My taste buds continue to be fucked up. Almost everything tastes wrong or bad. I got bored today and had a pizza delivered to the house and it was about as bad as it could get. Not bad, but nothing good. It just tasted wrong. Who wants to spend so much money to have cardboard and pablum delivered to one’s residence? I was still hungry when I finished it off, so I ate a bowl of corn flakes! That was pretty good, actually. For some reason, oatmeal and breakfast cereals usually taste good, almost normal to me. I use artificial sweetener, so I don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Overheard At The Surrealist Peep-Hole
“That's plenty for me,” she said reassuringly, “if that's what you've been worrying about.”
“What makes you think I'd be thinking about that?” he asked.
“Oh...men always do, don't they?” she giggled.
“Do they?” As if he didn’t know. “Well, yeah—I guess that's right,” he grinned.
He liked her more for putting him at his ease like this than for her beauty or her intelligence or her passion or her dancing curly brown ringlets of hair. It didn't matter that what she'd said meant only that he was like other men—a hardon with only one sense of direction. Her kindness was still real.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
(Extracts from Dogger Gatsby's "Austin Notes")
Austin At Night
Dogger Gatsby remembered cars full of pot-smoking young people careening toward Mt. Bonnell for the view at midnight, or out toward Eastwoods Park on a school-day afternoon for beer and cake at Eeyore's Birthday Party. He got there too late for the beer, but there was still some cake!
Jefferson Airplane In Amerika
When Jefferson Airplane intoned, 'We are all outlaws in the eyes of Amerika,' it had stirred Dogger's friends. It had stirred him, he couldn't deny it. They were young enough to believe in things deeply then, more than they ever would again, and the song had seemed like a fairly sage anthem for the long dark night of their souls in the early seventies. By the time he was forty, the song made Dogger Gatsby cringe with embarrassment. Those days were gone.
"Rumor of Jefferson Airplane reuniting! Ha! As you see, that really held my interest."
The Airplane Done it
September 20, 1990: "And, by now, the Airplane's put out an album that one barely hears about. One song, about airplanes, is not very impressive. So much for nostalgia, I suppose."
When Dylan crept in, cryptically yowling that 'To live outside the law, you must be honest,' it had made perfect sense to Dogger Gatsby. Sometimes it still seemed to be true, though he was no longer certain that it made anything more than marginal sense.
Dogger still liked Dylan's music, including some of his new music, but mostly the old rock n roll songs.
Were not much in evidence. Though Austin might have been viewed elsewhere in Texas as some sort of bastion of liberalism or personal freedom, many of it's adult citizens paid little attention to any of the young people or hippies at or around the university; they had long been indifferent to the standard college claptrap and were equally, perhaps increasingly, hostile to the present counter-culture hysteria. If you went far enough south or far enough north, there was the Austin with shiny pickup trucks and beer guts hanging over sweaty belts.
Friday, February 24, 2006
I seem to take more to self-decoration of late. Because I lost all this weight, I’ve had to buy new clothes, so there’s that. I have some pretty shirts and great jeans. And there’s this cheery blue hat that I was saving for God knows what, so I dusted it off and am wearing now as I type. Call me Walter Winchell, I live in my hat. Not really, but I do more and more often forget to take it off when I go indoors. You know, once you do wear a hat, you conclude that the safest place for it IS on your head. If I take it off, somebody is liable to sit on it. Or I might leave town without it. After all, who wants to drive back across town to retrieve a goddamn stupid decoration? Not me.
And there’s my gold ring with crimson garnet I laid aside a few years ago, one that I only wore for about a year. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know why I do half the things I do or why I don’t do half the other things I don’t do! But here’s the old ring, out of the desk drawer, back in my possession. The garnet has a couple of two-bit diamonds on each side of it to accent it. And there’s a groove down the middle of the band that was once filled by what I took to be white gold, but all that beauty wore away as fast as it could dance. But it remains an attractive groove.
