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.

Friday, April 29, 2005

"More Die of Heartbreak" (For Rhett who has had a heartbreaking month)

I have had a lot of cancellations this month, which has put me under considerable financial stress, but considering the alternative—
I have had a lot of cancellations this month because the clients that have cancelled have all done so due to death’s in their family.
Very sad, and strangely so many all in one month.

Saul Bellow died.
I didn’t even know.
A Client told me the other day.
I was in shock and wasn’t listening.
"More die of heartbreak." He said.
And I said, "Yes."

"I meant the book." He said.
"What book?"
"Bellow’s last book."
"I haven’t read it. But it’s true."
"You think so?" he says.
"It’s the one thing in this world I’m absolutely sure of." I say.
"Well. I’m not so sure." He says. He’s a Lawyer.

"I almost died of heartbreak." I say.
"Maybe you like to think so." He says.
"Why would I like to think so?" I say.
"Maybe it helps you justify what you do." He says.
"Oh really?" I say and turn away to sip my Champagne and not look at his eyes.

"I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings." He says.
"You didn’t." I lie.
"Think about it." He says. "If that were true, that more people die of heartbreak—"
"And loneliness. And not being appreciated. And not thinking they are of value." I say.
"And all that blah blah blah." He says.
"You’re a cynical one." I say.
"I don’t play to victims." He says.
"Well harumph." I say.

"As I was saying, if that were true, then you—"
"Yes me?"
"Within your business, would be doing a great service. Not all women in your business, but you and what you do."

"Okay. And is that so horrible?"
"I didn’t say it was ‘horrible’. I just said maybe you like to use it to rationalize what you do."

He lights a cigarette. I let him do so in silence.

"And how do you rationalize what you do?" I say after he exhales the plume of smoke up to the glass Mermaids dangling from the ceiling.

"What? Seeing you?"
"Oh. I didn’t even think of that. I meant being a Lawyer."
"What’s wrong with being a Lawyer?"
"Nothing. What’s wrong with being a Courtesan?"

"Do you know that’s why I first decided to come see you? You, as opposed to all the others out there on the Net?"
"What was why?"
"That you called yourself a ‘Courtesan’ instead of an ‘Escort’."
"Really? Why did that matter? To you?"
"I felt you were implying something. Something I wanted implied."
"I was."
"What were you implying?"
"In words, you mean? In words, I don’t know if I can say it. Don’t you feel it in my actions?"
"I do. That’s why I come back, but now that we’re on the subject, tell me what you meant."

"You’re killing me. I don’t know. I guess I used the word ‘Courtesan’ because it reminded me of an era when women in my profession were respected and an important part of the community and what they did was thought of as ‘high art’ that had to be learned and studied."

"They were still outcasts. Even in those times, still not allowed into ‘respectable’ Society."

"But they were allowed into ‘respectable’ Society’s beds—"

"Of course."

"And hearts."


"I like the word ‘Courtesan’ because it implies a sort of Elegance between Men and Women that didn’t involve the word, or even the thought ‘whore’."
"Well said."
"I’m not sure if I made it up or I heard it somewhere to be honest."
"Doesn’t matter. You live it."
"That’s a nice thing to say."

"Still mad at me?"
"Not mad at you."
"Why would I be mad at you?"
"For playing Lawyer. I really should check it at the door."
"How did you play Lawyer?"
"By challenging you—your rationale, your thoughts about yourself in your profession."

"I love a ‘good think’."

He doesn’t believe me.

"Hey." I say. "Wanna have make-up sex? We can rationalize it later?" I wink. He follows.

After he leaves I check my messages.
My evening appointment has cancelled due to a death in his family.

At home, I stare at the white computer screen.
All that comes to mind is all this death happening all at once.
And then Jennette.

When Jennette happened, I was in the throes of teenage blooming pubescent angst—
Otherwise known as 8th Grade.

Staring at the blank screen I am able to remember very little from that time other than the tidal waves of emotion that seemed so life altering and important at the time.
I try to visualize Jennette but her face; her Being won’t form a visage in my mind.

