(by DEAN RASMUSSEN)
ROOM #6 – PART ONE
It was like you could sit on of those grocery scales, except these three scales were smaller and had big block Fisher-Price lettering on the side and had 10 settings- numbered 1through 10. I grabbed a seat and set it for “6”. There was a pause as it registered and then it lifted me out of the atmosphere- I saw the clouds above me, then beside me and then I was above them. I was puzzled and thought how Adam Warlock-esque I had become as I was flying through space. I was certain that number six was the setting to always take- what with my whole body being filled with delight. I figured that I was dreaming so I did the usual things to convince myself that this real and signs pointed to this all being real. After flying above the ether awhile, after noticing that space isn’t all blackness and nothingness, but a panorama of endless hot flashing light bespeckled with gigantis matter- there were planets and asteroids perfectly inked by Filipino’s- possibly Ernie Chan, where the think line on the outside of the image popped out the planet while the details in the middle were intricate bu not too busy. Giant golden fields of cosmic energy were flashing across the vastness of space with pitch black spots in the middle that aped the jagged corners of the masses of energy. After a few moments of speeding through space, the door to room #6 appeared at the end of the hallway, a gold number six- as if it had been stolen off the side of the house at 7862 Effingham Dr in suburban Portsmouth- on a white door indicating that the scale-like sending device had accomplished it’s mission. I was greeted by a dark-haired young lady of either Asian, Latin or possibly East European descent. I was confused by the reason I was in room #6 and I was confused as to what the purpose of room #6. I was figuring it was just a dream and fell into dispair after investing so time and concentration getting there. Coming to the realization that this was a just a dreamscape and that this wasn’t real at all., I decided to fuck my hostess and started pulling her shirt up. I then found out this was no dream as she informed me that room #6 wasn’t that kind of room and to wait here, all the while tucking her off-white t-shirt into her white skirt. I decided to try to ease my weird inner-tension by trying to find a physical quality about her that I could find repellent and cut the edge off my urge to fuck her. I noticed that she hadn’t shaved her legs and that each hair on her calf looked like it was drawn by Bill Ward in it’s exaggerated approximation of unshaved skin. My urge duly abated, I was ready for the rest of room 6.
ROOM #6 – PART TWO
He came into room #6 and he looked confused. I remembered him from when I was younger though I disguised my face with my mind when he saw me so he wouldn’t know that we knew each other. I had met him at a party in my wilder days. The boys at school were nice and I had my way with most anyone of them that I wanted- which is no great feat if you have the will and the spirit. It made me drunk on the love of men for a while, and it was during this period of my wild days that I had met him. I had drank a bottle of really horrible Val Pollicella that my roomates dad had given her, but I hadn’t gotten to the point of malfunctioning synapse firing or un-decorous loudness and vomiting, so I was still holding on to the ragged edge of control. I was in the better part of the drunkenness and he had also been drinking- but he was drinking what boys drink when they are in their early 20s- pseudo-macho crap that wiser men of 25 wouldn’t touch: back then it was trendy, brightly-coloured faux street-cred malt liquor or dimwitted bourbons that were to summon some kind of manly fake redneck Olde South lothario out of these inept overfed sexual nouvelle Gene Vincents. He was funny though and had a nice smile. I was with Brigette and I asked her if she knew him.
“Oh yeah,” she whispered as if she was about to tell the ingredients in onion soup. ” He’s Alex. He always wants you to call him Al- like he’s a guy in Wisconsin who league bowls every Wednesday. Then you see him in your Comparative Lit and you realize how annoying he is. He’s harmless, though.”
“He seems nice. I like the way he smiles. Like he doesn’t have a thought in his head…”
” Go put the blast on him. You’ve slept with worse.”
“Oh Fuuuu-UCK you.” and we laughed.
He was milling around in the hallway, looking lost and idiotic. I was like a she-leopard. Back then, all the bohemian guys were feigning a blue collar vibe. We bohemian girls unleashed on the earth from our daddy’s basements were all pretending to be your local Ann Margeret- liberated sex-vixens, destroyers of men in our tight pants and skirts but without that 60s cocktail party atmosphere. “Let the Music Play” by Shannon was better replacement for bad 60s lounge music, but the steady stream of bumbling reallife lovers hardly made up for the lack of Montgomery Cliffs. Either way, he was perfect prey- he was going to go along with me because he was a boy and he and I were full enough of sweet alcohol to more than excuse the completely inexcusable behaviour into which we were about to engage. I made sure the coast was clear, grabbed his shirt while I walked by him and I shut the bathroom door behind us.
ROOM #6 – PART 3
Usually it takes these clumsy oafs a while- as in “after a few times in the act”- to figure out where to go. Alex was drunker than I thought and was pretty worthless from a “tying his manhood in the sticking place” sort of way. He did take a stab at drunkenly going down to make up for the shortshrift, but I could tell he was stalling for time and that moment was over. HE did seem to know the general area of where to work- which was surprising for such a young guy. Usually, I like to be pretty merciless and not give a young man a second shot if the first shot missed so wide to the right, but I felt a little merciful because I blamed myself for not gauging his drunkenness and his coresponding overall sexual worthliness. It went against the grain of my inner-Vampirella, but he seemed like a good enough guy so I opted to give him the mulligan. He was also cool enough to try to talk to me when I saw him again a few days later, when most guys who screw the pooch that badly, they usual hide behind the bushes or just run you down as a tramp to all of his friends or whatever other insecure-born, needle-dicked thing they can do to keep from collapsing into the fetal position and crying hysterically. I did toy with him enough to keep his options open. I said I didn’t remember anything from that night because I was so hammered and he said he didn’t really remember anything either- though we both knew we were both lying. I just had to figure out a way to get him without him thinking I would ever allow a guy to fail to perform right out of the gate, but I did want to actually fuck him. Brigette thought I was crazy to ever break the code, but I told her that I was waiting for my moment to pounce again. It would be right around the corner…
ROOM #6 – PART 4
Sure “Al” was a doofus and a cretin but little did I know how much I would one day long for the days of youthful, numbskulled boys filled with misguided ideas about romance amd bravado. If I knew that men become these grotesque creatures molded by their pathetic desperation, I would have upgraded my lingerie and lured the poor sap into a bad marriage just to save myself the headache. Better an unhappy marriage with a guy I could like at some point in our life together than dealing with faux Continental social pariah trying to become some sort of discount Bryan Ferry- eating my steak and drinking my bourbon and acting sooo desperate as he spontaneously grabs me and kisses me on the kitchen floor- acting all the world like we are both so horribly lonely and such emotionally damaged goods that we should desperately cling to each other now that we’ve finally found each other. I guess every man over 28 thinks he’s a retired James Bond – too crushed by the weight of the world to ever truuuuuly love or some such kind of self-pitying dramatic bullcrap. I wondered about this boy called Alex and fancifully wondered what kind of future we would have together and I couldn’t see anything better than a cloying dependency and deep secret hatred developing after the first rush of some form of love is gone. Either way, it was starting to rain and he was in my sites and it was all romantic enough for me to want to kiss him so I rang the bell.
ROOM #6 – PART 5
He was surprised to see me and didn’t really know how to act. We were both feigning being oblivious to our first encounter- which means we didn’t give the other the go ahead for anything, so it was a little strained. I had an excuse for stopping by. Brigette used to date his roommate kinda- as in she fucked him for a few weeks until his girlfriend from back home moved in for the summer. I knew he was studying in Greece for the Summer- as he was this pretentious painting major who leaned towards the fey psuedo-homosexual/ Hitler Youth-wannabe New Order and Minimalism styled art guy as opposed to the equall as annoying cowboy boots and flannel shirt Jackson Pollack-cum-Hemingway macho art idiot look. He had left a book of performance art displays over at Brigette’s and I told her that I would bring it by- with her knowing it would be my in.
“Hey, I got Tim’s book on those guys who stuck their legs in the road and took pictures of it.”
“Oh yeah! That truly is the finest of fine art. C’mon in. Little rain we’re having…”
I walked up the stairway to his second story apartment that he shared with two roommates, both of which weren’t home this weekend. The staircase was all dark green and you could tell it was originally painted with paint that had poisonous lead in it to give it that 1930s detective movie film noir feel. His apartment waslike all apartments of boys his age- divided up and as clean as the occupant living in that particular area. I could tell that Al was in second place. We head to the living room.
“I got some Coors in the refrigerator. Long necks, ya want one.”
I notice that he listening to some godawful Cowpunk crap that was the rage of the day. “What is that you’re listening to?”
“This is Rank And File. They’re from Texas. This is okay but they do this song by Lefty Frizell. I liked it so much that I got the original- and the whole record is really great. Lefty Frizell has a really beautiful voice…”
“Maybe you should put that on….”
“I could do that.” He put on the Lefty Frizell record and it sounded like when my roomate tried to get me to listen to Muddy Waters. It’s like something I would probably listen to and like if I were alone. Now, it was just an old record playing. I start rifling through his other roomate, Jim’s, records. Jim was one of those DC Hardcore Straight Edge types, though not an actual Straight Edge. He had the usual Marginal Man and Swans EPs but I did notice he had “Brothers and Sisters”.
“Hey, Jim has ‘Brothers and Sisters’. I’m starting to get into all that hippy music. I’m discovering the Goddess in me. I’ll be smoking weed and not shaving my legs next… ”
“Earth Mama in training. I pictured you as that.” He laughed to himself as I could tell he was too drunk to be TRYING this hard to be this charming. “I’ve never really listened to it. Is it good?”
