There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. However, nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and beliefs, and persuasions, all hard things visible and invisible, never mind how knobby; as an ostrich of potent digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster, peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker. That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what just before might have seemed to him a thing most momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke.
The Hyena, Chapter 49
My sanity has been in question this week. On all fronts, including my own. I wish I could say nothing dispirits, and that I found some comfort in bolting down all events, all creeds, and beliefs, but I am finding little comfort in all creeds and beliefs.
I feel as if I am labor with my own self, with unpredictable waves passing over me. Somewhere in here is my identity.
I used to confuse identity with definition. There has been no shortage of definition in the form of the labels the world has given me. Perhaps it would have been wiser to bolt down those definitions, never mind how knobby. If living your definition feels like swallowing a gun flint, so be it.
She is a good girl.
Oh the damage done to the world by the girls who won this label, this piss poor label.
The most dangerous people are those who think the best place to hide is in plain sight. What extremes may they go to in order to be seen? What labels will they try to shatter?
She is a good girl.
I lay on the same sheets where I had been raped four weeks earlier. Voices drifting in from the kitchen.
“How do I know you and little girlfriend in there didn’t already take a sample.”
I closed my eyes and could picture my mother 1500 miles away, slicing watermelon over the kitchen sink. The rise and fall of the the cicadas droning beyond the kitchen windows as the juice ran across her hands.
A life time away.
This man was a foreign creature who had pictures of himself from Vietnam, holding up severed heads. They sat in a drawer in the bedroom. The bedroom he left me in. In the drawer he told me never to look in.
He told me: stay in here and keep your mouth shut. He had a transaction to conduct.
And apparently this customer was under several assumptions that, had said customer known I was really a good girl, he would not have made the mistake of making.
First assumption: Girlfriend. I was not this man’s girlfriend. His girlfriend was the scary woman who put that bullet hole in his wall when she heard a rumor he’d been seen with some little blonde coed type.
Second assumption: I would ever be so dumb as to touch cocaine.
Third assumption: I was not a good girl.
I was. Even then.
To the man’s credit, he did inform the baseball player of this fact.
What her? Nah, she’s a good kid.
After he raped me I bled for three weeks. It finally stopped on the 4th of July. Independence Day.
He was waiting for me outside when I got off from work. I hadn’t seen him since that night. The night he took me to his apartment and grabbed my wrists so that I could not fight back. But there he was, all sweetness and swagger. Romantic boy. Wanted to sit on the steps and watch fireworks while holding my hand.
A vast practical joke
You hurt me.
Aww-babe, I’m sorry. That happens sometimes–the first time.
It won’t be that way again. I’ll be gentle.
Yeah. I said no.
Of course, I had said no before, not that it made much difference. And he’d heard I’d lost my apartment, might need a place to crash. I think I left my body that night. Sick of swallowing the gun flint. Sick of being the good girl because the good girls get dumped by their freshman boyfriend for not putting out. The good girls become the frat house bet. The good girls get raped. The good girls bleed. I was eighteen and already tired of this body, all things corporeal. I retreated into my head and left my body to the vultures.
It took me a long time to retrieve it and still sometimes it throws me. But they’re a team now, my body and mind. They work well together. I suppose its fair to say I bristle when people try to split them up. Or when body overshadows mind.
This is my insular Tahiti, and here is the final resting place of this story. I don’t like it and so, in this semi-public ceremony I place this piece of my past on a raft of the sticks and vines of my memories. And with my toes–my healed and flexing toes–I will shove it out to sea.
And death itself,
seem to him
only sly, good-natured hits,
and jolly punches in the side
bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker.