Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chapter 34

I’ll have to stop going to bars by myself. All I ever do when I go there is get some hot wings, a couple drinks, and depressed. I go there -- or at least I tell myself I go there - to meet people, only I don’t ever meet anybody, I just sit by myself and drink by myself and get depressed. Tonight there were a few people there from my grad classes, and they invited me to come sit with them, only they talked to me for maybe five minutes then ignored me the rest of the night until they left, so I don’t know what good it was for them to invite me to sit with them. I didn’t know the woman who was with them. She was a recent graduate of the program and she was with this one guy who looks like his face is sliding off his skull. I don’t know why she was with him, as ugly as he is and as pretty as she is. I could understand if he were a brilliant writer, but he’s not. Actually, he is a brilliant writer, he’s just a very bad story-teller. Line by line, sentence by sentence, he’s brilliant in his word choice, sentence structure, and details, but his stories don’t make any sense. In one of our workshops, we argued whether or not the main character was a prostitute. If you cannot tell, it is a poorly-written story. All of his stories I’ve read are equally baffling. He needs to be a poet, where story-telling doesn’t matter. So I don’t know why she was with him. I don’t think it’s personality, because he comes off as stupid (though I know he’s not) and he’s dry and uninteresting whenever I’ve talked to him or heard someone else talking to him. Writers should be the most interesting people, since part of their job is interpreting the world. But he’s not. This only made me even more depressed that I can’t get anybody. I wish I could get up the strength to talk to someone, but it seems I’ve reverted to my pre-sexual experience state in female relations. I’ve been told that when I stop looking, I’ll get a woman, and I know that is true. Women only want men who do not want them, but seem to be turned off by a man who is actively looking. I only wish I could turn it off and appear to not be looking. Better yet, appear that I already have someone. If I bought a gold band and put it on my left ring finger, I wouldn’t be able to beat the women off me.

I’m so sick of everything. I’m sick of women and their games. I’m sick of being lonely. I’m sick of being unloved (yes, my parents love me dearly, but that is not what I am talking about). I just want someone to hold and love. And when I find a woman who reacts to these sentiments, it turns out to be someone like L., who is incapable of love. I don’t want much. I want someone to love who will love me back. I want someone smart and educated. I want someone who loves life, who enjoys being alive and wants to have fun in life with me. I used to have far more criteria, but I’ve learned they don’t mean much. These are the only ones left. Still, I cannot find anyone who fits even these criteria. Most women hate themselves too much. You have to love yourself first to love others, just as you must love yourself to enjoy life.

Admittedly, I am not enjoying life too much right now. I’m depressed and lonely and I feel unloved - I am unloved. I’m even more depressed because Wednesday I talked to my friend Andrea's dad and he said he would tell her I had Wednesday and Thursday off so she could come over and visit me, only she never showed up. I like Andrea, but I’m growing very tired of her. I’ve been calling every day and haven’t heard from her once, and when her dad says she’ll come over, I don’t see her. I haven’t seen her all day today (it’s almost 2:30 in the morning as I write this, having come back from The Mahogany, so it’s still the day before to me). I need a friend who will be here for me, who will visit me. Steve has moved back home and he’ll be going to Denver in the Fall. I can’t count on Andrea, she’s already shown me that. At least without Donna here, I’ll have the opportunity to make friends this Summer and Fall. At least Summer classes start soon.

But enough whining. I’m tired of whining, and I’m sure you’re tired of it too. I hate whining. That’s why I hate so much of the music put out anymore. All it is is a bunch of whining. That’s why I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican because of social issues. I’m not a Democrat because all they do is whine. Whining accomplishes nothing. Action is the only thing that gets things done. I need to get active, do something to take care of my problems (you will please note that I have come to this conclusion only as I have sobered). I have a story to tell. I’ve left you in limbo for long enough in regards to my introducing Michel to his characters Bernard and Marcus. It’s time I took you, and him, to the café and introduced Michel to them.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chapter 33

Pat was unhappy with the advice Michel gave her daughter. She thought her daughter had better things to do than draw or play all day -- like study and do homework. She did not realize -- could not understand -- how drawing and making things up could help her daughter in school. Michel explained that he had kept those qualities, and look how successful he was. Still, Pat began thinking Michel was being a bad influence on her daughter.

Pat looked around the room -- the slowly evolving, moving, transforming pile of papers, toys, plates, glasses, and miscellaneous items seemed to never vanish, though somehow there was always something clean to eat with -- with a grim look than only disappeared when one of her lovers came over. Jessie, though, got to see her mother every day, when no one was over, and so got to see her mother’s melancholy more often than most -- though when Michel changed lovers, he too began to see Pat was rarely happy. Never, he began to think, though he could not be in her mind, so did not know for certain. I suspect he was right. She was like my ex-girlfriend Donna in that respect, taking everything too serious. Except the things that should be taken serious, like love and affection, which seemed absent from her repertoire of feelings -- probably pushed out by her constant anger. At what, I never knew, and don’t claim to know with either Donna or Pat. I think there was a great hatred there for herself, a hatred that prevented her from loving or allowing herself to be loved. I don’t think she thought she deserved it. As I begin to understand the truth behind Donna, I am beginning to see how similar she is to Pat -- something I had not intended. But it is true. The two are almost identical. Considering Donna lost her virginity at thirteen and doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it (or the fact that she slept with much older men at that age), it would not surprise me if she not only allowed but encouraged such behavior in her own daughters. This is not to say there is anything inherently wrong with having sex, but it is unquestionably best if you know what you are doing and what the psychological consequences of your actions are. In that respect, many much older adults are still not ready for sex. But one of the consequences of sex at such a young age in the late twentieth century is that it can lead to feelings of low self-worth, as society judges people who have sex at a young age or are very promiscuous, as Donna has been (I think she gained a pound with each new man she slept with), as being lower than those who have chosen to wait until they were older or have remained monogamous. What society says, most of us believe. If society says people who started having sex at a young age or are promiscuous have less worth to society, then those who fit that mold will think that of themselves and have low self-worth. And if you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else. When faced with love, these people will reject that love, do what they can to destroy it so they can prove again to themselves their own lack of worth. They cannot allow an individual to come along and disrupt what society has told them about themselves. That is why Donna has done what she did and left me. That is why she pushed and pushed, trying to push me over the edge, so I would not want her any more, until she had to go to such an extreme as she has to make me not want her. Which is true. I don’t want her any more. I still love her, but I don’t want her. Her presence is unhealthy. So long as she continues to believe she has no value, her presence will be unhealthy to any man. She will always push until she proves that he cannot love her either. So she will hop from bed to bed, from man to man, never happy, never satisfied, always searching for something she cannot have because she does not understand her problem. She is Pat. Pat is her. And Jessie will be just like them.

But none of that matters any more. I cannot live with someone who does not love herself enough to love me. The only thing I’m waiting for now is for her to get her stuff. I have half her things and all her pictures - pictures of friends, family, most importantly, her mother, and herself - her pictures are her memories. She is too attached, too blindly attached, to the past to ever give up her pictures. That is why I know she'll be back. Still, if she does not come back soon, I will have to take drastic measures and throw away all her things. If that means her pictures too, then so be it. I’ve grown tired of her games. She will undoubtedly be acting the same in thirty years as she does now.

Take Pat, for instance. Pat acts the same way, and she is around the same age as Donna. Still, we see Pat with the added responsibility of Jessie, and she had not changed, has not improved, but only turned her daughter into a smaller, younger version of herself. While Pat is in bed with her neighbor, Florence, Jessie is behind the bushes, shoving Hopes’ hand down her panties. Later, when Pat is in bed with Florence’s husband (neither knows the other is having an affair with Pat), Jessie will be over Michel’s. Donna too is probably doing one of the two herself, fucking some guy or woman while preventing either one from touching any more of her body than she has to. Perhaps she’s fucking someone right now, while you are reading this. Now there’s an image -- as if the ones I’ve given you of Pat and Jessie weren’t enough. At least Pat and Jessie let their lovers touch them. Both of them are more mature than Donna in that way. We all know about that stage children go through where they hate being touched or held. Donna, it appears, has never matured past that point, another milestone of adulthood, where we cherish the touch of those we love.

I’m listening to The Beatles’ White Album, “Blackbird”, “Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wings and learn to fly. / All your life, you’ve been only waiting for this moment to be free. / Black-bird fly!” I’ve been listening to most of my Beatles collection tonight, and much of it has touched me deeper than it has before. “Blackbird,” the lines I quoted above, seem so appropriate for where I am. I need to take my “broken wings and learn to fly.” That is what I was trying to do when I first slept with Donna, when I went to get her so she could move in with me. In trying to get rid of the ridiculousness of my virginity, I made the mistake of falling in love with the woman I only went to fuck. Over a year later, she’s left me. I had been drawn in by her promise that she loved me. I now know she never did. I was used so she could get out of her house -- only she did not realize Texas would, in her opinion, be worse. Between that and the poverty that comes with being a graduate student, she gave up on me. Love stays. Donna left. Some day I hope I can find the one who stays.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chapter 32

Merry Christmas. I'm alone and my Grandmother is dying. I have no friends and no one to love. What a magical day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chapter 31

Another school shooting, this one near Atlanta. The Senate has passed another gun control measure that will do nothing to prevent future school shootings. Republicans are railing against video games and the internet and movies and television shows (I’ve seen The Untouchables from the fifties, and we don’t have anything on television that violent -- and yet, no shootings then). But these are not the problems. Unless you want to count repealing laws, there is nothing the government can do about this problem. Children are shooting their classmates and teachers because they are emotionally stunted. How can they be anything else when their parents are as emotionally stunted as they are? We have children being raised by adults who are emotionally children themselves. This is the self-esteem movement's natural consequence.

