Who Are You?

Entry by: Jeanne

3rd December 2014
Coffee Break
Mind if I sit here?
. . . I know there are some empty tables, but you look like a poet with those thin junkie arms.
. . . I don’t know. By your veins, I guess. They’re high as hills, like on one of those 3-D maps.
. . . The tattoo? Let me tell you, before I dropped out of 8th grade, I was brilliant. We’d started to learn about things like Fibonacci numbers, and it opened a world for me— a universe of order and patterns that I’d never considered before.
. . . The point? I’m getting to it. My mother thought I was dirty, you know. She was dirty, too, but there was no hope for her. Every day after school, a scalding bath awaited me. I hated it at first, the itchy soap, the bittersweet shampoo. Then, three months into honors math and Mr. Freebottom—not his real name—began to touch me. First, the hands fluttered on my shoulders. And then they slid down like lava. Picture it. I’m wearing a pink herringbone skirt and sweater, bending over an exhibit of igneous rock fossils in our stinky auditorium, home of the Sea Side Science Fair, and this pencil-point dick grazes my ass. After it sideswipes my ass and gets away without a ticket, it does two at once. Tit, ass, etc. Do I have to go on about the rest of this? I bet there’s a perv at every table writing it all down: Girl with bear tattoo molested by her teacher.
. . . Yes, I guess I could have stopped it. But by then I was grateful for the showers. I begged Angeline, that’s my mother, to let me get in there in my clothes. She allowed it as long as I would wash with Tide Laundry Detergent. “You’re a dirty girl, dirty,” she cooed, and spilled the powder, which sudsed up around me. “I heard you were flirting again at school. Don’t you know Mr. Freebottom is Mommy’s boyfriend?” Then we’d wash off the sluttiness, and I would emerge, safe as a mermaid, knowing that nobody would ever touch me or my gorilla mother.
Are you listening? Talk to me. I still like your arms. They were the first things I noticed. I couldn’t help it. Parchment pale, with veins like rivers of sweet, lusty, whatever-it-is-you-shot. It was a pure cold deer running straight to your heart.
. . . I know there’s nothing romantic about heroin. Can’t I just admire your veins?
. . . Alright. From a distance, then.
. . . How do you know?
. . . Really? She ignored me?
. . . You’re right. She was no raving beauty, but certainly not a gorilla.
. . . I see. A girl who was ritualistically washed would not elect to get a tattoo of a bear eating out of a garbage can on her butt? How do you know about girls? Aren’t you gay? Why are you smiling? You think your skinny ass knows everything?
. . . Yes I’m listening. I heard everything you said. OK, so you lived with a girl at one time. I bet you had a tub in the kitchen, and let’s face it, you’re not into chicks and she’s not into fags, so why bother with inhibition? You got stoned and sat nude in that glorious tub while the water cooled around you. She cooked bean stews and grain casseroles and sweet potato pies, and she was from Virginia, this girl, and spoke in a drawl, and you never listened to what she said, or practically never. You just lay back against the cold, cracked tub, your toes grazing the faucet. You listened to her stories and smelled the cooking, and heard the cooking and smelled her stories.
. . . They can if you sniff deep enough.
. . . Hers smelled like hay and horses, or sometimes like truck stops in the morning, when your throat feels raw and the gasoline scent burns. Sometimes you drifted off to sleep, full even though you were hungry, of bacon and eggs and coffee and a trucker’s broad, muscular back. And there were times when Fred, that was the girl’s name, Fred, would join you. When the kitchen was full of steam and her neck was running with sweat, she left the lids on the pots and the pies in the warm oven, took off her jeans and top and wrapped her soft, cool limbs around you. And in this way your realities penetrated.
. . . Maybe not exactly, but I’m close, aren’t I?
. . . You say you’re not a junkie?
. . . Well, yeah, it’s obvious you’re not a fag. By the way you’re looking at me. Did anyone ever tell you you have the eyes of a serial killer?