Chapter 9, Part B

Now you know


He flipped the pad shut and shivered as he tossed it onto her desk by the window and climbed back into bed as quietly as he could. Estrelica felt him getting back under the covers and asked him where he had been. He replied that he’d just been to the bathroom, which satisfied her as she turned to put her arms around him, then recoiled from the iciness of his body.

"You’re freezing." she whispered.

"That bathroom is COLD!" he whispered back.

"Oh, come here, you" she murmured as she held Vic tighter and rubbed her arms and legs around him to warm him up. She caressed him gently and soon found she had rocked him to sleep. Now that Vic was asleep again, Estrelica was wide awake and she lay there continuing to stroke his body as she looked over at the shadows of the tree branches on the wall swaying back and forth and hummed a tango to herself. She realized she also needed to drain the night and pulled her body away from Vic as gently as possible to go to the bathroom. She passed her strewn clothes on the floor of the front room and chuckled on the way to the toilet. As she sat on the toilet she put her fingers on her navel and scratched what had been the last few drops of juice on her body, now a dried momento of the man in the next room. She put her fingers beneath her nose, inhaled and opened her eyes a bit wider. She walked back into the front room and sat on her sofa, then got up to set the timer on her camera that sat perched on the mantelpiece, sat back down on the sofa and put her fingers beneath her nose as the camera snapped, whirred and shut itself off. She looked around the darkened room where they had begun to make love and wished he was still awake. Her eyes fell to the iron that had been left out, and what she was going to use it for in the morning, and thought of the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year, and wondered how Vic could fit into her plans, if at all. She realized the ridiculousness of her thoughts, then thought of her life and where it was going and how much more ridiculous it seemed than her thoughts of Vic. It had been so long since she had done something impulsive and the security of her life was comfortable, but she tired of having to fight off boredom by constantly rationalizing her present situation away. She thought of the business proposition that Vic had made to her in the bath, or was it just a dream; the sarcastic ramblings of an intoxicated infatuated rogue? She thought of how long it was realistically going to be before she saw J. Dove Dixon and wondered if in fact she was just waiting for him. She was reluctant to think that the life she’d always wanted to live may be at her fingertips, and thought of everybody she knew and what their reactions would be to such a decision. Then she thought of how the ones who would laugh the loudest and try to preach their proudest were the ones who had let themselves be sold down the river years ago and had adapted very easily to their humble lives. She thought of her self-pity, her lily as she called it, which she woke up clutching twenty hours ago, and wondered if she was strong enough to follow through with what her heart was telling her. She was sick and tired of trying to believe that she was in love with someone simply because she wanted to be in love. And whomever it was who lay in her bed had somehow managed to twist his way into her mind in a way she thought no one would ever be able to. She thought of how she had kicked him in the groin and actually felt glad that she had done it, left her calling card, should he ever try anything in the future. She started to tally up how many faults she’d recognized in him already and balanced it with the fact that although he had his faults, the alternative was finding someone who may not have as many, but may be living just for the sake of it. She thought of something J. Dove used to say. Something about, if you do sense that there are jackals around you, you learn how to behave like them or they’ll prey on you mercilessly. She knew that Vic wasn’t a jackal, but had learned how to behave as one. She looked around for the pad of paper she’d written the letter to J. Dove on that morning in the bath, found it in her room, set a fresh candle in the bottle by the side of her bed, brought it up to her desk and reached for a box of impregnated safety matches. She flipped the pad open to the letter she had written to J. Dove, read it, flipped the pages over, then noticed someone else’s handwriting. She read the words Vic had written, read them again, then looked over at his sleeping face. The thoughts on his face revealed someone content with all they’d seen with no attempt whatsoever to try and mask his feelings in as best a social face as he could manufacture. But when she saw him have to deal with someone he wasn’t intimate with, his face fell and a sense of mediocrity distorted his face strangely. Then once he was allowed to be himself, he began to radiate to the point that his very presence was contagious. She knew that he had seen hell. Which hell, she wasn’t concerned with, but he had obviously learned when it was feeding time for his demons and had the courtesy to deal with them on his own time.

She looked out of her window at the night as she picked up her pen.


She used to run through bookstores

to the atlas of the world

she used to listen to her grandmother

every night

The only face she’d see

down in the meadow by the moon

she’d draw on her foot

when she was supposed to put out the light


Her teeth were razor sharp

she wet her fingers for the wind

her tights were sometimes a strainer

and sometimes bait

she learned all about Egypt

she was also taught her ones and twos

but it wasn’t like she never had to wait


The barefoot boys were ticklish

coming fresh from their own wars

and the landmines she wasn’t fit

to entertain

with all the same scars they’d show you

until you couldn’t just turn away

until you couldn’t imagine

oh, and by the way,

what’s your name?


