May '04

Carmen Adair Battling Monsters
Wayne H. W Wolfson In the Sea
L.D. Petterson The Devil and Judy Peters
Rattan Mann The Unread Story
Randall Brown Soccer Dad

Photo by Larry O. Gay

In the Sea

            Wayne H. W Wolfson

Silence followed silence. The night, the water which creeps under the bridge.

Somewhere there is a tree whose trunk is tattooed, with my name alone. As a matter of principle I don’t believe in happy endings.

She knew all this from day one. I even told her, over drinks, so as to help it go down easier. I couldn’t impress it upon her enough, its importance. Truth is an onion. Many layers causing the eyes to leak.

Maybe she thought that with time that she could change or conquer me. It didn’t really seem so, but for me to think otherwise would sting.

She had picked the apartment without my having even seen it first. A matter of trust or laziness?

We were across the street from a cafe. Busy enough to give me something to watch, not enough so to become annoying.

There were two women that would sit at the window table holding hands. I liked to watch them, they looked sad. With the change of seasons they seemed to have disappeared. The sadness was the city’s, it remained.

It was shortly after the honey-moon, when I had had things to do.

Our downstairs neighbors rubbed me the wrong way. Chelsea was at the table going over the bills. It was hot and I decided to conserve energy by annoying them both at once.

I started loudly dancing around.The more Chelsea ignored me, the harder I stomped.

Aside from me, silence. I think the neighbors were out too.

I kept this up for twenty minutes. A percussive shuffle right up until the point I tripped.

A veil of dark purple fell across my eyes. I couldn’t see anything. Purple, a wavering shroud covering my entire field of vision. It thickened into a curtain and then vanished, the returning day light causing me to squint.

It took my mouth a moment to catch up.

The x-rays showed what I already knew.

I was bed bound. Actually house bound, but my first day I decided to stay in bed. I wanted to see what it felt like again. I hadn’t done this in years, not since ambition bit me.

The next day the pain was actually worse. I had a prescription though.

It was a bird that got my attention. Made me look. I lay on my side. On the balcony the silhouette of the jasmine, looking like a shoulderless cross.

No, I didn’t want to see it, it wasn’t that serious.

One good thing, I could now drink all the coffee that I wanted. A day of reading and listening to j-a-z-z.

Pills, the pills that stretched out each note of the horn. An entire afternoon in a slow flurry of notes. Notes moving as if two massive wings flapping at leisure.

Tomorrow is another day. Either I’d be out of coffee or maybe up on the cross.

I was on the mend.

She never asked that much of me. Chelsea. She told me that she had the urge to see the ocean. With my injured pride, foot, it was absurd and inconsiderate. I was no navigator and also I knew there would be nowhere to stop for drinks. What was that saying about all that water? In the sea, in the sea, in the sea.

Why waste the money on gas? We’d settle for the city. Rain straining to break through the dirty ceiling of lights. Crowds that crushed both spirit and body.

She always got what she wanted. Look, a sea of people.

We didn’t get the same things out of all this. She was good for two drinks then wanted to go home. It was all right, I’d take the train. Actually I’d take a cab using the money I had hidden in my shoe.

Everyone had somewhere to go. Everyone but me. A closer look, it wasn’t so much a destination as a desire.

Me too. I knew what I wanted, what I shouldn’t do.

She knew too, acknowledging it in our parting kiss. What I shouldn’t want. It was nice to be told though, that way I could offer up the look of surprise when caught.

I headed to Faust’s.

When did it become a sin to be lonely? It was all right for a saint, but there are no new saints. Only the lonely.

At the corner table Wendy sits. Oblivious to everyone else, she plucks at her eyebrows. Not to sculpt but just in a random pattern of pulling. If she had been clipping her nails or picking her nose it would have been disgusting, but there was an almost holy aspect to this act. A penitence.

The first girl I ever lived with, I’ve forgotten her mother’s name. Is that wrong? Normal? I remember her father’s and the dusty garage full to the ceiling with his model train collection. I remember she had hated using her mouth and when she did, it usually wasn’t that good. But we had both been young, very young.

I wanted to fuck fast, so I could get home and think about it, maybe write about it.

I am damaged, crazy.

I’d say it every day. Coco and I had come up with this theory. The truly damaged don’t realize it, may even deny it. So, to admit it would mean it couldn’t possibly be true. Part of the spell was that it had to be said, everyday, out loud. No one had to hear though.

I sit.

Tonight we should talk, or fuck. Something to fill the empty spaces. The boy-girl thing. People got it only half right. Yes, it was the needed distraction.

Not the thrusting, sigh, contractions. It was what came afterwards. The shift in the balance of power. Transferred once all muscles and nerve endings were inert. Her eyes, her lips, the kisses.

The currency of loneliness.

The bank, the rich man.

Self loathing with the need to eventually return again, always.

That was the other part.

These thoughts paved over the spaces. Empty spaces covered with kisses.

It’s too complicated to say over the noise of a crowded bar, especially on a Saturday.

When asked about any possible motive all I can do is draw zigzag patterns on a napkin with my straw and nod.

Her indifference could have cut like a razor, but she wasn’t that professional yet. No chops. She settled for making me ask if I could get the bill.

We had one more drink then went back to her place which was close by.

I don’t think she found me attractive. She made too many attempts to be tender. Caressing my temple, kissing my chin, as if trying to convince herself of something.

The here and now. Hands are clasped behind my back, she is moaning. I myself am the silent type. Things are speeding up, she is losing herself in the moment.

“Don’t scratch the back.”

It’s understood. The final thrust. Afterwards. I would have showered but the towel which hung off the back of the door smelled funny.

He is gone. She should shower. Why does no one ever call her name? Were there any clean sheets? No, better to use the effort to try to sleep. Tossing and turning. Having had her fill she still feels a certain edge with which to cut herself. Little stab like sobs.

There is a stream. It must be a golf course because the banks are a well groomed, lush green.

In the distance can be heard a ripping sound.

Hundreds of identical baby dolls begin to float down stream.

They rush by, a long line of naked pink plastic.

Dawn. In the city every one eventually sees everything. She couldn’t be bothered with wrapping a towel around herself.

Brushing the hair out of her face she looks in the mirror.

“I’m damaged, crazy.”

Wayne is a California based author. For more information on his works go to his site