dots

Twenty-two

Conversation conversation conversation – how boring it can be. You probably see me as boring, a conversationalist, a talking head, sitting here, full of shit – one conversation after another, with no action!

Dear, dear Rachel, my wimp. You need dots to go along with this. Dots, I say. When I was younger, I smoked too much pot. How’s that for action? Sucked smoke deep, held it until it hurt, tried to inhale my own exhale. Will that suffice, or do you want more? I destroyed a few things in the noggin. No more memory for the proper things, my dear. Too much laughing makes a boy the father of a warped man. That stuck-on smile has its down side too, later on. Oh, and that’s not to mention the motivation, the desire to grab life by the balls and run with it, like everybody else, to be one of the runners in the front of the pack. It takes you to the back of the race, turns you into a straggler. Makes you run with the old guys, the flabbies who came to talk. Makes you a permanent socializer, who – and this is what gets my goat – can’t socialize.

Mix it all up with a little of that chemical imbalance, genetically induced, and you’ve got just that: a mix. And it ain’t pancake batter, baby. This mix won’t dissolve. There are clumps of brown powder floating on the top. You can stir and stir and stir until your elbow is inflamed, hurts like a son of a bitch so that you have to use your shoulder until that hurts too, and this mix won’t come out right. It just sits there in the bowl, staring back at you, mocking you – and now you’ve made a mess of the whole thing. You’ve spilled the stuff everywhere. Globs remain, floating, slowing down after you’ve given up, getting more and more still in the bowl, almost motionless as you stand there in pain, exhausted, watching it slow down, but never coming to a stop.

So the dots are important, a necessary evil. I was like you once upon a time. I was smart, did my homework every night. Did a hell of a project on Vietnam. Every page was poster size. Made the country come to life in words and pictures. It was a goddamn political statement. If it were still around, they could put it in the National Archives.

Had a good mind, Rachel. Had a good mom, a great dad, and, something you don’t have: a sister and two brothers. I was a tennis player. Always in contention. Won a wall full of trophies. Had a hell of a backhand. I could volley too. All reflex at the net. Made it mine. They have a name for that kind of tennis. They call it aggressive. And that was with a little wooden racket, not with a monster sized bazooka frame like they use today. These days, they just serve it a hundred and twenty miles and hour. Whack! Next point. Whack. Next point. Back then, it was more of a rat-a-tat-tat-thunk-rat-a-tat-tat-whhick.

So, beware, beware. Warning. Flash flash flash. Warning.

Dots, honey, dots.

And here you’ve got a teacher who sees things all backwards. It used to be, if a person became a success in the world, the teacher was part of the success. Even some big CEO and his second grade teacher. He thanked her, she smiled and took some pride. The ones who didn’t make it were forgotten. Now, Topsy, I’d like you to meet Turvey. We met years ago at I-told-you-so Junior High. Teacher opens the paper, sees that ex-student committing the Crime of the Week, and shouts: Voilá, I told you so. I taught that kid! The rest are forgotten.

So what did this woman do? I had to find out. I went to her condo, found her at home, got high as a freaked-out bird. We went for a joy ride in her auto-mobile. She wasn’t so bad looking, really, when you factored in all that pot she kept on hand, and the high levels of THC found therein. It got me hard as a teenage rock and made me want one more time. It was like the lady and the tiger; I finally found out which door he opened – the tiger’s. This was the tiger. Yet, it was the other door too. Maybe I was the tiger, and I ended up married to the princess for a day, a weekend, a week.

What did it matter to me anyway? Weekends had no meaning. The days of the week were irrelevant. Time just filled up time. I wasn’t the one with the job, the child in school. I had no restaurant, no teaching position. This woman had sick leave, personal days, vacation hours – her life parceled out into sections like this. So we took off to the hotel at the beach, where the winter rates were cheap as chilly white sand.

“What’s the story with you, anyhow?” I said. “Here you teach my daughter. Band? And what did you do? Go around the school, tell other teachers about me? Call social services? Spill the beans on me, and yourself?”

