Coin Toss

Every coin has two sides…

The sound of his voice brought her back from gazing out the door. Light at the end of the tunnel. It had been very…weird. She thanked him for the wine, congratulated him on it being something she wouldn’t have tried. Stooped to. She’d pushed the chicken salad sandwich around enough to make it look like she’d eaten some of it, and thanked him for that, too. He stood when she did, started to walk her to the door. She dismissed him with a flick of her nails.

“I’m a big girl.”

He found that contemptibly laughable. She could pass for an anorexic corpse that had been roasting in the desert for a couple of days, clutching a pair of stolen basketballs to its chest. She checked her posture and look in the door, from the front. The view that failed to show the slight forward tilt from the bolt-on basketballs or the black stilettos the end of a pair of fishnets. Or both. Her bracelet, a sinuous armband winding its way like diamond crusted golden ivy from her wrist halfway up her forearm caught the foyer light when she reached for the door.

***

Lamar pulled up a stool at the bar, stared off into nowhere, pursed his lips. Reagan pulled a towel from under the bar and started wiping

“Move your elbows, Lamar.”

“It’s clean.”

“I keep it that way. Just being thoughtful, in case the teardrops start to fall.”

“I’d cry for Hitler first.”

The towel went back under the bar, one hand landed on her hip, the other on the underbar. “Who was that?”

“‘What was that?’ makes a better question.”

“Okay. So what was that?”

Lamar shook his head, sighed. “‘The things you think are precious I can’t understand’.”

“Steely Dan, Reeling in the Years. You’re going to have to bring significance to that. Riddles make me drool.”

“Someone I knew. Not so much in the biblical sense. Just kids, thrown into a social blender. Doing what we could to belong where we hadn’t, have some fun. Get by.”

“Seems to have gotten by okay. Your friend was worth a couple grand, easy. Without the tits or jewelry.”

“Funny. I said something about designer purses.”

“And the shoes and the blouse and the skirt. That woman walks through Neiman’s and those things jump off the rack for her. Five, six-hundred-dollars on her feet. Each.” She checked her black Skechers, smiled. “Doesn’t matter what you pay, gum sticks to all of them. You plan on explaining Steely Dan?”

“I finally asked her, after watching her play front loader moving her sandwich all around, you know, ‘what do you want me to say? Congratulations? You managed to turn your vagina into a deep designer purse full of somebody else’s money? Way to go?’ Sorry. Disgusting is the wrong word. But it’s close.”

“Get back to me with that, because disgusting and fascinating are damn near next-door neighbors and I’d hate to think you ever bought into any of that.”

“You and I are both on the wrong word street. Ring me out and I’ll tip your new waitress too much for tying up the table.”

“She’ll appreciate that.” She watched him zone his way into his wallet for the credit card. “I can see you going all Pretzel Logic over what your old acquaintance became. There’s no figuring it, Lamar, so give it up. I mean, how people can wear so much designer misery and look at themselves in the mirror every morning is a riddle that will make you drool.”

***

She took off the bracelet and necklace, set them on her dresser. “Anyway, I think I shocked him.”

“You shock a lot of people.” He reached around from behind her, dropped his hands on the basketballs she was smuggling under her blouse.

“Stop.” She rocked her shoulders like he was a loose bra strap and got out from under him. “He looked at me like I was an alien, or made the room smell funny, or he’d just stepped in shit barefoot or something. It was uncomfortable. I really hated not to pick up the check.”

“There were times you thought the same way about him. The alien shit on the shoes of your teens.”

“True. For three years he put his hands on everything old enough to breed in half a dozen counties, told us all he loved us. Then we grew up a little and he turned into a shadow. Like something on the far edge of the patio, you know it’s there but can’t make out.”

“Listening to you that’s all he ever did was make out.”

“Funny. Unless you were there. He claims being the ‘gangster of love’ got him banished, but he did that to himself. I could almost see his point, though. He’d stepped all over so many and so much that ‘Move on or move’ became a single option choice.”

