An apparition bloomed in my throat when I saw him pull up in his rental car. For three years he’d lived somewhere in the Amazon. Jungle-vined legs subdivided and twisted out of the Honda. Even his bones moved like sunsets I’d never seen. This wiry, tan strangeness with eyes lit by other mountain ranges leaned his full wildness down into my mouth, kissed me full of humidity and rabid dogs. We’d been pressed together for months before he left like the lint now staring up at me from my black skirt, more loyal than he’d ever been.
“Let’s go to your apartment,” he grinned. I started picking at my skirt while my mouth clicked something back.
* * * *
It was one of those shitty after-hours bars that I hated. Always a waste case of letches and moochers with over-soaked brains, predators hunting for something to foam on. I was with Charlotte, who was the only girl I knew who actually got tears in her eyes when a bar was closing at four in the morning after she’d been roaming the parties and clubs since happy hour after work. She was like a kid who was afraid if she went to sleep she’d miss something. I was non-committal and hated my empty apartment, so I was the friend that usually complied after everyone else dropped out. We rarely talked to each other. It was just another familiar body so neither of us had to go anywhere alone. Charlotte rushed in the door hoping to get as much out of the last few hours before this one closed. She screamed something at me then took off through the crowd. I squinted my eyes and stood rocking in a somnolent state of drunken lethargy and boredom. I watched the insatiable caricatures circle around each other in what looked to be a chronic compulsion to troll without thought of who or what the trollee might be.
A voice to my left whispered in my ear. “I think I know that song.”
I turned toward a lanky, bald, eye-glassed specimen hovering down at me from at least 8 inches above.
I listened to the roar of drunks cascading pools of sweat and desperation.
“What song?” I asked.
“It’s called, ‘I’m rocking autistic, you fucks are ballistic.’”
I could breathe underwater with this one. My flesh bled new gills.
“Okay, you can stop swaying. I’ve got your number, Crystal Lite.”
“Crystal Lite? Listen, asshole! That’s the name I use for my clients and my clients only.” I studied him closely. “You’re just another hippety-hop gravedigger, waiting to unload the next body.”
He smiled, “I like bowling, consuming anything that has Colonel Sanders on it, and I was just short-listed on Google as one of the prime neighborhood Sex Offenders. Oh, look at me, bragging already. God, well there’ll be time for that. Oh, and you can call me Dick. Can I buy you a drink, Crystal?”
And that’s how it all began. I fell for Dick, got sloshed with Dick, and later took him to my empty apartment to fill it with sounds of Dick. Peeing in toilets, dropping pans, breaking dishes in the kitchen, blasting sounds of Metallica, Gilbert and Sullivan, swearing and spitting into his cell phone like rain battering against the windows on a Sunday when there was no reason to get out of bed.
I, Crystal (now with private Dick) would unlock the apartment door to the raucous wailing sounds of another life force moving around, making me dinner and generally making life an expansive word that didn’t include Facebook, sullen deep holes of time unaccounted for, shitty sitcoms. Instead, Dick submerged those thoughts of suicide I had every time I did laundry and hung the Victoria Secret’s underwire edition lined up by color over the shower bar. I was complacent with sex and energy.
I loved Dick. I should have been jealous of the shit he accomplished when I was a fucking mirage of orgasms, unable to comb my hair. He’d received a hell of a lot of money from writing grants for travel books. He was always talking progress, environment, flapping birds in some wilderness full of colors that splattered across a map. He wore khaki pants, smelled of dusty tomes and restlessness. He always had money and took me out for dinners or cooked at home and we wrapped ourselves up in each other in this smoky cocoon that kept me racing home after work to the apartment I’d once been repelled by.
And one day, just like all the others since Dick, I’d fought crowds on the subway and the streets to get back to him. The lights were dim in the apartment, candles, some Italian meal and red wine. There was nothing missing, except him. He was fidgety, kept rubbing his bald head as though there were hair there. There was no Metallica hissing home in the background.
“Crystal, baby, you know how much I love you.” He blathered on about the commitment that we would always have. He would only be gone for a few months, but he’d be back before the snow was blowing outside. The wind of his words howled through me like a migraine stuck inside my chest.
I waited. The snow blew outside, the spring greens started sprouting up, hot summer exploded through and then leaves started dropping from the trees. And one day I stopped waiting.
* * * *
And now he was back.
He was already opening his suitcase, stripping off his clothes like no time had passed, when he got to my place. He threw me down on the bed wearing those polka-dot pajama bottoms he used to live in. He clutched my wrists behind my head and started working me over. This was the planet we had inhabited so well together.
“Baby,” he whispered. I had lost myself in that so-close-to-hitting-the-jackpot delirium as I half listened. I waited for those steamy Danielle Steel clichés to blast from his mouth. “Life has been hell without you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Never leaving you again, baby. Every day was agony without your exquisite face to wake up to. Let’s spend a whole month in bed. I need you, baby. You made life worth living.”
He dragged his lips away for a moment and grinned. “Oh, baby, you’ll never guess. I got a new post in Africa. Can you fucking believe that? Africa? It’s really moving now. I can’t believe I don’t have more time, but can you believe it? I’ll be leaving tomorrow. But you always know, I’ll be back.”
So much for my climax, the bastard. He’d already gotten off.
I thought about the bras lined up in the bathroom. I saw him going in to take a pee. The pink B cups covered his eyes while the angry mob of black, gray, red and beige took what was once young and vital and sliced the shit out of him with every ounce of their sinewy underwires.