” Let’s listen to it. I’ve got it on tape in my car. It’s really cool. Get me another beer.”
We sat on the hardwood floor and Dickie Betts guitar runs were swirling in the background. I drank my beer like a suffragette would- reveling in the freedom of being young; the night was starting to sweep over me and it still hadn’t dawned on Al to kiss me. The fact that he was listening to the Allman Brothers patiently and also feeling the first sting of the alcohol and being charming to this woman who decided to invade his private world made him the most beautiful man to me in my life to that point. I lost the whole game strategy that got me up here. We were on a level playing field. He bought the excuse as to why I was here. He had used his sheer cluelessness to undo all of calculations to get him to become mine. This was real and my breath was getting shallow.
Then it dawned him and he pulled me close and hot moist kisses were counterpoint to the beginning of “Jessica”. My eyes roll back white.
ROOM #6 – PART 6
“Big Maaaaan. Why would you not be home? What could you possibly be doing? You repulse me with your absense when I am ready to go out to make the Beast With Two Backs…. Hey, Al, we’re going to the Cup and Saucer tonight to try to love upon those trailerpark waitress you love so much. You will call me back. Yes, you will…”
Garland was my mentor and role model. He was 10 years older than me and dressed like a recovered alcoholic fratboy wold dress- because he was a recovered alcoholic fratboy. He said things that made me laugh- as he was a perfect guy’s guy. He always did well with women which I could never understand, because if they knew Garland like I knew Garland, they would punch him in the face en lieu of talking to him.
I call his cell phone and he is already at the bar.
ROOM #6 – PART 7
The Cup and Saucer is a redneck dive wher Garland hangs out because he can con the owner into letting us drink for free- a skill he mastered as part of being the manly mentor of men… He is eating a steak at a table with our mutual friend, Skip.
“Hey motherfucker. Where is my special waitress? She wasn’t face down in the Woolite like she said she’d be…”
“She’s not here tonight. She’s pissed off at you anyway.”
“Why? She stood me up….”
“She said – and I quote- ‘I’m getting married in two weeks. I wanted to have sex with SOMEBODY.”‘
“Man, don’t tell me that. You know she [indecipherable about dog and a goat] . I waited until 2:30. Where the fuck was she?”
“She showed up at quarter till and that bartender with the Magnum PI moustache ended up putting the blast on her. I knew you would find that amusing- you losing pussy to a man with a Camaro. Anyway Al, don’t be an idiot. She’s trying to set you up.”
“Nah, she just wants a piece of my big business. Who could blame her? But no really- I know her deal. This guy got her pregnant so they are getting married. Since it isn’t quite the storybook wedding she had hoped for…”
“…she wants to have one last donkey dance with your majesty, King Lightswitch.”
“You got it, daddy. See, she already snared this poor sap. I was just going to be her last go-round before the impending divorce- or until the bloodtest came back. I was stoked about tagging that but… oh well.”
“I dunno. A psycho like that, fuck knows what she had in store for you? Your testicles would be in a sheepshank by the time all the diseases finished having their way with you.”
“Well, to hell with her anyway. I got my own fish to fry. I think I’m in love.”
“Oh God, I wanna hear about this…”
“No, it’s nothing like that. You know that girl Sheila that Jim was always trying to get up wit?”
“Oh yeah. She’s not bad. I’d do her after three beers TOPS. I thought you hated her.”
“I think I was lying to myself. She just stopped by to see Tim and we just hung out in Jim’s room drinking Coors. Next thing you know, Joe Smooth is kissing her right on the face. Using my tongue and everything. It was magic.”
“She’s got nice skin. Like Playboy skin.”
“I think she smells really nice. Better than all that Poison that all those Goth chicks that I usually end up with. We made out to a fucking Allman Brothers record. There’s no way I can ever tell Jim or Tim. I’d lose every last cool point I own.”
“I can’t believe you told me, you fucking moron. You gonna start wearing pechouli? You wanna read my aura?”
“It’s a weird time for me now. I can’t tell if it was one of those one-off things that happened and is over- or if it was something real. We had episode a few weeks ago at a party where she claims she doesn’t remember- which is good because it was more of a bear mauling than a romantic interlude.”
“You are quite the sexy charmer when your fat ass is torn down on that swill you drink. I told you that a classy stud drinks Heineken or St Pauly Girl. Call her. You’ll know then soon enough. She’ll wanna go out or you’ll have all these uncomfortable silences that will make you want to kill yourself.”
“Yeah, but I don’t wanna know. I been so depressed lately and I could use a decent romantic interest.”
“Especially with sweet ass like that. Seriously, you’re a good guy. What’s not to love. She’ll come around. If not, you’ll always have that moment. They can’t take that away. Me, i’m interested in our fine waitress, Shelly. Though she is dating Bobby the redneck bar-owner, there is an old saying in Carolina that I learned as a youth, ‘Behind every beautiful woman is a guy tired of fucking her.”‘
“You, young Garland, are classiness incarnate.”
“Fuckin A, motherfucker.”
ROOM #6 – PART 8
Jim walked in the door- arriving from his parents where he would go every other weekend to do laundry and to help out with yardwork or whatever projects his parents had planned. Alex was contemplative and stirred quickly as Jim came into his field of vision but excitedly met the glance of his roommate.
“Jim! Hey, how was Squaresville?”
“The usual. Anything going on?”
Jim’s mind could comprehend nothing else after being triggered by the most wonderful word in his vocabulary: “Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeilaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh… Oh you fair and tender wildchild- my only true love. We are yin and yang. You are the fire and I am the ice! Come and love me, tender fairest maiden of Land of Sweet Cream Dream Girls! Oh to die in those soft arms, to live forever in your sweet embrace! The thunder and the fire in your eyes I cannot capture with my own hands when thoughts of you in my private times are drawn to but one furious and frosted conclusion! Oh sweet Sheila, my burning love has but one glorious name and it is Sheila! You firebrand, you untamable vixen who has control of my every thought and desire. Come to me, oh Sheila….. the freckles of innocence on your face and the fire of a real woman in your soul- could God have made a more divine creature? Her beauty is the envy of God himself- as he wilts in the face of such unearthly beauty!”
“… made out friday! I think I’m in love. ”
Jim became instantly very sad. Then he became angry…
ROOM #6 – PART 9
“I feel like a schoolgirl.”
“Girl, I find it hard to believe this can be but so romantic. I don’t see you wistfully staring at a Cassatt hand-in-hand. Not after trying to fuck him in the bathroom at a party.”
“It was fucked up. It was like we just appeared on earth at that moment of the Kiss. Like time and space itself wasn’t going to allow me to fuck it up. Like it was our destiny for him to kiss me right when he did and everything before didn’t matter… it was like I knew him- as a man- like i have known no man before…”
“Oh my God, Shiela, you’ve got to be shitting me. You sound like an Enya song.”
“It’s great. I’ve always wanted to feel this stupid about someone. I’m hoping he feels the same.”
“I musta been thruuuu about a millyun boys…”
“…I’d luv-em and IIIIII’d leevum alone….”
“…. I nevah reely cared how much they criiiied no suh!”
“Oh fuck you to hell…”
“But then I fooooled round and fell in luuuuuv- I fooooled around and felll in luuuuuv.”
“I’m going to punch you in the face.”
“Oh fuck you and lighten up. You’re horribly infatuated and what do I get?”
“Oh wait, I know this one- ‘no love’.”
“What do I get?”
“‘no sleep at night”‘
“‘What do I get?”‘
“‘nothing that’s nice”‘
“‘What do i get?”‘
“‘Nothing at all at all at all at all because I don’t get you.”‘
“There. My life encapsulated by a gay British man.”
“It could be worse. At least it hasn’t reached that Joy Division level yet. And enough about you, what about me and the Love. What about me and my new breathless charm. The sting of theair in the winter is making me feel alive- alive with love for my studly new love! Why would you berate and trivialize this- my first True Love….”
“Well you did fuck his roomate for a while. It probably got your boy Alex all hyped after hearing about your feline prowess “in the sack”. (Brigette makes the quotation marks symbol with her fingers.) I’m sure that got your dreamboat’s motor running.”
“Jesus, don’t remind me about his frickin roommate. Jim is terrifying. And I don’t think Jim would tell anybody about it. He was all weird about ‘our love’. He would write me these five page letters. At first, I was all excited by this guy being crazy about me and writing me sonnets and shit but then they got weird.”
“This was while I was in Spain, right?”
“I never showed them to you, did I? I remember telling you about it. Oh fuck, lemme go find it. Gear up to be creeped out.”
ROOM #6 – PART 10
Jim was taken aback.
Alex was glowing in an embarrassingly goofy way and was trying to keep his cool which was slipping very quickly.
“She… we made out. Isn’t that crazy!”
“Sheila? Oh man. That’s great. She’s great.”
Al was in the oblivious bliss of feeling weird about a girl. “Yeah, I don’t really know her. I know I said horrible things about her and now I feel like I was just subliminally trying to stop fate…ITSELF. Hahahahaha! I was just being a dick because I couldn’t accept my FATE!”
“Yeah, fate is crazy like that.”
“It’s weird, I never really thought about her in that way before. I mean, I always thought she was attractive, but I never thought of us as the type that would be a couple- so to speak.”
