Quotation from Coco Chanel

www.mournerslane.com“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.”
~ Coco Chanel

{Image from www.mournerslane.com}

“The Kick” ~ An Outtake

menobodyknows.comOnce upon a time, when recklessness was generously shared, we used imagination to learn everything together. We had our wicked ways, didn’t we buddy? While everyone else was playing it safe, too wishy-washy for our breed of theatrical delinquency, we grew drunk on the excitement of an entirely unexpected friendship. We howled at a blessed moon, believing that collective strength would protect us from anything that dared to challenge a taste of pure freedom.

Before we knew one another; before curious wills merged into a brazen streak of foolish youth, what were we like? I can’t remember & it‘s only been months since you died. Were we stronger apart? Luckier? Did consequence bear the same impact, in the way we would become accustomed? Our discoveries became so interchangeable; growth was shared eagerly. Promises were made & those words cascaded sparks so vivid we were set ablaze—never would we lose the vows of trust.

Remember when we watched our first movie? There was tension in the air—an apprehension for the level of potential appreciation. We worried that our passions might not be aligned; over-eagerness would be interpreted as perversity of taste. We sat in silence, familiar images rolling by & though we had both knew the film by heart, the dynamic was fresh because we were watching it together. Distraction was guarded against because it was a purity of experience we desired—a test for the depths possible formed by a shared religious experience.

When the film finished, we waited in the darkened room, pretending to read rolling credits but instead we savoured the success of an experiment. Both had passed, that was certain but where was this success to lead? A bright, exciting future lay before us, even brighter when we hit the club’s dance floor to celebrate. With this infusion complete, an experience shared so perfectly, months would pass & it was that initial magic we were always re-creating. Like junkies chasing the invisible dragon, we re-lived the dreams born from that initial ritual & with just the right amount of magical thinking, destiny was set.

Media PsychoticMemory can be a prison from where the future is only anticipated, peering between cracks that form in the walls of choice. But it is a limited vision—a single ray of clarity that can only be read in the narrowest beam of light. In the midst of our movie, that hectic, living imitation of art, a crisis we never anticipated caught us unaware. Not some minor change, nor disaster; not flood or famine but the finality of disease & death. We were undone by an evolution of fortune as we retreated in separate directions, towards the guilt of different decisions. We went desperate in the search for a different perspective, a better setting, compelled by unique terror.

We needed a happier ending than was inevitable.

Now contained to all that remains possible, memories blend into a mixture time stirs smooth. The past is easier to digest, though original agendas evolved warped or broken. Is there still potency in this reduced offering to the world of adventure?

vimeo - pickyrickyProtected within a glass orb of memory, we are frozen, remembered in time.
When this forever-friendship is shaken, space once again comes alive with magic. In this light, paths of unparalleled happiness once again spread possibility.

For this I shall remain grateful, eternally.

{Images:www.menobodyknows.com, Adrian Ghenie, pickyricky@vimeo}

“What She Deserves” ~ Ursula’s Sad Day Playlist

 

Salva Lopez

By the water of tears layered
in musical subtext,
like a helmet
this sequence of songs protects.
Songs to grab the heart of a listener;
songs enchanting,
shifting in their manner,
offering a doorway
to understanding.

Music like a helmet;
to have such lovely,
shiny fragments swirl into some
shimmering whirlpool let loose
to heal.

She lifts a hand
to shield the glare & covers
the whole Universe
instead.

{Photograph by Salva Lopez}

 

Quotation from Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Without music I should wish to die.”

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

bookhaven.stanford.udu

{Photograph from www.bookhaven.stanford.udu}

Fresh Poetry ~ “Moriah Conquering Wind”

www.photoshopcreative.co.ukIn the beginning:
What is eternal
is incapable of commencing.

The clearest segue into a ghostly, hypersensitive
world
follows Ariadne’s thread stretching
without knot or slack
into
the astral representation—it flies with such force!
Strong desires charge powerful emotion
wayward & needful;
fetish is lost in a labyrinth of natural ecstasy.
In such raptures lie the secret
to Moriah’s holy instance but in the spirit
of clean magic,
old & new,
she will need a deeper scheme.

Asking to transcend immutable laws
of nature?
Carried by astral winds across a flooded world,
at the swiftest banks of the riverbed,
a whirlwind lands.
Contemplate the dream: a brief coded exchange
into mystical double vision for
she will
believe it’s next lesson—the same for years
of mystery.
Spoiled in faith & determination
of others,
Moriah settles for participant, swirling to blend
under the wisdom of hidden centuries
a product of furious blood;
the enchanter’s lament:
Time be the matrix where
liquid,
fluid sex becomes a doorway to
sublime versatility for
Moriah possesses this courage not to
extinguish burning desire,
instead resting in all that is corporeal; satisfied
in flesh.
Once spirit is paralyzed & all
power arrives through the lust
of ego, in fevered loins,
she finds higher mystical notes.
To thrust downward,
penetration
must include swift, rotating glides—marvel how pain,
the mother of mercy & knowledge
vibrates.
This is magic as power, used
to encompass the mixture
of dissimilar things,
of a fuller spectrum,
spiced with astral sex & tantric projections which
render her suggestible
to silly superstitions & great virtuosity
in sudden transitions of mood—the price of anchoring oneself
to the flux.

With nets of steel,
Moriah came of age
ascending through all she ever loved,
inside an oasis
of compliance glorious & celestial.
She still hears whispers of souls who
brave
to make right chaos in this land.
To assist in focus, she pulls
backward,
piece by piece to shoot
forward—in retributive form she is
Mount Moriah,
the will of Eternal Nature
whispered by a cooperative commonwealth,
shaping as she has been so
profoundly,
exquisitely
moulded herself.

Snow fairies fly
for the season,
darkness will end
as shadows of starlight at dawn;
that soft light which
comforts in the early hours,
like a dream insisting on reality.
It will take time for the true nature
of Moriah’s crusade
to surface,
for the mystical fan dance
of promise & threat,
an exploration of humanity, making
peace with the over-soul,
social sciences inlaying a magic
of continuity & repair—still.
It is the fashion
of the day to be
distracted.

