Alive?

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As soon as he let the police in, I confronted Pastor John, and demanded an annulment.
“Wh?” he folded the Warrant, “What for?”
“Do you know what they’re looking for in your office?” I pointed at the door. Unlocked, of course. It doesn’t even have a lock, he said himself his doors are always open. There wouldn’t even be a bar on the doors to the Sanctuary if it weren’t for the local delinquents, breaking in. “Pornography. Child pornography.” I knew he liked lewd pictures, “Some of them little boys’.” I choked up, but he looked around, and pulled me into the south transept.
“Keep your voice down!”
“I’m livid! I was married in this church. You,” I snapped a nail on his breastbone, “Married me right there,” I pointed at the dais, “To that, traitor!”
“Well, this is highly irregular, but.” He brushed off his shirt, and straightened his collar. “I believe that,” he lowered his voice, “Homosexuality may be.”
“Ha!” I scoffed, “But of course child molesters!”
“This is a house of God!”
“And he corrupted it with that.” My hand shook, pointing in the general direction of the Youth Minister’s office. “Filth!”
It didn’t take them long to come out, with the monitor, and computer tower, dragging the power strip along behind them.
“That’s church property,” he ran after them, “You can’t just barge in here, and tear the place apart, I say!” They ignored him. “This is a house of God!”
“Yeah, well.” The one without his hands full of. Evidence put his hand up at the door, to his shoulder. “Read the warrant.” Pulling out his tie, and retrieving a chain, to dangle shining in front of him, he kissed the medallion, and crossed himself. “With all do respect, your eminence.”
Without a hint of irony, let alone sarcasm. “We’re Episcopalians, not Catholics.”
“Huh!” I sank down onto the cold hard marble of a bench, and felt the outrage drain out of me. So weak, and helpless, but their voices receeded outside.
“We only took the computer, careful not to disrupt anything else, and yeah. I’m catholic, but still reverent as a boy scout. Just try to calm down.”
“I AM CALM!”
“Huh!” Feeling a little guilty about how I must have looked myself, I summoned the strength to get back on my feet, and found my way to the restroom.
I was still white as a sheet, but not a hair out of place. I opened my purse for the foundation, and by the time I had finished with my eyes. The routine, calmed me down. One more check of my hair, still belled out away from my collar, and curled up off my shoulders.
I manage a weak smile, but found it unconvincing. Coming out, I found John, hanging his head on the end of the back pew. He looked dumbfounded, but straightened up at the sound of my heels, on the marble flagstones.
“Forgive me father,” I kept my voice down. “I didn’t mean to yell at you.”
“You’re upset,” he took my hand, and I pulled to help him up. “I understand, and you’re right. This is a sanctuary, but not for.” He shook his head. “Predators like that. After the scandals with the Catholics, and Methodists. We have to set an example for all faiths. I forgive you.”
“Huh! Thank you, that means a lot.” He patted my hand, and let it go. “What now?”
“I’ll have to call the Deputy Bishop, I haven’t participated in an Annulment, myself you understand. Divorce isn’t a sin.” He reminded me.
“Yes, I know, however you know how Paul is. Well, huh!” I can’t believe I’m even saying this, “Not all of it, I didn’t even suspect, but John? I think I’m having a crisis of faith!”
“You better step into my office. I know, I feel betrayed too, to think that the sanctity of this.”
“Who cares about the sanctity of the church? I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re right, it’s selfish of me, when I should be thinking about your marriage.” he checked the clock, “I better call the Vicar, before Wednesday mass. He’s an hour over, so.” He started talking to himself, so I sank down into the chair, and felt the greasy smear of foundation on the back of my hand.
Holding it up, I sighed, and got my compact out, to check, but it’s nothing I can’t patch up with a little bit of powder. “Oh,” let me see here, I think i have an emery board that isn’t too worn.
It snapped off cleanly, past the quick, but left a sharp corner, so i start buffing it there with the rough end, at least until it matches up. No remover, so I’ll have to finish prepping it at home, then see Huong at the salon for a replacement until it grows out.
“Too late,” he hung up, and came around his desk. Reaching out to me, “If you stay for service, we can try again, but I really must prepare the sanctuary.”