Let’s take a look at Pat and Jessie. Pat is a perfect example because most mothers anymore are just like her. Jessie is a perfect example because she is so many daughters out there. She is a child -- a child whose childish habits are identified for her as being adult. Take a look at her at school, during recess:

Jessie has just run out of her school building, holding her friend Hope’s hand. Neither has quite decided what they want to do -- they just know it’s not going to have anything to do with boys. They’re immature. They see another little girl, seven, crouched, looking at something, her painfully thin legs bent like a hairpin. They go to see what she’s looking at. A small caterpillar is crawling across the ground, waves traveling from back to front, pushing its body past rocks and debris. They ask the girl what she’s looking at, and she tells them. Jessie and Hope bend down to look at it too.

“This is my caterpillar,” the little girl says.

Jessie looks at her. She’s not about to let this little girl have anything she can’t. “What makes you think it’s your caterpillar. What if we want it?”

“I saw it first.”

”But there’s two of us,” Jessie says. "We can take it if we want.”

The little girl scoops the caterpillar up in her hands. “No! It’s my caterpillar.” She holds it in both hands, up against her right cheek.

“You should share the caterpillar,” Hope says.

The little girl softens. She remembers “share.” They were still teaching her about sharing. She had to share. It was nice. Nice people shared. She pulled her hands down from her cheek. Jessie reached out with both hands, and clapped the little girl’s hands between hers. The little girl screamed at the sting and feel of something slimy and gross between her hands. Jessie and Hope laughed as they ran off. By the time a teacher got to the little girl, they were hidden behind some bushes planted along the wall of one of the buildings.

“I wish we’d brought something to play with,” Hope said.

“We can play with each other,” Jessie said.

“We’re always doing that. I mean with dolls.”

“We can pretend.”

“My mom gets mad when I pretend. She says I’m too old to pretend.”

“We can still pretend. Your mom ain’t here. Besides, my mom’s boyfriend pretends all the time. He’s a writer. He always make things up. He says pretending is a sign you’re a grown-up, and grown-ups who don’t pretend anymore are dull and serious and too much like babies who haven’t learned how to pretend yet.”

“But my mom...”

Jessie crossed her arms and shoved her nose into the air. “Fine. Don’t pretend then. Be all dull and serious.”

“I’m not dull and serious. I wanna be a grown-up too.”

“Grown-ups do all kinds of things. Do you want me to show you?”

Hope shook her head. Jessie knew how to be a grown-up. She wanted her to show her how.

Of course, Jessie knew nothing about being a grown-up. She had been taught by a bigger child than she was herself. Though she was half-right when she repeated what Michel had told her. Learning how to pretend, to be creative, to make things up or invent things is one of the first signs of maturity -- and one of the first things adults try to destroy, to make their children actually more child-like, more infantile, to turn back their development. To make them more like themselves.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapter 30

I’ve been in Texassince Sunday. Tonight, as I walked through campus, I noticed how beautiful it is by lamplight. I was walking because I was lonely. Nevertheless, I knew once I was home, alone, I would no longer be lonely. I cannot meet people, women especially. My old fears have returned. Everyone I know is gone. I am alone. Lonely. I was lonely when Donna was here, only at least I was not alone and lonely. I was not going out, trying to meet people, making myself more lonely. Buddha was right. Life is suffering. Artists celebrate life. Artists find life beautiful. Suffering is beautiful to an artist. All artists suffer and are aware of their suffering more than the average man who does indeed lead a life of quiet desperation.

Sarah is more aware of her own suffering because of Michel. Because of Michel, she will become a great writer. She is more aware of her suffering and is therefore more capable of beauty, as beauty is all that is left after such intense flames. At least the flames weren’t so hot that beauty, too, was destroyed.

Michel, I have learned, knows nothing of true suffering. He knows nothing of loneliness. His creativity cannot come from suffering -- instead it must come from cruelty. His own cruelty. A cruelty that creates suffering in others. Which means I am wrong. His creativity can come from suffering -- only it is from the suffering of others, suffering he creates. This is the theater in which he works.

The Marquis de Sade gained great pleasure from the suffering of others, paying prostitutes to come with him to out-of-the-way places so he could sodomize and beat them until they escaped to report him to the police, who arrested him and placed him in jail where he wrote his great works of libertinism. Michel at least does not do that. Jackie lies face-down on the bed, wrists and ankles ties with silk ties -- Loony Tunes on her right wrist, chaotic patterns on her left and either ankle, as Michel sodomizes her, thrusting grunts from her throat. This is her choice, her idea. Her ass is red from being spanked -- again, her choice, her idea. The more cruel Michel is, the more Jackie is turned on. She revels in pain-heightened pleasure, making the moment more immediate. Nothing is more important than the moment, than this orgasm, than this pain. The bed is pulled away from the wall so it won’t smash holes in it. Michel grabs her hair and pulls her head back. He has no need of de Sade’s prostitutes. He has no need to force his desires on anyone. Jackie is more than willing to oblige.

Later, when Michel is with Jessie, he doesn’t feel the need to tie her down or spank her -- though he does do the rest. The very fact that he is having sex with an eleven-year-old girl is so sufficiently cruel he feels no need to add to it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chapter 29

Today has been a lazy day. Still, it has taken me until 3:15PM to get around to writing. I’ve made dinner, helped clean up, helped grandma with a letter to her friends and family, a letter updating everyone, telling everyone how she is doing, what the doctors told her, etc. She failed to mention the experimental procedure, though. She didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up. I think more, if she put it in a letter, that would make it more concrete -- like she would have to go through with it. She’s afraid of the treatment, because it involves massive amounts of chemotherapy that is to be washed over the cancer, then drained off, then done over until it either stops the cancer or, better, shrinks it. The problem with this therapy, other than it being chemo, which alone scares mom, is that there is a very good chance it will kill her. Still, better some chance than none.

It’s been interesting seeing the changes grandma has had to make. To fight the cancer, she’s essentially become a vegetarian, because meat contains too many things that help feed the cancer or make it worse. So now she eats mostly fruits and vegetables. She’s also drinking an extremely expensive herbal tea called Essiac Tea, which is supposed to boost her immune system. So between her and being around my friend Tony who, I just learned, is now a vegetarian, I’ve all but become a vegetarian myself this week. When we got a pizza with Tony, we had to get a four-cheese pizza with nothing but mushrooms. It was so good, though, I’m glad we did. I’m sure we wouldn’t have chosen that particular kind of pizza otherwise.

I tried being a vegetarian once, when I was interested in someone who happened to be a vegetarian. She looked at me less than approvingly when she saw I was eating meat one time, so I decided not to eat meat around her any more. Eventually, I just stopped. I didn’t miss it too much, though I do love chicken. Fortunately, she was one of those vegetarians who will eat seafood, so I was saved there. I could probably give up red meat permanently again, but I’d have a hard time giving up chicken again, let alone seafood.

I can see Jackie as a vegetarian. Not a vegan or anything radical like that. I’d see her as doing it more for health reasons than for animal rights or anything like that. She is, after all, a biologist, and has no problem with animal testing or research. She’s too much of a humanitarian to think animals are more important than humans. And she’s rational enough to know that anything they find using animal testing can also be used to help animals too. Veterinary medicine has made as many advances because of animal testing as human medicine. Possibly more, for obvious reasons. Something that works on a dog or a cat will definitely work on a dog or a cat, but not necessarily on a human.

This is one of the reasons she broke up with Michel. He refused to become a vegetarian, or even come close. She had to make something extra for him. This made making meals more difficult, because it is easy to create a vegetarian meal, but not if you have to include meat with it. What do you make with spinach lasagna? If you make meat, you end up only making a few random vegetables, which can get old.

I would probably get along with Jackie much better than Michel. Still, I don’t want to get involved with someone like her. I suppose, since I am writing this, that I could make her an ideal match who won’t cheat on me -- but if I did, I wouldn’t be true to her as a character. Jackie has to exist as the person she is. Otherwise, I’m manipulating her character. She should be absent from my control as much as possible.

So I turned Jackie’s offer down. She looked disappointed, but quickly smiled when Michel returned. I asked Michel if he knew exactly where his novel was going.

“I have a pretty good idea,” he said, “but like with any writing project, I sometimes feel like I’ve run up against a barrier I can’t quite get across.”

“What you maybe need to do is meet your characters. Talk to them, see what they really want.”

“How do you propose I do that?” Michel asked.

“You could either do a mock interview, or you could come with me to the café, and we could meet them there.”

Jackie sat forward on the black vinyl couch, her feet set apart on the worn faded-red-pattered mock-Persian rug. “Are you some kind of nut?”

“No,” I said. “What’s wrong with suggesting Michel go meet his characters?”

“Because they’re his characters. They didn’t exist until he made them up.”

“Of course not,” I said. “But think about what you just said. ‘They didn’t exist until he made them up.’ Well, he has made them up, and now they do exist.”

“But they’re fictional!”

“As are your lives,” I said, then turned to Michel, who seemed confused, like he wanted to believe me, but felt he had to side with reason, represented by Jackie. “Michel, if you want to go, come on. This isn’t an objective world you’re living in. It’s very subjective. It is a rational world, but not one with a hint of objectivity.” I was, of course, talking about the one from which I am writing, which, I will admit, is not a truly objective world (the world is; the people, not so much), per se, but one which can best be understood through science. His can only be understood through art, and critical reason. But these were things I could not tell Michel as we sat by the light of his computer screen glowing pale in his living room. Jackie still looked like she could not believe what I was saying. How could she realize she existed only in Foucault’s “non-place of language?” And the people I proposed Michel come with me to meet were even more so, being creations of a character created by me. Plato would have been appalled.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 28

Yesterday I went to town with my brother and two friends, John and Tony. After going to Best Buy, we went to Barnes & Noble. I found some books by Wittgenstein and one by Foucault I wanted. I can’t wait to read them. Foucault is interesting, and I decided to read Wittgenstein because one of my professors at the University of Texas at Dallas said he is influenced by him, and I wanted to read some Wittgenstein so I knew where he was coming from philosophically.

