Thursday, July 29, 2004

Paddington Chorus

Zipping my way into craggily conciousness. After I lost my contacts in my Mom's blue ribbon award winning weed-bin last week, I endeavored to blindly frisk the landscape in idle search for my visual assets. No such luck. Ended up with an horrific case of Poison Ivy instead that I've successfully scratched the hell out so now it looks like I have second degree burns, little oily scabs, festering volcanic archipelagos dotting the inside of my arms.

"Didn't you ever hear 'If it's three let it be?'" Said my mom to me last night, while I was busy baptzing my limbs in hydrogen peroxide.

"If it's four, roll one more." I nasally- slur wobbling my head, pretending to be stoned. My mom always swipes her head like a stunted windshield wiper, insinuating that above all things, I'm foremost incorrigible.

Even though my limbs are almost always adorned in long sleeves or slacks, the coated rash seems to be quite conspicuous. Exactly six patrons have already stared at me with tilted chins and vexed cubist expressions as they continually inquire, "What happened to your arm?"    

"Leprosy." I say. "Last time I ever skinny dip in the nuclear dells area of the Illinois River."

I even had one guy, a purported physcian or something, grapple my wrist like he was going to plop down on one knee and propose. He scrutinized my unctuous pond rash, looked at me, offered a grainy smile and then turned around briskly. He then walked off without offering assesments or closure , holding his head very erect and high, like a Marine inching his last chin-up over a bar.

"Oh this. I don't know. It was an anniversary present from my ex-wife. She's a scratcher and she sometimes bites during certain lunar cycles."

I used to get what I would justifiably classify as 'Writers Welts'....I would hunch my upper body like a question mark over my smith-corona and furiously peck out bread crumb sentences, hoping to mix a metaphore amd successfully bake a solid image in the process. Sometimes I would chain-smoke (ahhhh...the glorious smoker era)...I would get these Quazzimoto styes, my eye would flap into its skull and tumesce to the size of ping-pong balls. It was like a cocoon or an Indian Mound was brecching out from my socket.

The emergency room always gives me antibiodics. My landlady Clare always asked me if I got hit. My art teacher purposefully huffed out his sentences like a Rockey movie and then requested the name of the unfortunate Apollo who I apparently mauled.

And my Mom, of course, is just like whatever. I should have told her it was a mark of cain or something.

"Welt? Rash? I don't know what you're talking about."

One of the things that imminently attracted me to the beauitful-fool in the failed Swissy-Missy campaign was that Melissa (her real name) was born a triplet with a distinctive birthmark on her face. The way she explained it, half her face looked like the infield of a minor league baseball park. It was like a cratered mole which she had laser surgery to rectify the facial impediment.  If you look closely at the porcelain edges of her face, you can make out the remnants from the laser suture. I always told her that I loved looking at that fracture of her forehead becasue that made her who she identified her. It only added to her beauty. It was like looking at an actual Claude Monet and finding his inky signature dawdled in the bottom corner of the canvas. 

"Yeah, I know my arm kinda looks like an aerial view of Long-Island during the apocalypse. Thanks for verifying something so painfully overt."

I remember Missy telling me that, what was hardest with regards to her face was that when she was getting her hair done or lounging at a day spa, one of the older workers would come up to her and be like, "Sweetie what the hell happened to your face?"

"That, I dunno. Probably gangrene. Here, why don't you lick it and find out what it does to your tongue."

Then there was my boy Razdawg....coolest cat you ever seen in your life.  Razdawg has elephanitis, which means that one of his legs looks kind of like an axed trunk, something out of which a very irked Lorax would hatch. Razdawg mechanically scoots around in this red wheel chair. He kind of looks like retro-late seventies variation of Steven Hawking with Lipton tea colored skin, a bushy afro and a cool black jacket. The first time I saw RazDawg I couldn't help but stare forever at the sight of his leg. A stuffed club; a granite trunk leaking from his torso in a pendulous dinosaur fashion. After a day of knowing him, it was soemthing I hardly noticed anymore.  