“Let me help.” Busying myself with checking the first few rows for hymnals helped, take my mind off of things, but then they started shuffling in, and, I saw them. All of them, in a new light.
I wasn’t always Episcopalian. My father was Lutheran, but then I got married, and I have to relax my fist before the remaining nails draw blood in my palm, but I have to remind myself, what it was like, before. I was lied to, and betrayed, and deceived…
“Huh!”
Looking around, I felt eyes on me, before I turned, and he looked away. Down, but what struck me as odd at first was how he crossed his legs.
Jonas? No, another J name, I don’t know most of the. Youngsters. I’m not that old! Jesus, would you listen to yourself? Youngsters. Jarome? No, of course not, but he’s not sitting like a girl. Just because he’s got one leg crossed over the other knee, he doesn’t have a dress on, to hide his knickers, so it must be something else.
He’s hiding in his lap. Daring a sideways glance out of the corner of his eye, then trying to keep his head straight.
“Huh!” Looking down, of course I’m not spilling out obscenely, even though I hadn’t planned to attend tonight, I never do. I suppose I’m not, underdressed. My favorite Cossack vest still securely drawn across my bosoms, but knowing now where he was looking.
Damnit, what is his name, Jeffry? No, that’s not right. “Huh!” They feel heavy, and warm, but if I unfetter the clasps from the toggles, I wouldn’t be giving him the wrong idea? Encouraging him to stare, shamelessly like a.
Well, surely he must be in high school, so. Of course, he reminds me of when I was that age, and boys couldn’t keep their eyes to themselves. I wasn’t flattered, exactly, and I certainly didn’t dress for attention, but when I got it.
“Let us pray.”
“Huh!” I’m jumpy, from all the pain, horror, and shouting, I. Wasn’t paying attention, so when the Kneeling boards started dropping down, it just surprised me, but that’s not it. It isn’t all that’s got me. Breathless, and exited in ways I hadn’t felt in.
Well, long enough to forget.
Jeremy? No, now I have that song stuck in my head. Not that one, too disturbing. Gnashed his teeth and bit the recess lady’s breast?
Shaking my head, doesn’t disturb my head, but that wasn’t my favorite song. Now, how did that go?
Son, she said. “Have I got a little story for you. What you thought was your daddy, was nothing but a…”
No, not that part.
While you’re sitting, home alone at age 13. Your real daddy was dying. Sorry you didn’t see him, but I’m glad we talked…
“Huh!”
While she walked slowly, across a young man’s room. She said, “I’m ready. For you…” Why can’t remember anything to this very day. Except the look.
“Huh?”
;
Van (mF Date)
“Huh!” Mrs. Sutton. “Huh, uh! Huh!” I caught myself on the wheelchair, pipe. Thing.
I don’t know, whatever it is you call it. The rail they have in the handicap stall? I guess to help you get from the wheelchair to the toilet, and back.
“HhuhH!” It went soft, so I shook it off, and squeezed the drop out. Wiped my fingers, and then a little that hit the toilet seat, because I didn’t put it up. Catching my breath, and fixing my pants, I tucked in my shirt, and checked it in the mirror on my way out. Straightened my tie, I forgot to flush. And wash my hands, did I get any on my pants? My tie?
“Huh?”
“Gavin, right?”
“Uh!” Her eyes, she looked so. Scared, when she met my eyes, but she didn’t even frown, when she caught me checking out the round swell underneath all those beads, and the wooden pegs looped through the yarn to stretch it tight over her 34 C cups.
“Didn’t you mother tell you not to stare, it’s rude!”
“Sorry Missus Sutton, I.”
“Kazinski.”
“Huh?” I shook my head, but she grabbed my arm.
“I better have a word with her, Gavin.”
“It’s Giovanni.”
“Oh, sorry. I,” she almost face palmed, but stopped before she messed up her makeup. I always wondered what she looked like, underneath all that, mask. And eye liner, and maskara. “We haven’t met, but I’m sorry I got your name wrong.”
At least she stopped digging her nails into my sleeve. She held out her hand, and I looked at it. unsure whether to shake it, or kiss it, but she put it down. “You can call me Susan, if you like.”
“Susan, Kazinski?”
