He invited her to London. They’d met salsa dancing. She loved London; she’d studied abroad there. They drove to Scotland. They ate haggis and he got drunk and threw up in the street. I feel like a local, he said, but there were no locals throwing up in the street. At Heathrow he gave her a ticket back to Philadelphia. I’m going to India, he said, to get married. He kissed her on the cheek and left.
The last man she’d dated committed suicide. They’d met in AA; he’d been a heroin addict. She sat and waited for her plane. On the news a ten-year-old girl had been raped and murdered in India. He was from the south of India, in Goa. It’s beautiful there, he’d said. Beaches, delicious food. You should come sometime. He said that the first night in London. He worked in Boston. He was only in Philly for a temporary assignment. She tried to meditate. A man sat next to her. He smelled familiar: a smell from her childhood. Her father was an alcoholic. When she was drinking like he had, she knew she needed to stop.
Do I know you? the man next to her said.
She looked at him. No, I don’t think so, she said.
The news said one of the men accused of raping the girl had hung himself in jail. She put her headphones on and listened to white noise. She said her mantra. She saw the back of his hands as they drove to Scotland. There was a scar on his left hand. When she’d touched it he smiled and said, A tiger. He came into our house one night when everyone was sleeping. I found him. I was trying to find a Snickers bar my father brought back from the States. I fought the tiger.
Over a Snickers bar? she said.
I love Snickers, he said.
God, you’re so brave, she said.
Don’t come between me and a Snickers bar, he said.
The man sitting next to her put his hand on her thigh. I really do know you, he said.
No, I don’t think so, she said. Sorry, my plane’s leaving.
She got up and went to a bar. She ordered a Coke and sat next to a man wearing an Eagles football jersey. She looked at the TV: the girl had been trying to find a place to go to the bathroom when she’d been gang-raped.
It’s seriously fucked up over there, the man said in the jersey said. What the hell is going on? This is like the fifth rape of a ten year old in India in the past month. My niece is ten, and Jesus Christ, if anything like this happened to her, there’d be some fucking consequences, some fucking hell to pay. I can’t watch this shit it’s too much. Hey bartender, another whiskey over here.
Only thing to do is drink, she said.
That’s the truth. I’m taking your advice here. You’re American, thank God. Can’t stand these Brits. Goddamn pussies. Pardon me, Excuse me, Oh Sorry. Jesus Christ: get some balls. I’ve never apologized for anything in my entire life. That’s my secret to success. There’s a reason we kicked their asses. How did they take over the world? With their goddamn tea? And their Sorrys? Get me me some coffee. A real man drinks coffee.
Or whiskey, she said.
You said it, young lady.
He motioned at the television screen.
My brother goes over there all the time, he said. Business. He’s told me some crazy shit. I don’t have anything against the people themselves, but their culture is just fucked up over there. It’s just a whole different way of thinking. Women are property, that’s it. They take the husbands first and last name when they get married. They’re nothing. They have no identity of their own. You marry them off at ten, eleven, do anything you want with them. Rape them, murder them, doesn’t matter. No one gives a shit. They only give a shit now because of the international community reacting. I’m Tiger, by the way. What’s your name?
My sister tells me all this. She has a kid now. She’s married to a registered sex offender. No joke. I like the guy, actually. His name is Henry.
He’s really good with Jason, she says. That’s their kid.
I’d make a joke if it wasn’t my sister. That’s good is all I can say.
They met in AA. Maybe try online dating, I want to say, to expand the pool of eligible gentleman. Not just a support group for alcoholics and addicts.
I have questions for her, but I’m wary. I don’t want to scare her off. She disappeared before, when I was still living at home. I just needed some distance, she said when she called me after five years. She still doesn’t talk to our parents.
I wanted to name him Tiger, she says, looking at Jason crawling on the carpet. I’ve always liked that name. I mean, the crazy guy in the airport almost ruined it for me, but still I like that name. Henry didn’t like it though.