So, the ring is back, even if less than it originally was. It’s okay, I don’t mourn for it. It’s like other old friends, I guess, not loved less just because of the wear and tear. But there is one problem with it. It used to not fit too well, but now that I’ve lost a hundred pounds, it seems as if each of my fingers has lost about a pound each! I’ve mentioned before in this blog that the ring first fell off my ring finger, then off the finger next to that, then off the index finger! I now have it taped up (like a high school girl with her sweetie’s class ring) and wear it on my middle finger. Fuck the bunch of ya, I figure—I’m gonna keep this ring around no matter how many fingers it doesn’t fit! It’s a little loose, even as it is, so it takes a few dozen adjustments per day to keep it centered. But I’m essentially retired, inactive, and need something to do. So I’ll do that; I’ll adjust and fidget my life away. I’ll probably get good at it. Some day when I’ve stopped losing weight (one way or the other), I’ll spend the money to get the ring properly sized for the real ring finger. No more bullshit with adhesive tape! Until then: onward through the fog, all you fruitflies! Or, live long and prosper, silly rabbits!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
IN THE BACK SEAT
I suppose that I'm that way about a lot of things—about as cautious and considerate as a teenage boy in the back seat of a car when his virgin princess says, “No, don't!”, but her eyes are closed and her legs are spread wide and her trembling arms are pressed against her breasts, secretly exciting the nipples. Someone says, “Unngh! Gimme that, put it in, I need it!” and if we aren't sure who said it, it doesn't matter. If no one else said it, it was me. I'm like that. I get tired of everyone pretending to be so nice. I even get tired of people being that nice.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Love Not Sex
Not love, but sex,
Then again, not sex, but a spasm,
And yet again not that,
But some leak, a seep, a mire, a fall, a chasm—
No success with which to fail,
Just punk perverse desire unfulfilled.
No heart will be informed, no hurt performed,
When what is barely known is spilled
And privately killed, brought forth from death to life,
Infirm made firm again
By an untold act of man self-rung.
Perhaps it'll raise the roof again
Or steel one's nerves or put some iron into that tack—
Oh, but always confusing love with sex
Or that youthful quirk with this ageing spasm
Or faith’s tender hope with a hose of flesh
Or love's lengthy height of life with this continued lowly loss…
Will we turn back or never see
That we can never gain it back?
And what does this bogus Ground now tell
Of what is lost or found?
I remember you all—or some—
But not your names—well, some.
At times, your faces drift into my dreams
And I find myself limbless, mouthless, tongueless,
A skinless fulsome mechanism of flesh,
A froth with a frog’s voice or no voice,
A consciousness lacking the usual—orifices, appendages,
Or any motion or device that even in a dream
Could any point or congress make.
Blind and alive, with piercing blue eyes and more,
Leaning far out over the narrowing ever-glistening universe
In quest of you—I mean what I think is You—
Or at any rate something like you—
Even that would do—or would it Never do?
But then, it's not Me, is it, but something like me.
Once I was That which I remember; now I am This
Which I cannot contemplate. Man and beast; breath and death.
I never used to hurt, I used to have my youth and eat it, too,
I laughed—but now, as old but worse than you,
I count the days and see the flaws,
I sense the swollen flesh, but feel the claws,
That shred instead of purge
The flesh's awful urge!
Such feats of imaginative mental want and waste is this!
Oh yes, dear guest, it's fun to taste the tale,
But those who live that writhing dirge may sometimes die
To say it's worse than that seedless spasm when you fail—
Even if you do not. Fail.
From the far side of faulted fur and hide,
Stretched out tight across the vault of universe like a drum,
As taut as a pregnant woman’s marbled belly,
Cold as clinging shrink-wrap that prevents any touch,
Hard as abrasive rock on which that hairless-headed vulture
Scrapes Prometheus on his fleshy side,
Chewing that out-of-season primordial god in every season,
Not from hunger or desire, but force of habit alone, enthralled—
Beyond this point,
Choiceless amphibians call with halted voice
Till there is no flesh and there is no kin and there is no call—
Only those tenuous see-through veins of death,
Cold blue against the warm pink surface of the skin,
And all these tadpole echoes of time that float away,
Yet sink, adrift like drunken mayflies in a thrumming vaulted hall.
10th draft: 02/16/06
©1998 Ronald C. Southern
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
She sits in bed with the television on
And the volume turned down low,
She sits in bed and turns her head,
Tossing it to and fro,
Moved by thoughts of loss and love,
Touching herself in a breathless trance,
A fantasy dance of a queasy sort
With someone she doesn't think much of.
