Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Liquid Life (installment four)


The next Sunday I have Elendele over for dinner. Mine is a romance strategy and she figures it, and avoids it, as I hand her a blue rose for which I have sullied certain dearly held values to obtain.

"Cherish it as you do the bitter wines in your many empty cellars of love."

"Speaking of wines," she bounces back, "I am in a drinking mood tonight."

Had I known her better then, it would not have struck me as so strange at how she was nonplussed at my table set for two on the rooftop with candles and cocaine on a cracked mirror that was once my grandmother’s.

"This skyline," she says, "bores me. It’s nothing like the neon heaven in the desert of Dallas." She keeps avoiding contact with the juice nuances moored on the harbors of my eyes. She end-runs the issue of love many times with an absurd discourse on the ramifications of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.

Investigation into her past was revealing little. She said she was an actress although that was not her main area of focus. In fact, she didn’t have one. She had tried to squeeze some unemployment insurance when she first came to town by claiming to be thespian of choice for a Spanish director named Tierno Galvan, whom nobody had ever heard of.

She wanted into that world, but her skills and training gleaned from roots in a radical family kept her employed as an activist for justices, both large and small. Things taught her to be correct by teachers both inside and out of the classroom.

She made much of her being a poet. Her work wasn’t great, but a brief sampling given then revealed that she read certain of them very well. There was one delicate and trembling thing, written about an old someone who’d cut her from here-to-here, something about them having taken her to his highs and lows she’s forever been trying to get back to, finding success only with the latter. She could recite it without even looking at the paper.

She painted for me the portrait of an Elendele born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the army brat of an army brat, "with an emphasis on ‘brat’." The formative years were smothered in prayer at a Catholic girls school, in a decadent district of Seville, behind crumbling castle walls.

"There," she remarked, "I learned of the coming crisis in social values everywhere."
Then she does the cocaine with a certain degree of enthusiasm. Most of it. Quickly.

"Then I escape," she silly-ed up.

"To where?"

"To Mars."

So I asked, to throw her off, what color it was when she got there, but she was perfectly apace. She was so soft and cooed at me, "I didn’t look at the colors. Just the people, and I liked them. They weren’t selfish and they cared a little about each other. I mean, they were materialistic, they liked to have nice things around, but they were okay. There weren’t selfish, like I said. And then I left and came to this place, which makes it harder to forget."

Trevor was right about the drug choice. "Try coke on her," he’d said. "That’ll bring out the mother in her. That’ll get her milky to ya."

I get a little milky, too. We stare at each other and sniffle our noses and smile sort of giggly. Elendele, it seems to me, is getting hot and spicy. It looks like she rubs her sopping self against the table leg. I "hmmm" her under my breath and she "hmmms" me back with a smile. I shudder at this crosstable connection.

As she looks away at a rusty rooftop antennae, some quick, sad film runs cross her eyes. She’s having an earthquake no Richter scale’s gong to measure. Sudden she lightens brightly, "Look. This has got to stop before it even gets going. You’re a nice guy," she accuses – an ugly twisting of her drunken lippy mouth ensuing. "I’m unclaimed.."

Yeah. This word play must be her way in and it heats me up. She can see this and continues with earnest thrust.

"Did I mention I’m addicted to Maria? That she’s my lady lover?"

She tries to out-shallow me, but I confess to my only interest being her little shadow face, that we are not talking about futures here.

Moved by my sprightliness she flares her nostrils and bares down harder. "My kisses do nothing but damage. And I don’t say that proudly."

"Damage me."

"They’re a death sentence and you’ve committed no crime against me, yet, Dominique."

She was declaiming again. "Don’t do the obvious thing. Trust me, I have nothing to offer you that Dante hasn’t written about. You really can’t imagine what I mean, but trust me."

"My imagination may be more vivid than you imagine."

My head is wine-soaked and full of hellfire now. "I supposed you want to be friends.

That cursed title bestowed upon the eunuchs and masculine housemaids of all history. Forget it Elendele."

Now I’m blinded by sudden blood thumpings from my heart outward to anatomical locations still uncharted on the arrogant map of science. Lust in the realm of the possible.

"Forget it," I charge again, "I’m no part-timer. I sign a full-term contract and I collect my fringe benefits, or I walk. Your friendship…you friendship is not worth the air it sails away on."

She slaps me with the hand of a frost maiden and an icicle drips from one corner of one eye. "Then walk," she hisses, sidewinding her way down the stairs, to lose herself in her lostness, along some street with a flower for a name.

No job, no certified date of birth, I could have offered her things. I could’ve told her that. I could have tried harder, but simply sat surmising that the drive to screw up her life was stronger than my own same urge.

Afterward, trying to relieve my despondency, friends told me to find someone new. I couldn’t explain how there was nothing newer.


That very next Tuesday, Elendele tracks me down and tells me over the phone she misses me. She’s an open invitation to come over and have some fun.

"This is my step-sister," sizzles lavender from her tongue, upon my late arrival to the salon – which is what she insists it be called. There’s incense in the air, sen-sen on the step-sister’s breath.

"Hello Dominique," says the step-sister who has the same kind of whiskey drunk whore voice Elendele has, but duller at the edges. And her features are less sharp, and she weighs more, but in a healthy way. She smells like Indian tiger and orchids mixed together and she turns my ordered universe a jungle. Sets me free of my reason tree.

Elendele stakes her claim then. Brings my face to face with hers. Tells me she’d had a good time when were last together.

(Well you little…)

She gives my eyes a good read. Tones the hue of her down to the video girl look and insinuate right back at me, "Yes I am your little, ever-loving, beloved bitch. Your beloved love dove bitch," and she tingles me, gives me her neck of an arrogant , semi-chocolate swan to kiss, and then pulls away to hide behind her curls.

"Hey you guys" softs the step-sister. She is honeycombed, full of syrup inside her and ready to spread it around with a kiss. I am prepared, back-stiffened, but she kisses Elendele for a long time, instead. The camera click of their parted lips flicked and left me shuddered for a long half-minute.

Step-sisters, you see.

"Oh, thank you Elendele. He’s perfect."

"Clean too!" says the blue poet. "He’s Catholic, undersexed, and fresh."

Fresh indeed, were the moments following that lesson on the virtues and manifold uses of blueberry butter given me by the two shameless charlatans, ambassadors from some vast land without conscience.

Fresh, too was the bolero. Husky were its clarinets that afternoon to which the sun was not invited. Fresh was the incest that floated the surface water of the tub we three shared.

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