im sittin here, watchin the wind blast the snow back and forth. the windows shake, my hand looks like an inanimate thing made of ivory as it holds a cigarette. my wrists are so small. i'm so small...my memories span a pathetic circumference, they lie there, shrivelled and tugged apart by pitch black ants.
the moments of my life are like grains of rice lining the gutter of a church parking lot.
just before i started high school my family moved us to a predominantly filipino neighborhood. by sophmore year i had been accepted, to the point where i called my new friends' mothers "aunty" and their fathers "uncle". pretty soon i was going to baptisms and the graduation parties of obscure cousins in jersey city and celebratory trips down to AC, where the parents would be swiftly sucked through the vortex of the blackjack table leaving us kids on our own to linger (which is to say, shoplifting cassette tapes and tank tops) in the mall across from caesars and then to prowl the boardwalk at midnight, mixing (which is to say, drinking cans of beer and smoking drugs) among its strange lights and noise and degenerates. by winter of tenth grade i was teaching myself to smoke cigarettes and drink like a champ. i listened to the smiths and depeche mode and public enemy on a taped together walkman and i unceremoniously replaced all candy and cookie intake with cigarettes, which ironically helped slim me down and get me in shape as an athelete, to the point where the following year i'd actually be considered by several colleges, despite that i smoked a pack and a half a day.
there was an incident that gave me some capital: a friend of mine loaned his nissan sentra to a mid-level filipino dealer for a pick-up. when the car came back, a day later than it was supposed to, i slid into the back and found a brick of hash stowed in the back seat. i calmly slipped it in my pants and prayed no one in the crowded car would smell it. when i got dropped off i immediately called the dealer. needless to say, he was psyched.
me and my boys owe you one, he said, in that slow, stoned intonation that all the gang related 'flips' spoke in.
he gave me a phone number.
i'm ferreal bout dis, he said.
his eyes were brown and orange, like a tiger's.
k. i said, and folded up the number and put it in my chain wallet...
he drove me home in his jeep grand cherokee, silently sharing a white owl blunt with me while we listened to a tribe called quest.
when we pulled up at my door he leaned over quickly to kiss me, but i laughed and pushed him away.
i went inside and kept my head down during a nice quiet dinner with my nice, white family. then i went upstairs and fell into a reverie while the sky glowed a metallic yellow over the telephone wires.
that was a time not unlike the time i find myself in now, in which many possible ways of being present themselves to me...a time in which it almost seems possible to have it all...that life might indeed turn out to be one, neverending celebratory song, if not for the slight note of discord or the occasional slip into a minor key that tells me that despite all my charmed good fate, it will eventually be necessary that i make a decision...
...i am only one person, after all.
a boy--a white boy from crosstown--started coming to my yard, late at night...calling up to me, just like in the movies. he had a pair of thick, geeky glasses that he sometimes wore and other times didnt, and he rode a big, funny-looking blue bike that had a basket and everything. he wore secondhand clothes and tied elaborate scarves around his neck and read books all the time. he was also a gifted pianist who had won many awards thoughout the state. i'd soon learn that he could have competed on the national level if not for his insanely paranoid catholic father, who would not allow him to hit the road for fear of "evil influences" contaminating his son.
the rumors were that he was gay, and that he was the boyfriend of a small, skinny boy in our school who never spoke or was spoken to and was known simply as the fag with the crazy artist sister who had green hair and tons of noserings before anyone else.
curious as i was, i thought it bad form to bring it up...the rumour and whatever possible truth there might have been to it. i thought this piano playing boy was very sweet, and sexy with his morrissey hair and his strong arms, and it wasn't long before we were kissing and making out, pressed up against each other for a few minutes in his bedroom or out by my garage, or in the back of his father's car, which he stole in the middle of the night and drove over to see me in without a license or any apparent fear for his well being, as getting caught would have guaranteed a beating from his father in the basement with the pipe.
we read oscar wilde and talked about music and feminism and eastern philosophy...meeting two or three or four times a week in this secret, late nite way, dealing, each time, with the fear of getting caught and severely punished. while my parents had never hit me, they wouldn't have been pleased with the idea of their 15 yr old daughter making out in a parked car on the corner at 3AM.
one night, when i was about to go down on him and said something about how it was the first time for both of us, he corrected me and told me that the rumors were true.
but only twice, he said. then he said the boy's name.
we only did it twice and never anything again.
i nodded and thought about it. i found it difficult to imagine his dick in this kid's mouth, but that's what had happened, and there was no getting around it.
did you like it? i asked.
he told me he had, but that he'd had him stop before he came.
i remember that was the first time i'd heard him use that word, and it turned me on to hear it.
he told me that he and the boy still talked on the phone nearly everyday and that although it was purely platonic, he was pretty sure that the boy still had feelings for him.