Carefully lifting my printer off the top where it lives, I open the rustic wooden Mexican trunk that houses all my memorabilia. The stuff I cherish that says I have lived here on this Planet for a time; the same stuff my Mother swears she’ll toss in the garbage was I to go before her.
Everything comes out and lands on the floor:
Books, Photo Albums, Letters from friends I no longer know, my first ‘going steady ring’, Diaries.
Diaries and Diaries. And Diaries.
(My god. I’m the Anais Nin of the Millennium.)
There it is. Squashed at the bottom of the heap; the one from my 8th grade year.

My Client, the Lawyer I had the debate earlier in the evening with, has a daughter in 8th Grade.
We talk about her all the time.
He is beyond puzzled. Frustrated. Worried.
Asks me for my opinion.
Hasn’t a clue what’s going on in her young hormone-ravished mind.

I find the dates I’m looking for.
I wonder if what I will find will sound like he says his daughter is like now.
And it occurs to me, if they do, maybe I should make him a copy and share the entries with him to give him an ‘in’ to her psyche that is so confusing him.

I know no other way to sum it up. To say it better. Than just to print it as it is:
The script is big, self-conscious, with big circles dotting the ‘I’s.
The margin is framed by scribbles of hearts.
Hearts with tears dripping from them.
Hearts with flower budding out of them.
Hearts with arrows piercing them.
Hearts with ‘smiley’ faces inside them.
Hearts with breasts and pubic hair.

1. Dear Diary,
We are on VACATION!!
Last night, my whole entire family was in the hotel room (a Holiday Inn!!!) watching the TV and Mom and Dad was sitting like on the edge of the bed and me and my brothers were on the floor on the carpet.
And Mom was wearing her big nightgown and when I was laying on the floor goofing off with my brothers and junk like that I could see under Moms nightgown a little. So I was giggling and stuff and pretending I was just goofing off so I could see closer because it was really important because I was thinking maybe something was wrong with me and maybe I was going to die.
So I got to this place on the floor where I could really see good and I looked and then she saw me looking and this look came over her face and she moved but not before I saw and that was really good because now I know I’m not going to die anymore because my Mom has it too.

See okay this is embarrassing but I was noticing that something was weird going on down there if you know what I mean. Like before, my thing down there was like closed up and it looked like two caterpillars sleeping really tight close to each other. But then one day, when I was playing the ‘HoneyPot’ game, I looked down and there was these two hanging things hanging down in between them like butterfly wings like a butterfly trying to escape and it was really weird.

And another day it looked like I had these two seashells that used to be all closed up like the way you find mussels when you go to the beach and they’re just laying there in the sand and then one day it looked like there were two snail hanging down trying to get out.
And I didn’t know if I was normal and it made me think something was wrong and maybe I was sick and going to die.
And I didn’t know who to ask because it’s kind of a secret place and all and it’s not really the kind of thing you tell your mom about. But then, when I was looking under Moms robe, I saw she had the same hang-ee things and it kinda looked the same as me but she had curly hairs around it.

I’m glad I’m not going to die because I am afraid to die.

Thanks for listening Dear Diary. Your one of the only people I could tell.

Live Love Life! Lane

2. Dear Diary,
Four months have past and so much has happened that I didn’t have even a minute to write to you.
Do you forgive me?
I am going steady with Vince Atcheson. He’s Italian and his mother doesn’t want to like me because I’m Jewish but Vince and I know our love is stronger and can’t be stopped.
Vince is a Cancer and that is very compatible with Scorpio.

I got a job at Wimpy Grill as a Waitress. They think I’m 16.
I am not good at the food part of the job but I am good at the people part and that’s important too.
Maybe because I am a cheerleader and know how to smile a lot and talk to people. And also I like them too.

Jennette works there too. She goes to my school and is in my same grade but I didn’t really know her until we worked there because she is not in my group.
She is very pretty in a real pretty way. Without makeup or anything. She has long brown hair and she is shy so she is not popular in school. But she should be if popularity was based on looks. I mean, it kinda is but it’s really not. Do you know what I mean?

She lives like three blocks from our house with her Aunt and Uncle because her Parents died or something.
I like her cause we’re alike. She’s kinda like me…how I really am on the inside but she has it on the outside.
She has only one layer and it is just what it is. And that’s it.
I feel sad for her that she is so shy and has only one layer because she doesn’t have the other layers to make herself get popular.

