The Musings of Charlie Wilson

            A bald, muscular man inspects Ashley’s fake ID. She’s wearing a tight dress and he keeps sneaking peeks at her body. He isn’t focused on her ID. It has her photograph on it and it’s passable. The man hands it back to her with a grin full of gold teeth.

            "Have fun pretty." He says. His eyes leer at her.

            Ashley enters the bar to an assortment of older men and trashy women. Every head in the place turns towards her. She is a blonde angelic looking girl and she is out of place here. She sits at the bar by herself and orders a few shots. Within a few minutes a man walks up to her. His hair has streaks of grey and is slicked back.

            "Hi doll face. Can I buy you a drink?"

            "No thanks, I’m good." Ashley says sweetly, motioning to the shots in front of her, 2 of which she has already gulped down. She turns back to the bar and takes another shot, ignoring him. While he is visible in the mirror next to her she stares straight into her own eyes. She wonders if perhaps there is another whole world behind that mirror. She wants to slink through it like it’s water. She wants to leave the suburban world of screaming fights kept quiet. She wants to run away from here where worth determined by looks and one’s last name.

            Another man approaches her. He has an expensive suit on and looks about thirty.

            "What’re you doing in a place like this?" He says in a rich, deep voice. She feels as though the vibrations of his voice are massaging her skin.

            "Just trying to have some fun." She says, taking another shot.

            "Whoa slow down. I don’t want to have to carry you out of here." He raises his eyebrow.

            "I can take care of myself." Her throat burns from the alcohol and it calms her. She knows this means she’ll soon feel numbness.

            "I’m sure you can. Now let me introduce myself. I’m Ted." A smirk is plastered on his face.

            "Ashley." She stares down at her fingernails.

            "What a cute name for a cute girl." He looks around then says in a low voice, "Ashley, would you like to have some fun?" This catches her attention and she glances over as he partially brings out a plastic baggy of cocaine and quickly stuffs it back in his pocket.

            Ashley’s eyes grow wide. It’s her chance to go through the mirror. Well at least as close as she’ll get tonight. She sees the world as if through a kaleidoscope. That’s the rose-tinted vision she has had to develop. The world is a magnificent dream to her and she shuts the harsh realities out, preferring to think about stories with no endings and secret passages. She buries the bad deep down inside of her and pushes it far from her thoughts. Instead she skips school to do drugs and sleep for hours.

            "For me?" She says cautiously.

            "Yes ma’am. As long as you grant me the privilege of your beautiful company."

            She gets up without a word and follows him out of the bar and down the street. The promise of the high and the escape is enough for her.

            "Where are we going?" Ashley asks. She is starting to get cold.

            "We’re almost there."

            She shivers as they walk on in silence. She doesn’t have anything to say to him. After a few more blocks he stops and takes out a key. They are standing at a high-rise office building.

            "I’m not supposed to be here." Ted winks at her. His face looks like a mask and her stomach turns but she follows him inside.

            The building is dark and quiet as a tomb. It seems eerie to Ashley, almost as if she’s in a horror movie. She half expects a monster to pop out. They go up to his office; it’s a relatively small room but it has a pretty view of the city. They snort the cocaine by the light of a small lamp.

            "Wow. Your nose is hungry." Ted says, "Who knew such a small girl could take so much?"

            She pours out some more and makes two more thick lines. She doesn’t respond to him and snorts the two lines herself. As the miniscule specks fly up her nose and up into her brain everything seems easier. She feels as though she can conquer the world. She takes off her dress. She wants to feel the cold glass of the window against her skin. She wants to fly above the city and be outside of her body. Ted immediately forgets everything else and puts his hands all over her. She had almost forgotten he was there.

People like it when you conform and have mundane conversations. Talking constantly about how the day is too long or the weather is drab or how much work you have to do. It’s not often one is eager to converse about art or the paradoxes of life. No, they prefer to discuss lawnmowers or gossip about other people’s mistakes and flaws. They discuss these subjects with such vigor and frequency you would imagine the topics had more significance. 

The scum of the earth, the dirty ones with desperate eyes. The scum driven to steal and kill and live day to day. The people of the streets, of the shacks, of the grimy rundown bars. The ones in tattered clothes and worn shoes that have surely seen a mile too many. The people with scars and terrible stories to tell. They are the underside of history.

We fall asleep with music

reaching us,

thumping through the walls.

A pattern that eventually lulls

me to sleep with its repetition.



I awake and it is silent.

My love wraps his arms around me

and brings me closer,

bodies like parentheses.



We discuss our dreams

of nonsense

and he says the music

must have influenced

our dreams,

making them vivid.



I imagine the beats and melodies

invading my nightly escapes.

Then I smile at his great mind

and another morning with him.

The French Man And The Prostitute

            The French man sits in his second story apartment. Stray cats yowl in the alley. He used to feed them. He’d throw them scraps of cheese. But then they started following him around and he just didn’t need anyone else demanding things of him. He has broken a fair number of hearts for this very reason. He seduces women without speaking and never calls them for he refuses to get a telephone.

