Our lives never got back to that idyllic beginning. Things had been said, issues raised, faults discovered, addiction re-submitted for perusal. We had made a commitment to each other, through thick and thin, good and bad, failures and successes. We would continue. A routine was settled upon, and our future continued on its fitful way.
In case it wasn't mentioned, we lived across the tracks – you know – the 'bad' side of town. What this meant to me was culture, pure and simple. I love living amongst people with lives and customs that stretch back years, if not centuries. These people are real, have family, have continuity. They can tell you who and when and where – for every member of their extended families. We joined in the neighbourhood comings and goings, the drama and festivities. I was accepted as family. One of our neighbours had a son my lover had grown up with, gone to school with, loved and lost with. They were life-long friends, and the family accepted me into the fold. We were invited to all their gatherings. Now this family entertained in a big way. They had converted their acre lot into one of those old-time compounds. Out-buildings abounded, concrete was poured in lieu of grass, there were barbeque pits big enough to cook half a cow in, an ice house that rivalled any convenience store beer cooler, places set aside to play basketball and volley ball. These people took partying seriously. What everything one would ever need to have major gatherings or intimate get-togethers. They would even hire bands for those really big occasions (or even a small one, no excuse was wasted), and drinking and dancing was enjoyed by all. And of course it was locked up tighter than a military base.
It was on one of these occasions that the next episode enfolded in our life together. We had gathered together at the compound to celebrate who knows what – a birthday? A national holiday? A sporting event? They all qualified for celebration, so forgive me if the details are a bit fuzzy. The drinking went on till the wee hours, and as we lived just a few houses down, we stayed almost to the blurry end. We staggered home and the house was locked up for the night. All the small before-bed rituals were performed. Well, I did them. My lover had passed out cold on the bed as soon as he walked in the door. I finally crawled into bed with him, taking my place next to the wall, as is the place for all good donnas. I looked over at my lover, who was dead to the world. I said my good nights and gave a little peck, even though I knew he was oblivious. I was just drifting off, when he spoke softly, too softly to make out the words. I opened my eyes to look at him, and he was still laid out flat, hadn't moved in fact. I thought maybe it was a dream mutter, so I touched him to get a response, a look, but nothing. This man was not conscious. Then who spoke?
Again, the words, stronger, a little louder…."Juan loves you, you know."
Now why would he be speaking in the third person I wondered? I jokingly asked "well who are you then?"
"I am Juan." But it was the way he said it…..one
and not a muscle moved on his body except those lips…those lips I thought I knew so well. But those lips now chilled me to the bone. There was no curvature, no facial quirk, no emotion or acknowledgement that he was speaking to me, me his lover, or that he was even alive. It was if I was viewing one of those fun house machines with the dummy that tells fortunes, a monotone, unmoving plastic. I looked around…yes, there were those green eyes again, glowing from the closet. All the hair on my body stood up on end. I felt threatened as I never had before. This was too close….in my bed? Against my naked body? Would he become animate as well? Would those eyes open and someone else look out at me? Would I be touched by someone else's hands, grabbed, forced to see, him, it….who, what? His body was as pliant as a rag doll, anything could take place…it could be used to do anything. And what would be said? Did I want to hear? I was not ready for this….not so soon after the other.
I slowly crawled out of the bed, along the headboard, standing up against the wall, inching slowly with my breathe as a cover, keeping my eyes on those lips as they spoke, on those eyes that were closed, praying they would not open. I did not want to see who or what would look out at me. Did not want to see the author of those words. I gathered up some belongings and made it out of the bedroom, the voice following me….
"Juan does love you, we all love you. We are glad you have come to this house, because we need you. Have we told you about our brother? He is here with us…would you like to speak to him? Our father is here as well, though he doesn't join in much anymore."
Shit shit shit!
I ran to my purse, my keys, barely pulling on the minimum of clothing before heading out the door. I could feel something whipping at me, at my skin, at my hair. My eyes were tearing, glazed in fear, half closed to block out any unwanted images. I drove off, not having a clue where I was heading, what time it was, just this urgent need to put as much distance as I could between myself and this house, this house and its occupants. My lover was on his own, his proximity to such having long since anesthetized him – I hoped. But when fear like this rides you honey, everyone is on their own – sorry.
I drove around the sleeping city, trying to decide what to do, where to go. I ended up clear across town at my parent's, 4:30 in the morning. I quietly let myself in and slept in the cold, lonely spare room. Explained away my unusual behaviour as just a lover's spat. I did not hear from him. For two days, nothing. I finally called, wanting to know if it had all been imagined, a dream I had woken up from too soon, a twisted memory. He was angry – why had I left without telling him anything? No note, no phone call. I tried to jog his memory…remember our conversation? Nothing. I was in the wrong for leaving without word. So I placated and soothed, hoping against hope that it was my wild thoughts that had taken hold of me. I went home, needing to be near my things, my animals, my once-true love. Hesitant yet again to be around this man I had committed myself to.
Aesop Rock - Impossible Kid Tour 7-18-16
8 months ago