Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Never Blend In

Here's the penultimate chapter of my novella! Thanks for reading!

Never Blend In

I didn’t want to help myself, but no one appeared to be around so I took some cookies off the tray that rested underneath an announcement for the open house for the new geriatric psychiatry clinic in the hospital, a need that has arisen from people living longer and going crazier. As I munched on an iced sugar cookie in an attempt to keep from heaving, (I’d taken a Vicodan and a half before coming to get Josh for his return home) I check my newly purchased cell phone for messages, and replay the one from Christopher. He was surprised to hear from me, as if he’d written me off to the land of lost mirages. His father used to pull this same disappearing act as if I were a substance he was trying to wean himself from. I wished I had insisted on being treated better, but fear informed my every move, mostly fear of being dismissed. Christopher says he will see me anywhere, anytime or so he says on my machine. What a difference one generation makes!

Josh packs up his stuff, and I fill out the endless array of forms to allow him to go home. Tedious as it is, I have to admit the work suits me, the same way it does at the office. I am good at solving problems and able to work around systems in ways that befuddle the other counselors. I credit my desk, compartmentalized like a cafeteria lunch tray. The same cannot be said for my new car, Snowflake, a repository for all trash, home of things I am too lazy to drag inside. I bought Snowflake on a Friday afternoon and went alone despite my mother’s warning -- if the salespeople see a woman alone, they take advantage! This sage advice falls under the heading too little, too late. I sat in the office while the snow fell and a disgruntled salesman bitched about how his asshole boss was coming back in half an hour.

I was content to read the book I had bought specifically for this wait, but the salesman felt like talking, revealing the thrilling inner workings of his job. The ones that are just fucking around, wasting our time -- we call those brooms because we sweep them away. There’s always a fucking broom near closing time and Asshole Boss insists we try and sell. I wondered how such an astute young man could tell the difference between a buyer and say, a potted plant, but I said nothing. He told me he was taking classes at Macomb, the nearby community college, so he could leave this living hell. I’d been to Macomb for a couple double credit classes while in high school and used to write papers for money. The papers came easy to me and liked doing work that I would be judged for anonymously. Right out the window, my pristine Snowflake sat, a perfectly white dodge neon with a Polynesian metallic green pinstripe and a spoiler on the back. Now he is dirty from slush and ice and his interior is littered with debris, but I still remember that first day, knowing he would be mine, the certainty of it, trading the car my husband picked out, a machine that had fallen on its oars, something that I admired for lasting as long as it did.

Josh came home, of course, just when I had grown accustomed to being alone. He had to return to his job, his life, and the insurance only covered a certain number of days. The day before he came home, I took a bottle of Windex and cleaned Josh’s walls, those bloody lines that seemed like hieroglyphics already, messages from the past that had no discernible meaning. Was it an SOS, a code for me to interpret? Or was it something he did without thinking? I’d already been in touch with his therapist and after I cleaned, I had an appointment, seven o’clock. When I told her that I couldn’t get out of work for a day appointment, she told me that she could see me late. I drove the chewed up streets with their grey snow, passed the places that were closing down for the night, the ones that were never closed. I wanted to tell the therapist I was too sick and tired to come in, but I suppose that is exactly the point.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"To name something is to wait for it in the place you think it will pass." Amiri Baraka

Cocktail Hour
Drinking literary journal suggestion: Eclipse

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Rest in peace, Ira Levin!


Charles Gramlich said...

Very good. I particularly liked the part where the protagonist is cleaning the walls of the blood, and how she thinks of it almost like messages.

Mia Farrow said...

The Castevet's seemed like such nice neighbors, too.

Oscar Winner said...

For somebody who didn't believe in Satan, Ira Levin really had a handle on evil. RIP, Ira.

the walking man said...

"I wanted to tell the therapist I was too sick and tired to come in, but I suppose that is exactly the point."

Wow! What a nice wrap to a very very good story, the way you kept the gray through out the entire chapters we read was a feat all of it's own. Gives one an appreciation for the weeds that grow in the garden, letting the reader know that it is not sunshine and light all the time.

Thank You Michelle for writing this.



Sheila said...

cleaning walls full of blood... can't go wrong in a story if there are blood covered walls! haha

Cheri said...

I"m looking forward to owning the book now. =D

JR's Thumbprints said...

Brother and Sis sure have issues--not that they're unwarranted.