Love goes like that.
It comes and goes in a darkened room,
Bringing up things at an awkward time
And staining the clean white womb,
Turning harm loose on an awkward truce
And shifting the wax in men's ears.
What does she think now,
Now that so many lovers are lost?
Are they all the same, a bit confused,
Or do they each stand out quite clear?
Love goes like this.
The carping wail and waste of words
That scrapes the bone and fleshy shell,
Cuts muscle, and slices veins.
"And I await, each time the same," she sighs,
"These fools that tumble to and fumble so
To unleash their wretched rigid tools."
"Men come and then they go," she sighs,
"And ask such questions in-between that
It's far less tiring to keep our heads
Tossing to and fro,
Moved by a touch
We know and love,
Living in our heads in a private dance
With imagined partners we don't think much of."
5th draft: 02/12/06
©1996 Ronald C. Southern
John J. Plomp: "You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers."
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
I dreamt last night that I was furiously bumping Erica Jong.
Not one of her infamous zipless fucks, but a rip-roaring,
Cock-teasing, cunt-thrilling, head-reeling, orgasmic love-and-suck.
(Like any pornographic fantasy, it was very precise.)
We wrote torrid poetry together across each other's backs,
Overwriting the goose bumps on the flesh, both of us
Pale and pink and blonde, getting too old too fast,
Obsessed as ever with just feeling good
And not finding it easy to do.
The dream was difficult, of course,
Not really knowing how she looks.
I only know her face from book-jacket photos
And previous erotic dreams.
I haven't "seen" her in eleven years now;
Even if she's much the same,
She's bound to've changed.
Maybe she's fat now and doesn't like to fuck,
Or enormously more intelligent than even she ever thought she'd be
and no longer even says the word fuck unless she's mad as hell
Or making some emphatic point.
Still I dream sometimes of being fucked by her,
Her blonde, frosty-blonde or maybe gray-blonde hair
Tossing to and fro, her wise, wide eyes looking at me as if
I'd offered to entertain her, and wasn't doing badly, at least so far,
Her eyes opening and closing rapidly as my fingers tickle her crotch,
Her puppy-dog nose flaring, and she's staring at me calmly and grins as,
Lazily, she opens her pale pink legs and says, "Show me what you've got!"
Then her big girlish mouth slowly opens, looking older,
And she laughs at me sweetly and looks at my cock
And reaches for it nimbly and then guides it in, saying,
"It's enough, I think, for what we have to do here,"
And I'm relieved, resolved to love her well,
Intent on our survival for at least one
Hour of delicious wacky dreams, determined to fuck her to orgasm
Until our bodies fall lovingly upward into a descendingly wicked dream.
Some day she may hear of this and be infuriated: a stranger
Being falsely intimate with her real fragility and strength.
Still I feel this connection strongly of one misfit to another.
She is always liberated and imprisoned, sexist and victim, confused
In a constant tumble of curving, discerning words, if only in my dream.
Maybe this was pretty zipless, after all. Sorry, Erica.
5th draft: 02/13/06
©1995 Ronald C. Southern
Sunday, February 12, 2006
This older woman likes it, he thought,
Being pawed aggressively like this,
Her back rubbing sensuously
Against the yielding plastic greenhouse wall,
Her skirt clutched tightly in one hand,
Her half-seen face gaily grimacing
While she held him to her tightly in the dark.
It was better than she'd ever imagined, he imagined.
Not bad for him, either—he’d never felt better,
Though they’d just now met at the party.
Whatever was true, whatever was false,
The tall woman leaned back on the greenhouse wall
And spread her arms wide like a crucified bride
And trembled like a girl
With the younger man's face on her thighs.
4th draft: 05/02/04
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Without really planning it, I recently reviewed a couple of old posts from my “Pretty Good Ones” list and found that they were in fact pretty good! They made me realize how much more sweat and inspiration I was putting into those posts that I’ve been doing lately. I think I feel about as inspired these days, it’s just the perspiring that’s lacking! I’m always crawling around feeling tired and worn out. Inspiration just doesn’t enter into it! Even on my birthday, I feel disenchanted, disinclined and badly diminished; I wonder when I’ll ever come back to myself?
