Tuesday, January 02, 2007

One








I am twenty-seven years old today. This is very important. It is an important day. I told my boyfriend. I vacuumed my apartment. I cleaned the dishes. I filed away the papers I had left in a pile to be filed away. I opened all the shades on all the windows in my apartment and turned off my television and said to the television, "I will never turn you on again." I then apologized to the television. I said to the television, "I'm sorry, I will watch you sometime when I feel nostalgic, but I can't watch you so much anymore because I am twenty-seven years old and it is time to become an adult and adults listen to the radio to things like NPR so I'm going to listen to NPR a lot and feel kind of intellectual and kind of Liberal or maybe Progressive, I'm not totally sure which yet but…" The television didn't answer and I was saddened by the television's silence, but also a little relieved. Now I'm lying on my couch and there is sun outside and the sunlight from the sun is in my apartment and I can see little bits of dust moving around and interacting with other bits of dust in the sunlight and it feels kind of warm and comfortable even though it is December.

I think, 'I want to be naked on my couch in the sun but I can't because my neighbors would see me and call the police or masturbate or say terrible things to my other neighbors or ignore me and hate me and think I'm ugly.' I roll over. My cell-phone is on the table and I pick my cell-phone and begin a text-message. I type, 'There are twenty-seven tangents in the tangent room.' I send this to my boyfriend.

I compose another text-message. I type, 'There are twenty-seven tangerines in the tangerine room.' I send this to my boyfriend.

I decide to call my sister. I don't know what to say to my sister. I haven't talked to my sister for eight years. It has been sad, or maybe it was sad for two years, and then it became embarrassing for six years and now it is sad again and I think I should call her because it will be like television maybe, like on the Maury Povich talk-show, with the super-emotional reunion and crying and soft gray sofas and other things like sappy music and soft camera filters and angry monologues. I don't know how to talk to her. I was at her house. This was eight years ago, or maybe eight and a half years ago. I said to my sister, "Your kitten is so pretty I could just pull his eyes out and roll them around on the kitchen floor."

My sister laughed quietly. She said, "He is cute."

My sister's kitten was a little black ball, all puffy and round, and he used his roundness to roll around the kitchen floor.

"I love your kitten," I said. I reached for the kitten, grabbed the kitten by his scruff, and stroked the kitten in my arms. The kitten purred.

My sister began unloading her dishwasher. My sister's plates were so white and clean and perfect with the tiniest bubbles of water huddling together away from her dry rag and my sister was merciless as she carefully wiped every part of every plate and obliterated each tiny and perfect bubble and then slowly set each plate in its proper stack in the cupboard next to the refrigerator. I hated her. I hated her and her plates and her bubble-obliterating rag and her stupid silly kitten. I couldn't tell you why. The plates were lovely and she was lovely and I was lovely and it seemed peaceful and quiet and I could even, at that moment, I think, imagine lovely days of lovely waiting, in the kitchen, drying dishes and playing with kittens and cats, then cats and kittens. I don't know. My sister finished drying the plates. I held the kitten in one hand. My sister sat across from me and stared at my hands and played with her hair and began to braid her hair. I held the kitten carefully in one hand. Outside, the sky was a little gray puff. The sky seemed very nearby and very large. I held the kitten and cocked the kitten and flung the kitten at the window and the kitten moved slowly towards the window and the window anticipated the impact and I think I could hear the window gasp and I gasped and my sister gasped and the kitten hit the window and there was a loud sound that I can't really describe but was both wonderful and terrible and the kitten bounced and moved slowly toward the sink.






I think I have torn my quadriceps.

I stand up. I walk around my apartment. I test my quadriceps. I stretch my quadriceps. I pull my jeans off and carefully look at my quadriceps, and massage my quadriceps gently with my hands.

"It's okay," I say to my quadriceps. "I'm sorry," I say to my quadriceps. I imagine my quadriceps as a healthy muscle and I imagine my blood cells moving toward my quadriceps carrying vital healing chemicals that will mend the tear in my quadriceps and make my quadriceps happy and healthy.

I open my cell-phone address book and select my boyfriend's name and call my boyfriend. My boyfriend's name is Todd.

"Hi Erik," I say into my cell-phone. Sometimes I call Todd Erik.

"My name's not Erik," my boyfriend says.

"I'm sorry Erik."

"My name is Todd," my boyfriend says.

"I know that," I say. "It's my birthday, and I tore my quadriceps," I say. "What are we going to do?" I ask. "Are you going to take me to the bank and rob the bank and take me away to Mexico so we can escape the authorities and live luxuriously in the desert with five servants and a horse and an orange grove?"

Erik doesn't say anything.

"Are you going to take me to the airport and hijack an airplane and take me to the south Pacific or something, where we can lay secretly on the beach and make quiet cell-phone calls to our families and live alone in a hut?"

Erik says, "I have to work. I'll call you later, maybe" He turns off his cell-phone.

I select a long skirt and a blouse from my closet. I iron my skirt and blouse. I put on my ironed skirt and blouse. I put my iron away.

I drive my little Honda to Wal-Mart. I park my Honda. I walk inside.

Erik works at Wal-Mart.

"Where's Erik?" I say to the cashier.

"Huh?" the cashier answers.

"Erik is the current Wal-Mart regional exploitation manager. He's in charge of destroying unions from the inside."

"Oh."

"Like a parasite, kind of."

"Oh."

I look carefully at the cashier's blue vest. It is very crisp and clean and I want suddenly to touch the vest, to reach forward and run my finger along the vest, to unbutton the vest and remove the vest and wear the vest myself. I want suddenly to be this cashier and to wear a blue vest and push buttons for people and take money from people and return money to people. I think, 'People spending money must be the happiest people and people at Wal-Mart are spending money and saving money and people who spend money and save money must be the happiest of the happy people in the world.' The cashier's nametag says 'Julia'.

