She never saw him crawling from her nose. One hand over the other, like a spelunker out of a new tract, easily enough, out he came. Not every night, and not always from her nose. She never saw him. But she believed in him. And that night, he only came out for no reason other than to look at the moon hanging out in space, through her open window, framed by the purple curtains her mother made her when she was a child. And she still believed.
Slowly, once he took the moon in (that night he thought, “That bastard did make that piece of rock damn beautiful from down here.”) - almost as if he needed to breathe it in through his eyes – he went back inside her. Yes through her nose.
He didn’t have the shape of a man. Not that sort of form. “One hand over the other, like a spelunker,” is just a cliché to describe what’s indescribable. So what did he look like, and what would she have seen had she ever awakened when he was looking at the moon? The answer is this: nothing.
Back he was, inside her stomach, settling back into his favorite chair that was inside his mansion that really didn’t exist as either a chair or a mansion other than in the describing of both things. And it really wasn’t his mansion: he shared it with someone else (that bastard who made the damn moon), but there was enough room for each and their own armies. The strange tesseract of faith.
He settled in and lit a fire and wished himself a hot cup of chocolate the way the old Aztecs would drink, and it appeared in his hand. Everywhere he looked it was night time because that’s what would be his vision worked. He sighed and non-existent sigh and suddenly felt so old. But how can he feel old? How can the Devil feel old since he’s always existed? He drank his chocolate and remembered something that wasn’t solid in his mind, but made him feel better.
God wasn’t really trying to make everything the right way. But he made it anyway, more by touch the way a blind person feels your face so he can imagine what you look like. If something felt finished, it was. God isn’t an artist but this is the feeling an artist feels whenever she said, “Fuck it: it’s done.”
There wasn’t a single thing he’d made in thousands of years. Nothing new existed anymore, and nothing else was being made. God was a car plant that stopped making Renaults but still didn’t close its doors. God wasn’t progress. He decided to retire so long ago from making things. Long before the first man ever walked upright, God’s long-term plan was already in motion and he already saw himself spending the rest of existence doing nothing. Existence was always open to him of course, so he already knew everything and didn’t really care that when things began to evolve on their own nothing and no one would ever need him again. Fine by him.
When the Devil told him he wanted to go and see the moon, God couldn’t even remember making it other than thinking, “Fuck it: it’s done,” but he always said that.
The moon’s craters weren’t meant to look like anything. God remembered the Aztec stories about the rabbit and the serpent. He knows everything.
The Devil went to look at the moon and God did not: their story is everywhere and in everything and in everyone.
After a while, God felt the Devil return to the mansion and make himself Aztec chocolate and God felt young for the first time this century. Whatever young meant to the Devil, for God it meant he was satisfied with the Devil feeling old. But God, right then, didn’t want the Devil to feel old, so he walked across the vastness of the mansion inside the woman’s stomach so he could talk with the Devil.
It was so bright out when she finally woke up. Not a cloud in sight and so she again reaffirmed her disbelief in the weatherman from the local news. That guy was always wrong she said when idle chat with people turned to the local news. “Except when he’s right,” she always thought during these conversations.
She always thanked God when she woke up. When she was small, her mother said she always thanked God for every new morning and so should her daughter. She was thirty-four that morning and she thanked God for it.
After breakfast and a quick email check on her phone, she drove to work and thought how winter was too short this year; it’d seemed short. “Winter is always the same length,” she thought, “so why does it seem longer some years and shorter in others? Who knows this? Why am I thinking this? Has everyone had this thought before? If it was still cold out I cold have worn the new scarf mother sent me.” During her drives to and from work, these were her thoughts: some deep and some not, but all quickly forgotten and never thought again until the very next year, during the very exact day and time as we measure them.