Friday, February 10, 2006
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Sunday, February 05, 2006
A Renewed Squeak
I don't seem to want to read anybody these days, much less everybody. I force myself to click a link. I force myself to skim. Everybody's blog is about the same as before. I thought I should try some new blogs, but "Next Blog" keeps leading me to Spanish, French, and German sites that I REALLY can't read! (I don't mean to insult the rest of the planet, but I wish I could turn off those foreign languages and just limit myself to English. It's bad enough just deciphering the British and Australians. Anyway, new blogs haven't renewed my old zest. I could say you all bore me, but I suppose it'd be more honest to say I bore myself. My months of illness and of trying to fill out retirement papers and other documents are wearing me down. I again would like to buy some clothing that fits since I've shrunk smaller than the original smaller sizes that I bought. I'm slim, I'd like to look that way. Not wear baggy pant or shirts that fit like tents. But seeing the fate that's befallen all my first "smaller sizes", it's not so encouraging to buy more clothing to shrink out of!
I have lately gained 1 lb. and then later 2 lbs. I take that as encouraging, but I don't really know yet if that will stick to my bones or not. I need to stabilize my size just a little more before throwing good money after bad. I don't want to ever be an Extra Large again, but I'd also like to be sure if the shrinkage has ceased!
The damnation is, all the stuff that's genuinely fattening is also likely to push my blood sugar high, and a diabetic can't do that. Life ain't like it used to be. I just wish it'd be like Something and not a total guessing game. I've shrunk from size 42 pants to 40 and then 38 and now size 36 that Needs A Belt! I need a goddamn cure, folks! I don't want to disappear or to live as this disease.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
There was a knock on the door just as she walking past it and Evelyn jumped. Shaking her head and taking a deep breath, she went to the door and opened it. As soon as she saw who it was, she started talking rapidly.
"Sometimes I get so sick and tired of Adam," Evelyn said. "I don't know how you can stand him! I don't know how I stand him!"
Her sister-in-law Ruth stood in the doorway awkwardly balancing an armful of grocery bags and blinked. "Whoa, girl!" Ruth smiled. "Back it up a minute! Invite me in and we'll talk about it, okay? I need to put this ice cream in your fridge 'fore it melts, then we can talk. And how 'bout something to drink?"
"We got some tea," Evelyn said with a shrug and headed for the kitchen, her head hanging slighted, her shoulders bowed.
"Where is Adam, anyway?" Ruth asked.
"Oh, he's gone off hunting with that pack of idiots he's been hanging out with lately." She shook her head as if to get it out of her mind.
The kitchen was her favorite place, especially when Ruth came to visit. They often sat at the table together, drinking iced tea and talking their hearts out. They could talk for hours, if Adam wasn't there. Having someone to talk to like that was always such a change for Evelyn that she couldn't help loving it.
"Honey, you sure look unhappy," Ruth said as Evelyn handed her an icy glass. "Just what it is he did this time, anyway?"
"Oh, he arranged some stupid hunting trip with his pals at Wal-Mart! I wouldn't mind him going, but he didn't even tell me about it until we were going to sleep last night! 'Oh, didn't I mention that?' he says, as if it was the smallest oversight in the whole world. This is the first weekend he hasn't had to work in a month, and does he spend it with his kids and me? No, he hauls ass with those nitwit, alcohol-sucking idiots he works with at the store!"
"I see what you mean, sweetie," Ruth said casually. "But, actually, that's what men do, you know? It's what they're good at."
"What's what they're good at?" Evelyn frowned slightly.
"Going off and leaving you holding the bag. Leaving you with the work. Leaving you just when you need them most or when you want them most. Most of them haven't really liked a grown woman since they met their mother.
"Is that really true?" Evelyn asked with widened eyes.
"Hell, I don't know, Evelyn," Ruth laughed, "but it sounds true! Besides, I shouldn't talk like that, considering that Adam's my brother and his mother's my mother."
"Yeah, I wondered about that," Evelyn said, nodding her head slowly as if now she understood, though she couldn't see as where she did.
"My little sister Babs," Ruth said, "she ended up married to someone who didn't really like grown women. You've met her'n Joe Dan, haven't you?" Evelyn nodded. "Yeah, I thought so. Can't nobody hardly stand them, the way they carry on about religion. Joe Dan's a lot like Adam, but Joe Dan ain't even as smart as Adam, if you ask me."