Today I went to the doctor with my grandmother. She had to get a CAT scan to see if the cancer is in her liver. I read the introduction to one of my Wittgenstein books, but didn’t get too far. I’m looking forward to getting to it, but I need to finish Broch’s The Sleepwalkers before I get to Wittgenstein and Foucault.

I think Michel would benefit from reading Foucault -- perhaps some other queer theorists -- though I’ve only read Foucault, and not much of him. Just an excerpt from The History of Sexuality. I’d like to read that entire book one day. When I have time. I don’t know if that will be possible in the near future. All the same, I think Michel is on the right track with his novel. He seems exceptionally fair. It makes me wonder about him. Admittedly, I’ve written a lot about homosexuality in my own short stories and novels, but not to the extent Michel has with his novel. It does make sense, however, in view of his future sexual relationship with Jessie. Men who are attracted to young girls are oftentimes closet homosexuals. They find homosexuality personally repulsive, but then turn around and want to sleep with someone who has the same body shape as a male. For some reason, they find sleeping with children more moral than sleeping with other men.

Of course, that is only applicable to modern society, as Foucault would point out. This would not and could not apply to, say, Benjamin Franklin, who had a ten-year-old mistress in France. At the time there was a different concept of the role of children and the nature of sexuality. Then, it was not unusual for people we would consider children to get married. The modern sexual prohibitions were not in effect, or even considered relevant.

But we are in the modern world -- or the post-modern world according to some. Perhaps we are even moving away from that. I’m not one to say. But this world, this contemporary world, is very different from the world of the late 1700's. Everything must be analyzable and, therefore, categorizable. Which is why we can talk about Michel’s hidden homosexual desires and how he misdirects them into being attracted to Jessie and her mother.

I’ve been talking to Michel about his book, and I’ve come to these conclusions because of the way he’s talked about the novel. I’ve also met Jackie. What a beautiful woman. I can understand why he chose to sleep with her while he was with Sarah, even if I don’t agree with his decision. Michel introduced her as his girlfriend, though Jackie looked at me, rolled her eyes, and shook her head to tell me he was lying. When he announced he had to go to the bathroom, then left to do so, Jackie leaned up and said, “Michel won’t be here tomorrow after noon. Why don’t you come over and visit me.”

Deciding to play dumb, I said, “I thought he said you were his girlfriend.”

“Ex. We still fuck occasionally, but we’re seeing whoever we want. We’re definitely not dating. Come over tomorrow.”

“You don’t even know me,” I said.

“You have any diseases?”


“Neither do I. Come over.”

She said this with her sexy thick-lipped smile, her wide eyes looking at me with intensity. I wondered for a moment if she were sincerely attracted to me or if she simply wanted another person to fuck, to add to her list, so to speak, then remembered that I knew the answer to this, and decided I really didn’t want to be used -- even though I haven’t had sex in a month and a half. I want it attached to love. I knew Jackie couldn’t give that to me. Of course, I realize now my ex-girlfriend couldn’t give that to me either, but at the time, I thought she was. I know I was. Maybe that’s what matters most.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chapter 27

There are a lot of things we need to get back to in this novel. I’ve been too distracted by personal events. The original plan was to have events in the world and in my own personal life help direct the novel, but instead I’ve allowed them to take over. I haven’t talked about what is going on in Syria (more bombings) or about the latest school shooting and the controversy surrounding guns, movies, and video games and how they (according to the politicos on the right and the left) caused these kids to shoot their classmates. Of course, I don’t think guns, movies, or video games had anything to do with what these kids did. Why not blame the kids who did it and their parents, who didn’t raise their children right? The parents? Yes. We have “adults” whose thinking resembles that of the children they are raising, who aren’t providing their children with adult supervision or adult love, teaching them to be adults. We have children masquerading as adults teaching children to behave as children, to lash out as children. The problem is when adults or teens lash out like children, they are often in possession of a weapon. This is what causes school shootings.

A perfect example of this is the way Pat is raising Jessie. Pat is not an adult. She is only interested in instant gratification. Sex without love. The less emotional attachment to sex, the better. This is the way children think. What does love have to do with pleasure? To an adult, who understands the world and the true meaning of self-interest, everything. But children only look for instant gratification. They think being happy now is more important than being happy in the future -- even the near future. They don’t think ahead. It’s Me! Me! Me! Now! Now! Now! and they don’t understand that by thinking this way, and acting on these thoughts, they will only be miserable. They are self-centered, but not truly selfish. Selfishness implies you are doing it for yourself and your own happiness. People like these cannot be happy. They are like my ex-girlfriend, who has the emotional I.Q. of a two-year-old. She has never matured beyond that, and doubtless never will. She has given up happiness because she refuses to allow herself to be happy. Love is not enough for her or people like Pat. They think they need something more -- something they cannot figure out, something that, in truth, doesn’t exist.

Pat was searching for this one thing. She thought she could find it with every dick she had in her. When that didn’t work, she got her daughter to start looking too, using the same method, not realizing if she couldn’t find it in sex, that Jessie would be unable to find it that way either. Still, she hoped, between the two of them, that they would be able to find whatever it was that was lacking in their lives. What they were lacking, what Pat caused her daughter to lack because she lacked it herself, could not be gained externally. What they lacked was internal, emotional. They were two children searching for instant gratification, thinking that sense of emptiness could be filled through their vagina, but still feeling that loss every time the men withdrew. When the waves of pleasure vanished, the emptiness remained.

This is why Michel was, to them, a perfect neighbor. In fact, he was the worst. He also felt empty inside, and tried to fill it with writing or sex. It is something artists try to do: fill the emptiness, whatever that emptiness may be, with their art. And it also explains why so many artists are hyper-sexed. Art is our therapy, our way of creating something in the world that the world, in our opinion, lacks.

Michel continued coming over Pat’s house, to have sex with Jessie as often as Pat. Jessie did not have to dress up to look like a little girl, like her mother did. She was the real thing. She was what Michel was looking for. Emotionally, he could relate to her better than he could with Pat, even though she was no more mature than her daughter. Michel loved lying next to Jessie, running his hands along her shapeless, flat frame, looking around her room, at the dolls in the corner, the posters of Justin Beiber, Harry Potter, Lady Gaga. He looked at her fish tank,, watching the black goldfish with the bubbles under its eyes slowly swim. He wondered how such a deformed fish, with it’s hunched back and double tail, could swim at all. That was probably why they swam so slowly. In nature, it would last about two minutes. Jessie reached over and touched his leg. It distracted him a moment from his thoughts about the fish. He wondered if there were wild goldfish and, if so, what ate them. He looked down at Jessie. “Honey, I don’t think we can go a third time.” “Can I see?” she asked. Michel shook his head. “I think I need to get going. I have to work on my book.”

That was his third novel. The first two had done reasonably well. Not enough for him to retire, but enough to buy a modest house, and put the rest in the bank or in the stock market. We have already talked some about the first novel, and perhaps we should get back to it, talk about where it is going, talk more about the characters, maybe show another chapter or two, or at least give an overview, to let you know where it was going or, since it is published at this point, when he is living next to Pat and sleeping with her and her daughter, where it went. It, too, is a story of two children living with each other.

In later chapters of Michel’s novel The Novelist, we learn that Marcus and Bernard continue treating each other as a pair of children would who were made to live together without adult supervision, eventually not speaking to each other, then coming back together. Marcus accuses Bernard of cheating on him which, as we know, is the truth. Bernard, of course, denies it, and Marcus, not having any proof, decides to believe him, knowing his own behavior on the Internet is beyond the pale. By the end of the novel, he does leave Bernard for someone he has met on the Internet, thinking the unknown promise is better than the known disappointment of his life with Bernard. Marcus thinks the shiny world offered him has to be an improvement and, though we are not told what happens to Marcus once he has left Bernard, since the story is about Bernard, I can promise you that Marcus found himself disappointed. Perhaps not right away. The thrill of the unknown can hold you for months. But eventually, I know he found himself disappointed. On the Internet you can be anybody. If you can, so can others. That is often the case.

But as you may recall, there was another aspect of Michel’s novel, and that was the fact that Bernard was a novelist who was working on his own first novel.

Bernard decided to call the novel The Chicago Dinner Party. That had all kinds of connotations. Especially when he decided to call his protagonist Judy. This also fit into his idea that she was at a party when the novel starts. In fact, she could go to parties throughout the novel, and the parties could give her ideas for her own stories.

So that’s where Judy is when the novel starts: at a party. She is standing, drinking a glass of red wine, talking to a very handsome man. He is not her husband. Her husband is at home. He does not care for the parties she goes to - or her friends. He thinks little of her writing. She succeeds despite him.

But here, at the party, Judy is in her element. She is talking to an educated, intelligent, handsome man who is interested in her and what she does, who finds value in her writing even though, he admits, he has yet to read anything of hers. But, to his credit, he has just met her, and her two books are not well known. He has only learned of them through her, and promises, quite sincerely, that he will try to find them and read them. He is sincere for two reasons: 1) he loves literature and revels in discovering new authors - especially by meeting them, and 2) he is extremely attracted to her and would like to get in her pants. Though she is a married woman, she is not adverse to this idea, yet unspoken between them.