            The French man writes his sickly mother a letter a week and takes the train to visit her every third Sunday of the month. The rest of his time is mostly spent alone. He likes to stare at the wall as he strives for epiphanies to clamor out on his typewriter. He feels he is a tortured soul and therefore he must write. But all he has come up with in the three months he’s been living in the apartment are ramblings about the city lights, the rain, and the prostitute on the corner. He can see her now, if he turns his neck a bit. He has never brought her home, never even spoken to her, but he thinks about her often. He wonders about her life and upbringing. What led to her to such a life? What led her to this very street? He’s never even gotten a good look at her face.

            And so, the French man sits as he has so many nights before, a bottle of red wine open and his typewriter mocking him. His apartment is mostly bare. He has few belongings. There is a painting above his bed that was there when he rented the room. It’s an odd portrait of some king with haunting eyes from the monarch days. He wrote a short story about this old man above his bed but the story was vague and contrived. He had ended up tearing the pages and throwing them out the window in frustration. The cats had looked up at him with hunger in their eyes and meowed in confusion.

            The apartment has a sitting room where he entertains ladies on a burgundy velvet couch. He keeps a stack of the best literature of France in the corner, only the classics. A worn royal blue Persian carpet adorns the floor. It had been on sale at a market and he’d purchased it on a whim. It was one of the few attempts he’d made to make the apartment more welcoming. The kitchen and restroom he’d left as the day he moved in. They are small anyway, like on a ship, and he spends little time in them. Except for his baths. He likes to read for an hour or two as the water turns from hot to lukewarm to cold.

            That particular night he’d had ham and cheese on a loaf of bread for dinner. He’d eaten alone as he almost always did. With the radio on soft and a candle lit. These are also his preferred conditions when he has a woman over. Women often describe him as romantic. It is not until later that they realize he cares nothing for them but merely for himself and what they can do for him. He is a man who seems to be waiting. Waiting for his muse to inspire his yet to be written novel. Waiting for the perfect woman. Waiting for his life to happen.

            It can’t be determined what changes him on this starry night. Ordinarily he would have kept drinking and perhaps written a paragraph or two about shadows and human desperation before falling asleep as dawn approached. But perhaps he has grown tired of being alone or maybe it was that nostalgic love song that came on the radio, but he suddenly feels the need to get out. It’s a hot and humid night and he wears a thin cotton shirt. He leaves the candle burning.

            Walking down the steps he is unsure of his destination. Maybe he’ll just take a walk, get some air in his lungs. He just needs to be somewhere else besides his apartment. He knows he spends too much time alone, that it can’t be healthy. But every time he tries to go out and socialize it always ends up the same. He ends up with some voluptuous woman coming back home with him. It’s the same old story, just with different women, and he is tired of it.

            He walks along the cobblestone street in the direction of the prostitute. There is a streetlight making everything glow yellow and the moon is full and bright tonight so he can see very clearly. It is maybe two in the morning and there is no one else around. Almost all have gone to sleep and windows are dark. As he approaches the prostitute hears his footsteps and turns. She is wearing a short pink dress, clearly cheap and flimsy. Her high heels are pink as well. Her hair is blonde and long. He can tell she’s about his age, not too young and not too old. If she had a different type of life she’d have just graduated from a university. Her face is made up heavily with makeup. But despite it she is still very beautiful. He is caught off guard by her eyes. They were wide and vulnerable. When he looks into them for that moment he feels as though he shouldn’t be. As if he is looking at something personal.

            “Hello sir. Would you like some company tonight?” Her voice is soft and extremely feminine.

            He is unsure of what to do. He stands a few feet from her. He has never been with a lady of the night before and has never considered the idea. He is a good-looking man himself and has no trouble with women. In fact, they often pursue him.

            She looks at him with those eyes and he feels himself melt a little.

            “You are very beautiful you know.” He says this in a burst, thinking the words and immediately letting them escape from his mouth. She giggles. She takes his hand.

            “Come on sir. You want to, I can tell.”

            “I-I-I live there.” He stammers with nervousness, pointing to his apartment. She smiles coyly. He is completely captivated by her. She is still holding his hand and leads him to his doorway. As they walk up the stairs he cannot quite believe what is happening. He even drops his keys trying to open the door he is so anxious. She giggles again, a sound so youthful he is reminded of the girls of his childhood.

            When they enter the apartment she immediately kicks off her shoes before going and laying herself out on the burgundy velvet couch. Then she begins to undress. Slowly unzipping her dress while looking him straight in the eye. It is almost too much for him. His palms are sweaty. His heart is racing. He walks into the other room and grabs his bottle of wine taking a swig off it to calm himself down. When he returns she is completely naked. He is surprised and stares. He can’t help himself. His eyes drink in every curve and every detail of her beautiful flesh. When his eyes rest upon hers he realizes she has been staring at him for the past few moments. He becomes flustered, looking away. She rises from the couch, looking him in the eyes the entire time, and unzips his pants.