“Yeah, that’s crazy.”
” But I don’t know. I always thought her attitude was what made me not like her- but now, in retrospect, I think that might have been key to me falling for her, y’know?”
“Yeah, that’s wild how stuff works like that…”
“I just noticed little things about her- the way she moves.”
“She moves really gracefully.”
“She moves like a swan on a still pond, each movement a symphony of timeless grace…”
“Okay, sure. And I really think the things that we don’t have in common brings us closer together somehow.”
“Like she brings the sparks of your soul to a passionate BLAZING inferno- the contact causing such ordinance that your heart can’t help but be slain by the womanly power she possesses.”
“Yeah… okay. That’s probably it… Jim.”
“I’m pretty tired. I’m going to bed.”
“Okey-doke. There’s Coors in the refrigerator.”
“Probably not enough.”
ROOM #6 – PART 11
Jim was despondent. He threw himself on the unmade bed which was randomly placed in the middle of his cavelike room. He put “Paul’s Boutique” in his crappy cassette player and tried to feel all cold and hard and emotionless- but it only feuled his isolation and volitility.
“This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. This sucks. I can’t fucking believe this. I can’t fucking believe this. This fucking sucks.”
\\ I stay up all night I go to sleep watching Dragnet, never sleep alone because jimmy is the magnet.//
The words of the Beastie Boys lost their sting as he couldn’t bring himself to feel virile or cool or hip or happy. He couldn’t even bring himself to feel that bittersweet feeling of elegant loneliness. He gave it a shot, as he turned off the Beastie Boys and put in “Siren” by Roxy Music.
\\ Maybe your heart is aching- I wouldn’t know now would I? Maybe your spirits breaking- I shouldn’t care now should I?//
“All I think about is her…. in a party dress at Skip’s sister’s house. And how she had survived her last boyfriend and his abuse…. and how her strength made her that much more beautiful to me. I thought of how I could save her and how our love could save her. I’m just a fool…”
\\Though I’m too proud to say it- Oh how I long to see you.//
“This isn’t real love. This isn’t true love. True love means I would step aside so that Alex could give her the love that she wants from who she wants. I can only think of me and the fact that I’ve touched her perfect skin and kissed her perfect lips and now I never will again. True love would mean that the time I had holding her in my arms would be enough to sustain me as I get on with my life. I’m a fucking pussy. I’m just lost and confused and I don’t even know what to feel.”
Jim decided that he was about to cry and- to Jim- crying wasn’t manly. Men worked and paid their bills. Men took whatever life gives him by spitting life in the eye and knocking life over, kicking life in the stomach and pissing on life as it is was curled up gasping for air. The fact that he deeply loved Shiela and that he will now never have Shiela and the fact that this was all starting to make him cry, made him ponder his options. He turned off the Roxy Music. He always tried to channel his feelings through whatever he was listening to and he couldn’t quite match up this horrible feeling with anything he had heard before. It wasn’t a bittersweet empowering loneliness that was conducive to Roxy Music or Roy Orbison or Frank Sinatra. It wasn’t a devil-may-care loneliness that was conducive to solitary bachelor music like the Beastie Boys or Public Enemy. This was a raw feeling- a base hateful feeling. He felt like a redneck- like one of those burners he made fun of in homeroom.
“Hmmm…. maybe I should listen to some 70s Heart. Maybe that Allman Brothers record I’ve never listened to. Hmmm… maybe it’s time. It’s time to listen to….”
Jim got up and composed himself. He hadn’t cried and that was a small victory for him. He went across the hall and knocked on Alex’s door.
“I need to ask you something.”
“What’s some good Country and Western music I could listen to?”
ROOM #6 – PART 12
“Girl, I know it’s around here somewhere. I kept it because I knew you’d wanna see it when you got back. I know how you like to have a good laugh at the things that scare the fuck out of me. Then you got back and immediately started humping all over his roomate and then I forgot him and forget about the letters or blocked them out of my mind.”
“God, that Tim guy was a dork. What did I ever see in him?”
“He’s funny in a pretentious condescending way. God knows he’s good-lookin. That comical hairstyle didn’t hold back the sexiness. Plus he had that anal-retentive cleanliness that you gotta appreciate.”
“Yeah, but how many 4AD records is one person allowed to own. If we had maaaade luuuuuv while the fucking Cocteau Twins were playing ONE MORE TIME you would have read about it in the paper. Woman Kills Pretentious Artsy Type- Cindytalk LP Found Shoved Up His Ass.”
“Oh my God. Well… actually, one of the times I made it with Jim, we stole Tim’s copy of ‘It’ll End In Tears’. I think he made it all the way through ‘Song of the Siren’ before the apologies and the excuses kicked in.”
“Yeah, well Tim was no demon himself. I don’t know how he got the rep, but I was not shook all night long.”
“The earth wasn’t quaking? You’re mind wasn’t aching?”
“No, not at all. He was kinda sweet though. He was fun to talk to because he was so highly opinionated on art and literature and movies. You hardly ever meet guys you can talk to- even if they are annoying freaks.”
“Better to get them sweet and pretentious than creepy and pretentious. Here we go- READ THIS!”
Sheila hands Brigette the letter. It’s been hand-painted and collaged.
“Oh holy fuck….”
ROOM #6 – PART 13
Alex walked across the room to the stack of records he had splayed across the floor.
“Gee Jim. By this point you would have usually given me shit about my records being out of the sleeves.”
“I can’t worry about that now. Just let me borrow some Country and Western music. I wanna see something.”
“Okay….. uh, I’m really getting into Lefty Frizzell. He’s like the successor to Hank Williams and heavily influenced Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Did you ever hear Willie’s version of ‘Look What Thoughts Will Do’?”
“C’mon, Al. You know I never listened to this shit.”
“Shit? This stuff is fucking GOLD.”
Jim realized that he was being a little harsh- eventhough it was the man who was the object Jim’s true love’s desire. Jim didn’t have the time to tell Alex the reasons why he was so allergic to Country music- the uncoolness of Country in his mind while he was in high school during the Urban Cowboy phase, the later more greatly drawn battle lines when he got to college between the art students who were into British pop and punk and industrial noise, and the other art students who were into 60s psychadelia and 50s Rockabilly. Jim thought of himself as “modern” and thought that the retro shit was counterproductive and lacked initiative. he lumped the pseudo-hipster love of Country music in with this crowd. He had been able to save Roy Orbison for himself by convincing himself that the enemy camp were too into Gene Vincent and Link Ray to ever appreciate the sublime glory of Orbison’s voice. But right now, Jim was painted into a personal musical corner and he was swinging at anything. So he was apologetic.
“Sorry, I’m just a little preoccupied. Well, what was the first thing you got into and I’ll go from there.”
“Well, my dad had a bunch of Johnny Cash 8-Tracks when I was a kid. I got into him a little. I was more into Hank Williams when I got his 40 Greatest Hits. Johnny Cash is pretty redneck. You may want to start with Hank Williams. He’s kinda like Roy Orbison- all timeless and all.”
The term “Roy Orbison” struck a nerve in Jim’s mind- as he figured he would be getting a Country version of Roxy Music which he found to be of no comfort to his present situation.
“Gimme the Johnny Cash.”
“Allright, man. Lemme look… lemme look. AH! Here’s a Pickwick Best of. It’s got all his Sun stuff. I could get into to it too much but you may dig it”
Jim went back to his room and stared at the picture of Johnny Cash on the cover. He knew Pickwick was where you sold your catalog when no longer gave a shit what form it’s released in and it showed by the cursory use of the random picture on the cover. He was starting to have second thoughts about his lark to stoop to shitkicker fare so he quickly acted before the urge died.
“Oh well. Let’s have a listen.”
The first sound was the whistle and the song was “Blue Train” and from that moment, Jim knew what he needed to do to become a real man.
ROOM #6 – PART 14
Brigette opened the love letter that Jim had sent Sheila that summer- as it was now February. It was elaborately decorated with lace and elaborately painted with water colors.
“Your boy Jim went all out. This is insane.“
“Read it. This guy is fucking crazy. This was sent the DAY after I got drunk and slept with him.“
“Okay, here we go…
Your name is word out of the mouths of angels on Christmas morning. To hear the word fills my soul with longing- longing for every ounce of you, my skin on fire as it touches your skin. Beauty as powerful as airplanes, your skin as pure as a diamond in the sky.
Your love is the Witch of November and I am as helpless as the Edmund Fitzgerald as your womanly charms sweep over me, crushing everything in its wake. My heart tells my soul, “Fellas, it`s too rough to feed ya.“ Then I look into the heartless, beautiful fury of your eyes and my heart says to my soul. “Fellas, it`s been good to know you.“ You are such a tragic haunting beauty- as deep as Superior. But your face is the sun. No, the sun is in envy of the glory of your face.
Once I was broken and downcast in this cruel world- set adrift by the fates who at first conspired to destroy me- leaving me in a storm of frost and fury created by my own hands, my own memories of past so-called loves- former loves that burn like Nazis as I open the Ark Of The Covenant- the covenant that is your loveliness, the TRUTH that is your lovliness- destroying all the lies in my soul! And I rejoice like a Frenchman on V-E Day- liberated from the horror of repressive loneliness, bask in the triumph of the power of the possibility of earning your glowing love.
Each day since the creation of this new feeling in me, I thought about you every moment with you- hoping that you could want me like I want you, hoping that you could come to love me like I`ve been smitten.
