We’d wondered about the ghost in the neighborhood for a really long time. Me and my boyfriend had, I just told you about it. Then last night with no warning my boyfriend mentioned that he’d seen him at the Food Pit, up close, in person, a few days before, without telling me.
The Food Pit is the real-life name of the gas station/convenience store in our neighborhood. I guess it’s like the Peach Pit in the original 90210, except a bit more honest. They didn’t serve or sell the stones of fruit at the Peach Pit. The Food Pit sells “food,” and it is a bit of a hole.
I have had a craving for grape bubblegum so fierce I might just go pee on a plastic stick just to prove what I already know: I’m not pregnant. But I’m so psyched out over wanting grape gum I’ve even got him eating like there’s no tomorrow–he’s hysterically pregnant now. Life is cray-cray up in here. And it’s harder to find grape bubblegum than one would think, just to twist the knife.
We were both so happy about the grape gum (and the Lifesavers that the boyfriend got, a really nasty kind that I haven’t learned to get a taste for yet–I’m like a bacterium when it comes to sweets. I can learn to eat about any kind there is if it’s the only thing around, but I do have my preferences), that he forgot to tell me about the Ghost!
The Ghost was standing in front of him in line at the Food Pit. The Ghost is in his mid-forties. There are two wireless speakers attached to the handlebars of his bicycle. And he isn’t a ghost. He is a man, made of meat and bones and skin, not ectoplasm and fear and regret and longing.
“I think he’s a connect,” my boyfriend said.
And it all clicked! Of course. The music, the bike, the slow roll, the night, the reason we’re fascinated with him, the everything. He’s the ice cream man.
He has a reason to be out. He’s just going for a ride. Anyone can stop to talk to him. And they can hear him coming, so they get their money together and then come out of their houses. And the cops don’t have any reason to stop this guy. He’s just sharing the joy of music with the neighborhood. He probably isn’t a big time guy. Maybe he’s just making deliveries for the club, I don’t know.
I have no proof this is what’s up. I don’t know his life. But suspected small fish rolling through the neighborhood is far less interesting than undead spirit riding a ghost trick bike across the earth. I’m still considering this mystery solved.
I really didn’t know I was such a bad person. Really, I didn’t.
I have been keeping more to myself than I used to. It started two years ago Christmas when I was telling one of my mother’s friends about my novel I’m writing for my thesis (she asked). My mother was getting more and more testy. She doesn’t like the attention pulled away from her, I think, especially when it’s her house. That’s what I think, at least. And she wasn’t approving of the plot. Mind you, it was sounding extremely convoluted and strange. But I had just explained it to my novel writing class, and after having come through an entire semester with them, they were really excited for me. I was really excited for me. I felt I was making huge progress. Things were looking up.
But as I’m telling the plot in my mom’s living room, I’m becoming more and more conscious of her eyes on me. Her throat, the sounds coming out of it. Squeezed sounds. Small sounds. Dampening sounds. The sighs, the dismissive cut of her eyes. We both do that. Neither one of us knows how to fix our faces. My pops doesn’t, either. All the no comes right to the surface.
“Well,” grumphasses Moms, “I hope I’m never expected to buy any of your books.”
I tried to save it. I always try to save it. I’m the baby of the family; it’s my job to save it now. Now that everything’s gone to shit and everyone else has stopped trying and no one’s in the same place at the same time and everything’s pointed at me: it’s Seer’s fault now. It’s so easy for the baby to feel persecuted, and it’s so easy to blame the baby. Spilled milk and all that.
“You’ll never be expected to buy a goddamned thing,” I said. But I didn’t say it cheerful enough. There wasn’t enough laughter. Too much vinegar. And I was ashamed of myself–for being a bad writer, a bad daughter, a bad person. Look what you did.
I don’t think she remembers saying this. I don’t think she remembers any of this. My brother had a bad habit of coming over and acting like family but wanting to be waited on like a guest. Mom wants to talk like family but be talked to like a guest. And she writes people tickets for minor infractions but has no idea how big the trailer she’s towing is. She’ll swing wide and knock out telephone poles and fire hydrants and then tell you she is hurt you didn’t say something the way she wanted to hear it.