Bernard stopped writing for a second and looked a the pages he had typed. Hmm. How many times had he thought these very things when talking to someone at a party or a bar, especially when he traveled? He did not have the guts to cheat on Marcus in town, but he had definitely gone where it appeared Judy was going. Maybe she would have a string of affairs. That was the kind of thing interested him. Women having affairs with gorgeous men. He admitted to himself that this was him fantasizing, every bit of it. He wished he were the glamorous Judy. Ah, for real breasts and a vagina! But he also knew he would never get the surgery. He liked being a man, being who he was. He wanted a vagina, but he knew he would miss the penis more. And why go halfway? So instead, he created good female characters and led their lives in his fiction. It was difficult.

That was already admitted in the second chapter of The Novelist. But it was a perfect outlet for his longings. I could see that as I read the chapters Michel gave me to read. When I pointed it out to him, he became excited.

“You’re right! You’re exactly right. Part of him desires to be a woman, but the fact is, he is a homosexual man, which does not necessarily have anything to do with wanting to be a woman. Not every gay man secretly wants to be a woman. Gender and sexual orientation are separate things,” Michel said.

“Yeah, I can see that,” I said. He seemed exceedingly excited over this. It made me wonder a moment about his own sexual orientation.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should explain how Michel and I met and how we became close enough for him to start showing me chapters of his novel (for most beginning novelists, you only have to be an acquaintance, and they will happily show you what they have written -- something I will admit to being guilty of as well). I decided I should meet Michel so the story could be put back on track. I will admit that once he and Sarah broke up, I wasn’t sure what to do -- and I have seven months of writing to go. But maybe, if I insert myself into the fictional story occasionally, I’ll be able to put the thing on track. That’s what I’m thinking, anyway. We’ll see if it works.

But anyway, I decided I needed to meet Michel in person. I can control him better that way, because when I’m with him, I’ll be able to talk to him and direct his thoughts and, therefore, his actions more directly. I can’t let him get away from me too much, or he might not end up where I suggested he is going. So in order to meet him, I decided to do what I did with Sarah to meet her: I put him in a bar, and started talking to him. All I had to do was mention I was a writer, and he started off, talking about his own writing, who his influences were, about his project. I told him his novel sounded interesting, that I’d love to read parts of it, if he didn’t mind - make a few suggestions. We arranged to meet at the bar during the day, for lunch, and he would bring me some chapters. I read them, then called to tell him I was ready to talk about them, if he wanted to. That led to the conversation started above.

I asked him where he thought it was going, and he told me in detail. He had it well planned -- something I rarely do with stories -- but that is a difference in creative styles.

I was just interrupted by a phone call -- well, I guess I wouldn’t call it “interrupted” once I found out what the call was about. It was for my grandmother, but when I heard her doctor introduce himself, I listened in. My grandpa had found the name of a doctor from San Francisco who has been known to cure my mom’s type of cancer, with massive doses of chemotherapy, and they had given that doctor’s name to my grandmother’s doctor, who looked him up on the Internet, found him, and contacted him. The doctor told him as long as the cancer was not in her liver, he would do the treatment, and there was a good chance it would work. Grandma’s doctor said it was her only hope. My grandfather would beg to differ, I’m sure, since he has been praying, asking God to cure her -- but he also has enough sense to realize, at least as he puts it, that God could decide to cure her with this therapy. For him, at least, seeking scientific cures is not denying the power of God, but allowing that God can decide to cure her through modern medicine. God helps those who help themselves. Don’t ask God for food while sitting at a lake with a fishing pole. Put a worm on the hook, throw it in the water, and ask God to let the fish bite. That’s more of my grandpa’s philosophy, and I will admit it is well supported by the Bible.

But now I’ve gone back to what I said was turning into a problem in this novel - my dwelling on what’s going on in my immediate surroundings - but I’m sure the reader would love to hear this good news. Assuming it is good news. Let’s hope it is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chapter 26

I am writing this from my grandparents' house. When my brother called to say our grandmother had spent the weekend in the hospital, I decided I could wait no longer. I had to come. I got Delia (an Egyptian woman with a Ph.D. in English) to work my last two shifts of the week for me, and I left Monday morning.

Right now I’m sitting talking with my brother and our friend Tony. We just went out to move some things in the garage and look at the stars. It was the first time I’d seen Taurus and Pegasus. Tony had taken astronomy and pointed them out to me.

Well, it looks like we’re going to go out to eat, though it is 11:19 PM. I guess I’ll get back to this later. Maybe even get back to the actual story rather than my own problems. Now there’s a novel concept for a novel - sticking to the story...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chapter 25

I should have fucked Sarah.

What a nightmare the last few weeks have been. The semester is ending, so I have had a lot of work to do -- final papers, etc. And I’ve been looking forward to seeing my grandmother, who could die any time in the next few months. So what does Donna do? The week before, she said she wanted to go see her grandmother because she was in the hospital with breast cancer. Considering my grandma’s condition, I let her go, with the understanding that she would be back that Friday for work.

Friday, she did not show up for work. I had to work both my and her shifts. So Saturday, I brought her phone book to work and called her grandmother, who told me 1) she had never been in the hospital and 2) she had not seen her granddaughter in a year. Now I knew she lied. So I called two of her friends I thought she would have gone to see, and neither had seen her. However, her one friend said when she had talked to her last, she had talked about going to Iowa.

I knew she had several friends from Iowa she had met on Facebook, and the $600 phone bill I received in the mail the Thursday before showed over half her calls were to Iowa (I had no calls on the phone bill, by the way). All to one number. She had to be there. Still, I wanted to be sure, so I checked our e-mail, her saved letters, and found a very interesting one from one of her Facebook friends. Her friend was going on about how crazy she was about this guy, giving as an example the way Donna and this guy named Paul were with each other. Clue number one. So I decided to use the Find option on my computer, going to the Start button at the bottom left corner of the screen, then up to Find, then over to Files or Folders, then searching for “Paul” And I found Paul. I found a letter he had written to her using her Excite e-mail account that had been cached in our computer. It went on and on about how much he loved her and wanted to be with her for the rest of his life (poor, naive fool). Clue number two. The next thing I found was a cached web page, a tarot reading web page, where the question you asked was at the top of the web page, followed by the answer in tarot cards. The question was: “Will me and Paul be intamate” (her sentence structure and spelling). Clue number three.

I took my phone bill to work Sunday and called the number. A kid, maybe ten or eleven, answered. I asked if Paul was there. He wasn’t. I asked if L. was there. “No, she’s not here either,” was the reply. I asked if she had been there. “Oh yeah, she’s been here.” “Could you please give her a message for me?” Sure. “Please tell her to call Vance at work. Thanks.”

Ten minutes later, she called: “I’ve been in jail!”

“What are you doing in Iowa?” I asked.

“When I got out, I ran up here.” I asked her who Paul was. “Who’s Paul?” she asked. I told her about everything I had found. She denied it all, saying she didn’t know what I was talking about. After some more discussion, she said, “I guess it’s over then?” Of course! Did she really think I would allow myself to be treated this way? I told her to go to Hell.

I wanted to go see my grandma. I had to plan everything, rearrange my original plans, try to get all my hours in on the weekend so I could have the week to see my mother. I told her she had to be here by Friday if she wanted to get her stuff, because I wasn't going to be here. Last time I talked to her she said a bearing was going out on the back wheel of her car and she had to fix it first. I don’t know if I should believe her or not. Everything has turned out to be a lie (I’m beginning to truly understand how Sarah feels, how she felt when she found out about Michel and Jackie).

And right now, my only real concern is her being gone with all her things. In truth, I am glad to be rid of her. She was spending me into the poorhouse, into bankruptcy. Now I will be able to save my money and pay my bills on time. My phone bill will be all but nonexistent, my electricity bill will probably be half to a third of what it is now (I rarely have the A/C or the TV on, and I actually turn the computer off when I’m not using it). And the food bill will be cut by about a tenth too, because I don’t mind making, say, spaghetti or chili and eating on it for a week. That’s maybe two dollars a day for food. And she eats enough food for a classroom of people. And when she left, I cleaned up the apartment for the first time this year. Papers were everywhere, the floors had been unvacuumed, and since I was working forty hours and going to school full time and she would complain every time I tried to do anything (even laundry!), I could not get it done myself. But when she was gone, I cleaned up the place. It has been over a week since I finished it (it took 3 days to clean), and the apartment is still as clean as the day I finished (though I suppose it could be vacuumed again). So between all this and the fact that she had not had sex with me in the three weeks before she left (something which I understand now, though she had been keeping it down to only once every other week -- not very much for a self-professed nympho) make me glad she is gone and will be gone shortly. Now I can move on with my life. Find someone who will love me like I now know she never did.

Having gone through it all now, I understand what Sarah is going through. I understand why she sits in her apartment, watching television, numb, stunned. How could Michel do this to her? She thought he had loved her. She had loved him. Sure, he was chauvinistic, maybe even misogynistic, but she had not thought he would cheat on her. Especially with Jackie. She thought they hated each other. Their living together was only for convenience and money’s sake. She knew she would not make that mistake again. The next man she went out with was going to be living alone. No roommates. Not even male roommates, in case they were gay lovers. No chances. Never. Not ever. Not again.

What Sarah really needed to do was write. She needed to write about her relationship with Michel, fictionalize it, make it objective, so she could work it out, make her deal with it faster. It would have made her feel better (as this chapter is doing for me already). But she did not have the presence of mind to do that yet. It took me this long to sit down and write it, knowing all the time I had this novel to work on, and that the way I was constructing it would be a perfect outlet, so I should not expect Sarah to do it any faster. I am sure she will deal with it in her fiction, as many writers do, in her own time.