The gates of my heart can barely hold back my flood of emotion. Let loose my flood gates and let me immerse you in my love.
“Wow. I want to fuck this guy yesterday.“
“Shut the fuck up, Brigette.“
ROOM #6 – PART 15
Alex and Jim hooked up with Garland at the Skytwister Bar and Grill on Hope Street, smackdab in the shittier part of town. Garland was wearing a trenchcoat and white socks with penny loafers- a look that only he could pull off without looking like a complete twink. His slightly faded blue jeans were neatly cuffed and he had a grey sweatshirt on. His face resembled a Labrador but a labrador with a lot synapses firing because Garland could always act the fool but he never gave the appearance of ever being an idiot. One would call it a Je N`ai Ce Quoi if he were so inclined. Garland`s hair was brown and wavy and very short on the sides but longer on the top. At 5`10, few could see the slight thinning at the top and he had no visible grey yet. Jim eclipsed him- as he was thickly built at 6`0 and 220 pounds, making Garland`s 165 pound frame look slight in comparison. Alex was 5` 9 and 190- at the beginnings of going to seed but not a complete fat ass yet. Jim and Alex were glad to talk to Garland as they both needed advice about how to handle the same woman from two different perspectives. Jim`s face was intense as always, but he had been listening to Johnny Cash and it had caused to develop this furrowed brow that looked darling in contrast to his stark black crewcut. His babyface could support no trendy facial hair and his slightly oversized head was a perfect billboard for his myriad of expressive facial contortions. Alex was more birdlike in his face that manlike. His nose was a little too big for his face and his cheeks rushed at a sharp angle to his pointy chin. His eyes sparkled and their steel blue gaze was enough to counteract any oddity the rest of his face may possess. All three had perfect white teeth.
Jim had steadied himself. He knew that Alex and Garland were going to talk about Sheila and they were going to talk about her like men talk about women. Jim needed different advice so he took a shot of tequila and geared up.
Alex was pensive but mustered the courage and suddenly blurted out, “I`m gonna be sleeping with this girl soon. I don`t want to fuck it up.`
“Haha. Easy sport. Don`t soil yourself. What`s the problem?“
“Well, I know that we tried to have sex at that party and- despite what she says- I know that she remembers me not being the bull of the woods, so to speak.“
Garland took the role of village elder very seriously and a look of deep concentration fell upon his face. “Yeah, that`s a weird one. Usually you don`t get a second shot whenever that happens. There`s a lot of insecurity both ways when the hydraulics lock up. I can understand how you feel. It`s like failing a pop quiz and then getting the chance to take it again after studying. “
“Yeah, I figure if I ain`t fuckin` Ron Jeremy fucking a goat fucking a dog, my fat ass is out the door.“
“Oh trust me, it will be. She`s sailing in unknown waters too. You better show her every star in the Milky Way. When are you going out?“
“Wednesday. We`re gonna go to the Piccadilly and pretend we`re a middle age couple. Isn`t that the best! She`s the best…“
Jim piped in. “That is adorable.“
Garland`s eyes feigned disbelief. “Yeah Angel Mae, that`s absolutely precious. Anyway, listen: When you take a shower… okay first things first… Take a shower.“
“Hahaha! Ohhh you!“
“Hah! Anyway, I lucked into this trick while just going through the motions of my everyday routine. You know sometimes when you shower, you go to that special wonderland?“
“Oh yeah, I call it lil Jimmy`s time…“
“I call it Al`s special naked cavalcade of secret ladies.“
“That`s great. That really is. Anyway, you gotta time it right because if you make the soap your special midnight lover too soon you`ll be back in the same flaccid boat.“
“Oh that`s gonna be tricky. So I try to make her first time of the evening my SECOND time of the evening, but my first time was with the lovely Cheryl Tiegs assuming the role of a handful of conditioner?“
“Trust me, it sucks for you because the second time isn`t the one where you want to DIE as you convulse in a hideous heap, but you have no choice. Sparks better fly out of your ass and you better get it done or she`s never going to fuck you again AND she will also tell all her friends what a Buckner in the sack you are.“
“Ingenious plan. I will carry it out to the best of my ability.“
“And Sheik Elites are the only choice.“
Jim felt okay for some reason. He was numb to it. When he thought about her in a Johnny Cash context- about her purty eyes and long blond hair, about how he could never get over her blue eyes- he saw them everywhere- it was a sense of finality. There was an engine at the station and the whistle DID blow his name. Jim got aboard the train and he rode- he rode a Blue Train. He stared at his heartache and embraced his heartache.
“I got a question for you. What`s a good bourbon if you only got five bucks?“
“Hmm… Old Crow, daddy. Stick it in the freezer and drink it straight.“
Jim was one step closer to crossing the threshold.
ROOM #6 – PART 16
Brigette was tall. Her brown hair curled at the ends making her Bob an offshoot of the Claire Grogan perfect Bob. Her brown eyes were big enough to always be striking without relying on make-up. She carried her weight like a veluptuous All-American bombshell, but hid it under state-of-the-art black gothic leggings and bulky J Crew sweaters- giving her the Mid-Atlantic uppercrust look that other women would have killed for.
“Y`know, if you didn’t have to get a restraining order or anything, these are kind of sweet.“
“Oh, I never thought he was dangerous, just fucking crazy for thinking we were going to get married or something after one three week fling. When I told him that I wasn`t getting into a relationship any time soon, he never bothered me again. It`s not like I hate him or I`m scared of him or anything.“
“That takes the creepiness off the weirdness. God, this one is bizarre:
You were drawn by the Brothers Hernandez. Your lips full and red, as if you were perfectly lit Lauren Bacall all day long- perfect dramatic shadows highlighting your cheekbones. Your thin eyebrows arch over your giant green eyes, looking picqued like an adorable devil- tempting all who can revel in the splendor of you. Your hair, red and cowlicked and short. Your body, the body of the new Venus- athletic and petite all at once- a perfect modern woman for the modern age. And I am but a pathetic Romantic slain by your visage. Such power and felicity in one gorgeous vessel. So Bohemian yet so active and dynamic- the best of all worlds! My soul is spent as it wishes for an eternity in your arms.
“See, Brigette, the weirdness has no end. Like- Who the fuck are the Brothers Hernandez.“
“That`s the thing, if you take off the first four layers of creepiness and the first two layers of amazingly pretentious bad poetic crap, it pretty much sums you up. Brothers Hernandez draw `Love and Rockets“ and you do look like were drawn by them. That`s pretty funny. Well, if you were a little thicker around the middle, you`d be drawn by the Brothers Hernandez. Maybe a few Klondike bars would do the trick…“
“Allright, being obscure while being right doesn`t make it any less creepy. So he got fixated because I look like a character in a comic book?“
“Well, yeah. I could think of worse things.“
ROOM #6 – PART 17
Jim took the Old Crow out of the freezer. He was tired but for once he wasn`t feeling very lonely. The Johnny Cash and the bourbon had him momentarily diverted.
The Old Crow tasted like it was squeezed from wood- which wasn’t bad at all for straight cheap bourbon. He sat under the stark glare of the fluorescent light that was hanging from a chain on a nail. The red curtains had a vague paisley design embossed on them like a curtain from a sleazy motel in a 60s black and white b-picture. The hardwood floor was splotchy with white paint, but he had a fourth hand Oriental rug that covered quite a bit of it. Though not overly tidy, the room was clean and the squalor was all non-biodegradable and inedible. He leaned against the cement-filled fireplace and took a sip. Jim hit the play switch that dropped the record onto the turntable.
//I keep a close watch on this heart of mine\
“I walk the line. I walk the line. Because you`re mine, I walk the line…. Ah, Grace… you loved me and I didn`t walk the line. I remember her body and how it felt and how perfect we were when we made love. Though it wasn`t love, no matter how much I wanted it to be. It was like we were figure skating, the physical act was flawless but the meaning behind it was just a creation of artifice. We tried to approximate and create the feeling through physical expression not understanding how love works at all…. “
\\I keep my eyes wide open all the time//
“And I couldn`t be honest with you and tell you that I didn`t love you. The first time I saw you- your face was olive and pale- your hair was wet and circling down to your shoulders in the rain. A sight as beautiful as I had ever seen…“
\\I keep a close watch for the tie that binds.//
“I could feign love for you until…“
ROOM #6 – PART 18
Sheila dried herself with a large white towel and she thought about the evening ahead. Her mind drifted to former loves…
“Fuck you, bitch. If is was motherfucking drunk you`d know it.“
Floyd was in his leather jacket and his Sacred Reich t-shirt. His jeans weren’t ripped at the knee yet.
“I fucking HATE it when you`re like this. I fucking HATE IT!“
“Fuck you, I don`t need this shit. I might be back. I might not. No fuck THAT! FUCK THAT! I ain`t going NO WHERE! What the fuck!“ Floyd manages a swing that grazes Sheila before Floyd hits the ground screaming.
It had gotten worse. Floyd had transformed from a man Sheila was in love. Alcohol had made him a stranger first and now a monster.
ROOM #6 – PART 19
Sheila perched on the loveseat and watched syndicated television while she waited for Al to pick her up. She drifted off into thought instead of being drawn into the world of Rerun, Raj and Dwayne. She began to think about Ron. She met Ron when she started working at the women`s shelter three years ago. Ron was a volunteer and was a big burley man who would do any heavy lifting needed- and he was very handy when an abusive husband would find out where the shelter was located and said husband would come looking for his spouse. He could help move all the furniture if they needed to find another sanctuary or would ruthlessly beat the living hell out of the trespasser if need be. Usually he was friendly and funny and Sheila loved that about him.
