Take Another Look


My left eye itched.

I felt like rubbing it hard, but then my contact would get contaminated, my eye would turn red, and all my makeup would spread over my face in splotches, probably getting black eyeliner on my shirt, and the cute guy sitting to my left in Kaladi’s Coffee sipping his cappuccino would notice.

Cute wasn’t really the right word. Chic, maybe? His cotton sweater looked outrageously expensive, and the expression on his pale face swore he’d never be caught dead in polyester. His glasses had no rims. According to the article I’d proofread last week for an online quiz, cappuccino drinkers tended to be “responsible and slightly reserved” with extra points for seriousness, ambition, and maturity.

I looked over at him and smiled a comehither glance, and I could have swore he winked.

Okay, that’s not exactly how it went. Actually, I was rummaging through my stash of stuff looking for eye-drops in a way that was as harried as it was undignified, and when he looked over and met eye-contact with me, I raised my hand as if to wave, then spilled my drink all over the table.

But it’s as if it went unnoticed because both parties looked severely dead-set on ignoring everything around them.

He was talking with his head down to a determined-looking girl. From what I could tell, she was no knock out. Her hair was up in a tight ponytail, a dead giveaway that she was a plain, mousy type. No competition there. I started to focus more on them rather than on him, trying to determine the nature of their relationship.

They were using words like “outsourced” and phrases like “digitally truncated.” I leaned closer and I think I heard the man spout something about “using the firms budget password to get into the main furnace and retrieve the password to the McCartheny file.”

I watched as the girl got up, went outside, and started using her phone.
Leaving my stuff on the table, I went to do a little snooping. Upon closer inspection, she was not plain at all. She had a fresh, Rose Bryne looking quality to her. I overheard her talking on the phone.

“The deal is closed. We have the fucker by his balls. I have to go Cher. Love you too.”

I tend to have an over-active imagination, but being on the receiving end of this sort of information was like telling a paranoid delusional that he was being watched all the time, implanting bugs in his apartment, and then sending the poor schmuck emails with video attachments of him digging paté off his fingers and licking it, for example. So I decided to intercede, get involved, see how this was going to play out, maybe play it out my own way. Can you blame me if I went a little overboard?

To be continued…


{August 31, 2009}   trading one prison for another

There was nothing but a bar of soap in the bathroom, a towel in the cupboard. In the main room was a single chessboard on a desk and a queen size bed. As for the kitchen, there was only one dish set. There was no clutter because there could be no clutter. A sense of existential awareness seemed to glow from the bare simplicity of the place. There were  only a few books and magazines, and they all had to do with chess. On closer inspection, the cover of the magazine was a picture of the person who lived there, caught unaware, looking swiftly repentant and pensive with his attention-getting long eyelashes.

For people living in a halfway house, the ability to pick up and go without leaving anything behind is taken very seriously. But the inability to own anything, collect anything, or leave anything of himself behind except space showed great discipline as well as an understanding of the last recesses of loneliness. Simplicity was something Americans no longer understood, and for this reason it was not in dispute that the transport here was not from this country.

The lack of ownership meant material comforts don’t matter, and that’s often a lot harder for a man to swallow then for a woman since men are taught that it’s more acceptable for them to show a desire for wealth, because wealth will buy them pussy. It’s not often a clot of women get together to brag about what they want to do if they win their case or get the promotion, along with that extra hundred grand bonus. It’s much more common for one women to downgrade how rich she is in fear of the others feeling like they don’t have enough. But this man was a man of few goals, goals he took incredibly seriously. Everything else could go, was what the lack of furniture said.

Living in this place, in the position he was in, he could have all the pussy he wanted.

Just not the one he needed right now.

Beautiful men and women came crawling at him, desperate for one more hit, and they offered up every dirty trick in the book. They would do anything to their body’s. For somebody with the discipline of owning nothing, the others lack of boundaries suited the person well, for the moment. But then what was there left to want later? No, this guy needed his special cock tease back. She had gone from slowly discovering her own desires, such a beautiful thing, to letting him progress someplace, to nothing. And almost nobody had the bravado to put up a brick wall in front of him. He had enough manpower to blast through more than a brick wall, but he would never do that. What bothered him was what bothered a cop who could no longer get a warrant out on a person he believed needed catching.

He couldn’t even get her in there with fast talk, the way he used to be able to run into her on the street, talk her into getting into a taxi, and off it was. The more she felt fear, the less she was in control, the more it turned him on. Now she wouldn’t even let him do the things she used to enjoy. The sweet, lingering jolts of electricity he passed on with his gracefully fast tongue and light, tender touch. That used to be more than enough. He wanted to curse himself for whatever possessed her to resist. He was more than used to getting what he wanted because people did not turn him down. They didn’t turn him down because he overpowered them or because he was dirty, because he wasn’t. They didn’t turn him down because they genuinely would do anything to please him because he was so desirable to be around.

