Horizontal Lives

True Tales of the Infamous Courtesan: Persephone N. Hades and her Horizontal Life underground. How she got there, her mis-adventures and her struggle to re-surface.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Canary in the Can

Ling-Ling sounds like she’s drunk.
But I’ve known Ling-Ling for fourteen years and Ling-Ling doesn’t drink. She just hates ‘our Business’ (even though she’s been in it as long as I have) and she’s just pissed.

As is in ‘pissed-off’.

She: So then you know what this a-hole says?
Me: Umm?
She: He decides he’s not gonna pay me? Can you believe that? What a Dick-Moron-Asshole.
Me: Why? What reason did he give?
She: I don’t know. Some crazy shit. Some crazy shit about if he doesn’t cum he shouldn’t have to pay. As if my time is worth crap and I’m responsible for his limp ugly dick.
Me: What did you do? What did you say?
She: What do you think? I told him I’d chop off his dick before he left this apartment without paying me. Who the fuck does he think he is? This guy was Hard Work. I’m tellin’ ya.
Me: Really?

She: First off, he books an hour, right?
Me: Mmm hm.
She: Then he comes in and tells me he’s short on time and only has a half hour and how much would that be? Cheap mother-fucker son of a bitch, right? So I’m like, it’s the same price either way okay. And he’s like, whining, ‘oh that doesn’t seem fair’. Fair? Fair? What about my time and the time I set aside for him, right?
Me: Yep.
She: So then, we get down to it, okay? And I’m about to suck his dick and I look at it and it’s all mangled and everything—
Me: What do you mean ‘mangled’?
She: Like it’s all grotesque. Like it looks like he burnt it in a fire or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t look like a normal dick.
Me: Okay. And…
She: So I try to suck it and I’m on my knees and I’m trying to smile up at him and he like has his hands in my hair and all sorts of shit and he’s still not getting hard and finally I go, I go, ‘tell me what you like’. Right?
Me: Right.
She: And he’s like, ‘I like what you’re doing but you don’t have the skill.’ Don’t have the skill? Don’t have the skill? Fuck you! You don’t have the Dick. And then I realize that because he’s paying me, he thinks I’m just gonna sit there and take that bullshit. Well, fuck him. Right? Fuck him.
Me: Oh boy…
She: And then he says, get this, ‘well I didn’t have any trouble with the last girl I saw.’
Me: Oh god.
She: You know who the last girl he saw was?
Me: Who?
She: "Geisha."
Me: What was his name? I don’t remember anyone like that.
She: (tells me his name)
Me: Huh. Let me look in my files. (I go through my files for any info I might have on him as I can’t seem to recall anyone with a ‘penis’ that problematic.)

She: You know what? You know what? It’s not important.
Me: It is. I want to see if I had the same issue.
She: So anyway, the point is, whatever.
Me: Whatever?
She: Whatever.
Me: It’s not ‘whatever’. You’re pissed off. He was a jerk. I just want to see if I felt the same way.
She: Whatever. I got the money and fuck him. He probably wrote a bad review of me on TER. How fucked. He was the asshole and then he makes me out looking like the bad one.

Me: (pulling out my index card with his info on it) I did see him. But it was about a year ago. Probably a ‘hobbyist’. Never sees the same person more than once no matter how good it is. (continuing to read the notes I left myself on his card) Oh my god. You know who he was? He was my ‘bumble bee’ guy.
She: What the fuck is that?
Me: Oh my god, Ling! Don’t you remember I told you about my Mr. Yunioshi Landlord and how he won’t do anything for my apartment because he suspects I’m ‘Holly Golightly’?
She: Sort of.
Me: Yes. I told you. I told you how I need screens on my windows and he wouldn’t give them to me?
She: Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right.
Me: And so when (…) came over for his time with me, a bumblebee flew in the window—
She: I don’t remember.
Me: Yes you do. An enormous buzzing bumblebee flew in the window and we couldn’t just let it fly around unsupervised, so we spent, like an hour, trying to get the silly bee out the window? You don’t remember that?

She: Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right.

Me: That was him. That was the guy. And then I gave him an extra hour of time because I wasn’t booked directly afterward, to make up for the time we lost trying to coax the Bee out the window?