 

{Artwork from www.photoshopcreative.co.uk}

Quotation from John Muir

www.eiu.edu“Climb the mountains & get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you & the storms their energy, while care will drop off the autumn leaves.”
~ John Muir

 

 

{Image from www.eiu.edu}

Quotation from Ajahn Chah

 

PPT007

 

 

“Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect praise or reward.”

~ Ajahn Chah

 

 

 

{Image from www.ajahnchah.org}

Baby Doll

CBS - 3(Baby Doll flirtatiously enters the playing area; carrying an old-fashioned portable transistor radio. She is wearing a one-piece bating suit, a beauty pageant sash and a sparkling tiara. She totters around the perimeter of the stage, making sure everyone sees what a groovy dancer she is and can read what is written on her pretty sash. When she is satisfied with her performance, she switches off the radio.)

Baby Doll: A platinum blonde, a dizzy blonde, a sexy blonde. ‘Blondes have more fun,’ you know. Blondes for every day of the week but eventually you’re gonna come to the conclusion that there’s only one real blonde and that’s Baby Doll blonde. That’s me, you guys—a spoiled, naughty, pig-tailed former beauty queen who loves to screw! Do I need a spanking for saying that? Have I been a bad girl?

(Baby Doll bends over to reveal her panties to the crowd.)

What turns the motor of your mind, honey? Bet I could figure it out, if you gave me half a chance. I’m a professional at doing that and it makes me kind of goofy how much easier these big tits have made life. It’s kind of like I’m a royal queen or something. Every evening, I paint my bee-stung lips to match the shade of the muted trumpets in a swing band; I pluck my eyebrows clean and sexy, then shake my Pilates-toned ass into some slinky little dress that I know is going to turn every eye in the room.

(Baby Doll adjusts her tiara and smiles brightly at the crowd.)

Don’t be fooled by appearances folks. I might not walk it but I am a wise Babydoll. Some people will find it hard to believe that a bright, empowered young woman could fall into such a trap. This story is not for them. It’ll be aimed at people who like seeing successful people suffer. There’s something in that for you—I’d bet on it. I used to be smart, you know? Won the gold medal in freshman English. It hung there cheap and plastic between budding breasts. Back before the time when I knew how to do amazing things with my tongue. Right around that famed night when my cherry burst in a sweaty frenzy—when I thought I’d met my prince. I told him sex would spoil what we had & what we had was very special. What happened to him? Gone—they all go. So sad. The saddest thing of all is that I learned a very important lesson but I forgot it straight away.

(Baby Doll pauses to reflect.)

At what point does the past become history? I even went to college for a few semesters. That’s when the whole pageant thing got going and I was a pretty good student but one thing leads to another… you know how it is. It was my heyday—arms spread wide, showing a little leg on the parade float. Sassy, but never over-eager. I don’t understand why sex has such a bad rap. I just love boys. Boys are fascinated with holes—digging them, filling them up—mechanical sex, in & out, building to a single combustion. Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me! You boys think you have it all figured out, don’t you? A few of your best years in a pack, riding high and free but one by one you get picked up by those high school spiders—hungry for husbands and matching china. Who’s trophy are you today, bitch? I’m nothing like those girls. I’m real to the tits, baby. Well, not really but you know what I mean.

(Baby Doll adjusts her ample cleavage.)

The conflicted confessions of a desperate beauty—that could be my story. Don’t worry about me—I come from a long line of crazy broads but my own search for stardom began once I experienced its effects. The plan was: I’d take acting classes, not for the craft but for the contacts and when I finally landed a role, I’d dive into it with such gusto and commitment that the critics would notice, even though the role wasn’t that big. I’d get a better agent, a more powerful one, shuffle my friends around, all the while pouring through scripts, hunting, tirelessly hunting for that breakthrough role until it finally arrives and I earn a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and then on to win the Oscar! During the acceptance speech, I say something wacky and make it into the annals of Oscar history trivia. I was to become a legend in my own time.

(Baby Doll takes out a compact.)

Pat, pat, pat and the blackheads vanish.

(She laughs at her reflection and snaps the compact closed.)

All those men who date jack-in-the-box girls? The ones whose cranks you have to turn and turn until—bingo! The sweet spot? Know what I’m saying? I am not one of those girls. Between you and me, I love the way someone looks at you once you’ve popped their corks. Men like girls like me ‘cause they don’t have to waste any time guessing how its all gonna turn out at the end of the night. There’s no suspense with Baby Doll cause she puts it right up front. It reminds me of how when I was a kid, my mom used to read those boring historical romances and she was always trying to get me to read them too but I could never get past those hunks on the covers. It was decided very early that when I grew up, I was gonna be the chick in the ripped bodice—beautiful, bent-back by some muscular stud and loving every second of it!

(Baby Doll puts the make up back in her purse and removes a lovely silver flask.)

There all sorts of blondes—Cadillac blondes, with their leashes and fancy jewels; Jacuzzi blondes with their velvet mouths and fried split ends; blondes on blondes rolling together in tangled, sweaty sheets.

(Baby Doll checks her reflection in the flask.)

Meadham KirchoffOne thing about being this hot? It takes a lot of energy. More than you might think. That’s why pretty girls needs to be fluffed like pillows—those good looks have to come from somewhere and if you’re expected to keep your mouth shut all the time, I don’t care how blonde your Baby Doll roots are, eventually? You start catching on to the ways things really are. Girls like me always know what’s going on. Put it this way: a successful evening for a girl like me is all about finding the secret fetish. If I am able to unlock the unmet desire in a man’s heart, I’ll be the new drug and that’s what it’s all about in my world. I’m an expert at reading between the lines.

(Baby Doll toasts the audience with her flask.)

