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Vol. 1, No. 3

Red Spiral Notebook
by Cintra Wilson

JAN 19
      There are now three things I can't stop thinking about, in this order: Lee (fucking Jenna won't give me her phone number, she doesn't have it, she won't call Yvette, bitch), dope (a vague . . . restless yearning, certainly not a "hooked" feeling-barely even a "wow I'd like to do that again" feeling), and Bridget, bearing my unborn progeny. I am shamefully paralyzed. When Bridget calls I can't even pick up the phone, that's what kind of hero I am. I am feeling duped by her irresistible pheromone; it got what it biologically wanted.


JAN 20
      Yvette came over again with Danny, who has the creepy quality of one of those children with that accelerated aging disease. Lee is living uptown with some investment banker/junk fiend-one of those hip rich white guys in a suit from Barney's that drives through Spanish Harlem in his new Land Rover and knows all the guys on the corner by name. He keeps her locked in some icy penthouse, like Tinkerbell in the pirate's cage. I smoked some H again. Just a tiny bit, just to see if it was the same. It was. Like the beach I was yearning for-floating on my back in warm waves under a soft blue dome.


JAN 21
      I am besieged with fretful masturbation fantasies of rescuing Lee from the evil banker, and taking her someplace like North Carolina and nursing her into a better life, and watching those sad cyan eyes unshutter from the grip of her inner monsters and yield unto ME.
      I'll only be in NYC six more days.
      I haven't spoken to Bridget in one week now, since she told me the News.


JAN 22
      Today I was sitting in Cafe Twin Donut for three hours, trying to force the hand of fate. I read every newspaper and magazine they had, and I missed all the sunlight. When I got back to the apartment, I could tell that Jenna and Steve had been fighting; open suitcase on the floor with clothes still on their hangers stuffed angrily into it, cartons of Chinese food dumped on the floor. I listened at their room door and heard Jenna giggling, Steve mumbling, and Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane mournful love songs. On the table was a burnt spoon with a little wad of cotton in it, and a candle, and three little baggies. I sat for hours at the window, thinking.


JAN 23
      Steve was working in Jenna's store, and I was absentmindedly rummaging through old shirts when Lee walked in, looking for Jenna. I nearly wet my pants. She looked really depressed, her eyes were red and puffy, she looked as if she were about to break into several untidy pieces. I wagged in front of her like a golden retriever, my whole dumbstruck body shuddering.
      She gave me a very sad smile.
      "I wanted to go to the beach today, but look at it," she said, all forlorn. It had been raining, the sky outside was the color of graphite, the streets ribbons of oil.
      "I was actually on my way to Coney Island," I said in a stroke of unbelievable genius.
      "I love a wet beach."
      Ten minutes later we were on the subway. It was that easy. She didn't talk much, allowing me to project worlds of intelligence and depth onto her, which could very well be there, for all I know. She was really down, but I got her to laugh a couple of times by telling her about the daredevil, swashbuckling world of antibacterial soap marketing.
      Coney Island is a depressing eyesore; the roller coaster is spongy with termites, everything is fenced in like an abandoned prison yard, with dead trees and rusty projects lurking over it. The beach was slick and gray and reflective as stainless steel, the dark sky hung in threatening layers over a strip of thick yellow mist, but it could have been the candied shores of Xanadu, considering how my heart was yawning desperately to widen itself, to take in all of the terribly disorienting, irrational leaps of feeling. Lee staggered around the windy beach clutching her clothes like an orphan.
      "You seem sad today," I offered. Here I am, I was really saying, use me, tell me anything, launder your worries in me. She shrugged.
      There was a dock, and a patch of sand that wasn't all the way wet underneath it, so we crawled under to watch the winter sun get swallowed by the iron horizon. It was cold, but I spread my overcoat out longwise so we could sit on it at a respectable distance. Lee was crying, making no sounds at all, just hurt scuttling down her cheeks, her throat moving its painful knot around.
      "Hey," I said. "Hey now."
      I reached over and touched her soft little curls, to which she responded by collapsing her head into my lap, and we just sat there for a while, me stroking her shoulder and her head as nonsexually as possible and her rattling in silent grief, which I couldn't hear against the wind and the steady metallic gnashing of the sea. It started getting really cold. I said "Hey" again and made a slight move.
      "Oh, please, we don't have to go yet, do we?" she said in such a frail voice that as cold as I was, I wanted to tell her I'd sit there until the ocean crystallized into towers of salt.
      "I don't have to leave until Friday," I said, and she laughed through her sniffling.
      "Do you want to get high?"
      That was weird, how the question hit me like a damp sack of meat. It just didn't seem like the logical next thing.
      "You have stuff with you?" I found myself asking, more out of curiosity.
      "Let's do some," she said, she'd made up our minds. She pulled a little baggie out of her pocket, and a short cocktail straw. The powder was white. She snorted a little blast of it, wincing from the burn, then handed the bag to me.
      I didn't want to refuse, but I didn't want the day to end, but I didn't really want to be high, but I wanted to get closer to her, so badly. . . .
      This stuff affected me way more than either of the other times I'd done it-it hit my cerebral cortex like an open-palmed slap and coldcocked me with its stunning electroglide mercy, and its horrible unfairness: how could evil scourge heroin be the glorious unbuckler of all those painful little belts that have always constricted my entire psyche? Suddenly my brain wasn't a sack of rotting clams and old machinery and dogs barking and women and children screaming; all that remained was this smooth, delirious calm.
      Lee, with the faintest smile, turned toward me and brushed the tip of her nose against mine. She lay down and I ran my fingers carefully into her hair, and her hands dug under my shirt, and we kissed and pulled together so tightly, so instinctually, that parts of me I didn't know I had went ahead and moved in with her; all of the glue that held the atoms of our bodies together started to shake loose and suddenly we were bonding on some molecular level-invisible parts of me that weren't my voice were saying things you can't say, with the intrinsic weight of "Come live with me and be my love . . . " and parts in her knew, and said "Yes," and inaccessible parts in me said impossible things like "Forever and ever," and deep secret things in her unlocked and bloomed and said "Yes," and I wanted her so unbelievably, I practically lost my mind when I loped back into semiconsciousness to discover that parts of her I thought I'd never see, parts of her I'd only achingly daydreamed about, were somehow unbuttoned and somehow in my mouth. . . .
      It's now five A.M. We're back at Steve and Jenna's. She's asleep in my bed and I'm wired out of my skull on the strange beauty of it all.


