don’t give a fuck do you because a person can be too particular and make you want to skim ahead, so let me just move on to the main wall, all Hawaii postered and travel pictured. Next to Honolulu was a really neat snap of one of those big rocks you see out in Arizona or New Mex, the ones that Pyr always wanted to jump off of, and even though it was in black white you could still make out the orange, red and blue as the sky wrapped around the pimples of the world. I guess it’s kind of mean to call them that, probably will piss off some geologists, but they can be real shits putting you to sleep when you’re trying hard to learn about glaciers, with their drone drone continental drift wheeze crap, like I care if the ground moves an inch a year, get to the point. There were other pictures too, of places we had passed or were going to sooner or later, and every one was really out of focus which added to the mystery, wanting to know who was squinting behind the camera. Anyway, along side of the wall was a park bench looking thing, all Singer cushioned like mom used to fake, with corners tied to the posts to make sure someone with a sore ass didn’t stuff one down his pants and walk away I guess, but they were sweater thin so I don’t see how they would help much. The bench was long enough to lay on if you stuck your legs underneath an armrest, and it was about as high as a 13 inch with remote so if you sat down you had to trip out your ankles, probably scrunching up the floor rug-mat when you did. Looked like it needed to be fucked up a bit so the dust could breathe, but who wants to touch something everyone else has stepped on, except of course if it was something you lost. Nothing else dead was of much interest, so let’s crawl up on top of the people proper, starting with me.

I had on a gray tank top that was a size or two too big, so as I leaned over the desk anyone who wanted to look could see pretty much whatever they wanted. My hair was about back length, red if I remember right, with a yellow streak splitting me between the eyes. Shorts were about knee high, blue-greenish with big jacket pockets, and they were roomy enough that the wind could kick them up past my thighs if it was absolutely necessary. Shoes were standard All-Stars – maroon, with penned-in go-go checks along the soles – and I was going sockless because I used the last good pair a couple days before for hand puppets, to prove a point to Pyr. Not that he understood or anything, which goes along with the general impression he sweats. Hard to describe, maybe it’s something in his eyebrows, the way they twitch at you when he’s a couple of minutes late, or it could be his shoulders, which lop to one side when he looks you in the chest. In any case, he oozes irritation, and whatever it shoots through turns radioactive with discomfort. Especially his clothes, and how they wrinkle up as soon at they touch his body, adding a sense of laundromat leisure to even the cleanest T-shirt. The one he had on that day was already seat-soaked all along the back, and the picture – Uncle Sam giving the finger, WE WANT YOU TO FUCK OFF around it – was fading and starting to dandruff. Not that it didn’t match his shorts, which were actually camo cut-offs that he lifted from A. Surplus. They had seen one to many under-table screws, with the biggest hole just below the crotch fray-framing his 3-pack boxers. His only hope was to distract with hair, and he did that pretty well, even though I fucked up the back a bit when I dyed it black, and he was all What is this shit on my head? until I found some scissors and buzzed him from ear to neck to ear. Actually it grew out kind of cool, but you wouldn’t know unless you were standing a block away. He likes it though, says it makes him look like A fucking bum which is what he was aiming for I guess.

Pyr was by the door sitting on the bags, and he was giving the motel guy a real thinker, elbows and all. I already told you some about him – shorts, chest – but that was only the throw-away part, the packaging that lies about the ingredients. If you looked past the navel hair, and took in the way that he stood, the curve of his wrists, and shoved it deep back behind your eyes into the dark, then you would start to understand what I do, you would feel the tingle. It was like when you’re at the drug store because someone used up all of the college ruled, and you really don’t want to be there with the rows and rows of sick shit, the romance novels that make you want to take up arson, then as you pick up boxes of whatever and place them in a shopping cart to add balance-weight so you won’t fall over after crashing into weekly specials, this music rains from the ceiling and it’s that song that you used to sing when you were 3, only you could never remember the words even if you really tried, but there it was bouncing off the Hallmarks, and you let the cart wobble off into some deodorant as you RCA’d up. That was it, with the stupid hooks that no one dared sample, and it was so pure, so snowy, that you just wanted to fall to the ground right there and make toilet paper angels. When he handed over the pen, all the while keeping one eye on Pyr, I had the same sort of flush, the breeze of twisted up memory-love. It was wonderful.