In the meantime, I suppose she will sit in front of her television, feeling sad and a little sorry for herself. It will do her no good to feel sorry for herself, just as it will do her no good to get mad at Michel for being who he was or at herself for not being able to see it in time, but it will take her time to figure that out. For now, there is the television. The single person’s friend. The source of estranged human contact that is just enough to make living alone tolerable. No thoughts. No worries. Just staring at the screen, taking it in with minimum effort, staving off the loneliness that lingers on the outside edges of the screen, keeping our focus on it lest that loneliness engulfs us and sends us into despair.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chapter 24

I just learned that I got a short story published. I told my friend Andrea that I’d been recruited, and she said we’d have to celebrate. That’s what I need, celebration. I haven’t been celebrating enough lately. I need to remember that life is wonderful despite its horrors, or even, because of them, the horrors burning away all weaknesses and impurities until there is nothing but pure, strong metal. I had started to learn how to celebrate life properly, then allowed myself to be influenced otherwise. No more. I made this decision last night, even before hearing about my story. If Donna wants to be unhappy and miserable, I should not allow that to affect me. Why should I be miserable just because she is?

A lesson Sarah still needs to learn. I know after I left her she went to bed and started crying again. I understand. I really do. She’s been betrayed, and betrayal hurts. But such betrayals can cause you to become stronger or weaker, depending on if you turn it into yourself, to burn away the weaknesses, or turn it outward onto other people, distrusting them because of the betrayal of another. If you do that, you cannot love again. You will have forgotten how to love until you learn to forgive, forgiving then everyone who was never guilty to begin with. She will then have to relearn how to see the world as beautiful.

That is what I’ve had to do again. I thought I had already done it once, but sometimes lessons have to be relearned. I think it’s because of my grandmother’s cancer. No one can understand my reaction to learning she has only a few months to live. They do not understand how I can wait to finish the semester before going to see her. The fact is, I know my grandmother would not want me to ruin the semester just to come see her. She would say my grades are too important, even though she wants to see me now. Also, people do not seem to realize that my grandmother is only dying -- she’s not dead. While everyone else will be mourning her death too soon, I will go home to celebrate her life, to talk to her about what is joyful and beautiful, to turn her fears and darkness into something beautiful if I can. She deserves to feel joy at this time, to be happy, not to be depressed. Why spend what little time you have on earth mourning your own passing? So many people do this their entire lives, not even having the specter of death lurking near. Enough of sorrow! Enough of sadness! From now on I plan to celebrate life, to see the beauty in even its sadness and sorrows, to make something positive out of the negative without building illusions to hide the horrors. Life is sorrows and sadness, but we can either embrace those sorrows and make it part of us, to become sorrowful ourselves, create illusions under which to hide the truth of sorrows and sadness, so doing nothing for it, or acknowledge its presence, but not its power, using these sorrows to recreate ourselves as something new and stronger, something more beautiful, something that can see the true beauty in the world. My grandmother is a beautiful person. It is that beauty I want to celebrate. I won’t mourn her death until it comes. Even then, I hope I have the strength to turn that into beauty too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chapter 23

Tonight, in my Readings in Fiction class, we talked about metafiction. It was defined as self-aware, self-critical, and self-reflexive. In other words, the author is very much present in the work, letting you know you are undoubtedly reading a novel while not allowing you to think you are reading anything real. In other words, this is a metafictional text. I had not heard of metafiction before coming here to UTD, and now that it has been defined for me, I’m surprised to learn I am currently writing metafiction. Of course, once I learned who were considered metafictionists: Milan Kundera and Don Barthelme, I guess it’s not too surprising I’m writing that kind of novel.

The fact that this is metafiction has all kinds of potential consequences. For example, not only can I do what I have been doing, weaving my own story loosely into the text and admitting that my characters are fictional constructs, but I could also directly enter the text itself as an actual character and interact with them.

Now, since Sarah has just broken up with Michel and this story is (more or less) about him, there is a danger of losing such an interesting character as Sarah (or at least I hope she is interesting to you). I think I’ll meet Sarah personally, talk to her, see how she is taking what she learned about Michel. But first, I’m going to have to find her.

I’m not sure where she hangs out. I hadn’t thought about that -- it was never an issue. Maybe she’s at a bar here in town. I could wander around town, see if I could find her. The only problem is, she doesn’t know me, so I have to be careful. I don’t want her thinking I’m some kind of stalker.

But what am I thinking, looking for her? I’m the author, after all. I’ll just put her someplace and walk in, sit next to her and talk. So she is at a bar. She’s at Le Marquis, which I don’t think is really all that nice a place, despite the name. Not that it’s seedy. Hardly. More of a college-kid hangout. She’s sitting at the bar, drinking a beer, crying, ignoring everyone else’s inquiries. I sit at the bar, on the stool beside her, and order a beer, ignoring her crying. I know she doesn’t want me coming right out and saying something about it. I’m a stranger to her. I drink my beer and ask for another. Now, she’s stopped crying. She’s looking at me, wondering why I haven’t said anything to her. Minding my own business is far more irritating than making an inquiry. I look at her and ask, “Would you like another beer?”

“Sure. Thanks,” she says, putting her empty bottle onto the bar. I order her a beer, and let her take a few drinks. “Thanks,” she says again. “I’m Sarah.” I introduce myself and ask her what’s wrong. She shakes her head, then tells me about finding Michel fucking his roommate. I tell her he sounds like a real dick, and that she’s bound to find someone new who’s a lot better than him. She thanks me and smiles. I buy us both another beer. She says she’s tired of sitting in the bar, would I like to go for a walk? I’m always up for a walk, especially with someone as attractive as Sarah, so we finish our beers and are out the door, walking down the block, away from her apartment.

“My grandma just found out she’s dying of cancer,” I say. She says she’s sorry, then asks me about her. I tell her what I told you a few chapters back. “I really love my grandmother, though I know I’ve disappointed her lately. She thinks she and grandpa wasted all their money on my college since I'm now getting my Master’s in Creative Writing. I’m thinking about going to UT-Dallas someplace else for my PhD. They’re also disappointed because I’m living with my girlfriend, and they think that’s living in sin. They’re real strict Christians.”

“Oh, you have a girlfriend?” She looks disappointed.

“I guess you could still call it that. She won’t go out with me anywhere, she hates it when I touch her, except to have sex with her, and she hasn’t even had sex with me in three weeks. If you want to call that a girlfriend, then I have a girlfriend. She’s acting more like a roommate I kiss and say ‘I love you’ to occasionally than an actual girlfriend.”

“Don’t even tell me about roommates. That’s what happened with me and Michel.”

“Yeah, but I’m at least being honest about her still being my girlfriend. If she’d let me, I’d fuck her in a minute, but she won’t let me. Well, that’s not entirely true. She was going to let me, but she let me know she didn’t want to so strongly I told her never mind.”

“Most guys would have just fucked her.”

“I’m not most guys.”

“I can see that. Makes me wish you weren’t attached.”

“You’ve only known me for a half hour.”

“Still, I can tell you’re decent. Than counts for a lot right now.”

Well, I don’t know how decent I am. I do think about cheating on Donna quite a bit, especially now that she won’t fuck me. I fantasize about her friend, Maddy. I hate that about me. I thought I was better than that. I’ve always been a strict monogamist, philosophically. But now that I’ve actually had sex and Donna won’t let me have sex with her, I’ve discovered that, yes, I am human, and, yes, I do want to fuck other women. So much for being better than anything. To quote Nietzsche, I guess I’m Human, All Too Human, or, to quote the singer Rob Zombie, I’m More Human Than Human. What can I say? I can only point to myself and say, “Ecce Homo!”

I walk Sarah home, and watch her walk in, staying out on the front step. Still, I cannot cheat on Donna, even in a fictional space. Sarah says good-night before shutting the door behind her. I really have no place to go in this world, so I wander off into the night, out of the world, right off the very page.

Chapter 22

It has been three weeks since I’ve fucked. Admittedly, the end of last week put us both out of the mood, considering the news about my grandmother. Still, three weeks is a very long time -- especially considering my libido.

When Donna and I first got together, she told me she was a nymphomaniac. She said she wanted to fuck three or four times a day, and I told her I’d see what I could do about that. In fact, when we first got together, we did just that. At least twice a day for a while, though eventually slowing to once a day. That was fine. Passions cool. But then once a day became once a week, and once a week became twice a month. Now its been three weeks, and I’m about ready to go out and find someone just to fuck them. I never thought I’d end up being that kind of person, someone who will do anything to get some pussy, but I have. I would be happy to only sleep with one woman the rest of my life, but Donna is making it hard.

The other day, I told her I was horny, so she came into the bedroom and plopped down on the bed, rolled her eyes, and laid there, looking at the wall above her. I asked her, “What?” and she said, “I’m not horny, Vance,” so I told her to forget it. I don’t want to fuck someone who is unwilling.

Donna’s passion for me has all but evaporated. I can tell, even if she won’t admit it. She says she loves me, but I don’t believe it. Actions verses words.

I just got finished eating. While I was writing this, Donna came in and asked me to go to Qdoba. We talked, or I tried to talk, before I left. She seemed unhappy. I understand. So am I. She said she talked to our friend Maddy, someone she hasn’t talked to much lately because Donna has been mad at her for her tendency to forget when she promises to be places. I asked Donna what was wrong, but she refused to talk to me about it. She said she talked to Maddy about it. She jumps on my case for writing stories about our problems instead of talking to her about them, then talks to Maddy about them and won’t talk to me. I think her refusal to have sex with me is a consequence of everything. She won’t talk to me or touch me or show me she loves me, so what else could the end result be? Donna has always said she separates sex from love, but I don’t believe her any more. I can’t help but think if we decided not to be a couple any more and that she could still stay here as my roommate that our sex life would return to normal, since then she really could separate the two like she says she does. Not that I plan to break up with her to find out. Still, I can’t help but think I’m right.

But we have left Sarah, Michel, and Jackie alone for too long. We can’t forget about them, even if my life is falling apart around me. Their lives, as mine, must go on. I cannot leave them, and you, in continual suspense.