            Afterward he is embarrassed. He can’t believe he just had sex with a prostitute. He always thought that was for desperate men, ugly men. He lies on the couch as she puts her dress back on.

            “Hey, do you have a family?” He asks quietly. It is a question he had been pondering as he looked at her from afar.

            “No, both my parents are dead. I have always been an orphan.”

            For a moment he wants to save her from it all, from her life of depravity. He can imagine marrying her and moving to a house in the country. Perhaps he could write better out there. She’d cook all the time. It would be a good and simple life. But the moment passes and he is reminded she is a whore as she puts her pink high heels back on. He gets his wallet and holds out some money, he isn’t sure of how much she’ll want. She doesn’t grab much. Less than he is holding and less than he would have guessed. He feels his heart sink for her.

It’s All Nonsense to Everyone Else

Looking far away

at a mountain range.

I want the past

To disappear down,

down anywhere,

down into a tunnel,

and out of mind.



I am the catalyst.

Nail polish chips off my nails.

My lips sip soda-pop.

I count the months together.



I dream about ships and valleys

And a giant wolf telling me

To plant thoughts in oranges.



It’s all nonsense to everyone else.

Some things I make up.

Some things are only in my head.

Une jeune femme (enhanced version)

Une jeune femme

(the young woman)

By Charlie Wilson

 

"Siren" red walls.

Sex books stacked.

Rose perfume.

Musings of hedonism

in red penned cursive.

Horror movies faintly screaming until 4 am.

Sleek polychromatic Hendrix poster.

Heap of old records in the corner.

Her domain a fashion igloo.

Vacant trees dark in the window

with the blue dawn.

 

She is tart womanhood

vast umber irises under defined lashes.

milky film over a slender frame

propped up on heels.

 

I enter her wonderland

sipping fruit juice

and having bizarre conversations with her

like I have for many years.

She tells me her musings:

"I read this book about serial killers"

"The 1960s babydoll look is making a comeback"

J’aime toute chose assez” (I love all things pretty).

 

A friendship arisen out of

a resentment for our private Catholic school.

And now I still enter her cozy haven.

No textbooks

only the strewn wanderlust of fashion sketches.

 

Words beyond her youth lilting out of her,

Paris,

la mode (the fashion),

cultured wine and thin pink cigarettes.

Her bizarre family,

with nonchalance she once told me:

My mother’s side of the family

has a brimless fascination with macabre.”

Dropping acid on a whim,

rock n roll music and epiphanies.

 

I glimpse it all.

Her smallness walking the catacombs in couture.

Strutting the dirty pavement of downtown Portland.

Escapades among the city’s artists and politicians

on the arm of her rock star.

 

She tells me: “Do what you want.

Don’t live for someone else.”

Musings of the Ocean Floor

(Based upon the photograph: Fish & Swimmers, Ironman Triathalon: Wayne Levin)


I am the depths.

I taste the salt of the seaweed tangling

They move past me

unaware of the stillness.

I stare far above

the ocean’s rough and vast surface

ever moving, never still.

Many people swim above

exemplifying the glory of man,

they are dark against the light penetrating.

Bodies looking glorious, appearing outreached

as if painted Greek gods or Roman statues.

The briny scent of the ocean sticks to them.

Do they feel it against their skin?

 

I am the end of the abyss.

Dark jagged rocks upon me.

Schools of fish move by close to me

too far below to care about the chaos of humans.

In the light they flow with the water

undisturbed.

The silence of water swishing slightly

with the sway of creatures.

 

I am the bottom of it all.

The distance fades off

giving way to murkiness.

Weeds cover me and sway.

Stillness and no time

passing below the surface.

Quietness submerged here.

Parfum

 

Attaching to molecules

settling on necks and wrists

a slight dampness on skin

like a bouquet of daffodils

wet with dew.

A golden clear liquid

becomes unseen

yet tangible in the air,

a delicate bird

that lingers.

 

The scent is the afternoon,

a warmth that hits your body

on a summer morning.

As soft as the underside of

burgeoning breasts,

as spreading lotion

into a girl’s skin,

a ripening peach.

 

All within a bottle

the side of a ice cap

heavy and glass.

The bottle is

yellow and light

as late afternoon sun

filtered through

a lace curtain.

 

Ash Wednesday

Alcohol sliding into my veins

flight through haziness

distilled clear elixir

mixing with my unspilled blood

smooth on my twisting tongue.

I am merely hoping for the best.

Pureness contaminated

but good intentions still slurred.

 

Next dawn I am raw

pain, a rite,

following an attempt at euphoria

I see them with dirty crosses

marking faith on display.

I have no ashy cross

only one bejeweled on a necklace.

 

Hovering between nirvana and “hell”

my bare forehead tells it all.

 

It’s alright

music has always healed me

better than prayer.