Come to think of it, all the shit I just said doesn’t really professor the essence of that moment. Maybe it was only the light skipping off the fields, throwing shadows into every little sidewalk crack. Yeah, with the screen holes hitting blurry road pictures, Pyr’s head stretching into the icebox and looking pissed because, the day-end vacuuming of the sun from far-away corners and half-full cardboard boxes. In any case, when I look back I get this something extra that’s missing now, and to put it on any one thing probably isn’t fair, so I won’t. Don’t want to be one of those people who are always pulling your teeth, their sharp needles filled with what they think is the cure-all great thought, the one point that will make everyone shut off their cars and go buy a Coke, but I don’t want to waste your time with New York Timed literary vomit. I just have something to say, and when I can ring it out of my life’s sponge then I’ll shut the fuck up.

So. Took the pen and faked a name address in his book, along with a rende-note to the effect of 11:30 I’ll be waiting here for you. Bet he could read upside down cause when I perioded he gave me a side eye and babbled If you need anything don’t hesitate to call, number’s by the room phones. Drawered the book, ping-ponged Pyr a I don’t know what the fuck’s up look and slipped though the door before I could think to blink. Tossed the keys to Pyr but his hands were still chin-locked so they jingle-pledged his allegiance right on Uncle Sam’s scowl. He was all Fuck you and you’re little dog too but I just smiled and runwayed over to the door, flipping hair and flashing thigh until he had to grab for something, opportunities being hard to pass up and all. Baby-slapped him away cause what’s mine’s mine to give and take, any questions? Not from him, wants me too much to raise a tongue, fucking coward.

Elbow-swung the door open, and as the outside flew in light tinseled off gutter mouths and telephone floss straight into my eyes, making me snow-squint until I could ear my Arnolds. That done I gave Pyr a Let’s go already so he creaked up soon enough, duffled his right, back-packed with a groan, and samsonited me with his shit, fortunately a lot lighter after the washing machine scam a few days before. Not that I forgave him for snatching the bag of quarters before our shit was dry, had to grab wet handfuls and drip-run out the front, with hangers dropping baskets kicking and that fat ass lady What do you think you’re doing! sorry bitch, no gun, no luck. Actually I felt kind of bad as we squealed out, it being the only mat in town and all, think of all the overalls, sun dresses and fashionable T’s it takes to fill up a change machine, divide that by the hick population, and you got a lot of twinkie dreams lost forever. Fuck, why spill milk, there was mud, shit and grass all over town anyway, someone was bound to trip over their hand-me downs in time for Sunday dinner – like the laundrolady needed to eat any more, she could barely fit out the door to see me give her the finger goodbye. And since it was bingo day or something the only cop we saw was too busy pissing in the bushes behind the grocery store to notice us, by the time he finished shaking we were long gone. Still, hope she could at least get something for the clothes we left behind, scamming always leaves a moral aftertaste that takes a little extra Listerine to wash away.

Anyway, I really don’t give a fuck about what we carried or how we got to the room, but since you weren’t there and all I’ll wave my little flashlight over what I remember. Turned left outside the office and walked along the porch planks, walls left, crash fence right. Above there were G.E.’s hung by wire nooses, swaying slightly as the wind began to pick up, as the clouds shaving-creamed past far away trees. There were a few doors closed that we passed, red with nailed-on numbers, and through curtains drawn shadow beds slumbered and table lamps shaded caught flies, not quite dead yet. In front of us the fence held back green corn stalks, rows and rows of potential movie pop, and beyond were the tips of houses and barns, shingle-faded from heavy noon times. Past our car was the road – just like all the tracked veins of the country, dot-striped and gray skinned, dry and bumpy – and past that was a big field of something, short enough that the brown still peaked through in near parts, but the farther you looked out, the more it all blurred into greenish-black, blending with tree heads and electro-poles, barely countable. It was so fakey natural, so producerial and agrocentric, that I wanted to throw a bottle match right in the middle of it all, and watch the flames reclaim the land that one had buffaloes and people and real things on it, priceless and value full. But it’s stupid to even waste a thought on the past because it’s gone, and no one gives a fuck about other dead bodies besides their own, and not really even that, because it’s so much more satisfying to tobaccoalcocaffinate yourself to death, and if they didn’t then think about all the homeless businofacists roaming the streets, bumming espresso-drags off passing consumers. Makes you want to TV, to walkman and U.S.A. Today, to jack-off to obscene sound bytes dripping from your wallets. And you will.

