Collected stories based on songs from the Beatles’ White Album.
by Ralph-Michael Chiaia
(this first appeared in the East Hampton Star on 27 September 2007, to whose editors grateful acknowledgment is made)
Why don’t we do it in the road?
On the beach, in the car, on the roof, at the mall, on the red plaid tablecloth at the bar on Wooster and 4th street with the big bay windows and the smiling white waitress.
Why not everywhere?
We just met. It’s that phase before the sloth comes out. The stupidity then directly follows. If we’re willing to live stupid, we’ll stick it out. But now lift that skirt up—glad you didn’t wear underwear.
Why don’t we do it in the road? I don’t know. Why not?
Under the stars, moonlit night at the beach, the water is glowing and shimmering.
Forget the future, the past, here we are radiating hot red affinity like the
Wild Honey Pie
He wears his hat low. She’s already drunk at the bar. She’s surrounded by her entourage of admirers. She’s sparkling. Her stomach is a slab of ham, she’s got a football field between belly button and breasts—she’s the longest torso in the universe, or at least the room.
She gives him that intense look, his lady, for a flash, and then waves at his wife. He is dressed the way she likes in an open blue button down with v-neck underneath and that muscular chest sitting like a rock. Their color is blue. Their code is blue.
She dances with seventeen different men, runs her soft never worked hands along the jaw of a blonde guy. Then she’s throwing up by the fireplace of the pub.
While she holds her baby hand over her mouth he rubs her back and whispers that she will be okay. With her friends, he helps her into a sports car—his wife watches him. Her eye is suspicious. Wild. Blue. Bleu.
The steak is sizzling on the grill. She’s yelling at him on the phone. Calling him a moron again. He’s patient, kind of. He thinks he is. He’s telling her that you can’t call him a moron. He can’t take it. Don’t curse at me, he says, don’t call me moron and don’t call me a cheater.
She keeps saying that it’s all his fault. That he has to help her. The steak is really sizzling her.
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Dill
In the highway traffic, boxed in, trapped, stuck, the story spins in his head, beep—lights flash—"watch out, moron!"—beep, the continuing story of a man with a story in his head, he needs to write it down—brake lights, damn. The idea comes and goes: he's in a car because his girlfriend says she's going to kill herself with a shotgun but he has a deadline with the greatest magazine in New York and he's got this great story in mind that he has to put to paper of a man named Bill who's out hunting dear with the president and vice-president of the country when one shoots the other accidentally. Bill, the hero I suppose, says, "But wouldn't you call that slightly politically-destructive?" That's to be the climax of the story but when that happens—. The car stops before pulling into a spot. He runs out of the car to the elevator—up, ding-dong—she opens in her pajamas, no shotgun, cool as any well-refrigerated story.
Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my donkey
Most Hindu Kings had a sage—a rajguru—for consulting work. Would you ever dare call him a lackey? You see October 8th they say in 1582—the year—did not exist because of recent implementation of the Gregorian Calendar. However, 386 years later John Lennon and crew recorded "the Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and "I'm so Tired". So it goes. The Dodgers announce they're moving to
Haven’t they got any truffles in
The boy toyed with a glass onion on the desk. He was congested and his voice betrayed this: "What about multitracking the page?"
"Tracking in writing? Unheard of. Cut and paste, maybe. You know, like Burroughs."
"Yes but what if you want a larger sound, an ensemble?"
"You write characters."
"Ah—that's what's missing from these."
"Who. That’s who. And put down that glass onion."
I’m so Tired
The ash of my cigarette should fall but holds on. It hangs, seemingly breaking physics. My mouth waters. If my legs cared they would lift me through the smoke to the kitchen where I keep my favorite bottles on the dusty top of the refrigerator.
That would calm me down. It is still drizzling outside. It seems it will never stop. The cigarette comes to my lips along with my hand. The drag I take is long. I look down my nose¾and see my own moustache, though blurrily¾and watch the beautiful red light: the smoking. The ash hangs, slightly curved and irregular in a spot. But does not fall.
My body is slouched in this uncomfortable chair ordered out of a catalog with my father’s money. It is the only thing in the room besides the telephone. The phone is by my left foot, the one that rocks with nerves. Nerves zap up and down my veins, all sugared and caffeined up. The nicotine is supposed to calm it. The ash still doesn’t fall.
My mind reaches for the phone, but my muscles don’t. They only bring the cigarette to my lips again. Through blurry nose and moustache the red ignites. I lean forward toward the phone and the ash breaks. It crumbles down into little pieces of paper¾perfectly sized for Barbie dolls to write their memoirs on¾which ticker tape parade to my toes. My hand holds the receiver but doesn’t pick it up.