She: See, that’s another thing.
Me: What is?
She: I hate seeing your clients.
Me: What do you mean ‘my clients’? They’re everyone’s clients. C’mon Ling. Men are 'variety- hounds'.
She: Yeah and no. After they see you—you know I really like you, right?
Me: Yah?
She: So don’t get mad at me and don’t take it personally.
Me: Uh-oh.
She: Don’t.
Me: What?
She: I HATE seeing your clients.
Me: They’re not ‘my’ clients.
She: Whatever. Clients you’ve seen before.
Me: Okay. Why? What’s wrong with’em?
She: They expect, like the whole fuckin’ world. You spoil ‘em. And you know what? The other girls I know are sick of it too.
Me: What do you mean?

(My heart is racing—I can feel I am about to be ostracized from even the Underground Society)

She: I love you, right?
Me: I hope so. We’ve known each other a long time. We work together great---
She: But—
Me: But?
She: But, I mean, I don’t know what the fuck you do, but they have like all these, expectations. And then you have this two hour minimum, which by the way, and I’ve always wanted to know, how the fuck do you stand these dick-heads for more than one hour. Get ‘em in and out and forget their names.

Me: (after a long pause to take it all in) I don’t know Ling. I just can’t do the one-hour or the half-hour in-and-out kinda thing.
She: Not to be the bearer of bad news or anything, but if you think they don’t just discard you---
Me: I’m sure they do. I’m sure I love most of them and remember most of them more than they do me—
She: They do.
Me: I know. You’re probably right.


(Unusual Silence as Ling-Ling normally talks without interruption)

She: So why bother?
Me: Cause I’m stupid. Cause I’m needy. Cause I have a type-A personality. Cause even when I was just a maid I had to do it the best I could, I don’t know.
She: They don’t give a shit. Like you said, he was a ‘hobbyist’. Never saw him again, right? Not even after the fuckin’ bee thing. Still, he had no, ‘oh god, she was great, I gotta see her again’, in him.
Me: I know.
She: So what the fuck? Why make it hard on everyone else?
Me: Ling. I’m just doing what I do. I’m not trying to hurt anyone else.
She: You’re just as discardable as the rest of us—civilian or professional.
Me: I know.
She: So if you know, then lighten up.
Me: I don’t know what it is. A lot of things. Maybe the Canary in the garbage can.
She: Is that like a ‘theory’ from college?
Me: No. I was a young girl at the time. We heard the ‘cheep, cheep, cheeping’ coming out of the metal garbage can at the end of someone’s driveway. My younger brother Jonah and I had barely skipped past it on our way to the 7-11. We stopped only for a moment mid-leap to give each other a quizzical look. Our pockets were too full of allowance money; our appetites too firmly set on gobs of pink bubble gum, to take a peek.
She: What? It was a bird in the garbage can?

