How subtly the alcohol gets you, its diabolic process. You have made a new resolve to use your drinking as a reward for good work. You have to do some good work, put in some time writing, writing just for the sake of writing, writing anything at all, just as long as you will have prove to yourself that you weren't just sitting there gathering lint off your navel. Oh how you had loved Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, especially the narrator, Nick Carroway.
You are going to try to be Nick Carroway, but in more of a Henry Miller vein.
So you put in the time writing, writing, writing anything at all, though you have Nick Carroway in mind.
The demon knows, of course, that after a long spell of writing, you will be thirsty as hell. Maybe down a dozen.
"Being thirsty is a sign of health," whispers the Devil in your ear.
So you do something like automatic writing, putting in the time, half-remembered chapters from your own novels, half-remembered bar scenes of debauchery and sin--the good stuff. Nick Carroway might not have approved, but Henry Miller might.
Ratscrabble, ratscrabble, ratscrabble on the keyboard, but a sudden parallel universe comes up. It is partially out of your novel, THE FIRE IN BRADFORD, but the names are somehow changed.
I was lighting my cigarettes backwards. I had no idea how this present-day Julie Christie of the Twenties had even walked into my life and wondered why she seemed interested in me. I also wondered, as a veteran of not a few affairs, how many others had been pole-axed in the same way. She'd obviously been charming men for a long, long time, the blue eye shadow, the absolute blondiness, pint-size and everything about her fashioned, turned, just so. Sheer elegant femininity and you could bet the granny boots and paisley skirt that she wore that there were at least three other guys playing here beside old hubbber. Unnatural elfin beauty. A setup for loners and stoners.
The husband's name was Lief. Lief of the Wayne Gretzky look. Leif the Lucky. Or was he?
I balked at first when they poured me into their red pickup-truck, to be carted home with them. Drunk, I was babbling, "Thou shalt not covet they neighbour's wife, nor his goods, nor his ass." Leif seemed rather intrigued by this last reference to Immanuel Kant, a tricky montage of a name to the man who invented the philosophical term "a posteriori." I suspected Leif was something of a Dick Assman, though that famous person from Saskatchewan was guilty by nomenclature only. I know something of the ways of Riverdrive Park, near Bradford, some druggies and swinger there; likely my ass bobbing up and down while he watched from an attic peephole.
"Not his goods, nor his ass."
I did notice that Leif seemed to be attracted to both sexes, certainly the wife now comprising our threesome at the bar, Celia, but he seemed especially interested in me.. I had a vision of the immediate future. His beautiful wife mounted and Ivan's ass bobbing up and down. And Lief upstairs masturbating. Deja vu all over again.
Holland Landing suburbanites. Bullet Park. Bored. Jaded. They will do anything...
"Leif and I tried coke once, Celia buzzing in my ear.
And she kept talking of William Burrough's Naked Lunch, and i don't think she was discussing literature.
I was showing some signs of nervousness. I nervously swigged my beer.
"I've got something at home that will mellow you right out," from Celia.
Well, eventually we were in Leif's truck.
And all the while, Leif driving, my hand accidentally touching his right leg and Leif moving right into it.
"Kinda moved into that fast, Lief," I joked.
"Fast reflexes!" smiled Lief. Some bisexuals never confuse which days are for men and which for women.
To the right, I felt Celia's warm, soft thigh. But I felt bone too. Earlier in the evening, I had tried to physically pick her up, in the middle of a tango. I did all right, but for a five-foot two girl, she was heavy, unnaturally heavy, the kind of heaviness that is to be associated with people possessed.
I am still ratscrabbling away on this machine. I am actually avoiding real writing. I have really been contracted, given the green light anyway, to write a personal essay for the Globe and Mail. The deadline is about now. The mighty presses are poised. I am supposed to be writing something for FACTS AND ARGUMENTS.
I am poised.
And nothing. Much easiear to spin yarn for Rumpelstiltskin, my Devil of Alcohol.
So back to the story:
Enough that we somehow got to a neat white cottage in Holland Landing, that the husband unexpectedly retired rather suddenly, passed out in the bedroom (actually, they seemed to have a HIS and HERS) and Celia and I were left to ourselves in a shag-rugged Danish-style woody living room with its U-shaped chesterfield facing an immense picture window with the drapes not yet drawn.
And suddenly I became aware of how lonely I was, me the divorcee and frequent near-desperado from my subsequent live-ins, the man of many wives and master of none. It seemed I was suddenly curved up in a ball of loneliness, vulnerability, want. I just wanted her, anybody, anybody like her to hold me. "Just hold me," I was starting to keen.
Very deliberately, she put an open palm and extended her red nail-polished fingers right at the seat of where the trouble seemed to be. Maybe just a lonesome woman not sure of herself, or someone used to certain kinds of men--Johns?--or maybe this had to be a wham-bam-thank-you- ma'am, and that would be my fifteen minutes.
Hey, this is getting to be kind of fun. So much easier to replay the tapes of your novel. Journalism is chores. Journalism is detail, detail, detail. I liked it so much better in the way that I attempted fiction, Detail, Detail, Detail, climax. And then again, detail, detail, detail, mini-climax, and finally the real climax, certainly a realization in the reader.
What of the well-crafted story that they demand of you, over at the Globe, with not a word wasted, without a nuance out of place?
Ah, but that would be work. That would be professionalism.
So much easier to be the "creative writer."
Earlier, she had gone to the hi-fi to put on an LP and I noted she kept bending over to reveal a beautiful pear-shaped derriere she seemed rather anxious to display. What she a virgin, the wife of some Ruskin who was found year later to still possess her hymen after a lifetime of marriage? A lesbian? A lady of the night? Or maybe just a lonesome woman. A lonesome woman suddenly not sure of herself because of a husband's embroglios, or homosexuality, or extramarital affairs, or all of the above?
What attracted me to these strange manikins with the rouged cheeks, these mature women so often seen doing zany things in kids' shows, these vaguely English girl-women doing stupid things and talking funny?
It's a bit like watching the Tim Horton mascot in a parade. It's Timmy the Tidbit, of course, but those thin, black leotarded legs are sort of cute as they ran as in a Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon. You just wanted to grab this caricature, hug it.
Like I wanted to grab Celia.
Well. Just as I become intrigued with my own story, I somehow knock over my optical mouse on this computer. It is falling right atop my hard-cornered hard drive. Crash. My mouse has split into two, just as I was writing this.
Something left of the old mechanical ability though. I had certainly watched enough of that boring old fart, Red Green. I say some duct tape just behind my monitor. I pluck it forth.
What a thirsty god. He is directing all this.
What a horny bastard, the writer.