I won’t. I won’t fuck your sons and daughters, I won’t lick your conscience clean, I won’t shit in your urban toilets, and watch my dreams circle-spin down the drain. I don’t know who you are, don’t care either, and what gives you the right to even read this, to stuff me inside your head between boxes filled with useless educrap and advermyths, moldy from the water that showered in your ears and just stayed there, caught behind the wax. But it’s already too late, I’m in and I’m a little dead virus that’ll tear you apart with whisper screams of all the ways you suck, about how your faith in a better life is wrong, how your thoughts are stupid, how you aren’t worth saving. You probably won’t notice until it’s too late, until I grab your eyes and spin them back so you can look in, and you’ll see nothing, have nothing, know nothing. And then I’ll take over, put your athletic shoes on, walk you outside, drive you to the nearest body of water, make you open the gas tank, and throw the cigarette lighter in. Dinosaur juice’ll explode like the time they fucked up, and body bits will fly along with tires and rear-view mirrors, 250 million mushroom clouds rising past joyous sea gulls. When the last piece falls the cool will climb up and wash away it’s secret shame, the mistaken gasp of air that led to fast food, and after a day or two things will be the way they should be. Without you.

And now you’re probably all What kind of fucking story is this, and this’ll be the last sentence you’ll read. Which is fine by me, because the damage is done, and no matter how many times you recycle this I’ll still be inside you, waiting. So if you want to stop, fine, now’s the time to do so. If not, then I’ll walk you to the motel room, and explain why things turned out the way they did. That is what you wanted, right? The gossip, the bones of the plot, the caramel center to it all. If so, you’ll get more than enough, if not, there’s hope for you yet. Either way – the room.

Yeah. So where was I? Oh. We were walking towards the corner and as the light turned into not-so-light you could just make out the scratches on the bumper where we ran into that one way sign, trying to make it point in our direction. But poles are metal for a reason and so the car got fucked up, not that much, just enough so that Pyr was Fucking shit, I’m glad this ain’t my car and I rebounded I could have swore it was a breakaway pole which I couldn’t have since nothing like that exists anywhere and they weren’t about to start using them in the middle of nowhere, not to mention Iowa. Besides I never swear that way, because there’s a big difference between You asshole and I pledge allegiance, and if you ever start taking about responsibilities to higher powers then I’ll just put my ears in my pockets until you get to the part about abortion, which’ll be the time that I’ll slap you silly. Anyway, around the corner were rooms 2 and 1, ours being a few steps from the turn, and as Pyr tossed the duffle at the foot of the door – which has one of those metal guards on it, to prevent drunken kick-throughs I guess – I swung his suitcase at him, spanking him hard enough that he took the position, arms straddling the room number. Put his shit to the side and approached him with imaginary sleeves rolled, and patted him down for the keys while I cooed Come on baby, you know better not to block the door before we even get inside (give his faucet a good yank) because that’s bad luck to the worst degree (shimmy my fingers under the shirt, hooking his belly button) remember what happened the first night? (remind him with a nipple twist) I know you don’t want that again. Aha! Finger the keys from his back pocket while I kick his legs apart enough that I can crawl through to the knob, looking up with a smile while the room twist-clicks into life. Falling forward a bit before grabbing for the door jam, he watches me paddle through the shadowed carpet to the bed, not saying a word because by now he knows what’s good for him. Take a peek beneath the mattress before I break it in with a belly flop, spreading my legs wide open to test the clearance. Queen size to the inch.

You may proceed I sneered and so he kicked the duffle in and then threw his backpack off into the corner – between the dresser and garbage can, I’ll get to those later – his shit still along the outside wall where I left it. Shower he mumbled, digging through the duffle and taking his cue I went outside to get the suitcase, since the good soap and shit were inside it, and I knew how particular he could be about moisturizers and perfumes, even though he’s only fifty-six hundredths of a percent pure. Anyway, as I fetched the bag there was this way too weird feeling in the air, kind of like shag-carpet static, combined with a whisper in the breeze that sent a shiver right down to my butt, so I didn’t wait a click to get our shit into the room and bolt the door behind me. Of course, now I know that it was just the world talking, making sure that that night went as it was planned to all along forever, but then I was simply freaked, so I started filling up the dresser, since if it’s one thing my mother ever pummeled into me, it’s that you’ll never sleep right unless everything is put away. Guess that’s some pseudo-American folk wisdom, go figure.

So, and this is one of those good parts I was talking about, when I opened up the top drawer, where I usually put my underjunk, there was one of those small, green New Testaments that someone leaves at every place you stop, because they get a kick out of it or something. Usually they seem hot off the presses but this one was obviously touched, with a bookmark even sticking out of the back. Maybe some of the air outside seeped in underneath the door, or it could have simply been one of those strange impulses endless hours on the road produces, but I felt almost commanded – O.K., bad word in context, but it’s true so sue me – to take that Bible and read the page that was marked. Took it, closed back up the drawer, and plopped back down on the bed, finding a good position to take in the message.

