Friday, January 29, 2010

IN THE CROOK OF HER ARM--story.



The story made the rounds. It was considered off-trail by my professional friends. My professional friends were interested in good writing. Quality stuff that people would want to read.
I submitted the story, and dead silence.

Well, what do you think of my story, I asked an editor.

"Yeah, I read it."

"Well?"

"I dunno. Weird and off-trail...And then I don't go for all that cock-in-mouth stuff. Don't know."

It was soon apparent to me that I had laid an egg.

But something had compelled me to write the story. A daemon, five o'clock in the morning, Nietzsche's daemon whistling through the keyhole. Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin too: Abandon your creeping meatball and do this.

This is important.

Where do we draw the line between the enthusiast and the madman?

My good wife had always allowed me to indulge in my fantasies. After all, we were rich, artistic, and had the money to follow our own natures.

But my own nature was telling me something else.

"You must go out, gather the experience and write this story."

But to write the story, I would have to leave my wife.

"So be it," said the daemon.

But the daemons may have been a false daemon of creativity. It may have been a mere trickster whose aim it was to have me go out and ruin my life.

For everybody I'd shown the story to, seemed a bit put off by it. Twenty years ago, editors were prissier, more conservative. "All that Sixy-Nine...I wonder."

Maybe I'd just gone on a bum's quest and had written a bum story.

Here goes anyway.


IN THE CROOK OF HER ARM
(or, An Exploration into the nature of eschatology)

No one saw him leave home. No one saw him on the train where he had reconsidered the wife of the bright yellow day to whom he had just said goodbye. No one saw him leave for Mexico City on the early morning plane. No one saw him land at Mexico City Airport. No one saw him getting on the bus for San Miguel de Allende. Only God saw him.

He had felt for the first time in his eye yesterday's tear, and it was still only yesteday to him as he moved ahead into time, and he wondered how this could be. He knew he was racing so far ahead of himself as to reach the point where a soul could not ever catch up with the body if the body ever stopped moving, towards that new flat land of a Dali, perhaps, a surreal field of shot horses and fallen women. But he had to move, to escape the dreams he had been having, the apartments of horror where there were staring Medusa faces. And and white hotels with burning women standing outside, though the burning women were never consumed.

No one saw him going upstairs up a curving ballustrade to rent his apartment, no one saw him in his room with the wood fireplace for heat, sitting at his typewriter, no one saw him there in San Miguel de Allende, where the grass was dream grass and his clay house an old Grandee's house of pale smoke and history.

Then he saw her, or, rather, she saw him. There, where southwest was another part of the world. There, where the girls were tall and slightly knockneed, a touch of Cherokee, perhaps, certainly Tarascan, local Indian... And like a lonesome woman she came to him, felt his loneliness and they had found each other.

Yet on the train, he had considered himself a still-married man, who had so recently said goodbye to a wife of the bright yellow day, to soon rent a monk's cell, to sigh in a kind of relief at having left it all, to immediately be plunged into a precipice of silence, for there was a vacuum here, and a vacuum is either death or great power.

And soon there was an entaglement with the Cherokee woman. There were sparks among the bougainvillea and the flowers, and fights, and love again. But very quickly, they fused together.
It was then that he decided to write his beautiful novel in two parts.

This began to do.

Then he and the Cherokee woman separated again.

And when he got home there was no one there as he walked past the dog, past the bird, past the blighted tree around which the lilacs had all died, but the phlox and the daisies were out, where his wife appeared to him, now an ochre stranger and her dark-eyed lover a worse shade.

And he knew not what to do, save go insane, and he was not ready for that and he sent for his Cherokee love out of Mexico by way of Montana and California, for that was where she had lived, and she came to him carrying to great wicker baskets and an enormous quilt.

And so they now settled in Toronto and every five days he would see his heartbreakingly beautiful children, take them to theatres and sunny hills and dells and the Cherokee woman would come with them and she would look after them, fuss after them and bring her gifts and read them stories and check out the advertisements for the best children's plays, for she appeared to love him, and so, them.

And it soon became apparent to him that he had made a dreadful mistake, that she was not the one, that he should never have gone off to Mexico to write his beautiful novel in two parts, for he had done nothing more than to fall into a strange bed, though the Cherokee womand did love him, he knew. For they had separated, he'd left her there in Mexico as he ran back home and he had felt a deep loss, there had been a fusion and both of them had felt the tear.

And yet on the road, in his car, on the way to his old teaching spot, he would be seized with longing, regret, pain for want of the wife of his youth, calling her name, going mad behind the wheel of the car he had retrieved as part bargain in the failed marriage, yet it had not been his car but hers, as it had not been his own life but hers.

And he felt, as two rook-like birds along the road seemed to pick at him, his liver, spleen, brains that he was in some Hieronymous Bosch fantasy, the birds were eating him and he was near to exploding.

"You are going crazy, said the Cherokee woman. You need an analyst."

And soon there was the analyst, who merely shook his head and recommended a stronger doctor and the stronger doctor recommened an insane asylum where the grass was again dream grass, there where the mind turned to oceans of pepper and the Cherokee woman was on another side of the world, and all the songs were about the Hotel California.

And while in the Hotel California, he felt entire pieces of himself being ripped away, entire chunks of Laura, her body, her breasts, her vagina, old sepia-toned family portraits of their trips to the Barbados, their bearded elders, their children, all ripped away by an adultery that screamed to God even though it had been all so easy, for it had no conscience, this sex thing, though this experience somehow led to the terrible triangle of God.

And here, he crossed himself.

