girlotron says liked your connected sequence of stories. you writes good. carry on.
Her eyes are a little glassed over. He’s not sure he likes sharing her with beer, doesn’t want to get to know her through the soupy lens of alcohol. Their connection seems tenebrous in a lot of ways, still. Still in a lot of ways instable. He sits next to her, sleepy, without words. She talks. Just talks. He listens, thinks its funny how she slides about from person to person, story to story without hardly a break or connection. He always feels the need to get to the point, to rush there before anyone can get bored with him. He’s fascinated with her pointlessness, the animation of her fingers, face, while she flutters over her details like a moth through a grove of curiosities.
You remember my friend Karen Donovan? She hung out with us a few times. Photographer?
I’m horrible with names, faces.
She had a gallery opening, about a year ago. The place was packed. She made me hang a couple of my botanicals. The paintings of the plants.
I gave her this one 56" x 86" piece, about four by five feet. For some reason she set it up right in front of the door. It was the first thing you saw when you walked in. I had no idea. I showed up with this guy I had met here, a bartender-
Your late-autumn fling.
Yeah. Shut up. Him and I walk in the door. I’m like What the f* is going on, and he walks right up to the painting - I swear he hasn’t seen any of my work - I’m pretty sure he hasn’t seen a thing of mine - and he grabs my hand and leads us up to it and says Holy s* Kate I can’t tell if this sucks or if it’s brilliant. I ask him What do you mean. He backs away, walks up to it again, holding my hand the whole time. I’m sorta nervous, but Karen or whoever hasn’t put my tag next to it, and I never sign my paintings--
Never works. F*ing obtrusive.
You ever think about making a signature that works?
She sips her beer, says No, continues.
So my date starts going into how he likes it, how he doesn’t think it works, but he likes it. He says something along the lines of It can’t make up its mind if its real or not. I totally didn’t expect him to have any you know reactions at all to a thing like a painting--
A thing like a painting.
...He never found out that the painting was mine. At least I don’t think so. Later that night we were having sex, and what he said came back to me. We were right in the middle of it, you know, and that’s all I could think: real or not. Real or not? Do you ever try to think about sex while you’re having sex?
More often than not I have to try not to think about it, especially during.
It can get pretty weird. I knew I was really attracted to him... I mean. I felt so with him, so into him, but then I saw all this stuff I was holding back. That I wanted to hold back, to keep from him.
Because you didn’t want him evaluating you like he did your painting?
No. Not really that. I just knew that I wasn’t going to really open up to him, even though I totally liked him. Even though he was so inside me already,
The funny thing is, he ended up dumping me a little while after that night, and I was totally stuck on him for a couple months after that. Maybe cause I knew we were going nowhere. I don’t know. Maybe that’s just where I was, needing somewhere else to put my wanting.
Another beer. Patience feels the both of them getting sober, waking up. He takes off his shoes, sits indianstyle, leans forward. There’s an antique counting machine sitting on a table across the room, its guts exposed. It’s precise, skeletal, compact. Things like that didn’t last long. Little more than a century, then it all went electronic. From cranks to pulses in less than two generations. He says,
The other night I had this dream I was hanging out with this jewish girl I know, back in Portland. I mean, I don’t know her all that well. We’ve hung out a few times. She’s cool. In the dream, she was saying how ugly penises are.
Oh my god.
Yeah. So, I say Well, I’ve been told on several occasions that my penis is quite sightly. She gives me the do-tell eyes. I smile, ask her if she wants to see for herself. She smiles. I open my pants. She puts the tip of me in her mouth. I go straight towards orgasm - something rare in my nocturnes. I never come in dreams. Then suddenly, I’m in another place. I’m outside, standing in this square gravel pit, like a sandbox, right. I’m masturbating now. I learn that this place, this square is where my dad’s bed used to be. I came right there and then.
Like a trigger. That’s what psychologists call it: a trigger. Who knows why they’re there? How they come to be encoded into us? I didn’t mean to be crass, with the dream --
Not at all.
You’re story just made me think about it. How like some people have what it takes to push your buttons, and some don’t.
And some can push some, but not others.
Or -- each person’s time, or their arc through time is like a long corridor, and to our left and right - or any multiplicity of directions, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll just say "left" and "right" - there are many doors, that we can open, that we can step through - these doors can be thought of as "moods" or even "situations" or other people - and when we open a door, or orient our arc in a particular direction - or when a direction is opened up to us - what is behind that door isn’t just a room, but another corridor, so that time is like a corridor built of thresholds, and the "space" between one threshold and another is a "moment". And what boxes us into a moment? I’m reminded of something I read once - "Man is always followed by his forgetfulness" - it’s as if there is this one shadow that follows us, obscuring where we’ve been - not just the circumstantial, factual details of our past, but the moments, the verities of those "rooms" - their flavor, say - and another shadow that proceeds us, that sort of collects in the doorways before us, so that we can’t see them - and the weird thing is, is that we, as people, are like atoms thrown into a chamber - we collide into eachother, and sometimes don’t connect at all, but every so often, when a collision occurs, it sort of binds our arcs, so that we, the atoms, meet again, in another chamber, and then another - and when this sort of collusion of fate happens - we become familiar with eachother.
