Monday, February 24, 2003

The All Ill-uminating Pen

Deanna, the never-to-be-forgotten girl next door, jumped as her cell phone rang obscenely deep within her shaved but silky purse. She thought twice, but not long about answering the call. So what if they found cells caused cancer? She had just found out her pet monkey, Precious, hadn't died from cancer as the vet had diagnosed. Nope, Precious died because her dog Skimo had ate her.

The call turned out to be a wrong number.

"Berr. Brrr. Burrr eeeve meant," her dizzy car sputtered. It obviously didn't like the cold any more than she did. Another call on the cell. This one was from the Department of Homeland Security. Ridge called to let her know that they considered her suicidal because she hadn't heed the warnings and hadn't gone out and bought a roll of duct tape. Instead she had chosen masking tape.

"People expect you just to get better and if you don't then there is something wrong with you," Deanna said as her car coughed once last time. Maybe they were right after all. She once considered stabbing herself with a pair of pruning shears. But prunes gave her the runs so she decided against it.

Watching TV had become a mighty depressing exercise for Deanna. All the specials devoted to Michael Jackson. She didn't need to be told he was some sort of freak. His surgically altered nose told her so. Or so she thought. And it wasn't as if the nation was on the brink of war or nothing/something. She like million others watched as Joe Millionaire chose the humanitarian Zora over the bondage queen Sarah. Like millions of others Deanna watched the Survivor babes bathe themselves nude (or was it naked? she never could tell) in front of the tribal men. She like millions of others wondered if she indeed was hot or not. This was reality TV after all. It wasn't as if the state was considering a mean-spirited budget balanced on the backs of the poor. Since when had health care and taking care of the less fortunate been more than a luxury?

Deanna harked back to how her life as a call girl began. Her mother had done some of the same. It was a way to get by. She didn't mind it much. Her first "pimp" promised her the world and delivered Las Vegas. She was proud that she first asserted her independence from him by buying a flowered love seat with hers/his/their money. He wasn't happy and had soiled the sofa with the heads of the kids he fathered through another girlfriend. At the time she wondered if it was more appropriate to call it a couch than a seat? Was the almighty alliteration more important to her than a feeling?

She wrote it all down that very same day with an illuminating pen that her mom had picked out special for her and had given to her on Christmas. Deanna became wistful holding that pen in her chapped hand. It was the thought that counts and she knew her mom had spent just a moment thinking it was the perfect stocking stuffer. A light sleeper like herself, the many thoughts that kept her up at night and wouldn't leave her alone. A pen that lit up would be just the perfect thing to have to jot down all that couldn't be remembered just the very next morning.

The girl next door couldn't get the car started. But she didn't need to see him anyway. She didn't need the cash just that moment. Instead she spent the day alphabetizing her CDs. It was one of those household projects, like hanging paintings and posters and pictures (was there really a difference?) that she now found herself doing that she wouldn't have done with Precious around- knowing it would have bothered her "roommate"- the disruption in routine. Deanna didn't like pounding nails in the walls either. She had never owned her walls before and somehow the holes didn't feel right.

The CD project was harder than she thought it would be. Should she sort them by genre or put them all together? And her classical CDs? Should she sort them by composer or performer? Consistency? It seemed to matter one moment and not the next. What the hell was wrong with her?

Deanna took a break to finish reading Charles Mingus' autobiography. His cursing, despite her occupation was enough to make her blush. She was after all a proper soul- homeland be damned. Or darned.

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