I'd said just last night to one friend that I'd bury bodies for my best friend, so loyal am I, and she is so 'there' for me, and now I find myself at the kitchen door of her niece's first cousin's house wondering why the kitchen lights are on. Well, not her house, well, yes, her house, but really her parents' house who just decided like that to go abroad indefinitely and instructed her via voice mail to watch the house while she was on break from school but didn't even bother to ask her if she'd made plans. She had, and was indeed well on her way to them, so I was drafted to medicate the ancient cat, and keep an eye on the place and since I was conveniently (or rather inconveniently for me) in between places, how could I say no and I fumble with the alarm code while watching a tall man with broad shoulders (they all have them, I've noticed) making hamburgers in a frying pan at the gigantic stove in the lavish and no expenses spared house. He's a stranger to me and no doubt I'm one to him and he turns just as I open the door. The cat is snoring in an empty laundry basket on the kitchen island. Stranger says, 'Do you know where his medication is?' Just as I ask him who he is and he doesn't even wait for my answer, he says, 'Bill. I'm Bill', and turns back to his burger.
'Do you want cheese or carrots?'
'Excuse me, did you say carrots?'
I think to myself, 'Well, I wouldn't consider carrots ordinarily but they are healthy' and he says, 'I wouldn't consider carrots ordinarily but they're healthy' and every hair (not many exist, I want to point out that I'm not an APE) stands up on end and I feel this zing of glee, kindred spirit and weight of dread, serial killer with the ability to read minds? Ordinarily I would question him. Okay, I would back him up against a wall and interrogate him but I'm considerably smaller than him (which is rather uncommon) although a part of me would certainly like to back him up against a wall and he me but I walk past him to Jennifer's bedroom. To get the cat's medicine. Top drawer, dresser next to the second window on the left.
And I drop the bottle which rolls beyond my reach and I silently wonder about the physics of anything rolling anywhere on a shag carpet so thick and when the hell did shag come back and who the hell buys it and how could such a gorgeous house in such an affluent area even allow shag carpeting to be installed on its floors and then remember that Jennifer is a kid but not really because she's in college and even, abroad, only in the opposite direction from her mom and step-dad and I also think about how I have a passport but have never actually left the continent. This 'kid' gets around more than I do and I mull that over while on my knees looking for the bottle of medicine behind or under a dresser too big for me to move.
I reach up to turn on a lamp but the cord switch is beyond my reach but seconds later it's on and I feel fabric (linen, summer-weight, nice) brush against my hand and then he is on his hands and knees beside me asking me what we're looking for. Ordinarily, I would suppress the smile playing on my lips and fake outrage, well maybe not entirely fake, that this stranger hasn't even told me why he's here when *I*, *I* was given the responsibility of watching the cat and the house and the 1500 satellite stations and the fucking jacuzzi (well, not fucking, but well, yeah, it could be) and the pantry and bar, and I look down to better keep my cool although it's kind of cool that he's down there on the floor helping.
And I see scattered among the carpet strands--are they strands? Fibers? It's a shag--is it carpet fur? are tiny little stone chips, semi-precious mostly, and they're EVERYWHERE as if something exploded and now I see a bigger pieces around but no more than a half inch or centimetre or so and I see snowflake obsidian, sunstone, lime green calcite, ocean jasper, apatite that blue is sort of rare, and I begin to pluck them and pocket them since I don't have a bag or anything but I do consider a pillowcase which is just as out of reach as the cord on the lamp and he says, 'I just came in from a movie shoot in Europe (everything is vaguely 'Europe') and Jennifer's parents were gracious enough to let me stay here and I'm sure they meant to tell someone.'
Europe? Movie shoot? I don't say it but it's clear on my face as I look up from the floor into very warm brown, no green, no brown-y green, they kind of dance, eyes mmmm and oh no..I'm not going to, fuck you, ...well...ordinarily...wait not fuck you fuck you, but you know, fuck you I'm not falling for that shit fuck you, but he sees it on my face and offers more like a question, 'I'm big in Europe?'
