Saturday, August 28, 2010
make me over by Ivy Parker
I'd just spent my twenty-first birthday there last year. Things are still fuzzy. Maybe I had amnesia just like they said, but what if the hospital made me forget more and try to remember something I never knew?
Anyway, I'm not here to complain or justify my blank awareness, but I knew, I could sense it, yet not exactly explain what was happening to my little place. It was being invaded.
You see, my bills weren't getting through to me. Like that bothers me. Not really. It wasn't exactly a pain until I realized my electric bill wasn't here and my power might be cut off. And if I'm out of circulation with the universe on my computer-- well-- I might as well not exist. The same with the phone bill.
I sent them money right away. Even called to make sure it got there, and I forgot about this shadow, somehow. Why would anybody be following me?
It was when my favorite chunky heels were gone that I knew something was up. Someone had been in my messy little room and taken my favorite heels. The heels I very rarely wore anymore, only on special occasions. Of course, I couldn't think of none. Maybe when I felt pretty. That hardly ever happened. Nevertheless, those black chunky classics were significant to me.
I didn't let it go. I tore up the whole place looking for the pair. So sure I'd find them in the freezer along with my credit cards. Thank God, the credit cards were okay. Luckily, it was just a glitch. Maybe I'd left those shoes at an old boyfriend's place. But I couldn't imagine walking home bared footed. Could someone take them as a trophy or maybe a reminder of - No, no, that would be so strange and not at all like anyone I knew.
Finally, I found them a Romeo's Retroware. Evidently, I must have taken them there during one of my down sizing paranoia frenzies. Romeo let me have them back for twenty when he was selling them for forty bucks. He let me have a little Chinese silk number, baby blue with black flowers for ten bucks and asked me if I'd come and work for him.
I told him I'd think about it.
"Maybe after I figure out who's stalking me." That was the first time I said it. Why hadn't I thought of that before?
It was on my mind. The stalker. Had, whoever, watched me from a far.. so long... that it was time to move in? Invade my space?
I stared at my room for some time. Cyberspace was my only outlet to vent and I must have ranted on every board I could, looked for sympathy in every chatroom who could stand me, until they booted me out. Did anyone really care? Someone was out there wanting my shoes. Well, how else could I explain it, that I thought maybe somebody was praying something bad might happen to me, maybe even taking what little I did have and putting a hex on me.
This did my complexion no good. Sure the alabaster is me, but the pimples aren't. Before I knew it, I was squeezing a zit in the middle of my forehead. But maybe it was a spider bite. Maybe whoever slipped into my room at night let a little spider loose... just to bite me so I'd think I had a zit from all that worrying when actually it wasn't. So I stopped sleeping and decided to paper my walls with all the cat calendars I found during one of my disruptive moods when I tore up the place from before.
Cats. I didn't even own one, but I had these calendars with nice pictures of fluffy cats, purring cats. They were happy cats. It would be a happy place with all those beautiful creatures. So I cut and pasted.
Its so much easier to do it on the computer though. I had to stretch, tape it just right to fit in each piece like a puzzle. It was all coming together. I was in love with cats. Until the phone rang.
It was Dexter back from his band tour. He played the guitar, I think. Sometimes I forget. I'm sure he's fabulous. I didn't know. I'd heard him. He said. I just forgot.
"Let's get together." This could mean for food or sex or both. Anything was possible with Dexter. It took a while to put a face on his voice. When he got there, he wasn't like a thing I remembered.
"Aren't you supposed to be rich or something?" Well, maybe he was. It was hard to tell, decked in a black thin suit over a very black T-shirt. His hair was thick and raven. It smelled of smoke, soured beer and a sweet reminder he'd slapped on some musk sometime in the last twenty-four hours.
"I'm just a band roadie, Chloe, don't you remember?" He squinted like he was thinking for both of us.
"Aw, yes, the band roadie." What exactly did they do?
While I was pondering his lifestyle on the road with musicians, he was staring at the Cat Wall.
"You think I'm a serial cat killer, don't you?" I asked suddenly.
"No, no, is it supposed to be art?" His black eyes blinked, making me appear more special than I was.
"No, no, I'm just waiting for my stalker," I sighed. "He's out there. He just won't show his face."
