He ate my heart, then he ate my brain.

That boy is a monster

- Lady Gaga

May 1, 2008
I blame Frank Sinatra.
Years ago I watched a movie about the Rat Pack starring Ray Liotta as Sinatra and a bunch of other guys starring as the rest of the Rat Pack.  At one point the pack attended a fancy dinner at a boozy Kennedy’s house.  The stupid-rich grande dame of the party, with her sexy, middle-aged drawl, explained the appeal of Sinatra to an intrigued redhead sitting across from her.  Milky Chanel dress, too much makeup, a haze of smoke surrounding her, she commanded the gold rimmed table while redhead leaned in.  Chanel whispered, her eyes never parting with Sinatra’s,
“You want to fuck him, you want to mother him, you don’t want to piss him off.” 
          The dialogue she exhaled legitimized everything I felt for Jack.  Her lyrical bluntness stoked my own personal bonfire, which I feared might never be extinguished, or would be.  Chanel, a snow white cigarette filter a fingerbreadth from her mouth, stylishly sashayed around my head.  Because of her pragmatic and subjective exclamation, I plotted.  I pressed pause on the remote and grabbed a pencil. 
Direct routes to constant, uninhibited sex with Jack was the easy part. 
I created maps and studied instructions, malleting together an Ikea furniture friendship.  From my studies I honed my radar.  Astutely collecting information and relaying back anything I thought he would enjoy, (and respond to), became my mission.  Reconnoitered Intel went into specific files: songs; articles; photographs; movies; TV; sex preferences; family tree, anything to up the daily communiqué and constrict the gap between whatever kept us apart that particular week.  After I nailed together this rickety rapport, I attempted the rash, stupid and intolerable quest: the nurturer role.  Sex, soup and house-calls when he was sick, (he loved sex when he had the flu), pep talks when he was down:  You rock, It will work out, Hang in there, I’m here for you and compliments when he was up:  Amazing, Wonderful, Good in bed, Funny, You are god.  I offered him me: every painted toenail, pound, blemish and highlighted hair on my head.  I wanted to devote myself to him, and I did. 
I thought this was love.
With love, a simultaneous hatred treaded few steps behind.  As I pursued Jack with an anorexic hunger, my stomach wrapped two sticks of dynamite in furies and duct tape.  This interposed contention contained a determination I could not know as my finger grazed the lighter’s thumbwheel.
A cliché was part of the problem.
“January, guys like the chase, they don’t want to be pursued, they want to pursue you,” my brother theorized between gulps.
While pulverizing beer and nachos, he admonished me and zoned out to an episode of The Amazing Race above our heads.  I whined, drank vodka and didn’t acknowledge the nachos.  My brother looked eerily similar to Brad Pitt -  a taller, non-manicured and childless version of Brad Pitt.
I squinched my eyes at this detested, modern American, you-must-follow-the-rules enforced female mentality.  A ‘no control over my own romantic, (or sex), life and might not get what I want’ philosophy set forth for the stupid and desperate.  Set forth by whom?  Who can I blame for this colossal waste of time and advice?  Parents?  Dumber than a dartboard girlfriends?  Movies?  Books?  Shrinks on Nancy Grace and Dr. Phil?  Me?  DNA?  The boys themselves?
This conversation took place after a duel between my Ketel One and soda, and phone, tipsily dialing Jack’s number and announcing my desire, or love, depending on my blood alcohol level.  His voice mail became my confessional. 
Press three to delete.  
Voices weren’t the only criminals.  Our texts became a symbiosis of violence and pornographic obsession which didn’t want to be tamed. 
Me: I'm an idiot. Why do I leave my boyfriend in Pismo to come see you?  And then you fucking bail as soon as I ask about what bar you’re at. What is your problem? Am I that horrible you don't want to be seen with me in public? Instead of just being upfront, you just don't respond to my texts. Really classy.  Am I too available for you?  What the hell have I done to you to deserve to be treated like a piece of shit?
Jack: Sorry sweetie the lady showed up

Not single.