Sure, I didn’t know it was a message then, but I’ve already passed then, already know what the storm brought, but you don’t so let’s continue at the point where I open it up. As those things go it had to be The Revelation of St. John, because my mother always had a thing for the Apocalypse – which I talked about a long time ago in Antizine 5, when the dreams came back. Oh yeah, unless you’re Jenny you have no idea what I’m talking about, so a little cheat sheet is in order. My mother, even though she was Japanese to the core, wanted to be an American like I don’t know what, and one of the things which she though was absolutely required was Christianity. So she always went to church and dragged me along, and I can’t say that I enjoyed it or anything, but I do remember being scared out of my Sunday dress, going up to the front and having to eat those crackers that were actually chunks of our Savior, and I believed it, which really sucked because meat always disgusted me, even then. Besides, why couldn’t I just let him into my heart, not my digestive tract, you know? Well, anyway, when I was 7 the first dream hit, which I remember like I don’t know what because it came every night for a whole week, each time more freaky than before. The first night, this girl, younger than I was then, was sitting in church next to me, where mother usually did. She was dressed all in white, or simply was really shiny, because her arms and legs didn’t exactly stand out from her body. I asked her where my mother was and she said Up there, pointing to the choir. And there she was, singing her head off, and I couldn’t help but laugh because she wasn’t singing with everyone else, instead she was belting out early 60’s pop. But no one noticed, that is until she stood up from the front row and started screaming. Yeah, my mother was in the front and singing in the choir, how I don’t know, but the one in the front was yelling in Japanese about the fall of Babylon – which I know now but at that time I thought she was yelling Baby Lion – and my mother in the choir stopped singing, took out one of those Han Solo laser guns and popped her double right in the head. You would have thought that it would have stopped her, but instead she kept screaming louder, so riled up that I couldn’t understand what she was saying. But my singer mother did, and so she jumped out from the choir and ran across the altar, knocking the Bible off the main podium as she did. When it hit the floor it went straight through, and kept on going down into the earth, until flames shot out of the hole. Watch carefully the girl next to me said, as my Japanese mother was knocked down by my singing one, who started to reach up her dress, yelling There will not be another one! She didn’t fight back at all, only telling her that There will be one removed, who knows the bitter taste and yet complains not. Then, from out of the flaming Bible hole came this demon guy, red and everything, who grabbed my Japanese mother and pulled her in. The hole closed up, my singing mother came back down to sit with us, and the whole church stood up on its feet and yelled Amen. When they sat back down, the girl was gone.

If you haven’t figured out by now I’m slowing down story time to a grinding halt, because these dreams are really important, especially considering what happened at the hotel that night. So anyway, the second night was kind of like the first, except my mother sent me to church alone, because she was sick or something. So Aunt Jessica took me there – which makes no sense since she was a thousand miles away – and dropped me off at the door, saying Bring back some water for me, O.K.? I nodded and waived as she pulled away, and when I turned around to go in there that girl was again, shinier than before. Did you say your prayers before you went to sleep? and I said no, because I wasn’t sure if she was talking about the real world or the dream one. That’s O.K., but I need to show you something, so say them now and then we’ll go. So I knelt down on the steps and gave a quick Our Father…, which was the only thing I knew. Great, now you know this is a dream, right? I looked at her and looked around the church, and things looked pretty real, so I shrugged. It’s very important that for the next 5 nights you are ready to hear what I’m saying, so tonight I’m here to get you ready. O.K.? I nodded, although I didn’t exactly understand then. You may be wondering why I remembered this so well from so long ago, but we’ll get to that soon enough. So, she took my hands in hers and said You like the park, right? Let’s go there and then there was this flash and black and white and lots of green and brown because we were in the park. Wow, can we do that again? but she smiled No, let’s go sit down by the flowers and talk, O.K.? So we did, and the flowers seemed so colorful and large and smelly that I knew that it was a dream, which was strange because that never happened before. Laura, do you remember me from last night? Yes, you were at the church, and you told me to watch Japanese mommy fight American mommy. Good. Now I need to tell you something that you can never forget, O.K.? I’ll remember, I promise. O.K, and I don’t want you to cry, because everything will be O.K. I won’t, I don’t cry very much. She took off the white, how I don’t know, and underneath were the strangest clothes, especially this thing she had on her head and over her eyes, kind of like an X-Wing helmet. They told me you won’t retain any of this unless I prepare you, so I need you to put this on, and then she handed the helmet-thing to me. O.K., is this Star Wars or something? You could say that. Now, put it on tight and look at me. And I did, and then I saw her, but she wasn’t her anymore – she was someone else, a part of me. I woke up in a cold sweat.

