Only Parents, Children, and Dead People (6)


Left Forearm, Top – Virgin Mary – 28 Years Old

Derek is my new boyfriend. We are twelve months sober, for now.  We took all the money we would have spent on drugs and scraped and saved, buying winter tickets to New Orleans. We are child-like and sappy, tearing through town with wild voices and holding each others hand under crumbling free-way bridges and broken brick alleys. We go past the dog park, even though the owner of the bed and breakfast told us not to.  Mansions with chipped paint and wild roses growing on iron fences give way to boarded up brown stones with mossy, forgotten ponds and broken bird baths. Each block feels like a different neighborhood, grandiose and romantic shifting to shady characters hustling pot and dope within a few steps.

Over a year ago, Derek pushed his way gently into my life.  He made himself hard to live without, his odd, crooked smile and his lazy, glass eye. On the Fourth of July, he had invited me and the kids to the park to watch fireworks.  He played with Ezra on the monkey bars, even though he could barely lift himself up, his long lets dragging in the sand.  He walked with Astera to the pond, pointed at wild birds and told her their Latin names. He played Candy Land and Barbies and Matchbox cars, making silly noises. He laughed at Ezra’s bad knock-knock jokes.  He taught me how cook stir fry and scallops.  Together, we went to AA meetings and made stupid faces from across the room, tried to hold back our laughter, drank too much coffee and smoked too many cigarettes.

Today, we are sharing a room in an alleged former brothel you can’t smoke in.  All the doors bear the names of former Madams.  The room is red, like blood, like lust and sex, with heavy framed mirrors lining the walls.  You can see yourself from every angle.  He lies on the bed, floppy arms and legs, his eyes shut, his silver, rectangular glasses awkward and crooked.  I snap a picture of him.  We develop it at a one hour-photo in a pharmacy. The picture is grainy and faded, the white pop from the flash bouncing off the mirrors.  His body sunk into the soft, feather bed, his skin too pale against his black Western shirt.  He looks dead.

Derek and I are in the city of drunkenness, and everyone is wearing red.   Babies wrapped in crimson blankets, grandmas in cranberry knit hats, men and women wrapped in blood-red coats and scarves.  There is a football tournament and fans fill the streets, tipping and slipping, giant beer mugs in their hands.  We are in the city of drunkenness, perfectly clean.  Very few people can claim that.


4 Responses to “Only Parents, Children, and Dead People (6)”

  1. Is this a picture of you w/the lips & the ciggie? ’cause it’s fuckin awesome!

  2. I love to read writers on WordPress (everywhere, really) who really write. You really write…and I really hear you. Keep on keepin’ on (oh my, did you catch a whiff of my age in that?)

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