Me: Go fuck yourself.
Jack: Ur really being that mean
Me: you treat me like a whore and a piece of shit. What do you expect? Do you care about my feelings even somewhat? I stupidly assumed that you had broken up...there's a lot more I'd like to tell u.
Jack: i am sorry. I thought u knew what was going on. I apologise.
Me: And the worst part is I'm dating a great guy and its getting serious and I leave him last nite bc I wanted to see u!! I'm a fucking idiot. Don't apologize. Its my fault. And how would I know "what's going on"? You don't tell me shit! Anyway, I gotta go.
Jack: Sorry. Have a good day
I tossed the cigarette and walked back inside the Shack.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Drink?  Call the current boyfriend?  Eat?
“What happened to B11?”  (Current boyfriend.)
“Exactly.”  I sighed. 
I nodded at Too Tan.  After a few sucks on my straw I set the comforting defense mechanism on my napkin.  I deleted his contact with fingertip spraining gusto, smelled finality and rebirth and couldn’t feel any worse than I did at that moment.
omg omg omg
i hate him i hate him i hate him.  Short Fat Fuck
St. Croix and I nicknamed Jack ‘Short Fat Fuck,’ a few years back.  Most of the
time I couldn’t say Jack’s name out loud, so Short Fat Fuck he would be for weeks and months and years, in whispers, laughs, slurs, screams and tears.  Jack, Short Fat Fuck, SFF.  One in the same.  But that day, the ‘Sorry the lady showed up day’, he was,
asshole asshole asshole
For the five-hundredth time, the next few hours blurred into greys and whites as I hunched on a saddle under The Amazing Race.  Owner drank a few seats over.  Life didn’t matter if the B’s trickled down around me like rain on an umbrella.  Or if one, secure, agreeable boyfriend, B11, filled voids with his Toyota, average clothes, dull conversation and hand and lip substitutes.  Days and nights, breathing or my world didn’t matter if I didn’t have Jack.
 “I know.”  But I didn’t care.  I nodded at my brother and his pursuance theory.  I tippled as I lied and gold-medaled at each.  The black plastic container in front of me, with cherry, lemon and lime slice and straw compartments knew how sad and war-torn I had become in four years.  I rubbernecked to see if Short Fat Fuck walked in as often as I swilled the ice in my glass. 
“You ever notice this place looks like a high school cafeteria?”  An awful shade of white painted the walls many times over.  Childless Brad Pitt rotated himself a centimeter right and left and grunted.
Would Jack/Short Fat Fuck be here tonight?  Here: the Shack, Moondoggies, or the Roost.  Varied establishments, (luxe weaved into divey), dotted the Central Coast, a section of California charted with several towns, as consequential and small as bits of dust.  Pismo was the best bit of dust.  Less agriculture and blue collars, more resort and polo shirts.  The vibe, location, people, beach/pier and the 6-foot tall sand colored clam greeted me as I veered right off one of two exits from the freeway.  Eight thousand people lived along the 101’s palisades - a beach town without beach weather.  Colder than most.  I’d rather be cold than hot.  Pismo’s three bars lay a proud claim to the divey end of the spectrum: the three sons of Pismo Beach.  Their patrons, the rest of Pismo’s residents and vast vines of grapes became my discipleship as I drank, cried and experienced pure elation at all of them.  Since getting slizzard in one of the three sons led me down a glazed pathway to Jack, and the possibility of my legs wrapped around him, the stools I sat on and the hops drenched air I breathed were essential because we now shared these hostelries.  A sliver of a factor out of his control and, irrationally, in mine. 
I silently demanded a recount from my brother while splashing vodka on my knee.  Why do I have to wait around for Jack to call me, text me, want me?  I would be the exception to the rule.  All of the rules.  My amorous mania shoulder-convinced myself I would, eventually, get what I wanted.  I was smart, mostly easy on the eyes, and good in bed, (according to him and a few others), so why wouldn’t he want me?  Why the hell couldn’t I pursue him? 
So, I did.  And here we are.
Jack.  Short Fat Fuck.
I wanted to die over him.
I thought this was love. 
It’s not Sinatra’s fault.  I blame Ray Liotta.

