The Color Cream

by Chris Okum


"I can't remember the last time I made love to women I didn't feel inferior to," Tom said. "What a shitty thing to say," Gloria said. "No," Tom said, "I meant that as a compliment." "On what planet is that a compliment," Gloria said. Tom started to unbutton Gloria's blouse. "Don't do that," Gloria said. "Come on, I didn't mean it that way," Tom said. "Yes, you did," Gloria said. "All I mean is that you make me feel good about myself." Gloria moved away from Tom. She buttoned her blouse. Tom removed his beard and mustache. "It's the beard," Tom said. "It's the mustache. They're not real enough." Gloria opened the car door and got out. "Oh, please," Gloria said, "don't turn this around." Tom picked bits of spirit gum from the corner of his mouth. "I thought you liked me rugged," Tom said. "But you don't look rugged," Gloria said, "you look like you're wearing a fake beard and mustache." Tom got out of the car and zipped up his pants. "I thought that was a good line, 'I can't remember the last time I made love to a women I didn't feel inferior to,'" Tom said. "It depends," Gloria said, "who's saying the line and who they're saying it to." "I thought you would take it as a compliment, maybe find it cute and clever," Tom said. Gloria open the garage door and walked back into the house. Tom followed her inside. "I don't think it was cute," Gloria said, "and I don't think you're clever." "You said you were attracted to men with a sense of humor," Tom said. "I am," Gloria said. "That's why I'm not attracted to you." Gloria walked away. Tom ripped out all the hair still suck to his chin. 

Hearts and Halos

Her first memory is of putting her dog to sleep. Her mom taking her out of school early and telling her that it was time, that her dog, who had been suffering for months, had to be put out of its misery. Her mom making her stand in the corner and watching as the veterinarian gave the dog the first of two shots. Watching her dog go limp and her sister and mother crying. Watching as the veterinarian gave the dog the second shot. Watching her dog twitch and tremble and gasp for air and her mother and her sister twitching and trembling and gasping for air. Her father taking her into the kitchen and telling her that everything was going to be okay, that the hard part was over, that her dog was gone and finally at peace. Watching as they wrapped her dog in a blanket. Watching as her dad paid with a credit card. Her dog being taken away for good. Her mother making her come in for a group hug. Her mother and her sister crying and her dad saying something about the loss of a family member and her not feeling anything at all.

September 18, 1931, or, The Last Day of Geli Raubal's Life

I am Uncle Adolph's doll. I live in Uncle Adolph's house. Uncle Adolph tells me what to wear. He tells me where to sit. And what to eat. He puts his hands on me. He makes me repeat after him. "Say, Uncle Adolph, you are the voice of your generation," Uncle Adolph says to me. So I say, "Uncle Adolph, you are the voice of your generation." Uncle Adolph tells me that I need to speak up. He tells me that he cannot hear me. He says, "Say it louder." I say it as loudly as I can, but still, I am not acceptable to Uncle Adolph. I cannot say things the way he wants me to say them. He is constantly flying into rages. He accuses me of polluting his mind with negative thoughts. He tells me that I think I'm better than him. He tells me that I make him feel like nothing, like a pile of fresh dog shit. I tell Uncle Adolph that I'm not thinking any of those things but he tells me that he knows exactly what I'm thinking. Uncle Adolph tells me he can read my mind, and sometimes I feel as if maybe he can. He knows what I am going to say before I say it. He says, "Don't tell me to calm down," right as I am thinking that he needs to calm down. However, nothing I can say, nothing anyone can say will calm Uncle Adolph down. He tells me that I am to be punished. He tells me that I deserve to be punished. My every word and action is offensive to him. Uncle Adolph says that I am everything that is wrong with everything. He uses me as a toilet. He urinates in my mouth and defecates on my head. Uncle Adolph cleans himself up and rants about the state of the world. He says, "I am beyond man." Uncle Adolph tells me he is a God, and I don't want to agree with him, but when I look outside it is hard to argue. Perhaps Uncle Adolph is a God, or as close to one as a human being can get. Uncle Adolph says, "You cannot possibly understand a single thing I do or say," and I think this is true. I cannot understand him, just as I cannot understand myself, why I have let myself be subject to such cruelty and debasement. I do not know what I did to deserve this, but I assume it is because I am of poor character and unable to live up to the demands of Uncle Adolph, who seems to understand me better than I understand myself. Subsequently, I have learned nothing about myself during this life, which I have decided, should, most likely, come to an end as soon as possible. All I have learned is that life, for some, can be short and nasty. That life can go on for way too long, and, at the same time, not long enough.