Me & Johnny
We used to speed down the Ventura highway. I can see Johnny scanning the road ahead of us and even with the sun in his eyes they appeared black, his hair laid tight on his head.
“How could anyone name a band the RonnEttes? Ron is such a bald fat man’s name.”
“I suppose the JohnEttes would have been better, Mr. JohnEtte …. Mr. JohnEtte,” I repeated it until it became a sound instead of a name. “Mr. JohnEtte.”
“You’re not funny,”
“but you are cute.”
“Cute? You never say anything nice to me. Cute? Bad taste, JohnEtte, plain bad taste.”
“The only bad taste I have is in you.” With a firm pull my waist was next to his, his lips were closing on my cheek.
Johnny and I never had a pedestal to fall from. We never had anything worthy of losing and we learned never to find anything that could be taken from us or misplaced someplace thoughtless.
If there was one true thing, how would you know it? When required to distinguish one side from the other, how do you do it? If the dark night bleeds way through to morning without any sleep is one left guilty to the natural order of things?
Johnny and I never talked about the kinds of things that I thought two people who needed each other would talk about.
There was never talk about god.
or our parents.
or our health.
“I like this song,”
“I can hear music I can hear music I can hear music when ever you touch me baby.”
That was more our thing.
In creating one situation isn’t one ignoring the drastic amount of situations that accost our behaviors in the span of fractions of situations? Divided and subdivided and singular compared with the more unknowable eternal brand of vivisecting human situations? The parameters that square in the light of the sun from the shadows of the walls can been seen but for me remain, not. That is, unseen, unframed, muddled – nonexistent. My line is shapeless; it does not truly exist. Johnny’s was blurred, blind with ferocity and hidden innocence.
Invisible, negated and eternally returning. I see the snake eating it’s tail and I wonder how the line became a circle. I was fine as long as I had something in my mouth. Lifesavers did the trick. When I got to a raspberry one Johnny would chide me with a look that I could translate as, “that’s my favorite,” and even though it was my favorite too I would slip it off my tongue and offer it to him. If I ever seemed distressed he would ask me to find my Lifesavers and neither of us reckoned that it was him as the name suggests – who saved me. We fished out of the same dark and small pool and dined on the spine of a single fish. I might not have been able to pull them out of my purse if he hadn’t reminded me of my taste for them.
I spent a long time laughing.
Sometimes we needed to eat.
Other times we went to the beach.
I would gasp and flop back on the couch, and I’d say to him,
“You know what we’re gonna do? I’m gonna bring my little bottle of Jack and we’ll go down to the beach later and throw shells against those slabs of concrete,”
I would watch Johnny pace over the window and peak out of the curtains,
“Why do you want to break shells, Patricia? Why you always want to break those pretty collector items.”
I remember, “Collector Items.”
“Those shells are gonna break if we do it or not, plus, the white ones we like are always washing up, don’t you think so, Pierce?”
We would stand there waiting for the sun to fall down behind the horizon line, grabbing each other for a kiss. Holding each other like mothers do their sons. I wasn’t a mother. He was never a son.
I know that I don’t know; the words and situations that deal with the functioning of the government or the real understanding of the castrated woman or the forces that are meant to be working against me. That flush inside my spine? Was it fear? The rush of empathy? The heat that accompanies embarrassment? Isn’t clarity of the deeper meaning required before the elaboration can be structured to surround it? I did something with these questions – I made these questions into a canoe that I place in a broadening and steady river that was s p r e a d i n g out to a sheer
The sound of water crashing over sang upwards with the fine
recurrent mist that circled as a jet stream does when it is caught inside of trajectories invisible cut. // inside the invisible cut of trajectories.
I can still feel Johnny when I lie on a carpeted floor in a strip of afternoon light.
Johnny and I, lying on the ground together, wrapped within our powerlessness. To each other and within the world.
“I’d be happy if I lived in an apartment for the rest of my life.”
“I’ll get a job working at the elementary school as a janitor.”
“We don’t need the things that normal people need.”
“I’ll never have a baby.”
The collection of things that the world denied us. I felt them when he grabbed my breast. When he kissed them on the dangerous edge of pain and pleasure. I was a woman, Johnny’s woman, and he was my man, and I moved in his steps knowing that it was for me that he moved. If not for me then for all things fecund and delightful. Our pleasure was a wall that we built around ourselves to block out the forms that were ourselves, colored by strangers and time. We were riding on trains that went crashing over cliffs with deadly timing, yet I was always left alive. The future was effervescent and evaporating before I arrived there.
Future thoughts. Feel me, do not think me. Do not harm me in the space where violence exists. We are not one; the truth. We are one; my wish. I was Johnny and Johnny was I, maybe like two sides of the same copper coin. I felt that when he held my hand in the pale November light.
Johnny Pierce has been dead ten years now. I find him in the California sunshine that flows down on to the expanse of grey sidewalks. I’ve walked up and down the same streets. I’ve bled into a form more red and horned than white and feathered. I’ve learned how to fall between the tracks of time. Johnny and I lived in a place that existed beyond the curtain of sight and the lock doorways of memories. With Johnny I was less afraid, I simply was and did and moved like a cherry floating at the top of Shirley Temple, all sparkling and lime and cherry.