JAN 24
      Holy Mother of God. When I woke up this morning and saw those pink-orange curls, it was the total Christmas of my adult life. This is the plan: she's shacking up here with me for a few days, until I leave. Then, I dunno. . . .


JAN 25
      The thing about sex on smack is you can go at it for hours and hours and hours, and somehow it removes all of the things you don't need anymore, like your appetite and your personality and whatever else might be bothering you. We just lie in bed for hours and hours and endlessly adore each other and there are no obstructions or limits to this intimacy, just Man and Woman and this all-consuming erotica, like archetypes instead of singular personalities. I feel like I'm glimpsing womanly primordial secrets, like I'm witnessing the unfolding of a huge lotus/mandala. It's not even human: we pull together like the two universal elements of binary code and ancient geomancy and it's insanely, scarily, mathematically perfect.
      Three weeks ago, if I'd read this, I'd have been laughing my ass off, but right now it actually makes sense.
      I'm actually glad I'm leaving the day after tomorrow, because I know I can't handle much more of this.


JAN 26
      Ha ha ha ha, oh ha ha ha ha.
      That Steve. Fucking fucking fucking Steve. Oh, "Jelkes" ha. That amazing fuck. What did he steal from me? Not only my plane ticket home. No. He also stole ALL MY ID: driver's license, checkbook, credit cards, ATM, library card. In essence: everything that makes me a human being.
      Where is he now? He is sitting on my plane, with my wallet. Undoubtedly buying drinks with my money. Introducing himself as ME.
      Lee and I were high for the last two days. We finished up the great stuff she stole from Darrel, her boyfriend, and Steve scored more mediocre stuff for us yesterday. He and Jenna started fighting miserably while Lee and I were trying to say goodbye. Lee was crying, and I was gearing up to going back to the Miseries of Real Life, and facing the specter of Bridget, etc. So anyway we went out for a farewell dinner last night, which she paid for (evidently her family will still wire her cash for emergencies-they were only too glad to hear she was leaving Darrel. She's going to move in here with Jenna) and we tried to eat and talked about How She's Going To Be All Right. We woke up early this morning so I could go, and then I discovered that everything was missing, especially Steve, who I guess had the ultimate fight with Jenna while we were out and decided to do what his mother wanted him to do. For fuck's sake! I'd have given him the money!
      I called my mother to tell her what had happened and she was so disgusted with my treatment of Bridget (Bridget CALLED her!), she didn't even want to talk to me. Fucking dreadful, but she's wiring me a bit of cash to live on until Steve can be located, on the condition that I call Bridget (Jesus H. on a flaming Ferris wheel). I told her I would. I called Senior Brand Manager Gary, and he seemed personally affronted, as if I had done this to mock him. Then he put me on with Head Brand Manager Paul, who said he'd have to tell His Royal Highness Mike, the Category Manager of All Soap, a guy who is evidently so immensely important it's like putting a call in to Desmond Tutu. I made around 47 phone calls and helped set Gary up with a temp.
      Lee is happy I'm not leaving yet. When I got back from the Western Union office she had cleaned and swept everything and was sitting on the bed in one of my T-shirts with her hair down. I said "No dope tonight," and she said OK but I noticed her eyes were too shiny and gathered she'd already done some.


