« Home | Random Shit That Happened Today » | Seinfeld » | HNT Virgin's First Time » | The Reality of Reality Television is that it's Fuc... » | The Conversion » | Popcorn Time » | If These Walls Could Talk They Would Say, I Cried ... » | The 411 » | Intermission » | Where Have All The Cowboys Gone and Where Are All ... » 

Sunday, July 31, 2005 

Fiction I (updated to include an ending)

Jaime loved women so intensely most people had to take a step back to breathe. The air seemed to get muggy around him and others thoughts slowed to the pulse of his heart.



The first time he made love he was sixteen and in the back of a pickup truck with a girl named Caitlyn that he liked to call Katie Luhlynn. He kissed her temples, smelled her hair, wrapped his arms around her and tried to breathe in the essence that was her soul. Just when she thought he had fallen asleep he made love to her with such a strange combination of curiosity and intensity that even 40 years later she would be able to recall, with astonishing clarity, that the moment she came he kissed her mouth, swallowing her joy, like a man starving.

Ex-girlfriends would often find themselves pressing their hands to their chests, searching for a lump, a scar, anything to prove that their suspicions were true. They would think back to their nights and wonder which night it was that he had stolen a piece of their heart, grafting on a piece of his own in return. They felt invaded in ways no one could explain or deny.

Jaime was the kind of man that wanted to slip into your skin, speak your tongue and wear your soul like a winter jacket in the middle of a snowstorm, bundled up tight. Women did a double take when they met his eyes, deer caught in headlights; they were paralyzed by an impending sense of doom, as if who they were would cease to be at any moment. Most women were right to be scared. Jaime was looking for something most men never find.

All of his girlfriends made the mistake of thinking they knew him like a mass produced book written into a screenplay. Verse for verse they completed his sentences and filled in his blanks. They knew his schedule, his birth date and most importantly, they knew he lived to please them. They were filled with such a heady feeling of empowerment they never realized how easily he bended them in bed, maneuvering their legs, positioning their arms. Jaime took what he wanted with such skill no one realized how little he gave. Hands on skin like Braille, he drank their happiness, absorbed their memories, ate their dreams. He memorized every scar, every freckle, made a map of their body and connected it with their history.

Vicky had a burn in the shape of a heart from learning to cook. Home Ec. 10th grade. Ms. Henderson. She failed that year and never did learn how to bake pie.

Lisa’s sporty limp was from BMX racing. Her brothers offered to teach her and she was always trying to fit in. She broke her leg twice and arm once. Down heartened, she gave it up at 14, but her family still liked to call her Crash with impish grins.

Sally was having chemo when her husband left her. She keeps all of his letters in her dresser, third row down second drawer over, next to her unpaid hospital bills.

Jaime drove them to airports, fed their cats, and brought them soup when they were laid low by the flu. They were so grateful that they answered every question he asked, confessed every dream and when he had heard their last story, Jaime did what Jaime does best. He left.

The women were fat and drunk with the joy of being discovered. So disoriented, that it didn’t occur to them until much later that perhaps, just perhaps, Jaime was trying to fill some great gnawing hunger. The kind of hunger that can never be satisfied, appeased, the kind that just keeps rumbling, more, more.

Jaime was 37 the morning the hunger woke him up from a dead sleep. Overpowering it felt like his flesh was being consumed. When he stood up he felt light and inconsequential on his feet, he buckled his belt three loops tighter and when he went to inspect his appearance in the mirror he saw nothing staring back. Jaime closed his eyes and rubbed his face but when he looked again he saw someone else’s image and his head was filled with the whispered confessions of women’s sorrow. He wondered why he had never asked about their secret joys, their triumphs, their accomplishments instead of their heartbreaks. He wished he had read their yearbook entries instead of their diaries, made them laugh in bed instead of cry.
Getting up from the bed he strode over to his closet determined to finish dressing, but when his shirtsleeves were too long for him he called in sick to work. The receptionist was a nice woman, a single divorced mother, he knew that her ex husband never sent money or showed up when he was supposed to. “Jaime” she exclaimed, “Oh what’s wrong” and he realized he didn’t know.

Lilah died when she was twenty-three and Jaime was four. A strange cancer took her body and made her into its puppet. She had lovely blonde hair that fell out in clumps and the girl who used to push her son on the swings found it difficult to get out of bed everyday. When the doctor gave her a time frame of six months she asked him what she was supposed to do? She was twenty-three, divorced with hardly any nearby family. She leaned down, felt the softness of her son’s hair and thought, “Maybe this is my punishment for never believing in God. Maybe this is how he spites me.” And so she said a prayer to a God she hadn’t spoken to in ten years or believed in since she was eight years old, waiting for a daddy that never came home.

Her father was a police officer, shot in the line of duty. At school the teacher’s treated her differently and the children asked too many questions. Lilah stared at Jaime and wondered what his particular heartbreak would be.

In the hospital room her mother stood on one side, gray, washed out. You could see that life had handed her a plate she didn’t know how to eat. In the other was Daniel, antsy and edgy to leave, his brain was furiously trying to figure out how he had had the misfortune to meet such an unlucky girl. She had gotten pregnant on their first date, talked him into marriage, parenthood, and now this. This. The boy didn’t even look like him. Other than his hair, his eyes, and the way he held his shoulders. Daniel looked again, blinked, no, definitely not that big of a resemblance. He looked relieved when his parents arrived, as if they might somehow save him. Which, of course, they did.