"Need help." I first said to him last summer, when he whizzed into the library. He couldn't fit his landrover  at the computer station, so he sat down crosslegged on the carpet. I went and found a cushy chair he could lounge on to feel more comfortable. Razdawg just looked up at me, a quizzical grin strched between his lobes.

"Bro, I been doin' this shit my whole life." He said, taking a generous breath and using my arm as a rail to uphold his weight.

Razdawg began to frequent the library. He would stop by my desk shortly after opening and offer me a what-up. If he needed help getting in and out of the restrooms he would let me know. Whenver there was an obstacle or a physical hurdle he wouold smile and say, "Bro, I been doin' this shit my whole life."

He'd also tell me all about his girls. Apparently when he wasn't in the library he was out "gettin' some."

"Man those girls down at the Underground last night, all I can say is....damn." Razdawg told me one morning, in my cubicle, his hair slightly tousled.

"Do all the girls down there like guys in wheelchairs." I say, grinning, taking generous a.m. swigs from my Starbucks cylinder.

"Shit, bro..." Razdawg said. "You know all the girls down there be all over me because they think that my leg is..." Razdawg stopped, looked down into his elephantis-riddled appendage. " KNOW what all the girls be thinkin' my leg is."

He blushed. I volleyed a smile in his direction. It was the only time I had ever heard Razdawg casually mention his handicap.


"I don't know what happen to my arm. Here, why don't you examine my choice finger and tell me what you see,"


Eventually Razdawg became somewhat of a nussaince. He made it a point to purposefully apply the breaks to his wheel chair and ogle the backside every female that lugged their backpack past him. No one else in the library wanted to be seen sitting down next to him, so I was often called in to remind him that incessant on-linepornographic viewing was illegal.

"I know man but I was just trying to check my e-mail and it popped up."

"It's all cool Razdawg. You know it doesn't bother me. Just don't view it here."

"Man, it just popped up! How they gonna say something to a brother who's just trying to write his mom an e-mail when 'this' pops up."

"'This'  looks a lot like Tifany Taylor." I said. "I never knew your Mom was Miss October."

"That's misses October now, she's married."

"Turn it off." I said, placing a palm over my lips to conceal my smile trying to pawn off coifed americana professionalism as I walked back to my carrol, Razdawg muttered his way into complacency.

"Yo-kay. y0-kay, yo-kay. Get all upset at a brother just cause he's trying to be a good son and say hi to his mother every once in a while."

This was August 2003. I had been living with Uncle Mike for about four months although I was hardly ever home becasue I was always working.  I had a killer August, devoting myself to ten single space pages a day for my novel. I would start writing at 8 and have around six solid pages at noon, and continue to chisel out sentences into the nocturnal hours.  At the end of every day I would print out the pages and save it on a different floppy. At the end of every week I would seclude myself and try to figure out what direction the narrative engine was chugging. One week I was betrayed by a co-worker (a co-worker whom I had taken to the emergency room a week earlier when he had sparined his ankle in a pick-up game). Suddenly the whole office was agog with gossip, concerning a faculty member I briefly dated. I yelled at my co-worker walked outside, bought a forty ounce for Todd the Bum who spent last summer living undeneath Swords Hall and continued to march home in disgust.

At the corner of Bradley Avenue and Institute, I loosened the silk albatrose around my neck and saw Razdawg shuffling in his wheelchair. A small baby carriage toated behind him, like a circus caboose. I immediately walked over to him.

"What the hell."

"Bitch says I got start taking responsibility for my actions." Razdawg says, steering his caravan down the center of the street.

"Here," I said, unbuckeling the baby carriage from behind his wheel chair. There was a six-week old child with beautiful mocha skin.

"Is this yours." I inquired to Razdawg, pushing the carriage.

"Y'igh guess.' He said, very nonchalantly, headed towards the library.

