A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || November 14, 2005 || 11:45 am

(and don’t forget the blame)

So this weekend brought the kind of sick where you sleep like the dead and speak incoherent, long-forgotten languages when you are somehow roused. I want to conveniently slap the label ‘flu’ on it, but it somehow seems larger than three letters can sum up. So not Flu-Not-Flu still dogs me today, but is not so heinous as yesterday and will most likely surrender me back to the arms of work tomorrow.

It has me feeling all tender today, very extra-sensory if you will, and things seem fever-bright and dimly muted all at the same time. I imagine Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole being just this way. Something yelling, “TECHNICOLOR!” but singing you to sleep all at once.

I saw the good doctor, who was kind to me in the manner of truly good friends, and then I went to procure something to eat. I can say with finality that parts of me were screaming, “Food! Oh thank GOD, food!” while others made art of defiance, “WE DON’T WANT ANY, YOU HEAR??” Surely you’ve known this sensation at least one good time in you own life.

Me, it’s hit four, maybe five times.

The most distinct one I can recall was when I was very young. I had hair like flax and dark peach skin and my father was still affixed firmly in that place where only gods can stand comfortably (later on, I guess his ankles just up and give out). Fine things flowed like a river and there was always someone around to take care of things like sisters and dinners and the locking of doors after dark. I should be scared to be alone in my own home even now as a result of the removal of such persons, but I’m distinctly not; this surprises me greatly.

I’ll try to cut down on the personal asides, but it is such fun to hear that snide, sarcastic tone in the middle of your head grab hold of a voice, even a typewritten one.

I was four, I think, and maybe just barely that. The fever had settled in, having found a comfortable host, and I began to see things out of the corner of my eye. Trying to call for my mother was futile, as I couldn’t seem to force decent sound past my lips. I lie there with my jaw slack, making these strange sort of honking sounds, brain screaming futilely at body to obey its commands.

My mother swirled in, smelling spicy and soft, left hand against her abdomen as the backs of her right fingers read my brow. When alarm registers in my mother’s face, it is a confusing thing. Her blue eyes grow wide with concern even as her jaw draws rigid with resolve.

On this occasion, she abruptly left the room, returning quickly with a towel. She gently but efficiently worked my nightgown over my hips, then bent me into a ninety-degree angle to pull it off of me. It seemed so crazy and sudden when my brain delivered the message that she was doing this because I was soaking wet. It was then that I grew cold, and precisely then my teeth began to chatter. She deftly patted me down with the towel and put me in the softest, warmest nightgown I owned.

I’ll be right back, baby. Don’t you worry.

And then there was my father in his brown leather jacket, soft as butter for my face to rest on once he picked me up.

“Hi sweetie,” he said gently to me while his eyebrows arched in concern, “You are very hot and mommy and I are going to take you to see the doctor.” And then I was in a quilted pink satin robe and matching slippers. How did that happen? I went somewhere else, I guess, because when the fuck did you put these things on me?

My mind wants to tell me it was raining, but my good sense says that feels like an embellishment, so I will tell you only what I do know to be fact: It was around two or three in the morning. It was dark. There were red lights and white lights. I know, because they shone up off the pavement, reflecting so brightly you could cofuse the mirror image with the actual. Holy shit, how beautiful; lights in the dead of the night always have mesmerized me. I am a moth, goo goo g’joob. Or kookookachoo, pick yer poison.

There was outside in the car. Then There Was Inside. I don’t know, again, what happened to the in-between. Where do those darned in-betweens go, anyhow? Is there some In-Between GoGo Room somewhere that none of us are privy to? Are all the In-Betweens taking their leave of us just so they can lounge on striped banquettes with one another, laughing psuedo-hysterically and copping sly feels under the tables? Good lord almighty. I am straying so far from the point that it looks like a church steeple on the horizon.

So there we were, my mother, my dad and I, in a brightish hallway and there were swinging doors and morose people and daddy cradled me for not so long before giving me off to mom and we waited quietly-so-quietly and here he came back and what is that silver and white thing? I didn’t know beds have wheels, really? Oh, I’m very tired and I feel very strange in my heart, I think. Yes, that’s where they say my heart is and I know my skin is hot but I’m not afraid even one little bit. I guess I don’t know any better, but I’d wager to say I just don’t care that much. I am disaffected, as it were, in that way that only age four affords you.

Not long after daddy came back there was A RUCKUS. I always associated that term with capital letters, because that’s always how adults said it, “God, Lawrence, there was A RUCKUS like you wouldn’t believe downtown today!” The phrase was so heavily weighted that you expected to look behind the head of whomever was speaking and see it in marquee lighting, loud and foreboding. A RUCKUS, damn it. It was A complete RUCKUS and can you believe it? There’s no excuse for such A RUCKUS. Now don’t you go raising A RUCKUS. They’re difficult to groom and mighty expensive to feed.

(ha-ha, witty me)

(and isn’t the Enlish language fun?)