The third night I was really scared to go to sleep, because I didn’t know what to expect. Usually I didn’t remember my dreams so vividly, and I was only in the 2nd grade so I had no context to put things in. But, I still believed in magic and monsters and the power of daytime and darkness, so I just took it in stride, and trusted that it was just a dream after all, no matter how strange. When I finally got to sleep, my pajamas covered in sweat, I found myself in the park again, looking at that girl. Sorry about that, they tried to give you too much at once. Do you remember anything? Just looking at you and thinking of me, I half-truthed, because I actually saw me, and far more. Very promising. You don’t talk like any girl I know. Remember, Laura, I’m kind of like your imaginary friend, because you’re asleep now, remember? Oh yeah, and everything seemed to shift a notch, becoming clearer yet more uncertain. Then I could wake up if I wanted. Or I could fly…and then I started to lift off the ground, rising above the trees. We have lots to cover! she screamed from below, and I came down because I was kind of scared and all, flying around and shit. O.K., so you remember the first night, in the church? Yeah. And last night, here in the park? Yeah. And you know this is a dream? Yeah. O.K., so we can do anything we want, right? I guess so. Good, now take this camera, and then she gave me this camcorder thing – but this was 1979 so I have no idea how I thought of it – and told me to Put it inside your ear, and imagine that it will record everything you see, like a movie. A movie? Yes, and you will remember everything you see, and everything you hear, because you can play back the tape in you head, when you are awake or asleep. O.K.? So I put this in my head – and then I imagined it small, placing it deep inside my ear. Very good, you’re catching on faster than we imagined. Now we’re going to play a game, O.K.? What game? Hide- and-go-seek. You’ll be it Laura, and I’ll go somewhere to hide. In the park? No, anywhere in the whole world. This is a dream, remember? You can do anything you want. And with that she disappeared, leaving me alone in the park.

Now even though this was a dream and I knew it, I was still freaked out like I don’t know what, yelling for the girl who’s name I didn’t know, holding back kickball tears – the one’s when no one picks you cause you don’t have a dick. After a bit I stopped and remembered that I had a camera in my head, and imagined that I could take pictures of my memories, which I did, including the dreams of the nights before. Then, I kept the camera rolling and started to look around deep inside, thinking that if I was dreaming then everything – the park, the girl, everything – was in my head too, and so all I had to do was look inside my dream head, instead of outside in the dream. That probably sounds spazzy but as soon as I turned a couple of shady corners, past blurry pictures of Japan and the first day of kindergarten, there that girl was, sitting in front of me in the park. I opened my dream eyes and she was really sitting there, smiling while she messed with the X-Wing helmet. You’re quicker than I thought. I don’t want to wear that again! and she frowned while I pouted my best pout. What are you afraid of, Laura, isn’t this just a dream? Yeah, I guess. And doesn’t that mean that everything outside actually is inside you, just like you figured out? Yeah. So whatever happens can’t hurt you, and is completely in your control. And I can take a movie of it! That’s right, and then she turned white again while handing over the helmet. I have many things to show you in a short period of time. Put it on again. The dream-world blacked out for a moment while I slipped it on my head, and then I saw the girl, but she was more and less than she was before – a shadow of light in a glass of water, and a reflection of me mirror-bouncing off into infinity, all at the same time. I know you….I said, and her light smiled as she floated into the air. You don’t know me yet, and she ripped open the blue sky with her little finger. This way.

This way was up, then past the curtain of air that I always though was far away but turned out to have draw strings hanging all over the place. On the other side was nothing but white, and when I looked back I could see the green of the park peeking through the hole. I don’t have time to explain this place to you. That’s O.K., I’ve been here before, and I had, when I fell off the swing that time, and my mother called for an ambulance and everything. I don’t remember the hospital that much, or the big gash across my hairline that you can see when I get a buzz, but what I never forgot was the warm white that I floated in for what seemed like weeks, throbbing and comfortable, until someone pulled me away. I thought it was my mother but when the dream girl took my arm and said I need to take you forward a bit, I knew that it took more than my mother to bring me back to the world. Where are we going? And what’s your name? She was the one frowning, turning a rain-cloud gray, as we came to a halt in the middle of fluffy, milky, everythingness. Is your camera rolling?