But the spidermums need watering

and these toenails need a clip

as she dabs away the pepper

from her lip

and with all that they could juggle

and how much longer they could laugh

they just wish you’d gaze right through them

and carve yourself down to just half.


The last time she heard his name

she drove into town for one last gin game

with the bartender who’d given her

her first kite

He said, "Will you marry me

when I’m sixty-two

after everything else all falls through

but right now

can you stay away from yourself

for just one night?"


And when the taverns all let out

the laughter strays and

the bouncing shouts

climb into the bay window

where she lights

the incense

and the candles tall

she says her name

and touches the wall

and saves a cigarette

for the morning

just one bite


She looked at her words, lit a cigarette, gazed out of her window and saw herself sitting by the window from the street as she began fading away into the distance, gazing at her house, her street, her neighborhood, her part of the city, the length of the bay and the stretch of the coastline, the parcel of land reaching north and south over the horizon, the edge of the continent, the bend of the planet and the perfect aloneness of the sphere gently lit by the surrounding stars nestled in one of the arms of the milky way.

Her room was deep blue and silent, except for the light tapping of Armitage’s paws as he nuzzled her legs. She bent down, took him in her arms, laid him on her stomach and stroked him gently.

"What do I do with a drunken sailor, dude?" she whispered to Armitage, who blinked slowly and settled himself on her body. "That’s what I thought you’d say."

She stared out of her window and soon lost all track of time as she sat in the silence and took a quick mental inventory of what started out as the day she had just lived and telescoped into the life she had lived thus far. She didn’t want to admit to herself that she had dreamed too well and prayed too hard, and felt as if she wanted to be sheltered from the morning and protected from what had been placed at her feet. This could be anybody, she thought. Any of the anonymous eyes she’d let gaze into hers as she walked the streets, estranged by them only by the social hammerings of propriety and etiquette. She thought of the first words she’d said to Vic, about her being able to take him back home and also being able to drag him through hell, and chuckled when she realized she’d managed to do both in the course of the day. But, no matter how hard she tried to look at the simplicity of the situation, her mind created intricate algebraic patterns that spun in and out of every possible crevice of her existence. In the interest of her own chosen vocation she could only think that she had lived in this area far too long for it to be interesting to her anymore, and realized the photographs she had taken in the past year had become more pedestrian and soulless. Should she take up Vic’s proposition, the architectural riches of Europe would await her. Not to mention the depth of character on the faces of those that lived there. A depth that had been airbrushed away from so many of the Americans she’d seen. And should she actually travel with Vic, how could such a character help but find himself immersed in landscapes and festivals too frenzied for even a camera to document. She looked at his sleeping face and found she didn’t even want to reach for her camera to capture what may leave her presence forever in only a few hours. She worshipped photographs, but some things she found too sacred to be committed to emulsion and paper. And the memory of the face of the person sleeping in her bed right now, and all that he had seen, and how zealously he lived his life, and how graciously he had jumped through a hoop or two of hers, which she simply saw as very candid portraits, and how off-handedly he had offered to ensure that she see all of the things she’d always wanted to....Forget the camera, she thought, forget even this memory; leave it for the morning to deal with. She sighed, sitting up in her chair as Armitage jumped down, as she went to lie back down on her bed, closed her eyes as quietly and as slowly as she could and found her igloo burning. The winter was the harshest any member of her family had ever seen, and they had left her long ago to hunt for pelts in the piercing wind. Estrelica had stayed behind to tend to the fire and had fallen asleep and woke up with a start to see the flames of the fire burning away the roof of the igloo as driving snow flew into the igloo. She searched the igloo for something to smother the fire with and for a torch to relight the fire once it had been extinguished, only to find the torch frozen solid. She found a heap of paper sufficient enough to smother the flames, but found that it was an ancient poem her father had typed out for her, and had written his own poem to her scrawled in between the typed lines. She looked for something else to smother the flames with and all she could find was the stacks and stacks of old newspapers she’d kept since she was born, which had saved the igloo once before when they had soaked up all of the waters of the flood of ages past. She piled the newspaper stacks on top of each other, as they reached higher than the flames themselves, and perched herself at the top of the stack and let the flames lick away at her throne that was at the head of a church, just by the alter, as a procession of some sort began and a man in a brown suit came up to her to offer her a round disc of orange mylar, before he turned away. She realizes she is about to be married, and everyone is turning their faces away from her as the guests realize that the groom still hasn’t shown, so she steps down from the throne and walks to one of the middle pews, kneels down and begins to pray for him. She sheds almost all of her years instantly and finds herself as a four-year-old, still praying in the church, but now it’s empty except for her grandmother walking up and back among the pews in front of her and a few of the pews behind her, in the aisle. She hears her grandmother say to herself, "Ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine," expecting to stop counting at one hundred, but continues counting in amazement, "One hundred and one, one hundred and two, one hundred and three, one hundred and four," when she slowly starts to collapse. Estrelica gets up to run to her, crying out for her "Nan! Nan!" as the church disappears and a bright Saturday morning on top of a steep hill near the center of the city takes its place as Estrelica spreads her arms to catch her falling grandmother when suddenly the most vibrant rays of intense energy clutch the two of them together as Estrelica thinks to herself, "I have to say something." Suddenly Estrelica hears the voices of every soul on the planet chiming "We love you, we love you." She quickly says to her grandmother, "We love you, Nan. We love you!" as her grandmother whispers assuredly "I know, I know," as she falls into Estrelica’s arms and passes on.

