I won’t drink so much when I’m not lonely anymore. Drinking makes me like Popeye in the night times and we all gotta spend a little part of the day feeling strong. Sometimes I go two kilometres extra over the speed limit to get home quicker. It’s not like I’m salivating for it or anything, like when the waitress is coming towards you with the sizzling plate of Mongolian quail sending smoke into the restaurant sky and your lips are wet and parted. It’s nothing like that. It’s not the taste of it that gets me going. Sometimes I can taste egg. Sometimes little fruit flies are in it and I have to dig them out with my fingernail before I keep going. What I love is two sips and I feel warm, two glasses and I feel strong. Like spinach in a glass. And your boss could be there right then and tell you that you fucked up and you made the worst mistake the company has ever known and you won’t feel sorry cos your conscience has a bone to play with. You’ll just get up, with that delightful deep red stained on your lips, with that egg glass in your mitts, the fruit flies buzzing round, and you’ll tell him the bravado wasn’t fooling anybody, cheerio fingers always mean cheerio cock.
The face started living under my lids. Joy and a two rows of teeth smile. And I was the little girl with the house mouse in the shoebox under the bed, poking carrots and bread crusts into the holes to keep it alive. I would use the face in the night times to help me feel complete. I lived alone then. I liked living alone and I didn’t like it. Sometimes living alone made me think about how long it might take for my body to be found if I died from choking. Sometimes living alone made me feel like I had gotten too unrestrained because I’d find myself doing things like things I don’t really want to talk about and playing the same songs over and over. Picturing the face put an anchor on me. It became my nightly ritual, a clockwork miracle, I’d get nicely stoned and crawl under the doona and take off my pants. The face would meet me at my little front door. Black beard darker, longer. Hair different, all the beads and shells gone, hippy boy a man with eyes brighter, joy and a two rows of teeth smile. And I wouldn’t say a thing I’d just jump, my wrists brushing his backpack as they met around his neck. Reach for that slug tongue with mine, his beautiful lips like fat happy leeches, my ankles like pythons at the back of his knees. We’d do it right there on the staircase. Our throbbing bodies quivering with instinct and sweat like we were creatures of Charles Darwin and there was nothing else. And then he would not let my eyes go. Stubborn man eyes. Eyes of a man who has found his woman and he’s not scared about that. He’d cup my face in the curve of his hand and say I love you. This is where he’d tell me he always had. I’d be sitting there on top of him, with him still in me as he’d tell me what the outer suburbs of Melbourne were like.
This nightly ritual went on for months. This or something similar. Sometimes we’d fuck in my garden instead of on the stairs for instance. And it would be just like the last time we fucked in real life where my eyes couldn’t keep straight and I was on top and we had to keep quiet. We’d been watching Carl Barron on the tele and he put his hand over my mouth because I was being too loud and was only supposed to make a noise when Carl cracked a good one and the audience laughed. It’s May now and I still feel like a rigor mortised kangaroo corpse at the thought of my skin under someone else’s weird little hands. I don’t even usually like going on top but I felt so free.
I’ve got a problem. I like turning into a goblin. I like turning into a goblin just to see what happens. I don’t know why I do it but I kind of do. I think it’s to find the real man. I think it’s to find Mel Gibson on horseback tearing through the village with a spear.
He had been so beautiful that night. Attentive, getting me scotches. He was sitting there wearing my little house like a glove. He looked so good. I loved the way he dressed. He’d wear footy shorts and have beads and shells in his hair and big feet like he was everything and none of it. Was I really in love with him? It felt there right then it was far to soon like it must have been a sickness in me. Can you say you love when you have only backstroked through the yum? I was disgusting. I couldn’t help but keep looking at him. I liked him there. I liked him sat just like that with his knees bent and bare feet tucked neat beside him, wearing my house like a glove and I never ever wanted him to leave, so I said it. I said do you think I’m stupid. He looked at me like I was holding a cat by its tail above the furnace. I said you are a tiger, do you think I think I can bring you in from the wild and not have you resent me. He wanted me to stop but I kept going. I kept going until he left.
And a lady came to my house. She had wedgetail eagle feathers and sage. He had been back in the outer suburbs of Melbourne for a while. I had written a poem for him and he’d been mean back, I’d fantasised about him twenty one times. She asked me if it was ok if her dog was in the room. He was a little jack russell. I said it was ok. She went to my heart and she cursed. She swept the wedgetail feather over my heart, I felt the wind it made, I smelt the smokey homey tang of sage and asked her if everything was ok. Your heart, your heart, your heart, your heart! She said. And I just go, I know.
It was early, 9.00am or so. The Book Barn had just opened it’s iron jaws. The old man, the white-haired store keep was bending over, he was tending to the towers at the door, books up to his knees and he apologised for the mess as I wandered through.
Classical music was playing inside, such a smell of musky powdery damp goodness and there’s this olive velvet arm chair behind the till, pre war, with a paperback butterflied upon it’s arm, and a half drank black coffee on the bench beside it. I smiled seeing it all, the discovery that he’d been sat there well before scheduled opening time.
He came inside nursing what he could, the books sat like slats in his arms and he apologised to me again, about the mess . Vinnies is closed he goes.
Oh, is it? I say not knowing what else it was he wanted. But then I realised he was just catching his breath and he wasn’t done talking yet.
Everyone is dumping their books here, leaving me to get rid of all the silverfish!
And I hadn’t heard about silverfish since I was a kid, the sea monkeys of the paper oceans! Noone talked about silverfish anymore. It made me all gooey and I forgot what I went in there for.
Jeff is real,
he says the things he means.
And he don’t care if they think he’s crazy
he knows they’ll just catch upsomeday
and worship him when he’s dead.
Be real Jeff whispers.
Since I was a kid.