OME WEEKS AFTER THE HEINOUS EVICTION FROM WHAT I NOW CALL THE PERVASIVE LAP OF LUXURY, Lisa’s back is to me while we spoon, post-sex, in a teenage girl’s bedroom, decorated with all the expected, or unexpected accoutrements. Luckily we have other friends in Albuquerque, who are willing to put us up until the matter of our relocation is settled, and seeing as how the house was empty at the time, we decided to take full advantage of the fact.
The carpet inside the room is a teal shag.
There are snowglobes from Vegas and Disneyland,- neatly arranged on an oakwood entertainment center which holds a Toshiba 27” t.v., a Kenwood stereo (top of the line) and a wide range of educational childrens' books stacked on the shelves. Books I have never read, but am sure are full of developmental value all the same; books such as:
Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray
There are lots of class photos (photos in general really) from horseback riding adventures, dance team meets, and childish pranks gone awry (some involving tampons, Cherry Kool-Aid and big American smiles). There are photos with close friends rock-climbing, and at such a young age, this makes me feel older than I should, seeing as how everyday is just another unscaleable rock, or a real bloody tampon with no photo opportunities...
There is a plastic, inflatable, but deflated, red bass gutiar tacked to the wall and ROCK-n-ROLL is emblazened on the body in bold cursive.
There is a poster above the iron bunk bed, which is extremely noisy, each spring rolling and stretching like the spinal column of a wounded beast with exasperated muscle tissue. It is an illustration of an orange, cartoon cat holding a sign:
GOOD THINGS MAY COME IN small PACKAGES…
The word small is italicized, the other letters seen on a much larger scale, and I assume that this serves to emphasize the ideal that just because something/someone is smaller, does not automatically mean they/it are useless, or < worthy of any acolades SOMETHING/SOMEONE BIGGER may RECEIVE.
While I lay my head against the pillow, the October air cuts through the blinds above me. Lisa lies on her stomach, her brown skirt still riding high around her waist, her ass bare and her legs bent at the knees. Her feet are dangling effortlessly in the air and she seems content for the most part. But there is still a tinge of the desperate unknown in her breathing. I can see it when she flips the pages of the book in her hand. A book she has picked up from beneath the bed and a book that we both have grown to love madly.
I trace the black rose on her left hip with my fingertips, all the while praying; to who or what is uncertain, but I pray that:
‘Today will be the day we move into our own place.’
On the right side wall, are cut-out magazine photos with different puppies, all portrayed in a light-hearted manner, caught motionless in one “cute” scenario or another.
# A Golden Retriever is perched at the brim of an ivory-marble sink.
# A smug Pug chocks his chin to the left and stares directly into the camera with his black eye, sprawled out on a black leather couch and not a care in the world.
# A black Labrador waits patiently for the oncoming shot, balancing a Milk Bone on his snout, his tongue hanging partially from his mouth.
# A St. Bernard looks on gloomily while parlaying somewhere on a grassy knoll, his metal food dish filled to capacity.
# Lastly, a Miniature Daschund stands between the legs of a much larger German Shepherd.
The Daschund’s look is a somewhat skewed depiction of bravado, partly elusive, but making no hint as to an apology for the fact. It is almost as if he were stating, in no uncertain terms, that there are plenty of such capricious expressions ahead of him, and I, Lisa, the little girl who usually sleeps in this room, all of us, will be witness to every last one; such an image is only reaffirmed by the blank white space in the backdrop. No room for argument here...
For fuck's sake...
I think to myself, as Lisa gets dressed for work. I lay on my side studying all these faces, contemplating how many times during our stay here, getting by with a little help from our friends, that we’ve had sex in their daughter’s bed, and how many times I kept my back to the wall in order to avoid making eye contact with those innocent, pretentious, dichromatic pupils, which would no doubt watch on in fascination, were they flesh and bone and not paper and ink.
I wonder how many of these cherished facades have suffocated under the arms of an over-excited teenage girl/boy, or met their demise in a pound on the outskirts of some hick-town like Farmington, where the St. Bernard, for example, grew too big to feed and was (EVICTED!) from his warm bed and left to fend for himself in the cold streets.
Lisa kisses me goodbye and asks:
“So what’s the plan for today?”
I assure her that, one way or the other, the situation will be resolved when she gets out of work at five p.m.
She feigns a smile and says she loves me.
I tell her I love her.
She leaves, and with the gust that comes in from the door shutting, the poster above me shakes and opens up with the current, revealing that it isn’t a poster of a cartoon cat holding a sign after all, but an oversized greeting card taped to the plaster.
It opens, revealing another message for its owner:
BUT GREAT WISHES COME IN HUGE ENVELOPES! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Operation OCCUPY has spread like the SARS virus, throughout the United States. It is more or less a responsive, but peaceful mockery of the current trend in coup de tauts- taking place around the globe, in such places as Libya, Syria, Egypt and closer to home, England.
Consecutively, OCCUPY 'BURQUE has officially commenced. They have taken position on the front lawn of the UNM campus, across from The Frontier Restaurant, but closer in proximity to McDonald's at the intersection of Yale and Central Avenue. There are many signs and informational pamphlets littered along the curb, while motorists drive by, some honking in support of the so-called movement, and others in blatant defiance of everything related to CAMP COYOTE (the clever name of the University demonstration outpost).