Actually? I kinda enjoy being misread. I like the feeling of being able to rip the rug out from under people whenever I wanted to but will sit around looking sexy and let everybody underestimate me. Pretty and pert I watch the room and the weird thing is that the more I listen to tricks talk about me like I wasn’t actually a real person—like I don’t actually have feelings and am only into this for the dirty shit and enjoy it all as much as they do—the more I play along with that bullshit, the more I become this horrible, Frankenstein-like creature—cheery but grotesque. You wouldn’t believe the garbage my ‘customers’ talk and then having to smile at them and the other working girls, the other whores, with their competitive small talk, all smart-pretending-to-be-stupid; all stupid, pretending–to-be smart? My people and what we all have in common is that we know we’ll leave each other in the gutter, in a flash when the time comes but for the time being, we’ll smile and play along.

(Baby Doll swigs again.)

Pretty girls aren’t always dumb, you know. We’re just not allowed to be heavy so it’s kinda hard to dig into a deep conversation. That’s probably why I’m a bitch sometimes. It so obvious when I think about it that way. I have to tweak and tease my everything; make myself one of those plucked, moisturized and lip-sticked packages. One of the ‘pretty girls’ When did that happen? ‘cause it wasn’t always like that. My pretty face promised nothing but it did open some doors so why not cash in when you’ve got the chance. Show affection, get rejection. That’s my motto, proven time and time again to be true and there are a lot of people out there that enjoy wasting someone else’s love. So what if I happen to be one of them? It’s not my fault that little tidbit of self-knowledge changed my life. I knew my good looks were a mask I hid behind. Who wouldn’t?

(Baby Doll takes another swig and swishes it around inside her mouth before swallowing.)

Masks are expensive to the true person behind them because they both excuse you but prevent you from being anything else. Once you dress as the slutty French maid and everybody thinks you’re fierce, it’s hard to give that up. What else could I do? I had little to offer suburbia ‘cause I knew there was more to me than domestic drudgery. Keeping quiet helped.

(Baby Doll drinks thoughtfully.)

Rachel DevineThere are scheming blondes, bottle blondes and ditsy blondes who walk away with all the gold. I don’t know about you but my Oscar acceptance speech is graceful and steady— none of that cry-baby blubbering and thanking everyone you ever met. Being an escort gives me this calm alter ego and going on dates and acting is that way where no one ever says ‘cut’ means I have to think on my feet. Fortunately, the story is the same each time so you get good at improvising. It’s kind of crazy actually.

(Baby Doll adjusts her sash.)

When I’m loaded, I can still hear the applause, smell the bouquet of roses in my arms and feel the pinch of that tiara on my perfectly coifed head. Those were the days when winning seemed inevitable.

(Suddenly quite serious.)

Where do we get the idea that holding down anger is a good idea? Some nights, I could set my chair on fire from the heat of pushing down what can’t be said out loud but a job is a pay check, if you follow. It’s all about the right pair of tits. For most men, straight men I should say, dating is nothing more than a tit-hunt. They weed through the sea of possibilities, looking for that magical pair that will fill the birthday lingerie and if he’s really lucky? Remind him of his mama. People say I’m the kind of girl who lights up a room with my headlights. It’s all about confidence versus attitude and we glamour girls walk that line every day. I spend most of my daydreams trying to think of new ways to delight men who are already sticky from eating too much honey.

(Baby Doll takes a long drink from the flask.)

Sometimes? In the middle of the night, when I’m lying there in the dark, waiting for the pills to kick in, I think about the movie somebody is going to make about this wild ‘ole life of mine. Stories? I’ve got a whole bag of stories, full of triple-X details, trickling down the chin of a tarnished glamour girl. Everyone said I could’ve been an actress for real but I didn’t believe them so I come up with cool movie ideas instead but lately, all I can think about is the smut that’s in my head and I don’t think anybody is gonna give me an academy award for that stuff. There’ve been plenty of freaky experiences, believe you me and I’m sticky in my own juices. ‘Rinse me off?’ I coyly asked. Boy! Did they ever. Might as well have stuck a sign around my neck that said: ‘food.’

(Baby Doll adjusts her coiffured hair.)

A tipsy blonde, a broken blonde—don’t want to go there. A bright, blue-eyed blonde, a chipped blonde, a dishy blonde, every-year-sees- a-few-new-blondes. Fresh blondes, hot, horny blondes with too much eye makeup—you wouldn’t believe the trouble I go to making flesh feel fine. Pretty? Meet fresh but that rarely adds up to the truth. If women like me were treated with more respect and just accepted as we actually are? There would be no need for therapy. There’s not much that can’t be healed in a post-coital embrace. It’s what keeps a lot of them from the Void.

(Baby Doll holds back a sob.)

Something I hadn’t counted on though—I got tired. A little magic to those around me but nothing changes—what d’ya do then? Don’t worry about me though. I smile through the pain and laugh through the tears but there’s still this . . . how can I describe it? It’s this snivelling, clutching part of myself that I despise. It’s like she’s a different model of me— like an entirely different, weaker chick and when I surrender to her ways and actually try to get close to someone, that weak bitch always loses out. Not in the short-term, mind you because Lame Chick isn’t very bright and only wants what’s easy to take and the weirdest thing? I actually know better but can’t seem to stop myself once she kicks in. Outside of all of that—I am claimed and safe, all those warm hands and sweaty bodies protecting me, keeping everything away that is dark and nasty. Nothing dangerous can come near.

(Baby Doll comes to her senses.)

Embarrassed? That’s been a while. ‘I blush, therefore I am.’

(Baby Doll takes a swig to wipe the slate clean.)

I shoulda stopped right there. Shoulda just followed my Number One rule and kept my Big Mouth shut but this guy was so fucking smug. He said I’d never get any media coverage on my own and everyone thought I was just some porno chick trying to get a SAG card. Maybe I am but I’ll be the judge of that. That asshole was really pissing me off and I told that motherfucker he was just jealous. That’s when he told the driver to pull over and he threw me out of the car and that’s why I’m here, getting drunk with you. I don’t always realize the limits of my own pussy power and seeing as how I’m the type of girl who’s at their best when someone adores them, I was kinda shit out of luck.

(Baby Doll drinks for courage.)

