With my tits squeezed tight into this stretched out extra small American Apparel deep v in summer mint julep green, I remove the layer in a fuss and toss it into the bottom of my Tory Birch braided blue leather beach bag that I swiped from the outlet store last weekend. With the blessed secular flesh above my nipples now exposed to warm ultra-violet rays in the salty mist, I feel just the proper rating of provocatively self-conscientious. I tie up the halter strings of the black and white Africa print polyester bikini top, slap on my black turned ash gray hemp ‘bows, their thong straps between the big little piggies and the awkward tall slender ones. Applying a light mist of Hawaiian Tropic perfect tanning SPF 4 oil, I’m ready for the sand.
Through a gateway of typical palms, I scope my favorite bench, Eleanor Capello’s, memorialized for her by her rich family back in ’88. “We Miss You. A genuine, compassionate, loving Wife and Mother. We will be seeing you soon Ellen” reads the inscription. I often wonder how many stop to read Ellen’s little rusty plaque and find the final words as creepy as I do. I drift and wonder about Ellen sometimes, when I’m putting on my eye shadow in the mirror or when I iron my blouses before work, or make dinner on the electric stove for one. Was Ellen happy? Did she enjoy being a wife and a mother? And my favorite mystery to ponder- how did Ellen meet her death at only thirty-seven?
I drain the final sip of my bitter triple iced Americano and dump the plastic into a blue bin and turn to skirt to the ladies’ room to change my Playtex and relieve my bladder. Then, I suddenly feel the weight of hungry gazing eyes feasting on my bare flesh. Darting my glass-veiled lashes I rest my sight on the Blue Man. The gray red-billed gull perched stoutly to his left seems the perfect companion for this vagabond.
Sirens blare on a residential road past the parking lot and I realize I’m still sorta staring at him while strutting to the restroom shack. The Blue Man stared back, mouth not all the way closed, lips chapped and parched.
Snapping my gaze down into the side pocket of my patent Juicy handbag I fish out my Blackberry and pretend to check a message, disappearing into the doorway of the restroom. The ceiling isn’t all the way attached to the walls so the sunlight is allowed to burst in, forcing discreet shadows on the white square tiles.
I’m glad the room is empty when my peripheral vision spots a sign of disturbance in the space, an additional object- a long, deeply welled trough in shiny silver aluminum. Slightly obscured from view behind a half-wall for some privacy on the west end, adjacent to the stalls and directly foregrounded by the sinks with tagged, vandalized mirrors- unlike those in the ladies’ room. For just a moment, in the silence, I stare at the trough and imagine several men standing there with their floppy members out, pissing together. But then I remember that men dislike pissing next to one another, so I’m baffled by the design of this particular urinal and can’t help but watch the men in my imagination morph into livestock covered in filth, feasting on slop. Men like animals. As I turn on the worn out heel of my sandy slippery flip-flop and chuckle at my silliness, I retreat to my designated side of the shack.
Outside again, perched on Ellen’s bench I watch a surfer tool and his bimbo lady pass. Suddenly, he turns, gags, and hawks a loogie onto the concrete. Do you think it means anything when people, commonly men, spit as they walk past you? I’ve seen this a hundred times easily. They hawk a little loogie and eject this otherness, this thick form of bodily fluid, the shit from your clogged lungs, the yogurt-like particles of bacteria alive in the back of your throat, or the mouthwash on your tongue, projectile phlegm onto the ground with a light slap. Is this act a marking of territory in defense or offense? Is it some sort of signal? Why consider these notions at all?
Because if you can’t trust or rely on the signals you receive, what else is there? Void voyeurs and false realities.
It’s a little funny, a little charming in a slightly unnerving kind of way when you can feel someone resting their eyes on you, or sneaking sideways semi-regular glances and you catch them while sneaking the same glances back beyond the deep mahogany shade of your Balenciaga lenses. So you cough, tug at the jagged cuts at the bottom of your short choppy haircut. You would tie it back in a pony for a beach day but with the newfound length this is impossible without half of your hair straying free of the elastic and hanging madly off to the sides with your straight-across bangs; in a not-so-cute kind of way. Your hair doesn’t seem to want to grow long these days, just outward, expanding.
His arms are up now, the Blue Man sits on the concrete ledge and rotates his arms in a flag-like triangular formation with fingers interlocked, palms pressing the back of his cerebellum, encased by a sharp widow-peaked buzz cut, gunmetal gray. His face weathered by the sun, maybe he sits here every day across the entrance to the women’s room and watches, waits. The palm trees cast their sharp angular shadows, skinny straight, bursting at their tops like fireworks.