As I’m sure you know, Michel cannot go on having sex with Jackie without Sarah finding out. She already suspects he does -- the question is, how is she going to find out? I say she suspects he is having sex with Jackie, but she is still enough in love to disregard those feelings. How, then, is she going to find out? As her passions cool, the barrier of being in love crumbles, and she begins to trust her senses, the smell of sex on Michel (it’s not just his being horny which makes that smell, but the mixture of his and Jackie’s fluids on him), Jackie always walking around half naked (Sarah came over and saw Jackie completely naked once. Typical female reaction: jealousy -- not directed toward Michel, but at Jackie’s body, with was thin and perfect. How could she not think Michel was fucking someone who looked like that?), the time she came over and Jackie was in a house coat, smelling like she’d just had sex, and she said Michel was in the bathroom and Michel came out in a towel, obviously having not taken a shower yet, though he said he was getting ready to. They argued for hours over that, and her feelings for him waned, but he convinced her (how bad she wanted to be convinced!) she was reading more into the scene than was actually there, that he really was going to take a shower, and that she knew Jackie walked around the apartment half-dressed all the time anyway.

But after a while, being in love can only be so blinding. Truths trickle to the surface. The person you imagined you were in love with turns out to be nothing like the person they really are. When that happens, and it will happen, always happens, you have to decide if this new person who has bubbled to the surface is someone you want to continue being with. Most people do eventually find that person, someone you can love even after the first year of being in love (where the pleasure-producing chemicals secreted by the brain are replaced by pain-killing chemicals, an apt metaphor for any relationship, I think, and one cleverly created by nature). No longer blinded by brain-chemical-induced happiness, you start expecting the one you were in love with to actually make you happy. If they do not (and mine does not. She’s so unhappy, how can she be expected to make me happy?), then you start looking for faults, problems, any excuse to leave.

It didn’t take Sarah a full year to realize Michel was having sex with Jackie. Since she suspected, her barriers were already unsteady. Her brain kept the pain-killing chemicals poised for release, knowing (so to speak) she would need them, even if she was not completely aware of it herself.

Her pain-killing chemicals were finally released when she decided to stop by Michel’s apartment unannounced. She gently knocked on the door, but received no answer. Both Michel’s and Jackie’s cars were out front, so she knew they were home. She tried the door knob. She was surprised to find the door unlocked. Since she was Michel’s girlfriend, she decided she was tacitly invited in. She heard groans and grunts coming from Jackie’s bedroom. Michel was not in the living room. She called out, “Michel!” and the moans and groans stopped. Rustling came from Jackie’s bedroom, then Jackie came out.

“What the hell are you doing in here? Haven’t you heard of knocking?”

“I did. Where’s Michel.”

“He’s not here.”

“Bullshit. I know Michel. He’s too lazy to walk anywhere. You in there fucking him?”

“Fuck you. You’re not going to come barging into my house without being invited in and accusing me...”

“I’m not accusing you. I could care less what you do, bitch. I only care if Michel’s fucking your skanky ass...”

Jackie smacked Sarah across the face. “You’re not going to come into my apartment...”

“He’s in your bedroom, ain’t he?” Sarah shoved Jackie out of the way, sending her to the floor, her housecoat open, exposing her beautiful body, now at ungainly angles. Jackie sprung at Sarah, grabbing her by the hair, and jerked her away from her door before she could go in.

“Damn it, bitch!” Jackie said, dragging Sarah by the hair toward the door. “Now get the fuck out!” She opened the door, ignoring Sarah’s scratching and fists, and pushed Sarah out.

Sarah turned around in time to see Michel standing in the hall, naked. “Michel! Don’t you ever come over again. We’re through. I can’t believe you were fucking this bitch!”

“Sarah, please, let’s talk about this.”

“Not here,” Jackie said, slamming the door on Sarah’s face.

Michel grabbed his shorts and pulled them on and ran out to catch Sarah. She was halfway across the street by the time he was in the door. “Sarah! We need to talk. I’m sorry!”

Sarah turned on the center line. “Fuck you! Fuck you, you goddamn asshole! I can’t believe you’ve been fucking that bitch. There’s no telling what you gave me, what you caught from that slut. I’m sending you the bill for the AIDS test, and then I don’t ever want to see or hear from you again.”

“I’m sorry, Sarah.”

“Like fuck you are. You would have happily kept fucking her if I hadn’t caught you. I should have known better. I knew what you were like, what you thought of women. I’m some kind of feminist, huh? God...!” She turned to finish walking for her car, stepping out of the way of an oncoming pickup.

Michel stared at her, shaking his head. The door opened behind him. “You going to come in here and finish fucking me?” Jackie asked.

“I’m not sure I’m in the mood any more,” Michel said.

“You knew this was going to happen. You expected you could keep fucking us both without her finding out? If you had cared about her, you wouldn’t have asked to start fucking me when you knew you were going to start seeing her.”

“Nothing’s certain.”

“Fucking lame excuse. I’m still horny. I’ll get you back in the mood, just get back in here.”

Michel turned, still shaking his head, and followed Jackie into their house. Who was he going to get to read his novel now?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chapter 21

After receiving a $564 phone bill, I told my girlfriend I wasn’t going to pay it. She said if I didn’t, she was going to leave. I started helping.

I suggested places she could go to, we discussed what was hers, what was mine. I got to keep two of the cats. She kept the two she came with. And after two hours of such discussions, she said maybe we just needed some time away from each other. Maybe. I don’t think so, but maybe. I don’t know how I could spend any more time away from her than I do now. She stays up when I sleep, I work and go to school full time, and in the three hours between when I get off work and go to bed, she stays on the computer, talking in chat rooms. She's in class when I'm not, and often she's hanging out with Maddy. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think we could spend more time apart. If she left, I wouldn’t miss her, I’d miss the car.

I find this very disturbing. Somehow, our relationship has in many ways become like that of Michel and Jackie’s, only with far less sex. Also, neither of us are trying to sleep with other people. I feel like I’m just someone to fuck once a week (if I’m lucky) and support her. Why should I want to live like that? I want to go somewhere else for my Ph.D., but if I can’t save enough money to leave, I’m going to be stuck here in Richardson.

I don’t know how many other Americans feel like they are stuck where they are, but I’m sure it’s a common phenomenon. Why else would Americans move so often, more than any other people? I at least have the excuse of school. Not that being on the move is necessarily a problem. Who wants to be stagnant? Far too many, I’m afraid. But a nation needs those people too, people who can stay in one place and provide stability, a constant work force. That’s why socialist nations always restricted the movements of their people. With movement comes instability, and socialism is supposed to make society work like a machine. But we have since learned that society, like people and the universe, is not a machine. It is an organic being that cannot be contained like a machine. It must be given space to grow and expand. That, perhaps, is why so many Americans feel stuck. We often feel like we don’t have the room to grown and expand. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say all the characters in this novel feel this way. They feel like they are stuck (though none in truth are -- they only have to give themselves time to gain the ability to move. They only have to wait for the great mover, money).

Probably the one who comes closest to being stuck is Pat. She grew up in the same town she was living in when Michel moved next door to her. She never had any prospects of going anywhere, and did not have the money. She could not find happiness by leaving the community, so she tried to find happiness within it, with as many people as possible. She thought she could sleep her way to happiness. So strong was this belief, she even transferred it to her daughter. If happiness could be found through sex, what was wrong with her daughter having sex? Didn’t she want her daughter to be happy? With no other prospects open to her, she was left with this one perverse thought.

Michel, Sarah, and Jackie were far less desperate. They all felt stuck now, but they also knew they would be able to move on in the future, sometime after graduation. They saw their educations as tickets out of the city, out of the state, away from their families. The future gave them hope, the hope of movement, of life, even though Michel came to be trapped in Pat’s web of despair. She made it psychologically difficult for him to move, though he still had the material means to do so. Sarah and Jackie held onto their freedom, though, and never let it go.

And what of Michel’s characters, Bernard and Marcus? What was their relationship to movement and freedom? How did they join the chaotic dance? Marcus was the strange attractor around which Bernard moved. Stationary, Marcus was happy, playing on his computer, staying with Bernard, never going anywhere or wanting to do anything. But Bernard was not a stationary man, despite the stationary nature of his chosen profession. When he wasn’t writing, Bernard was moving, going places, visiting friends, traveling. He gave up asking Marcus to join him on his trips, and learned to enjoy himself without Marcus. The only time Bernard was unfaithful to Marcus was on his trips. He did not want to hurt Marcus, but the temptation when he traveled was often too great, and he rarely chose to resist it. Marcus never traveled, and he was afraid word would get back to Bernard if he was unfaithful to him in town, so he became unfaithful to Bernard in the chat rooms. No one there knew he had a boyfriend. His spirit was less faithful to Bernard than Bernard was to Marcus in reality. Some would argue that what Bernard did was worse, but at least Bernard always came back. Marcus, on the other hand, was always leaving.

All of this about Bernard and Marcus will eventually come out in Michel’s story, but I don’t want to keep including chapter after chapter of Michel’s novel, interspersed throughout this one. Some simply must be summarized, though I promise not to leave you hanging with their story. I’ll try to include at least occasional excerpts as Michel finishes them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chapter 20

I’m sitting in front of my computer, an hour before work, and I don’t know what I’m going to write. That’s a nice way to start off a chapter. Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “If you don’t know what you’re going to write, then what makes you think I will want to read it?” I can understand that, but please have patience - I’m sure I’ll come up with something...

