jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


It gets so dark so early and even though I am not leaving the office very late, it feels like deep night. I am fumbling with my ipod and the cord gets caught on my coat, I jerk my arm and my bag opens, spilling a bunch of CDs to the sidewalk. They hit the pavement and shatter and I crouch down to pick up shards of plastic, liner notes, scoop them carefully back into my bag. A man steps up from the curb, looks at my predicament and says “Did Carol go this way?”

His graying hair is neatly clipped, he is well-kempt, he is not a streeter, but I don’t think I know him. His eyes are clear and focused, he is definitely talking to me. I take out one of my ear buds so I can hear him better. “You seem to like puppies,” he says and now I am thinking perhaps he is aphasic, there is a hospital right around the corner, there is some suffering here.

Another man walks past us, squeezing by on the narrow sidewalk. He is hunched into the bundle in his arms, a bunch of chrysanthemums wrapped in florist paper. “What nice white melons” says Aphasic Man and I am trying to follow the somersault in his brain that turns the yellow, frilled mums into something smooth and solid and pale. I don’t get to think about this for long because Aphasic Man pulls out a gun.

I see the silver flash and it is shiny enough to be real and big enough to be serious. He fires it, circumscribing an arc over my head. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. I count the reports, so loud they fill my head. Five. Five. What did the gun look like? It did not have an extra clip. He is not re-loading, he is standing in front of me, I can hear him breathing but I can’t pick my head up to look at him. Does he have one shot left? Does he? Is he aiming at me now, feeling the space between here and the thing he is about to do?

All I can think is “I am not ready to die.” Because how pitiful that would be. To die here, unloved on this filthy street. With that odd detachment that happens in extreme circumstances I notice I have not pissed myself, and I am somewhat mollified that my death will have at least that modicum of dignity, even if I have not yet inspired enough love, have not yet given enough away. And, for heavens sake, could I not at least die in Brooklyn?

Then my eyes fly open. I am in my own bed with the light from the avenue striping the walls. I am alone and I am alive.


Anonymous famjaztique said...

Christ ttractor, you had me, completely!

9:15 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

yea! I hope that was at least a little fun?

It was an interesting dream in that it presented itself just like how I think and write. It just translated right from that movie from my sleep to words.

I keep saying I don't know how to make things up, can't write fiction, so this is a very first attempt, sorta.

But, c'mon! Isn't it funny a little? I'm about to die, wretched and alone, and I am bitching about not dying in my own neighborhood? What a kvetching New Yorker!

Oh, but I miss you! I hope everything is just so wonderful, intriguing, promising.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I was reading along, thinking, This sounds so New York: "What nice white melons." A stranger talks to you. Here, there are no strangers. But in New York, there are strangers. And then my eye skipped over the part where he pulled the gun, and when I realized what was happening, I was totally gripped by fear and relief at the same time: relief that you were still alive and were blogging this for us, but also fear that you could actually have died. Thank goodness it was a (completely gripping) dream.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fiction is just the truth seen out of the corner of your eye. It's not making things up, it's how your mind sees the world. It's how all the fragments of perception fit together, so that "trying to follow the somersault in his brain that turns the yellow, frilled mums into something smooth and solid and pale" reflects a woman standing in the darkness, in love with the moon. (Smooth, solid, pale.) We write fiction without knowing it. We call it life.

And, trust me, there are worse places to die than Brooklyn.

10:03 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

I won't spill my dream out in beautiful words...but before my comps/prelims/grad exams, I had a dream that I was caught in the crossfire of machine guns in a rundown apt complex; one bullet went into my brain, I reached for the gun in front of me, determined not to live without full use of my brain, and just as I pulled the trigger, my eyes 'flew open'. talk about test anxiety.

but good post.


but good.

11:24 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

well, I also dreamed this week about my key ring. The keys to my about to be ex-car were on it. Riveting!

Slick, your dream reminds me of someone I vaguely knew back in the old country. Upon discovering she was a dyke, and deciding she did not want to live as a dyke, she ate a .22. Christ. If she thought life as gay and in Oklahoma was bad, now add brain damaged and very alive to it. Yikes. Hey, how's yer new dis topic coming along?

12:46 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

see today's post.

oh, and email me regarding your "topic."

1:00 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

and why would you ever use a .22? gotta go 12-gauge if you've chosen that route.

oh, yeah, I'm from the Old Country, too, sweetie.

1:03 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

exactly! one way to get your good ole gal license revoked is to use the wrong caliber and the wrong shot! jeez! get it right, people!

1:25 PM  

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