"What's his name." I said, glancing between Razdawg and his progeny.

"Hell if I know. Hell if I ever see him. Bitch just said 'here'. Said she was going out of town and that I gots to start bein' more responsible with my life."

We headed back to the library. To this day the irony floors me. All my co-workers are gossiping about my love life and I walk in ferrying a child in a carriage. Unbeleivable. 


"Oh what's this. I don't know. I was in chemistry class this morning and I must have confused the coffee with the hydraulic acid. Pretty soon my entire face will look like this. It's a good thing you're attratced to me as a person."


Razdawg continued to verbalize his advances and unbidden libidinous desires towards any female who strutted past him. A female student walked up and admired his kis and he would start calling her baby asking her where she had been all of his life. I would get called out two three times a day to remind him that viewing porn was not acceptable on our computers. He would smile and tell me that he wa just trying to check his e-mail. 

"Another Razdawg complaint, Dave. Go over there and talk to him." Fellow boss Drea would tell me several times nightly.

"Drea, he's personally harmless. He's benign. He's not gonna hurt anyone. He's just got a whole lotta love." 

"Do something." Drea deemed. "Everytime I walk over to him he just stares at my boobs and says "damn" and talks openly about my ass. Plus I can't stand the sight of that god damn leg. That's personally offensive to my vision. Can't he just have that amputated or something."

"It's not like a boob job Drea." I specifically remember getting pissed at her for talking about Razdawgs leg like it was a serperate from his body. "I mean, how owuld you feel if that was you, if your body turned against you like that and you couldn't even govern the taxing growth of your own limbs."

"He could still govern his tongue and you need to talk to him again, I think he's looking at porn."

So of course, I went. Out of my twenty or so co--workers I was the only one who wasn't afraid to go near him. Razdawg recognized my enervated gait as I lumbered over to the computer lab. His lascivious grin morphed into an austere hyphen and he swiftly began clicking the mouse pad.

"Razdawg, whatcha doing?" I said.

"Shhhh." Razdawg vertically positioned his pointer fingers up to his face. with his free hand he offered a few more clicks. he then pointed to his child.

"He's sleeping." Razdawg said. "Isn't he beautiful."

I held my breath. Drea was tapping her foot at the circulation desk, waiting for me to lambaste Razdawg.

"You know bro, I was pretty drunk and I don't even know if the kids mine, but, damn, he sure is precious."

I nodded me head. I slapped him on the back before returning to my post.

"Did you tell him this is his last warning?" Drea asked me.

"Yeah," I said, lying. "I told him. I told him this is the last time before we called the police."


"Rash. No. Let me tell you something, I'm a human being who is only renting out a body suit for a terse period of time.  Do you wanna know what I'll look like in fifty years? In sevety years for sure? I'll look like little grains of soil. I'll be dust. Everything that I ever paid such meticulous attention to when I stare in the mirror in the morning will be wedged into a little rectangle and planted--physically planted back into the earth. That said, why the hell are you looking at me like that? Is that all you can see?


"The Campus police want to talk you." My boss said. It was ten in the morning, and I had already finished page siz of my daily quota.

"Why," I ask.

"They want to ask you about Raymond Tissler. Apparently he has a little bit of a history as well. I've been telling you this for months."

"Sorry," I say staring back at my heaped paragraphs. "I don't know anyone by that name."

"Sure you do," My boss said. "You of all people know him."

"Raymond Tissler? Not a clue." I said, returning to my work.

"We finally threw him out last night. You know ass-hole in the wheel chair with the fucked up leg." My boss said, just like that.   

I look at my boss and remain silent. I go and talk to the police. After they are done interrogating me I over hear my co--workers chatting. They might as well be clinking champagne. One of them says, "Thank God we got him out of here. I couldn't stand the sight of his leg."

1 comment:

daku said...

i made a comment to your previous post, which really should have been here... but it applies regardless, anywhere. (-;