i think he's really gay, the piano player said, sadly.
hmmm, i said.
there was more: the fag friend was apparently getting the stuffing beat out of him on the daily by a homophobic wrestling player.
that meathead, i said, when he told me the name. it didn't surprise me that he would pull shit like that.
let me see what i can do, i said, smoothing the hair on his forehead.
what do you mean? he asked.
what can u do?
i dont know. we'll see, i said, loving the sound of mystery in my voice.
so i took out the piece of paper from my wallet and called the number, which turned out to be a pager. i punched in a string of numbers that was listed in careful script beneath the number. about ten minutes later, the phone rang. on the other end a drowsy, and genderless voice asked me to explain the sit-u-a-SHUN as 'zact-ly as i could...which i did, pausing from time to time to ask whether my interviewer could hear me over the sound of their chewing...
ah, yep, yep. donna WOR-RY. it's pork rinds. aiiiiiight? gotta get my food-on. aiiiight!
then he or she muttered chilllll fer a sec and abruptly hung up on me.
an hour later the person called back with the time and place where i was going to be picked up by "my ride."
wtf? i asked, making sure my androgynous friend could hear me exhaling my smoke.
why do i have to be there? i asked.
it was explained to me that that was how they rode. in order to make absolutely motherfuckin sure they got the right dude.
cuz u know, all y'all white people look alike, the person on the phone said, before crunching down on a final pork rind and hanging up.
the evening we went to the meathead's house is like a dream to me.
i was smoking a joint in the parking lot of the silver diner when they pulled up in the white audi i had been told to be on the lookout for.
they were two enormous filipino guys--the driver, who had an elaborate pile of black curls on top of his head, who i thought i'd seen before, and a beefy, fidgety guy in the passenger seat, who appeared to be bald beneath his black skully. he spoke with a nasal drone and had a blunt sticking out behind his ear.
they didn't introduce themselves to me and seemed to take little interest in my presence, which was fine by me.
i watched the trees and the yellow window squares fly by in bright smears. up above, the first stars flickered through a thick pink cloud of pollution.
i lit a cigarette and exhaled the smoke between my knees.
this will be over quickly, i told myself, and concentrated on conjuring up the face of the piano player boy.
when we got to the house the beefy guy got out of the car and walked over to the jeep in the driveway. he started tugging on the door like a madman, until the alarm went off.
within seconds, the front door to the house flew open and the meathead came stumbling out.
we knew he was home alone, as another car had been here twenty minutes earlier, and had watched his parents leave together in one of their cars.
...the beefy guy was waiting in the shadows by the front steps.
he hooked his arm around meathead's neck and dragged him back into the house.
c'mon, the curly haired driver said as he threw open his door and jumped out.
c'mon! he shouted over the din of the alarm, and against all my better instincts i ran inside the house with him, breathing in deep the strange sanitized scents of other people's lives, overwhelmed by the lights and shadows and pictures on the wall and grandfather clock in the foyer and enormous white refrigerator in the bright white kitchen
the curly-haired driver held my shoulders while we stood on the black and white tiles and watched the beefy guy literally kick the shit out of the meathead, who screamed in agony at first but then turned eerily quiet. ok, ok, that's enough, i heard myself saying, but my voice was little more than a whisper, as i stared down at the pink and white face on the floor. his eyes were closed. the lids looked black. the blood was running out of his nose in long strings.
stop, i said, in something that managed to be a voice...
but they didn't stop. they beat him into a bloody, whimpering pulp in a matter of minutes.
see what happens, the beefy one said, when u fuck with the wrong people?
he could have been talking to me. my legs were shaking when we ran back out the front door...
the jeep alarm was still going like crazy.
that was stupid that you did that, the curly haired driver said to his partner.
shut the fuck up, the beefy guy said, as he ignored the shotgun seat and climbed into the back with me.
we took off and headed for the highway.
the beefy guy sat close to me. i could smell his cologne and the smell of his cigarettes. he exuded a strange sense of calm that was almost palpable.
so, he said, you feel all good now that you helped out that faggot? you did yr good deed for the day or some kinda shit?
he lit a newport with a match and glared at me, while he waited for me to answer
i was speechless.
c'mere, he said, pulling off his skully to reveal a nearly bald head.
he reached for me and before i could protest he pulled me sideways onto his lap.
c'mere, he said again, although i was already as close as i could get.
i looked at his face, at his broken nose and scarred brow.
the car surged forward, and i was pressed against his crotch, which was already getting hard.
it seems like we're gonna make it, he whispered to me.
the streetlights flashed over us like a strobe light.
i found myself rubbing his head.
yr like a baby deer, i said, laughing in disbelief.
never would i have imagined that someone like him would be so soft.