Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Under the pondweed part #3

Sassy stroked the material of her dress. It was smooth and silky, satiny soft and pleasing to the touch. It was chiffonier than it seemed as if it should be, almost ethereal. She liked the way it felt, but she couldn't see herself at the pond’s edge catching frogs in such an outfit. And frog-catching was her favorite activity.
She glanced at Lonnie and saw that while his face looked like Billy's, his expression did not. He had a dreamy, relaxed friendly look. His eyes glowed with happiness. And his clothes--he'd been wearing Billy ratty cutoff’s and Power Ranger T-shirt, but now he too was dressed in satin, in a shimmering satin shirt open at the throat and a satin skirt. A skirt. He was wearing a skirt.
Sassy thought of the bagpipe players she'd watched at the Celtic festival. They had skirts on. But they didn't call them skirts; they called them kilts. Her friend Marty had whispered to her that they didn't wear underwear under their kilts and she and Sassy had squatted down pretending to pick up some cards they'd dropped, but they couldn't see high enough under the kilts to see if the men with their hairy legs and bulging calf muscles were wearing underwear.
Sassy flushed, looking at Lonnie and his skirt. It didn't look like the kilts the men had worn at the Celtic festival. It was a softer and finer material, no plaid or pleats. But the question of whether Lonnie wore undies brought color to her cheeks, she could feel it.
She looked down. At that moment, there was a loud trumpeting sound, a long bark of sound barely akin to music, followed by 3 sharp short barks, and Lonnie tackled her, knocking her to the floor of the open carriage.
He shoved her under the seat and crawled in with her. "Get back, get back,” he said, “it’s an aerial dragon attack."
* * *
To be continued (I only had ten minutes to write today).

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Ward

The Ward


I make a perfect omelet, utterly perfect, and want to show my mother.  She'd appreciate it.  But she wouldn't like it here; she'd flip out.  I look around, seeing it suddenly as she might see it.  People are lying and sitting on mattresses on the floor, naked or half naked, staring into space.  It's ugly, not sort of ugly, ugly, like an exposé a mental ward in some third world country.  The "residents" are beyond crazy, they're totally wasted.


As I watch, Bill crawls over and sticks his finger in Marsha's twat and starts twiddling.  Marsha doesn't appear to notice.  Marsha is naked and staring at the ceiling.  Bill is the only one in the room completely dressed.  It's his place; perhaps he wants to look responsible.  Not exactly my mother's idea of responsible, I giggle, watching him at Marsha's twat. (toit)


I collected the eggs from the dumpster behind the Forsythe-Street grocers, 11 of them cracked, smashed and oozing into the box.  The twelfth was shattered on the bottom in the slimy muck where I couldn't reach it.  I found limp broccoli and a half-rotted onion.  A hunk of mushy potato and a ripped pepperoni pack with maybe 5 pieces of pepperoni left in it, just slightly green.  I stuck everything in my shirt and took it back to the crash pad and dredged out the shells.  Tossed it in a pan I found in the alley yesterday.  No dishes or silverware.  I plunge in like an animal, burning my hands and mouth.  But I can't eat much; cramps shrink my stomach.  I rip the rest of it in pieces and stick it on the floor.  "Food," I holler.  No one budges.  "FOOD!"  I scream, so loud my throat hurts.


Bill continues twiddling Marsha, who lies so still I think she's dead.  Peter, Penny, Christian and Simon crawl toward the plate of food.  Penny gets there first and crams half in her mouth.  Then Christian gets a hunk.  They each snatch some, but Penny gobbles the most.


Penny is a dyke and a heroine addict.  Everyone here is strung out on something.  Coke, Methedrine, heroine, uppers, downers and everything in-between.  With me, it's acid.  I'm as messed as the rest, have no idea how I got here.  Perhaps Peter brought me.  I was on the streets begging.  It's cold in alleys and doorways in winter.  I had no coat.  The cold was sharp and bitter as my fingers and toes, then feet and hands went numb.  The hurting moved upward gradually, but the parts left behind stopped hurting.


Suddenly Marsha arches her back and starts screaming.  I think Bill is strangling her, but then realize she's having an orgasm.  Bill walks off sniffing his fingers and Marsha lies still again.  Her eyes flutter and close.  This is Bill's place.  He pays the rent, lets the rest of us stay here.  Gets money selling drugs.  He's older than the rest of us.  A lot older.  He's an adult.


