from “Soap Opera”: Voice Over Animation
The man screams don’t touch me, don’t touch me! and he relocates his own broken shoulder blade by slamming it against a solid metal pillar and he is hungry for vengeance, Mary says screaming real emotions towards the television, and I hand her the hash pipe filled with greens and she says, that man wants so much vengeance! The pipe burns and it looks just like the sun and she asks to be excused to leave for the ladies room, and she even bows like a Geisha. She says, I’m going to pretend I’m tight rope walking the whole way there, to the bathroom, or ladies room, you watch me, and she takes a few minutes to cruise down the hallway like a cool shadow. Along deep crème white walls and scattered found objects and hung artwork. She says, play that song we both like. I look for the record along my old bookshelves, with the sounds of her urinating lightly through the walls and the phone rings in the distance. My Siamese cat is sleeping along the path to get there and he nearly trips me while walking there.
Through the sounds of the thin walls of bare wood, Mary seems to have decided to take a hot shower too while she’s in there, so I decide to take the call. She loves to take hot showers really stoned and high, I say thinking out loud, and the other voice, on the receiving end, sounds as if she is taken aback, and she asks me, what? Her voice like someone hurt. What are you talking about? I imagine where she is, my familiar, late night caller. There are cartoons playing in the background from an old television set, beyond the white noise and the loud winds on her receiving end. These are the sounds of Jenny’s old room, I realize. Late night cartoons from the 1980s, early 90s and open windows.
I’m sorry. I spoke out loud. It’s okay, she says. Are you alone? Yes.
I recognize that it’s Jenny’s voice right away, because how tender and comforting her monotones can be, like the sounds of a pillow sinking after feeling exhausted and defeated all day long, and I walk outside my bedroom door, to lay against the bathroom door, listening to Mary singing in the shower, some song by The Cranberries, Zombie. Jenny asks me what I was doing and I tell her nothing. Nothing at all really. What are you doing? I ask her, playing with the carpet and listening to Mary moan on occasion. I’m watching cartoons, Jenny says. Tom and Jerry. I tell her that I loved her at a time, a long time ago, and I ask what did Jerry just do? He went through a hole in the wall, she says very drunkenly. She says, after being buried alive, Jerry ate through all the Jell-O and escaped. What about Tom? What is he doing? He’s waiting around the corner with a knife, she says, barely keeping her cool. Finally laughing in some way that feels like progress to the both of us, and I can hear her breathing easier like imagined feathers along a breeze. She asks, do you remember when we used to narrate these things? Tom and Jerry. Johnny Bravo. Fucking Johnny Bravo. I tell her I miss Johnny Bravo with her, and she says, I can’t do that anymore, and she throws something in the background that makes a terrible thud against her wall, something I can see in my head, because I know her room so well, like how I know where all her birthmarks are on her slender figure. Some of them ugly and plain and some are terribly gorgeous. She says, this house is so much more quieter than I wanted it to be, she says, and I can’t do it anymore, or want it anymore. She says, while laughing like someone who’s lost a fortune, she says, I can’t narrate these cartoons on a low volume anymore. I just don’t want to anymore. Or I want to. But I just can’t, fucker, she says. Because of me, I ask her, and she tells me no, I don’t know. I remember it being beautiful though, she says, and I agree with her, touching the carpet like I would the back of her neck, if she was here. But I don’t wish she was here.
Mary opens the door of the bath, steamy and naked and she asks me whom I was talking to, and I tell her Jenny, and she dries hair walking to the kitchen making wet footsteps like she didn’t hear me. You have to go, Jenny asks? I think so yeah, I’m sorry. I tell her, and she says. Don’t be. The dead dial tone and the sound of the phone hanging up makes me understand what it means to go insane or mute and I think about how harshly the bones in my ear might suffer the same erratic impulses of what my chest suffers. How old feelings can spread around like black ink or films of oil, staining and remaining above everything.
Later we are close on the couch and Mary never gets dressed but gets covered under a beach towel and we watch barely lucid, late-night television and smoke more herb together. I ask her if she wanted to play a game, by turning down the volume almost to a mute and we can narrate the television shows as they go sort of like voice over animation, and she says she wasn’t feeling in the mood, caressing her hands on my thighs and suggestively. A single soft hand with a hundred suggestions. She moves closer towards me. She kisses me and nestles where my collarbones are and tells me she’s glad it’s raining outside.
The ceilings are so white here. The clouds are so perfect.