I’m glad it was because everything started to get really trippy all of the sudden. My name is Sarah. I’m your granddaughter. I’ve come from the future to make sure you know. Know what? I said, letting the family stuff slip for later shock. Know that things are going to get really bad, but that it’s for the best. How bad? I could see a little spot of black poke through her chest, growing bigger with my every breath. I only have 4 nights left. You have to look past the white. I knew she meant the spot, the one that had covered her chest and was heading for her arms and legs. It was a hole, and I could see nothing beyond it. Nothing.

My mother shook me awake that morning, because I slept through the alarm for school. She said that I looked dead, and would’ve started pounding on my chest if I hadn’t opened my eyes. I floated through that whole day like I was dead or something, not talking to anyone at school, coming straight home and closing myself off in my room, feeling my heart against my hand and wondering why it hadn’t already stopped. That night, when I sank down into the white, missing the park altogether, Sarah was waiting there for me, although she wasn’t the Sarah I knew. This is how I really am, and she looked a little older than I am now, a beautiful woman with the saddest air I had ever come across, 10 times worse than Jenny ever was. We’ve reached the point now for complete disclosure, do you understand what I mean? The words were getting tougher but the meaning was clear: something dead serious was up, and this wasn’t really a dream. I’m ready to go forward (I lied) and so she ripped past the white, tearing into the sinews of the inbetween. The other side was white too, but in a normal sort of way, with walls and ceiling and floor. This is the farthest I can take you, and when she said it I knew I was inside her head too, taking up space in her dream although it was the kind you plug into the wall. I knew that I was where I shouldn’t be, that there was a bridge between us that went beyond time and space, and I knew that if I took the X-Wing helmet off, I would be back in the park, back in 1979, waiting to wake up. I knew this, and yet I was a 7-year old girl. I wanted to know more.

What year is this? She frowned to herself, and then the walls and ceiling and floor went clear, and it was like we were floating only we were still standing up. It’s whatever year you make it, and somehow I knew that she wasn’t being difficult, that it depended on me. O.K., here’s the deal. I’m sorry if I seem terse and unfeeling but you’re inside my space and dragging you here, even through a Vprox, has been hell. I can’t tell you what year this is because I don’t exist in the same sense you do, and visa versa. All I can tell you is that the beginning of your next millennium – the year 2000 and up – is the end for both of us. You have 21 years to grow, and I have 21 to devolve. Where we meet is your daughter – my mother.

The concept of having a real, living baby didn’t fit into my 7-year old mind that well, and so I started to freak out which effectively broke the spell. I tried to go back asleep, to go back to wherever I was before, but all that came to me was the look on Sarah’s face when I asked her what year it was. It wasn’t a frown, it was more of a grimace, like something was stabbing at her heart. I didn’t get any sleep that night, and so when my mother dragged me sleepy eyed to school it was no wonder that I kept nodding off in class. There was the park (chalkboard) there was the white (finger painting) and there was Sarah’s room (bag of carrots at lunch). I barely made it through the last bell, and as my friends ran home to play, ushered past the school by crossing guards, I trodded off to the library and fell asleep in the childrens’ section. Sarah was waiting for me in her room, talking to it like it was a old friend. Laura, from now on I want you to tell me if you feel uncomfortable. We can’t afford any more premature transference. I knew what she meant even though she didn’t say it right, and so I nodded. Now, I want you to imagine your camera to be like a telephone, so that you can dial it up and talk to it in pictures and words. I want you to let my room talk to your camera, so that it can show you what I can’t. This room is you, right? Yes, but it’s connected to everyone else here in a way that you’re not used to. It’s like we have televisions and telephones and radios in our heads, so everyone can see and talk to everyone else at any time. That sounds scary, and she didn’t answer because it was. I’m ready to talk to your room, and so I sat down on the white floor and dialed the imaginary phone in my head that talks to God and asked for Sarah. What came was nothing. And yet….something was in it, was beyond it, and it found a way out, or in, depending on how you look at it. Things were made fast, light coming out of dark, but there was a balance between the two, like the sun and the stars in the sky, hot yet cold, always there but only depending on how you looked at it, where you were. It was the beginning of everything and the end of everything, and yet the middle was so strange, so fuzzy, that the start and finish kept flip-flopping and fading in and out, to the point that it was like there were as many paths to go in as there were stars in the sky, and space inbetween. The more time that passed, the more tangled it became, until everything was a cloudy-grey that contained all yet had nothing. But the beginning and end, black and white – the choice – still existed, but it wasn’t for any of us to make alone. 1979 was one side of the gray, Sarah’s world on the other, and stuck dab in the middle was my daughter, an island in the apocalypse. Japanese Mommy and American Mommy were in the throws of the universal battle, and Sarah and I had to watch. That was the curse, and the privilege. When I hung up the phone I woke up, face spittle-pasted to a picture book.