That’s life. Everyone is cool and easy during the sweet times but how will they behave when the chips are down? That’s the million-dollar question.

(Baby Doll drinks to make her point.)

A pink blonde, a filthy, dirty blonde—keep ‘em coming, I can handle anything. Let me tell you something for nothing, ‘cause we’re talking here, am I right?

(Baby Doll spills some of the booze down the front of her.)

Shit! Don’t you hate when that happens? Like I was saying, I started thinking about my biopic last night and it was all that dirty stuff but with you people here? Right now?

(Baby Doll, now quite tipsy, pulls a Polaroid camera from the suitcase.)

Like some plastered stranger next to you on a train, I have a story to tell. It’ll be all about what happens to people when they let their freak flag fly—they pay a price and I don’t really give a shit if you wanna hear it or not. People are always telling us ‘be original, be yourself.’ Ha! Try it and see what happens. Do you have any idea what this world does to its heroes?

(Baby Doll takes a picture of the audience and shakes it as it is developing.)

Bet that doesn’t turn out.

(She throws the photo aside.)

A blonde with a story, a blonde with a terribly sad story actually but does that mean shit to any of you people?! When somebody falls apart, you could care less, right? Well I’m a dying breed—a hooker with a heart. Forget about the gold part. That’s only in the wallet or in the high-count threads of the sheets where the dirty deeds go down but not in the sex. Magic is extra and not for sale extra, but win-your-heart, by-your-side extra— forever extra and that ain’t exactly round the corner when you sell it. I just gotta say this one more thing—I told the truth. They fired my heart-shaped ass for it but I didn’t lie and I could have—easily and now the images flash through my mind—I just can’t seem to get a pen to write them down before I forget them. There’s been many a crazy night

(She fishes some Polaroid pictures from the suitcase.)

Believe you me this is pulling out some pretty ragged credentials. Orange bed spread. . . a naked girl, somehow trying to keep her insides from spilling out. That orange bedspread—fuck that!

(She throws the photo to the ground.)

Michael WhiteheadWe all know how that story ends.

(Baby Doll drinks to keep rolling.)

This all reminds me of one time, back in high school. I was dating this guy—some loser by most accounts but I was still in my shell back then and had to take it where I could get it. Anyway—this guy who’s name I can’t even remember right now, he leans over to his buddies at this pizzeria, he leans right over me and by way of a compliment he says to his buddies, ‘People are going to think I picked-up a hooker.’ He meant it to be sweet and I guess it kinda stuck with me. Later on, like some beaten-down dog who remembers each of his abusers, I screwed every one of the guys at that table, then dropped them on the spot! It was quite a triumph in the girl’s locker room and that was when my star started to rise. How was I going to top that?

(Baby Doll drinks to remember.)

Like every teenage girl who grows up paying the price of pretending to be okay when you know you’re not, but no one around you can do a damn thing about it, survival becomes a matter of learning to use a puckered mouth, smeared in Dr. Pepper lip-gloss. How to re-capture all those forgotten moments when I was blitzed? (She holds up the photos) Highlights include: a photo of me rubbing my tatas; look—a discarded dress, the empty champagne glasses. There I am drinking the champagne. Ken. Whoa—Ken. He sat in the corner of the room where I took my dates. He represented a line—a line crossed repeatedly mind you, but Ken tried his best to remind me of that corn-fed, redneck line of decency I grew up with. My little knight-in-shining armour. Thanks Ken.

(Baby Doll kisses the photo, holding it to her chest.)

The worst is yet to come and if I haven’t lost your sympathies yet, I might with this little gem. Here’s the final Polaroid: I’m taking it from behind, with my eyes on a glass of half-full champagne, the cocaine has been gone too long and I’m starting to feel the dread that some one who is used to having their hopes dashed feels. A dull, sickening ache. Let’s not go there. Look at me… (tries to laugh.) …trying to explain my past through a pile of scattered snapshots, some frickin’ Polaroids. I was looking . . . at these fucking things, hoping. . . they might spark some. . . ohm dear. . . spark some raunchy best seller hiding in me. (pause.) How was I gonna love myself and everyone else too?

(Baby Doll tosses the Polaroids aside.)

Somebody’s gonna make a movie about my life you know, even if no one believes me when I say that. Have you seen ‘The Breakfast Club?’ Remember that part where they’re all in the library, smoking a joint and opening up? That was so powerful for me when I was a kid. It gave me this hope that everyone could get along, if they tried and had the right drugs.

(Baby Doll laughs and drinks.)

Adolph B. Rice StudioI met this producer a while back, at this big Hollywood party—a real score and he wanted to see me on a regular basis. Everybody loved me and he could tell. It just so happened he was casting for his next picture and I was exactly the type of girl he needed. It wasn’t a staring role but it would show how talented I was. He said that if we all got along real well, he’d open some doors for me.

(Baby Doll remembers fondly, smiling for happier times.)

I whipped his Hollywood ego creamy and at first it was great. He made me feel so special, like I was a big star myself. I got to meet all kinds of people and everyone was so sexy and beautiful but things would only go so far. Know what I mean? One night, I got this brilliant idea of making a horror movie but you know how the slutty ones always get knocked-off right away? In my movie, the whore would be the star! She fucks who she wants but has the brains to save her ass in the end. It was a total twist on the classic structure for horror films and I told the producer guy about it, who for now shall remain nameless, and he thought it was a great idea but we never talked about it again. Every time I tried to bring it up, he’d say ‘These things take time. Be patient.’ Then things started to get weird and he ended up taking whatever self-esteem I had, despite my job description and made a fool of me, right in front of everyone. Accused me of stealing from his wallet and that was and still is a great big fucking lie!

(Baby Doll drinks angrily.)