The only trace of her was on his phone. But now she stayed away from him was because she, too, found him desirable to be around. She didn’t want to be put in situations where doing the right thing felt like avoiding impunity.

His possy followed him around like the pied-piper, but they also disappeared when he wanted, as if he’d placed an invisible whistle call.

The closet was the most telling. Each shirt in there looked hand-pressed. The jeans were all expensive brand names, and they too looked like they had been carefully ironed or even dry cleaned. They smelled of fresh laundry and powerful cologne.

It was no surprise that the chess he excelled at was the five minute blitz kind. He had the fasted hands in the state, maybe in the country. He’d learned from the finest. He was talent personified, and that was part of why he didn’t have the whole package. He didn’t know how to make a web page. He only could sell himself short-term. He could find people who would put up money for him at events, but he had too much pride for that. He knew people who would vouch for his teaching creds, but when they asked too many questions about his past, he had to dodge them, no matter his natural ability with children, which was astounding. He’d make a great parent, but the chance that he’d ever be a parent was close to nil with the life style he chose.

He didn’t feel like he was choosing his own prison. He was a bird who kept running against a glass sky every time he tried to go higher and he couldn’t know why. His own innocence prevented him from believing the corruption he had experienced. His mind was too powerful to stay away from the light.

{August 30, 2009}   seeking repair in ruins

The room had a thick, heavy scent to it. Apprehending the platform of detectable odors sat more than one aroma, the sweet but stale odor of apple blossom trees overriding the other, less poignant whiffs. The clutter had a teenage feel to it, with a boot strewn across one part of the room, the satin golden bed covers half undone with the mattress part exposed.

Dark lingeré lay crumpled on the floor in a heap, as if to say, why go through the trouble? An impulsive surge of energy emanated from the way the mess was tossed, a conflicting sense of both somebody in a hurry, throwing things into a bag as fast as they can, mixed with the sense of somebody luxuriating in their own demons. Expensive mugs, some coffee-stained, littered the surrounding desks. Can’t come visit me in this hell-hole, it’s too inappropriate, the items seemed to warn. But the layout of the room had a warm feel to it, as if when things were put away, the potential was knock-out originality and genuine style without any deception or pose at all. There was no centerpiece to the room, which appeared splintered, but one was drawn to the use of a book propped up against a frame of Elizabeth Wurtzel, her eyes so doe-wide open they looked like they were still leaking tears, her stomach bare and her hair matted. It was a Russian book, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. The symbolism seemed to mean something, but what? A passage of the book was underlined.

-Your brother is dead. He’s been taken for food. Do you understand? Just as you hunted that cat, someone was hunting you. Do you understand?”

The back of the book explained the plot line was about a security officer working for Stalin who learns the truth about the government and flees to uncover the truth. Something about this book explained the identity of the person living here, but what?

There was no conceivable way of pigeonholing the person’s taste. They had rows of chess books, music books, crime books, identity-art books, memoirs, peppered with deft comics, some classics, social commentaries, but for the most part, it looked like whoever read through these books did so with a ferocious appetite. A carnivore in their reading tastes, that’s for sure, but maybe somebody who used to only read from a small selection?

The room looked like that of a that of a fugitive whose room had been tossed by feds, leaving the speculation hanging on one important thread. The transition from clean to mess happened in a state of transition, and it happened fast. Whoever lived here was half a criminal, half a guardian. Whichever side dominated that day took over. Meaning that the person’s interactions with others would be littered with idiosyncrasies, aloofness, as well as incredibly intricate but nevertheless obsessive patterns.

Looking at the drapes hanging at an odd angle, there was a strange pulse of crushing despondency. The danger lay in pushing this person too far with another. This person did not know safety. And if this particular agent felt let down after being introduced to safety, after thinking they had found it for the first time, they might not realize they had not quite escaped their own ejection seat. This person went to such lengths to refine themselves for others emotional needs- it was part of their own disease, that need to feel like they were always cooperating with someone else- that there was no telling how far they might go to hide undercover, bury themselves so deep there was no looking for traces of air. Once the person thought they were in charge, it could all go south. They would assume control, and the person in apartment 406 would only yield so far before retreating into weaponry. Only the glint of a broken bone masquerading around as a perfectly fine ankle to be walked on with all your weight would be the reminder of this incident because whoever lived here would walk for miles on broken glass, too focused on any hints of hope in their mind to stop.

et cetera