pictures, picture me
over by the window where the light is.
i'll be your camera
but you'll never see my facesciencequarloa new place to hang outpsychadelic beaver shots
i met up with TRUE at Jackson Hole. She came in dressed all in black, with a black hood pulled over her head. She sat down and immediately snatched up the laminated menu card and held it up so i couldn’t see her face.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hey,” TRUE said.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m trying to figure out what I want,” she said.
“There are only burgers here. Every kind of burger.”
“Yeah I know,” she put down the menu and sat back, toying with the cords on her hood. Finally she pulled it off. Her eyes were puffy. I could tell that she’d been crying.
“Did you just get out?” I asked, checking my watch.
“Yeah. He was running late.”
“Oh. Sweetheart, are you OK?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said, tightening the hood and staring down at the floor.
The waitress came by to take our order. She was very short and very young, and she wore her beautiful long brown hair in a neat ponytail.
“She was just seventeen. And you know what I mean,” TRUE sang as she caught me watching her walk away.
“I’m just looking,” I said. “Besides, do dykes even get in trouble for that sort of thing?”
“Of course they do.”
“Really? You never hear about it.”
“I still haven’t told him about you,” TRUE said, rubbing her nose.
“You know what’s crazy?” she asked, rubbing her nose even harder. “I go there to this building to see him. It’s a beautiful old building, with all this wild brass detailing in the façade. Turned green, of course. Anyway, you walk through the first door and an entranceway and then into an overheated foyer. The floor is covered in large, black and white tile and there’s a green leather couch to the left and a doorman/elevator operator dressed in a black suit and tie. He wears metal-rimmed glasses and reads the paper or else tucks it neatly folded under his arm. Good Evening, he tells me always. I’ve been buzzed in. I feel accepted. But there are all these little details—the big brass framed mirror that I can’t help but look and see myself in, the antique poster for an ocean liner that used to sail between Amsterdam and South Hampton. i totally would have been on that shit, back in the day. It like totally fits. And then another poster about the building of the Chrysler building, which is probably my favorite skyscraper.”
“So what are you saying, you feel like you’re meant to be there—it’s fate or something?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I mean, all that’s in the foyer. I’m not even going to tell you what it’s like when i go into his office. Psssh!”
I pulled the straw wrapper off and started twisting it in my fingers.
“It’s like you get to have your own little show once a week,” I said.
“Yes, you could call it that.”
“One whole hour to talk about anything you like.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“That can be nice.”
“It’s about submission. He is to be the master and I am to submit to him.”
“That’s what Fitz would say, I don’t think it has to be like that.”
“No, I do.”
“That’s why you picked a fag?”
“Why are you so spaced out?”
“I don’t know. I feel wiped.”
“Are you on something?”
“No, not really. But I mean, Christ, Sterling…you can see that i’ve been crying, can’t you? I mean…seriously!”
Her face turned sour as she feigned being pissed off at me. Then the busboy came by and set our table complete with a tiny bowl filled with bright green sliced pickles and she seemed to forget all about it.
“I don’t know how people who have jobs do this on their lunch break and then just pop back into the office,” she said, between crunches.
“It’s hard,” I admitted.
“How would you know?” she said.
“I talked to someone for a bit—when I was in rehab.”
“That was for only, like, 3 months.”
“And that was like, some behavioral modification crap.”
“It was practical.”
“This is different.”
“Have you told him about Fitz?”
“What does that mean?”
“I talked about him but I didn’t use his name.”
“Which name? His real one?”
“Any of them. I called him ‘this guy’ and ‘my friend’.”
We were silent. Run D.M.C. played on the radio. The countertops gleamed and the cash register chinged. Everything was very bright, too bright.
When the meat came it was just that—a gray still sizzling lump crowned with bright yellow cheese. Everything was oozing with a mysterious slime, even the bread and the lettuce.
“Oh, god, what was I thinking?” TRUE said. She unfolded a napkin and covered the burger like it was a corpse, which i guess, in some ways it was. Then she motioned to the bus boy to take it away.
“Try it,” I demanded, as I hoisted the dripping slab into my mouth.
TRUE shook her head and picked at her fries. She used to eat stuff like this for breakfast, but lately she seems to be surviving on protein shakes and energy bars. Her skin was sallow. She had a thousand yard stare and a cut on her lip.
She was thinking about something. I could tell, because her one eye went a little off to the side. It was just barely the case and only noticeable when you looked at her straight on, but I knew her and I knew how to look for it.
i know when it appears, i know what it signifies
“You can’t just erase me,” I said suddenly, my voice shaking.
“What?” TRUE asked, groggily.
“I’m just as much a part of this as you are,” I said, “we both have the same stake on the table. And yet you get to call all the shots.”
“Well even if it has been a bit lopsided,” TRUE said. “Now you get to start the new site.”
“You act like I hadn’t already told you.”
“I wasn’t sure you really meant it before.”
“You mean at the soccer fields? Of course I meant it. You think I take this lightly? Why would I be spending all this time on it if I did?" she coughed, half in my face.
"I got a great picture of you out there by the way. Your sling is this surreal blue against the washed out green of the winter grass.”
"You can see the teams playing each other in the background."
She took a long sip of her water, and then rubbed her nose some more.
“Will you do it?” she asked.
I noticed that her face was red.
“Of course. But I don’t understand.”
“It’s your site. You should write the first post.”
“Nah,” she said, as the pretty young waitress brought her a brown paper bag with her burger inside. TRUE gave her a deliberate, wide smile and handed her a couple of crisp folded bills.
“I’m gonna go,” she said, as though that wasn’t already apparent. Her hand that clutched the paper bag looked very white.
“Don’t be upset,” I said, my voice cracking like a teenage boy’s.
“I’m not upset,” she said, shoving a pair of blue tinted shades onto her face.
“Those are so lame,” I said for the thousandth time.
“Fuck you,” she said back. “What do Lesbians know about style?”
She pulled her hood back over her head.
“The reason I want you to start things off, is because they like you better. Those people out there. They can’t help themselves—I don’t blame them, either. I really don’t.”
She pointed at me and pretended to fire off a shot. I noticed that she’d curled up the last two fingers of her right hand, perhaps in mimicry.
“No hard feelings. Sterling. Sterling Fassbinder…”
“What?” I said, a note of desperation escaping from my throat.
“Nada. Adios,” and she was up and out the swinging door and into the night.