JAN 29
      No sign of Steve. I'm sick as a dog; I got the flu. My body was staving off collapse until I got on the plane. I called work and told Gary's temp I probably wouldn't be in until next week, and hung up before she could get Gary or ask me anything else. Lee lays around with me and brings me juice and smiles.


JAN 31
      Jenna weepily begged me to go out and score for her. It was fucking terrifying how sick she was. She turned light green and her eyes were filled with horror and she started sweating this greasy sweat and she lost control of her limbs. Evidently, Jenna can't score for herself, because the Latin guys won't sell smack to women-they just don't trust them, even super-obvious career junkies like Jenna. You have to be a guy, and look the part; hooded sweatshirt, stained pants.
      So I find this guy "Molo" that Jenna described, on the corner of Rivington and Norfolk, and he said "Hey" and I asked him "Whatcha got?" and he said the brand name ("Lion King"-there are countless others. Cyclone. Fuji Power. D.O.A.) and I said OK, then "Molo" ran off and came back five minutes later with the bags. I got back and Jenna and Lee were sitting anxiously on the couch. Jenna looked like a duck that had been pulled from an oil spill, but Lee had the strangling Hunger in her eyes, too. It wasn't until that moment I realized I was copping for the both of them.


FEB 2 96
      I'm in this strange limbo: now I've got Steve's old job, running around procuring salvage for Jenna, selling a little pot, or other stuff here and there. I have not dealt with the ID/wallet situation. You can't get on a plane without ID, and at this point, I'd really only be going back to a world of shit, so I've been procrastinating. I think I'm actually in love for the first time, anyway. My old world is receding, and I'm not doing anything about it, and there is a strange wonder to this.

Dear Carl:
      I don't even know how to begin to address the issue of your leaving me without so much as a word, without acknowledging our baby at all, and leaving me with all of your belongings to deal with. But none of these things are why I'm writing to you now. I talked to your mom, and she said that Steve (who is in rehab now) told Margaret that you had gotten involved with some girl who is a junkie, and that you were doing heroin with her. I can't tell you how much hearing this hurt me. At first I was jealous and outraged, but then I realized that I was just terrified for you. Gary called to say that you've been fired, and he's really sorry, and he hopes you're OK. What in God's name are you doing to yourself? I don't think you realize how many people care about you, and care what happens to your life.
      I'm having an abortion on the ninth. Your mother offered me money, but I felt too humiliated to accept. Your father is coming tomorrow to get all of your things out of the house tomorrow. Please mail me the key. Needless to say, you should never come here again, and please don't ever call me.
      I didn't dream that in my life I could ever be as angry and hurt and disappointed as you have made me, Carl, and the worst thing is that I still love you. But you are clearly not who I thought you were.
      I hope you find happiness in your life and nobody ever puts you through the kind of pain you've caused me


FEB 9, 1996
      Nothing seems like enough; life is too stimulating without enough outlet for expression. All that stunning input is lost in the body; filtered through that gray shit 10% of the brain we use, and then lost; eaten by the lack of clarity, the ineffectualness of human action. Liquid diamond is poured into the soul and the human digests it and spits it out as gravel.


FEB 16, 1996
      Sometimes I come so hard, I cry and laugh simultaneously like I've suddenly been let in on the whole joke, like I've suddenly stuck my head through the ceiling-membrane of human drama and been allowed to see the whole world play at once instead of just my maddening little role and I realize for a few minutes that it's all a comedy of crystal clean, clear zen nothingness. It's an unsarcastic pure bliss that only comes in these little glimpses, it's too much for the body to handle, really, it's the laugh of death, only a skull can smile that wide for too long. . . .


      Jenna OD'd the day before yesterday and we had to take her to the emergency room in a cab. I think she was really depressed about Jelkes and was trying to kill herself. She's OK now, but it was a creepy omen. I told Lee we should stop peddling smack and gack for a while. . . .
      Lee went to go get her stuff back from Darrel and hasn't come back yet. I wouldn't be fretting about it, but she left yesterday afternoon. I was afraid this would happen. Jesus, what am I doing?


      Oh, I have to do LAUNDRY says the head, and then the stomach and the bowels say Oh heavens, we can't do laundry without Um, a little something something. The bliss possible of a day bleaching whites and sinking into the petal-soft fury of the poppy! All the limp-wristed gray-skinned constipated clichés of junkiedom have pulled apart for me like heavy red curtains and revealed something much more sinister and interesting: the deliberate free fall-the liberating atheism and shrugging off of conventional life that it implies. The wondrous lack of caring.

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