Nicole decided to make some D.A.P. colored panties.
She felt like an insane witch mixing the Rit dye in a
soup pot, carefully blending cardinal red and sunburst
yellow, plus a few drops of blue Easter-egg dye to get
the right shade of hot orangish pink to match the Drug
Abuse Prevention pamphlet that Joe read to her in a
hilarious voice at Denny..'s the night she met him. She
tossed in a 6 pack of Hanes Her Ways, stole one of her
mom..'s beers from the fridge and went out on the back
steps to smoke a cigarette while they boiled.
That night at Denny..'s he gave her some mini-thins. They
talked till 3 in the morning. Nobody had ever called
her beautiful before-not like that, not seriously.
She had watched him drawing in his notebook for 20
minutes, her heart all aflutter, till finally she just
grabbed her coffee cup and walked over to his table
and sat down across from him. When her looked up at
her, he smiled so honestly, she thought she would die.
He looked steadily into her eyes. He just said hi.
Nobody ever did that. She knew she was blushing.
She said, ..Hi, I just wanted to see what you..'re
He said, ..Here, check it out... and turned the page
She just said wow. He lit a cigarette. It was like
looking in a weird mirror. He had turned her into a
cartoon. She was there on the page in black ink,
pigtails and all, wearing a see-through bra and
panties and fishnets. He asked her what kind of music
She said, ..Uhm, rock, I guess... I like Nirvana and
shit like that. And Beck. I like Beck. Especially
He said, ..Right on, yeah, Beck..'s fuckin cool. And
Nirvana, fuck, I mean Nirvana..'s like the coolest. You
ever listen to Radiohead?
She said, ..Well, yeah, but just the stuff on Mtv.
What..'s that song.. Creep. I love that song. What does
he say on that one? I..'m a Creep I..'m a winner.., I..'m
a window? I can never tell. He kind of mumbles...
Joe started laughing. He said it was widow. He made
her feel all sparkly the way he looked at her. She
timidly asked him if she could look through his
notebook. She was worried he might be like her, one of
those people who don..'t like anyone to see what they
write. He was like yeah go ahead, the pictures are
mostly in the back, there..'s songs and stuff in there
too. Are you hungry? I..'m going to get some fries. She
was like uh huh.
The steps felt nice and cool on her thighs. Crickets
never sounded so good. She sat there smoking. She
thought about her panties. The night smelled like
lilacs and firecrackers. Some kids across the street
were running around with sparklers. He was so fucking
exotic in her mind. He was 21, just 3 years older. He
had dropped out of U. Chicago. She didn..'t have any
idea if that was like going to Harvard or Idaho State,
but the way he said it, she was definitely impressed.
Everything he said blew her away. They talked about
music and writing and drugs and how people suck, and
what a shithole Pocatello is. The titles of his songs
sounded menacing, like spiders don..'t have bones, and
heroine, but they were so pretty and smart and
intricate and strange, she wanted shrink down to the
size of a comma and live in one of them.
She put her cigarette out and walked back into the
kitchen, found some oven mitts and poured the panties
into the sink. She picked them up one by one with
salad tongs and dropped them into the pot, thinking of
what Billy Mathers used to say to her in 8th grade,
mimicking his voice, ..Fuck Nicole, don..'t get your
panties in a bunch,.. laughing like hell. She was
totally pleased with herself because they were the
perfect shade-just like the drug abuse pamphlet they
had joked about that night. They called it orink, then
porange. They settled on porange, cause its poor kids
who sniff glue and huff gas. She steeped the panties
in vinegar to make them colorfast and then poured them
into the bathtub.
She locked herself in the bathroom, turned on the tap and poured lavender Suave shampoo
all over them and rinsed them till they no longer
bled. She took off all her clothes and tried on a
pair, turning in front of the mirror, thrusting her
hips, pouting her lips, trying to make her eyes look
sultry, laughing at herself. She liked how they looked
all wet, the color contrast against her skin, how they
felt, how they clung to every curve.
She lit a candle and turned off the lights. She
started to take the panties off, but decided to keep
them on and got into the bathtub. She slid around and
kicked the other five pair around in the waves so they
swam like jellyfish. She felt like a lunatic
sea-monster. She held her breath underwater trying to
send Joe telepathic messages. She ran her fingers over
the fabric. She snapped the elastic. Nicole had a
vigorous and imaginative sex life, despite being a
virgin by any conventional definition.
That night she dreamt she was lying on her stomach on
the grassy bank of a stream, arms and hair dangling
over the edge, reflected in the surface of the pool.
D.A.P. colored fish were swimming up and kissing her
fingertips. Then she saw Joe..'s reflection smiling in
the water. He said, ..Hey, gorgeous,.. and took her hand
and lifted her up, held her in his arms and kissed
her. She heard a crinkly noise. He laughed and said,
..Look,.. and pointed down to the water where she could
see she was wearing a cellophane dress. He said, ..Nice
panties,.. and pulled a magic marker out of his jeans
pocket. He was drawing a chain of flowers on her waist
when she woke up.
Nicole got home from work at 5:30 made a pot of Ramen
noodles and sat down on the couch and turned on The
Simpsons. She thought she would wait until 7 to call
Joe. They said they..fd try getting together on Tuesday
and it was Tuesday, but she couldn..'t think of what to
say or what they might do. She wasn..'t sure she..'d
have the nerve to call, so she stared at the TV with
butterflies in her stomach trying to send him
signals..- call me, call me, call me. She was watching
the credits roll when the phone rang.
..Hi, is this Nicole...
..Yeah, hi Joe...
..Hey, whatcha up to?..
..Oh, I was just watching The Simpsons...
..Really, yeah I was watching it too. I love that
episode. I wish they did more shows
..Yeah that one was good. I hadn..'t seen it before...