May 7, 2008        

          “I need to ask you something.”  My makeup smeared and sweated into my phone.  I switched hands and lit a cigarette.  Slouched on a step leading up to my house, I stared through the Parliament Lights box.
          “Oh no.”  Jack giggled.
          “No no, it’s not bad.  I just …”  Lie.
“Ok sweetie.”  His pitch consisted of the usual corrupted mix of high, soft, and
kind.  I already knew the answer so difficult to pull from his teeth.  A final anti-elysian twist if I didn’t hear out loud, I would never, ever, stop the repining wrapped around my entire existence, cauterizing me at the head.  If I didn’t ask, in the end I would be alone.  With a ‘fuck buddy.’ 
“Look, I just need to end this and move on, or take it to another level, I mean, don’t you feel anything for me?  I inhaled.
“Don’t you…”  Politely, unflinchingly, laughably and institutionalizingly, he cut me
“I’m sorry, I just don’t feel that way about you…and honestly, I never will.  I just don’t feel that spark.”  A simplified declaration, cooked down to the brown bits on
the bottom of a fry pan. 
What, the, fuck.
A bad accident-y feeling hot-flashed me from my chest to my knees.  I smelled metallic toast.  Was it a stroke?  He continued, butchering me with sentences. 
“I’m sorry I kept having sex with you.  I thought we were both having fun with each other...
I rubbed the splinters on the wooden step with my free hand.
Four years?  Gone.  Relationships?  Irrevocably destroyed.  Self-respect?  Evanescent.  The penny-sized amount of happiness and hope I had left?  Titanically placed on his bookshelf of sadistic souvenirs.
More moronic sentences. 
“…being naughty together.”  He had me where he wanted me; a chance
to make me aware of everything.  
          Wow, this is sucking much worse than I imagined.
“You’re joking, right?  Come on, all of this time?  You’re ridiculous Jack, I can’t believe this…I can’t believe you.”  I stood up and walked down to my backyard
so I could pace.  My mouth hurt.  A fireplace burning smell blew by and I heard a neighbor call my name.
“I’ve told you before how I felt, right?  There, there was always an excuse with you, always, I’m just sorry I didn’t see you for what you are sooner.  What you were doing…to me.  Oh my god…no spark?  You have to be kidding, am I that fucking disgusting to you?”
“Sweetie.”  Jack never said January: never texted it, spoke it, emailed it.
          My disbelief pressed the red end key.  Fantastic.  Disney and John Hughes movies had infected my unconscious.  Pin a lonely dependency on fictional characters to a writer’s imagination and I was unprepared for this fresh, dirty reality.  Exploding pieces of shit understudied my life, bonding me to him by orgasms.  Fragments dissolved me into a rayless hole as I walked back upstairs to pack for LA.  He wasn’t like me, he didn’t know me, yet he would have the world. 
Jack side-carred more of my emotional and physical triumphs, (and failures), than any other man before him.  After four years of lascivious fucking, faces and necks fused together, cocktailed encounters, sober encounters, thousands of keystrokes, (some reciprocated, some ignored), proclaiming every visceral and cognizant idea and sensation I possessed, I was nothing to him. 
JackShort Fat Fuck.
I wanted to die over him.
I thought this was love. 
He was the Grand Canyon.  I was the tourists’ spit below. 

May 8, 2008

I brainstormed.
Easy, simple, obviously zero gruesomeness and zero agony. 
A painless suicide?  Jesus, I’m a suicidal pussy.
Nothing appealed to me.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, or listening to me while I drove to Los Angeles for work, but I was sea foam of whats, ughs, ehs up the bendy 101 through the ocean’s rocky shores, seals and piers on one side, hills and vultures on the other.  California land/seascapes had no effect on my muted flesh with sunglass exterior.
Drive off a cliff, in Goleta?  The Cachuma Pass had bridges and roads one could easily overcorrect and outmaneuver.  Business men, dumbass teenagers and moms with kids in the backseat died there every year.  Self-inflicted or not, control lost of their vehicles: action movie worthy soars into goldenrod prairies where only the demi-mountains, freshwater, and cows knew the truth. 
Eh.  I didn’t want to wreck my car.
Shotgun?  Chin, mouth, chest?  Too messy, too vain.  Not a fan of breathing, but not really a fan of ending my life as a contortionist: shoving cold metal in my mouth while attempting to squeeze a trigger, either.  It seemed like a ton of fucking work.  Plus, where would I have found a gun?
Xanax.  I had a full bottle at home.  Chalky peach ovals go with white wine, right?  How many did I need?  5?  10?  30?  Should it be red wine? 
Wait.  Garage.  Yes!  The old fumes in the closed garage door bit.
I didn’t have a garage.