"I-I never much thought of Joe Dan being anything like Adam," Evelyn said, confused by what she'd just heard. "I only met him a few times at big family gatherings. I never talked to him, really. You say you think he's like Adam, but worse?" She spoke in a puzzled voice, scrunching up her eyes at her sister-in-law as if to see better. Ruth saw her expression and laughed.
"Yeah, yeah, I know! But he really does make Adam seem like a genius sometimes, if you ever get to know him! What Babs ever saw in him, I swear I don't know, especially since she used to be so wild. Maybe he was good in the sack, but I doubt that's it, since the two of them are always acting either like sex don't exist or else that it's the world's biggest sin."
"They do?" Evelyn asked, her eyes opening wide.
"Oh yeah. At least that's how they act nowadays. I mean, obviously they still do it, because Babs keeps shootin' out those babies."
"God," Evelyn laughed, "you make it sound like peas being shelled!"
"Well, you know, it probably is something like that for them," Ruth grinned. Ole Babs has got four now and is bound to be pregnant soon again. I used to figure they just turned out the lights and had fun and then felt guilty about it afterwards, but I finally decided they prob'ly don't have fun at all!"
Evelyn raised her eyebrows and Ruth grinned. She knew she was getting carried away with her story, but didn't care. Sometimes it was just fun to talk.
"They just grit their teeth and feel guilty right smack while they're doing it, is what I think!" Ruth giggled.
"Is that really true?" Evelyn asked.
"Hell, I don't know!" Ruth laughed lightly. "But it'd make as much sense as anything else I know about them! I ain't ever heard either of 'em say a word about sex that wasn't totally uptight. They're prudes, for sure. Of course, it's worse than that, really."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, maybe I shouldn't tell you, but you're family, and you're not a blabbermouth, I guess."
Evelyn nodded her head solemnly in agreement, not knowing it was even true that she could be trusted, but wondering what confidence was about to be told. Really, she wasn't sure about Ruth's assertion; she didn't know if she was a blabbermouth or not. She guessed she wasn't, since nobody'd ever said she was. She put her elbows on the table, rested her chin on her hands, and sighed, preparing to listen carefully. She always used to love listening to gossip at her Aunt Heather's house, but that'd been a long, long time ago. Her aunt had died when Evelyn was sixteen, and she hadn't met a woman she really liked listening to since then, except for Ruth. Her sister?in?law was always interesting. She didn't get to talk to her all the time, though, because Adam could barely stand his sister. From what Ruth said, hardly anyone in Adam's family could stand anyone else.
She could understand not liking a brother. When she was eleven, Evelyn's older brother and some of his friends had caught her in the woods, taken her clothes off, and tied her up. Then left her in the woods to find her way home alone. She's stumbled home, naked. She felt humiliated, even though she wasn't really sure what had happened to her. She slipped in through the back door into her room without anyone noticing. She'd never even told her parents. At times she was afraid that Adam or Ruth might suddenly tell her that something like that had happened between them, but Ruth didn't seem to hate Adam quite that way, so Evelyn had decided that that wasn't it. It must be something else, she guessed.
"About ten years ago," Ruth continued, "Babs was leaving the shopping mall late at night and got kidnapped by some men."
"Oh, God, that's awful!" Evelyn shuddered.
"Yeah, it was," Ruth said perfunctorily. Evelyn was increasingly amazed at how little telling the story seemed to bother her. Evelyn wondered if maybe Ruth liked her sister as little as she liked Adam.
"Adam never told me about that!" Evelyn said.
"Well, he doesn't talk much about stuff like that, you know that. Anyway, that was the summer he was off at that camp as a counselor. He was too young to know a lot about it. Babs herself was only twenty then, and hadn't gotten so fat yet. So you can imagine what those men wanted. And they got it, too."
"Didn't anybody try to stop them?" Evelyn asked.
"No one even noticed it happening, honey. Babs kicked and screamed, but they had a hand clapped over her mouth and had dragged her into their van before she'd gotten two yelps out of her mouth. Then once she was in the van, they stuffed a rag of some kind in her mouth and tied her hands behind her."
"I don't like this story at all," Evelyn shivered.