..Mmm.. hey, so uh, you wanna get together tonight?..
..Yeah, totally. Whatdya have in mind?..
..Well, I..'m kinda broke and we already did the hell
outa Dennys. I thought maybe we could hang out over
here at my place and smoke or something. I promise
I..fll behave myself...
..(She laughs) I..'m hardly worried about that. No, that
sounds totally cool. I was wondering what we..'d end up
doing. I can..'t really think of anything to do in
this lame-ass town, besides maybe go bowling...
..(He laughs) Yeah well maybe we..'ll have to do that
sometime. It..'s funny you say that cause I borrowed
The Big Lebowski from my friend Brandon...
..Oh you haven..'t seen it? Well it..'ll be a surprise.
We..'ll watch it and you..'ll see why its funny you
mentioned bowling. You..'ll love it. It..'s like my
..Ok, well cool, that sounds great. I don..'t know where
you live though...
He gave her instructions. When he hung up he started
walking around the apartment, straightening up the
clutter, talking to himself, saying things like ..fuck
yeah!.. and ..god, I love that girl... He changed his
shirt and fixed his hair, put on some deodorant and
popped a couple of zits. He leaned his guitar against
his P.A. speakers at an angle to show off the sticker
collage he..'d stuck all over it with the specific goal
of impressing the right girl. He lit some incense,
checked the fridge, and seeing there were only 3
beers, ran across the street and bought a 12er of
Olympia. He ran back up the stairs, stuck them in the
fridge, knocked all the crumbs off the couch, picked
up some cigarette foils and gum wrappers off the
carpet, emptied the ashtray, and went downstairs on
the porch to smoke cigarettes while he waited for her.
Meanwhile Nicole, after hanging up the phone with an
ecstatic screech, raced into her room, took off all
her clothes down to her panties and began constructing
an outfit to match the cartoon image of her he had
drawn at Denny..fs. She put on fishnets and a black
bra. She put a faded thread-bare yellow t-shirt from
6th grade on over it, and a blue polyester skirt. She
put on eyeliner and mascara and after 3 attempts,
finally got her pigtails right. She left a note for
her mom saying she was spending the night at
Amanda..'s, even though she knew it hardly mattered.
She grabbed her keys and purse and buckled herself
into her beat up car. She lit a cigarette, cranked
Nirvana and drove across town, trying to sing low and
scratchy like Kurt.
Joe led her up the steps and into his attic apartment.
She thought it was really funny how, just like any
guy, he had naked chicks all over the walls, except
Joe had drawn them all himself. There were a few
abstract paintings, and magazine ads and album covers,
but mostly there were just tons of naked cartoony
girls with see-through clothes and wings and horns and
antennas and stuff like that. Her eyes were stuck on
Hey do you wanna beer?..
..Yeah, sure. God, these are really great. I love this
one of the pixie chick with the cat on a leash.
They..'re all so like sinister.. but cute...
..Thanks. I..'m glad you like them. I get pretty bored,
I guess. It..'s something to do besides getting stoned
and watching TV, or I guess it..'s more like something
to do while getting stoned and watching TV...
..(She laughs) I wish I could draw like that. How do
you come up with the ideas for them? I mean they..'re
..Dreams, mostly. Sometimes I see stuff like that when
I hallucinate. I think how I got into giving them
horns and boots and stuff is because I wanted them to
be tough, like they..&..39;re not just these stupid delicate
girls, but menacing, like a real hellatrix who could
kick your ass if you fucked with her...
..(She laughs, keeps looking around the room) Wow, so
this is your guitar. Fuck, I have that cat sticker on
..Yeah, will you play something?..
..Yeah, totally, but not right now. I think I..'d be
pretty nervous, but I do want to play for you. Maybe
when I..'m a little drunker. Do you wanna watch the
..Yeah, right on. Let..'s see it...
He never played guitar for her that night, but it
hardly mattered. By 3:37 in the morning Joe and Nicole
lay nestled like two S's on the mattress. He breathed
slow like a whale in his sleep while her heart rattled
like a spraypaint canister-- her whole body buzzing
from the memory of his lips-on her stomach, her
nipples, her neck. She thought about laughing and
smoking and sweating and drinking on the couch. Her
mind was cotton-- photonegative images played on her
eyelids in pinks and oranges, silver and black... the
Center St. train underpass. The fumes, recklessly
scribbling dripping flowers and slogans, their voices
echoing in the yellow light. Joe showed her he could
stand sideways, he just stuck his body horizontal
between the walls of the narrow passageway like an
acrobat. She dropped the silver paint and started
singing London Bridges Falling Down and kissed him on
the stomach. He let gravity take hold and slinked to
the ground. She gave him her hand and pulled him up.
He took both of hers and stretched her arms wide and
tacked her to the wall, pressed his weight into her
body and kissed her so hot she thought she'd fucking
SPIDERS DONT HAVE BONES
stopped my heart but I had to laugh
a spider fell out of my hair
she crawled across the floor
and at first I didn't care
but now I can't get to sleep
cause she's everywhere
final net and epoxy enamel
me with a smile stretched cross my face
cause she wasn't impressed by insecticide
shiny and black and dancing in place
she held the cards and she threw the ace
spiders don't have bones
and they don't have sockets
and this is just a story
so you can mock it
but don't laugh too loud
cause she's still in my pocket
she waits by the door
if you dare to knock it
I woke up and went to get a drink
you can bet I was annoyed
she's still dancing in the sink
and next time I'll be careful to avoid
breathing aerosol fumes makes you paranoid
playing a word game with manifestation
the sun came up and I started to wonder
if knowing too much is such a good idea
cause faster than lightning and louder than thunder
the ground opened up to swallow us under