“My maiden name, I decided. That I’m not married, for much longer.” She looked angry, “Huh!” She shook her head, and that hair. Swung like a helmet. I swear, from behind she looks like Darth Vader’s blond cousin, but she’s a natural blonde, and those are real, too.
“Uh” I looked up, before she caught me. “Is that, Russian?”
“Cossack, but. Yes, I suppose it is. Russian for Cossack.”
“What’s that?”
“You ever heard of Kazakhstan?”
“Is that in the middle east?”
“No, just north of there, but I don’t suppose you’re taking Geography, yet.”
“No, I can’t take any electives yet. Uh, what did you have to talk to my mom about?”
“Maud!” They looked like they were about to hug, but they didn’t.
“Suuze!”
“Huh!” All right, get those dirty thoughts , about mom, and Mrs Sutton, I mean. Ms. Kazinski out of your head.
“Where’s Paul?”
“Oh, he couldn’t make it, but I wonder if I could borrow.” She looked back, “Giovanni?” I nodded, and tried to swallow. “For the evening.”
“What for?”
“Well, my hrsband.” She growled, I think through clenched teeth.
“Oh, what’s wrong, trouble at home?”
“No, he’s fine, everything is fine, he just wanted one of his students to come over.” She waved, “I don’t know, to pick up some fliers, or something. He didn’t say.”
Is she, lying? I’m sorry, but, I found it a little hard to believe that she’s the sort of woman who lied. You know, cause that would be a sin, and we can’t have that!
Then again, I once thought that she was a little too old, to take selfies. I mean yeah, she held the camera up, instead of a phone, but even with it covering her eyes, you can’t miss that hair sticking out around the sides. She must have a six pack of hair spray in that purse, you can smell it!
“So, what did you need help with, Suze?” I tried, when we got out to the church yard.
“Oh, it’s nothing.”
I guessed, “Where’s Mr. Sutton, really?”
She shot her cuff, “I don’t know,” checked her tiny sparkling watch, “Probably central booking. Come on. You ever shop at the mall?” She dropped her rings in the cup holder, in the arm rest.
“No, why?”
“Well, I haven’t been in ages, but you know the teeshirts, the high school kids wear. With bands on them?”
“Tee shirts?”
“Huh!” She ran through the pegs on her vest real quick, and closed the door, before pulling the seatbelt over. Across her chest.
I swallowed, and looked down at the door handle. So, she had to lean over and pushed it open.
“Come on, get in.”
“You want to buy a teeshirt?”
“Yes, but an old one, of an old band. Some of them are wearing shirts for the bands I used to listen to, like Nirvana, Alice in Chains.”
“You listen to Alice in Chains?”
“Not any more, but have you seen any Pearl Jam teeshirts?” I shook my head.
“No, but I guess they mostly sell them at Hottopic.”
“Uph!” She rolled her eyes. “That’s for Gothics.” Shook her hair.
“Well, yeah. I guess, and Emos too, but they sell all kinds of old teeshirts.”
“Huh!”
“What?”
“It’s just, that. Word.”
“Sorry,” I didn’t ask. Old? “You want to feel young again?”
“Huh! I want to feel free again.” She pushed the gear shifter up from reverse to drive so hard, it thumped.
“Did you say central booking, like. Jail?”
“Ahahahah!” It didn’t sound funny at all. “Yeah.”
“You mind if I ask?”
She stopped, practically slammed on the brakes, but the wheels didn’t screech. Then she looked at me, and I couldn’t tell what was in her eyes. She didn’t frown, but she didn’t look scared neither. Like she did, when she caught me looking at her side boob, thorough the beaded vest, back in church.
“Child Porn.”
“Oh.”
“Buckle up, I don’t want to get pulled over.”
“Yes maam.”
“You wouldn’t happen to know, anything about that, would you?”
I shook my head.
“Heard anything about him, from the other boys?”
I shook my head harder.
“What about the girls?”
“Huh, it was just. Uh.” I hung my head, and mumbled.
“A what?”
‘circle. jerk.’
“Oh, ha! Ahahahahah!” That laugh again. The most unfunny laugh I ever heard, and I never want to hear it again.
