THE SQUIRT OF MY BREATHING
I took myself in the room where no smell could flow, and my boyfriend gushed from room to room in hopes of me. I smuggled our solar television-radio--conjoined like a weird meat--in with me, in around this small room with my hands all over it, and together, my radio and me, under the sheets we watched game shows.
My boyfriend comes from the South, where they don't produce much good except inviolable boys like me, rough and unquietly pious, who turn out like him, only worse--better, sometimes. I give everyone a chance: you can see how he might strut his intelligence nicely. I distribute chances like I am setting a forest on fire.
I let a whiff of that room melt in: oh, how sweet. Nothing at all. Goddamn. I broadcasted Book TV because that is what I like to watch when I have a lot of energy so that I will not become too excited about my life. The lack of smell strung me out on mothery vibes, and I thought of how my neighbor always laments her kids don't stink. But I could feel the quake of my boyfriend's stomp, the stiff shake of a foot or two on rotted plank, and I knew what was coming. I had babysat before, and as I've said, those kids do stink to high heaven from legs down.
I plucked at my novella of a sex as he entered. I showed it to him. What do you think of this? I said, it points to Alabama. He sat down on the end of the bed and told me a story recently taken place a mile away that had grown elemental for him, sliced the rare sockets of his heart, he said. I scoffed. He lay back and I pushed him erect with my foot. I turned up the volume control on my television-radio and watched sports play themselves out. I readied wavy straights of cocaine on the face of the TV, so as things turned out I could only pay attention to the radio: behold, it's my first time to sneak a thing up my nose, and had I not been so rutted and dumped I might not have bothered.
I breathed the long sigh of living unhigh when finally a chunk was firmly stuck, peering out the coast of a nostril. My nostrils look like a private beach: tight, flaky and overflared. They give way to my gruffly mustached upper lip, the crust parked in around there. By this time my boyfriend was halfway finished with his story. Are you finished? I asked. He was talking about this little colored kid flattened in the street, this jaunty green Honda leaving him for meat. The kid was already some sort of fucked--eyes poked close, talking garbled--before today he was mashed into wide black and gray. There was something in there caught up with my boyfriend's childhood, a young man's memory. The volume of sports was maximum. This reminds me of my sister, I said, have you met my sister? My boyfriend took himself out of the room he was so mad at that. I guess I was supposed to hold in the great, winsome things I have to say. I changed the channel.
Now the device was mute and I watched the score of the game. I could hear the beat of my bloodstream. I looked at my window and nothing much was going on in there. I took in breath after breath so that I could have all of the oxygen. I spent my time in that room making myself not get too worked up over the big questions: the abhorrences of men I admire, the impending endings of my life. I gave these questions a chance to answer themselves until I heard my neighbor going at it again, chasing those little things around the world for a bath they wouldn't have, taking a hand from under her skirt to ease those plump uncut children into the basin to which they belong. The yelling was so strange and exuberant I could not hear the commercials between plays. Control the behavior of your children! I called. The noise--none of it--had no point. I picked up the phone and for a long time I heard the squirt of my own breathing. After awhile someone picked up with a long and slow hello. I asked for the police, but an ambulance came instead.