Sheila tried not to think about Ron because it hurt her deeply in her heart to think about it could have been. The memory won again and she was helpless.
“Sheila, baby, come give me some sugah.“
“You got it, big daddy. Where we going?“
“I don`t care, pretty baby. Just take me with you.“
“You quote the sweetest Prince lines.“
“Oh… okay. Let`s pretend we`re married. Go all night.“
“Ha ha ha! I asked for that one. You just might get it, fatboy. Where we going?“
“Oh, let`s go to the Last Call and dance all night.“
“You got it, mama. I love that place.“
Ron turned up the volume as “Tattooed Loveboys“ started playing on the radio. Sheila put on her sunglasses, rolled down the window to let the cool night air engulf her as Ron sang along to the song on the radio. Ron`s preposterously huge Grand Marquis hit 75 miles per hour off the I-64 on ramp.
“Sheila baby, there`s a BIG OLE bottle o` gin under the seat if you want any.“
“I don`t want to drink it straight. We need some mixer.“
“HEY! Slurpees would make perfect disguise….“
They pulled over at the Stop n Shop and got two Icee brand Slurpee-styled product- cherry with the polar bear on the side. “Hey, mama, wanna let me try one of these onya?“ Ron shows Sheila the Roughrider condom package and Icee flies out of Shiela`s nose as she laughs to spite herself. “C`mon, baby, you know you wanna…“
“You are so gross! Plus you`d have to brand my ass with your biker gang`s name before you could use one of those on me.“
“Oh come on, it won`t hurt that much. The tattoo I mean. I can only imagine what this frickin` Roughrider would be like…“
“You`re such a dick. Hey, get me a Zero bar, big daddy.“
“You got it, mama.“
They jumped back in the car.
“Put in the Ride tape.“
Ron puts in the tape and turns it way up. The bassline is by itself as it pumps out the backseat speakers as the night rushes through the open windows. They head to the beachfront, but the traffic hadn`t started yet, so they were getting a good clip on the freeway.
//…the taste just slips away- the taste just slips away- I just want to know…\\
Sheila looks over to Ron- his face fixed on the road as he sings along quietly. She realizes she hasn`t been this happy in a long time. Ron looks at Sheila- gin and Icee in her hand, feeling the moment while hidden behind her sunglasses in the dark. He realizes that he hasn’t been this happy in a long time.
ROOM #6 – PART 20
Alex was in the shower trying to think of how to carry out Garland`s advice. He would usually think of Garland`s girlfriend, Mandy- but this time he was thinking that he probably owed it to Sheila to think of her while he was making love to the beautiful ladies in his mind with his own hands, so he figured he would incorporate her in. In his mind, it was 1965 and he was wearing a double breasted suit and dark sunglasses in a red MG. Sheila was wearing a beatnik outfit and was smoking a clove cigarette. Al pulls up and only whispers the words to Wild Thing by the Troggs because being mysterious is what drives the 60s ladies mad with love.
“Wild thing- I think you move me.“
“Hello, Al. MGs drive me wild. You are such a cool cat. Have you met my good friend Tuesday Weld?“
“I wanna know for SURE. Come on baby, hold me tight….“
Suddenly a rope attaches to the back bumper of the MG and Al looks up.
“Oh Wild Thing….. you MOVE me.“
Swinging down the rope is Yvonne Craig, but not as Batgirl- but in a toga like on that one episode of Dobie Gillis.
“Dobie Gillis is a pansy, We want you, Al. Help me off with this toga, Tuesday.“
“Oh anything for Al. Dobie can go fuck Maynard J Krebs with that needle dick of his. We want a REAL man…“
“Come on, come on, Wild Thing. You make my heart sing…“
Suddenly, wearing a French maid`s outfit, it`s….
Alex`s eyes pop open wide and the soap flies out of his hand.
“Mistah A! I`m hear ta clean ya pipes.“
Alex stares into the the showerhead which now represented the Maw of Eternity. He had a real bad feeling about how his lil fella down yonder- which was currently trying to re-enter his body cavity- was going to fare this evening.
“Damn you, Hazel. Damn you to hell…“
ROOM #6 – PART 21
Alex’s face lit up as Sheila opened the door. He had been in an odd mood and the trip out of his 75 Gran Marquis onto the three steps of Sheila’s building’s porch, up the circling steps to the third floor of her apartment in this beautifully restored Victorian house was one where he was filled with a scary amount of elation. It was scary because he couldn’t shave it or tone it down. Al couldn’t handle unadulterated emotion in his life and eventhough it was a blissful feeling, he could never be happy in a moment and ride it out. he would worry about consequences when reality cut the feeling back. It was the feeling he had quickly developed for Sheila- it scared him because he couldn’t get a grasp of it. Al didn’t really have self-esteem problems. He knew that he was worthy of love and had been in love a few times- but he never figured that a woman like Sheila would come along. It wasn’t that Sheila was his ideal woman, it was just that Sheila was so pretty and cool and so out of nowhere suddenly. It was better than his ideal. Al thought that if she were his ideal, it would be kinda masturbatory of him to sleep with her. This was outside of his preconceived notions of what he wanted. All he knew was that he wanted her severely for some reason he couldn’t quite comprehend- and that she was outside the archtype of what he looked for and what he fantasized about.
“Hey, you all set?” He could see that she had a very college educated single female apartment, with books stacked neatly but too numerous to actually be organized in a coherent fashion. She had the Beatles poster with the Fab Four on the stoop AND the Who Maximum R&B poster- a first that he had seen.
“Cool. Shaaaaall we..?”
They descended the staircase and spilled out into the street, smiling at each other as each tried to make the other comfortable with the new situation. Al opened Sheila’s door for her and gestured grandly as she laughed. Al couldn’t hide his giddiness and Sheila’s encouragement was all he could ask for. Al started the car and finally felt that he could discuss the plans of the evening further.
“We don’t have to go to Sizzler if you don’t wanna. Wherever you wanna go is a-okay with me. I know it was you’re idea but don’t feel like…”
“Sizzler is fine. I’m kinda excited about going there again. I haven’t been there since I was in high school. We’d always go after church.”
“No way! We did the same thing but it was WESTERN Sizzlin’. A site specific gerund for a name. Faaaaaar different.”
“I’d always get the pepper steak with green peppers and onions. I would never get anything else for some reason.”
“Golly, I would always get that- but smothered in mushrooms and gravy…”
“Well, let’s definately go crazy there tonight. Maybe I’ll go with the mushrooms and gravy.”
“Then I will definately go with the peppers and onions in honor of you, the prettiest girl in the world. We will have a grand time indeed…”
Sheila smiled and rifled through Al’s tapes. “Oh, play this.”
He didn’t care what she wanted to hear or even if they slept together. whatever was cool with her was cool. Al was happy for a moment in his life.
ROOM #6 – PART 22
Jim was alone on his bed. He had been out drinking with Garland. Garland was a comfort- not because Garland was sympathetic or anything, but Garland was wise in a funny, non-useful way. Garland would blather on about fucking and music and would viciously gossip about mutual acquaintances. Jim loved all this and laughed to himself about what a crazy grand old fucker Garland was. Garland was centered at least. He talked shit about fucking other women- each with a different euphemism for the sex act- some hilarious (Making the beast with two backs) or throughly, hilariously repulsive (Stir the stinky stew). But at the end of the day, Jim and especially Garland knew he was going back to his woman. Garland had a lifetime love now and it wasn’t seaside drives of sheer bliss. It was a different, no longer romantic love. It was workaday and serious and real. It was hashing out the bills and giving and taking and sacrificing. But they hadn’t had children yet, so he could go out and get drunk with the boys. Jim was more than happy to help Garland out with his dying wild years before the onslaught of children and work reviews and total concessions- and the joys and sorrows of adulthood in general. Jim was young- 24- and knew just enough about life to know that Garland was a treasure- for comical advice and for serious mentoring. Jim knew that Garland held onto dreams that would have wilted in the heart of a lesser man- but Garland also held up his end. He knew when to take a chance and when to pay the bills. He was angry, living proof of the ability to balance one’s dreams and to seize the best of your reality. Jim also knew of Garland’s sorrow- of the horror of miscarriage and the adult pains therein that Jim could not even begin to fathom. Garland tried to bury his hatred and sorrow as deeply as possible but occasionally alcohol and memory brought it to the surface- his child taken from him. Garland cursed God- and Jim could not argue though Jim tried to find some kind of answer in his large amount of faith that he had. Garland would drink and curse God and Jim would helplessly try to offer comfort. “Fuck that, motherfucker. There is no deeper hell than that. Fuck that. Fuck Him for that. What grand plan takes that away from me? Tell me, motherfucker. What motherfucking act of grace is supposed to make me sit and take this shit. Fuck Him. Fuck that motherfucker. Fuck all that. It’s a motherfucking lie, Jim. It’s a motherfucking lie. What kind of motherfucking Grand Design would take my baby away? Tell ME motherfucker, what motherfucking mysterious way is that. Mysterious ways, fuck that. Suck my dick, motherfucke. Fuck that motherfucker. Fuck that motherfucker. Send me to hell, motherfucker and suck my dick. Fuck that shit.” Jim would stay with him until he passed out and drive him home. Garland would forget the whole thing by the morning and would call and thank Jim for getting him home. Jim knew and would be a man and let it ride.