"Would you rather I didn't tell it, dear?" Ruth asked.
"No, I didn't mean that. What happened when they got in the van?"
"Well, they got started putting their hands under her clothes-all over her, you know. And they talked dirty, telling her everything they were going to do to her when they got her to their cabin. One of the men unzipped himself and pushed his thing up against her face. He was laughing at her and actually hitting her with it! I guess he thought he had a club between his legs.
"Anyway, not to be too gruesome or long-winded about it, they took her to some cabin way out in the woods near Pineville and took turns raping her. Over and over again. Every way they could. I mean, every way."
"Oh," Evelyn murmured. He throat felt dry.
"Yeah," Ruth said. "I could tell, talking to her later, that it was more sex things than Babs had ever even heard of."
Ruth shook her head sadly and paused to light a cigarette. Evelyn barely noticed it; she was too upset by what she'd heard to say anything. Adam didn't like anybody smoking in his house, but Ruth always ignored him. Besides, he'd gone hunting and probably wouldn't be back for a long time. Evelyn could air out the house before he came home. Ruth seemed to have collected herself and then went on, her voice growing increasingly bitter.
"Of course, they beat her up, too, as if putting their goddamn ugly little dicks in her wasn't enough for them!"
Evelyn flinched at Ruth's strong language, but said nothing.
"She was black and blue all over," Ruth continued, "and had two teeth knocked out and a broken rib. They'd burned her with cigarettes, even urinated on her! I swear, the thing that's frightening about people who do such crazy things is that it seems like there's just no limit to their craziness, and-"
Suddenly Ruth though about Evelyn's nervous breakdown and wondered if she was making the girl nervous. Maybe she should just shut up.
"Excuse me, sweetheart!" she told Evelyn. "You know I didn't mean you!"
"Yeah, I know," Evelyn grinned sheepishly. She tried not to be too sensitive.
"Why should I have to feel guilty?" she wondered. "I didn't hurt anybody, except maybe some people's feelings. People get over that."
"What happened in the end?" Evelyn asked. "Did they just let her go?"
"No, nothing as easy as that," Ruth said, sipping her iced tea. "I need some more ice," she said distractedly. She tilted her chair back, twisted in her chair, and opened the refrigerator door. She groped to open the freezer door, but when it was open, the door itself was in the way.
"You can't reach the ice that way," Evelyn said. "I've tried."
"Too bad," Ruth sighed, standing up and getting her ice the regular way. She sat back down and looked thoughtful.
"No," she said, "they didn't just let her go. They left her there tied up and naked. That's when they peed all over her, all of them thinking it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. She nearly choked. She said they were all drunk, but I can't imagine anyone being that drunk. What would they do a thing like that for? How could you get any pleasure out of it? Animals don't do that! Anyway, they took her clothes with them, too, so when she finally struggled free a few hours later there was nothing to cover herself with but the disgusting old rotted piece of curtain she'd been lying on when they pissed on her. It was about midnight then, and she was deep in the woods with no idea where she was. By the time she found her way to a house where she could ask for help, it was two in the morning. The people she woke up, they thought she was some kind of banshee, beating on their door at that hour, whining and crying at the top of her voice, then smelling like a urinal when they let her in the door!"
Ruth smiled suddenly at her own description. Evelyn was startled by Ruth's amusement and stared at her, frowning. Ruth saw the look and shrugged.
"I know, I know," Ruth said, "I seem cold about it, don't I? But it was all a long time ago, and the drama of it's sort of all faded away, you know? Besides, before things were over, part of it did get sort of comical. At any rate, it got so outrageous that about all you could do was laugh. In fact, it just got weirder and weirder."
"What do you mean?" Evelyn asked.
"Well, Babs' husband. Joe Dan went crazy when he found out about it. He ranted and raved about the wrath of God and talked about going out to find those men himself and kill them. He was going to kill them all and cut off their peckers! Daddy shook Joe Dan and told him to calm down, he wasn't going to make things any easier for Babs talking like that. Joe Dan shut up, but he was still red in the face when he slipped out of the house a couple of hours later. The next day, Daddy had to go down and get him out of jail. The sheriff out there had caught him and some of his friends rampaging around those woods around Pineville with rifles and handguns of all sorts. One of the guys with him, some guy named Eddie, had got so crazy he shot some poor cow to death out in a field, and that's why the sheriff had to grab them. Old Sheriff Hardegree was in office then, and he told Daddy he just locked the boys up for their own protection. I was kind of tickled by it. He said, 'I just don't want Joe Dan out there shootin' any more cows; they kinda expensive, you know? 'Sides, I don't want 'em getting their worthless damn butts shot off by some farmer neither!' Ha! You know how ole Hardegree talked!