This time I can't help but laugh. Okay, he's an actor, I get it. He's big there but not here, but he is big here too as evidenced by those shoulders and even on his hands and knees he's a foot taller than me and I'm kind of tall for a woman and he asks me what I'm picking up and I tell him that Jennifer has stones and crystals all over her floor and I'm picking them up and he asks me why and I turn my head sideways and without thinking I say, 'I really don't know.' I pick up a clear quartz point and say, 'Here', and he takes it and I say, 'Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, feel the cool air in, and then breathe out through your mouth, warm air out, don't think, just breathe and feel the stone', and he does and shock fills his face and he drops it and sits back or up and says, 'What the hell was that', and I say, 'It's the vibration of the crystal' and I laugh and at once it's high and sparkles in the air above us and I fall down on my side and laugh deeper at this, with this stranger, this Bill, how odd this whole scenario is, I'm hunting for treasures with a giant and I don't feel the dread or suspicion anymore although a voice in the back of my mind says, Oh that's the last thought anyone has before their throat is cut and another voice says, Oh way to go with the melodrama, and I stop laughing and smile at him and he smiles at me.
'The last time I heard 'I'm big in Europe....'...He nods and says, 'Yeah, obviously I'm not that actor. But the work is steady, the pay is great and I can come here and be anonymous. I'm sorry no one told you. I didn't know you'd be here either until about half an hour ago when your friend called to see if you'd arrived.'
'It's okay, but I'm not leaving so we have to share. I don't really have anywhere to go and I like it here. I can come here and be anonymous too. At least for a week and I promised to take care of the cat.'
'Right. That would explain why he didn't come when called.'
'He didn't come when called because he's deaf. He's also a cat.'
'Right'. He moves a hand over his scalp and down his face. His hair is light brown and thinning, I see the receding hairline. It's short, shaved by the looks of it, but growing in and just the way I happen to like it and I tell myself, 'no, just...no'. Self mumbles back something unintelligible.
I feel nervous. It sideswipes me and I don't like feeling something and not knowing why and I fight the urge to get up and do something but I don't because I like it here with him, talking on the floor, so I start picking up more stones, crawling around, so he starts picking up more stones, and begins to ask me what each one is. That one is a celestine or blue barite, the light isn't good....angelic realms. That one looks like a citrine, that one ooh that one is nice..tiger's eye. They all have different meanings, different vibrations...'
'They're nice. The colors.' He hands me a chunk of rose quartz and an amethyst cluster. 'Rose quartz is for love.' I blush. Why did I blush, did I just blush? 'I mean, not just romantic love, but heart healing, self-love.....amethyst is peaceful. Both great stones.'
The room isn't, but it feels very small, but not claustrophobic. Cozy. We could be having a picnic. The carpeting is grass green, the walls are blue, the sun is shining through the windows. We just need a blanket and some ants. And some burgers. 'Your burgers?'
'They're okay. I know how to cook. I mean, they're on low, lid, steam? You like onions too?'
We talk. I really don't remember anything except for little bits and pieces like the stones all around us. At one point we're sitting up against the foot board of the bed and laughing.
'You. You have a great laugh.'
'Yes, the snorting is quite ladylike, I know'.
'No, really.' and he leans in and just like that he kisses me and it's a question, 'Would you, will you?' and I kiss him back and it's a question too, 'Do that some more and can I think about it while you do it some more?' and I can feel him smile through our kisses and I say, without stopping because to be perfectly truthful, it's been a while, 'You don't even know my name'.
'He says, 'Lenny. Your name is Lenny.'
'You can call me 'Lenny'.
I think about the possibility of me prancing around in the baby-dolls I only get to dance around in for my own entertainment and my heart skips a little and I remember my mother telling me she was disappointed that I wasn't a virgin for my wedding and then I think that she would have been even more disappointed if she knew my ex was actually gay, but probably more in me than him and for the first time ever, I think about how I don't care what anyone thinks and while ordinarily I wouldn't jump into such things, I try to say that I'm spontaneous but there are rules and stuff which means by default, no spontaneous and I imagine myself getting naked with this guy and stop. The fight inside is relentless but I think the happy is going to win because it's telling the scared not to penalize him for what anyone else ever did and I agree with the happy and his next kiss is definitely that question and I sit back and say, 'I really need a shower. Do you know where the towels are? I'd be right back. I just need to....hot water, shampoo...?' He says, 'I'm doing laundry. The towels are in the washer.' 'All of them?' 'Yes, well, no...there's a washcloth or dishcloth or ten, I think'.
I reconsider. Not just the shower but everything. He sees this. He sees this internal debate and he waits. No pressure. Want, desire, but no pressure. And he's here with me, and me with him. I can feel him and reach out to him if I want to and he's here and real and just as I think that, he takes my arm and runs one finger down the inside to my wrist and lifts my hand to his mouth and kisses it gently and waits. I feel my entire body relax and I say, 'Carrots' and he smiles and I know everything will be all right.