Me: Well, we didn’t really know. But now slogging home, now satiated, pink balloons of gum expanding from our mouths then breaking onto our eyelashes and under our chins—remember doing that when you were little?
She: I still do it.
Me: What? Pop gum.
She: I try to see how long I can keep it in my mouth during a blowjob.
Me: No!
She: Why the Hell not? Makes the time go by faster.
Me: You’re crazy!
She: Two hours? You’re fuckin’ out of your mind.
Me: Maybe I am. But, so me and my brother, on our way home, passed the same garbage can and there was no sound and we were curious so Jonah lifted the lid while I bent down into it; my feet coming off the ground as the rim divided my waist, right?
She: Yeah?
Me: At the bottom of the can, in a shoebox that had no lid, buried under food scraps and soggy wrappings of garbage, was a Canary.
She: It was alive?
Me: It was on our way to the 7-11. Obviously. And I was really into birds as a kid. I knew a lot about birds. For some weird reason, I thought they were ‘my species’. I liked to go to the library on family night and checkout the Audubon posters, imagining myself as each bird during the week, before they had to be returned.
She: You should have stayed an actress.
Me: I know.
She: You think you’ll go back?
Me: (sigh) God Ling. I don’t know. So anyway, I lifted the box out. We stared at it. "I think it’s dead." Jonah said and we both put an ear close in to the bird. "Yeah, it’s dead." He said watching me. I couldn’t speak back. I felt like a boiling wetness filled my eyes and my throat felt choked with a hot goop.
She: Was it?
Me: It’s eyes were closed, it’s beak slightly open but I could see it’s yellow feathers moving up and down, beneath the fragile tooth-pick bones they clung to. In silence, we walked the rest of the way home, blowing careless bubbles as I caressed the pitiful tiny head with my pinkie finger. It was so unexpectedly fragile. What was left of the afternoon, became about the bird. Jonah gathered worms and placed them beside the little body while I kept vigil stroking the soft, sticky feathers, dipping my fingers in water and holding them to it’s beak. A few drops went in. The bird seemed to stir. It’s breathing became more pronounced. I closed my eyes and prayed silently upward into the clouds. "Oh dear God Baruch ata adonai elohanu melach a kolum."
She: Oh that’s right. I forgot you were Jewish. Don’t you just hate Jewish Clients?
Me: Not really. Do you hate Chinese clients?
She: I do. I do. I won’t see any Asian Clients.
Me: I didn’t know that.
She: It’s too weird for me.
Me: It’s your prerogative. Everyone has their thing and we’re not regulated by the Government so I guess—tough bugers!
She: I see Jewish but I don’t like ‘em.
Me: It is what it is. It’s your body—your vagina—
She: I forgot you were Jewish—
Me: Anyway, I said this Jewish prayer cause it was what I remembered from synagogue and although I wasn’t sure what it meant, I knew it was an ‘official prayer’ that God understood. And I also knew that if God were the smartest Man in the world, He would know what I was praying for. After dinner, my dad found an eyedropper and helped to put more water in the helpless beak. My mother wrapped it in one of her not-for-guests towels and allowed the bird to sleep in my room with me. I placed it on my pillow lying down next to it in my bed and stared at it with one eye open until sleep overcame me. By morning it was dead.
She: It died?
Me: Umm Hmm. A small funeral was given in our back yard and we buried the bird under my bedroom window. It helped but not enough. I was inconsolable. My father sat on my bed and told me how death was natural and so on. Even though I was still a little girl, I understood the truth in this just as all beings comprehend the cycles of life and death—it is part of our spirit, part of that unspoken that all creatures are viscerally aware of. But that wasn’t what was tormenting me.
She: You think a lot.
Me: You do too.
She: I would have just buried it. Anyway, What’s the point? You think every man is a Canary?
Me: No. First I felt guilty. "If we would have got it before the 7-11, then maybe…" I cried so hard. I didn’t have the emotional experience or the vocabulary to find the purging words my pain needed. I fell asleep ‘hicking’ and sobbing.
She: So you felt guilty cause you couldn’t save the bird, right? And now you feel you have to save the clients.
Me: No. Let me finish if you really want to know.

She is uncharacteristically quiet.

Me: During what was to become, unknown to us then, our last conversation, my brother Jonah, who has now long removed himself from our family, told me the memory he always has of me, took place on the night after we buried the bird. He said he heard me through the thin walls of our suburban bedrooms, crying and raging over and over again, a mantra,
"In the garbage? In the garbage! In the garbage?"
I don’t remember saying that. But I knew that was exactly what it was.

She: What? What the fuck are you saying Girl!

Me: Me. I was the bird. I couldn’t imagine, couldn’t fathom, especially at that young age, that anyone, for any reason, would not only give up on a living creature, but because it was ‘inconvenient’, would throw it away in the garbage.

She: Yeah. It sucks. That’s how the assholes are in this world.
Me: That’s why. That’s why I won’t let them ‘throw me away’. Or at least before they do, I want them to feel me and remember what they discarded.
She: Huh.
Me: Yeah.


Me: Sorry to bog you down with such a long complicated emotional explanation. I know you Sagitarrius's hate that stuff.

She: Nah, Nah. I know how you are. So, have you been busy this month?

Me: Yeah. I’ve been pretty lively. You?

She: Naw. Me? I’ve been dead. But who cares. I’d rather be dead than see an asshole.


At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the feeling "damned if you do damned if you don't" I get the same thing at work. Either "you're too fast you make us look bad" or "you're not fast enought you make us look bad" The only way around this dilemma appears to be , do what you feel is best & weather the critics as part of the job.

You've referenced the idea of disposable as regards to people and especially yourself. While at book club tonight I suddenly realized that the characters in the book we are reading are all disposable people. I realized that, I too, and most of the people I know are to some extent disposable people. It was a disquieting thought.

The book is : A YELLOW RAFT IN BLUE WATER" by Michael Dorris.
I would like to give you this book, if you can figure a safe way for me to send it to you. The P.O. box number idea is a good one. I understand if this is not feasable, but I am finished with it and I hate to waste a good book. I also know I've been recommending a lot of books and you're short on free time. Nevertheless, the offer is there. I think it is worth the risk, but you don't know me from a hole in the wall, I mean you no harm, just seek connection with a person with whom I feel I have something in common.
be well


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