All day I rolled the dream-film back and forth, watching the birth and death of everything, but in this abstract, PBS-ish sort of way. I had saw a little bit about the big bang on one of those specials, but before then I though it was like a bomb going off, not like the path a bubble takes rising in a soda. When I looked out at the clouds I though of where they came from and where they were going for the first time; I saw the cycle in the step, and understood the danger of taking a part away, no matter how small. When I went to sleep that night, finding myself on the floor of Sarah’s room, I had this to say to her. Why does God have to wipe away all the black? What happens if the holes don’t get plugged back up? Sarah looked and looked at me, and then sat down on the floor, legs crossed. The end of the world has always happened, will always happen, and is happening right now, no matter what we do to counter it. It’s the nature of man to fiddle around with the working of things, which is why I’m able to talk to you here and now. The way that I tear through the white isn’t natural, it isn’t right, but I had to get in contact with you, I had to let you know that it’s O.K. We are balanced by the end – by the beginning – and if neither of us survives in the world, we will always meet again in the white. I’m going to die, aren’t I? Sarah didn’t answer, but I dialed up her room when she wasn’t looking and it showed me the end. It showed me everything.

The rest of the dream dealt with the specifics of the final year, and even today I can’t handle looking at it. Not with all of the little things coming truer with every sunset, not with the hotel room and the road. When I was 7 it didn’t mess me up as much as it should of, because I was still afraid of the dark, and was more worried about the thing under my bed than the thing in all our hearts. Besides, I knew I was going to die someday, and it took off a lot of pressure when I knew when. That is, when I told myself it would be, when Sarah showed me that it was. It wasn’t until the last dream, the 7th night, that I actually made it back to the park on my own power, poking a hole out of Sarah’s head back into the white we all came from and are heading to. She didn’t come with me because she knew she didn’t have to; when I called her up on my own, asking for what she needed to give but couldn’t bring herself to, the X-wing helmet faded back into her shine, and she curled up into the little girl again. I need to show you one more thing, but you have to promise that you’ll forget it. I couldn’t promise that but she showed me anyway, tucking it away deep down in the filing cabinet in my head, a tape that would play itself back when the time was right. I had already forgotten about it when I slid through the inbetween back into the dream park, and for the rest of the night I laid amongst the smelly flowers and overgrown grass, eyes closed, resting for the first time in quite a while.

Sarah never came back, but when I was 14 some of the dream tapes did, along with the shine that my mother pushed back since I was 3. And at the motel – which is where we were headed to in the first place – the thing I had to forget made itself known. I was reading the green bible, taking in bits of the Revelation, when all of a sudden Pyr came dripping out of the bathroom, fussing about how the hot water was colder than fuck. Something about how the way he was wrapped in the towel made me want to wrap it right off, which I did, promising him that I would warm him up in no time flat. I didn’t even bother wiping the rest of him off, instead just slipping off my shorts and letting my thighs rub against his shiny legs. Fuck, I don’t want this to sound like a romance novel or one of those letters in a liquor-store magazine, but at that moment I was so out-of-control in lust for Pyr, and even though we had our first official night in New York, this was the time that felt right, this was the time that was special. So, I didn’t hesitate to hamper off my tank, letting my chest slide against his, the warmth shooting through me like I don’t know what, and as he latched onto my butt, sliding his hands down and in, searching for what I wanted him to find, I sniffed and licked around his ears and neck, sucking up the freshness mingled with the pure smell of sex, just starting to well up out of our pores. From there it didn’t take that much to find himself within me, on top or on the side, or me hanging my head over the end of the bed, knees bent, looking down to the bible that fell down on the floor, Revelations still facing up. Between the moans and waves of tingling that rushed every which way, and Pyr’s wonderful hands holding me together as the rest of him blew me to pieces, something clicked like nothing ever did before, and when he finally came I was already gone, lost in the white and the thing that I had to forget until then.