Part of me wants the same front row seat for their humiliation they had for mine; the other part doesn’t give a shit. Let’s face it—mine are the mistakes of every loser. Giving unconditional love and expecting it returned the same. That’s a fool’s gold. If someone has no power over you and they try to control you? Laugh in their face! God—he was the worst sex—cock the size of a child’s and I had to fake each and every orgasm, which is not usually a problem but with him? It would make my head ache for hours afterwards. God! Just thinking about him now makes me want to puke! It’s like pulling some plug inside my head and covering every memory with the shit of that rotten time. Like any good drunk, mine is the story of some bastard who screwed me. On one hand we have shallow and blind, the other? Unmanly and poisonous. Guess who won? Fuck it! What’re you gonna do? When you fuck-up, you fuck-up and blame isn’t gonna fix a thing.

(Baby Doll reflects.)

It‘s easy to be nice when things are going great but most people turn into scum bags pretty quick once the chips are down.

(Baby Doll leans towards the crowd.)

Let me tell you something for nothing: men use their feeling like women use sex—for control. Sex is different for women—we like it but aren’t controlled by it. Well. . . maybe some of us are but most women aren’t. They just do it to get what they want and men are the same, regardless to what those bastards will tell you.

(Baby Doll decides to collect the pictures scattered around her.)

Fire: Will it fuel you or fry you? Turns out I was left to fend for myself and there wasn’t much to take care of business in the style I was accustomed. Need proof? Why just this morning I awoke next to some pock-faced trucker who looked a hell-of-a lot-better the night before, in the sparkle of sixteen gin and tonics than he did in the grey dawn light, in those piss-soaked sheets, the room still smelling of stale poppers and rancid sweat. I’m sure you don’t think ‘those kind of things,’ happen to girls like me but they do—all the time, in fact.

(Baby Doll tries not to laugh.)

That’s when it stopped. When my pussy. . . collapsed, like a worn-out stock market. Oh, that’s crass. I mean my vagina. Is that better? Allow me to introduce you to my ‘vagina.’ We’ve been through a lot together, this old snatch of mine and I. Notice how when I talk about my pussy or my ‘vagina’ it lacks some of the humour some women get by saying ‘vagina’ in public? Hey! If I wanna get creative with my kootch, I outta be allowed ‘cause there’s lots of people out there doing the exact same thing. Do I know no shame? Honey? What blows most people out of the water barely makes me flinch. I was a young girl when first stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

(Baby Doll takes a deep swig from her flask.)

Full-tilt, in all the wrong ways—that me for sure. Fuck it! Sensible is only gonna get you so far. Gotta crank it up once in a while, don‘t I?

(Baby Doll sings to herself, swaying from side to side.)

A broken blonde, a disposable blonde… (she laughs) Disposable. (She coughs and laughs.) Disposable, like a whore’s love.

(Baby Doll lights a cigarette & inhales deeply.)

It’s a market of good taste out there and this lady wants in. She’s got love to give and there are buyers everywhere. Trouble is, I always seem to be meeting people who are too good for what I’ve been.

(She drinks, then cries out.)

I lost some terrific friends along the way! People who looked at me with hurt and confusion. Know how like. . . when things are more embarrassing when you have to face them? At the time, they seem hilarious and alive but when you sober up? When you sober up, all those decisions seem so much more embarrassing in the light of day. In that light there’s no magic—no powder working through that mess. Guess I don’t have the shame that makes most people change their minds. Where is disgrace when you need it?

(Baby Doll empties the flask dry.)

Fuel for those last few inches. Soak the depression in alcohol; light it on fire.

(Baby Doll takes a long swallow, finishes the contents and throws the flask down.)

That feeling of being screwed-down too tight between a fake smile? Not a great feeling. The last thing I remember laughing at, really laughing at—like when something that’s been locked inside breaks loose and you can finally think straight again? The last time I laughed like that was when someone said I had a brain like a bowl of chip dip. It was at this late-night coke party and I was really high. I’d gone there with some guy I’d snorted lines with at the club, and I was sitting there starting to feel the booze and wonder how the evening was going to shape-up, when this guy next to me, some rumpled business-type—weekend warrior—he leans over and tells me my brain is like a bowl of chip dip. I laughed my fuckin’ ass of at that. I have a much better idea of what he meant by that right now.

(Baby Doll picks the flask back up and shakes it upside down.)

Poor, sad girl—can’t fly her kite ‘cause there’s no wind. Someone wanna get me a drink? It’s true what they say about Peter Pan not wanting to grow up but what gets forgotten is that once Wendy got up in the air, she never wanted to come down.

(Baby Doll tries for one last swig from the flask.)

The dawn of a sobering drunk—it can be a real sad thing or it can be a miracle. Which is it gonna be, girlfriend? I shared my abundance and it got me nowhere. You’d better watch yourselves, folks.

(Baby Doll coughs.)

Who the fuck am I to be giving advice? I shouldn’t even be drinking, actually. Someone as screwed up as I am should just learn to keep their mouths shut—maybe take some notes.

(Baby Doll blows the crowd a big show-biz style kiss)

I love you all!

{Artwork by CBS-3 & Meadham Kirchoff & Rachel Devine & Michael Whitehead & Adolph B. Rice Studios & Anna Bauer}

Quotation from Annie Dillard

Salem Press, Inc‘It is the shock I remember. Not only does something come if you wait, but it pours over you like a waterfall, a tidal wave.’

~ Annie Dillard

 

 

{Photograph from Salem Press, Inc..}

Maggie

Russell Lee(Maggie enters the playing area slowly — someone peacefully yet intensely lost in thought. In her hand, she carries two dog leads. She reaches the centre of the stage, where almost as an afterthought, she remembers and searches off into the horizon. Maggie whistles expertly, and a moment of anxiety arises, which she suppresses immediately. It is now she notices the audience and smiles a shy look before speaking directly to them.)

Maggie: Mother once said that wonder should be like Christmas decorations or playing cards — it should come out only at appropriate times. In spite of this sentiment, which I never fully accepted, I have been wondering lately about humankind. We hear so many stories concerning noble, heroic folk but is that truly an accurate representation of our species? Are we always so honourable and fair?

(Maggie pauses to whistle into the distance once more.)