"You've never been quite the same since you came back from Ireland," he said, watching me take out the bottle of something from the fridge.
"Pickle?" I didn't remember that trip. There were a lot of things he said I did that I didn't know.
He took one and bit down on the crunchy dill.
"Do you eat anything else but dill pickles?"
"Am I supposed too?" Pickles were my favorite food. I couldn't start the day without a tart dill pickle.
"That's okay." The way he said it he would be going soon. He never stayed long. The visits were getting shorter and more vague each time, but it really didn't bother me. I could make another cat wall.
His pink mouth curved into a half moon.
"You said I went to Ireland. How long was I there?"
"Not long, I don't think, maybe three weeks. Three months at the most."
"And what did I do there?"
"Maybe you were in the IRA for all I know." He shrugged and ate the pickle.
"Oh," initials, another blank spot. I had trouble with initials. "Is that all?"
"Chloe, you were never the same, after that. Or so your father said, and your mother, too. God, it's amazing they leave you alone. Its amazing, man." He walked around the place like he might actually be home. Especially, when he plopped on the couch and found the TV remote. He was home.
"Amazing?" Another false hope.
"You wouldn't mind if I crash here for a while, would you?" He finally looked at me. "You know I had to let my place go, being on the road and all. I wouldn't be here more than a few days, anyway."
"I guess it'd be okay." Only I wasn't really smiling. It was just a studio apartment. This would mean I'd have to talk to someone.
"Great, " his dark eyebrows perked up. I swear he was communicating with the devil. But when he checked out my fridge for himself, he wasn't exactly smiling anymore. "I'll go out and hunt down some food, okay."
Of course, I didn't know he'd be back an hour later with a black kitten in his arms.
"You aren't going to eat it, are you?" I felt a shiver of excitement in my veins.
"No, silly," Dexter pinched my cheek. "I just found him on the way home. Want to hold him?"
I did but I didn't. Cats. Did I know what to do with a small one?
His somber green eyes looked up at me. I hesitated.
"It's a black cat. You brought a black cat into my home?"
"What's wrong with that? You aren't superstitious are you?"
"Dex, I can't-" but once he fell into my arms and began to purr, I changed my mind. I was in love with that wet nose, his smooth chin, his beautiful thick coat of hair. He snuggled next to me.
"What are you going to name him?" Dexter made himself at home with the cornflakes he bought and a quart of milk.
"I don't know," I shrugged and rubbed his chin once more. "Blackie."
I poured Blackie a bowl of milk. He lapped it right way and later wedged himself between Dexter and me on the couch.
"Wow, that was fun," Dexter looked at me, stretching to put his arm around me. "But you didn't eat anything. Why didn't you eat anything?"
There was an empty box of cereal and a quart of milk half gone. Maybe that was why.
"I wasn't hungry, anyway." I had to make myself eat these days.
He sighed with a loss of words and snuggled closer. Suddenly, I felt confined, wondering what he was doing. His hand patting my shoulder. I looked. His face was in my hair. His breath tickled my ear and my neck. Everything collided for a moment. His nose against mine.
"Ow." That wasn't supposed to happen. Everything was off cue.
"It's okay," he said, but I didn't think it was. Something was odd. "I'm tired anyway. It's just good to see you after all this time, to know."
"To know what?" I blinked, rubbing my tender nose. That moment I touched his sharp nose, I sensed it. I wasn't who I used to be.
"God, why did all those shock treatments make you forget the good stuff, too?" His dark eyes were blue.
The sadness swallowed me for a moment. I caught my breath. A knife could have cut out words and all that was left was a sore note in the top of my mouth.
He pulled away from me and rubbed his nose with both hands as if he was thinking of something.
"Lets go to bed. If there's something I missed the most, it's that bed of yours."
He must have missed it because no sooner were the lights out, no sooner had he kissed me and he embraced the pillow, I heard him snoring. I shivered with a laugh, profoundly awake. Blackie hopped up on the bed and curled up next to me. His purring was a comfort and everything was going to be okay even if I couldn't stand Dexter's snoring.
But then it happened. Sometime after my eyes shut and it was deep in the night. It's hard to say when it's deep in the night when the streetlight cast a silver blue along the window, but I was into dreams when it happened.
