"You could be poor enough to be forced to skip meals, and not a single public worker didn't, and you could be poor enough to starve, and many poor souls did, and you could be poor enough to reuse teabags, and we often had to suffer the indignity, but no one in the country could be so poor as to go without tea."
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
I've never had the grasp of days. It could have been four weeks ago, or perhaps six, that the dreams began. Perhaps it was only two, but it surely feels a deal longer than that. I've never been the sort to reckon my dreams, and that is why the same ones recurring nightly struck me. It seemed every time I put head to pillow, I was visited by a young man with grey hair, in an ivory suit. He usually brings a switchblade with a pearl handle, like my father used to own.
Sometimes he throws acid or scalding coffee in my eyes. Sometimes he lurks by the stairs and seizes my ankles. Every night is a little different, whether I try to escape through a window and fall into a garden of thorns, or hide under the bed and he finds my ankle sticking out, or I simply charge him and have my tendons slashed. Every night it's the same end. The same pearl-handled switchblade.
After a week, I took to writing down what happened, to record, to perhaps show a psychiatrist. Evidence of a dream is a troubling thing. Also, it’s ridiculously hard to find one who’s taking new patients this time of year.
Now you might tell me to disregard the dreams. Yet three days ago, I saw him in broad daylight. His ivory suit, his grey hair, his utter lack of wrinkles. He was having demitasse at the cafe across from where I always eat lunch.
He has been to the cafe every day for the past three days. Those I’ve counted. He has demitasse and nothing else, and never looks at me, at least when I’m looking at him. Today he brought his mail with him; he opened the envelopes with a switchblade. I nearly threw up when I saw him pull it from an interior pocket. That was no letter opener, though he applied it to four letters, and read them studiously. Three he tucked into his ivory jacket. The fourth he left on his table, with a hundred dollar tip, weighed down by his cup.
Whatever you'll say of me, I'll hear nothing against my venturing to his table after he caught his cab. I had to see the scene. It was a need.
The demitasse was unfinished, still steaming in the mid-day gloom, smelling faintly familiar. I could have sworn that drink had been thrown in my face some night. I took the envelope as his waitress came over. She nearly called the police on me, but I insisted that I knew him and had to return the letter for business.
The envelope bore my address. My specific P.O. Box at the towers, and for several minutes all I could think was to throttle the manager for giving this ivory-suited stranger a double of my key. It made me feel positively insane, too much be a hideous dream, and I drew out paper to write everything down, because in dreams you can’t make time work so neatly. Because I needed record and evidence that this was happening.
But the letter. The letter inside the envelope, one sheet of paper, folded three times in the way I've done since third grade. Even the handwriting was familiar. How my a's and o's look the same. How I forget to dot things.
The letter in the envelope was the one I’m writing now.
My palms broke into a sweat and I nearly crumpled the thing up. I want to incinerate it, but my hands wouldn’t let me. They had to preserve evidence.
What’s crazy is that as I’m writing this, I can’t think of anything else to say. The letter’s words, its statements, its facts are all my mind can conjure. It’s as though his stolen mail is all there is. I can’t invent anything else. My imagination turns on me. Every sentence chronicling what I’m thinking is another step down what this sheet of paper says. I couldn’t even avoid going home, even though I read on and knew better.
I’d write more. I’d start scribbling, draw something since the letter has illustration, just to deviate from its ugly omniscience. I’d like to invent who you are – to find out who I’m writing to. Why haven’t I dreamed you? Or have I, and I can’t remember? But there isn’t time for that question, or to invent an answer.
I don’t have the time, for I saw him outside, just as I read that he’d be there. He was across the street a minute ago. Now someone is buzzing my apartment. It’ll be worse when he stops buzzing and stops waiting. I’ve dreamed what happens then.
I need some place to be, some place to hide or defend that I haven’t dreamed him in before. I’ve latched the windows, unplugged appliances, thrown away all the heavy objects he’s ever wielded, and what do I find? There’s no corner of this apartment he hasn’t killed me in before.