When I won the little poetry contest, she couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to show them to her. I’m not a masochist. I’m never showing her anything ever again. I’m writing everything under a pseudonym at this point and never telling her if I get published. It’s out of self-protection. After she said the thing about the novel? That little, tiny thing and who cares and blowing it into a huge whatever? Pole-vaulting over that mouse turd? (Yes, she had said something negative about one of the most important facets of my life right now. But it was a fairly small thing about just one thing that lives in one of those facets.) I got into a self-hatred thing and didn’t touch it for four or five months. I’m still doubting it now. I’m too sensitive still. Sometimes it doesn’t get me. But I never know when someone or something will infect me. When you hit me under one of my scales it’ll get swollen and tender for months, years. And I don’t need that bullshit. I have enough to deal with.
I am going up to see her tomorrow to run an errand for her. She’s quite capable of doing it herself. It’s hard for her right now because she’s in pain but people do more than that all the time. But I’m doing it as a peace-offering. I’m not staying longer than I have to, though (see: masochist, not a). She wants me to stay for dinner and: no.
I am really not looking forward to the upcoming surgery. It’s only a week. Only a week. The last time I nearly lost myself. I am scared. But I can do this.
I don’t know when I became this bad a person to her. Or she to me. Why do you hate me now? Why can you never be kind? I think she thinks these things, also. She thinks that I’m the asshole here.
It seems so sudden sometimes, the change in people. The car door slams and they turn and a new face, who is this? Who is this mother of mine? How do I treat you now? How do I let the stones you throw hit me, cover my face and still walk towards you?
It was Sparrow and Kea’s baby shower this past Sunday. They’re having a little nestling soon. I saw Miss DeLoop and so many other lovely people from all chapters of their lives. Such a loving day. The weather cooperated, even. And although there was much wine present, no one got ugly. So different from my family, where fights break out, and someone will stop talking to everyone else for at least seven to ten years, just like a prison sentence, except the judge puts himself in solitary confinement.
Please Seer, can I have some more?
So someone else is dead. Her name was Amy Winehouse. She was a famous person. She sang songs and served as a punchline and an object of fascination for a long time for a lot of people. I’m sure she’ll continue to be a punchline even though she’s dead now. A lot of people have compassion for her because they believed she was talented, and some have no compassion because she liked drugs and didn’t stop using them despite the overwhelming evidence that drugs were problematic for her lifestyle.
Lots of people like drugs and don’t stop using them despite lifestyle problems. I did tell you my friend Skeptic died last year, I told you about it often, but did I tell you how he died? The fire, but exactly how? I’ll tell you after the jump. It’s gnarly.
I can handle it.
Oh, and then I got an email from someone linking to this article. It’s from the New York Times, and it’s about how nobody calls anyone anymore. She sent it to explain why she never phones. I still phone her, but she doesn’t really pick up or phone back. So I guess she’s just looking at my calls (and everyone else’s), and saying, “Hmm. Nope, don’t feel like it.”
The article I think was supposed to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it made me feel icky, and like a little bit of humanity was dead, like the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider was out and no one noticed or something. Your voice is important to me. It is a tattoo on my soul. It has been there since the first time I met you. It is part of who I fell in love with. It is not a vestigial limb of this relationship to me.
Not in that particular order. Those adjectives, I mean.
Did you know that homeless people sleeping in your carport is “A Thing”? Neither did I!
I live on the end of a long block, and it ends on a cul-de-sac. That’s a dead-end. There’s no outlet. So there’s not a lot of foot traffic here. You come down the street if you live here or if you need to see someone who lives here or your connect stays here. (Dealer? Who calls them “dealers”? Narcs and lops and people who don’t use drugs because they’re good and clean and wholesome and sane and saved, that’s who.) You do your business and leave.
My neighbors’ granddaughter found some people nestled up against her car in the carport one night, asleep. She’s in college and a cute young thing of about 19, and it shook her up. I think anyone else who lives here would have been all, “Whoa, that shouldn’t be,” or “Get the fuck outta here, you bums!” or “Call the policcccce.”