A smart girl leaves before she is left

 -  Marilyn Monroe 

Love at first sight? I absolutely believe in it

-  Leonardo DiCaprio

October 28, 2004
Jack wasn’t always Short Fat Fuck.
          Every few months I visited my brother and dad in my hometown, Pismo Beach, a couple hours north of LA.  I left them seven years earlier because I didn’t belong and college in Santa Barbara awaited me.  I was born in Pismo but I didn’t grow up in their world.  My brother and my dad had their company to run and dirt to farm.  I grew up on the other side of the country without dirt, and with a driver and governess.  I wasn’t better than Pismo and high school was an absolute blast but pregnancy, Walmart, one movie theater, working as a dental hygienist and a first marriage by age 23 didn’t have the pizzazz I bit nails for.
On this particular Saturday night my brother, Childless Brad Pitt, and I headed out to the Shack, a blip of a thing at the beach, facing the 101, a mile or two from where the dunes ended and the headlands began.  Uber-popular, the Shack filled a geographical and drinkagraphical void.  A vacuum between the pricey resort lounge offering a menu of cocktails shaken and stirred with local and seasonal produce, and the dives living closer to the lettuce fields whose slogans were,
We have two kinds of whiskey, we don’t have a blender and we don’t have coasters.
With white laminate flooring below and ten month-old Christmas decorations above, the Shack was hit or miss.  Hit: a harmony of decent looking, cool, conceivably rich older guys, familiar faces and few girls.  Miss: a few meth addicts doused over too many girls.  The jukebox was too expensive and the champagne not expensive enough.
          I saw the back of his head: a pageboy cap.  The hat led to doughy arms holding a can of Budweiser, or was it a mug?  
What would a bar serve in a mug?  
“That’s Jack,” My brother pointed as we walked through the glass doors.  He motioned to two stools next to Pageboy Cap/Jack. 
“Hey!  It’s been a long time.”  Jack made mental notes of my hair and lips.
“Hey Jack, what’s going on.” Childless Brad Pitt ordered drinks.
“And who is this?”  Blue eyes under the dim lighting. 
“January.  Hey.”  I spoke as we started to shake hands.  I pulled mine back and we laughed.  He glimpsed my nervous boobs.
“Sorry.”  My coat was off and I required vodka.  I needed vodka an hour ago at my dad’s.  Childless Brad Pitt leaned over.
“Jack, January, January, this is Jack.  We went to high school together.”  My brother had as much as interest in us as he had in pumping gas.
“Hi there sweetheart.”  He raised his can, stood up and started a conversation with his other barstool neighbor.  Distracted by the drink my brother pushed towards me, it took me a few sips before I refocused on Jack.  An inch shorter than me and semi-stocky.
          My Ketel One and soda vanished and my breath went with it.  Baffled and my whole body at battle, I picked at my damp napkin as I abused my limes and overheard Rod Stewart sing “Stay With Me.”  My brother talked to his friends nearby: I didn’t know many people in Pismo anymore.  
What was happening?  Jack’s Billabong jeans, black metal band t-shirt and surfer shoes, (i.e. Vans, Reef, Volcom), distracted.  A frisson of jet airplane energy fueled me.  A flit of a moment; a quick pulse more profound than a chill; a reaction so intimate, I stamped it foreign. 
And that was it.
My breath returned and Too Tan rolled her eyes and scooped ice into a fresh glass.
“Three limes please.”  Too Tan, the bartender, held on to the theory she was cuter and younger than she was.  When she wasn’t friendly behind the bar, she seemed to hit the tanning beds hard.  I noticed a dark orangish brown ring collecting around her arm pits as she cheered on the Chargers in a tank top.  She had an uncharming, engineered for tips, love of pro football.
“Three limes, really?”  Jack observed as he meandered back to his seat.  
“You live in LA, right?”  He didn’t sit. 
“Yeah, I’m a writer.”  I didn’t unimpress him with the embarrassing detail I was also Mr. and Mrs. Z’s assistant/house-girl/estate manager/empire supporter.  He told me about his job.  
He asked what everyone asks:  What are you working on?  What’s it about?  Is it in bookstores?

