Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Marvin's Girl -- Brent Powers

Well, all else failing I decided to visit my uncle Marvin. He rung me in and I entered his venerable old Victorian, floating above the steps a bit. This was nice because I usually fell.

"Marvin?" I called. "Marvin?"

"Yeah, I'm comin'."

He was way at the back of the flat. I could hear him skating across the hardwood floors on his socks the way he always did. Marvin was like a kid. He was young at heart but old on the outside with skin like old leaves.

"Hoop-de-doo!" he said when he opened the door. That's how he always greeted me. Then he skated back up the long hallway and into the living room. I followed and got in there in time to see him take a leap into his big old chair.

"Tab in the fridge" he told me. "Also oyster stew, brown eggs, tuna salad, Velveeta and a Budweiser. Choose the Budweiser, open and pour. I do not object if you should want more. I remember how you like to come over and drink everything up, everything in the house, and that's how long the conversations is. Right? Right?"

To oblige him, I went in to his vast San Francisco kitchen and grabbed the Bud. Came back in and sank into his old couch which said oof!

"That a boy," he said. "Get all fucked up."

He was having Tab and vodka. He served me my first drink when I got out of high school and that's what he gave me. Gah! If that was all they ever gave you I'd be a teetotaler from day one.
Marvin raised his glass. "Here's to you, Nuttso!" He took a slurp of his spiked Tab, making disgusting sounds.

"How are you, Marv?" I asked him, just for something to say. I had very little to talk to him about any more. I don't know what I was doing over there really, I was just on the loose and thought of him, and I was approaching his neighborhood when the thought had just entered my head that it would be wise to throw my wallet down the sewer, that I should end it here, first with my wallet and then my body even though I knew it wouldn't fit, but the next thought was of Marvin.

"Oh, I'm coping," he said. "Remain interested in history, philosophy, great books of literature in easy to read editions. Don't haunt the night anymore. Don't chase after working girls. Fixed income don't include working girls. Add that knowledge to your future plans, mental case. Crazy as you are, the gov'mint won't pay for jollies. Hey, but I got this." He leaned forward and pointed at his cheek. There was something there alright, a mole or something.

"Take up that magnifier over there," he said. "Get a look at my honey."

I did like I was told. I bent down with the large glass, the one he used to examine old coins.
At first I thought I wasn't seeing it right but … well, it looked like a tiny little woman sitting on the side of his cheek. Yeah, that's what it was, a tiny little woman in a bathing suit. She was sitting there a little above the froth of his white mustache, and through the glass I could even see what she looked like, her body type, all about her. She was a little thick in the legs, and she had small breasts that she must have contemplated improving at times, a square head, a squarish hairdo to suit it, or it would be if it wasn't all shapeless and frizzy from swimming in his mouth.

"Like her?" Marv said, breathing old meals and medicine in my face. "She is a strange creature, ain't she?"

I kept looking. I was waiting for her to move. I wanted to know if she was alive or just some weird skin formation. But then she did move: she took one foot and scratched her opposite calf. The expression on her face was that of a tired woman who'd seen a lot and been disappointed with the whole dang thing. Somehow I just couldn't blame her.

I put the glass back and drew away.

"My new gal," Marv said proudly with his old lips pursed. I waited for the little dame to slide down from the movement, slide down and get all tangled in his mustache, but she held her place without effort. Perhaps she was stuck there by means of a small amount of rubber cement. "Best I've had. Name's Cookie and she works in the darkness of the school system. In what capacity she won't tell me but I imagine she's one of those office people who're always telling kids to get their hands out of their pants, types a thousand words a minute, all business at work but a total animal on the dance floor. She says she's from back East and attended Barnard but that's grunt, she's Glendale, Arizona from tip of her toes to her chinny-chin-chins. Wished I'd been there for some of the good stuff she was giving out in her full sized life. What the hell, though, at least we can talk. Hard to hear her sometimes due to all the waxy buildup in my ears currently but we do share some good times. I read at her from Milton to get her good and guilty feeling; then I let her off the hook with some hip new free psychologic whoopy, gets her wet so she almost comes unglued. I love her. Glad she came to me in my time of ancient need."