What Henry wants he gets. That’s what I’m discovering.
My questions about Henry: What did he do? Abuse a child? An infant? A ten-year-old girl? Did he rape a woman? A man? Grab someone’s ass on the street? Can people change? Can sexuality change? Did he get my sister pregnant so he could have easy access to his next victim? Is my sister his victim? I say nothing.
Do you want more coffee? she says.
No, I say. Too much gives me heartburn.
Tea? she says.
Sure, some herbal tea, I say.
Real men drink coffee, she says and smiles.
In that case give me a whiskey, I say.
Not a chance, she says.
Time for someone’s nap, she says. She takes him to his room.
I get up and put my mug in the sink. On the fridge is a picture of the three: mom, dad, baby boy, all smiling in front of a fake backdrop of clouds and blue sky. Happy baby, happy family.
Are you happy? I say, when she comes into the kitchen.
I’ve never been happier, she says.
Bought new shoelaces.
The happiest I was last summer.
Dad and I play catch.
Then I cry in the bathroom.
I’m going to die.
She made fun of the holes in
my socks. I took her bra off.
Handyman knocked on the door.
We all spoke in tongues.
Pastor touched my head; I fell.
Holy Ghost got me.
Ice cream melting in the sun.
I’m another day older.
Wipe your mouth, you goddamn child.
“You want to stab me?
That will make my pussy wet.”
We smile; eyes meet.
I watched a rope’s shadow on a brick wall.
Only memory of that summer.
I stroked her leg.
You have a reckless ass mouth.
You like boys or girls?
I just wanna have soooome fuuuuun.
Woman grabbed my ass.
Mmm, that ass! she said.
God, I’m irresistable.
A ray of sunshine
disguised as a thundercloud.
What she said I was.
The night we ran from the cops. Hanson’s wedding. He’s divorced now. His marriage was annulled. His wife was a stripper. A dark period of her life. No one knew except me. But that’s not why they divorced. Hanson decided he didn’t believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church—to which his wife was now devoted—and decided it was ethically wrong and irresponsible to bring children into this overpopulated, deteriorating, and honestly shitty world, that reason must overrule our biological imperative to propagate.
by Marian Lorraine
George Ferrandi, founder of Wayfarers, Brooklyn
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live like a kid again? To run naked through the proverbial field of daisies and at the end of the day to be supported by a warm and encouraging woman who wants you to be your biggest self and is delighted with every expression of your truth? Meet George Ferrandi. Under the midnight moonlight, Ferrandi, her dark hair in an imperial bun, glasses perched on a perfect nose, wrapped in a sage-colored jacket with a sparkle at her throat, opens the door to Wayfarers, her collective/studio/members-only art club/gallery.
Congratulations on Everything sculpture by Brent Owens
In the middle of the beautifully sanded caramel wood floor is a hollowed log, the inside strewn with amethyst-colored stones. The top is sanded, and pools are hollowed and filled with flat neon colors. The effect is magical. “But wait!” says Ferrandi. She flicks a switch, and the piece lights up from the inside. We both stare for a moment, enchanted. The work of Brent Owens, this piece is part of Congratulations on Everything, the current exhibition at Wayfarers. Sculptures by Owens are displayed along with the paintings by Ben Coode-Adams, which are moody and witty, making for a winning combination.
She used to date priests. Not ordained priests, but those who decided after months of dating they had a vocation to the priesthood. Thomas joined the Nobertines, the order of our campus priest, who was very pleased with the decision. Sean joined a Benedictine Abbey in Oklahoma. Andrew, the Jesuits, but he always was dangerously liberal at our school.
