Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dark and Gloomy Arabian Nights

Though I like to pretend I’ve just now figured out that I am The Fly to The Cowboy’s cruel Spider, I have, of course, known this fact all along. Even when I was still on my meds and only one thousandth as paranoid as I am now, there were moments of jarring lucidity in which I understood fully that I was The Fly. And, in moments more jarring still, that I was not even The Fly, but one of a whole flotilla of flies he rotates, as I guess all cowboys must, in and out of his big rawhide web.

“You really think he’s cheating on you?” Ed Head would ask me in such times of darkness.

“There’s nothing to cheat on,” I would remind him. “We have no relationship.”

“You mean you don’t have a commitment,” he’d say.

“Well, I'm committed, if that means anything.”

“Why don’t you just ask him?” Hank Fitz would ask me when Ed Head could no longer endure such conversations.

“Ask him what? How many cowgirls he’s sleeping with?”

And then I’d have to explain to the nodding Hank Fitz that The Cowboy was not just The Cowboy, he was also Mel Belli, and as such would answer my question with one of his own:  How many cowboys was I sleeping with? 

To which I’d say “None.”

To which he’d say: “Aw Jeannie, ah know they’re all after yew, yew must hafta fight them off with a stick.”

“Why don’t you just have him followed?” Hank Fitz asked me one day in a rare state of pique. “Then you’d know the truth once and for all.”

“You mean hire a P.I.? “ I asked, as if Hank Fitz might not be speaking English. “You mean like spending actual money?”

But it wasn’t my penury, or even my cheapness, that got in the way, it was Hank Fitz’s usage of “once and for all.” Such a death knell, that phrase. Such a biopsy coming back with bad news. Such a swatter whose only job is to swoop down and smash—once and for all—this fly unto irreversible death.

No, the only thing a fly can do to stay whole is to forget she’s a fly and pretend she’s the spider. And the only real way she can properly do this is to keep spinning what she believes is a web—a purely fictitious web, to be sure (preferably the fiction of others, from Stephen King to the constantly wondrous T. Coraghessan Boyle)—and make it so sticky that even the boots of The Cowboy might some day adhere.

The thing about short stories, however, is that they are short. By the time I am reading “The End” to The Cowboy, it is the end, and he has to leave. To a fly still on meds, this might seem like a problem, but to a fly off her meds who thinks she’s The Spider, it’s merely the seed that will yield a new bloom:  The Scheherazade Thinking Disorder.

Chapters, I’m thinking (and I use the term loosely).  Chapters.  Cliff-hangers.  You know, suspense. 


  1. Such a death knell, that phrase. Such a biopsy coming back with bad news. Such a swatter whose only job is to swoop down and smash—once and for all...


    Oh, the things we don't want to know in this life.
    Oh, the lies we prefer to live with.

    I'm not sure if I'm impressed with or depressed by the mind's agility in evading unpleasant potential...

  2. Yeah, yeah Tanita. Whatever.
    At least Ms. Gonick is posting more frequently.

    At the expense of anything else, her stories MUST continue, said the reader fly caught inexorably in her literary (mental) web.

  3. In self preservation we make up our own bedtime stories, whatever will get us through the night. If it doesn't hurt anyone, what's the harm? In my story the swatter bats away the pesky mosquitos and leaves us whole and dreaming. If those dreams include riding double with a cowboy, so much the better. And some dreams do come true ...