24 September 2012

Magpie Tales 136: Escaping The Deep End

Flying Down, 2006, by David Salle, via Magpie Tales

Rainer sucked in a lungful of bluish smoke, sighing it out through his nostrils as he rocked on his heels outside the gallery. The cigarette tip glowed like a tiny baleful eye, illuminating his reflection in the gallery glass. His reflection overlaid the poster he was eyeing, the rumples of his clothes giving texture where there was none. Sunken eyeballs, weed-whacker hair and sallow flesh looking ghastly in the sodden oyster light of a hangover Sunday morning. He belched quietly. The backwash in his throat a mixture of gin, diner eggs and something like regret which failed to fade no matter how hard he swallowed.

His head ached. His eyes twitched slowly in their sockets, lead balls in syrup. The mish-mash of images, the riot of color seemed to set up a resonance in his chest and belly. They fluttered in odd syncopation. The stirring in his groin caught him off guard. What the hell? he thought.

He found himself staring again at her ass. Slow realization trickled into his sludgy consciousness. It was her. Her. Again.

"Goddamnit, Morgan, leave me be. You with the look!" Rainer barked at the glass. Shame coursed through his mind, causing him to shiver. Six years, and she still yanked his chains. He rubbed a throbbing temple with a shaking hand. He knew she was still there, red hair and green eyes and that ass, Oh my god her body, those curves, face buried in her hair, hands desperate to pull off her sweater, JesusH she smelled like the ocean, she's a selkie come to drag me out to sea, again and again...

Rainer staggered back from the glass, the warm drops coursing down his cheeks mixing with the cindery rain that began to fall. He wiped his face with a dirty cuff. The bottle in his coat pocket slapped against his sunken chest. He looked down, mildly surprised, and pulled it out. Two fingers of gin sloshed around inside. Rainer swore he heard her voice in the beads of liquor rolling down the sides. His breathing stopped momentarily as he stared at the bottle, then back to the woman on the poster. Back and forth, a sluggish metronome. His trance was broken by a man approaching from down the sidewalk. He had a leash wrapped around his wrist, at the end of which an eager Irish setter strained forward, finding something interesting in Rainer standing there.

Rainer stood up a little straighter, pushing his hat back on his head. He tried to look jaunty as he saluted the dog and owner with the gin bottle. The setter sniffed at him with that goofy look all dim but happy dogs seem to have; the owner eyed Rainer suspiciously and barely nodded in return. He pulled hard, yanking the dog away in such a manner as to suggest they were not really trying to hurry away from the well-dressed hobo muttering into a shop window.

Rainer watched them walk away. The bottle was wavering under his nose, and the urge to open it was so strong his knees came close to buckling. Eyes watering, nose running, he turned back to the poster. He could not tear his eyes away from her face, her hair, her bottom. A loud sob burbled out of his mouth. He stepped back again, raising the bottle in a shaking fist. He drew it back, and flung it as hard as he could at the plate glass window, shouting "Leave me be, damn you!"

To his utter shock, the window burst into a million little pieces. The noise was like a rifle shot combined with the cracking of a bell. The shrieking of the alarm galvanized Rainer into action. He took off running as fast as his trembling legs would carry him, heading for home. Wheezing, coughing, and crying, he kept thinking that maybe, this time, today would be the first day of the rest of his life.


  1. Wow. Just wow. You never cease to amaze me, Irish! :)

  2. What a ride through images in this gripping write. I loved it.

  3. Excellent write...very fine indeed Irish...

  4. So many brilliant images: weed-whacker hair; regret too hard to swallow; her voice in the beads of liquor rolling down the bottle...

  5. You brought the painting to life ~~~ gloriously!!

  6. a very nice read Gumbo....thanks for sharing all your words

  7. LOL - don't mess with the local blue bloods!

  8. That catches the angst in the picture and condenses it into a good read.

  9. Bravo! Good to see you've still got a passion for fiction. Or, is it? ;-)


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...