What do you mean by fate? That’s always been a shifty concept to me.
It’s a pretty potent idea – so potent, so filled with a potentiality of meaning, that our heads, or the logical part of our mind, that always wants to define things as static, as singularly defined, in order to be certain of its conclusions, its operations – like, logic is a way of building things which seeks to eradicate any instability in its building blocks, which are concepts, so a concept like “fate”, which isn’t too easy for our mind to wrap itself around, is sort of relegated to the status of superstition, or is sort of patronized as being a “poetic” concept, something used specifically to evoke a dramatic feeling – or something – but, then again, fate – not unlike “faith” – is the concept which describes the series of events in which our severely self-limiting minds participate in, but this series, this set, is too vast for us to know – we rely on our forgetfulness to be able to function, because our minds don’t have what it takes to grasp eternity, to understand first, how this moment I am in leads to these other certain moments, and secondly, where any of my given options are going to lead me. I mean, we have a rudimentary grasp of the outcome of our actions – that is, we have ethics, built on sympathy and past experience – but, beyond good and evil, what do we know? I could never have foreseen us being here, together, after four years apart, after totally loosing track of eachother – but when I look at my past, at the story that is build out of my thousands moments, doesn’t it seem almost fated – almost like this was being precipitated by where I was, where I came from, where I was headed?
But that could just be your mind rewriting all your history in a certain way, to justify or to make like a certain sense out of the present –
Yeah, absolutely. The forgetfulness that I carry around with me sort of makes me want to rewrite all my history to fit, to be uncontradictory to my now, and to all the wants and moods that percolate here. Acting as though my present tense is the axis, the fulcrum on which everything before and after pivots, depends…
She looks thoughtful out her eyes, says
So like fate is the script of time,
that we’re always rewriting,
that we can chose to follow at any moment,
life sort of urges us to improvise.
Isn’t that a scary thought.
What do you mean. I think it's sorta exhilarating.
I don’t know. To think that all of us are adlibbing our lines constantly is one of the scariest things I can think of. Also the most exhilarating, yeah, if you don’t catch hold of a mental vertigo. I mean, what’s supporting all this? Why doesn’t it collapse on itself - topple over of its own weight? I mean, look at that adding machine over there – what the hell is keeping it together, other than the fact that at some point men thought it was useful – then they thought of a better way to add, and all that’s left is the husk of an idea – a husk, gathering dust… an why? Why even go through every step, if the outcome of your walk is just going to create heaps and heaps of worthless trash - failures and toxins and dangerous machinery your kids might end up sacrificing their limbs too, just trying to figure out-?
Maybe that’s the point, she says. Creativity, trial and error. The worth of effort, all the joy that comes from a new idea, a new direction, a newly sprung vista of opportunity.
But every vista of opportunity is an opportunity for regret, for mistake, failure.
But we learn, don’t we, from our mistakes?
Eternity is in love with the products of Time. William Blake wrote that. And I’d say that what we’re talking about is what he was meaning, when he wrote that, but that would be giving Time too much precedence over Eternity. I don’t know. I really don’t. Hey, can I sing you a song?
My voice is probably shot right now, and—
Sing to me.
You roll the dice, I’ll cast your chart
You toss the coin, I’ll read your cards
Fortuna is a bitch, all she’s given me are stitches
I unravel no closer to your lips
Than when I started
You spend the thrift, I’ll spread the grace
Summer has arrived with her affairs laid to waste
And Winter is a bastard, all he’s given me’s perdition
I’d like to make my way to you faster
But I feel outnumbered
Come and hitch a ride in my red shoes
I know I’m being sly by forcing you to choose
But the difference between my time and yours
Is filled with hope and empty chase
And I may be bucolic in way too many ways
And I’m not secure in my secrecy I’m
Just another suitor with more or less to prove
But I feel like a god when I dance around you…
In my fateless freedom…
This: walking the deserted streets of Fourth of July, some time after two in the morning.
She takes hold of his hand, begins to talk.
The city is a cave framed by starless night, littered with the spent shells of fireworks, broken glass, the reverberating roar of traffic.
She’s his torch. She’s leading him, lighting the unknown path they’ve been walking for who knows how long.
hidden chamber is full →