It’s crowded and gay down there, with a masturbating jazzband.
- Nabokov, Ada, or Ardor
The cicadas have an urgent descending thrum to them, di-urp di-urp di-urp. Backing them is the ticker-ticker of the sprinklers, the frantic cymbal-brush of summer here, heard too infrequently in rainy 2014. Some large insect is beating its wings, or thrashing its carapace against the walls or the blinds, and now and then a helicopter flutters by with a mucky thrub, thrubba thrub thrubba.
I awoke from dreams of frustrated congress to the usual cat-riot and stinging headache. I’m still not used to the emptiness of the house. Theoretically I can occupy myself for a whole day, but there is a sure cost to my sanity. I opened the shutters, fed the cats, shat, did dishes, and chose a novel to read. It was “The Sandman” by Miles Gibson (1984), a funny and erotic wander through the career of a commonplace London serial killer. I liked it so much I’ve just bought his other six or seven novels second hand.
I ate leftovers. Now I must hide the alcohol and hoover because tomorrow I turn over the fort to our fortsitter, sexagenarian Kim. She hid the alcohol herself last time and apologised for it, so I figure I should do her this favour. Excuse me while I put away this double vodka. Note, there should be a comma after the first alcohol. I don’t need to hide the hoover, and it’s lucky I don’t as it’s a pretty conspicuous item of household electronics. Ah, do nothing day. If I lived alone I’d be well-read, but a roaring drunk.
I was tired of having a cold and didn’t want to go into the office, so I stayed home responding to emails like a dead frog responding to electric shocks. The cats were inert and the house felt very empty – so empty that by 11:30 I had had enough and cycled to the bookshop for succour. I had 20% off one book as my birthday fell (falls) (will fall) in this month, so I had to buy an expensive book. I got The Book of Legendary Lands by Eco (hardback) and also Jeff Vandermeer’s Wonderbook which may help me write a story one of these days. Two books where you’re really paying for the production values more than the text, but still worth reading, and I was in a production values mood.
I ate out twice today, God forgive me, as Pepys would say, sushi for lunch and a pizza and two martinis in the evening. I read the Eco both times. At dinner I listened to the conversations at the bar, which are much more audible when you’re solo than with a family. I heard every word, but I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it, it was a Biblical mess. The Rockies game was on the TV, and I kept hearing the talk at the bar as commentary. I suppose baseball and bars have been so close to each other for so long that their languages will have come to resemble one another?
Riding home, I fumbled for my rear light and met with empty space. I had hit a monstrous perturbation in the asphalt on my way to the bookstore earlier and heard a distant clacking, but checked the usual culprits and nothing had fallen off. It was the rear light, a very trusty one. God damn it! And so, covered in cats, to bed.
First up. Rudely I divide a muffin, press down the lever;
butter still firm to the knife’s touch. Opening the shutters,
a decent dump of snow, those funny geometric hats on cars;
skitter of squirrels written in that script that utters
its tongue only to a believer.
Putting the coffee into the Bialetti is a task I’ve performed
time out of mind. Dear, I’ve been dreaming a lot about the stars,
specifically visiting them, that is, Tau Ceti, Proxima Centauri,
etc., and setting up home on an exoplanet, or a moon warmed
by the brawny tides of another Saturn, glittery and hoary
as an aunt who’s overstayed a dance.
Now my son comes down full of carbon, indomitably happy, buoyed
by ornate dreams. Toast’s up, smoking and destroyed,
dissolving the cold chunks of butter like black ants.
Outside, the snow.
Dear, is there anywhere for us to go?, I want to call up the stairs,
arrange all of our affairs so that we inexorably fetch up
on a beach or in a movie. Instead I promise snowballs, throw
a look out the window, hear footsteps above. Squeeze ketchup
onto breakfast. The planets will do for now. Dear, the deckchairs.
It had been raining for a long time, not in an unvarying way, but intermittently gently and pelting. Probably when I stretched one nude leg and one arm out of the front door to grab the newspaper off the porch I lingered a moment in the gray light listening to the drips plopping from the eaves and from the drooping leaves of the dogwood tree. Some drips would have got onto the paper and brought out the heavy scent of newsprint in a smear.
On the other side of the inlet, we found ourselves standing under the Device to Root out Evil, not entirely by accident as it was one of my favorite places, especially on a rainy day. The never-ceasing rain fell on the sea and muted a float-plane which was just then lumbering, doggedly, into a sky unwaveringly gray. I had done the crossword which is how I know it was a Saturday. Our children I’m sure were jumping in puddles somewhere and there was the smell of our waterproofs and your rich hair and the soft delicate exterior of your ear.
At the Starbucks in São Paulo airport where everything is made of corrugated cardboard and suede, surrounded by humans and luggage. I keep glancing at the intricate gantrywork of the ceiling expecting to see a small bird flittering to and fro, but no.
(or a big truck passing by).
Sounds. No-one knows why.
Ringing of bells. Rattling of keys.
Velocities as diverse as opinions at the fête.
Get on your knees,
submit to the mother fuckers!
Count seconds to the thunder
and consider yourselves at ease.
- The dishwasher suddenly turns on
– Cats, like a squeaky door ten stories tall
– The Sprinklers, switching on with a placid hiss
When you walked out of the jungle wearing nothing
I thought all of my kingdoms had come at once.
Putting down my elephant gun was second nature,
third was entering a state of trance.
Then you spoke in that tongue like wet gravel and foam,
and I knew I’d never return to my willowed home.
Thick stubby plants coated with nodules cloaked you,
also the shadows cast by what seemed like two suns,
until you emerged into the llano, warily sniffing,
projecting that lethal nonchalance
which I suppose you acquired from enslaving people.
Grimly I decided I would be the last to topple.
I readied a fortification – a trench dug with a mattock
and a mound reared by sinew and puke and purest brawn.
I made it brown to counteract your yellow and orange
(brown being the only harvestable pigment)
and I bade my people kneel at the lighting of the lamps;
I instructed them that no lady or gentleman be exempt.
If only day had broken and you had smitten us entirely!
The citizens go about their business, pumping gas,
but there’s a region of thorns close to the surface
producing nightmares in filigree and glass.
The first, and deathless, nightmare, is when you emerge,
horrible, and we all fly, and all mortal things diverge.
I’m probably too drunk to be writing this. Of course when this blog was young and horny, I was never too drunk to write in it. But now I’m old and horny and no-one reads me any more, and that’s a big difference.
When the wife announced she was leaving me, and taking the kids…
for one night to stay with a friend at a local ski resort, I quaked a little at the prospect of a whole night free for myself. I could watch my Beckett DVD’s. I could masturbate insatiately. I could… there were lots of things I could do.
Of course, all I was ever going to do was take those hours between six and eight to read my novel and eat sushi, and after that it would just be a normal drinking night, except without the warming prospect of hot thighs to slot my thighs into, but with a hell of a lot more real estate to play with in the bed. Cats notwithstanding.