At lunch that day, the guy who trained her last year, when she was new there, Miguel, saw her sitting on a bench outside and sat next to her and chatted her up. She always thought it was unfortunate someone as handsome as Miguel was (he’s dead now) was married so young. He was almost ten years younger than she, and would always be. She had developed an attraction to him that sometimes made her ache, but was, too, forgotten over the time frames during which he wasn’t around. She didn’t pine for him, or wanted him until she saw him. Every time. She’d be embarrassed to ever tell him, of course, she was attracted to him. She didn’t hate very much in life, but as close as she would ever get up until that point in her life was extremely disliking Miguel’s wife, whom she’d not met nor would she ever.
Miguel sat and they talked about the new turn cycle, the new groups being formed, the old co-worker who was about to stand trial for killing his girlfriend’s brother while driving drunk. Work talk and gossip wasn’t something to build a relationship on, she thought. She also thought that day if Miguel thought the same thing. They also talked about going to each other’s church service one day. Their conversations were mere segueways and not destinations. Finally, Miguel walked off and she sighed a sigh she didn’t realize existed.
At night was when she prayed. She thanked God for the day and for her family’s well-being. She prayed for continued health. She prayed for her friends. She even prayed for a new longer winter next year so she could maybe wear a new scarf, but she didn’t know then that next year she’d forgotten all about it. But she prayed anyway because she never imagined the future.
Her mother once told her, after that night’s prayers of course, that Heaven was in side all of us. Hell too. Her mother never told her to pray for either: “Heaven is here, inside all of us, and Hell too,” her mother said, and with her hand touched her on her belly. “Sweetie, people who pray to stay out of Hell or get into Heaven are just the sort of people who don’t know we all have both in here,” her mother said, now using the same hand and pointing to her stomach. And that night she imagined Heaven inside her (not Hell, not really), and thought that was a strange thing. But as an adult now, she still thought about it from time to time, her mother’s little anecdote. And what if mother was right? Silly things a parent says.
She lingered for an hour in bed, looking out her window, out into the night sky, not restless or bothered. She wanted to look hard enough at the moon that night, try to see if the shadows cast by the moon’s craters so many miles away, could ever resemble a rabbit and a serpent entwined. She slept not getting a satisfactory answer from the moon and its shadows.
Instead, let me tell you what happens when you get booked after being arrested because you set off a fire alarm in a big downtown hotel in the middle of the night because you were drunk and high on your own prescribed meds, and also you broke things in the hallways of the hotel:
The short drive to One Police Plaza in the back of a police car, handcuffed, isn’t the worst of it. At least you see the sun rise. They sit you cuffed to the chain around the waist and sit you down until the arresting officer finishes writing his report at a desk nearby. There is lots of waiting. You get your bearings and the situation becomes very clear and hours go by sad you wait for the phone call you get to make - this part is true.
You see all the drunks and prostitutes and , if you’re lucky, maybe a violent gang member who’s spouting on about how that “bitch had it coming.”
Cop takes you in front of the camera guy, he catalogues everything you had on you when arrested you. He asks you if you need to get a number from your cell phone so you know he’s not an asshole; you write it on your hand with the cop’s pen.
Mugshot one. Profile. Cop puts on latex gloves and lifts up your shirt, camera cop records your scars and tattoos. Next are your fingerprints. Next is the medical questionnaires and infectious disease checks, the medical questions in front of dozens in this holding area. Your DNA in the system. Like a clinic in the ghetto, everyone’s afflicted with something. You hear someone say he has an allergy. Someone else has AIDS. Some else has a pacemaker. All of this happens in the span of the morning and early afternoon. So much wasted time.
You sit in a hard plastic chair, the cuffs tightening every step and you just want water and a camera. Probably, the camera more. Across the room is a bank of phones and you go wait your turn. Swear, everyone knows what to say except I to a county PD phone. You wait your turn and notice a young latin guy nearly in tears. You notice the sexiness of petty criminals. The guy with the pacemaker in a nice shirt and pants, a tourist. You make your call and leave a voice mail because respectable people are at work right now.
(I didn’t call him.)