I felt his hands along my belly, climbing my breasts, maybe my chest, but it was a slow progress, not quite slumber, yet real. He kissed me.
Only I heard snoring. The snoring hadn't stopped. Dexter was sleeping next to me. Someone else was there.
I struggled to get up, to get away, but I didn't want to wake Dexter, either. His kiss was contagious and I couldn't help but kiss him back. Maybe it was all a dream. It must have been a dream. I closed my eyes, imaging his face. He wasn't Dexter. I didn't know who in the hell he was, but he wasn't Dexter. I felt a pang. Who ever he was...I missed him.
I opened my eyes, saw his skin in alabaster blue. The invasion began before his fingers ever touched my hair.
"I'm going to make you all over," he said.
Something changed. I'm not sure what. Not that he was there in the morning. It all bothered me now. Watching Dexter sleep, thinking about who ever he was and his visit. It just didn't seem natural, and yet the whole thing was like an eclipse. My heart didn't even beat the same now.
Of course, when these things happen to me. Not to say this happens to me ... All the time. But the only place I knew to go was Romeo's.
"Have you been visiting the Fairies?" popped out of his mouth when he saw me creep into his little hideout in the Passageway.
"The Fairies?" I rolled my eyes.
"Yeah, it's true, you know, what they say about the Fairies, one blue eye, one brown, she's been with the Fairies." He pointed out. I blinked and finally looked in the mirror. It was true. I did have one blue eye and one brown. I covered one hand over my right eye. It was brown. I covered my left eye. It was blue. Brown. Blue. What was going on?
"Say what's under the trench coat?" He pulled back my collar then, figuring I was in my underwear. I was. "Been up to you're old tricks, have you? Too many men, not enough time, aye?"
"That's not true. I'm- I'm out buying Dex, breakfast." Yes, he needed breakfast, but I really hadn't thought that far ahead.
"What's the matter, Baby, you can talk to me?" He looked a bit scruffy. His hair had no color. His skin like ice. He fashioned too much of a vampire punk and he reeked of kempshi. "You're all fluttery, hadn't seen you this way in ages."
"It's nothing. I- I want to take you up on your offer, that's all. I'll come work for you. If you want?"
"Baby, we're partners. The place is yours I just hang here because you've been down a bit, when you're better the place is all yours." He lit a cigar and nursed it. He was in deep thought.
"Thanks, Romeo." But his answer didn't make me happy. It was all so crazy.
I plopped down in the booth in the corner, his little office, put my head in my hands and began to weep for no reason.
"Baby, do you want me to call someone?"
"No, no, I'm fine, really. I should be home, but I don't feel safe even there after last night?"
"A party girl's never safe, you know. She's got to keep her wits about her. And, Baby, you got the wits." He grinned.
"No, I don't. I'm not who you think I am. I'm not who anybody thinks I am." I thought of Dexter. Poor Dexter. Did I treat all my boyfriends this way? I'd betrayed him. What a cruel thing!
"It's the guilt, is that it?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it is." I looked into his devilish eyes. "I've done a very bad thing."
"Baby, you've done bad things before. How bad could it be?" His full lips puckered a sneer.
"Tell me what I've done first." Why was everyone determined to keep me in the dark about everything?
He shook his head and sighed.
"Well, you've broken down doors before. You hurt a bouncer once. You'll do just about anything for a score."
"Naw, it just sounds better that way, but you like the natural stuff best. I real ganja geisha, you are." He sucked on his cigar then like I might get the idea about reefers.
"Oh." Maybe I wasn't as bad as I thought, but then I wasn't sure I got the geisha part.
"You're a party girl. It's to be expected," he shrugged.
"Being with someone so sweet like Dex and then cheating on him?" I grimaced.
"You're kidding?" His stare was so serious. He did think I was a criminal. I could see it in his eyes.
"Yes," When I thought about last night, I wanted to cringe. How could I let something like that happen? "It wasn't just once, but twice." I looked at him.
"Twice in one night?" He smiled. "Must be catching up for lost time."
"I think," I knew who he was now. "He's the stalker, Romeo."
I didn't go into detail what he'd said about making me over. Romeo had his own ideas. I trudged home in a short number, a-line, pink with white daisies. He even found the white go-go boots he thought were perfect. God, who was I now?
