1981 : gorilla pimpin’

Originally posted February 5, 2010 on dirtygirldiaries.com.

I hit the wall for the third time.

The sounds in my head aren’t quite human, they’re pre-verbal, a jazz opera of pain and fear and a survival instinct I didn’t know I had. It clatters and crashes; it bubbles up and breaks free from the antediluvian soup at the base of my brain and bounces around my head. I stay on the floor, just for a fraction of a second, to catch my breath, to get my bearings, to make sense of it all before the next blow comes. And the jazz congeals into coherence: Make it stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. StoWhack – a fist connects with the side of my head, sending me crashing into the oak table I’d found on the street and rolled home. Things shatter / fly apart. Things are broken / beyond repair. I scurry blindly on all fours /cowering /trapped /desperate for a way out. A few pathetic gurglings are the only things that find a way to escape. He feeds on my terror, growing larger with every mouthful he takes. Make it stop. Stop. Stop. Please, someone make it stop.

“Hey… it’s me. Lemme talk to  Big Maxie.” I cradle the phone against my cheek, examining the bruises on my face in the cloudy antique mirror above the futon in the living room. Where he’d slept. The sheets still smell of him, of his cologne, his sweat, my blood. His smells engulf me, smother me as I watch myself talk, like talking to myself, into the phone.

“Yeah, what?” Maxie says, “you’re late… Ya gonna bother to come in?”

“Yeah…yeah, Max – I’m comin’. I had a little accident, is all.”  The odor of the Big Man covers my face, burning my eyes.  Staring into my muddied reflection, into my own eyes, testing my black eye and swollen nose with one finger, my nail polish almost matches the dried blood on my cheek. My blood. My blood is Vamp Red. “I’ll be a little late, but I’m comin’, Max.”

“You’re already a little late.  Get your fat ass in here.” Click. Disconnect. The phone slams down on Maxie’s end; on my end, the receiver slips from my fingers.

Still staring at my reflection, I gingerly press my fingertips against the burns on my chest. And just like that, that smell is back; the sulfur of match-heads, the slightly sweet hint of tobacco, burnt hair and flesh. I begin to shiver, then convulse. Choking sounds gurgle up as I twitch/twitch/twitch, my eyes never leaving their cloudy reflection, my other self, my shadow sister, the sounds turn to laughter, loud and raucous.

I’m going crazy is what.
I’m losing my mind is what, but
I’m comin’ in to work.
No worries.
Gotta get ready.
Gotta get ready.

Stepping around overturned the chairs and tables, over knick-knacks and clothes, sidestepping shards from broken mirrors and glassware, I make my way to the tiny bathroom and step into the old claw foot tub. Hot water pounds down, streaming down my body, burning my open wounds.

Slowly, I remove the costume he chose.

The black chiffon peignoir, the push-up bra and G string all drip down to the bottom of the tub, clogging up the drain. I plop down beside them, mesmerized by the way the chiffon keeps finding its way down the drain each time I pull it out. The drain trying to swallow the whole thing. I pull, it swallows, I pull, it swallows. I give up that game when I notice my feet. Come-fuck-me pumps my father used to call them. Stiletto heels. Black patent leather straps. Bound so tight they cut into my ankles and little trickles of my blood float in the water.  Seeping through the chiffon, oozing across the patent leather straps. Slowly I release first one foot and then the other.

Oh, God, make it all go away,
make it not true, not true.
I Gotta get ready.

The first two tears roll slowly down my face. My feet throb painfully as the blood starts flowing back into them. I slump over, sobbing. I can’t stop myself.

Get it all out now, bitch.

I didn’t cry in front of him, wouldn’t let him think he’d  beaten me, broken me. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing he could hurt me. And now I can’t hold back. My tears, my blood, my shit, my clothes and his semen all mix into an after-rape soup in the tub.

Pull yourself together.
Get ready.
You’re late.
Man up
and move the fuck on.

I stand up, take a deep breath, thrust my face into the stream of scalding water, letting it wash everything away, soap up and began to get ready to go to work.

Every memorable night deserves its own theme music.