Five minutes later
“You’re gay right?”  He seemed too chic/modish, and his voice too high pitched, not to be.  
“Ah, hahaha, no.”  He gave off the single vibe when he smiled.
“You look like that guy from…that band….Good Charlotte.”
“Huh, that’s random.” 
He thinks I’m an alien.  Why can’t I shut up or not react?
I should have a demeanor of a girl who swallowed a Vicodin thirty minutes ago.  My new goal: acquire a Vicodin demeanor.
In return I expected a Kirsten Dunst comparison, but all he said, all he
ever said,
“You’re a cute girl.”  His hands were tough and thick. 
There wasn’t enough Ketel One, or too much, to release me into the weekend, enjoy what was taking place, sandbag the impending shit storm or alter my entire personality.  In Pismo two hours and I dutifully wreaked havoc on Jack.
“Let’s get outta here.”  I spat sloe-eyed.  Jack felt the collar of my leather trench.  I looked like Matrix Keanu Reeves.
“Let’s get out of here, let’s get out of here.”  Definitely too much Ketel One.  
“Sweetie, I have friends here.  I can’t just leave.”  A coquet transformed into a rapscallion as I squirmed at the thought of what he thought.  A hotness took over my face as I shed my pink scarf. 
I found the owner of the Shack, who Jack pointed out earlier.  I repeated my steps and documented Owner’s features.  Not well managed salt and pepper hair and a recurring glass of white wine positioned in front of him next to his phone as if the two were on a date.  Not a winery glass either, or one I bought at Crate and Barrel: a wine glass someone else bought in the grocery store.  Owner always situated himself at a specific corner of his bar.
“Multi-purpose view of employees, customers and the cash register.”
Not a ‘Live your life here and drink on me’ storied, beloved, built from African mahogany bar, but it heard the same confessions, depressions and proclamations when bellied up to.
I asked about the poster near the entrance for a “White Trash Party” happening in a few weeks.
“Everyone dresses up, I wear a mullet wig.”  Owner motioned to Too Tan to pour me another.  Hate her. 
“I’ll park my Airstream out front.”  Instead of the freeway, lushes will gawk at inebriated chicks playing pin-up in front of its chromed door.
8:30 tick-tocked to 11 o'clock and Ketel One and soda filled me like a bank-side reservoir on the Mississippi.  Sozzled January meant impatient and unpleasant.  Did I leave any sort of impression?  Capsized, I walked outside to find Childless Brad Pitt.  Jack stood against a railing talking to his friends.  He shifted his gaze to me, away from the crowd of dude losers and similarly red-in-the-nose girl soliciting a job at his store.  Or did she desire something more akin to what I wanted?
I love when you think a boy has left, but he hasn’t.
I was going home with my brother and I would remember every moment. Fantastic.  Why, oh why did you point Jack out, Childless Brad Pitt?
“By sweetheart.”
I said nothing but I thought of him Sunday while driving back to LA.  I couldn’t place his face, but I remembered the galvanism of an 8:30 p.m. moment at the Shack.