Penny crawls over and touches my breast.  Strokes, searches for my nipple.  Finds it and rolls it between her fingers.  Reaches for my crotch.  I back off and look for Peter.  He's out on the fire escape in his boxers smoking a roach.  Penny's OK, blond and pretty, but I don't want to have sex with her.  I crawl out on the fire escape and Peter hands me the roach—there's hardly anything but papers left, but I take a toke.  It burns my throat.  I puke over the railing.  There goes my omelet.  I've been sick a lot lately. Getting skinny.


I feel another burning, a sharp pain, and a gush.  I'm bleeding, down there, from the crotch.  Bleeding hard and fast.  I bolt back through the window and tripping over Simon, Eric and Christian, stumble into the bathroom leaving a trail of blood.  Sit on the toilet, lock the door and close my eyes.  The world is pouring out of me.  Peter hollers to open the door.  I don't.  I'm lost in a wash of pain.


Pain and blood.  More blood.  Niagara.  I think there can't be that much blood inside me, but it keeps coming.  A banging.  Loud.  The door comes down and two men rush in.  I fight, scream, bite.  They order me to come out.  They are wearing uniforms.  The blood police.  When I won't cooperate, when I keep biting, they wrap me in a blanket, no not a blanket, a straightjacket, and put something over my face.  Something sweet. 


In a huge room at Bellevue charity ward, Peter, Eric and Christian come to give blood so I can have a transfusion.  Usually, they sell their blood to make money for drugs, so this is a sacrifice and I thank them.  The blood police ask where my parents are.  I say I have none, that I'm an orphan.  I cringe when I say this and hope my mother won't be struck down.  There is an old woman in the next bed.  She talks to me a little, weakly.  Manages something that almost looks like a smile when I talk back to her.


When I get out I might go home.  I don't tell the blood police that.  I do tell them, I holler and won't stop, when the old woman beside me starts gasping and then her eyes roll up in her head.  They don't come for a long time, and when they do, they pull a sheet over her face and leave her lying there beside me.


I was pregnant, they say, and now I am empty.  A little girl.  Gone.





Mary Stebbins

060814a, 050302c, 1st

for Goat-N

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Under the Pondweed part II

         Trumpets sounded, and Sassy turned toward the sound.  Coming out of a large stone castle was a parade of white horses decked out in dark red velvet.  Lonnie stood up tall, pulling Sassy beside him.  Tall knights in armor dismounted and came forward with a tiara and a small crown.  They bowed deeply, placed the crown on Lonnie's head, and then turned to Sassy and placed the tiara on hers.  A coach had appeared and Lonnie and Sassy were escorted into the coach, which headed toward the castle.

          Sassy looked at her watch.  "I hope this won't take too long," she whispered, "I have to be home for my clarinet practicing in half an hour or I'll get in trouble."

          "Well, the prenuptials will take three days, and feasting five days, but we should get you back in time," Lonnie said. 

          "Wait, what?  Huhn?"  Sassy was looking down at herself now, because Something strange was happening to her clothes.  Her cut-offs had disappeared and so had her Beaver Lake Nature Center T-shirt.  She was wearing a white satin gown with tiny pink flowers along the ribbons of lace.  It was smocked and tucked and petticoated.  And her sneakers were gone.  She was wearing white slippers.

"I don't wear dresses," she said, turning to Lonnie.  "I never wear dresses, never." 

"I don't see a dress," Lonnie said, smiling.  And here were her shorts again.  But in moment, the dress shimmered back into being.  If anything, it seemed fluffier and more girly than it had before.  Sassy was a frog catcher and an adventurer, not a princess.  Something was wrong with this picture.

