Thursday, October 31

What Other People Take Out Insurance On

‘I’M CURIOUS AT your perspective on women. It seems so unfeminist.’ She told me. ‘You oscillate between wanting women as objects as you desire, to being totally impressionable to their control and power.’
At that moment I vowed never to sing about women again for as long as I live, though I could never really carry a tune or hit a note.
   I thought there was blood on my razor, but it was only the reflection of my red tube of toothpaste. I decided then that I would never sing about women again. All my life I had been either rejected by women or terribly bored by them, so now I had something I could work with.
   I strode out of the flat and went to have a cigarette. In the darkness I could hear a cat trespassing carefully through the bushes. The cat jangled wherever it went because the owner had attached a bell to its throat. The cat was sexless. The cat jangled wherever it went so that it could not catch birds or mice, so the cat was bored and was hungry and finally it just sat down where it was and started mewing. I listened to the cat mew in the night and thought about—a girl I knew who wore her keys around her neck like a necklace, so that she jangled wherever she went. She was always hungry for ice cream and she ate it when I wasn’t looking because she thought she had an addiction and that addictions are shameful things that people frown upon.
   They drained the pond in my apartment building’s courtyard. I still can’t get over it, because I think—despite all evidence to the contrary—that there are fish in there and that the fish are in pain and calling out to me. I want to wade into the drained pond and rescue all the fish.
   All these years I have worked and lived and almost died in this metropolitan hellhole and how few rats I have seen! Well, I saw one the other day, Sunday morning, when I was drinking my coffee and smoking out of my first floor window. The rat was sniffing around the wheels of the van that belonged to the railroad men. I called out to one of them—‘Hey! you know you’ve got a rat by your wheel! I think it wants a job!’
   The railroad man—‘Can’t, I’m afraid … already taken on two this month.’
   The rat slunk off into the grass, strewn, somewhat eerily, by a fluorescent eighties’ tracksuit.
   Someone I like quit at the company I work for. Upset and bloody, I wrote my mother. I told her—‘It feels like the only dependable, likeable people in my life—my family—have been unwittingly taken away from me, and I’m standing here thinking “What the hell?” you know…?’
   ‘No, I don’t know. I’ll call you later.’
   When she called back later I didn’t feel like talking, so she just sighed.
   My mother has a sex because she is a woman and I slid—eighteen-hours long—out of her vagina and suckled on her breasts and she loves me more than any man has loved me, and I am not interested in meeting a woman I will love more than my mother. Perhaps I could love my nan as much as my mother, but my nan is dying and soon she will be dead and her body will not mean a thing to me or to modern science. Then my mother will die and I will be alone, singing sexist songs and slightly more crippled than I already am and with no fear of suicide or death.
   What I had wished to say is—‘No-one means anything to me anymore and everything is very confused and I feel more lonely than ever but I am undertaking more of an effort to be vegetarian and I daren’t stroke any of the neighbourhood cats because I think they have fleas.’
   To which she’d reply—‘You need to stop worrying about fleas and lice and worms and ticks and just go out and have a good time!’
   She’d probably be right.
   The lights in the local shop are blinding. When I walk in, I groan and squint. I just want some red wine and filter-tips for my cigarettes. The person behind the till has scratches up their arm and spots upon their face that attract me toward them, but sometimes they are cold and sometimes they are warm. I put down my wine and my filter-tips—‘Oh, and this gum … and that lighter, please.’ I spend more money that I plan to. The heat from the dryer in the laundry room is beautiful. I put my arm into the dryer and leave it there; I run my hand around the drum. I wish I were a pair of boxers; I would just roll round the dryer all-day—thirty-pence for ten minutes.

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