November 18, 2004
Early on there were clues something was off with Jack; and off in my reaction to him.  Ports of call alerted me to ‘No access,’ or ‘Limited access.’  Choose another longitude, go another route, voyage away from feelings, remembrances or wants.  
I went back to the Shack.  Again.  The reasons were easier to manipulate or visualize.  I was vodka, Jack was lime.  Hopeful for second chances, I toasted myself and followed him around like a stray, horny, pathetic puppy.  Checking for me over his shoulder and rolling his eyes to his friends, he didn’t ignore me but he didn’t speak to me.  With CIA operative skills, I interrogated one of his friends: a punk, scraggly, skinny surfer who was staying at Jack’s over the weekend. 
“Hey.”  Sleepy, unattractive eyes, head nodding.  His arms and legs didn’t know it yet but they longed for a cheeseburger.
“What are you drinkin’?”  A wallet with a chain attached appeared on the bar.
“You know Jack right?”
“Yep, best friends.”  Five dollar bills passed in front of Too Tan from his skinny, brown hands and he ordered shots.
“Tell me about him.”
Too Tan dumped ingredients for an ‘Attitude Adjustment’ shot in her shaker.
“You’re cute; why do you want him, he’s an asshole.” 
“I thought he was your friend.”
“He is.”  Longs for a Cheeseburger downed his shot before his head inclined toward my face.  “But he’s an asshole, don’t waste your time.”
At 1 a.m. we marched out of the Shack two by two.  Me and Longs for a Cheeseburger in one car, Jack and a boyish girl in another.  Jack’s tattoos shot down his arm from under a short sleeve as he held the steering wheel.  Strong, strong arms.  Jack, in all of his fuckwit glory, smiled, nodded and flirted at his house – a mile from the beach with five guy roommates.  An hour went by.  Boys studied their cell phones, girls pretended to gossip in corners and sweaty hands held sweaty beers as hookups were cherry-picked before 3 a.m.  While Jack came and went, flirting with everyone, Longs for a Cheeseburger told me he was staying at a different house nearby.
“A ride?”  I realized it was a ploy for sex but everything else in the house, Longs for a Cheeseburger especially, was subterfuge.
Longs for a Cheeseburger drained his beer. 
“Ok, I’ll do it, if Jack tags along.”
“Sure sweetie.”  Jack chuckled from the other side of the kitchen counter.  Longs for a Cheeseburger and his chain wallet headed towards the door.
          After dropping him and his chain wallet off, a mild buzz of tension adhered to the gearshift. 
“Your house?”
“Yeah, let’s head back.”
I wanted Jack but didn’t know if he wanted me.  After a few blocks we passed a small, unkempt cemetery.  Our eyes met when he pulled out his penis. 
“You know you love it.”
“Um.”  Wants me. 
“Pull over.”  Was he asking or suggesting?
Would this be our first time, I thought as I pulled over. 
“To walk around?  This is spooky, I don’t know.”  While shutting off the engine, specks of my current reality snuck in thorough my nose and mouth.  I couldn’t imagine but I took what I could get.  A christening perhaps?  Aesthetics were crucial.  I flinched at his scarred and barely erect dick in the moonlight and couldn’t believe where I was.  I was bashed by lust and drink. 
At least there isn’t a cock ring, he looks like the type.  
He approached me and instincts told me to kneel and lay, back first.  Crawling on top of me we attacked each other in between two graves.  A blanket from my trunk didn’t cross my vodka’d consciousness.  Wet, painful and rough sex facilitated our bodies to end up in front of a tall tombstone.  Then a stumpy one, then one underfoot, grey and decrepit.  My ass and back burned as I flipped over and shoved him to the bottom. 