Evelyn just nodded to be agreeable, so Ruth would go on with her story. She actually didn't remember the sheriff, much less remember how he talked. She'd never much been one for watching the news or local politics.
"Well, Daddy was pissed off, but he paid for the cow and he bailed Joe Dan and his friends out. A few weeks went by, then months, and they never did catch anybody for what they did to Babs. Joe Dan went back to work like a robot of some kind, and got worse-tempered than he'd ever been before, and wasn't even very nice to Babs when she came home from the hospital. As far as he was concerned, what had happened was something that had happened more to him than to Babs. Men are such assholes."
Evelyn again nodded slightly in agreement, though wondering for a moment if she really did. She'd always hoped that men just seemed that way because of her experiences. In the back of her mind, she'd held out hope that maybe they all weren't like that. Yet Ruth seemed to think there wasn't much hope, and Ruth was pretty smart.
"Anyway," Ruth said, lighting one cigarette off the previous one, "Joe Dan got worse and worse. Just turned into a nut. Finally he came home one day after a weekend fishing trip with his buddies and acted happy for the first time in months. He was smiling and even trying to be nice to Babs again. Which scared the shit outta Babs. She was afraid to even ask him what was going on, so she called me and I went over and talked to him."
"You didn't mind talking to him about stuff like that?" Evelyn asked.
"No, not really. But, anyway, I didn't really know what he was gonna talk about. I just knew Babs was scared, and Joe Dan had always been able to talk to me more easily than anyone else in the family, so I went. But it was damn weird stuff when he got to talking, I have to admit."
"What'd he talk about, then?"
"Ha! He said he'd decided that he didn't have to find those guys and kill them after all! After the first few weeks of searching for those guys, he ended up spend-ing a lot of time talkin' to a couple of his "born?again" Christian buddies. I'd al-ways thought he was over the dam about religion, but now it seemed like he'd got religion with a vengeance! Somehow his twisted little born-again brain had fig-ured out that he didn't have to take revenge!"
"You bet. God would do it, that's what he'd decided!"
"You're kiddin'!" Evelyn said, smiling despite herself.
"Yeah. He stood right there in front of me, smiling gently-as if that gross idiot ever had a genuinely gentle sensation in his whole damn life!-and starts talkin' the wildest half-baked theological shit!
"'I don't got to do nothin'," he says. "'If I just get right with God, them rapists' penises are gonna rot and fall off, and that that's a lot more terrible punishment than I could give them!'"
I wanted to laugh right in his face at first, but then I thought how much trouble he'd caused up until he reached this weird conclusion, so I nodded my head and did my best to keep a straight face and go along with him. It was as good a way as any for him to look at it, I thought, if it'd just stop him thinking and talking about it all the time! So I told Joe Dan he was probably right, and I went and told Babs and Daddy and everybody else in the family to just let him believe it, since it seemed to have quieted him down. The silly bastard's been so quiet ever since, at least on the subject of sex, that if it wasn't for all them kids I'd think his prick had rotted and fallen off!
"Is he really that crazy about God?" Evelyn asked.
"He rants about God, if you ask me!" Ruth laughed. "And he's such a horrible little twerp, I imagine anyone in the world would be more pleasant to discuss God with! You mean, you haven't ever had to listen to him spew about this?"
"No, Joe Dan doesn't talk much in front of me for some reason," Evelyn said.
"That doesn't mean much, though. He doesn't really like talking to women, not even to Babs."
"I don't really know. I suspect he just thinks women are stupid and dirty, some kinda 'Vile Temptation' or somethin' like that, now that he's got so damn much religion."
"I think Adam's a little bit like that, too," Evelyn said. "Don't you think so?"
