Saturday, March 20, 2010

More Martha

The Worst Day
Yesterday Martha asked if she could be the cold spot on the other side of my pillow. I resolved not to flip it over in the hours between the covers and falling asleep. She doesn't deserve to touch this cheek, but as I started to drift off, barely even conscious, I turned over the pillow side and felt the brief but comfortable cool. I could collapse a lung shouting that I put my head on a pillow and not a Martha, but whatever she calls herself she is. She's the most confident, clumsiest ballerina I've ever patronized.

She's self-taught, and it shows. But ask her and she's a the god damn Russian tsar of the dance, because she says, "I am a ballerina. I am the girl who watches you dream. I am the cold spot on your pillow!" Mostly, I think she's a ballerina because I watch her while she dances. But I can't watch her when I'm fast asleep with the pillow warming under my grimy, unshaven face. There's no telling what she is then. Disease still eats organs while men in shacks dream of Jesus. I know that much. That half a second pleasure ate the skin right off my face. That night I dreamed of Jesus in a tutu and sweat out all my secrets right through the mattress.

Day 4
Martha left a plate of cookies by my door. I dumped them in the bushes outside the window. There's no telling what she put in them. They looked normal enough, but there's still no telling. They looked like sugar cookies, but I'm not confident she knows the difference between sugar and salt, and I don't believe she can differentiate between butter and rat poison. She once talked about how the streets were full of rats, but not a single one ever invaded her domicile. Her words, not mine. That's why she bought poison by the pound, in case the streets tried to come inside. She'd converge on them with sheer poundage, by the great trap of her will to live. I envy rats.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some Days With Martha

Day 8
Martha gave me a pen and notebook yesterday. I don't know what she expects me to do with it, so I began writing a list of all the reasons why I hate her, the reasons why I could never love her. I got to number forty-six before I realized I was repeating myself, my utter dis-love duplicated in several alternate phrasings. I scratched out the repeated reasons and slipped the list under her bedroom door that night.

At breakfast she sat down at the table, smiling. She said she was happy I'd scribbled out five reasons I thought I hated her, but the realized then realized I actually didn't hate her for those reasons, so my hatred must be 'compromised by a fettered love.' I stood up, spat in her Cheerios, and called her a bitch. Martha giggled and scooped one heaping spoonful into her mouth. She always giggled like a child does upon saying a dirty word, that is, out of proper context, with its meaning loosely assigned.

Day 13
How anyone can love a child is beyond me. I mean really love, be in love with. It doesn't make sense, unless the lover is also a child. In which case, it makes perfect sense that he'd be in love with himself and look at others like he looks at a mirror. He looks at it as though he's looking right into a secret world, one that's always blocked by a doppelganger gatekeeper. He thinks if he moves quick enough, he can prove that this image really isn't himself. He can beat it's mimicry and enact something magical, and thereby discover everything his doubled self has kept him from. A love would be realized beyond the doting of his parents.

Now, how someone could screw a child, that I can believe. The seeming purity of their very existence just begging for someone to consecrate it must be overwhelming for pedophiles. In a single moment of excitement and bliss, the pedophile sees himself as the bearer of goodness and carries it into the wider world. He either loves or hates himself for it.

If I were to give Martha exactly what she wants from me, for that instant I'd be both child and pedophile. I'd be bringing a lot of good to people who neither want it nor need it, and I'd hate myself. Mostly, though, I'd hate her for coaxing me out of this room today. Yesterday she flung open my door, threw a handful of soiled tampons at me, and ran down the hall giggling. I yelled back that I wouldn't come out of this room until she cleaned them up and apologized to me. It's been almost a full twenty-four hours now, and I'm getting stir-crazy. I'm hungry and I have to pee. If I go to the bathroom or kitchen, I'm giving it. I'm giving her exactly what she wants. But I'm afraid that she can hold out longer than I can. I'm tied to other desires of the body. I need to put things into it, push things out. I don't have the luxury of being a god. Every time I shit, I'm reminded that I'm mortal, so I can't rain down the elements on Martha. Lord knows I've dreamt about it.

The Long Day
I woke up to screaming from the basement. Martha had brought someone new into the house, apparently, and she was having her way with him. She calls these men 'midnight snacks,' regardless of the time of day. I assumed she lived in a perpetual midnight, until it was Saturday and she begged me to let her watch the Saturday morning cartoons. Obviously I have no control over what she wants to do, and frankly I could care less, but she likes to ask my permission for things. It's her house, and she's a grown woman, so to speak. I've stopped asking why.

'Sure, fine. Go ahead, Martha,' I said listlessly.

'Oh, thank you! Thank you!' she said over enthused, and plopped herself down on the floor, inches away from the broken TV she'd found on the curb. She stared for hours at the cracked, black screen, giggling.

In the basement she'd tied some scrawny, well-dressed teenager to a chair and was marring up his face with a steak knife. He and Martha screamed in unison, followed by him gasping for a breath to scream again and her irritating, child-like giggle. He was wearing a white dress shirt and black tie.

'Another Mormon?' I asked her. 'I thought you said they were boring. I thought you wanted a challenge.'

'I know, but they just keep coming to me like little lost puppies. Besides, you're my challenge." She turned back to face the exhausted teenager, his head slumped and bleeding down his shirt. 'Now then, do you accept Satan as your master?' she asked him cheerfully.

'No. Jesus... please, Jesus," he muttered.

'What the crap are you talking about, Martha? Satan?'

'Shh!' She pulled me aside and said, 'Don't ruin this one for me too. I'm giving him a chance to fight back.'

'Fight back? How? He's tied to a chair.'

'Stupid! If I pretend to be a Satanist, he's at least got something to react against, and a reason to react. If I tell him I'm slicing up his baby face and tell him I'm doing it in the name of Satan, he'll think he can fight back by praying to Jesus or whathaveyou. I'm giving him the epic, biblical battle he's been waiting for.'

'Huh,' I say, surprised. Sometimes I'm impressed by Martha's cleverness. I almost forget that bratty little girl trapped inside of her middle-aged body. 'God, I've never wanted to screw you more than I do right now,' I told her.

'Really?!' Her eyes lit up.

'No. Not in a million years, honey,' I said glibly.

Martha screamed, this time not mocking the Mormon, but enraged. She stomped over to him, and pulled up his head by the hair.

'In the name of Beelzebub!' she hollered, and slit his throat. She turned back to me huffing and puffing, still clenching that kid's hair.

'I don't have the control you think I have, Martha. You're pathetic.'

'No you're pathetic!' she yelled, stuck her tongue out at me, and blew a raspberry. Her face promptly softened in the act and she started giggling again. It never took more than a good fart noise to change her demeanor. It was a long day. I've written it now, and I might just slip this under Martha's door later. I want to to see herself. I'm sick of seeing for her. I'll sign it,
Fuck you.


Even now my speech is failing.
It's head trauma induced aphasia
and the there's no telling what
I'll be able to say when you
come to visit me
sleeping in the
ward and sleeping out the days
and nights.

I fell off the cedar shingle
roof and woke in spots
of light hung over my
prostrate person.

The doctor says I'll talk like this
forever. The speech therapist
says, No.
Don't talk

Just wake.