Jim sat on the bed and Johnny was a comfort.
//Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord?\
Jim thought about Garland. Garland was no Bohemian ironic intellectual.
\\Sometimes it makes me want to tremble//
Garland was from Carolina and knew about being the importance of being washed in the blood. Garland was betrayed by God himself. If Garland pleaded through his anger to make Jim make sense of this, Jim had nothing. Maybe God had an answer. Fuck knows, Jim didn’t. Jim drank more and tried not to think about it.
ROOM #6 – PART 23
Al looked at Sheila with longing. Sheila was nervous and filled with desire- waiting for Al to draw her close and kiss her. Al was trying to be suave and time it right- not out of any desire to be a lothario, but he wanted to meet her expectations of him to not be a complete fumbling idiot. He was always worried about kissing- what with the odd mechanics and the mysteries that it entails. What makes it magic and what ruins the relationship forever. The first real kiss can make or break the romance. It’s worse than if something happens sexually- the sexual side is instinctive and natural. The first kiss is all about skill and knowledge- but the hardest kind of knowledge- knowledge ingrained and second nature. Al knew he didn’t have this. Sheila knew that she didn’t have it. Al could only think of the line from Game Theory as it popped out of the indecipherable garbled psychadelia of the rest of the song: “Sweet cream dream girl…” That’s what it should be like. She should be otherworldly when you kiss her. It shouldn’t be a match equation or a technique. It should be flashing lights and spinning. It should be a kiss that turns into a wild carnal vision of desire. It’s all he could ever hope for and he figured he would just roll the dice and hope it happens.
The moment was now and they both could feel it. Alex pulled Sheila to him and kissed her slowly and gently. Sheila felt her body drain as she held this man tightly- her mouth warm and wet on his mouth. Alex pulled away and looked to see her face- if she was repulsed or let down or if she had agreed to let him sleep with her or any of the other responses he was used to seeing after a first kiss. He looked. Shiela’s eyes were closed and she was breathing deeply- as if she were sedated and hypnotised in an old 50s movie. Alex had never seen a reaction like this and he was galvanized and enpowered. He drew her lips to his lips once again, “Sweet Cream dream girl….”
ROOM #6 – PART 24
//I found a little note where her head belonged- it said “Dear John, honey baby, I`m long gone“\
“Yeah, THAT`S what i need to be.“
Jim had found guidance.
“If I could be the man in every Johnny Cash song then I could live with myself. I would be good and kind. I`m flawed but I`m forgivable because I understand myself and my drives and desires.“
It all made sense to Jim now. He didn’t want be a like Johnny Cash- what with the pills and painting motel rooms black and all those Carters everywhere. Jim thought about the Idea and Concept of Manhood in Johnny Cash songs and how he could shape himself into that.
“That would be the way. The Johnny Cash ideal is to be as smart and accepting as you can be, but have a CORE to yourself- some basic hard tenets to live by. Stand by your woman. To hell with any weak ass motherfucker wasting your time. Look for a cathartic experience through simple things. Harness your wanderlust and look for experiences that are meaningful. Think for yourself and fuck the world. Be a natural man with natural desires and act on these desire…“
There was so much to learn and so many records to listen to. Jim felt a lot better.
//Oh, I`m blistered oh yeah\\
ROOM #6 – PART 25
The flickering light of the unwatched television illuminated the living room. Jim put on his faded jeans and white t-shirt and covered it with a red, black and yellow checkered flannel shirt. Jim had some cowboy boots that his brother used to wear during the Urban Cowboy craze but stopped wearing as soon he had heard the Cars and the B-52s, all before settling into a steady diet of Van Halen. These boots were tan and super old- with elegant but understated black embroidery on the sides. Jim put them on and they were broken in and felt good. Jim tucked his pants in them because he figured that`s how the cowboys would have done it to keep the mud off their cuffs, but he wasn`t sure nor was he overly worried about it.
He turned off the blue glow of the tv and braced himself with a shot of Old Crow and entered the night.
ROOM #6 – PART 26
“Brigette, oh my GOD. It was great. It was really really great.”
“Great as in ‘astounding, bonecrushing sex’ great or…”
“The lllllllove we made wasn’t bad. He is intense enough- if not overly skilled. But I’m not talking about the fucking, I’m talking about THE OTHER.”
“Holy fuck! The REAL other! As in: ‘he yooour LOVER now?”‘
“He is my lover like a motherfucker.”
“Are you in loooooove?”
“I’m in love like a motherfucker. And he is in love like a motherfucker. I can tell. I got this motherfucker and he’s got me. He kissed me and I kissed him and it was like we were NO LONGER OF THE EARTH…”
Her mind goes back to their kiss, where she was a goddess or a priestess or a sorceress- rising from the emerald lake as swans fly off in all directions as she breaks the plane of the surface. Ancient Indians crafted her golden ornate headdress and the silver and gold and jade garment clung to her body, seamlessly alternating between areas opaque and areas translucent. Long strings of beads wrap around her body and frame her face, the gold bedazzling on her olive skin. Light flashes around her as she rises and awaits Al who walks across the water and takes her into his arms. The only sound is each breath trying to contain the love and desire. He exposes her shoulder and pulls her to him and kisses her and she kisses him and a white noise and a white light engulf them and they swirl in the sky as shards of light careen off of their embrace. Like a quasar of pure white heat, pulsing in the sky as their embrace evolves into a primal surge of love and desire and lust and living…
“Yeah, I’m in love with THAT motherfucker. Oh yeah.”
ROOM #6 – PART 27
The ceiling had that foil relief that was common to Southern urban buildings of the 1920s and 30s and it was quite a counterpoint to the rundown interior of the Ernie Chan Society- a bohemian dive that specialized it cheap beer, bad poetry and the usual art school artwork on the walls. They had a good dance night though- as the Gothic chicks and art crowd all got together on Thursday nights to try to find some kind of love and to get hypnotized by the rhythm of the night. Jim had the flannel on and the cowboy boots and he had just shaved. His crewcut was no longer a statement about his psuedo-elitist artcreep visage, but now was simply the most that his head could allow when trying to contain the fury of his new feeling about life that reflected off his face. He walked to the bar which was long and narrow and was seperated from the dancefloor by a makeshift black wall which had large doorways and chainlink fence. “Gimme a Miller.” Teresa was the bartender and she was wearing a silk nightgown. She had a dyed red hair and gap between her teeth. She and Jim had always wanted to fuck each other but one or the other was always in a lifethreatening relationship- and now was no different. Teresa was dating Cal, the drummer from math rock band supreme- Girls In Action- though she never could hide her deepseated lust for Jim. “Jim, you look like a redneck.” Jim smiled and drank a swig of his High Life. “I like it, big daddy.”
Jim looked into her green eyes and laughed. “Damn Teresa. What the fuck are you wearing?”
“Tips, big man. You know the drill.”
“I wasn’t complaining. I was just hoping to see you wearing that in a less public situation.”
Jim’s laugh takes the edge off the statement, but Jim and Teresa never had trouble talking about how they should be fucking each other already.
“Timing, big man, timing. We got the worst timing.”
“No shit. When you get tired of the Watchtower wannabe, you need to come see me. The next line is me and it’s almost my time.”
“You’ve never even kissed me and we’ve been going on like this since I started working here three years ago. You’d think something would have happened after all that alcohol was consumed. It would just seem like the law of averages would have us waking up naked by the river one morning. How has never come about? I can’t understand it.”
” We’re both fools who try to walk the line. There ain’t a damn thing wrong with that. I seen you go and take their hearts and break them one by one. The fact that you would never cheat on them adds to your vast allure. Hell, mama, you’re prolly more than I could ever handle anyway.”
“Oh fuck yeah, hoss. Take that to the fucking bank.”
Jim laughed again, a laugh of total agreement. “Well.. lemme go try to get my hands on something I can get my hands on. Good luck with Cal. He’s a great guy and won’t do you wrong. The lucky motherfucker…”
Jim walked to the dancefloor and looked for a lady to dance with. He saw Brigette and was dazzled by her Bob. Jim was feeling good about himself for the first time in a long time and was at ease with himself and didn’t really give a shit about the rest of the civilized world. He was ready for good time and Brigette was a good dancer and he almost knew her so he had an in.
“Hey, Brigette. You’re Sheila’s friend, right?”
“Oh yeah. You must be Jim. I was reading your love letters to Sheila the other day.”
Jim laughed again. “Oh fuck, well let me keep walking then…”
“No way. I thought they were the best stalking letters I’d ever read.”
“Oh you should have seen my secret photography shrine to her. It was worthy of a center spread in Art In America.”
Brigette starting laughing and when Brigette laughed, no man could deny their desire for her. Jim was a man for the first time in his life and didn’t try to put his desire into words. He put it into dance. His face turned serious- like he was about to lift something heavy. “Fuck the bullshit, darlin. Wanna dance?”
“Oh you know it, daddy.”
“Let The Music Play” by Shannon had just started…
ROOM #6 – PART 28
“Garland, daddy, you shoulda been there.”
“Ah Jim, what did we do now? Transvestite… a really cute man… possibly some kind of prison fantasy thing?”
“God, you old guys are so bitter about having to live vicariously through the youth of America.”