There’s someone knocking at the door. Have I ever let him into the apartment before? I can’t remember how he gets in. I’m no good at remembering dreams.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
His hypoallergenic dog fed and napping downstairs, and his wife having texted that she’ll be locked up until six in the Hayworth divorce case, he sits down to write. He sits at a prefab desk, in his memory-foam office chair, wrists resting on an ergonomic keyboard that he bought at 24% off on Amazon, eyes flipping between his ultra-thin monitor and the view of the suburb out his glass window. The urge to go for a popsicle goads him, but his eyes fall on his grandmother’s photo, hanging on the wall. She’ll give him hell when he makes his weekly call if he’s behind on word count again.
So he consults two tabs in Firefox and the text book balanced on his waist basket. He sucks a poppy seed from between his teeth, then shakes his head at the confluence of claims between the three sources. He scratches at the scabs from yesterday’s vaccination – the soreness is obnoxious – before convincing himself of plausibility.
‘No,’ he thinks to his fingers. ‘People aren’t really like that. More believable if Caesar had…’
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
For the rest of December we'll be doing a little community chat between The Bathroom Monologues and Twitter. #bestreads2012 will be all about your favorite books from the last year.
The blog hop will launch on Wednesday, December 26th, the day after Christmas. Up until then, anyone on Twitter is invited to an open chat about their favorite books of the year using the hashtag #bestreads2012. If you’ve got a blog or Tumblr, you can post a list of your favorite books there, only make sure to come back and link it here by the 26th so I can include you in the blog hop. For those without Twitter or blogs, you're still welcome to discuss your favorites in the Comments section here. Everyone is invited, readers and authors alike.
So think on it. What are your favorite books that you read this year? Not what was written or published in 2012, but that you personally read and loved for the first time. Fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry and sequential art are all welcome. I guarantee you a comic book will show up on my list. It's a romantic comic, too. My list will be between 5-10 books long, with 1-2 paragraphs for each entry on what I got out of them. You can handle the number and format as you like.
Feel free to launch questions below. We'll field them together.
Monday, December 10, 2012
It's a unique app that has only ever been downloaded to only one cell phone in the United States. It can send out a pulse across every available frequency and networking, activating other phones, televisions, car alarms, and anything with a computer in it. The curious thing? It's designed to activate only those devices in one direction from the user's cell phone, as though he or she needs a distraction. Why is a short story.
Why the app is called "Phone Booth" is a longer story.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
She danced like no one I've ever seen. You ever stick your hand out the car window and wave it up and down in tune to the breeze? Like it's a wing in the wind, or part of an invisible current? You ever done that when you're tired and your defenses are down, and you find that feeling becomes more important than steering the car? No, you'd never admit it, but I do that. And watching that princess bound and dip like she didn't have a backbone, it was like watching another person perform the feeling I get in my hand. She wasn't lithe, but a girl made of wires couldn't have done all that. She made me a fan of ballet inside of one minute. It was the only real elegance I've ever seen, so in rhythm with the music that I never would have believed she was improvising, and I never could have believed anything else. I knew right then on the edge of my chair that this was the woman I was going to marry.
It's a lucky thing I fell in love with her at first sight, too, because goddamn, she was a case. Snuck into the reception and discovered my princess chewing out her horn section for being a quarter-beat off. I tried bringing her a glass of bubbly and she blew past me, spilling it all down the side of my jacket. Didn't even glance back.
A few minutes later I sidled up and she handed me a glass. I thought it was an apology and sipped it. But as soon as I tasted the stale stuff, she laid into me. Thought I was staff and wanted me to take her old drink to the kitchen, not sip it and listen to the conversation. Even when I explained her mistake, she had this way of making it seem like I was wrong.
Should have backed down, as I didn't fare much better in conversation than I did as a waiter. Got verbally spanked on the history of dance, and then on the history of sculpture. As I slunk away she complained that she didn't want to see anymore fans, and I warned a couple of approachers on my way out. Apparently I did it too close to earshot. She peeled right between her fans, berating and jabbing me in the chest until I was up against a wall.
That I didn't throw her across the hall is evidence of love at first sight, or at least extremely patient lust. Even charging me, this woman could move, shuffling her feet like a bird. But banging my head was still too much and I stripped off my jacket, still wet with her stale drink, and tossed it in her face.
Even then, I wasn't really mad. I just wanted to see how mad she'd get at a legitimate provocation. The reaction? Angry like birds in rage, all exaggerated head turns and fluttering her arms. Any time she got tiffed for the rest of the night she'd glare at me across the floor, like I was an investor in everything that got under her skin. No doubt in my mind that's how I landed the first date.