If I ride him someone might see us. 
Buttons ripped and underwear became fossilized beneath loved ones’ corpses.  I remembered driving by the graveyard as a kid, now our temporary mattress.  My moistened hair massaged itself in the brown grass and Jack bore into me with a pointed force.  He already flipped me back over.  Our mouths opened as if to scream silently, or scream out kiss me.
“You are so naughty.”  He rolled off and twisted his boxer shorts around.
I pulled my jeans up and sighed.  I did three things well: drink, fall and sigh.
“That was fun.”  My last words for my first time.
Our first time.  Desperation, impulsivity and self-hatred do funny things to girls with heavy eyeliner and maturity levels of 15 year-olds.
We tip-toed to his bedroom and I continued my case study inside the subject’s own habitat; memorizing the dark red walls, corners and pieces of furniture. Shoes piled and clothes hung in his small closet with cheap slider doors.  One wall displayed peculiar dolls from a comic book: mounted and dressed in asylum, primary color outfits accessorized with guns, tools and capes.  He took out pajamas.
“What…are these dolls?”  I tapped on one of the clear, plastic boxes
“They’re not dolls January, they’re action figures.”  I laughed and pounced on him to forget the decor.  We kissed hard, his tongue and teeth violating mine.  
A light tapping. 
We parted lips and I breathed in.
“Yeah?”  Jack craned his neck, pushing me away.
The boyish girl entered, sleepy eyed and suspicious.  “Ugh, hey,” she moaned claiming drunkenness to the point of being ill. 
What the hell.
“Scoot.”  He waved me away.
What the fuck.
Dumbfounded I pushed myself off of the bed.  Objection didn’t seem appropriate since I didn’t know him, or her, now stretched out on his bed.  Blackout.  On the other side of the door a click from the doorknob immobilized me and defeat overcame me.  In the pitch black hallway I pressed my fingers hard against the wall processing a new depressing reality slithering down my throat like Pepto-Bismol.  Traumatized, disgusted and without my keys, purse and Parliament Lights placed in anticipation and serenity on the nightstand.  Where I once was warm and happy, Jack and a different girl, who smelled like a bar’s floor, were tucked in warm and happy.  I knocked.  Opening the door a crack he peeped at me through the darkness.  Boyish girl lay vertical on my side of the bed, propped up on a pillow, aiming a remote control at a corner where I assumed a TV stood.  
“What’s up sweetheart”?
Is this guy fucking kidding me?  “My stuff.”
He popped out seconds after shutting the door in my face and handed me my belongings with a kiss on the cheek.  I should’ve walked away right then; sprinted; pole jumped back to my cultured, educated, respectable Hollywood actuality.  Light years away from this ascetic bullshit.  Far away from this man, this situation and this escalating, terrifying feeling after one month of lurking in and around Pismo, Jack wasn’t going anywhere, or I wasn’t.  If he was tougher on me, denying me earlier in the night while making his motives clear, maybe I wouldn’t have clung on to a ghost with such palpable appeal. 
A lot to ask of a boy who screwed me in a cemetery an hour earlier.
I should have walked away. 
Of course, I didn’t.