My thing is dogs. I have never mixed well with people so have remained apart mostly. ‘Stick with the dogs,’ I remind myself and the loyalty I expect will return in kind.

(Maggie looks down at her muddy boots and makes a small show of cleaning them off.)

I love taking my girls our for a run in the fields but it is spring. Forget renewal, and the majesty of rebirth — all the poetic nonsense. Spring means mud — more than you can bear. Always makes such a terrible mess in the house.

(Maggie stops fussing with her boots.)

As I watch my girls till the empty fields with their racing paws, they raise ghosts along with the occasional jack rabbit. Easter is coming and that will make me think of family. Even though it’s been years since the girls and I celebrated a meaningful holiday together, it still takes me back. We’re all scattered now, across the country so it’s not always convenient to get together. They have their own lives now and I was no different with my mother — worse perhaps but I was quite unprepared for marriage. I didn’t watch much television or see many movies so I had what would be called a rather narrow view of the world. Things are different now, of course and I realize today that if my life had been like a television program, I would have been the one who cleared-up after the pigs and we called ourselves a family. I know animals — understand?

(Maggie call for her dogs again.)

If Mother were a dog it would have been a chow — she was fattish, fiercely loyal but easily confused by the expectations of responsibility for her position at the head of the pack. That was Mother in a nutshell — she didn’t have the guts to do it herself, but then attacked you for being uncertain. I had little support in my early life so I drew from animals, you see and what could be learned from their true natures. Cat or dog — what’s the difference? One is waiting, the other is not. With cats, it’s either love or hate; that endless game of approval and disapproval they’re so fond of. Cats take what they want and off they go. With dogs? Loyalty, all the way. I am loyal that way, like my dogs. This is the animal inheritance accepted at my wedding — dominion and the legacy of slavery that comes from following my husband’s impression of God’s word. My husband also gave me my first dog and I called her Sasha. What a beautiful Irish setter she was, and I fell in love with her instantly but honestly? The most surprising things was that I’d actually been given a gift. Looking back, I think my husband was the type of man who would give me things in his mind and I believe he was often very generous in his imagination but then he would take credit for it as if he’d actually given me the present he’d only thought about. It was a confusing marriage and I spent most of it not moving, waiting for his approval. Reflecting on it leaves me feeling rather baffled, though that is nothing new.

(Maggie calls to the dogs, promising treats if they return.)

More often now, loneliness sends my mind drifting out upon the sea of time, where it flows into the undertow of the past, pulling me to places where I am dared to remember. My memories are mostly a collection of facts best justifying a lot of foolish mistakes and what is slowly surfacing from these reflections is how utterly blind I’ve been. How could I have passed a pathetic existence, ruined by violence, with worry as my only shield? Who can be blamed for that? I took few risks in life and received little in return. Wisdom doesn’t automatically accompany old age and like my mother, any attempt I made to build a family ended in a failure for reasons I couldn’t see at the time. I never knew to ask for help. When did I stop praying? When did I stop asking God to listen and prevail?

(Maggie paces slowly.)

It was after my first communion but before the rage. Rage — you can ask me anything about that. Gentle as a mother’s caress, then roaring up to burn away love and patience. Bet I know as much as anyone could about that. The Bible tells us that inside the four walls of a home, Christian values are best cultivated. Honesty, patience, love of neighbour but nothing sears a family together like rage. Only problem is — too much and eventually you stop fighting back. ‘Don’t be so unreasonable!’ he would yell at me. ‘It shows how stupid you are!’

(Maggie rubs her eyes, as if trying to dissolve something.)

Bad memories. Sometimes on will come along and rip the breath from my lungs.

(Maggie composes herself.)

When I first met my husband, I thought it was a case of animal attraction. The instinctive pull of two separate forces. I saw myself through his eyes and the walls fell. ‘Think of Frank Sinatra,’ he whispered to me at a church dance. ‘I’m just like him.’ If I’d been raised to have my wits about me, I would have realized he was more the last stop on the bus but we are so often at our most desperate when reaping overdue rewards. I was lonely even then and he sent some big plans in my direction — plans for a future I could have barely imagined. He was older and understood the ‘Bigger Picture,’ with an eye for the finer things in life. He seemed loaded with insights into how the world worked and he promised this would give us that extra edge for the finer things in life. He must have seen me as someone who was dying for structure — limp, passive and pretty, with years of slack to give and no aggressive ego to tame. To a certain type of man, a married woman is a hothouse bloom, delicate and in need of careful maintenance. The more precise the conditions of her care, the sweeter the scent of her bloom and no word wets a woman like ‘forever.’

(Maggie calls to the dogs, saying she is getting tired.)

My husband had options — lots of them and it used to make me nervous, all those other women buzzing around. In the end, he chose me and it was my youth — where space seemed open and fine and I revelled in the sense of escaping to something more than I could ever hope to find watching my own horrible family age. He kissed me that night at the dance. A hard, deep kiss that smeared my Woolworth s five-and-dime lipstick. Actually, there was more that a kiss but I never speak about that. What did Mother say? ‘Some secrets live.’ I guess that’s the way it goes. As far as ‘sex,’ I’d been given the impression there was more behind it all but that wasn’t important anyway Mother assured me. ‘Love, honour and obey.’ That’s what counted and Leonard was right there to train me along the many steps of my domestication.

(Maggie laughs quietly to herself.)

Edgar DegasThat feeling doesn’t last long — the one of listening to the radio and thinking every love song is about you. Living it was supposed to be what we were doing — skilled living, where we understood the rules of the game and made them work for us. For that to have happened, Leonard had to remain the same as on the night we met, then grown and matured like a dance hall crooner — shy at first, respectful of the band that lead his pure, clear voice to greater effect but then growing in confidence, until he became a roustabout cowboy, flying over the notes of the music, leaving the band panting to catch-up! My own Frank Sinatra.

(Maggie chuckles to herself.)

If this were an ideal world, the music would never have stopped but early on in our marriage, I became this sputtering, fussing Edith Bunker kind of wife and I hated myself but didn’t know what else to do. You see, my husband could never have respect for anyone who respected him. That was his problem. He demanded loyalty as a condition of his affection but once he had it? He’d turn and that’s why I love my dogs.

