Short Stories

Gutter (a short story)

“Fat wet lips on a sea salt canvas, goodbye Picasso, Hello Dolly…”

I listened to the Terence Trent Darby lyrics for the first time and grinned. My usually whirring mind faded out with the typically eighties end to the song. In the blackness and the silence, I was left with one image; a beautiful young brunette, of Monroe sex appeal, by the name of Dolly, waiting for me to touch her.

Is that what the words were supposed to mean? Surely not, but then why was it the first place my brain stopped, and did the brains of others stop there too?

I wet my lips with my tongue and pressed my index finger to the rewind button. I held it there firmly and watched the digital numbers count down the seconds while the music bleeted backwards. I released the button, invited back into the musical trance, as a junkie to a needle. I was warmed and carried back to Dolly.

“…Her face was my favourite magazine, her body my favourite book to read…”

The gravel voice of D’arby shook the sound system and I smiled. If my mother knew what I had been thinking right then…

I stared out the window down the driveway I had parked my car in a million times. I gazed down the street that I had spent many a night, gazing down, waiting for something to happen. I wanted more from my life; and more experiences. At that moment I yearned to make all of the mistakes I could ever hope to learn from.

I wanted to rip Dolly’s clothes off and have my way with her, until she begged me to never leave. I wanted to fuck in a public place and get into a fight with law enforcement; naked. I wanted to pierce both of my nipples and get a tattoo on my ass; have a love affair with Johnny Walker and a summer romance with Jack Daniels. I wanted to do all of the things I had ever been told not to do.

“They say all poets must have an unrequited love…”

The trees in the street were all unchanged; in the same places they had always been, going through yet another cycle of growing new leaves in time for summer. The houses were all the same colours and the fences stood as they had always stood, safe and secure in their stability.

I closed my eyes and breathed the music in. I was not safe or secure in my stability. I could feel myself changing and growing. I could feel my firmly planted roots, urging me onward and upward.

I opened my eyes again and waited for them to adjust to the dark. I could feel my pupils widening, taking in as much of my surroundings as the street light would allow.

The inner, out-of-body experience had me perplexed, but inspired; to push the limits I felt drawn to push, and to test the limits I could bring myself to test. How was I ever to find the answer if I could not even formulate the question?

I rested my head against the head rest, in the car I had taught myself to feel at home in. I felt so smug, as if I had it all figured out. I breathed a laugh out of my nose at my own naivety. Try to fight it as I may, my heart was an open playground, and the rules to the game were constantly changing.


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