You wait more and you start to meet people, you get to build an chain wherein no one says why they’re there. You feel inadequate about your arrest and imagine if one these guys would try to rape you. You wait. The room fills and randomly, people begging to be taken down a hallway and don’t return. Where’s the next stop?
A holding cell: a metal primetime a corner, a water fountain, two slabs of concrete as benches, ten guys, a t e television in a wire cage hanging from the wall. You want a thousand cigarettes. No one has belts or shoelaces. Some one shuts in the toilet filling the room with a everyone notices but also not. An edited action movie in the screen. You try to sleep because it’s so tiring, all of this waiting and the lack of water and nicotine. They bring you all jail food that tastes like heaven. A tray of jell-o, a cold and dry sandwich, an orange, potato puree, a little carton of milk. Everyone eats. The trays reflected fifteen minutes later.
You don’t pray. You barely think. The sex of it all wears off.
You and four others are taken to what lookalike a high school gym. You line up facing the wall and are handed a plastic sack I to which you’ll put your clothes. Your shoes and underwear. Movie aren’t like this but you’re glad the cuffs are off so you can see the gnarly bruises and cuts on your wrists and hands. Naked. You, of course, look at everyone else. No one wants to be the guy who covers himself because that’s a sign of weakness?
Orange is no one’s color but fresh clothes.
You’re split up and assigned a bed after you set your plastic sack before you because you’re now a number. You’re assigned a bed surrealistic bracelet is heat sealed around your wrist. It has your picture and numbers and a chip that tracks you everywhere you go in here. You’re assigned a bed and you’re given a duffel with your bedding things, a toothbrush, paperwork. A pamphlet telling you what to do if you’re attacked while at the “detention center.” You realize the many types of attacks you may be subjected to.
Lay out on the thin mattress, and you cover yourself with a threadbare blanket. So tired. But even in the darkness, you see everyone in the converted basketball court reading, you hear them talking, someone masturbating. You sleep as you wonder some more about how you knew you shouldn’t have taken those pills after all.
It’s his mother’s fault for telling me she doesn’t know where he is either. She says this and I can feel myself in a movie, talking to people I don’t know. Going places I only hear of, barely are aware of, asking if anyone’s seen this man while I hold up an 8 by 10 of him. A cliche movie. I’m in danger of turning this into the kind of story that turns out to be me, out in the city looking for him. It’s her fault.
But I’m not going to tell you more about that. The what happened immediately after that, what I did when I found out even his mother had no idea he was MIA.
Let me tell you about her: I don’t think she ever liked me. And remember, this is me not wanting to be a cliche. But she didn’t. She never said so, and she was always polite and everything. But I always felt that something was there, just under the surface - in her eyes - that radiated so much distaste whenever I was present. This is the same feeling I think I always feel when I’m in a crowded strange room. Being around his mother, I always felt the same way whenever I walked into a bar in a city I didn’t know.
You can tell she was very pretty when she was younger. But consider this that tired line about time has taken a toll on her looks.
In my former kitchen, she isn’t crying but she tells me what little she knows. She doesn’t touch upon the fact her son and I are done and I’m leaving; there are boxes all over already. She doesn’t say she’s worried and I wonder for a moment if this is because when her son was younger, this is probably what he made her go through while he was using and getting fucked by rich strangers in their kitchens while being filmed.
She does ask me to let her know when I hear from him. She’d appreciate it. Please. But she says all of this without emotion. The way a teacher in grade school tells you about George Washington’s wooden teeth. I don’t know what to say but I nod. She leaves ten minutes after I come in the house. She doesn’t close the door when she leaves.
What will happen I will tell you: I see her again a couple of years later, but she and I don’t speak. Somewhere in Los Angeles city they’ll eventually build another outdoor mall and I’ll be waiting in line to buy movie tickets and I look over to where the benches sit, lining around a metal post-modern monstrosity that doubles a fountain, and she’ll be sitting there. She’ll look old and beaten, but not sad and alone. She and I do make eye contact and I make the conscious effort to smile a polite and bland smile but it won’t come. She won’t smile at me, and I’ll think about that later that night. I never see him again. But I wonder if she did. If she will.