I’m trying to peer into the lives of the three main characters, to see what’s happening to them, only my lens is fuzzy. I can see Michel returning home, unlocking the front door. He’s sure Jackie is there. Her car is parked out front. He opens the door to the sounds of two people grunting, breathing hard. When did Jackie get a boyfriend? Her door is closed, so they must be attempting a triathalon or something. He slams the door. The sound echoes through the apartment. He walks past the bedroom to get something to drink. He’s not really thirsty. Remove glass from cupboard. Clunk on table. Slam cupboard shut. Pour water. Put water back in refrigerator. Drink. Slam glass in sink. Walk heavily past bedroom door to living room. Turn on television. Watch the latest political nonsense with the sound up too high. After a few minutes, Jackie walks into the living room, wearing only a long shirt. “You want to turn that down?”

“Oh, is it bothering you?” Michel asks.


“Sorry. Didn’t mean to make so much noise.”

A man walks out of the bedroom. He has long hair to his waist, his arms covered in tattoos. His eyebrow is pierced, as is his lip and ears. With his shirt on, Michel could not see he had his nipple pierced as well. “Who’s this,” he asks, nodding at Michel.

“He’s my roommate,” Jackie says.

“You didn’t tell me you had a roommate. Where’s he sleep?”

“In here. On the hide-a-bed. I think his girlfriend would object if he slept with me.”

“I could see that. Has it stopped him?”

“No,” Jackie says. “You have a problem with that?”

“When was the last time he fucked you, and I’ll tell you.”

“This morning.”

“This morning! I fuckin’ ate you out!”

“I took a shower, Doug. Chill out,” Jackie said, rolling her eyes.

“Do you kids want to be left alone to discuss this?” Michel asked.

“Fuck no,” Doug said. “If she wants to keep fucking you, she can keep fucking you...”

“Doug, when was the last time you fucked someone?”

“That don’t matter...”

“Yes it does, you goddamn hypocrite. What makes you think you can fuck one woman one night, then a different woman another night and that’s all right, but it’s not all right if I do the same thing? Hell, you knew I wasn’t a virgin...”

“Yeah, but I didn’t know you were a...” Doug was smart enough to stop himself right there.

Jackie raised her eyebrows. “That I was a what?”

“Fuck. Never mind.”

“You’re right, never mind. Fuck you. You can get the fuck out of my apartment. You’re not going to treat me as less than human because I’m acting the same way as you. You can fuck off.”

“Jackie, listen...”

“You heard her,” Michel said. “Now be a good little boy and fuck off.”

Doug spun toward him, his mouth turning cruel, his eyes hot. Jackie stepped in front of him. “Doug, you heard me. Get out.”

Doug turned and walked into Jackie’s bedroom. He returned with his shoes on, everything put back in place, and left without saying anything to either one. As the door shut behind him, Jackie turned to Michel: “I hope you’re happy.”


“Fuck you, bitch,” Jackie said. “Stomping through the house, slamming things around, watching the T.V. full blast.”

“You’re the one told him we were still fucking. Nice way to keep a secret.”

“Next time you hear me fucking someone, do me a favor and take a walk. If I’m fucking him, he’s on his way home. It won’t be fifteen, twenty minutes at most.”

“If that’s all they can do, what you need them for anyway?”

“They’re usually not thinking of other things while they’re fucking me, so it doesn’t take them as long, Michel.”

“So, you still horny?” Michel asked.

“What? Maybe you hadn’t noticed, but I just got me some dick.”


“And, if you want to fuck so bad, get in here...” Jackie turned toward her bedroom. Michel stood to follow. “He may have finished, but I didn't. Oh, by the way,” Jackie said. “Sarah called. She wants you to call her back. I’m sure it can wait until we’re done, though.”

Pulling his shirt over his head, Michel said, “Yeah, I’m sure it can.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chapter 19

Yesterday was an interesting day.

Monday, one of the graduate students was found dead in his apartment. It was later determined he committed suicide. Everyone in the department liked him, he had a fiancée who everyone agreed was wonderful, and he was beautifully handsome (everyone said he looked like Elvis) and a great writer and teacher, who all his students loved.

We don’t know why he killed himself.

Yesterday, Thursday, there was a memorial service for him at the chapel on campus. His parents were there. After hearing people say lots of good things about him, we went and planted a tree in his memory, then went over to the head of the Arts and Humanities Department’s house for a party. His parents were there. It would have been hard to tell why.

I don’t see anybody in this novel committing suicide, nor do I think they know anyone who would commit suicide, so I don’t know why I brought it up. Perhaps it was because it was such a strange day, moving from sorrow to hedonism within two hours. At the party, I think I heard the dead man’s name mentioned twice, early on, then nothing afterward. By the end of the party, everyone was drunk, except my friend Steve, who doesn’t drink. At the end, he was sitting at a table, reading everyone’s tarot cards, which is funny, because I know he doesn’t believe in them (just as I don’t believe them), though everyone is always talking about how good and accurate he is.

Steve read my tarot cards too. Every time someone reads my tarot cards, I know a few things are going to happen. One, I will get the death card. Two, the person reading my cards will look surprised and say something to the effect that this is the strangest thing he has ever seen. Three, in addition to the death card, I’ll have at least two other major arcana. This time, I got the devil card in conjunction with the death card, indicating my next year or two will be full of chaotic change. Nothing new there. My life has been in the grasp of chaotic change for years, since I started college.

He also said my life would be affected by someone else’s health problems. Currently, my grandmother is very sick. She was supposed to have surgery on her lung to remove part of it because of the presence of what appears to be a tumor. My grandmother is a hypochondriac, and I made the mistake of saying, when she first got the flu, that she had to get well, because so long as she was sick, they couldn’t do the surgery. Since my grandmother is also scared to death of having the surgery done, I don’t doubt she decided to stay sick. I would like to go see her, but I’m in Texas, and I have no money to go see her.

Steve also said that I had made the right career choice, but that my choice would be put into strong question. However, I should resist these pressures. Also, he said my career will be essentially stagnant over the next three years (let’s see, one more year for Master’s, at least four more years after that for PhD...).

I told Donna all this last night in bed, and she asked if he had said anything about us. I told her no. That, of course, was a lie, because Steve did mention something about a woman. He said I would be involved with a woman by the end of the year who I either already know or will meet this year, and who is in a position of authority over others. He did say this did not exclude Donna, because she could perhaps get a supervisory job, but I could tell, because of the way he said it, that he didn’t believe it was going to be Donna. So technically (and I know this is a big technically) I told Donna the truth. He didn’t say anything about us. When he did mention her name, he didn’t believe it. Of course, right now I couldn’t think of anyone else he could be talking about, since I wouldn’t want to date any of the women I know who are in a position of authority over others.

This reminds me of something interesting Donna said to me in bed last night. She has been on to me about marrying her for months -- almost since the first moment she moved in with me. But last night she said she didn’t want to get married again, that she would live with me and fuck me forever, but she didn’t think she was going to marry me. Personally, this doesn’t sound very good. This tells me that our relationship is breaking down -- though currently at a glacial pace. I think she has decided to leave me, but she knows we cannot afford to send her anywhere, and she cannot afford to move out, and other than that little Freshman girl, Maddy, she doesn’t know anybody she could move in with here, so she’s sticking around. She has been talking to this one guy from Birmingham on the phone quite a bit. She says he’s not very attractive (or so she’s heard -- I don’t think she’s actually ever seen him) but I still think she’s interested in him -- most particularly because he is bisexual, as is she. One of her fantasies is to be in bed with two men while the men have sex. She knows she won’t ever get that with me, but with this guy there is more than a distinct possibility. She spends hours on the phone with him, talking about lord knows what, and when our phone was turned off because the phone company was sending our phone bill to the wrong place (not that I minded that it was turned off, since that meant she could not stay on the Internet all the time, which meant she actually started spending time with me), she started making me take her to the phone booth to talk to him, leaving me sitting in the car for over an hour. I took a book last night, but I was too drunk to read more than two short stories. I think I dozed off a few times, then realized it was 3:30 in the morning, and sat up, buckled my seatbelt, and started the van. When she opened the door to ask what the hell I was doing, I told her I was going home, and that if she wanted to go, she’d better get in. In a surprise move on her part, she wasn’t angry (her most common emotion). She said she was trying to get off the phone, but he wouldn’t stop talking.

Again, I have no idea why I decided to put all this in the novel, since I can think of no way it relates to the book -- at least, in a direct way. Yesterday was just a full day, a day I guess I needed to talk about, get off my chest, out of my head. Some strange implications for me, that’s for sure - things that, as they change my life this year, will inevitably affect what I write in this novel. Maybe that’s why I included it. Maybe yesterday was the first day of a series that will cause my life to change. In that respect, I don’t see how it is any different from any other day, since one could say that about any day. Everything affects our lives, so we might as well appreciate everything that happens. But sometimes you know that certain events, certain realizations, certain things said are going to affect you in more profound ways than the activities of a more typical day. This, I think, is the prologue to a change in my life, and, therefore, a change in the book. I don’t know what it is going to be. We’ll just have to discover it together.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chapter 18

The Novelist
Chapter 2

Bernard stared out the window, not typing. From the window, all he could see through the trees were rooftops. Squirrels ran from branch to branch, making a tightrope out of electrical lines when the trees were separated by the road. He wondered how they weren’t electrocuted. He supposed it was because they weren’t grounded or something, but what did he know about electricity? He thought if he was going to be a successful writer, he should learn about things like that. Maybe he would write about an electrician. Ha! What a joke. Him, writing about an electrician.

Bernard listened for sounds from the ground floor of the house. He heard nothing. There had been no front door slam, only one inside the house, so he knew Marcus was still in the house - probably doing what he accused him of doing. Damn computer. He would have liked them if they didn’t steal Marcus from him. He shook his head. He didn’t understand men. He thought it would be so much easier if he were straight. Women, he understood. All his friends were women. Men got on his nerves. Marcus especially.