Its pretty unbelievable, how much torture her eyes expel. As if she had been buried eight feet under in a plywood rectangular coffin, and managed to force her way up and back out of the earth, gasping for air. A $9.99, classy trash broad. Rise and let me look at your ridiculous face all half covered and caked with glowing dust bronzer. She yearns for punishment. Will she let me give it to her? I keep pretending to stretch my triceps, traps, pecs. I’m still a little tight from the last tramp I handled.
If she could, she would stop me, but she’s mine now, helpless. It’s the wood that should fear your hands, not the other way around master says. The world is site specific, like speaking Cantonese. Is it better to be so proficient in one language that you’re able to craft wordplay, or is it better to know three languages but nowhere near the level of proficiency? For the second option, you’d be able to communicate with so many more people. Though, still not quite deep enough to really understand the other through language, through your limited capacity to know.
What’s the name she’s buried under? This girl in green, slushy melted margarita girl. You’ll never know until you fish through her baggage, her identity hidden amongst all the shit she carries; unless she tells you first. Wrap your brain’s lips around this.
Relief of regret?
But which one outweighs the other?
Because in these last agonizing moments, this woman deserves better.
Hence, its handle- death incarnate. Venom that causes paralysis, then death from paralysis within thirty minutes. She’s a bad assed lady. She’d kill your brother in the uncut edition, snatch out one eye and gouge the other in. Unsaved by the flush. She, a treacherous dog. I’ve got a little treat on the end of my leash just waiting for her to bite.
A bald patch atop his head, crows feet wrinkles like cracks in the desert canyons, blue-stripe short sleeved, faded jean shorts, starchy white ankle socks, New Balance trainers. Hands sparkly with the silica dust leftover from naps in sands of time. Beat man, vagrant, lost soul, thin legged, tough armed with bulging veins. Open-palm outstretched, an offering? He shields his face away to the north side of the beach when I look up from my paper, no fair. I can’t read the color in your eyes.
A large man sporting a company polo in mauve, a wretched expression on his face, he flashes his eyes my way, at my little bench-stop before straining his neck back to gaze at the gagged blue sky, cloud-encroached. “Rats in the sky,” large man mutters with a grimace and the nudge of his beer belly, thick like the padding of a medicine ball. He trod heavily away, his elderly wife at his side having to withstand all of his negativity for too many years.
Passing the large man and his wife in, a young boy bounces towards me. Hopping around all smiles in a little green polo, not unlike the one you ripped, orange from the Mervyn’s catalogue that mom ordered for you in second grade for picture day and you felt like a tomboy then and mom worried a little bit. When you jumped off the swing into the tan bark the edge snagged on the chain upon blast off. It was brand new and mom was unhappy when you walked home with your little chin pointed at the yellow linoleum in the kitchen.
To the right, approaching, wearing aged Nike cross-trainers, a ghost of familiarity. I flinch a little. Same woman she seemed, scorpion woman- short but sturdy strides, petite in height but pear cobbler round the waist and thighs. Curling yellow flames of hair tendril out and up into the air from her dome. The same exact sweater as mom, zipped up and hooded, in shades of tie-dyed floral without looking hippy crunchy granola. Nature-patterned, this lady appeared hurried, irritated. She doesn’t look my way. Scorpion woman.
Now you are the voyeur.
You always were.
Blue Man finally stands after twenty solid minutes of ‘stretching’ and looking at his watch and staring at me without a word from across the boardwalk. He walks away abruptly and I know he’ll return.
She’s been sitting for forty minutes with her legs crossed, protected, focused on her pen and paper. She looks less of a victim now, more of a spectator, activated somehow. I notice the ever-slight adjustment in her gestures, the insistent resolve in her pen strokes. Feverish now she turns the next page and continues on. To relieve my erection I tuck myself behind the button fly of my jean shorts and shuffle away uncomfortably. One lap should do, quick enough so that she can’t escape.
I drag at my Camel Light and exhaust wispy fumes into the atmosphere; I check my bank account and work emails on the Blackberry. And eleven minutes later, leather skin and blue stripes return, standing at his favorite ledge stretching his sinewy calves like a runner. Right beside a white line of seagull shit that oozed down like paint on a blue tennis court, hard surface like the US Open sponsored by Mercedes Benz.
Stretching his arms now, his pectorals, a mating gesture? A motion for mingling? Too difficult to tell since there is no exchange of speech, no words to fill in all these gaps.
Not even that tight gap in the back of your throat as the head of his dick jams closed the dark space, careening into your esophagus, choking you later in the closed stall adjacent to the livestock trough under nightshade. Talking leads to touching, touching leads to sex and then there’s no mystery left.
Simply a dirty fantasy. When my Blackberry rings and its my mother I have to leave Ellen’s bench because the wind whipped up and would have wiped away words in a cellular dialogue. I know she’s going to ask about my treatment, and I’m not supposed to be outside. Packing my things, I throw a steady gaze back at the Blue Man wearing a face like sadness riddled with regret.