“Meaning?”

“He said he’d gotten to a point where there was no ‘back’ to go to and it was tread water, drown, or swim to the other side. He took off before he drowned.”

“So that was his backhanded apology?”

“No. All he was trying to do was ‘understand’. What, I don’t know.” She let a light, nervous laugh hit the mirror and bounce back. “And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have understood it if he’d tried. He’s…” She got a far off look for a second. “Out there.”

“How did he like your new profile?”

She sidestepped the boob honk and dropped a pair of twelve-thousand-dollar diamond stud earrings into a jewelry box like they’d come from a Cracker Jack box. “He asked me where the hell these tits were in high school, because if I’d had them back then he would have been happy as a pig in shit. He’d have been too busy looking for the nipples on the soccer ball twins that I wouldn’t have had to keep re-buckling my belt to keep him out of the promised land every time we stopped at a stop sign.”

“He said that?”

“He never had much of a filter. And what he had is gone.”

“Anything else nobody gives a damn about?”

“Something about how some women didn’t have to stand under the waterfall. If they bought a high-priced ticket they could catch the rainbows and the sparkly things that kicked out of it as it went by, without even getting their hair wet. And down to a letter or the letter he bet I made you a first-class pompitus, and something about Steve Miller and a guy named Mo-reese. He’d lost me at the music that’s playing beyond the radio shit by then and I wasn’t sure what the hell he was talking about. Any ideas?”

“Nah. You could Google it, but who knows what a guy like that’s talking about? You gotta wonder how the fucking space cowboys find their way out of bed in the morning, much less remember to breathe and live this long.”

**** Notes ****

“You wouldn’t know a diamond if you held it in your hand … The things you think are precious I can’t understand.” **

“Some people call me the space cowboy
Some people call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
‘Cause I speak of the pompatus of love” ++

The real word is “puppetutes” or “puppestute,” depending on who is listening to how good a recording and what day they discussed it with the author, Vernon Green, from the 1954 Medallions song “The Letter”. The word is a combination of Puppet and Prostitute, a description for a paper doll fantasy woman. One who will look and do and be whatever, in an equitable exchange of favors. The 1954 Doo Wop version of a Stepford Wife. Misquoted as “pompatus” by Steve Miller, who was quoting himself from three previous albums. I’m not sure if that would be re or upcycling.

**From “Reeling in the Years” Copyright Fagen/Becker. RIP, Walter.
++ From “The Joker” Copyright Steve Miller

The Heels of Winter

Death come knockin’
Cold
On the heels of winter’s hangin’ on
Too long a comin’ she cried
He agreed at last
Goodbye’s long final act
Save soul’s last gasp
A faintest wisp of what was life
Entwined with Reaper’s chilly fog

Death come knockin’
Slow
On the heels of winter’s hangin’ on
Too long a comin’ she collapsed
Ugly questions come hard answered
How to cry for what was or wasn’t
Or for a tomorrow
In need of comfort –

Death come knockin’
Done
On the heels of winter’s hangin’ on
Too long a comin’ she cried
Tears, confusion, backed up dreams
Flooded screams her
Next cold winter’s morn
What they were or hadn’t been
Wouldn’t be, nor matter

Death come knockin’
Cold
Slow
Done
On the heels of winter’s hangin’on
Too long a comin’ she sighed
We never can imagine
What the dream
Should look like
Now

Looney Lunes #135

CHINA MAY BE USING SEA TO HIDE ITS SUBMARINES

Headline in Southeast Asia (Thailand) Newspaper

Pretty Clever If You Ask Me…

Meyers – Like a Violinist

She pulled the curtain back, watched him as he walked away. Slowly. So slowly in the fog. What a wonderful man.