My mouth waters. The red light on the end is the smoking, current; settling into the carpet is the smoked and the to smoke awaits my inhale wrapped tightly in white paper.
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
My favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets, number one hundred and twenty-nine reverberates in my head and I curse myself. How did I land myself here, alone, in this chair, with the phone cradled against the instep of my naked foot, wrinkled, tired, burning with tension¾body lethargic, nerves racing. The state of in between, so intensely nothing. I search my past reason: it was lust. I admit it. I wonder if I should call. Can’t call. Why would I call now? What would be the point? Nobody would answer.
It wasn’t even the penis, it was that feeling deep in the stomach, where the deep nicotine breath goes, that center of enjoyment, the pleasure gland, just north of the penis.
I hear mumbling in my head. There go my great thoughts, inaudible even to myself, I see them fall from the canal, like a bobsled track, which pours through my brain. It’s a lot like veins but somewhat more cerebral. They fall from the track¾on that track everything is right, straight from the source, the inspiration, but I know now that they are fallen they are no good. I get a glimpse. It’s been two weeks. It’s too long. Way too long.
I get to the to smoke and turn it quickly into smoked. It’s so fast. It’s like that bobsled run. When it’s running, that’s ice, slippery-quick.
I came home, three weeks ago, tired, a lot like today. A lot like today. I watched the sun come up over
I met her some moments before. It was all an accident. It was dark in the club. My eyes really aren’t that good in the first place, and my ears aren’t that great either, especially with background music.
It was lust. I tell you: ‘past reason hated.’ That’s how it is. I mumble to myself. I hear it, heavy.
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme,
A bliss in proof, and prov'd, a very woe,
Before, a joy propos'd, behind, a dream.
I light another cigarette. I am so tired. But I cannot sleep. I wait by the phone. Maybe it will ring. Soon I can call. The sun is nearly up, like that day:
On the bench, moon up but falling, sun down but climbing. I sat with a friend. The brain changes, the personality rotates along with the moon. The brain is in orbit. At that time conscience came. I realized I didn’t even know that girl. She didn’t even mean to go home with me, she meant to talk to her boyfriend, but he left with his friends, and she and I stood there thinking I was talking to her because I responded thinking she was talking to me. It wasn’t true but I was hungry so I invited her to one of those late night Korean restaurants with the fresh meat cooked at your table and the piss-drunk business men in their private room with geishas and the door open and spicy soups.
She slurped it right down, the spice not bothering her. She told me she was half French and half Mexican, her father and mother left her with her grandfather when she was a baby. She grew up in bars and on the back of his motorcycle. That was the Mexican side.
She was cute enough, and buxom, so when she said, “I am a bad girl, okay? Come home with me,” the correct answer was clear. Smart would have said no, I said yes.
Then on the bench I realized how stupid it was without protection. Peace of mind was sucked out a black hole within me and that nervous strychnine-like tension worm-holed in.
After speaking with conscience, that mumbler, I had my blood taken with that long needle. I felt like fainting for a moment. Blood doesn’t usually bother me.
It is just too early to call so I guess I’ll have another cigarette.
Martha My Dear (I Will)
She always expected an engagement ring. She didn’t expect him to drop down to one knee and produce it from deep inside his pocket. Instead she thought it would be hiding somewhere. Half-expected.
In his apartment, she searched every candy wrapper, examined every empty box, every sock and shoe, even checked his drawers when he turned his back. Once she took all the onions off her fast food burger and held them to the light. They had a ring-like quality. She felt close.
“What the hell are you doing?”
She smiled wide. “I though there might be something special here.”
“Like what?” He tossed her a little packet of ketchup.
She pushed the packet back towards him. “You know.” She smiled.
“There’s no ring. Get off my back.”
The next day he brought an apology letter. She searched the empty envelope. Things went on like this for months until her roommate swallowed a bottle of sedatives. On her way to the funeral she saw clearly through the raindrops that her moment was near. Today was the day that would heal her wounds. She heard the divination in the flange of the tires in the rain.
He was waiting for her by the door to the funeral home, dressed in a suit. He escorted her inside. There was a casket between two towers of flowers. People spoke softly, choked up by tragedy. The dead body was dressed like it was enjoying a first kiss at a prom. The eyes were closed and the hands were neatly placed one on top of another. He escorted her through a crowd of family standing near the first row of seats and to the casket. He held her by the hand. Yet when she eyed a jewel she had never noticed before, on the long, slender finger of her roommate’s corpse¾fourteen carat gold, with veins of pure platinum and a circular diamond¾she threw his hand out of her own, ran to the side of the coffin, yanked the ring off, along with the dead now-broken finger, and blurted, “I will! I will!”
The Star shines.
“There’s nothing like a grease-dripping,