3:10 a.m.
          I glared at three, old, hexagon steel bolted skateboards, unbeknownst to them, in an artistic triptych.  The ‘art’ on the wall a reminder to the four or five occupants of the house, (surfers, blue-collar guys, students), desperately trying to hold on to their late teens/twenty-something youth – an era coated with alcoholism and nightly attempts at uninterrupted sex with lower class, local girls.  In a few years, maybe a decade, when the house was a line on their credit reports, how could they know how far they traveled from a lost paradise to smaller, more cheerless towns?  Children; crazy and fat ex-wives; disappointments; no money and possibly a ferocious venereal disease opened gates to middle life.  Wasn’t I better than them?  In the meantime, other Pismo surfers and their red-headed stepbrothers, the skateboarders, rallied around ignorant waitresses and hairdressers who downed excessive amounts of shitty beer and schnapps, mirroring riotous Russians, or was it Germans? 
Schnapps are German, I think. 
Attention to girls who have college degrees:  commitment-phobes and future, (and current), losers reside in this middle class, single family house on a nondescript lane: Extreme Danger!  High Voltage!  Fools, enter at your own risk.  Tonight I was the ignorant waitress: uneducated, uncultured and not unwilling.  A preserved cavewoman, defrosted enough to be insulted yet wanting more.  Pandemonium of penis or not; I was better than this, but I couldn’t move, my forehead against the flimsy door.
“Yeah.”  No movement.
“Can you open the door?”  Footsteps.
 “Oh…hey sweetheart.”  He was bloated and in his pajamas.
“Are you going to bed?”
“She’s asleep, sick.  Hey, thanks for coming by though, I’ll talk to you later, Ok honey”?  He attempted to shut the door.  Infatuated by his terms of
Endearment, air went murky yet what became clear, I had to persuade and wheedle until Jack came out of his bedroom.  Since 10 p.m. I hungered for his skin on my skin and wouldn’t be denied.  We roamed the house together, him thinking out loud about where we could go for privacy.  Slanting into him, I handled his cock, asserting what I planned to do to him.  Boyish girl in his bed was forgotten as he snickered and led me by the hand through the Christmas lights-lit living room.  We waded through the passed out legs, arms and tank tops sprawled on the carpet and into the last available sector of the house, his roommate Liver’s vacant bed: a twin. 
Holy shit.  I’m a slut.
Even with the cemetery sex, rejection and the kiddy bed, I was there because I wanted to be.  I postponed the inevitable.  Shock blinded me as I elasticized the evening into 4 a.m., settling for what it was.
We hopped on the bed: he took off my top and I went for his pajama bottoms.  Derailing and intense sloppy kisses.
Breathe deep.
There wasn’t pillow talk or laughter.  We didn’t explore each other’s bodies.  The nose, down to the nipples, the navel, back to the nape of our necks, and finally the kneecaps.  He wouldn’t ask me the date of my birthday or hear about what I’d be doing for the rest of the weekend.  Jack discovered I was crazier than he thought.  I expected everything from nothing at all and blackjacked fine haired moments: my reaction was strong because he had none. 
I admired an experience of marriage without the marriage.  Knowing him for thirty days framed a sweetness hidden beneath impromptu sex – he talked dirty but the rest of him confided in me.  Bedraggled, sweaty, nasty and dissimilar flavors became the burnt ends of pleasure and goodness.  A handgrip on my ass or boob, or a fast pounding into the bed was the same as a caress or a waffle/dinner invitation.  The contradictions undid a flush so mysterious yet so expected, I begged the desires to last both of our lifetimes. 
During the next few moments edging toward daylight, vodka drying up meant clarity, (also due to my punching bag of a pounding with Jack’s dick).  The dread of this particular encounter ending reminded me of an experience producing the same effect.  Last year on a Saturday night, Los Angeles’ evenfall exhilaration infiltrated with precision, the dealer was on his way while we popped champagne corks aimed at Model, the party hostess, and her floating tray holding tall flutes.  Also margarita glasses when she ran out of flutes.  This made us laugh.  An unblemished evening drowned in Chambord and champagne wound down at Sunset Marquis just to wind up again at a strip club.  That night, Jumbo’s.  I say ‘last year’ because this year I lost my dealer’s phone number; a good thing.
Jack was the same.
He came on my neck in an annoying final event I pretended to enjoy.  Where the few, unburned calories of logic lived in my mind, a topography I never consumed, I couldn’t believe I allowed it.  On a stained, discarded after the fact pillow at which Jack and friends would laugh about on Monday night as they played Xbox.  He omitted the pillow in his version.  I lay on top of him when he whispered,
“Sweetheart, you don’t even like me.  You just want me because you can’t have me”.  My blue eyes met his blue eyes: I wondered if he noticed mine, outlined
with a hard pressed indigo crayon.
Um, I’m confused, aren’t I on top of you right now, and wasn’t your penis between my tits, like, 10 minutes ago?
I projected myself into old movies I watched over and over, inventing expectations from the noirs, stocking-softened blacks and greys, art deco settes and doorways and forties fashion.  Projection led to inspiration and I was stirred to change his world. 
Of course he likes me, of course he wants me, of course I’ll have him.
He was right about one thing, as he would prove to be right about a lot of things. 
I didn’t have him.
I went to breakfast the next day with my dad at a local diner a mile from his house.  Everything was a mile from anything else.  Jack lived a mile from the diner, which was a mile from my dad’s, the beach was a mile from my dad’s and so on.  If I sat more than 20 minutes in front of him and my face folded in like a burrito.  Ours wasn’t an estranged relationship: we just didn’t have anything in common.  He liked sensible, (my brother), men.  He didn’t like super sensitive, artistic, (me), women.  He wanted me to ‘find a trade’ and repair air conditioners for the rest of my life, or,
“I’ll say it again, join the army Jan.  Become a war correspondent.”
Shit, maybe we are estranged.
Maybe he wouldn’t notice.  Iced coffee and diet soda quenched the blahs of an overcast Sunday.  I’d drive to LA in a few hours, billions of chambers coalescing in my brain, pencils to their mouths, designing an upcoming weekend in Pismo.  Wanting; torturing; wishing; failing; fucking; following; stalking; coaxing; aching; kissing, Jack.  My dad had no idea the stains of a twenty-something girl flexing her slut muscles while visiting her family for the weekend.  Over bacon and oatmeal, I adjusted my coat.  Thank god for thick winter scarves.
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