Two Unfinished Works for the Price of One
Cause’ hey, who am I kidding? I’m never actually going to finish these.
Whore’s Were Fours
There was a paradise unknown to a little girl, and despite the evidence to the contrary, she was not currently living in it.
Three cinderblock walls flanked by a hefty iron gate surrounded her home like a small fortress. There grew gigantic palm trees, so tall the concept of climbing them was beyond the scope of child reason. Yet daily her uncle made his way up there with his machete and daily coconuts came, with their distinct liquid thud, crashing to the ground. Under a brick alter grill stood the proud statue of the Virgin Mary, and despite her father’s protest, she would lay a small plate of milk out for the stray cats who’d wander in from time to time. In the mornings she would sit with her grandfather as he would show her how to make a harmonica using the glossy leaves from the rose bushes. She’d often join him on his smoke breaks and listen in to his conversation with the neighborhood knife sharpener. Her cousin Erwin was the closet thing she had to a brother. He was always He-Man and she was always She-Ra and the rusty swing-set was always Castle Grey Skull. Her grandmother would drink in the day and sit with her has she laid in her small plastic pool. On her back she’d lay in its shallow depths and look to the sky. Wonder why the half-moon’s shadow would still be visible even on the sunniest days or imagine what people were doing in the commercial liners so very far up into the atmosphere. There was always a revolving door of family members and house girls. Weekly a manicurist would make a house call for her mother or the gas-man would come bring a new tank. Occasionally she’d ride her big wheel out on the streets with all the real Filipino children or go to the corner market for a sandwich bag filled with Coca-Cola. But her most favorite ritual happened at dusk. Under two mango trees a large, croqueted hammock lived its life waiting for the sunset. Sometimes it would be just her and her father, he’d have her get perfectly center and then push her like a swing until all the giggles and delighted squeals drained from her lungs. Sometimes, even better times, all three mother, father, and child would lay in it together and wait for the cool night air to fade in.
My Perpetual Nemesis
I’m closing my eyes and trying to find my happy place.
For the record, my happy place is not at Waller and Cesar Chavez.
My happy place does not include peeling paint.
Nor half strung posters of the Grand Tetons with curled edges.
The lobby of happy place wouldn’t have the sadness of collective poverty.
The happy place does include large stacks of tabloids, so you know, two out of three ain’t bad. (ed note: one out of four? Bad.)
There are no drills in happy place.
No credit card bills in happy place.
No shrills at happy place? Certainly no thrills…
I know the drill, pun intended. I’m working on my sixth root canal. A victim of bad enamel. I could blame a lot of things: genetics, my hatred of flossing, this country’s fucked up health care mentality, an early soft drink fascination followed by an early smoking methamphetamine fascination, et al. But honestly, it came before that. Even pure baby Cheryl had shitty baby teeth. I even wrote a short play about my constant dental trips for a creative writing class in junior high.
I’ve been worked on like an automobile for a week straight by hack dentists in San Jose. Cattle called among the antiquated, heavily bronzed Floridians. I know when I haven’t been given enough Novocain. I know when I must sheepishly raise my hand as particles of tooth shoot back into my throat just to mumble “hwremda murdnmamblibahh”. Which is the cotton enabled translation of “I can feel everything”. I know when the dental assistant is pure shit. I know when I drown in my own saliva. They know that I know too when I look them dead in the eye with my frown agape like a fucked up mask of Tengu. If I’ve been sufficiently numbed (bonus points if they give me a mouth prop) I can even fall asleep with the horrible sounds of tooth grinders turning actual organic material from my face into dust.