“Yeah, yeah- less jokes, more details.’
“It’s nothing like that. It was pretty cool though. Al’s gal Sheila has a friend named Brigette and I danced with her all night at the ECS. They played all my faves including all these old Rockabilly numbers that TRANSFORMED me as a dancer into this just fucking KING of sexuality. I tried to play it off as being funny, but she was like a Russ Meyer starlet and I was the King of Southern Sexuality. we were flailing away and I was doing all these Elvis moves and they made sense to me and I now understand Elvis and his affect on women. They played the dance numbers and it moved into this wild spontaneous sensual ballet of raw sexuality. She was a creature of lust and completely demonic in trying to make me blow my stack on the dance floor. It was crazy. I’ve never had a better time, including all the times I’ve fucked girls or won fistfights with frat thugs. It was the same exhilaration but at the end of dance night, I went my way and Brigette went her way. It was crazy.’
“Jim, you realize that you will never fuck her now.”
“Why do you say that?”
“It’s the way of the world. Trust me.”
Jim had to. It was Garland and he was being serious.
ROOM #6 – PART 29
Garland was falling asleep and was thinking about the advice he gave Jim.
“Yeah, it sounds just like me n Kath….“
The dancefloor was filling up at the Terry Austin Catamaran club and Garland was wearing a 24th Street Surfshop t-shirt with the sleeves cut out and some purple PCH slacks. His Vans were the orange and blue type that just predated the checkerboard Vans. He was drinking a Lowenbrau and looking for someone to dance with. “Electric Kingdom“ started in with the beat and Garland saw Kath- clad in all black with dark glasses. Her long brown hair circled under her girlish cheeks. Her eyes were green and she turns the world on with her smile- or so thought Garland to himself as he spotted her, his heart racing with ungodly lust and desire.
“Hey, Gar, what`s up?“
“Looking to dance with someone. You up for it?“
She smirks her adorable smirk and they hit the dancefloor and “Got to Be Real“ mixes into “Electric Kingdom“ and They starting swirling around and laughing. They break it down and Garland expresses his attraction to Kath by undulating wildly and gesturing to come closer- all the world like a 1980 Valentino- taking the lightness of the swirling and transforming it into a slightly sinister expression of his desire. Kath doesn`t bat an eyelash and comes closer- come hither stare bold and unabashed, as they start doing the Rock. Garland responds to Kath being so close with an even more intense gaze of desire and takes her hand and holds it out as if to transform into a Tango but they leave the simple integrity of the Rock and take it down like a motherfucker.
Before Garland drifts off to sleep, he remembers that they would dance every week, without exception- until Kath moved to Maryland. They would go their separate ways after last call every Wednesday.
As he drifted further into sleep, he dreams of Room #6.
ROOM #6 – PART 30
Garland recalls Room #6.
I was flying through the ether and the clouds were like smoke that dissipated- like I was in one of those 3 Stooges movies where they die and fly up to heaven and they reverse the film of some smoke to show the three of them flying into heaven before the two masks would pop up. It was all so white as I moved my shoulderblades up and down like a panther about to pounce as I descended to the plane to the door. I opened the door and it was a restaurant. It looked like Kopolous Greek Restaurant that I frequented when I was in my twenties. It was a late 1800s building with a onate embossed foil ceiling and wooden bench booths with meandering hallways to the restrooms, a grand bar and one of those great al fresco decks that was custom made for twenty four year olds to get drunk and argue about Big Star and Liberation Theology. I was seated at one of the tables that was decorously laid betwixt the boothes and was always reserved for the dining customers whenever we would all show up for 50 cent drafts at happy hour. I was seated with my old friend Chris and his girlfriend from ten years ago- Valerie. We are eating appetizers and Chris is going on about something like he always was. I look at the absolute beauty of Valerie and after 18 years now I cannot contain myself anymore and begin kissing her. It was eager kisses that you only experience during a first kiss- as I try to show 18 years of unrequited love in one kiss and she also. It was a French kiss that closed into a regular kiss until the exploration of a French kiss continued again. Usually, the texture and quality mattered when I think of kisses, but here all that mattered was that years of love was draining out of my soul and her soul into this kiss and we both wanted it continue until we were both cleansed of this vestigal love. I haven`t seen her in nine years and have no idea where she is in this present civilized world but deep in my heart there is a love for her that will never die. I seal her up and disguise her as other women. I try to cheapen my love for her by using make-shift versions of her as my fantasy lovers in my private moments. I run her down and remember her irritating qualites in my most conscious moments. i try to assassinate her memory in my most logical moments and in my moments of deepest clarity and despair. But she is a spy in the house of love and she will find me when I visit this room 6 and she will haunt and remind me that I can never be whole because I never professed and expressed my true, dire, desparate love for her. It was the real world. I have a sense of duty to my friend and it was stronger than me acting on the true love in my heart. But every other level of my spiritual existence, I fucked her and held her and nourished her and lived with her and loved her as if it were the real world. It ruined me. It ruined my relationship with women I would have loved otherwise- women worthy of far more than whatever semblance of righteous love I could ever provide. So I kept kissing her, like I would on Planet Earth right now if I had any inkling of where she was in the world. When I got back, I thought about the past. I thought about when we were 25 and my options before me when she was in town and we were both young and I could have acted on my secret love for her. Chris was my roomate and Valerie was basically living at the apartment and one night we were drinking. Chris was working late or was out of town or something and she said to me, “Gar, let`s go to Henderson county.“ I had a blue Duster and I used to go this backwoods bar called the Ukon in the sticks of Henderson county. “Okay, let`s go.“ She was always alluringly deep and would have spells of melancholy and would snap out of it and say something to mask it. “Let`s go to the Ukon and get some beer and cole slaw.“ It was 8 o`clock and it was May. The air was humid and the warmth of the air was as sexual as the allure of the unobscured stars in the Henderson county sky. Henderson county was horse country and all along route 50 was all these white fences that made the rolling hills and vast expanses of farmland look like the South in “Birth Of A Nation“ or in a turn of the century newspaper drawing of the Antebellum South. We were going 70 in my Duster and Valerie smile and turned her head and inhaled the night air. It was at this moment that I became completely in love with her. She said, “Pull over“and I did. It was right where I knew the white fences ended. Henderson county was all rolling hills and a mist was coming and it engulfed us, making the light from the streetlight disperse throughout the mist and surround as we layed on the tall grass on the hillside, just over the hill from the highway. I looked at her surrounded in light in the warm night as she smiled at me. I thought of how much I wanted to make love to her. I thought of my friend Chris. “We should get back. Chris will be wondering where we are.`
ROOM #6 – PART 31
Brigette was walking home from the Ernie Chan Society- as another night of dancing with Jim had ended like the two weeks before- a last call for alcohol, a final dance to a remix of “Last Dance” by Donna Summers and a cordial if abrupt goodbye by both parties. Brigette was thinking about Jim and thought the whole sudden dancing phenomenon was pretty cool- a great purge of some sexual aggression that she had built up during the week and a good conduit for some semblance of artistic expression. Walking across the street in the opposite direction is her friend Mary, who is with a group of four other people- three guys and another woman. “Hey Mary.”
“Brigette, what’s up? We just saw the Motor City Salsa Kings over at Zamfir’s. You should have seen it. You at dance night?”
“Oh yeah. I was shakin’ it and not breakin’ it.”
“We’re heading over to Jerusalem 52 for our afterhours groove thing. You can definately come with.”
“Sure. What the hey…”
Lars was a co-worker and friend of Mary’s and he was tall and blond and handsome. Brigette figured he was with Mary- a dark-haired beauty with a Eastern European stoicism that drove the art types insane with love. After a bit of conversation on the way over to the J-52, the whole situation of the evening was disclosed: Mary was with Buddy, a friend of Lars and the rest of the group were just acquaintances- thus Lars was actually a free agent and was just accompanying the group for the evening. He wasn’t Brigette’s type at all- as she is usually not up for the high maintenance of dealing with guys who are prettier than she was- but Brigette was spinning out of control again as of late and she wasn’t focusing on any preconceived ideas of her perfect man. She was having trouble feeling much of anything lately other than a very surface desire to fuck Jim. It wasn’t deep enought to keep her focused on landing him and knew the urge would pass soon unless Jim started bringing more than just hot odd dance moves. Brigette had a feeling about Jim, though. It was a good feeling that she could sway him without having to overtly seduce him or use any other physical means to lure him in- that it could be good and pure and natural and innocent. She was figuring that Jim was as unstable and emotionally charged as she was- if the brief history they had together was any indication. She knew herself and her weaknesses and strengths. Her need for love to sprout out of spontaneous eruption was haunting her and making her sexual and emotional well-being become tenuous and threadbare. The strangeness of her new dealings with Jim made her think that he was as much of a victim of his wild emotion as she was- and that that one thing they had in common could probably sustain a torrid love affair for a while at least. She figured on kissing him and letting him know the score and maybe he’d come around eventually. Until then, she was gonna make it with this good looking Lars guy for a while- since there’s mystery of how to land guys for reasons sexual. They walked up the steps to the roof , through the door and into the smoke-filled bar.