So there was this womblike place with a sterile heartbeat, and then the womb was compromised. My parents came up out of the chairs lining the hall before I could parse all available input and acknowledge what was going on. In short order, we were squeezed back into a corner, I was suddenly aware that I was in my father’s arms instead of my mother’s, and we were all huddled together. I think I gathered that daddy’s aim was to protect both me and my mother, while mom cupped her body around mine even as my father wrapped himself over and around both of us. How can men accomplish such magic, especially while holding a fat-faced but long-limbed four-year-old?

Policeman had brought a man in. The man had shaggy hair and bare feet and bare chest. The only clothing he sported were some slightly dirty blue jeans and a rust-brown leather jacket with fringe on it. Something in my head went, “Hey! I have one of those!”

:: jett and dominic, her first catholic-boy object of lust, nineteenseventysomething ::

I loved that jacket, and was immensely drawn to this wildman whose prowess was unmistakable, even at the sexually ignorant age of four.

I could see him clearly, as my parents had left what amounted to be a sizeable opening between them. He was being escorted by the elbows and his hands were behind his back: Even in this captive state he looked very lean and capable, wound up all tight and feral.

It was then that A RUCKUS truly broke out, because the man began yelling and here he was all fringed arms and knife-wielding hand. Circumstances married up just right so that handcuffs slipped off of sweaty wrists and there was an unattended tray nearby just waiting breathlessly to be raided, giving up willingly its contents in service of a good belly-tensing bit of drama.

I was too stoned with sick to be afraid. I was on fire, I glowed, and I saw the same kind of glow all over him though he seemed (and I’m now, three decades later, thankful for that fact) to be oblivious to me. I observed him in a cool, interested fashion that noone else seemed to be capable of at that moment. His entire body was taut, but those arms were outstretched fluid and inviting: ‘C’mon and get stabbed, y’all.’ He stayed that way –poised on the edge of forever– a crazy-long time and I just folded it into me, the haze he threw off, the open drink of his eyes and ohhhh, how delightful is this, even as my parents drew in tighter to protect me. In the panic, nobody thought to shield my eyes. I might well have been terrified had they done so; thank God for small favors.

Out of nowhere there was bravado in the form of a wiry little ambulance driver (afterward, when he spoke, I was appalled by his mousy voice and shaky demeanor) who threw a tackle that had to have been ordained by the Pope or sommat, and before The Man In Leather knew it, he was sprawling on cold white linoleum with several law enforcement personnel aiming to keep him there. He put up a mighty admirable fight, taking on one man per limb (if we’re counting his head, too, as a limb) before being tranqued up, cinched and hauled off.

I only half-heard as people muttered ‘peeseepee’ and ‘junkie’ because momma and daddy fussed over me, stroking my forehead and kissing my fingertips. But I heard, I heard that word ‘junkie’ and somehow I feel that it was unfortunate, because my first associations to that word were of someone who is beautiful while tragic and a terribly fierce warrior, even if he goes down in the end.

Even though I was only four, I recognized poetry when it really visited me for the first time; I never discussed it with my mother and father because that moment in time seemed so intensely private and profound. My first conscious shifting of perceptions, as it were, and I felt greedy with it: “Mine.” while the juice of it squeezed through my fingers and dropped on the round toes of my saddle oxfords.

4 worked it out »

  1. chris robinson 11.14.2005

    I just love reading your stuff. It makes me laugh, affects me in all the right ways, and leaves me in awe of your talent. Plus it makes the retirement of sugarmama a little easier to take though I like to think of the days when I could read you both.

    Hope the bones are all healed.

  2. Jettomatika 11.14.2005

    chris: yes, but see the way my fuzzy hairbows are sliding off my head? I thought I might need to point it out because you didn’t mention it and it’s just so damned fetching.

    (i kid. portry soon.)

  3. Coelecanth 11.15.2005

    Wow. Beautiful and worth the wait.

    You asked, “How can men accomplish such magic…?” rhetorical I’m sure but I’ll still answer it: we don’t know.

    A homeless guy fell against my girlfriend many years ago. It was harmless, he only wanted change and misjudged his approach. But somehow I ended up between them having chest-butted him out of the way. I stood there sheltering her all puffed up and angry until he staggered off. Afterwards all I could say to the question in her eyes was “I don’t know, it just happened.” I was more surprised by my actions than she was.

    A year or so after that, my life was a little less, er, settled then, the bus we were on was stopped by the cops. Sirens, a car skidding to a stop in front of us another behind. The came on with guns out and made several guys, one right across from us, stand up to be searched. I was thinking “If this goes south, push her to the floor and fall on top of her.” It wasn’t till after that I got scared.

    I guess the instinct to protect those you love goes deep, deeper than thought. Women do it too, it’s one of the things about humanity that keeps me from becoming completely cynical.

  4. Suzanne 11.15.2005

    OMG – how cute are you!?!? And wow – what a memory on ya, girl! I have a couple select memories from that age, but I question if they are from my own mind or inserted there by others.


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