WE must have been stranded in Amsterdam, at the world’s oldest, ugliest youth hostel. The girl that was with me had red hair and freckles, pale skin. (Note: It is my studied observation that, at least in my dreams, I am always somehow fucking death.)
Outside the window, crossing the pavement, a swarthy man in tight shorts, with a bulging, flabby gut is walking around like the proverbial caged animal of yore, apparently the sap rising in his veins or whatever passes for virility in this day and age.
“The sonofabitch has a higher testosterone count than I,” say I, turning to the girl, whom I instruct must not only froog in the upstairs window, but must thrust her head out and let fall her long tresses Rapunzel-like, so that the potential customer milling about below might crawl up them toward paradise, heaven, Nirvana.
“It’s not working,” say I. “Fish won’t bite.”
“Maybe he’s scared it’s some sort of sting operation,” she say, licking dry, greedy lips in the waning light of an amber sunset glow. Funny I think, the walls in here collect red from the light.
Red, red, everything is red. Hair, freckles; her body, though, is translucent white.
I crawl on top of her. It is late and maybe there is some requisite appreciation of the role I am playing as the impromptu pimp/provider. She covers my mouth with her own before wiggling, jelly-like, out from under my bulk. “I can’t fuck you,” she say. “Sorry.”
I think that this is a completely understandable position for her to take. My repressed sexual drive, however, seems to have made manifest in the turbulence of the barometric drop; as night falls, vast storm clouds seem to roil and brew across the curiously desolate face of Alternate Amsterdam.
(Isn’t this the way it is in gothic hokum stories of mad families living atop reeking, stinking tarns, stories wherein the desolation and madness of the incestuous line is made manifest in the heaving, wild weather, the environment that spills out of the pages and into the desolate soul of the reader, as he [alternately she] envision a living Sheol?)
At some point in the night, I prowl the musty, too-close claustrophobic halls, beating the walls with a club as if looking for hollow spaces. I suppose I was dress-rehearsing a murder, but, as fantastic as it sounds, vast, shimmering clouds of what I could only take to be some sort of globular, mist-like lightning began to shine through the windows, seeping uncannily through the cracks in the plaster. prerecorded and clearly artificial feminine telephone operators are being loudspeakered from some distant park, sounding as if they are trying to coax a 747 out onto the runway.
The Redhead is sitting Siva amidst a glowering crowd of scruffy but undeniably blonde young men. The central figure, a young man not unknown to me, looks upward as I enter, his face a soft pillow of stupid, bovine expectancy. I suppose I could have cleaved his face in twain; or, at the very least, crushed his skull like an egg with the powerful force of my wooden cudgel.
Instead, I compose this poem.
“Lying in bed, I turn over stare blankly as shadows roll across the wall. You bitter red pill that you are, hard to swallow in one exquisite mouthful.
“‘I suppose,’ you say, ‘I taste hot and rank.’
“I dunno, but, for one moment, an entire world lived and died on the tip of my tongue, rolling one bead of sweat down to die…”