(Maggie pleads with the dogs to return, telling them it’s going to rain.)

Men like Leonard always know the rules, the real rules—how cards should be played and how a life should be lived. Leonard was one of those men who was also privileged to know the ‘truth.’ Truth with a hard, capital ‘t’ — truth meant to correct, meant to straighten and I accepted this unconditionally. Everything my husband said was an explanation. I never knew how to do things properly and his approval meant a great deal to me so I allowed myself to become completely devoted to a bad-tempered man. I had been raised devoutly Catholic and my family attended mass dutifully but once we were married — hardly went to church again. Leonard demanded all my faith. Demanded it and then mocked it by saying it wasn’t enough. Is it love that makes one hold all that down? All that pain and humiliation from boiling a heart in the anger one calls injustice? Rage: hot and fierce. It needs to come out but when it does tends to make a mess. In time, I learned to see the violence as renewal. Fresh vows would always fall after the worst attacks and restored faith would erase all doubt. ‘Don’t get yourself so worked up,’ he’d say. ‘Think of the baby,’ he’d say when I would cry after a beating.

(Maggie pauses.)

My daughter — she’s a good girl.

(Maggie takes a picture from her breast pocket and passes it to an audience member.)

That’s her on her wedding day — Emily is her name. Looks beautiful, doesn’t she in her off-white dress? Beautiful but afraid to think for herself. It’s hard to tell form that photograph that she is slipping on a banana peel — a fool in flight. She married a splinter of a man but she has always been eager to learn the hard way. Her demons sent the first husband packing and I felt sorry for him. I truly did. He was a good dancer but it drove Leonard crazy and he was hard on her. Mistakes are the land mines of any adolescence but each one Emily made blew Leonard’s confidence in her more and more apart. She was even too frightened to tell her father to go to hell and he deserved it, he really did that pushy bastard — with his fear and the flimsy nightgown he thought would make a good wedding present. It made her sick when she unwrapped it, the poor child. May I have the picture back, please?

(Maggie smiles weakly and replaces the photo into her pocket.)

That’s one daughter. She is remarried now and the new one barely says two words. My other daughter was never the same after she discovered there was no Santa Claus. I’m serious — she never trusted Leonard or I again once she figured out we were the ones putting the gifts under the tree and got out of the house as fast as she could and married a man completely supportive of her flat, embittered personality. She believed we only loved a part of her and I don’t know about Leonard or if he was even capable of loving but I loved her. Still do but she doesn’t believe that. She went off to school and became the first in the family to graduate from college. The only one to win anything, much less a scholarship to study chemistry. It was there she found the man she believes could give her the love we couldn’t. Perhaps one day she will see differently, but for now at least, she has made enough peace with me to open the path to my first grandchild.

(Maggie holds up a photo of her granddaughter.)

I was occasionally allowed to go for visits and help take care of that precious child. It was like an oasis in the desert of a barren marriage.

(Maggie kisses the photo, replaces it and removes another photo. She holds it for the audience to see.)

A picture of Leonard relaxing on a break from work. He enjoyed his job at the psychiatric hospital and I believe from the little he told me he was good at his work. Being an orderly is no cakewalk but a real man should be self-employed, Leonard always said and when he was laid-off from his job at the hospital, I agreed with him. That’s when the shed went up in the backyard. The shed — the head quarters of what was to be his ‘industry.’ He would go back to his shed to create what was going to be the source of our bread and butter once the unemployment cheques ran out and run out they did. ‘So what’s the business?’ I’d ask him after he come inside from hours of ‘meditating’ in the shed and he’d growl it was beyond my understanding and demand his dinner. You see, the shed was off-limits. No one was ever allowed inside and the girls were, naturally curious but he defended his selfish stand with anger that was like a sledgehammer.

(Maggie put the picture of Leonard away.)

Year after year I waited in the darkness, believing in his dreams. ‘Where is thy faith?’ Leonard would demand and to that cupboard in my mind I’d go, one more time to pour another cup. Faith — I’d write the word, then finger the paper raw. It is difficult to count the years that were chewed through by the weight of regular disappointment but I aimed to show him I was loyal. I met his violence with an open heart. ‘It’s what Mother did,’ I’d remind myself, while the pillow soaked with buried tears. I learned the rules soon after the wedding. ‘You’re the wife. You do as I say.’ ‘Who says?’ I challenged back. Oh — you’d have been proud of me. In those days, I still felt entitled to an explanation. ‘It says so in the bible!’ Out it would come from its place on the shelf, thick and dusty. On the inside cover, written in shaky hand was where it all began: ‘To Effie, Love Grandmother Phelps. Christmas Day, 1923.’ The dawn of time as far as Leonard was concerned and who could argue with great grandmother Effie? Over the years the bible came out more and more. Leonard would make the girls swear before God, with their hands flat on the cover when he wished to test their truth. I would object and Leonard would lash-out. ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’ Job’s lot, too. Poor Job. I used to pronounce his name like the place you go to work. ‘It’s Job!’ Leonard shouted from the dining room table. He and some friends were having a poker night. ‘What an idiot! Calls him job. Can you believe how ignorant she is?’ They laughed at that — Leonard liked to have a good time and we had a terrible fight about it afterwards. I was proud for a long while after that evening because it was the last time he ever hit me in front of his friends.

(Maggie draws out a crucifix from the inside of her blouse.)

Christ said to turn the other cheek when someone strikes out but what if that cheek is still stinging from an earlier slap? It confused me terribly, and in this violent climate, I built a home plagued by paralysis and fear — paralysis that wove it’s way through the minds of my children, binding us like an invisible elastic of terror. Brutality is a hammer, anger the leveller, the bulldozer of emotions but that was Leonard’s way. Once he got sick though — once he got sick, I started remembering. Then he got sick. It was just a bruise or so he kept saying and he refused to mention it to the doctor when I urged him to. That time, his arrogance got the better of him and that blemish became the site of a long-suffering, devastating illness. When did he start getting sick? When did weakness and depression take possession of his heart?