But I am jealous too Diary because she doesn’t have to get up and go into battle everyday like I do just to try and stay popular.

She likes poetry too.
I like poetry now too because Jennette told me about it but we made a pack not to tell anyone that we like it cause everyone would think I was a nerd and there goes my reputation and my popularity.
So far, Jennette never told.

This is Jennette’s favorite one.

It is about her and Mark, the boy she is in love with.
(He is in a Junior in High School!!! They have been going steady together a whole year!!!)

With every moment
My love for you grows
Wild as the summer grass
Mow it, pull it, if you will—
Soon it will grow tall again
Yearning for him alone,
I wake at dawn to see
Two lonely ducks
Wending their way
Across the Heavens.
What are they?
Arrows from my love?

She didn’t make it up but she can say it just from her memory.

It’s weird that the popular people are popular and they can’t say a poem and they think a poem is nerdy and all but its not. It makes you feel stuff and it puts all the stuff you feel into a way to say it instead of say like stuff like ‘that’s so cool’ and all.

When I am around Jennette, which is mostly at work because we can’t hang around at school because the kids in my popular group don’t like her, I don’t have to fake laugh real loud or act super tough or anything.

This is what I like most about her:

One day I went to her house where she lives with her Aunt and Uncle to pick her up so we could go to Wimpy’s work together and she had to dry her white work apron with the blow-dryer for her hair because she had to wash it by hand because they don’t have a clothes dryer and Jennette could only afford to buy one apron from work so she had to use it over and over everyday. And believe me cause I know it gets really dirty with Ketchup and other stuff.
See that’s what I mean. The money she makes at Wimpy’s is more important than my money because she really needs it. Not just to buy clothes and stuff. I’m saving my money for freedom and for clothes. But Jennette needs it to pay her Aunt and Uncle I think. She never said that but I think so.
So when she was blow-drying her apron, I was telling her about how I used to fly when I was little and she didn’t even look surprised or wierded out or anything. She just kept blow-drying and said she knew what I meant. She said it never happened to her but she knew probably what it would feel like.

I wish Jennette were a boy so I could marry her.

3. Dearest Diary,
It has been 97 days since Vince and me broke up and I don’t think I’m getting any better.
I got so TOTALLED WASTED the other night that when I came home I puked all night.
Luckily my parents weren’t up so they didn’t know. Phew! I got into bed and it was spinning around if I tried to shut my eyes it was like being on a merry-go-round.

I told Jennette but she said it was okay and she didn’t judge me.
I told her I had to find a new boyfriend NOW!! NOW!! NOW!!
She said maybe not and gave me this poem to help me get over it:

Now that our love has drifted to a quiet close
Leaving the empty ache that always follows
When Beauty goes
Now that you and I,
Who stood tip-toe on the Earth
To touch fingers to the sky
Have turned away
To allow our love to die
Go dear, seek again the magic touch.
But if you are wise, as I shall be wise,
You will never again
Love over much.

I read it over and over and even though it is supposed to make me feel better—DAMMIT it makes me madder!
I’m just not like Jennette in that way!
She has Mark so she doesn’t know how it feels to be dumped. Or abandoned. Or have no one to give all the love you have inside to.

I have this HUGE LOVE and this HUGE NEED TO LOVE inside of me and it grows wilder than ivy vine and if you cut it it grows more and more and takes over the whole fucking house until you can’t see because of all the leaves and vines in your eyes!!

Jennette said she understood. She only meant it as a comfort.

4. Dear Diary,
I am getting better. Jennette says poetry is saving me.

Last night, Eric R. had a party in his basement cause his parents were away and we were all getting stoned and I wanted to try and tell my stupid fuckin friends about this poetry shit, so anyway, we’re totally high and shit and I go something like this, I go:
‘Wait you guys. You guys. Just shut up and fuckin listen.’

And they did and so I go:
‘Do you like Poetry?"

And they’re all like snortin and shit like that and so I go,
"It’s not as dorky as you think."