And I’m too scared to ask where he’s been because I’m certain he’ll tell me, and I just don’t want to have to deal with that. He’s honest. To a fault? I don’t know about that, but he says things about him I never really wanted to know. He says things I hadn’t even imagined he’d know of so. Yeah.
One thing he told me once while at lunch at a bad Thai place on Fountain was about the time someone from up the Hollywood Hills he knew sent a car to pick him up from the shitty place he lived in at the time, behind where there used to be Gower Studios. It was maybe the fourth time we’d gone out. He said this to me in the same kind of detail TMZ uses to report on some pop idol. He said this man invited him over because he wanted to fuck. He said, “He wanted me to get high so he could fuck me.” I remember looking down at my plate because I felt embarrassed for him. Like when you see someone fall in the street and you don’t want to embarrass that person more by offering help and revealing you saw them fall. He said when he went into the house this man, he already had the lines cut on some Taschen coffee table book for him and was naked (“He was very handsome,” he said describing his top; an ersatz prince) and had a camera mounted on a tripod and there was someone else…
You know what? I’ve made myself sad retelling this story. Fuck that story. Fuck all his stories. I never asked him how he knew this man, but that’s because I’m not always an idiot.
Anyway, I’m up the hill, waiting for the sun to come, and I’m sure he’s out there doing something that will become a graphic story of how much more stupid he is than I am.
Well. Not really. Stupidity is relative, I mean.
Walk back down the hill on the other side, onto a heavy trafficked street. In the strip mall at the corner is a Ralph’s grocery store and I buy a can of Red Bull and a liter of water and I walk back home. They have those self-check out machines and I use one, and instead of thinking about how even at the grocery we’re getting further away from each other as people, I think I’ve just spent five dollars that I’ll literally piss away in an hour or so. It’s hard trying not to think about the things that need doing when all you have is free time. So, of course, when I get home a bit later, it isn’t him who’s there, smoking a cigarette in the kitchen, but his mother.
“Yeah, sometimes I miss you, don’t you? I do that thing where I’m in one of those moods, you know, and I wonder what you’re doing, and I think about what we would be doing if things were different. And I look at my phone and realize how easy I could just pick it up (sometimes I do) and just call and I wonder - you’re going to think it’s so dumb! - if my picture will come up, you know, the one you took of me in, what was it? 2003? Yeah, I wonder, your phone will ring and you’ll see my picture, you know, and you’ll think for a moment whether or not you should answer it. I mean, I would if I saw your name on the caller ID. But you do answer, and I can’t hang up because you’ve seen who’s calling, and all I’ll be able to say is hi and how are you and can we talk…that sort of bullshit. And you’ll be great, and you’ll ask me things that I’ll answer and we’ll laugh - that’s the best! We’ll laugh and we’ll leave off saying things like we ought to get together and we should maybe see a film and get coffee and things we criticize people for saying because they don’t mean it because we don’t mean it, and we’ll each go back to our lives, thinking and feeling good things, but imagining we’re each better off without the other, still glad one of us reached out, and go and forget all about it in a few days or so. Anyway, that’s what I think. And I saw you walking across the Boulevard the other day (my god, I should’ve said something to you that day!). I don’t know where you were going. You had your headset on and you were fiddling around with your ipod. But I didn’t say anything to you and you were just across the way, and now, here I am, telling you I’ve been thinking about you since then and I feel a little dumb. But I guess that’s part of it, isn’t it, feeling dumb and stupid for missing a person? Sort of comes with it, I guess. Did you ever have the same feeling? Jesus, listen to me, going on and on. I’m nervous, what can I do. It’s been a while and you have this way of making me feel like I’m a thirteen year old boy at a dance: awkward and strange.”