“They talk about me,” she said. She looked at me as she drove the straight, flat road through the coastal plain, her buzzed out, burnt out, fucked out red eyes behind those dark black shades. “The principal hates me. She has spies. She can’t fire me because the kids like me, and so do the parents. I’m a good teacher. So she wants to get me to quit.” She laughed the bursting marijuana laugh. “Which I won’t do.”

“How do you know you’re such a good teacher?” I said.

“Blow jobs,” she said. There was that laugh again. “I know how to make people blow. That’s what band is all about. Blow. Make that instrument sound like something,” she said.

Vulgar? Irresponsible? Yes. Teaching material? No. But she had me turned on. Sounded like a band class that would not be boring. I was ready to stop the car, get on top of her again right now, here by the side of the highway. She wore little blue gym shorts, pulled up to her crotch here in the car, in the dead of winter. They did the trick for me. She had lost her modesty, all formality, this woman, after that first conference, that first hit of weed. Her legs weren’t bad. Soft and pasty, but kind of sensitive to the touch. Had a nice feel too them. Knew how to rub the old instrument, move it around, get it into position.

I’m a vulgar man, dear Wimp, dear…dear…dot dot dot. But no more vulgar (really, this is the truth!) than anyone else. It’s just that my mix didn’t dissolve.

This room at the beach was not bad at all. What can I say? She loved the sand and the ocean, even in winter. You take a walk and smoke a joint out there and nobody knows. She loved a good luxury hotel in the off season. Let the restaurant and bar bill slide, use it on a nice bed. She loved the indoor pool, wore goggles in there to keep her red eyes from burning. A good place for washing off. Get all the body parts clean for the next fuck.

“So you’re what?” she asked. “Divorced or something?”

“Of course I am,” I said. “You have to know that.”

“How the fuck would I know that? Or care?”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-six.”

“That’s why you don’t care.”

“Man, you’re nuts. I’m old enough to care plenty. My parents are divorced. I’m divorced, in a way. My fiancé and I are getting a divorce.”

We were in a gift shop. She grabbed a white cap, one of those elastic beach things with a baseball style bill, stuck it on my head.

“You can’t get divorced from a fiancé.”

“Why not? It’s the same thing.”

“It’s not the same,” I said.

I took the hat off, put it back on the table.

“This is you,” she said. “Leave it on. I’m getting this.”

She put the hat back on my head, paid for it, made me wear it all the time.

That night at the bar, I hit it off with a couple of pitchers of draft beer, she hit it off with the bartender beach bum, a younger guy, a more robust companion, the kind of fellow who likes to walk around with his shirt off. She brought us both back to the hotel, made me sit in the back seat of the car. This guy made small talk – I couldn’t understand what he was saying, something about his family in Pennsylvania; I wasn’t listening – she thought every word was a scream, laughed her ass off.

In the room, they started to make out. He said something to me when I left. It must have been funny, the way they both laughed. I went down to the pool, slept on a pool cot. She came down later, told me he was gone, said the bed was softer.

“You know, you’re not evil, really,” I said. “You’re not really the devil woman you pretend to be.”

“I’m glad to know that,” she said. “Listen, why don’t you get some sleep, pass out again on the bed.”

“You’re mentally ill,” I said.

“Fuck you.”

“You are. You ever been to a psychiatrist?”

“You don’t know who I’ve been to.”

“You need help, bad.”

“Hey, you fuckhead, I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings.”

“I don’t have any feelings left. Just nerves.”

“You’re the one who’s fucked up.”

“I won’t deny that, but it takes one to know one. Your brain’s messed up.”

“That’s it. That’s it. No more of this shit.” I was in that cot, sinking in, and she kicked me, made me get out of it. “You’ve got some stuff in the room,” she said. “Get it out of there.”

So I went back to that room, and she went down on me like the crazy woman she was, wouldn’t let me go. Hands everywhere, making it last forever, she calmed me down, made it impossible for me to talk, impossible to say anymore about it. Got me all worked up, and then out again, asleep.

In the morning, the knock at the door woke me hard. Before I could move, a beach policeman was in the room with one of those hotel guys. He went right to the dresser, pulled out a little baggy full of dope, grabbed my ass, placed me under arrest and read me my rights.

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