To be continued.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Under the Pondweed Journal 1st draft, part I

    Sunday, 8:27 PM  I am out on my constitutional and I have to "hurry" by which I mean make sure not to walk ay extra in order to be back in time to talk to Keith and Graham.
    I'm cutting it very close.
    Meanwhile, in the 43 remaining minutes, 42 now I am going to attempt a story:

     Under the Pondweed

    Sassy crouched at the side of the pond, looking deep into the half-murky water where the tadpoles had stirred up mud and it was slowly settling.  She'd caught and released seven frogs, and now she wanted a tadpole. Not any tadpole, but the big one with back legs and the little stubs of front legs and the face that was already a little squarish, instead of perfectly round, or as Dad would say, ovoid.
    That tadpole was a teenager, Sassy reasoned.  It still had a long tail, a very long tail, and its legs were still relatively small.  But it wasn't a kid tadpole who had no legs at all.
    There it was, lying alongside a submerged branch, looking like a knot in the branch and not at all like a tadpole, but Sassy saw it, and with a sudden lightning strike, she had it.  And though she had struck quickly, she cradled the tadpole carefully in the palm of hand, keeping water around it so it could breathe.  Even though it was a teenage frog, it still had gills and couldn't breathe air.  She wondered then how that difficult transition must work, from breathing water to breathing air.
    She was admiring the tadpole, who after attempting vigorously to escape, now lay still in the palm of her hand in the rapidly draining pool of water there.
    "Kiss it": Billy shouted. When had Billy arrived?  If she'd seen him coming, she'd have beat a hasty retreat.  She just couldn't stand him, hew as the epitome of obnosticity, as her Mom sometimes whispered after Billy had left the house with her brothers.
    "I'd rather kiss the tadpole, than you, any day, Billy Sampson!" she said to him, in a low hiss.
    "Do it, then, or are you a sissy?" Billy taunted.  Sassy, who was no kid's sissy, leaned over and gave the tadpole a little kiss on the top of it's slimy little head, and it grew in her hand.  "It's turning into a prince," shrieked Billy, "and you . . ."  But Sassy never heard what Billy was going to say, or what he did say, perhaps, because his voice was a roar in her head and then the water closed over her.
    She coughed and wheezed and suddenly, she could breathe.  Not by breathing water into her lungs.  Instead, she had gills, she could feel them, long and feathery around her neck like a living necklace. Some movement on the surface of the pond frightened her, and she swam for cover, swam deep into the pong and wriggled into the mud.  There she lay, terrified and stupid.  But after the panic subsided, she realized where she was, under the water of the pond. 
    Carefully, for she now had a great fear of things that ate little creatures, she wriggled up out of the mud, little by little, until she could look around
    Mud was raining from the sky, little bits of dirt and plants that had been stirred up were now quietly settling.
    And there, a little ways away, was the tadpole she had kissed.  She was sure it was the same one, because it was the only one who was as well developed.  Other tadpoles lying around looked younger, like Billy and her brother were younger than she was.
    The tadpole, though, was huge.  They all were.  But wait, she'd only kissed one of them.
    Sassy slowly realized that that the tadpole had not grown in her hand, but that she had shrunk.
    Watch out, came a voice, the dragon is behind you. :  Without looking back, Sassy swam toward the tadpole. She was sure the voice had come from him.  Then, close beside him, she turned and looked behind her, and sure enough, a large cumbersome dragon-like creature was walking slowly toward them    She knew what it was right away.  It was a dragonfly nymph.  They were vicious, but off to the side another far worse monster, a hellgrammite.  These things devoured tadpoles bite by bloody bite, while they were still alive.
    Come with me, the reassuring voice said. It sounded in her head.  And she realized it was not a voice, but thought impressions, visual pictures that formed in her mind, along with reassuring feelings. 
    The tadpole she had kissed started swimming slowly toward the center of the pond, under the duckweed and the strands of stringy green algae. 
    "Wait," Sassy thought at him, "what is your name?"
    "Lonny," came the answer, immediately.
    "I'm Sassy," she said, following him. 
    Lonnie headed for a large submerged log under the deepest part of the pond. He swamp inside. It was dark, who could tell what monsters might be inside there.  But Lonnie said follow so she did. He seemed trustworthy, though her Mom always said, "Don't trusts strangers."  And who could be much stranger than a tadpole?
    Sassy could see nothing.  But she could tell she was with Lonnie, she could feel him nearby somehow.  He turned downward into another tunnel. She couldn't see it at all, but could feel it.  Then, the tunnel turned up again in a way that made her think of a beaver lodge.
    A little light began to slow from somewhere, and then more.  They ran into something that felt like a barrier, like an elastic skin,.  It seemed impenetrable, but suddenly, it faded away and they passed through and came up again in the pond.  It seemed like the same pond, only different.  "Maerddth," Lonnie said, as if that would mean anything to her.
    When they came to the shore of the pond, Lonnie lay at the very edge and slowly, slowly pushed his head out of the water. He indicated that she should do the same.  She heard him breathing and then she was breathing, breathing air as if she'd never been under the water.  She crawled out on land and stood up and looked down at herself.  She was human again with legs and shoes and clothes.    She looked toward Lonnie and shrieked, taking a step away.  He had turned into her arch enemy, Billy.
    What's wrong? Asked Billie. But it wasn't exactly Billie's voice, it was mostly Lonnie's voice, the voice she had heard in her head under the pond.
    "You look like Billy," she said.  "I hate Billie."
    "I'm not Billie, he said, I'm Lonnie. I'm a merboy, and I've taken the likeness of the closest human so you can talk tome and I can talk to you."
    "Oh, but why Billy  UGH!"
    "I'm not Billie, I promise you.  I am a tadpole and a merboy.  What is it you dislike about this Billie person? Tell me,so I won't be like him. 
    "He kills frogs," she blurted, and tadpoles.  And that makes me mad, because I like frogs and tadpoles.
    "Yes, said Lonnie, "I could tell by the gentle way you held me, and by the way you released my friends and my parents, after scaring them half to death by catching them
    "I'm sorry.  I never thought they had that much feeling. I mean, I knew they must be afraid . . . "
    "Terrified," Lonnie corrected, "afraid for their very lives."
    She saw a picture in her mind of a great blue heron swooping down its spear-like beak to grab a frog and felt the mortal terror the frog felt as the beak plunged toward him.  Lonnie's way of talking with pictures and feeling was much more forceful than normal talking, which she had learned to screen out half the time, blabbing teachers and lecturing parents and obnoxious boys.  to be continued

