Note: the Organic Literature Experiment has vanished from the Web, but here is its rendition of a Skeeter Kitefly excerpt.

Never Cry

by P. S. Ehrlich

So what are we going to see tonight? Never Cry Wolf? Who's in that? Charles Martin Smith? Oh sure, the Toad nerd from American Graffiti. Do you mind if I talk all through the picture? "No more than usual," yeah right…

Not too many people here. Goody! Maybe this time I won't get shushed by a bunch of busybodies. So anyway: I had a weird dream last night. No, not from eating too much pizza. It was sort of about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and my first Halloween dance in high school.

(Is that supposed to be the Yukon? Sure looks cold. Too bad it's not Antarctica and there won't be any penguins.)

Anyway I went to that dance as a vampire, in chalk-white fright makeup and a long black wig; "Miniature Morticia" they called me. That was the same week I realized I could never be a nurse like my Gramma'd been. And I'd wanted to be one, too, till I found out in Freshman Biology you had to chop open a perfectly good worm and check out its insides. I mean, GROHsss. You've probably realized by now that I'm no veggie, but I sure might become one if I had to actually wring a chicken's neck and pluck out its feathers and disembowel it from scratch and so on. Which might be handy skills to have if you worked as a taxidermist, say, instead of nursing sick people.

(What's Toad doing up there? Is he-oog! He's eating MICE! Bleahhhhhhh. Here, take this popcorn; I don't think I'll be wanting any more…)

Well thanks a lot for picking the "unusual" movie. I suppose now I'll dream about running naked through the snow with a pack of hungry wolves after me-nothing symbolic about that, of course. Or about snacking on rodents!-I'll never be able to watch Tom & Jerry again, or Pixie & Dixie or Speedy Gonzales, without losing my appetite.

My roommate at the U was a reincarnated fieldmouse. Missy Trace! She wasn't bad-looking, just sort of mousily nondescript. And nervous and timid and shy and naïve. So naturally Disgusting Joe Biggins tormented her every chance he got-hiding behind curtains or around corners and then leaping out at her, putting her in headlocks and half-nelsons-"C'mon, Missy!" he'd say, "Two falls outta three! Winner has to give the loser a sponge bath!" I thought Missy was literally going to FAINT. One night I heard her squeaking in her sleep: "No, Joe! Don't, Joe!"-but she acted annoyed when I woke her up, so maybe Joe Biggins was the sum total of her erotic fantasies. (Yuggh.)

Um-do you think we could go back to your place for awhile? I'm all spookacified…

I still haven't told you about my dream last night-how Lonnie Fesso went to that Halloween dance half as Dr. Jekyll and half as Mr. Hyde, and monopolized me between them. Boy, could they shake it-which Lonnie made awfully clear when he took a swing at this Jack-o'-lantern piñata, busting it open and starting a riot by clouting all the candy-grabbers with his piñata stick. I mean, police cars came and everything. I'm surprised I don't dream about that dance more often.

I've had some really weird dreams about some of the hotshots I've been out with. Lonnie Fesso wasn't the ultimate hotshot, not by a longshot. Some of my weirder dreams
are like scary movies, and I just love scary movies, but some of the dreams-

I think I told you that after I saw The Shining, this guy I was with dreamed these bugs were-yeah, crawling all over him all night long. Well, that was the same guy who'd only eat pizza with a knife and fork. I met him while I was working at the bank, and they told me to get a batch of logsheets copied at the corner Kinko's. And there he was, this Viking god with curly golden locks and jutjawed chin-cleavage-like Siegfried Do-Right of the Nibelung Mounties. Guess what his name was? Okay, brace yourself:


Now if that isn't a bass-ackwards tip-off, I don't know what is.

But oh my God-

-he had the COOwullest smile-

-his hands were cool too, downright cold in fact, but it was summertime so they felt amazing, and he could use them like a Swedish masseur. He was rigidly muscular from head to toe and everything he wore was always spotless, he had a thing about sanitation and was always emptying my ashtrays, wiping them clean, wherever we went.
He himself didn't smoke and mostly drank ice water (and would chew the ice) but he did introduce me to zombies that summer. You know: rum and apricot brandy. And every time we had one he'd say "Bottoms up!" and sweep me off my feet and out of my shoes, even, when we kissed-Jim being so tall, you see, and my arms around his Nordic neck till he'd turn me into molten oleo with his Iceman Cometh hands and lips and…

…I thought he was so romantic…

…I thought he might be THE one AND only…

That bit about being alone-in-a-cone-of-cosmic-light? I thought that was going to be US. Alone together, forever and ever…

Even though he had these teensy-tiny tattoos on his fingertips, spelling out some ex-girlfriend's name forwards and backwards; I was willing to overlook that. I mean, he could make my heart squeal…

(Um-would you pour me another one, please? This next part gets kind of dry.)

Okay. Jim claimed he was from this shrunken old ghost town out west. He wanted me to go out there with him, not to visit anybody or anything, but (I thought) to come to grips with his inner self or whatever. And I was all supportive and couldn't wait to go. So we headed way out west, to this place straight out of The Last Picture Show: all shades of grey and dry as dust, like some Nowhere Land. And there I was with my Nowhere Man.

He took me to this abandoned-looking motel, and I don't know if Norman Bates was the manager or if in fact anyone else was around. So, um, we went to the room at the end and Jim took the bed apart till he found these mattress handles and smiled that COOwull smile of his and meanwhile I'm unpacking his bag and I find four silk neckties and I'd never seen him wearing any kind of tie and, um, there was also this black nylon stocking, just the one, and I, um, I wrapped it around my neck like a goddam scarf after undressing for him, and don't ask me what he may have had in mind when we got there, but-

-anyway. We just went to bed, as per usual.

But then he woke me up at some godawful hour and said we had to get out of there right away, so I went to wash up 'cause I couldn't see straight and he came into the bathroom with me and watched me wash and then I put on my glasses and saw him in the mirror and he looked all ashenfaced like he'd lost something he'd wanted and I was going to ask him what but it was 2 AM and I just had to yawn and then he grabbed me and shouted "WAKE UP!!" at me, "WAKE UP!!" and, and, he, um, well, he sort of-"hit me upside the head," as the saying goes. Two or three times, or maybe it was four-I wasn't exactly keeping score. It broke my glasses but not my skull-too thick-headed, you know. Ha ha. And I'm kind of used to bouncing off walls, you know, without anybody's help. But…

…I don't know if he felt sorry about it. 'Cause, um, we didn't have a whole lot of conversation afterwards. 'Cause he started throwing up bigtime, see, and then he sort of stopped and I, um, I sort of left him there, in that bathroom, with, um, with his head, well, in the, down the, you know…

I've never told anyone any of this before.

I don't want to talk about it anymore.

But I will say this.

It hurt, it hurt like hell, but it could've been a lot, lot worse. Right? So no tears shed. See? No tears. I swore I'd never cry about him. And I haven't, ever. Not once.




Copyright © 2002 by P. S. Ehrlich