;
Suze (Fm…)
OohH! He showed him my picture? No, he showed Them my picture, and I. Why I have never felt so betrayed, humiliated, and lied to my whole life.
Well, not my whole life, it had only been 12 years, since. We. “Huh!”
Damnit, I should have known, how could I be so blind, and naive? Well, I don’t want to feel like this any more, but the salon is over by the mall, and the first thing I did as soon as I got in the door.
“Miss Suzy! Welcomb.”
“Is Huong.” I shook my head.
“No, mis Suzy, so sorry, it is not your usual day. You have apointmen?”
“I know it’s late.”
“Oh, noh. Com in. Sit dow. What happen to yo nail?”
“I broke it,” poking a priest in the chest. “Huh!” It’s not my fault. “You do hair?”
“I colo fo you?”
“No, I just. Need a shampoo,” and a shower, and probably a high colonic to wash this filthy feeling off. I forgot all about Jiovanni.
“Jus lay back hear.”
I don’t know if they’re Korean, Vietnamese, or somewhere in between, but definitely not Thai. Too pale, but her tiny fingers are just as strong, and gentle taking the “Feew better?”
“Yes,” glance down to read, “Thank you.” or try to read “Ngok?” Out loud.
She just smiled politely, and nodded, so I closed my eyes, and relaxed.
“Huh!” Let the white noise wash the noise of the busy spa out of my hair, and wit for it to penetrate my head, down to the nagging thoughts, as well as the feelings.
“Ho stil. Jus a litto mow.”
Beautiful language, really. The hits of it I get through the sing-sing accent. It sounds so soft, and musical.
Then the clink of the spray head, back in the sink.
I was so nervous, but I thought it might be a nice surprise, for our anniversary. It’s not his fault, Jiovanni. I never thought for a moment that he’d show any of his friends, let alone the boys he was trusted with, and why not?
He was always such a smooth talker, but how many? How many of those boys have seen me, topless now? Over the years, Jiovanni said that it was a couple years ago, but.
Well, I suppose it had to be, our 9th anniversary, so 3 years back, but then he got out the camera, and he said that he left. Tucked tail and ran, when it started feeling gay, but that’s how he got them.
All the pictures of young boys, their little wieners stiff from their first look at a woman, topless. My breasts flashing through their heads, when they got home, and remembered. Fumbling out their peckers in their beds, or locked in the bathroom to pump them frantically, abusing themselves, remembering me, with the nighty slipped down off my shoulders, and bunched up over my hips. Holding up the camera, and setting my hips. Sucking in my tummy, but trying not to suck in my tummy, but with my arms raised. So they didn’t even sag enough to the lines to appear in the shadows underneath.
“Wha chu homming?”
“Hm?” I just realized I was. “Oh, just a song.” She said, have I got a little story for you.
“Soun beautifu.”
“It is.” I sat up, blinking in the neon colours, and florescent light.
“Was it call?”
“Oh. Alive.” I’m still alive.
;
Van (mF…)
They didn’t have it at the Hottopic, but I went by the barber shop on the way, to check up on her.
“They didn’t have it.”
“What?” She shook her head, and her hair moved. “What?” She touched it.
“What did you do to your hair, and your nails, and.” I almost said your face.
“You like it?” I nodded, politely. “Nothing, they just washed it.” She held out her hand, and looked at her nails. They were all cut off, and so shiny pink, I didn’t realize they weren’t polished. Or maybe they were, but clear, instead of the deep red she usually wore to match her lipstick.
She blushed, and shook her head.
“Sorry, I’m staring again.”
“It’s all right. When you look at my face.” I glanced down at her chest, but she pulled the vest together, and started looping the wooden pegs back in the yarns.
“What’s with that vest, anyways? I mean I like it, but. You uh. Really like it too? Huh.”
“It’s from my gran.”
“Grandma?”
“Yes, but. She’s British, or she was. She passed away, several years ago.”
“Oh, she used to knit, and do beads, and. Things?” I shook my head. “This way.”
“Where to?” I swear, she was like, someone else. I mean, I guess I never really, even talked to her that much, but still.
Once she let her hair down, or it started curling up. “You didn’t curl it, at all?”