"Where did she come from?" I asked. I tried to sound serious and matter of fact.

"I told you. Glendale, Arizona." His expression was one of hurt accusation. "Never been there, myself. Why would I have? Them places are just assend bus stops. That's why she concocts all that about a fast East Coast life of perfumed sex in hallways with married men and dinners at the Four Seasons; being kept in a suite at the Plaza Hotel where there were these little robot vacuum cleaners she'd always be stumbling over and inconvenient servants who'd lick her face. She said she saw all four seasons looking out the big windows of that suite at the Four Seasons, saw the park and the carriages, the opera lovers in tall hats and at night there was the Staten Island Sex Fiend in his cape stalking Riverside Drive. He'd ask an unattended lady to light his cigar with her Bic lighter -- it was still in the day of the Bic lighter -- and then he'd yank her into the bushes and make nasty with her until she swooned in an amazement of pleasure, then told the police later how awful it was. Only civil. Can't have enjoyment of them things, it's not Christian. Yeah, she told me all this only she's fulla shit like an old tomato. I enjoy the stories so I don't bother to correct her. Hell, the stories are pretty goddamned sexy, you wanna know the truth. I even get stirrings down there from the Stranger in my Pants … So, tell me, son. What are you into lately? Still engaged in criminal activities?"

"You mean brokerage? Nah, I'm too soft," I confessed. "That's no life for a poetic soul."

"'Poetic soul'!" he giggled, spitting up long strings. "But hey. You still married to that deaf and dumb bitty?"

"Which deaf and dumb bitty was that?"

"Well, I can't remember her name, Nuttso. She couldn't say her name. And you wouldn't tell me. Wouldn't tell me a goddamned thing. Afraid I was gonna steal her away from you, I guess. Take her into the closet and show her what it's really like. Come on, what was her name? You can tell me now. You probably pushed her down the stairs going HEEHEEHEE!"

"I never had a deaf and dumb biddy," I told him. "Maybe you did and forgot about it. You've had so many women, Uncle."

"Well, in traction, then. Didn't you have one in traction?"

I chugalugged my beer. "Marv," I said. "I've had one girl and one wife. The rest is sadness."
"Oh, ain't that the truth." He looked sympathetic. "Well, look. You oughta get yourself one of these. Recommend it. She don't give you no grief. There's no real jollies to the deal but … well, you're comin' to the time, aincha? Few years it won't matter. Just bullshitting will be enough. You sit there of an evening listening to your sad and lonely iTunes and talking sweet and lovely, it's even better than all that exhausting bangin'. Don't have to shower afterwards or apologize for coming too soon. Lot of advantage to the celibate kind of love. You can wax poetic and get all gooey and stuff without the actual mess."

He went on like that until I tired of it. I found I could sort of back away slowly, saying, "Right. Right." He'd still be talking. Didn't even know I was gone. I could hear him all the way down to the street. It was then I decided not to toss my wallet or my body down the drain. I figured I could hook myself up with something in life, a growth or something. Marv had done OK. I could do OK, too. And live to share what I have found with others. It is a good and handsome life we have.

Original Photo Credit: Joe Shablotnik at Flickr (graphic enhanced by S. Nash)

About The Author:
Brent Powers is a guy who was supposed to be a movie star only he changed his mind during a rehearsal of "Oh Fame Oh". He fled to writing. He did it for years without remembering to publish it. Someone reminded him that a writer must "utter his shit abroad", so he did, and has since, in zines and small print mags from around the time of the turn of the century. His work has appeared in 3AM, Sein und Werden, The Blotter, Bewildering Stories, Hiss, Opium, forthcoming Dogmatika, and so on. He even published a novel, "The Dog's Tooth", in 2002. He is very brilliant and handsome.