The fog. Everywhere. Always. She’d given up blaming the staff for smearing her glasses. That was the look of it. Vaseline. On the lens of her life. He’d said it was the medication. That was when his sadness came. Kind. Sad. Strong. Enough to carry the sadness. And so kind. Had she said that? They said he’d visited before, but…The fog…

She glimpsed her finger. The curtain. How the white bloomed in the fog when the lights were up. He’d held her fingers. Four. Her thumb dropped away. The dead sister she’d joked. He hadn’t laughed. Why not? What did he know the fog kept away? He knew her fingers…

Fine fingers. Long. He’d known a violinist with fine, long fingers. She had the fingers of an artist, he’d said. A neurosurgeon. Harpsichordist. Potter. He checked her nails. Another one obsessed with her nails…

***

Fine, long fingers, he’d said. Like a violinist. Daddy wouldn’t hear of it. NO! Sausage is a living, Daddy said. Sausage is my life! Sausage is the life for you!

Life? For me? No! I could be…Her fine, long fingers. Daddy! There is no music in kneading fresh, ground death…Fresh. Ground. Daddy? Death had to be fresh for sausage. No violin. No potter’s wheel. Fresh death. Sausage…

Fresh. When the ‘fridge died, the sausage died, and everyone knew her sausage had gone off. My sausage! Daddy!

Sausage is death, Daddy…Death is sausage.

***

Uniforms and labcoats. Not my nails! Her hands. Plastic bags. Tape. NO! Her nails. Her lovely, long, blood red…NO!

They’d scattered for him then. And he sat with her. Calm. He seemed. Sad. Kind. Meyers, is it? He’d nodded. Waited.

Please, Meyers? He’d held her hands. Firm. Warm. Kind. She remembered that about him always. Kindness. Firm. Warm. While the labcoats and their scissors….Lovely, long fingers don’t need long red nails. Like a violinist, he’d said…

***

Detective Myers? Describe as best you can within the boundaries of good taste –

Good taste? They were fresh! Until –

Madam, please

Victims. Disemboweled.

By these?

Oh God…Her lovely, long, red, nails…They had them. Bagged like Cheetos bound for a lunch box.

Sharp as scalpels, he’d told them.

How could they be otherwise? Daddy preached. Dull is Dangerous. Daddy. Sharp. Piercing the thin, abdominal wall. Intestines. Fresh. Intestines were the key.

How long?

Her nails or the intestines?

Laughter and the gavel.

Long enough, he’d said.

He understood. Little ones were useless. Nails. And intestines. But to hold them? Let them drape through her fingers while they pulsed? The smell. Tasting the air, what they’d become…Fresh was the magic of good sausage.

Wine. Spices. Onions…an exquisite composition…almost orchestral in design

How delightful it sounded when he said it! What a wonderful man…

Detective Myers this is a court of law. We’ve no need of culinary instruction –

Human Andouillette? Detective Myers – You find the ‘sausage of death’ appropriate? Judge would you instruct –

Leave him, fool! He knows sausage. It’s all in the intestine. The big one. Where the shit lives. Like the French, not bastardized –

Madam! No more!

Victim’s DNA was found among this ‘orchestrally exquisite’ assortment of spice and vegetables that you were led to by a strong fecal – Yes, ‘fecal’, please, Detective Meyers, not –

Say shit, you worm! Go on. Say it! Shit! The best bags of doom reek of it! Shit! And death! He knows. Tell them, Myers! How fabulously pungent it was! Organic. Single sourced! Tell them, Meyers! Tell. Them!

Remove her…

her…

her…

her…

***

He was gone. Slipped too far into the fog. She smiled, released the curtain, slowly gyrated her hands. Fine, long fingers. Proper clipped nails. Befitting a lady, she’d said. He’d smiled then, held them. Cold against his warmth until she felt them glow. Like a violinist, he’d said. Not a butcher. Meyers understood.

She spread her fingers. Long, wide. Like a violinist. What a wonderful man.