“Oh, no. It’s naturally curly. In fact, I had to use a flat-iron to get it straightened out, and then a curling iron to turn the bottom edge under…”
“Uh huh?”
“But you don’t care about that.”
“Oh no. It looks nice, I mean it looks nice too, but. I guess it sounds like a lot of trouble.”
“It was, but I decided that I don’t have to do it any more. I don”t even know why I bothered before, I suppose just to fit in.”
“At church,” I mean, it’s not like all of them have hair like that, but I guess a lot of them do.
“My in laws.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot they’re Baptists.”
“Southern Baptists.”
“What’s the difference? Oh.” I grabbed the door, and held it for her.
“Huh!” She looked up. “This used to be the old Blockbuster.”
“Oh, it used to be a Hastings too. I never been in here before. I mean. In never Have been, in here. Before.”
“Welcome to Vintage Stock, can I help you find anything, or you just want to look around?”
I didn’t know Krystle worked here, either.
“You have any Pearl Jam teeshirts?”
“I think so, right this way. Gigaton?”
“Huh?”
“The new Album. Gigaton?”
“I didn’t know they had a new album.”
“Well, it’s not out yet, but you can pre-order it, and we’ve got the single, if you wanna listen?”
“Sure.”
I just looked around, and let the girls talk.
“Weird,” I never thought of her as a girl before. I mean, obviously, she’s a full grown woman, and married, but I somehow forgot how old she was. Ever since she let her hair down.
;
Suze (F Solo)
“Huh!” I sat down the headphones.
“You don’t like it,” the sales associate read it on my face.
“It sounds too much like Talking Heads?” While I was trying to listen to… “Dance of the Clairvoyants,” I flipped through the display, and found an old copy of Ten in the used CDs. “I’ll take this, I guess.” So, she went and got the disk in a crystal case, while I found Jiovanni over in the games section.
“Find it?” He just looked down at my blouse, but didn’t linger on my bosoms.
“That be all?” Krystle showed up with the CD. That weird spelling of her name, bothered me. I mean, what is it with parents these days, giving their kids such messed up spellings, that’s even worse than Crystal with a K, almost Gristle, with a K.
“Huh! Yeah.”
“What about your teeshirt?”
“I don’t care about the teeshirt,” I took my vest back, from him, and shrugged it on. Wondering to myself how he ended up holding it in the first place, when I absentmindedly handed him my purse to hold, well I put it on.
“Oh, we’re not going out, you really though she was my girlfriend?”
“Jiovanni!’
They both jumped, and he met me over by the checkout, while Krystle rhymes with Gristle came around to ring me up. I popped the CD out, and checked for scratches.
“We resurface the old ones, but if that doesn’t play right,” she didn’t even look up, “You can bring it back for a return, no questions asked.”
I assume she said that a hundred times a day from the way she recited it in that bored singsong that comes from repetition, like welcome to MacDonalds, canitakeyourorder?
“Come along.”
“Van,” I looked up, and tried to see which Van he was talking about, before we stepped off the curb. “You can call me Van. Suze?”
“Huh! Nobody calls me Suze.”
“Oh, sorry…” I went to the car, and just let him follow me, rather than let that moment become any more awkward. “Don’t be jealous, she.”
“I’m not jealous.”
“Huh!” He shook his head, and smiled a little. “She was just teasing me about, that girlfriend comment. You know how a coach calls the football team “Ladies?” She didn’t mean it, seriously, and besides. You lied to mom about what we’re doing.”
“What am I doing?” I had to ask myself, but looking at him for answers, all I got out of that was a shrug.
So, I started the car, and he buckled up, leaving me to think, while I drove, in silence.
“I don’t know,” he said, uselessly.
“Just.” I tapped the steering wheel with my palm, then noticed my nails. On my right hand, cut down and polished off to the quick, since I didn’t want to wear a fake one, just to keep up appearances. “Let me think.”
“Sorry.” I gritted my teeth, and forced my hand to relax, but it felt weird. Not feeling my nails digging into the heel of my palm, like seeing a nerd with her glasses off, and getting that Uncanny Valley feeling.
Like I don’t belong? I was the broken nail, and I tried to go back to before. “Huh!” All this started. I was lied to, and betrayed, by that cheating 2 faced child molester.