"Yeah, a little bit. All men are, at certain times. Though it ain't always religion that makes them act that way. Some of them'll take any excuse to speak badly of women. I still think it's cause their mamas ran them down too much when they were little or made 'em feel neurotic and guilty about wantin' to look down their Mamma's dress. Problem is, they don't really take it out on their mothers. They take it out on you and me, the nasty shits, 'cause they're still afraid of Mamma!"
Despite the terrible tale she'd just heard about Babs, when she heard Ruth's last remark, Evelyn broke into helpless laughter.
"Well, they are!" Ruth giggled.
Current draft: 03/02/03
© 1989 Ronald C. Southern
Thursday, February 02, 2006
“I've always been afraid of the sky at night,” Jesse Diana said softly.
She had always been shy, she meant. Even Johnathan understood that much. He nodded his head and gently rubbed her neck. They were sitting in her car, parked near the edge of the dark hilltop, gazing at the stars. The lights of the city were plainly visible behind them, but distant enough to make no intrusion on their view. The stars were bright and cast a tranquil, softening light on the lovers.
“He looks so friendly,” Jesse thought dreamily, then closed her eyes, letting her thoughts drift, her thighs relax. She surprised him now by holding onto his arm and resting her head on his shoulder.
“But somehow it's different tonight,” she said aloud. “The rain and the moonlight makes it seem safer, you know? The sky, I mean.”
Jesse had been falling off the earth, she felt, for a long, long time, falling like a frightened child toward a far, bottomless sky. Everything was upside down, upside down, and had been for years. She was afraid to turn loose of anything, for she didn't know where she'd land. She had always been sure her heart would break before the end and she didn't want to be conscious of what was happening if life was going to be like that, though she didn't want to be unconscious either, for she was afraid someone would take advantage of her. She was afraid to be afraid—in short, she was afraid of her own shadow.
She was afraid all the time these days. She was in love, too, she supposed, not to mention in lust. Yet she was now approaching middle age and it was the middle—or at least not the end—of the AIDS epidemic, and one had to be more careful than ever. Johnathan was interesting, but he wasn't “perfect”. No knight in shining armor, she knew. She was stuck on him and stuck with him. But more than that, somehow, and she knew she had to be cautious.
Johnathan said nothing for a long while, just patted her head, stroked her arm, and stared out the window. He meant to show that he understood. He had no idea at all what she meant, but he was enjoying her touch. He liked the way her body felt nuzzled against his, and he didn't see where his understanding mattered very much if he could only calm her down. If he could only make her focus on him. An old trick, but still the one that was needed.
“Why does she have to be so shy all the time?” he wondered. “Jesse's nice like this, no matter that she seems a little sad.”
That was, more or less, true. She was not distinctly unhappy, and that was as good as things got sometimes, he felt. He wondered why she didn't understand that.
“It's finally started to rain here a bit,” Jesse had written that afternoon in a letter to her friend Pearl. “Well, there you have it; you finally caught me talking about the weather! Today we had one of those rare rains that actually makes the day a little cooler. It was strange, but nice, and I was glad I noticed. Most of the time, I don't, of course. It's hard to keep track of nature when you can't even keep track of yourself.”
3rd draft: 02/02/06
©1989 Ronald C. Southern
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Tomorrow or the next day I may confess
In long and sensual letters of our lost passion,
Letters filled with sighs as soft as rose petals,
Petals rusty red as children's blood
Spilled across their white Sunday best,
Or I may caress you from a distance
With solemn words of no special meaning;
Meaning, of course, that in my joy I found you
And in your deep blue eyes I found
The ransom for a bright new
April morning; and in the morning
Found the silver, wet, and green
That were an answer to the roses.
Tomorrow or the next day I may
Write long and angry letters of
No-decision, pleading and demanding
That we can love forever or else we cannot love.
I will caress you from my wheelchair with my
Fury fresh and full, but empty of meaning;
Meaning, of course, that in my joy I found you
And through your flesh and hope and tears I found
The flush of April spreading that had been deeply hidden
In every crevice and in every wintry evening
And in the Evening found
The silver, wet, and green
That were an answer to the roses—
Those roses rusty red, red like blood
Smeared on the faces of children
Who now protest they were never very hungry,
Who, wounded in their passion for such games,
Have now turned morbid and ceased to play.
5th draft: 02/01/06
©1980 Ronald C. Southern