ROOM #6 – PART 32
Al was lying the splendor and glow of a sleeping Sheila. It was Sunday morning and it was raining outside and there was a slight chill. Al was happy because now there was absolutely nothing keeping them from laying around all day. He had snuck out earlier and had presented young Shiela with an array of sausage and regular Egg McMuffins as she arose from slumber- much to her delight. He had watched her as she slept and was deeply moved by how adorable she was as she slept and kissed her on the cheek , and her head moved in reaction and resettled in the same place on the pillow. “Awww sweet honey baby…..”
Jim came into the apartment. He looked pretty disheveled since he was wearing what had been wearing at dance night and it had been haphazardly reapplied to his body. He had gotten lucky with an artchick who had just finished a March Violets-drenched set at the local college radio station and happened to be at O’Reilly’s Diner when Jim stumbled in for the Largest Mess A Eggs This Side Of The Mississippi! with homefries and gallons upon gallons of grapefruit juice. She was a friend of Jim’s friend. He remembered her from a prior dancenight and they kinda just ended up together after the grease-drenched recovery breakfast. Jim had four scratches across his lower back and they stung as the hot water from the shower hit it. He remembers how they got there as he jumps away from the water in pain.
“I’m a redhead and that makes me hardcore. I wanna dig my nails into your back as you fuck me,” she laughed.
“Feel free, darlin’.”
Jim was bemused by her impish grin. She was petite and had all the earmarks of the broken little girl that would become a Goth/artchick. Jim felt a twinge of guilt as he pulled off her shirt and her leggings. He couldn’t kid himself into believing that he was as psychologically fucked up as she assuredly was, but he didn’t stop either. He figured he would be the only guy she’s slept with this year who would fuck her and talk to her the next day, so it was justification enough as started sucking on her nape of her neck and started working on her pleasure.
As Jim was remembering all of this and was getting out of the shower, he checked his mail from Saturday that was sitting on the coffee table. “Ah fuck, that ain’t good. Hey, Al…”
“Tim has fucking MOVED to San Francisco. What the fuck?”
“Shit. That’s 400 a month. That’s fucked. Why would do that? Lemme see that..”
“Oh, he’s all apologetic, the little art pussy.”
“Well, fuck. What are we gonna do?”
“Find a new roommate fast.”
ROOM #6 – PART 33
Jim is sitting in his apartment alone and calls Garland.
“Gar, you know anybody needing a place to live?”
“What happened to Al? Don’t tell me he’s moving in with his latest love…”
“No, it’s that shithead Tim. He moved to fuckin’ San Francisco without even getting his stuff. The fucking shithead….”
“I thought that you arty types stay on the East Coast and starve to death in New York before “finding yourself” and moving to the West Coast. That’s fucking pathetic. Just up and left? That sucks dick. Hmm…. Either way, sounds like you should sell all his stuff and throw a large keg party. There hasn’t been a decent keg party in this god-forsaken town since I was 19 years old and we all lived in this three story house and then all 8 of us got evicted the next day. The ENTIRE gutter was sitting in the front yard. We used our bannister as a ramrod at the frat next door and got into the greatest fight in Tri-City history. Then me and Skinny John Arizona BOTH pulled the hat-trick that night. First I got in a fight with…”
“Gar. GAR! Gar. Gar. GAR! If you tell this story one more motherfucking time I’m going to drive over to your house and beat the living shit out of you. I fucking MEAN IT.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to help you young assholes along. I’m telling you, a stunt this shitty deserves a good revenge keg party.”
“You may be right. Fuck, I know you’re right. But right now, I’m worried about making rent next month. If I don’t find somebody quick, we will be thoroughly fucked.”
“Well, I’ll keep my ear to the ground. Something will come up. Well anyway, I’m going to bed. I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Yeah. I’ll see you Wednesday at the Cup and Saucer.”
Jim grabbed a Coors long-neck from the refrigerator and sat down on the red shiny faux second hand La-Z-Boy. Nothing was on TV but Jim wasn’t really watching it anyway. He was drifting back to the girl he was with last night. “Oh Carol. I am but a fool. Why do I want to love her again? That whole conversation about her mom trying to commit her when she was 15 should probably be a warning flag… fuck that, who am I trying to kid. Goddam she could go. Goddam. She could go like a motherfucker. Okay, if I can keep fucking her and all the while try to help her along and become a whole person then I am not actually a dirtbag…. no, if I keep fucking her, she might fall in love and I would possibly have her blood on my hands when she finds out that I’m just fucking her because I really dig fucking her… MAN, this whole fucking situation is just bad. Lemme see… I’ll just stay open to her but not come on to her and if she wants to ever fuck again, I will be there for her… No, that’s stupid. I want to fuck her again. And again. Maybe I should just drink more and not think about this anymore.”
Jim drank another Coors. The TV was eternally on UHF and he started watching an episode of “What’s Hap’nin Now” but was actually just zoning out and letting the alcohol do it’s work. The doorbell rang. Jim walked over the hardwood floors of the narrow living area across the hardwwod floors of the narrow hallway. The light shone through the transom over the door, illuminating the red carpet on the stairway that goes up to the third floor. Jim opened the door and an obviously drunken Carol stood smiling in the doorway. “Come on in, Carol. You’re drunk.”
“Oh yeah, Big Daddy. I came by to see what you were doing. Whatchadoing?”
“Nothing at all. Come on in.” They go straight to Jim’s bedroom and begin pulling each other’s clothes off. Jim has trouble remembering to actually utilize foreplay, but quickly remembers. Jim had second thoughts right before it was actually to the point of having it off- since he wasn’t nearly as drunk as she was. He also remembered that this wasn’t the first time they’d had sex, so he gave her what she came over for.
Jim lay on the bed spent. He gathered up the energy to tuck Carol in, who had fallen asleep after a few moments of post-coital spooning. He walked over to the bathroom to wash his face and to get another beer. “Mama’s Family” had just started and he decided to sit down for a minute and try to figure out how to talk to Carol in the cold hard sunlight of morning when the alcohol had worn off. The phone rang just as Ken Berry had started the situation part of the comedy.
Brigette. What’s going on?”
ROOM #6 – PART 34
Jim was taken aback. A women he was developing some kind of mystical feeling for was on the phone and an art-chick he had just fucked was passed out on his bed. He closed the windowed double doors and talked to Brigette in the dark.
“Jim, how ya been? I heard about Tim moving. What a dick.”
“Yeah, but whatchagonnado? You know anybody who needs a place to live?” (Jim was about to say “who isn’t an intravenus drug-user” but he figured it would be unforward and not what a man says to a woman on the phone.)
“Can’t help you there. Anyway, I heard of another dance night in this miserable town. It’s a little on the peppy collegiate side crowdwise but the dj is suh-lammin’. Plus, it would be another reason to get out of the house.”
“I’m in. Where is it?”
“It useta be Raphaels…”
“Oh man, the old biker bar.”
“Yeah, it’s now a college crowd type place but supposedly they throw down like a mother on Tuesdays.”
“Fuck yeah, I’m in. One time me and Tim and two of his ladies went to Raphael’s once for whatever reason. I was wearing two flannel shirts and I gave one to Tim and said, ‘Just don’t say ANYTHING to ANYONE and run like a motherfucker when it starts getting ugly.’ We ordered a pitcher of PIELS- they had fricking PIELS on tap- and actually had a good time hiding in the booth. Only one table of old long-haired bikers made comments. I remember distinctly- ‘That third one would be pretty if you put a dress on him’. I think we would say that to Tim everyday for two years.”
“I useta date a bouncer there once…”
“NO FUCKING WAY!”
“…yeah! his name was Gary. He had all these oriental tattoos and could REALLY beat the shit out of ANYONE. I saw him beat the shit out seven sailors once. Just beat the living fuck out of them- blood broken bones, the whole nine yards. He was completely bad ass. Sweetest guy in the world when he wasn’t breaking some guys arm in half. He turned me on to German Expressionism and Swedish film. He was great. Bikers feared the fuck out of him.”
“And you didn’t marry him?”
“Oh no. I was actually the last woman he ever went out with. He moved to Holland and became a kickboxer- he and his super bad-ass boyfriend.”
“AWESOME. You’re fucking kidding me.”
“No, I swear to GOD. The best was that he and his lover were in a tournament in Belgium- one of those no holds barred UFC type things and had to actually fight each other. Supposedly, they left the love outside the cage and REALLY beat the holy living fuck out of each other. He told me that it broke his heart to completely smash the beautiful and perfect nose of his boyfriend but it went a long way to keep their love in the closet.”
“I would imagine.”
“It’s a big mover on the internet even without everyone knowing that they were blowing each other again two weeks later. Gary is the fucking king. If he wasn’t that way, I would have married him yesterday.”
“My list of ladies that I’ve unknowingly convinced to choose a life of lesbianism is a little too extensive for my to ever comtemplate.”
“Oh now now. I’ll see you Tuesday then.”
“Fuck yeah, honey darlin’. I’ma howl at the moon with you to the funky beat.”
Jim was happy to hear from young Brigette but Carol hadn’t slipped his mind completely. He gets a glass of water from the kitchen and walks down the hall back to his room.
“Hey darlin, you awake?”
Jim hands the slightly more sober Carol the glass.
“Just barely. Thanks. Is everything okay? I heard the phone ring.”
“Oh yeah, everything is fine.”
“Why don’t you put that Arthur Lymon record on and why don’t do some more of that…”
“YOU GOT IT. Carol, honey darlin, I got an urge, I got a surge and it’s out of control.”
“Then just lay it on me, big Daddy.”
“Oh honey darlin, you know what I like. LOOK OUT.”