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things in the dark
Buford's Big Bad Breakthrough

what tempts you, friend?

Things I do in the dark tempt me. I used to drink alone in my two-bedroom apartment that I shared with a community college roommate who is now an ASE Certified Master Technician. That means he can fix almost any car or truck and get paid 20 bucks an hour in a workforce where 10 bucks an hour is pretty well off. He'd be out with his new girlfriend, or sometimes an old one that wanted him as a rebound-man, and he didn't mind because it was a piece of ass either way. When they would come back I'd hide the bottles if they walked past my room, but sometimes I'd leave them out accidentally and my roommate would come in to visit with me after the girl left having filled whatever hole in her needed filling. If he found the empty bottles he'd say something like "goddamn, you're a fucking alcoholic."

I probably blushed, or maybe it was just the alcohol in my cheeks, but it was dark, so I doubt he noticed. I don't drink so much in the dark anymore, partly from fear of becoming a statistic either by the transportation department or Alcoholics Anonymous and partly from avoiding his blunt ridicule. But my addictions don't stop at the bottom of a bottle of Weinhard's or Hornsby's or Kokanee. No sir.

The stirring of my girl sleeping beside me usually stirs something in me that can't be completely explained or quantified by chemistry or biology. Psychology would be the closest match. A brush on a certain spot is like a switch. Years of Pavlovian conditioning sparks a lightning reaction and I try to convey through kisses and other bodily presses that I want access. I want to belong, be sheathed. But she sleeps away until my blood cools and I turn away feeling rejected.

I think back only hours before when we were in that bar or that time in the old warehouse watching lights and man-made weather from a fog machine stand between us while we rose and fell to a beat. It was dark there, too. At times I could only see her by the light of a strobe pinpointing a series of moves like a movie strip chopped up and reassembled. Her chest heaved only slightly, then nothing, then more, then nothing, then fell slightly, then nothing, then fell more. Her hair caught up with the strobe in the same fashion, a helicopter freeze-frame. But her smile stayed the same all the way through and she seemed happy to be watched like a porn in progress.

Sure, the movies are okay, but can't beat the real thing. They make DVDs now, which, I found out recently, work on my laptop. Sometimes they interrupt my homework or end it all together at no particular request of my own. When I can fend them off, I'm just as self-serving, but in other ways, like checking e-mail to the blue glow of the screen on my face pinning my shadow against the wall behind me or reading the same thing that I could be watching and in most cases want to be doing.

When I'm not seeing or hearing evils, I cook myself dinner for one after a long drive home from a long day at work or from coming out of hiding in my bedroom after a day of homework. I can see what I'm cooking but it has no flair and doesn't beg to be seen like other dishes I've been treated to in Seattle restaurants or North Idaho bistros. It doesn't simmer or pop, it dings when it's done and again I'm conditioned to open the plastic door and see a steaming plate of whatever. I eat thinking about how my lover is gone from here and I'll likely do more work before I finally get to sleep in the twin bed I've had for years under heavy blankets that keep me from being cold on the outside.


Yet another class assignment, this one turns out to be okay. The prompt was 'things you do in the dark' and only one thing came to mind. I really had to think to get my mind off track, but was only able to do so for a short time before I returned like a moth to the bedroom scene.

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