He says, “You know, if you untie me, this would be a lot easier.”
It becomes his fault when I come…but that’s later.
I can tell you all the things you want to know - who did what to whom and how - but that’s just math and math is boring. I can tell you how I ‘felt’ and how I still ‘feel’ but that’s bullshit. He sitting off, over there, watching some television show about fixing up hair salons, and I’m here, chain smoking, telling you things I maybe shouldn’t.
(If I know you in real-life, sorry.)
The threesome didn’t bother me: I know that’s something he really likes. And it doesn’t bother me it’s a threesome with a woman: he never tells them we’re married and I say little. And we’re both handsome enough, fit enough, charming enough. You know, enough to the point necessary. But this time it’s different and I don’t want to tell him why.
We’re fucking, the three of us. This woman, for a bit, she says she wants to see us fucking and we do and she masturbates to our fucking and she comes and says she wants to come with both of us inside her. Are you surprised to hear this? More women will readily admit this when they’ve seen two men fuck: FACT. So, he pulls out of me and lay her on top of him and slide inside her from behind. They kiss all the while. He sucks on her tits which he knows I hate but, you know, whatever.
Not that I don’t enjoy myself, no. But I’m a tool in the same way a hammer knows it’s a tool: we have a task in this situation and that is what we’re here for. I’m his tool because he wants to fuck some woman with me (and me?) at the same time. If this isn’t devotion, I’m not sure what is. Insecurities, by the way, are for assholes.
Every time we invite a woman over, everything works out the same way. Good looks are an accident, but never underestimate a woman’s filthy mind.
I never come is the thing. Ever. We fuck safely with other people and I never come because I outlast ‘em all every time. I don’t hate orgasms and come but this is nature. I only come when it’s the two of us and he’s on his second load up in me. Nature’s either a cunt or really awfully sweet for me. And we’re fucking this girl who reminds me of some movie actress but if only for that acne scarring on her forehead. She has really nice boobs, and in another situation I might’ve asked her what that color shadow that was and we would’ve had brunch on Sunday. But this is now and my cock’s in her ass and he’s fucking her at the same time, his hands on my thighs and I come.
For what feels like hours, there is fire in my head and my body looses control and I come.
And he comes.
And so does she.
After that, I say something about the shower and retreat to the bathroom and he lights up a cigarette for her while she reaches for her phone and lipstick. In the locked bathroom and I feel weak in the same way a teenager might after his first fist fuck. As if my body’s hollow (what a shit cliche, eh?) and imagine I didn’t just shoot my jism into the already-discarded rubber: I shot my soul out too.
After she leaves, he says that was good, didn’t I think, and I don’t so much want to slap him as tell him to call her back inside. I do neither.
Now, days later, he’s watching television and I can’t stop thinking about that. The feeling hasn’t gone away. I don’t feel physically any different only…a little askew. We’ve fucked since. We’ve not fucked with anyone else. He seems perfectly okay. Did that woman fuck the soul out of me? How stupid does that sound?
I was saving up for a new brain but, man, try and get a loan for one of those.
My old brain started failing me. I would forget things. But I’d know I’d forget them. That’s the thing: I’d see a pen and I knew what it was, what I’d used it for before, but I couldn’t get my brain to remember. It was so frustrating.
Out in the street one time, a woman came running up to me and asked me how I was doing, and wasn’t it a long time since we’ve seen each other, things like that, but I couldn’t place her face. I think I remembered her hair color, and when I meandered my way through some nondescript answers, she went away, confused and probably offended. Hope it wasn’t anyone I cared about.
And it wasn’t just my memory, no. I think my brain stopped sending signals to the rest of my body at times. Like a hiccup and suddenly, after peeing, my brain would forget to tell me I was done, and there I’d stand for a while, dick in one hand, strangers thinking me a pervert on the other…figuratively.
