by amy temple harper
You called today and I didn’t answer the phone.  You see I am very busy writing my life story. Again?  you might say.  Haven’t we had this conversation before? you might add. Yes.  Every day I write my life story.  Then every other day I revise it or rewrite it, because god knows I can’t relive it.
Today my life story started when I took Bukowski back to the library.  He was sitting on the couch amongst a pile of discarded receipts I meant to file last month and a few stray pieces of popcorn I meant to vacuum last year.  I got so tired of looking at his ugly mug, his big broken veined nose.  Then he started hitting me with the hard and sharper parts of his body—the elbows and heels of his feet.  The blows hurt but I felt excited that he cared enough to assault me.  After the storm of battery ended I felt vaguely let down.  Normally he would slosh his drink all over me and then scream at my head, you cunt! you cunt! until we made love.  Those days were sweet, but all he does now is fart in his sleep and rail about Sam Shepard instead.
I left Bukowski for Sam Shepard.  Sam is more urbane and erudite.  He doesn’t drink as much or become as unpredictable.  I usually know what I am getting with Sam.  When I am with him I feel more American and I like that.  Sometimes he and I find some dusty spot to lie down and weep thinking about America.  True American values.  After a good cry the dust turns muddy and I feel dirty, but certainly more patriotic.  He also has something important to say.  Something monumental.  But lately it is always the same old thing:  Look at the human condition, he will say to me, don’t just glance, take a good look.  Looking and seeing are two different things he will say.  How many times do I have to hear that from him?  Then he will go off on one of his tirades about how one life can make a difference, etc. etc.  That is usually when I turn up the radio to drown out his voice.  Instead I might go out and rustle a few cows while saying the Pledge of Alliegance.  True West all the way.
It is almost noon now and I don’t like my life story today.  I think I will sit around and watch old Marilyn Monroe movies instead.  I love Some Like It Hot during the scene where she is on the train bunk with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.  She is playing the ukele and singing.  I want to lick her up and down like an ice cream cone.  In my life story we are best chums.  We compare breast sizes.  Her breasts are crooked too like mine.  She and I exchange makeup tips.  I tell her exactly where to place that mole.  No a little higher I say.  Yep right there.  That’s perfect.  I tell her no offense but your voice needs a little work.  I rub her feet and make her mimosas because I know about her secret weakness for Dom Perignon.  Then I suggest good books for her to read.  I know about her and Carl Sandburg.  Crawling on the floor pretending to be cats.  Indeed!  I tell her to read some Plato and to stay clear away from Norman Mailer.
If only Marilyn knew what Mailer would do to her years later.  It was a good thing she was dead by then.  I concede that the pictures of her in his book were beautiful.  But the horrendous details he included showed what a pig he really was.  His obsession with her menstrual blood knew no limits.  He was angry that he couldn’t fuck her.  He told me so.  He was jealous that I was her best friend and he was just some writer who wrote books.  Secretly, I admire Mailer for his ability to take women down like a fighter.  Actually maybe in my life story Norm and I are best friends.  We spend every waking moment together.  Our days are regimented.  Mornings are reserved for coffee.  We each have two cups—he takes his black and I put cream in mine.   Casual conversation is permitted.  Then straight to work for three solid hours of writing.  If he has to get up to use the restroom, he uses a secret sign language we made up, such as shaking a fist at me so as to not interrupt my profound thought.  In the afternoons we lunch on pastrami sandwiches with copious amounts of raw onion and then a short nap entangled in each other’s arms.  Then we head down to the ring and find out what the boys are up to.  Him and I don the gloves and go a few rounds.  Usually I beat him to a pulp because he is all bluster and a sissy to boot.  After a good rubdown and a steam we throw back a few single malt scotches and chase some broads.  On the weekends I give him special permission to spend time on either Saturday day or Sunday day, (not both), with his fifth wife, Norris Church and his nine kids.  But that’s it.  That’s my limit.  The rest of the time he is mine.  Nobody else’s.  So don’t call us.  Because we are not answering the phone.

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