I bought a tuxedo. I don’t know why. I don’t have any money. I have trouble paying my rent. But I just had this need for the tuxedo. I couldn’t help it. At night I wear my tuxedo and walk around. People take you seriously when you wear a tuxedo. You’re obviously important. I walk into a coffee shop and order a macchiato. I sit down. I’m having a break from my busy schedule. Just a few minutes to myself to have a delicious coffee. There are so many demands on my time. I look at my phone. I write a text. I have a thoughtful look. People rely on my texts. They rely on me. I look at my watch. Perhaps I’m waiting for my date to arrive. She is a beautiful woman, obviously. My phone rings. It’s my alarm. I answer it.
from the archives
His name was Timothy but we called him Carrot because his hair was red. Later, behind his back, we called him Gimpy because he walked funny. A week after we moved to Virginia Beach, Carrot’s mom brought him and his sister Tiffany over to our house.
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth,” she said when my mom opened the door. “We live just up the street. Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Mom introduced us.
Carrot looked at his feet. When his mom nudged him he asked if I wanted to go play football with him.
”Oh that sounds nice, Joey,” my mom said. “Would you like to go? Go on and play.”
I went. At first I was scared because Carrot was the ugliest kid I’d ever seen.
You do realize God has a plan for you. I know that. For a fact. I pray every night for you, sweetie. Every night I cry out to God for you. Show him your plan, I say. Show him your divine providence. You have to pray, sweetie. Tell me you’ll say a prayer tonight. You never know when the Lord’s going to call us home. Neither the hour or the day. And I want to see you on God’s path before I die.
Fucking fantastic. That’s great news. I’m so happy for you. You must be so thrilled.
Have you told many people?
Only a few. You’re one of the first.
Well, that’s great. God, so happy for you. When do you leave?
Wow. Great. So great. You’re keeping your apartment?
Yeah, you could sublet if you want.
Oh no. That’s alright. I’m happy where I am.
Where are you?
Here, there, everywhere. I’m like a sparrow, flitting around on residential trees.
We’ll give you a good rate if you change your mind.
I like the freedom. I don’t want to be tied down. I like exploring different neighborhoods.
You know what, I dated white girls. They complain too much. They want everything, credit cards, gifts, dinners, everything. I was married to one for twelve years. She was in the army. Once she became a sergeant, everything changed. Once she got those stripes she wasn’t ever the same. You know what, I took those stripes and ripped them off. I had to show her. I threw them in the trash. To make a point. Stripes don’t make you shit. White girls are crazy. Get away from them. They’ll mess you up and leave you broke. You got a extra cigarette?
Kisses, she said. Oh hugs and kisses. I haven’t seen you in forever, John. Forever! How are you, really? Tell me. You don’t have to lie to me, John. Tell me how you’re doing. If you want to say shitty as hell, then say it. I won’t mind. Just tell me without thinking. You’re fine? After what happened to you? I’m glad to hear. I’m sure you’ve felt terrible for so long and now things are evening out. I’m glad to hear. If I were you I’d want a good long cry every day. But that’s me. I’m a big baby.
I want to take you to a coffee shop and seduce you. I was walking down the street when he said this. I have a boyfriend, I said.
Don’t bring him, the man said. He was walking alongside of me. You’re a fast walker, he said.
I have to be somewhere, I said.
I know. Getting coffee with me. And you’re right on time.
I’m meeting my boyfriend, I said. He’s big and he has tattoos.
Did he just get out of prison? He was smiling.
Yeah, for killing a man who was hitting on me.
So it’s true, he said. Girls always go for the nice guys.
She was afraid of color. The walls of her apartment were white; the floors painted black. She was passed out on her bed, buried under her white comforter. On the bedside table was a copy of Domino magazine and a book: “How To Meet The Man Of Your Dreams (And Get Married) In 45 Days.”
I went out with Reilly for drinks for his birthday. We went to Shades of Green, a quiet Irish bar on Gramercy. Reilly had just lost a lot of money playing online poker. He’d played for seventy-two hours straight. I bought the drinks. We walked down to the Baggot Inn where his Turkish girlfriend Anastasia was working. A girl at the bar was reading Ulysses. At three a.m. in the morning. With a loud cover band. I asked her how the book was and she said, I just like want to read my book and chill, not talk to anyone.