“Huh, at least you didn’t go through that, Rudie faze?”
“Rudie?”
“Yeah, my mom. She used to be a Rudie, back in the day. You want me to put on.” He stopped, with the crystal case open, but didn’t take out the disk. “You don’t have a CD player.” He snapped it shut. “Uh, hang on.” He dug out his phone. Spelled out “P.E.A.R.L.” Childishly. “J.A.M.”
“Alive?”
“Hm?” The phone switched over.
“That’s my favorite song.”
He nodded, and typed it in. Quietly.
“My mom, she still listens to Ska sometimes. When she’s feeling depressed. It make her feel better.”
“Oh,” that’s so sweet.
“That’s like Reggae Punk.”
“I know what Ska is.” Just never heard them call each other Rudies, or Rude girl before, because I didn’t hang out with those kids.
“Huh!” Then the guitar kicked in., and I started to relax. Even tapped the steering wheel with my palm. Until Eddie spoke up.
“Son, have I got a little story for you?”
While I took him back home, to his mother. His Rudie mother, with her Ska albums. Maud, “Huh!” Hard to imagine her with a mowhawk, but I suppose I went through a little phase, myself.
I like to think that I outgrew it. Trying to fit in, hide the secret of my, beligerent embarrassing Cossack grandfather, getting drunk on Listerine, and ranting about the Bloody Russians. Cursing, and spitting, to scare off all my friends.
It wasn’t my mom, or my dad, but he’d gone senile toward the end.
Stuck in the past.
“Huh!”
I’m not a teenager any more, and I can’t believe that I ever even entertained the thought of having an affair with this.
Youth? Young man? Teenager, as if that would make me feel like a teenager again, when I never had it so good.
Honestly, I hate Paul, for what he did, and for God’s sake, he’s one of his victims.
I still love him, though. I already miss him, and some tawdry revenge fuck isn’t going to make him jealous.
“Huh!”
I know, what’s going to happen, and I was willfully blind, until I saw the two of them together. Face it Susan, you’re old. Too old for this nonsense, and teenage boys are just as awkward, and fucked up as they ever were.
He tried, and I appreciate that. All that he’s done to cheer me up, but. This is a lie, and I already wasted a dozen years of my life living a lie with a man that I thought I knew.
Now, it’s time to grow up. Drop off “Van.” Put it in Park outside their apartment complex. “Thank you, I had a wonderful time,” but.
I didn’t even get to the butt before he popped the safety belt, and leaned over face first. His hands went right for my bra, and that only reminded me of the part that wasn’t me.
The anniversary gift, he got me, after i finally loosened up to surprise him with a picture to show off to his pupils, and take pictures of their penises when he connived them into exposing themselves to each other and the camera.
“Stop, no. Just stop, I. Huh. You didn’t let me finish.”
He sat back, with a disgusting rubbing of his rear on the vinyl car seat.
“I did have a lovely time, but this is.” I shook my head.
“Inappropriate. I know, I’m sorry.”
“No, this isn’t me. I don’t know who I am any more, and I’m starting to doubt that I ever truly did.”
“How so?”
“Huh! Well, you’re going to have to find yourself. Take it from me, don’t let anyone tell you who you are, until you find out for yourself. Don’t.” Go.
“Okay.” He turned back to the door handle, and I held onto the steering wheel, to keep from reaching out for him, until he was out, and almost gone. “I had a great time too.”
Then, he closed the door, and left me alone out there, while he ran across the parking lot.
So, I turned off the engine, and cried, until I could get a hold of myself, enough to drive home.
Alone. For now, honestly I can find a man. Another man, who i can trust, but not Jiovanni. As much as I want that, I know that I can’t, I shant, and I won’t do that to him.
I’d only get jealous, and suspicious. Because of course, he’d meet a younger lady, someone closer to his age, and how can I compete with that?
At least it would be a girl, his age, instead of a bunch of boys to show my topless picture.
“Hhuh!” I need a drink. Maybe I should find a bar, or something, and get drunk. Too drunk to drive, so I wake up in some stranger’s bed, and start the whole self destructive cycle all over again?
No, it’s too soon, but I suppose I could stop on the way, and pick up a pack of wine coolers…

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