Went up a several flights of stairs when my apartment building’s elevator stopped working for a while and at the landing for my floor, my legs stopped. I wanted to get going, I knew where I needed to go, but my brain wouldn’t tell my legs to do anything. It was really annoying.
If my brother were still alive, he’d lend me the money for the new brain. I know he would, even if I can’t remember his face right now. But my whole family’s gone. My mother also needed a new brain but died with her old original one in her head. We never knew our father, my brother and me, and I think he’s the reason why our bodies are falling apart. My brother, he died when his off brand legs broke and he fell onto the subway tracks. His legs made him heavier than people thought and he died when the train ran him over. His wife got all of his money and she doesn’t speak to me.
Whoever our father was, he was a cheapskate. That’s obvious by just looking at my mother and brother and me: we should’ve lasted a thousand years. We’re not robots or anything, but whoever married my mother, he was supposed to make sure our parts were maintained, and our original bodies were replaced as necessary. You hear about guys like him more and more: they literally build a family and then leave it when they figure out how to build a newer model.
Been saving up for years and I think by this time next month I’ll have enough for additional brain memory and a back up. But that isn’t the same as a new brain. A new brain means full functionality. A back up is just that because you’re anticipating the end. But at least I’m a wi-fi hotspot and it’ll take me a little while, but if we run into each other in the street, I’ll remember your face.
I thought it was an ingrown hair just next to my scrotum. I’d feel it, a little tender, just right there where sometimes I like to scratch just because if feels more than fine. It didn’t hurt at first so I figured it would eventually pop on its own. But as time went by, I’d forget all about it until I was in the shower, until I jerked off. And it was growing, but I didn’t pay it any mind soon after I noticed it … again.
Eventually, it was the diameter of a quarter and the bump felt hard. So I worried. Or began to worry. Whatever.
It didn’t hurt but I wondered if this was cancer. Should I take a needle soaked in alcohol and pop it? “Doctor visit?” I wondered once aloud while in line at the grocery store. I looked at it with a mirror, I’d lean in while sitting to see it, feeling around the edges of it - tender but no pain. It wasn’t red nor was it like a giant zit. Imagine a ping pong ball underneath your skin. Imagine those weirdos on the internet with implants. And then I’d forget about it once more.
It became large enough for me to notice it when walking, and I decided, fuck it, time to see a doctor. Called my insurance to find a decent doctor, took the day off work, cancelled a date I’d made with someone whose name I couldn’t remember. I was readying myself for the worse, and the worse was cancer. I don’t know why, but that’s where my brain landed.
In the shower the day of my doctor’s visit, I was so nervous. I wanted to just take a knife and take care of it myself. The bump between my leg and nutsack still grew hair and still didn’t hurt and still didn’t just go away. I toweled off, and sat on the toilet naked, with a mirror to see how bad it must look. So strange, looking at myself this way, thinking that I don’t want a doctor to think this growth on me is strange looking. Fuck, right? So, I’m looking at myself in the mirror, at the cancer I think I have, and I can feel it more and pulsate with my heartbeat.
That’s when I dropped the mirror because I couldn’t take this feeling, and I couldn’t take the fact that as I’m looking at myself - lifting my nuts off to the side to get a better look - this bump that’s been growing painlessly on me opens up slowly but just natural enough, like an eyelid lifting open, and reveals a mouth with black teeth smiling at me.
The sheriff’s officer, he gives me a ride home from downtown because when he asks me where I live and tell him, he says he realizes it’s four in the morning on a Sunday and he’ll just take me home.
The entire fifteen minute ride, the police man, he talks to me about his wife and their sons, and how each of them must make their own choices. He tells me about his church and asks me if I’m Catholic. He asks me if he knows how lucky I am to be let out OR. I say yes to everything.
Nearly five in the morning, he pulls up along my street, in front of my building, and says I need to be more careful, unzips his fly, takes out his hard uncut dick, and says, “You never know what could happen to you,” and I say a little prayer.