They looked at Lilah’s mom, took note of her worn clothing, her aged skin, they saw their son, irresponsible as the day he was born, and of course there was Lilah. Paler by the day, no one knew if she would survive the week. Janice opened her arms to her grandchild and when he hesitated she had to hold back her tears. She saw the relief on her son’s face and thought, “this time. This time I’ll get it right”.

Janice decorated Jaime’s room with baseball bats and dinosaurs. She joined playgroups and learned about the best little league teams and soccer practices. She made all of his sandwiches without crust or mayo, and then one night, when he was seven, she was hit by a drunk driver on the way to her monthly cribbage game. Blindsided she had only had half a second to think, “Oh”.

Henry was watching football when the local police came to the door. “Henry, ahh Henry. We don’t know how to tell you this…” and Tom, who had known Henry and Janice since they were high school sweethearts, started crying right there on the porch while moths got stuck to the light and Jaime realized his grandmother was dead.

That night Henry put Jaime to bed and while he was tucking him in he thought of how distant his relationship was with Daniel. The boy showed up monthly when his rent was due and neither one could quite conceal their mutual dislike. He used to think that this was, if not normal, acceptable. Boys were prickly creatures, there was sure to be a certain amount of tension, especially in the young years. But all of Henry’s friends had sons that were returning home now. Age had tempered them and now they came over on Sundays, had a beer, watched a game with the old man. Only Henry’s living room remained empty and quiet. Every weekend football had flickered across the screen while Janice took Jaime to church and Henry stayed home, enjoying the silence. When the tears fell down his face he told himself that they were only for Janice and not for that thing called regret.

Henry took Jaime to all the games his wife had signed him up for. He played catch with him in the fields, and when Lilah’s mother showed up he told her he would be keeping the boy. No sense in changing things and upsetting Jaime, his voice went hoarse and he stared at a point just above her shoulder until she agreed. When he closed the door behind her he locked the deadbolt and stood by the window until he heard her car pull away. When he was sure she was gone he went upstairs and took Jaime fishing. At the lake he taught him how to bait the hook, to stay quiet so the fish didn’t scare, and how to reel the catch in without breaking the line. Jaime jumped up and down in the boat, dropped his pole in the deep part of the lake when a fish tugged, and asked his grandpa if grandma liked it in heaven. Henry thought about all the conversations he had never had with Daniel and so he told Jaime that grandma loved it in Heaven because she could see them all the time now. Jaime looked up warily, “Pops… ALL of the time?” and Henry laughed so hard he lost his pole too.

Jaime was thinking about Pops when he called in sick that day. He was remembering the way the old man smelled of cigars and cedar and how he had smiled the day Jaime had graduated from college. When he moved away he thought Pops was going to start crying, his face had gotten a splotchy shade of red, but instead he had just smiled and clapped him so hard on the back the room had echoed with the sound of it. Daniel, his father, had merely looked on, blinking, as if he still didn’t know quite who Jaime was.

There, in front of the closet, Jaime bowed his head and breathed deeply. He counted to ten and thought of everything he had to do that day instead of everything he had lost and everything he had squandered. He slipped on his shoes and when they were too big for him he changed his plans. Jaime grabbed his fishing pole and keys, headed to his car, and drove into his future.

Julia was a stewardess, turned teacher, turned decorator turning into something else. She had black black hair that had broken every comb she owned and blue eyes that could see right to the blueprint of your soul. Everyone had secrets and Julia’s secret was that her dreams decided her future. They always had. Today’s dream had told her to take her daughter, Anna Bell, to the lake, stand in the middle of the road, wait, see what came, and accept it with open arms. She was 28 and still believed in fairy tales, so when Jaime appeared on the horizon she was not that surprised, she just smiled.

Julia’s mouth burned Jaime’s skin like fire and he found he was afraid to touch her. Her hair wrapped itself around him, worked its way into his mouth, his car, his bed. When she wasn’t there she was always there. Hair ties left in the bathroom, shoes in the hallway, she tore through his home and destroyed all sense of order. When he asked her questions she changed the subject, laughing. She made him red. She made him stutter. One day she traced the outline of his spine with her ring finger and asked, “What was your mother like?” and Jaime, for once, didn’t make up a story about home baked pies and bedtime stories, instead he simply replied “I don’t know”. He felt her hair trace a path down his bare skin, felt her hands turning him, guiding him, invading him, and in the free fall he was discovering all the memories he had lost. He remembered his mother tucking him into bed, Janice’s hand in his the first day of school, how it had felt to bury two mothers, how much it had hurt. He asked Julia if she believed in love at first sight and when she said yes he found all his clothes fit again.

Anna Belle was four with light curly brown hair and a vivid imagination. Until Jaime came along she had told everyone that her father was a fairy prince, now she changed her mind, “Never mind. You’re my daddy” and then she had asked why he was crying. At night he placed his head on Julia’s chest and listened to her heart beat. He assured himself that she was young, healthy, that she would never die and leave him. He made her take a physical, bought only lean meat, and one day asked her if she was a lucky girl. She said yes, and just when he was breathing a sigh of relief she said, “Of course I am. I found you”.

The night before their wedding Anna Bell slept between them while Julia dreamt of sunny kitchens, children laughing, and hope being redeemed when you least expect it. In the morning she woke Jaime with a kiss and whispered, “we live forever”.

And they did.