Bernard shook his head again. He had to get these negative vibes out of his head. Nothing productive was going to come from them. Then, it occurred to him what he could write about that would prevent him from slamming on Marcus: his main character could be heterosexual. A woman. He understood women. That would keep the ghost of Marcus out of his story. If his main character was heterosexual, then she would have a boyfriend, and her boyfriend would necessarily have to be completely unlike Marcus, who was the gayest man Bernard had ever met. What would he have her do? He didn’t know. The heterosexual thing was a lot as it was. He would have to really stretch his imagination to create heterosexual main characters. He thought about drawing on the one time he had slept with a woman, but decided against it. Obviously heterosexuals didn’t feel that way about fucking each other or else they wouldn’t do it. He had found it disgusting, unnatural, and he swore he would never have sex with a woman again.

Bernard stood, focusing on his reflection in the window. He stared at himself staring at himself, absently playing with himself. He stepped away from the window and walked around the room. He looked in his closet. Maybe he would get redressed. Maybe a blouse and nice skirt. That would put him in the mood to write a good heterosexual female. Bernard rarely cross-dressed - he never cross-dressed in public, not even for Halloween. But when he was writing a female character, he always put on a skirt or a dress, something to put him in a more female space. Panties especially put him in that mood, so he went to his desk and opened the bottom drawer. There lay a half dozen pair of panties, cotton and silk, different shades of pink, one with white daisies. He wore the daisies when he was writing young girls. That put him in a little girl mood, and made him think like one. He’d only worn those for a few short stories.

Bernard grabbed a pair of pale pink panties, silk, and slipped them on. He chose silk because his protagonist was going to be beautiful and sexy. People loved beautiful, sexy women. There’s a selling point. But she was a beautiful, sexy what? Maybe he would discover that as he wrote. He thought, as he went back to his closet and pulled out a miniskirt, he should start the story with her at a party. A glamorous party. Bernard grabbed a white silk blouse from the closet and put it on. He loved the feel of silk against his skin, tantalizing his sensitive nipples. He was definitely in a sexy mood. He just had to be careful to avoid becoming pornographic or overly sentimental. Bernard sat in front of his typewriter again and started writing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chapter 17

I’m torn today between writing about what is really important, or what only seems really important. Several weeks ago, I saw a show on (I think) the Learning Channel about the biological basis of pleasure, and the consequences of the pursuit for pleasure at all costs. Also, we are involved in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In the short term, this is obviously a problem, both in the real world, and in this novel - because, after all, Michel is the right age to be drafted, and though I had not planned on this being a war novel, since I am following the events of 2011 in helping to construct this novel, it could very well become one.

But wars are temporary, sporadic. The problem of pleasure is something that will be with us always, something which we have to deal with every day. The show I watched talked about addicted gamblers and addicted athletes, both of whom overdo their gambling or exercising for the pleasure it brings - the gamblers through losing (surprise, it’s not winning that keep gamblers gambling, but losing!) and the athletes through pushing themselves until they feel pain, causing the body to produce morphine-like chemicals called endorphins that bring pleasure to the body. However, none of these characters are gamblers, nor do any of them exercise excessively. I don’t see Michel as the exercising type.

But each of these people are interested in maximizing their own pleasure, some more than others. Sarah finds her pleasure in writing -- secondarily through sex, if she has a competent lover. Michel is interested in both sex and writing in equal measure. Freud would say Michel’s writing was a manifestation of his sexual desire, and for Michel, I could see how Freud would be right. Since he cannot have sex quite as often as he would like -- despite having sex with two different women -- he has to release his sexual tension in other ways. He chose to do it through his writing. As a chronic dreamer, writing seemed the most obvious choice, since he could create his dreams on paper. Jackie’s search for pleasure is almost exclusively sexual, as is Pat’s and Jessie’s. But Jackie’s differs from Pat’s and Jessie’s, who are both sex addicts (much like Donna's friend Maddy, making this another strange episode of fact mirroring fiction), in that she, like Michel, has found an outlet for her sexual energies in her academic work. Her source of pleasure is in discovery.

To follow Jackie through her day is to follow peaks of pleasure chemicals flowing through her body. Jackie wakes most mornings horny, and so goes into the living room to wake Michel, pulling back the bed covers, telling him to wake up and go take a piss so he can fuck her. Michel never objects, just complies.

After cleaning herself up after sex, she makes breakfast. She loves cooking, loves the work, the smells, the slow taste of things as she tries what she’s making, making sure it tastes just right. She makes enough for both her and Michel, not because she particularly cares if he eats, but because she’s making something anyway, and it’s just as easy to make for two as for one.

A warm shower after breakfast brings pleasure to her skin, the warm water rolling over her, the gentle sting of water shooting in small streams at her, the joy of feeling clean.

One of the few things she dislikes is getting dressed. Were it up to her, she would go everywhere naked, out in public, to the store, to restaurants. She doesn’t because it’s illegal. She wonders why it is obscene to show her breasts, but not for men to show theirs. The only difference is in size and, occasionally, the amount of hair on the men’s chests. She wonders what is obscene about the female body -- she finds it beautiful, curvaceous. She understands why painters want to paint women. There is nothing more beautiful in nature. She finds it a shame there are people who find something so beautiful obscene.

After dressing, she goes to class. She loves learning, sits in rapt attention, leaning forward, as if proximity to the teacher could make her learn more. After class, she goes to the library, reads articles, learns more than the teacher teaches, learns the latest advances, cannot wait to see the professor in two days to tell him he was wrong.

After lunch, another time of joyful cooking, she returns to the biology department to do her research. She is trying to prove triple-stranded DNA is used biologically for gene regulation. At first, she was discouraged from doing this work by a professor who did not believe triple-stranded DNA actually existed in the cell, since it required such a low pH to be created in the test tube, but when she read an article that said antibodies were used to show the existence of triple-stranded DNA in cells, and another that showed triple-stranded DNA could be made in a pH of 7.0, close to the pH of the cell, through the use of high concentrations of magnesium, she decided to do the project anyway. The professor, who was being contrary to get a rise out of her as much as anything, was happy to let her do her project, warning her he would be her harshest critic. She told him that would only ensure her work would be as close to perfect as possible. Her research gave her the dual pleasures found in the search for knowledge and in the potential of proving someone wrong who was more educated and more experienced.

After spending most of her day in the lab, she went home and, on weekdays, did homework. On weekends, though, she goes to bars, enjoying an occasional beer, the loud music, the feel of men brushing against her, flirting with her, touching her. She loves picking up men, hoping they want to sleep with her that night, rarely disappointed, the smoke and haze and beer gaze making men try to pick up any woman -- let alone someone as pretty as Jackie. Some shy away from her with her tattoos and piercings, but others are even more attracted, men she would rather go out with anyway. The beer brings on a lightheadedness that is pleasant, fun. The thrill of the hunt adds to that -- the potential for sex only more so, even more than the sex itself sometimes. On those weekends, she ends the day with the pleasant feel of someone’s arms around her, holding her with a comfortable warmth that makes her feel secure. On weekdays, she hopes Michel doesn’t have a date with Sarah, so she can have sex with him before she goes to bed.

This is what Jackie’s days are like, excepting the occasional surprise or impulse, which also bring Jackie pleasure, since she loves the unexpected and embraces change. To Jackie, life is joy, pleasure, the most wonderful thing that could exist. She has a joy in existence Michel, or even Sarah, who also loves life, though she doesn’t celebrate it like Jackie does, cannot understand. Perhaps that is why she and Michel broke up, why they could not work together as a couple. Michel spent too much time complaining about life, while Jackie spent too much time (in his opinion) loving it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chapter 16

Today, it is raining. No, that is an understatement. I’ll rectify it by saying I nearly drowned today when I went to K-Mart to get some oil for my worthless, oil-leaking car. The truth (about the rain) is somewhere in between.

I am sure some critic (assuming this novel is worthy of the time of critics) in the future will look at meteorological data to learn if it really was raining on October 13, 2011 in Richardson, TX at 2:00 P.M. -- as if that would give him some sort of insight into the novel. It won’t. It is a simple statement of fact. It is raining, I came home soaked, and Donna saw me and laughed. I pretended to pout. Now that’s something that might be more interesting for critics to think about. Either way, I think I’ll write about rain today.

It was raining and lighting flashed every few seconds, so Michel had his computer off and unplugged (I am only writing now because there is no lightning). He had been on the phone with Sarah, but the lightning scared her, so she hung up. She was afraid the lightning would hit a phone line and kill one of them. She said she had heard of it happening to someone. Michel had not, but decided not to argue.

He sat, looking out the window, watching the rain cut the gray sky into lines, watching the world burst yellow with every lightning flash. Thunder crackled, boomed, rolled. Jackie came up behind him.

“What are you doing?”

“Watching the rain.”

“I love it when there’s lightning, cutting through the air, fusing oxygen into ozone. It smells so good, so sweet.”

“You’re weird.”

“Maybe, but I’m also horny. Wanna fuck?”

“Why? Ran out of things to do?”

“Don’t piss me off, or you won’t be getting any pussy.”

“I get all the pussy I want off Sarah.”

“Apparently not. You’re still fucking me.”

“Your rule, remember?”

“Yep. My rule. So, you gonna come in here and fuck me, or what? What else you have to do?”

“That’s always an incentive. ‘I’m bored. Wanna fuck?’”

“Works for me. I’m bored. Wanna fuck?”

“Gee, since you put it so nicely...”

“Just get your clothes off and get in here.”

Michel stood. Jackie turned and walked into her bedroom. Michel followed. She thought she was in a power position because he had a girlfriend and was still fucking her. But she was the one always asking him to have sex with her, so who really had the power? Michel was not completely aware of the new position he held between them, but he was beginning to. That’s why he smiled. That’s why he followed her into the bedroom every time she asked.