"Are these guys friends of yours? Hey, are these little guys friends of yours?"

Estrelica woke to the sounds of Vic’s voice as he stood by the window on the right side of her room dressed only in his vest. She heard the voices of the two neighbor children from the house next door as she noticed morning had arrived, filling her room with light. Vic realized that she was still in the land of nod and went over to the bed, straddled her, put his face next to hers and whispered "I think they want you." Estrelica jumped when she opened her eyes to see Vic’s face so close to hers, then realized who it was and put her arms around him.

"I think they want you," he repeated.

"Who?" Estrelica yawned.

"These two kids outside."

A few pebbles bounced off Estrelica’s window as she leapt out of bed.

"Christ, they broke a window doing that a few weeks ago," she said running to the left window to flip open the sash as Vic stood at the right window and flipped it open.

"Hey, hey, hey," she shouted to the kids.

"Hey, hey, hey, what?" the kids replied.

"I thought we had an agreement."

"What agreement?"

"I thought you weren’t going to break any more of my windows."

"We just wanted to see you. We never get to see you anymore. We miss you."

Estrelica leaned back from the window and said to Vic, "These guys are great. The little girl’s name is Nicholino and the little boy’s name is Marcel. I give their mother massages all the time and they think I’m Wonder Woman or something."

"Who’s he?" Nicholino shouted up to Estrelica.

"I’ve been asking that myself," Estrelica replied as she poked her head out of the window to look at Vic, who had also poked his head out of the window.

"Do you like him?" Estrelica asked Nicholino and Marcel.

"Where’s his pants?" Marcel asked as Vic quickly lowered his torso a few inches.

"They’re skin-colored," Vic replied.

"Well, he looks kind of cute, but...." Nicholino dragged out her thought, "He kind of looks like a garbageman."

Estrelica buckled over with laughter.

"A what? I look like a what?" Vic implored of Nicholino.

"No, he doesn’t," Marcel admonished his sister, "he looks like a gangster."

"Great. A garbage man and a gangster." Vic laughed to himself.

"Well, you two look like lovers."

Nicholino and Marcel looked at each other and turned away from each other before embracing each other fondly as Nicholino kissed Marcel on the neck.

"Hey, who does she look like?" Vic asked, gesturing to Estrelica.

"A hooker," Marcel said as his sister slapped his face.

"No, she doesn’t, you’re wrong, and I don’t love you anymore."

"Hey, does your mother have any basil?" Estrelica asked.

"I don’t know. Why?" Nicholino said.

"Well, go and see if she does, and if she does I’ll make up some pesto for breakfast."

"For us, too?" Marcel asked.

"Yeah, sure." Estrelica replied.

"Okay, we’ll be right back." Nicholino said running back to her mother’s house with Marcel.

Estrelica took hold of Vic’s hand and pulled him back to bed.

"So, you look like a hooker, huh?" Vic said

"I don’t know where they get that stuff. I don’t think I was that old when I learned what a hooker was."

"What’s their mother like?"

"Oh, she does something or other or something."


"Do you want to get up?"

"No. Not yet." Estrelica whispered as she and Vic made love again and then lapsed back into sleep. Vic woke up before Estrelica and ran his fingers lightly up and down her legs and then into her bush as her body responded to him even though she was unconscious. As Vic’s fingers kept fondling Estrelica’s body, she turned her head to look at him and was shocked at who was lying next to her, expecting it to be J. Dove. A sudden surge of vulnerability enveloped her as she turned her head back and gazed out of the window. Vic could see the light of day reflected in her eyes as she blinked away in thought and regained her senses. Vic had noticed everything, but feigned sleep.


Estrelica & Vic, Chapter 9, Part C

Now you know