And presently, they appeared to make a vegetable of him, "this is how we make an asshole", filling him with doubt,guilt and religion and so mutated, he was soon thrust out into the world as a good tailor or taxi driver before he had hardly learned how to cut cloth or read a map.
And all the while, the Cherokee woman had been writing and telephoning him, "Doofus, wake up," but he had already gone into the nearly fatal confusion that is madness, and it had been too late. And the Cherokee woman was forced to go to Idaho City, Idaho, there with the potatoes, his cousins now, out there where West was another side of the world.

And then, in a parallel universe of strange books like Solaris, there appeared a third woman who somehow promised to repair all, to answer his every wish, including the need to go home again.
And this third woman had something of the man in her and she seized him by the woman inside and gave him a harrowing and a shaking, though he yet came inside her mouth and so enslaved her.

And presently, he met another woman. He was impoverished now, because he had gone off the scale, one woman after another and not women to marry; he was on a rollercoaster, a series of rollercoasters on which beside him had sat differeint women, the last of which had robbed him of everything he had, all fifty thousand of it.

And this woman saw that he was poor while she took him into her mouth and tasted him and did not like it, did not like him, did not like to see his ears down there between which was death on two legs and the song in his head may well have been Queen. And she left him to marry a dealer in real estate and lived happily ever after.

While he again became a teacher.

Teacher? Adulterer. What is left after a man reaches the stench of the tomb? Down among the criminal elements, down among the losers, alcoholics, thieves. The garden of Eden is the marriage bed and the fiery angel will punish.

And he took up with a lounge dancer whose mouth had had again violated, causing her too to leave in disgust, but not before he say his own dirty pants hanging on the wall, which he soon picked up, dressing himself in the messy trousers.

And as he put on his drousers, he realized that the typewriter had been gathering dust and grime for a long time now and he realized that it was at this time that he had to complete his novel in two parts.

And barely before had completed his novel, he was again hired by the local university to teach, for he needed an income, and it was here that he met the She, even before he finished his novel in two parts.

She was as beautiful as a star, as fine as a mother's body, a star of 1930's films, the IT Girl, Clara Bow, blonde as Greta Garbo, sexy as a girl standing against a wall in the sun, her head back, inviting a lover.

She would not let him get too close. She would only respond to him part way and he had to content himsel with sleeping in the crook of her arm. He was harboring a love. In the crook of her arm.

But in the crook of her arm had been a pinprick, a deep one.

It was the cocaine she loved first, and then him.

And she tried to make him come along, and he spat it out and was soon off to another trip to Mexico.

Where he would write his beautiful novel in two parts.

23 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Where he would write his beautiful novel in two parts. I like that a lot. That line carries something interesting, a feeling.

benjibopper said...

Definitely a feeling throughout this, though I'm left waiting for something to happen. It's poetic. Kind of reminds me of D M Thomas - the poetic sex and the dirty aftertaste of it.

ivan@ creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks for sort of resonating, Charles.

ivan@ creativewriting.ca said...

Benji,

To be compared in the least way to the (postmodernist?) D.M.Thomas is to flatter me. I had the daylights wafted out of me by The White Hotel.

Erik Donald France said...

I dig it, Ivan. In some way it also reminds me of Herman Hesse. Really like the cadences, the long view, archteypal but also specific. Have no idea what those editors were thinking.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Why, thank you Sir!

the walking man said...

For me I kept thinking the delivery to be that of a cautionary fable along the order of Aesop or Hans Christian Anderson. Though not for children.

What I find interesting as well as how many different ways you find to re-document the truth of your having lived.

Editors...There is a difference between only what they have in their mouth and the women of your story.

TomCat said...

Fascinating, outstanding, supurb! Now that I have studied your graphis, I'll have to come back to read the article. ;-)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

(From a song:

Look at Britney
Isn't she pretty?)

...And we romantics spend half our lives looking for a Britney. And finding. And losing. And trying to find again.
...And get an answer like "That's what happens when you .....around with us broads."

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

Thank you for a thoughful reply.

As for some editors, I think they were like my former political running mate, Watson.
"Don't shake Watson's hand when he comes out of the washroom."

Anonymous said...

ATH: 3350-1 (CO)

26 January 2010

Families and Friends of ATHABASKAN

A FEW WORDS FROM OFF THE COAST OF HAITI

Good day to you all. As I pen these words we have many of the crew ashore providing aid and assistance to the people of Haiti. I want to assure you that the Canadian Forces, indeed all of Canada, are pitching in together to provide some relief to the Haitians in their time of need. I am sure that all of you are aware of these efforts from the news reports so I will confine myself to the spectacular contributions of your loved ones here in ATH....

...
Peter Crain
Commander
Commanding Officer
HMCS Athabascan

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Commander Crain,

I got bedevilled by computer HTML tags,so much of your message is lost, but we appreciate the humanitarian work your warship, The Athabascan, is doing for the unfortunate people of Haiti, and, needless to say,keep up the good work!

benjibopper said...

Haven't read White Hotel but Ararat was a trip man - could barely follow it but what a great read, Burroughsesque in that sense.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Benjiboppper,

Yeah. D.M. Thomas.
Fiction's power to amaze. It almost scares me.

TomCat said...

OK, now I read it, and I have a sense of deja vu. have you posted this before, or do I just identify with it to such an extent that it seems familiar?

Where do we draw the line between the enthusiast and the madman?

You can tell by the hats. Mad men's hats are made of tin foil or have suspended tea bags.

ivan@c reativewriting.ca said...

TomCat,

I did post another version of this story about four years ago...This was either before you started blogging or during your hiatus from blogging.

Love the image of the madman, the hat and tea bags.
Myself I am now out in the open right now trying to catch stars with a butterfly net.

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