I put down the hot coffees and the sweet rolls right away. Dexter was in the shower when I got home.
"I know it's not what you expected." I called thinking all was calm. The place was so warm and bright. It was bound to be a nice day. I found saucers and what was left of the milk. It would be pleasant and cozy. I wouldn't think of him, but of Dexter.
"What's this, shaggadilac," he said while I turned away to the silverware drawer, wishing for jam or honey. Really, I hadn't a clue what a hostess was to do.
"Something Romeo claims Barbara Feldon owned or maybe it was Jane Fonda." He talked in circles about such memorabilia that was just a splat of junk in my head.
"Nice." He breathed into my ear then. He didn't sound like himself, but he smelled of ivory, fresh and unsmoked.
His hands touched my fingers. The spoons clinked against the silverware. I pushed the drawer in and turned to look at his dark ominous eyes.
I squinted not sure how to get out of this. First the night lover, now this. I swear the bed was glowing, and I felt a little unsure what to say, nor where I could go trapped at the kitchen drawer. I closed my eyes, and for a moment when he touched my lips with his, I thought I remembered. But it was just last night.
I felt sad that I'd forgotten Dexter. I forgot him now, too. With a sniffle, our lips parted. When I looked up, it wasn't Dexter who was kissing me.
"Now who are you loyal too?" He smiled.
I blinked. This wasn't supposed to be a daydream. Do daydreams turn into Nightmares? This time I took a longer look. His green eyes frightened me.
"Who are you? Where's Dex?"
But like a chameleon, his body change in an instant through a shadow. It was Dexter, again, smiling, as if he'd never left.
I squinted, trying to think more clearly, I wanted to forget I saw who I thought I saw. But he gripped my shoulders.
"Are you all right, Chloe?"
I swallowed my answer and dropped to the chair.
"Yeah, I'm- I'm-" Maybe I was crazy. Maybe Dexter was a magician. I set at the table wanting to pull my hair out, but that hurt before, and besides Mother would be mad. Everyone would be mad if they found me in this condition, again. "How about breakfast?"
"I'm famished." He opened a coffee and began to drink it.
I sat there imaging it was just a figment. This person who'd appeared. It was all a dream. My stalker was only an imaginary friend.
"You need to get out more," Dexter said handing me a coffee and a muffin.
"Exactly." I stared at the food, but I thought it might be intoxicating and put me in a deep sleep. I'd go to sleep if I ate breakfast.
"You probably don't even know what's going on in the Old Market, do you?"
I shook my head, no.
"Probably a lot shops you never been too. We could make a day of it."
"Yes." I wanted to be anywhere but here. But I was beginning to turn cold. I warmed my hands on the large styrofoam cup full of hot coffee.
"Want me to make it the way you used to drink it?" I shook my head. My voice could hardly speak. Doubtful, I remembered any of my trite ways.
He started with twelve packs of sugar.
"God, what kind of Junkie was I?" I caught myself laughing.
He added milk.
"You said rum was really good on cold days. But you have a thing for Kaluha. You always had a homemade bottle somewhere." He rummaged through the cabinets. Finally, he pulled out a bottle of the black liqueur. "You want some?"
I shook my head no and nursed the coffee, but quickly spit it back in the cup.
"God." Maybe I swallowed a coffeeground. "It taste awful."
"You know, I caught your cat drinking from the toilet this morning," Dexter said while grabbing some butter. "But maybe he was just using the bathroom. He really needs a litterbox, you know."
I breathed in the coffee again, as if everything was normal and I was entirely in agreement with everything Dexter said.
"Food too. You don't have anything to feed a cat."
Blackie appeared then. Maybe he knew we were talking about him.
I broke a muffin and tried to butter it.
Blackie hopped on the table next to me and stared intently at the coffee. Before I realized it, he was lapping up the sweet coffee with his pink tongue.
"You shouldn't let him do that," Dexter said staring at the cat.
"He's just hungry." I broke off a piece of bread. He gobbled it up instantly.
"Don't spoil him, Chloe." His dark eyes looked at me as if I were a child, a delinquent perhaps.
"Okay, you promise. I just wanted something to keep you company while I'm away. I don't want you having a fling with him."
I blinked, caught my breath. A shiver shot through me. Blackie?
He was just a cat.