"Yeah I like poetry." That’s what Jim Orbach goes and everyone is laughing and then he goes,
"Heres a poem for ya:

There once was a girl from Chat
Who thought she sat on my hat,
But it wasn’t my hat
It was actually my bat
And knowing that made her shat.

And I was thinking when he said that that really he was the dork but I laughed anyway cause I didn’t want them to make me unpopular.

But later, Eric R and me went outside without our coats, we were so WASTED we didn’t even feel it and it was like 20 below and we sat on a snow bank and he was trying to feel me up and all and I told him he couldn’t unless he liked my favorite poem. And he goes,
"Poetry is shit, man."

And I go,
"You get all pent up right?"

And he goes, "Yeah."

And I go, "Poetry gives you a way to get out a all that crazy shit that fucks up your mind and if like you find a poem that is right on to what’s fuckin you up, it like takes out all the pain like a fucking vacuum cleaner. Like it sucks up all the dirt and when it’s done you feel like you’re light as smoke inside."

And he goes, "Cool."

And I go, "Yeah. Cause if you let all the shit build up it just rots and turns you into black tar inside."

And he goes, "Heavy man."

And I go, "Yeah." And then I let him feel my breasts. Even though I didn’t tell him my favorite poem.

5. Dear Diary,

Here’s the poem that Jennette gave me that’s my favorite poem:
Its called ‘Tell Me’

Say he is wise-
That in his mind are dreams
Tempered strong by other
Earthbound things
For Wisdom is past dreaming.
Say he is good-
That in his eyes lives something
Which all men were meant to have
And all men lost, somehow, but one.
Say he is strong-

That his strength, an inner thing, begins at courage and goes on
Beyond, to heights untouched and clean.
Say all this, all else, or say one thing alone,
Say he loves me
Say that
And having said all,
Be silent.

I’m not sure why it is my favorite but it is.
Do you like it Dear Diary?

Live Love Life!

6. Diary,
I am exempt from school tomorrow.
Most of my grade is.
Jennette is dead.
Her funeral is tomorrow.
She killed herself.
Slashed her wrists and sat in the bathtub that filled with red.
That’s what they said.

7. Diary,
I never been to a Funeral before so I was pretty nervous and didn’t know how to act or be or anything or what to expect.
I went with my new boyfriend Jett in his blue Monte Carlo.
Practically the whole school was there which kinda made me happy but kinda made me mad too because nobody let her be popular when she was alive or anything. So why were they all here pretending like they really liked her. It was weird.

I found out what happened though.
I found out that Mark broke up with her the night before.
She wrote a note.
It said to play the song, "The First Cut is the Deepest." At her funeral. I think it’s by Rod Stewart.
When I heard that, I was thinking if Mark was going to come, knowing it was all his fault that she killed herself.
And it seemed like the song was meant for him. For his ears. Like a poem she wanted him to know to know her heart better.
And now he would be sorry because she was gone.

But he came.
He sat with her Aunt and Uncle.

Her Aunt and Uncle made short speeches about her but they didn’t say anything about what she was really like. It was like they didn’t even know her.
I wished I could have said something to let them know what she was really like, how sensitive she was, and how she was like a person without skin and how she liked poetry and all.

There was a moment of silence where we all bowed our heads and they began to play the song,
"Baby you know, the first cut is the deepest…"

And Mark was her first and only love.
And so I looked over at Mark.
His head was down and I could see wetness running out of his eyes and is nose and his face was very red and I thought ‘GOOD’!
I thought she meant the song to be played for a revenge on him.
And I felt glad that she was getting her revenge.

But while we were sitting there in the pews, and I was thinking that, I felt something like a hot air blown on my feet and into my feet and up inside my whole entire body up to my neck and into my head, from out of nowhere, cause we were inside and there was no breeze.
And then this thought came into my head for no reason at all—
The song wasn’t really about Mark.
He was just her ‘last straw’ of aloneness.
The ‘first cut’ was losing her parents.

I didn’t really think about that part of her life when we were friends.
I don’t know why I thought this but I knew when I thought it, it was the Truth.

Jennette was like a beautiful silk kite and in her life, Mark was the only one left holding the string.
And when he let go, that was it for her.


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