Unaffected by either, the protestors continue to gather in droves, from the front lawn to the sidewalk, marching up and down Central Ave, screaming into bullhorns and holding firm to what ever personal stance they have chosen to represent as an overall part of the display. Their larger than life phrasing seems to not only be written on the sidewalks and phosphorecent- colored posterboards, but inside their hearts and frostbitten hands... hands with no gloves or gloves with no fingers; blue hands or blue fingers, clutching their wishes for a new American outlook.
Some people stop and tell the protestors the signs give them hope, that OCCUPY 'BURQUE, as well as OCCUPY WALLSTREET and the other demonstrations around the country, will really make a difference someday soon, and some protestors reply that these signs give them a delusional sense of purpose, and that there is solidity in the hive-minded atmosphere that has become CAMP COYOTE.
There are protestors warning the general public that:
ROBIN HOOD IS WATCHING.
There are elaborate posterboards asking:
OBAMACARE, WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED TO MY LEG?
There are chalk lines depicting Mr. Burns' maco smile and balding, corruptive expression. His pointed teeth are particularly exentuated by the crude drawing, and when he delivers that famous catchphrase:
he says it inside a bubble, but outside of the cartoon, and way outside of the lines...
It seems even idle prayers still hold weight with the universe. I tried my best to imagine a world where this was still true, on a bended knee in the bathroom floor of The Slice Parlor yesterday...
I was praying to something that I hoped was in the room with me, but frankly, I wasn't too convinced at the time. On the floor there was a lifesize decal of a chihuahua curled up in a plaid-embroidered doggie bed, its big eyes looking up at the white throne usually, but last night, it was almost as if they were fixated on me.
I clasped my hands together, closed my eyes, and attempted to pray for a well planned future, or at the least, to find some sense of comfort in the on-coming reckoning. I prayed to keep my job. I prayed that there wouldn't be a huge struggle. I prayed I'd give in easily when the right time came, that I wouldn't feel the need to put up another drawn out fight, which was ultimately for another futile purpose...
I hoped that whatever/whoever had granted my wish just a few days prior, when I had asked that Lisa and I move into our own place and sure enough it happened with little to no difficulty...I hoped that they were still listening...
Now, when I sit on the balcony of our third floor apartment and look out over the courtyard below, listening to the Koi Pond bubbling, smoking my cigarettes and reading 2666, I can also hear the sounds of megaphones in the distance.
I can hear chanting from the stadium just two blocks over. I can hear what I like to call competitive mass-disassociation, where a large group of people gathered for an event can momentarily forget about how each and every aspect of their carefully planned lives are crumbling around them, where they become transfixed on the score of the game and not the real score, the one where they're losing by unfathomable statistics, where it's so loud they can't hear the person next to them complaining about the numerous fucked up paths taken and wondering where they're going to end up next.
Some of the neighbors will sometimes pass by, as I sit, and smoke, and read 2666, and I'll listen for something...
I listen for silence, the supposed "great equalizer".
Sometimes these neighbors are attending the University for a BA in Business or Psychology, and I will still sit, and smoke, and read, and listen...
These students, my neighbors, will gather in front of the Koi pond in the courtyard, underneath the gazebo, and discuss the economical benefits of the corporate payscale versus the apparent freedom of locally owned retail, stating that they've only experienced a "hassle" when it comes to working in locally owned establishments, that sometimes you don't get your full wages for the pay period, when working for small business America, because the payroll department is run by some imbecile who failed second year algerbra or maybe eighth grade arithmetic for all anyone knows, and they've never had those type of issues while working at Kinko's or Hot Topics.
They talk about how:
"these motherfucking protestors are just a bunch of lazy faggots, spreading anarchist propaganda around, because they're homeless or want a free-ride or whatever..."
They talk about how:
"there is no clear cut agenda...They all just want something to complain about or a place to hang out and do drugs all day. They're really fucking pathetic."
These University students sit, and smoke, and listen to each other go on and on, in front of the Koi pond, but they don't wait for the silence. Instead, they trample over each other, mid-sentence, just to say "like" or "motherfucker" twenty more times, right before the ember on their cigarettes go out, or their ass gets tired and blistered from the rickety gazebo bench.
This is when I flick the butt at them, they yell, I yell back, stand-up, and go inside, where Lisa and I have only the one fork to share, when we want to eat yogurt...where we rub each other's butts and make jokes while watching Dexter via pirate-video sites. Sometimes we do all three simultaneously, but more often than not, this proves to be somewhat of a troublesome task and we get confused. Sometimes we just rub the keyboard of her MACbook, or try to eat bad jokes while watching each other's ass tense up when Dexter kills a victim-spilling yogurt everywhere in the process.
All the mistakes aside, once I'm inside our new apartment, I think about how many times I've actually been on my knees to pray, before that day in the bathroom.
How many times have I ever knelt to pray, and not to fuck, or puke, or even think, but really pray, and how many times have I seen those prayers come to fruition?
Once inside, I breathe a little easier, knowing the air mattress is still inflated, the heat from the oven is finally spreading throughout the entire apartment, the landlord is still unaware that we are not on the lease, and the keys to the front door are still in my pocket.
I don't hear the megaphones, or the chanting, or the students, or the Koi pond anymore.
I just listen to the silence...
and for some unknown reason,
it keeps bringing up...
to be continued...
In the Winter of My Paris:
by Laura Hinton