I say, "You must be very pretty Julia. People must look at you a lot and say to themselves 'Julia is very pretty' and then walk through Wal-Mart and buy things and look for Erik and then think about candy and soda sometimes."

"Hmm," Julia says. Julia turns away from me.

"Don't go," I say. "It's my birthday, and I tore my quadriceps but I'm strong and I'm going to get through."

"Get through," Julia says.

"Yes," I say. "I'm going to get through and I'm here and I want to buy things and to find Erik. Do you know Erik?"

"I have to work now."

"But I want to buy things," I say.

Julia moves slowly toward her cash register. Julia's arms are puffy and pale and Julia's arms move separately from her body and I love them and I want Julia's arms, I want to take Julia's arms and put them on my body and wear them like I am Julia and like Julia's arms are my arms.

I walk toward the toy section. I walk as though I'm wearing Julia's arms. I feel as though all of my parts move separately. I see Erik near the toys. Erik is tall and bright and his hair is a brown mess. Erik's eyes are clear and Erik's face is blank. Erik's hands move quickly and precisely and Erik arranges toys on shelves and then toys on poke-outs and Erik's eyes remain clear and Erik's face remains blank. I think, 'It is amazing how these fluorescent light-bulbs light everything evenly and how regular these fluorescent light-bulbs occur.' I think, 'Erik is Todd, Erik is Todd.'

Erik looks up.

"Erik," I say. "Fluorescent light-bulbs."

"Huh?" Erik says. "My name is Todd."

"Couldn't I just call you Erik, for a little while? Would that be so bad?"

"I don't know."

I met Erik while robbing an AM/PM. I was using a knife. I use a knife when I rob stores. I said to the clerk, "Give me your fucking money." I showed him my knife.

"Do you remember when I robbed that AM/PM you worked at?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I don't know," I say. "It's my birthday."

Erik continues to straighten the toys on the shelves and onto poke-outs and his hands move very evenly and cleanly and the toys seem very organized and controlled.

I think, 'There is a certain beauty in this kind of order.' I say to Erik, "This is very beautiful."

Erik moves down the aisle and straightens his blue vest and continues to organize toys on shelves and onto poke-outs. I pull a small G.I. Joe doll from the shelf. I say, "I'll remove this doll from its package."

"It's not a doll." Erik moves further down the aisle and continues to straighten.

"I'll do it."

I tear at the packaging. I pull the colorful cardboard away. I crinkle the plastic covering and remove the G.I. Joe doll. I love this G.I. Joe doll. The doll is very small and muscular and everything about the doll is green and its arms and legs can move smoothly and I can position these arms and legs in miniature life-like ways. I position the G.I. Joe doll in a diving motion and toss the doll in its diving motion at Erik and it moves through the air very missile-like and deadly and accurate and the doll strikes Erik in the shoulder and tumbles sideways to the floor. Erik moves further down the aisle and organizes.

I move terribly close to Erik. I taste Erik's air and it is sour and I breathe Erik's air until we share the same air, until the air is suffocating and warm.

"Go away," Erik says. "I'm working. I'm straightening the aisle. I have to straighten the aisle and then straighten the next aisle and then straighten the next aisle until I have straightened all of the aisles. I have to keep going. Can't you see that?" Erik gestures towards the many aisles in Wal-Mart. "These aisles are full of little messes and hidden messes and sometimes little people and graham crackers. I have to clean the aisles."

Erik moves away from me very slowly. The fluorescent light is very bright and clear and everything I see is lighted at the same level from every angle. There are no shadows. I push toys from the shelf onto the floor and all of the toys are evenly lighted and shadow-less. I move towards Erik but he is organizing very quickly and moving from aisle to aisle and the Wal-Mart is full of so many people and these people get in my way and each of these people looks like every other person and I become very confused.

I sit down.

I sit down near a shelf of DVDs.

Kevin Costner stares at me. He is very beautiful and perfect and holding a golf club. Kevin Costner is the opposite of me. He is calm and perfect and ready for any situation. On Kevin Costner's birthday, Kevin Costner would not go to Wal-Mart. Kevin Costner would drive his very expensive car to his very expensive swimming pool next to his very expensive house and swim with a family of dolphins, imported from Micronesia, and Kevin Costner would invite all of his Hollywood friends to swim with the dolphins and Hollywood producers would be there and Hollywood producers would film a documentary about Kevin Costner's birthday and Kevin Costner's swimming pool and swimming with dolphins and the documentary film would win much acclaim and many awards and Kevin Costner would smile and smile and smile.

I shove Kevin Costner in my skirt.

I stand and move carefully toward the front of Wal-Mart and I keep Kevin Costner safe inside my waistband. My arms and legs feel very tense and my arms and legs want to shake but I concentrate and hold them still. I look at Julia. I wave to Julia. Julia looks away from me and straightens her blue vest. Hundreds of people stand in line at Wal-Mart and wait to pay for their things and these thousands of people all look the same and these thousands of people all look at me. I shake more violently and feel Kevin Costner in my skirt and love Kevin Costner because Kevin Costner is not shaking at all. Kevin Costner is small and rectangular and organized into little digital bits. I think, 'I love I love I love I love I love…'

I move toward the door and feel a terrible feeling and move my legs quicker and I am outside and there is a beeping but I move to my little Honda and I sit in my little Honda and I drive my little Honda slowly away.

5 comments:

Tao Lin said...

this is a long story

Tao Lin said...

and good so far

O Hunt said...

Thank you.

Tao Lin said...

this is good

colin bones said...

the longness of this is good. this story makes me think of 'dances with wolves'. i think i would make that association regardless of whether you mentioned 'kevin costner' in the story, i think.