Beatrix and the Hook-up

20 Jul: Beatrix & the Hook-Up

Threads of wet hair stick to my face and my skirt is swimming upstream to my undies. I feel like Marilyn Manson on a bad hair day. Through the window it looks run down. There is a small plastic sign on the inside door that says OPEN. I push the door. Inside it’s dismal like the Chroma key has been turned down to cut out the saturated colour. I’m relieved to be inside, away from the rain and sounds of passing cars and semi-trailers.

There’s old, dank carpet. It’s filled with dirt, shedded skin cells and dead hair follicles trapped in the worn fibers, containing the DNA molecules of brides. Dresses on metal railings, an old three-blade fan making a slow circular motion spreading fine dust particles. A fluorescent light flickers to the rhythm of a fly about to die. I wonder what I’m doing here. I’d read about this place in a wedding magazine. It said despite the interior, it has a good selection of dresses.

I put my engagement ring on. It’s from Tiffany’s, in the shape of a heart littered with bead diamonds.

‘I’m looking for a wedding dress, I’m getting married,’ I tell the lady holding my hand in the air. Her face is like the cracked paint of the walls covered in foundation.

‘That’s a Soleste Heart,’ she says. ‘This lot here will suit you. Have a look through if you want.’

She doesn’t give a toss really. By the inside of the shop it looks like she’s felt like this since 1995, when I was fifteen, listening to Amy Grant on headphones and watching Neighbours.

I can tell she knows I’m a fake, that I’m not really getting married. She takes me over to a rack of dresses and leaves me, going back to the counter to sit on her stool and stare out again at Parramatta Road, a decaying urban landscape. I look at and touch the white satin, lace, pearls, going over each dress. After searching the length of the rack I pick two and go to the change room.


20 Jul: Anteroom

“The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying,
To the boy’s soul’s questions sullenly timing, some drown’d
secret hissing.”

– Walt Whitman

I waited for the right time to leave,
which was not a specific time,
but how to tell? He was dying now,
so time was stuck in hell. Better
to say something than sit
like a sentry beside his bed. Better
to act as if we were home and I
was twelve again. So, I rose


19 Jul: Returning

Tucker was struck by how different Miles looked in his pictures. Time had been good to him. He was bronzed and broad-shouldered, muscular and bearded, a handsome, smiling buccaneer. Gone was the pale, waifish, gloomy boy of Tucker’s memory.  Tucker looked different, too, he knew. His hair was thinner. He was softer and flabbier, thicker around the middle. There was more flesh under his chin. He had, by his own admission, not aged as well as his friend. But he reassured himself. Looks aside, he had been pretty fortunate. He had a beautiful wife who loved him. He had sold more houses last year than any other Realtor in his company. He had financial security, a nice house on a good street, and a son on the way. By nearly every objective measure, he was doing quite well.

By the looks of his house, Miles was doing quite well, too. He lived in a large, impressive Tudor in the middle of a broad shady street lined with other large, impressive Tudors. As Tucker and his wife pulled into the driveway, Tucker estimated the house’s value. He figured it would go for about four hundred and fifty thousand if it were listed tomorrow. If he were the seller’s agent, he thought he could probably get five hundred thousand for it. He quickly calculated the commission in his head: a little over six thousand dollars after the buyer’s agent and the brokers took their shares. Not a bad haul. With that kind of paycheck, he could take a month off.

Tucker and his wife parked and got out of their car. Miles came out to greet them. Dressed in a tight gray t-shirt and form-fitting jeans, he looked even more chiseled and strapping in person than he had in his pictures. Behind him came a tall, trim man with a shaved head and dark, deep-set eyes. Tucker reached out to shake his friend’s hand. Miles ignored the hand and went right for a hug, wrapping Tucker up in his strong arms. He slapped Tucker on the back and pulled away. “Tuck,” he said. “It is so good to see you.  It’s been too long.”

Gig Night

19 Jul: Gig Night

“Turn that goddam music off kid, or I’m going to come upstairs! Shit Bird, no one wants to hear that damned noise.” Yea, when my dad was livid with me, he called me shit bird. He shouted from the bottom of my staircase, his words were sluggish and sloppy due to drinking a twelve pack of Coors every night after work. This night was no exception. He worked hard in construction as a plasterer, building homes around Fresno in the sweltering summer heat.


19 Jul: They Worried About Her

moss grew in the folds
of your rough skin
and I wondered if this is where
your dreams ran
in the low green hills –
children in grey dresses
with filthy hems,
always smelling like fire

they asked me to keep watch
to see where you go
every bus every cab every street
big and slow and dark
like sharks

The Projection

18 Jul: The Projection

She led the boy to acquiesce to a break-up while standing in line for a motion picture. Which motion picture? The knowledge has flown. She remembers the boy as a curiosity, in the way that she might recall a well-meant gift. She remembers his face. Its hope. Its fleshiness. Had they quarreled?

The Calm

17 Jul: The Calm

Haiti was in ruin. Again.

It was one of those places outside my consciousness most of the time—couldn’t tell you anything about the local politics or even, with any precision, where to find it on a map, until it materialized on the news, the victim of earthquakes and tropical storms and hurricanes.

It was on TV. Sheets of rain, trees pulled up from their roots, homes torn asunder. “It’s coming for us, buddy,” Uncle Ron said.


17 Jul: Hurricane

I wasn’t, strictly speaking, happy about the hurricane. I knew it made my parents nervous to travel to the beach, and that plenty of the other family members were on edge. The bride and groom, to the extent I knew them, were compulsively put together, but in this instance were subdued, distracted, frazzled, and only charming in the spaces in between.

But it was exciting, too. The prospect of seeing tornadoes whip past, or a violent ocean, visible though the eastward facing upstairs bedroom windows of the beach house.