The white was more than a dream, more than a place of absence, of silence. It was the beginning, the inbetween and the end all wrapped into one, it was where Yuuko was and where I was going, where we are all going, and where we came from to begin with. The white that Pyr gave me that night only hinted at the power, serving as a reminder of what it means to be cloud, to be part of the never ending cycle, forever floating and falling. What I forgot to remember until then was the face of my daughter, actually more like her shine, and as I shuddered I could feel her entering me through us, through our union, even at that micro-moment where nothing but potential exists. Pyr’s warmth against my back was her warmth against my breast after she was born, and even then I felt it, the whole 9 months compressed into a electric second, and as soon as he drew still, staying inside while he pulled me by my shoulders back on the bed, I felt the reach and scream of birth and knew that she was worth it, knew that Pyr was the right one all along.

We lay together for I don’t know how long, and when 11:30 finally rolled around the sky was full-to-bursting, all grey and angry, itching to let out the energy that had been building ever since we left New York. I told him I was going to fetch some ice, which I was, but I still needed to see the clerk once again, to make sure I made the right decision. I didn’t bother to put on any shoes because I like the feel of steamy-damp cement pressing against bare feet, and even though I knew it was going to rain soon – that it had to, for all of our sakes – it just seemed right to meet the future totally grounded. When I finally reached the front office, passing the sleepy silence of unknown travelers and temporary liaisons, he was waiting for me, obviously tired.

I needed some more ice, and so I glided over to the box, still glowing as my daughter made her way inside me. I didn’t bring any change, can I pay you tomorrow? I guess that’ll work… and he shifted his stance a bit, waiting for whatever it was I wanted from him. Until that moment I didn’t quite know what it was, but as soon as I scooped out a bucket – cradling the ice as the cold steam rushed out the hole in the screen door, wanting to meet the rain half way, to rejoin the process it was kidnapped away from – I knew that the tingle I felt before wasn’t love, wasn’t even lust. It was recognition.

I’m sure I know you from somewhere. Have you even been to the coast? No, not that I recollect. Then where could it have been….and suddenly I saw the radiator again, I saw our family trip away from the house my father grew up in. All of the tension and fakey games to distract my attention, all the hours spent at this motel, sitting around on the front porch, waiting for something to happen. Have you always been at this motel? He just smiled and said Sure, my parents raised me here. I haven’t been much of anywhere out of the state. Then I knew that he was the little boy that sat down on the porch next to me, showing me the good bugs and asking about all the places I’d seen. I told him about Japan and the big house near the forest where my Grandparents lived, and he couldn’t imagine anything but the flats, didn’t even believe me when I told him about Tokyo, about trains that go past too fast to count the cars. His name was Jeff, and I knew that the man at the counter was one and the same. My first American friend, who didn’t even notice the foreign within me, only the wonder. So I just shook his hand over the counter, as the fan in the corner helped liberate the water vapor flying out of the icebox, and told him to go visit Japan sometime, because it would do him good to feel crowded. He had no idea what I was talking about, but as I pushed open the door with my foot, giving him a last, long glance through the window, I knew he felt the porch against his butt through Toughskins, I could tell he understood.

Yes, it did rain that night, enough to bend the corn stalks every which way, enough to seep through underneath the door of our room, before I took the extra towels and stuffed the crack shut. There was thunder and lightning, too, and a wind that whistled past everything, but through all of it I didn’t miss a wink of sleep, because I had Pyr by my side, and an all-pervading warmth justifying my insistence through it all that things would turn out as they should, and that Sarah visited me for a reason.

Of course, I have no way of knowing that I didn’t just make all that stuff up, Sarah being a 7-year old’s imaginary assurance that there was life far beyond a demanding mother. But when I watch Ai toddle up and down our apartment, I feel the same glow that the girl in the church gave, the comforting shine that fills the white to the brim. When I hold her I know that she has a future, and when she smiles….well, I guess you really just have to be there.

At this point I really don’t know what’s going to happen in a couple of years, whether the shit will hit the fan or not. All I can say is that I’m committed to seeing Ai make through all the stronger, even if Pyr and I can’t be around to see that happen. I guess that’s what it means to be a proper parent, but at this point I just want to bask in her shine so I can recognize it when I join back up with the white, and find her in nighttimes future – the best time for messages of hope.

In any case, the road lies behind us now, and I know from my dream tape of our final year that the next time we join it may be our last. But that’s O.K., because highways are made for transitions, and I would rather go out moving towards where I’m supposed to be – even if it is the end – than waiting around for the universe to fetch it here.

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You are currently reading Crunchy Cold – 1994 at antizine.

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