John Morgan(Maggie looks into the horizon but does not call for the dogs.)

In those times of his despair, when they told him the illness was terminal, he was relentless in his obsessions. ‘In the future,’ he insisted, delirious on the pain killers ‘after the work, there is the glow of reward.’ Not the horse before the carrot, mind you but the understanding there could be relief. If time is the true measure of luxury, when Leonard finally died I felt like a very rich woman. Someone who could finally savour the night without interruption. In the days that followed, that peace of not having to be obedient washed over me. Not have to think of someone else first? Unimaginable. What did I decide to do with this free time, this return of vital zest that had once life’s work so easy? I decided to clean. Got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the floors he walked on and bleached the sheets he lay upon. Scrubbing fresh all the grimy layers, I needed to experience the house without him and like any cleaning, once you get started on it you have to keep going because you can see the contrast between the grime and the clean places. Once that is complete, you’ll need to start all over but it will be easier behind the power of momentum. It’s mostly a blur but I remember a moment standing at the sink. While washing the dishes from the small party we had after the funeral — just a formality really, you could hardly call it a party — while I was washing up the cups and plates, I paused to read a label on the dish detergent. As I scanned down it’s clever design, I remembered how housewives used to get wingy about grease. You never wanted any grease on your pates when I first started buying this stuff and God forbid if there was a smudge on your glasses! Today, it’s bacteria and germs that are the home makers greatest enemy and just as I was realizing this, and I forgot to tell the police this part, Leonard’s shed just popped into my head. I put down the bottle of detergent and through the empty, freshly scrubbed halls I travelled to Leonard’s room. We had mercifully slept in separate beds for the second half of our marriage but I knew he kept the keys to the shed in the top drawer of his night stand. I slid the drawer open and sure enough — there they were.

(Maggie holds up a ring of keys.)

I went immediately to find a flash light — the light that would brighten the darkness that haunted my marriage for so many years. You see, I was never to look inside the ‘hobby shed’ as Leonard called it but the crazy thing is that I did what he said. Never once went inside that rotting shack. This is probably going to sound silly or mental but there was an evil in that building. I could feel it and stayed away happily. Facing my resolve with considerable fear, I walked across the backyard, keys trembling in cold hands. Approaching the shed, I carefully slid a key into the freezing padlock, then pushed open the door on the stiff, rusty hinges.

(Maggie imagines herself back in the doorway.)

Inside the room, the flash light revealed an empty space, bare except for some odds and ends and that disgusting mattress. It lay on the floor, soiled and rotting. It was a junk yard of a room and I stood frozen, unsure of my next move in life. I poked at the mattress with a broken fishing net and imagined it burning. Destiny is specific it would appear. and in there, in the stench of that goddamned shack, I cursed the heart that lead me to such a pathetic devotion.

(Maggie reflects, the emerges from her reverie.)

Listen to me — I still get so lost in it all. ‘God hates whiners,’ Mother said and that was maybe the one thing she was right about. Why is it that humanity tends to the morbid? The dogs aren’t like that.

(Maggie once again calls the dogs and finally notices then with relief. She returns her focus to the audience, in a new more confident purpose, building through the remainder of her story.)

In the corner of the room was a gas can.

(Maggie swishes the imaginary gas can.)

Still half- full.

(An idea surfaces.)

Must faith be blind for it to count in God’s eyes? This had been my greatest delusion — waiting for strength from places where it did not exist. My husband was a weak man, who set fires loose in our family and I never called him on it. In that instant, in that icy night air, I looked to the dark sky and saw the promise of a flickering dawn on the horizon.

(Maggie mimes splashing the contents of the gas can on the floor.)

Rage — it is rage that lights the fields ablaze and rage that pumps the hating heart. Rage settles every score and when all is said and done, in that cold, damp, musty air, the pungent smell of gasoline filling my sinuses, I came to an understanding that finally ended the haunting feeling of dread.

(Maggie lights a match and drops it on the floor.)

A small fire at first, to burn the weeds of shame but soon I replaced the even, night-time sky with fire and my own rage. As the flames of the burning shed grew higher, an frozen case around my heart melted in the heat of that blaze and drained off into some invisible sea. In that space, I could finally see — and I felt so sorry for the pain I had caused in my weakness — pain that all the aspirin in the world couldn’t take away from my girls. My beautiful, innocent girls!

(Maggie irons her brow and the moment passes.)

Memory offers a bridge from where we anticipate the future; where we attempt to peer through the cracks in Time to review our choices. It is a limited vision — a ray of clarity that could be read only in the freedom of that dreadful inferno. What was to stop me from walking straight out the yard and down the street to a place where those unbearable memories were more easily digestible? Realizing that the mercy of my own salvation involved discovering what had been sacrificed would require a new vantage point. What if I walked as far as the old highway? What would it matter? There was no one to forbid me any longer.

(Maggie slowly starts to move.)

Mother always said ‘Senility in abundance. That’s the promise of Old Age.’ Mother was wrong in that regard. As I have aged, I have found the key to the chains that locked my heart to a tyrant. Certain now of a world beyond that inferno of misery, I walked away from a jubilee of flames, and this story — my story, which began in such a miserable setting, continues upon the lines that connect to form maps. A walk which leads to forks in roads, as movement provides the balm to soothe a ravaged spirit. I walked following in the footsteps of people who’d lived honourable, magical lives — people who had lead free lives and with each new step, the light brightened by a degree. To walk, is to pray — to step, to cleanse, moving steadily towards the truth.

(Maggie pauses serenely.)

Soon? It’s not like walking at all but as effortless as gliding across a bed of marshmallows. Now? I am greedy for more of this life, like a recent convert, free now to cultivate my own sense of loyalty.

(Maggie looks into the audience for a moment, respectfully and with quiet appreciation, then exits gracefully.)

Katyare

 

 

 

{Artwork by Russell Lee, Edward Degas, Katyare & John Morgan}