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Toothache (Goat)

by me, July 5, 1965 age 19 from pages 22-25 of Journal AM-2  Written in Hippie "Crash Pad" in the East Village in NYC (see note at Bottom)

My toothache, an abscess I am sure, has become my entire existence.  The toothache is an entity of its own, separate yet consuming my entire self.  It is shaped like a bowling pin with a ten watt Christmas bulb at the top and a 300 watt bulb at the bottom.  It pulsates and flashes, red and yellow, sometimes fiery, sometimes dull, but omnipresent. I'm not the only one with a toothache,everyone seems to be getting them. Besides the toothache, there is the hunger, the constipation, the bugs (fleas, I think), the dirt, the difficult-to-flush toilet, the crooked bathroom doors that never close, the ripped mattresses, the greedy, cheating attitudes even between friends,  The fakeness.
There is also the freshness, the beauty and simplicity, the sharingness and openness, the friendliness, the deliciousness of food (when we have any), the coldness of water, the glory of a good night's sleep (who am I kidding?  when do we sleep?), the patterns and variations of people, no hang-ups about nakedness, just talking and touching.

Mentioning parts of the day does not describe the day.  Mentioning bugs does not give a full picture of waking up itching with crawly things in your hair and clothes, biting you, running around on you, or of trying to catch them and pinch them, not knowing for sure if the are just ants or something awful.  And there is no way to describe the mixture of sex smells and dirt smells and spoiled food smells.  The mattresses, filthy and ripped, are lying on the floor.  No one attempts to walk around them, barefooted or shod.  They clamber over them from the bathroom or the hacked-on, peed-on streets.  Clothes are dirty, bodies are dirty, though baths do happen.  My soap was stolen--soap is very rare, like food and toothpaste.  Books on drugs and the drugs themselves are the most visible (and invisible) things around.  Poor diets, weariness and fatigue, sleeping in fits.  Never any silence.  Barking dogs, loud radios, loud voices day and night.

Girls, including me, seem, for the most part, to be more hung-up than boys on morality, virginity, sex, morals, dirt and so on.  The boys are the ones pushing free love.  The girls aren't all that eager.  But now there are bongo drums and guitars, people sing and play, whistle.  A real good scene, no hang-ups.

Also posted to The Unbearable Darkness of Being at 8/08/2006 10:15:40 AM

Note:  this is part of an ongoing project where I am working on several new novels at once.  Each one has a keyword.  The keyword of this novel is "Goat."  Hopefelly when I have time, I will collect these together and use them for RESEARCH and background for the novel.  This is not fiction, this is a real journal entry.