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Life at № 42

And then there were sirens

Red, white and blue, and sirens. Maybe yellow instead of white. I don’t really remember that part. I do remember it was dark and cold, and someone covered me with a blanket. They also left a note saying everything was going to be fine. What a ridiculous thing to say – to do. How could anyone possibly know if anything at all would be fine?

It was December, in Rockford, Illinois. What a terrible place to die. Middle America. Middle, mediocre. I hate mediocre. Why couldn’t I have made it Paris or London – or the South of Spain? I love the south of Spain, so glamorous. The nurse in the ambulance is terribly smiley. Like someone out of a cereal advertisement. She also says I’m going to be fine. Annoying. Her eyes are a crystalline blue. Very pretty. I wonder if she has this air of happiness all the time. I feel like pinching her very hard to see if I can make her cry. Obviously I don’t.

I look quite excellent. All in black with a tan jacket. And tan shoes and belt. I look like I’ve just stepped out of a magazine. I grew up thinking I was ugly. I believed that until last year, in fact. It turns out I was wrong. The preponderance of the evidence says otherwise. People often stare at me, and it seems that sometimes it’s because they like how I look. Not just because I’m strange. Sometimes people even tell me I’m beautiful. I’ll have to blame being generally disliked on something else now.

The hospital is Saint something or other. Very bright, very white. Except for the man approaching me, he’s very black. He’s coming at me like he’s going to touch me! I consider screaming, but that would be impolite. I’m in a hospital, everything is fine, he’s not going to rob me. I close my left hand anyway just to make sure my ring doesn’t get accidentally slipped off. In Salvador black people are mostly workers or servants, and of course all the criminals are black. He tells me he’s going to cut my clothes off. I protest. He insists. I negotiate. Not the jacket. Save the jacket! I love the jacket. Burberry’s, cashmere.

My grandmother said I could have anything I wanted for my last birthday. Once I’d chosen, she said the jacket was too fitted. That there was something feminine about it. I exploded in rage. I had an attack. That’s what people in my family called it when I spoke my mind. Albeit sometimes my mind spoke through flying objects and yelling in a way that most found frightening.

“Do you think I’m A) Blind, B) Retarded or C) A Mongoloid”. We could say things like that back then. The shop assistant laughed. My grandmother refused to buy the jacket. I refused to have lunch with her. I knew I was leaving soon. Maybe forever. Probably forever. I had to find something, somewhere. And I had to be away from those people, all of those people. And I was going to do it in Burberry’s cashmere. Burberry’s was very elegant then. Before footballers started wearing the real thing and poor people started wearing the knock-offs. I blame the internet and the tabloids. Poor people shouldn’t even know what Burberry’s is.

They ask me if I want to see a priest before surgery. A fucking priest? I think it but don’t say it. I don’t swear in voice, only in writing. I’m not vulgar. A priest is the last thing I want. I considered being a priest once, but mostly because I wanted to live at the Vatican – evidently that would involve being at least a cardinal and would probably take forever to achieve. I gave up on the idea fairly quickly. Much more quickly than on the fantasy that the Romanov’s would come and get me. Save me. I’d meet the Grand Duchess and she’d immediately know we were kindred spirits. Anastasio? She’d make a place for me in the world. There would be a reception, I’d come down a marble staircase. Everyone would applaud.

They ask me about my emergency contact. “Shouldn’t you tell a family member what’s going on?” I don’t want to; but I suppose I have to be responsible. I recite my grandmother’s number and seconds later they hand me a phone. It must be around lunch time in Brazil. “I’ve had an accident. It’s nothing, I’m fine.” I’m always fine. I once broke my foot on a Thursday and was able to dissimulate the fact until the Monday. It was very difficult to do because I couldn’t put it down on the floor. The pain was tremendous, but I didn’t want to be an inconvenience. That turned out to be a very bad idea. Broken bones don’t fix themselves.

“What did you do?” she says. Accusatory, as always. I’ve always done something. I’m permanently guilty. I feel like telling her she’s a stupid woman. I don’t tell her anything the doctor said. Dr. Bear. The man looks like he knows what he’s doing. Hip, rods, knee, lots of words, very quickly spoken. I couldn’t quite string together everything he was saying. Shock? Something about walking. I wonder if he means I won’t be able to walk again. For a second I feel a sense of relief. Wheelchair bound? Maybe that means I never have to do anything; ever again.

I can just sit and be unpleasant to people. I think I’d like that. Whatever Happened to Baby Me? And people will just have to put up with me, you know, because of the wheelchair. I’m 21, what a tragedy. People are going to say so young, so beautiful and so clever, poor thing! I was never really convinced by the idea of a career anyway. Or marriage, or life in general. Not unless the Romanov’s come to get me. Now there are lights in my face. Another black person! They’re everywhere! This time it’s a woman. I like her face. She reminds me of Dejanira. She tells me to count backwards from 10. Ten, nine, eight.

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58 comments on “And then there were sirens

  1. Arkenaten
    August 16, 2017

    I am lost here. Excellent piece but I need context.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      December 6th, 1999. I’m coming to terms with the realisation I might be gay. I have a collision with a truck.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arkenaten
        August 16, 2017

        Ah … right. Now I am on the same page.
        ”Carry on, sergeant!”

        Like

  2. Hariod Brawn
    August 16, 2017

    Superbly done. You’re writing the autobiography I wanted you to. Keep at it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      Yes I am 🙂 The less glossy one this time around.

      Like

      • Hariod Brawn
        August 16, 2017

        Candour is everything. I don’t normally read biogs but just did Decca Aitkenhead’s (Guardian journalist), which was wonderfully candid in a totally unflattering way (as regards how it reflected upon her); yet that same quality endeared me to her all the more, and made the book worth reading. She writes about how, within a few days of her partner drowning and receiving a generous note of sympathy from David Furnish (Elton John’s husband) saying ‘if there’s anything I can do’, she asked him for money. How naff! Furnish didn’t reply. She got another letter of condolence from a Jamaican billionaire and she asked him for money to. He didn’t reply either. She wasn’t in her right state of mind at the time, of course, but I admire her for admitting to doing something so crass.

        Liked by 4 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        I was very uncertain, it’s a difficult thing to do to be really honest. To shatter the illusions and delusions. But I think I might finally be at a point where it’s possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hariod Brawn
        August 16, 2017

        Agreed, it is extremely difficult. We rarely say what’s truly on our minds. Ryle’s ghost in the machine seems to do all the talking, the homunculus within, Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical performances. Good for you, Pink, and I wish you well in your efforts. Don’t post it all here though — we want some surprises in the book! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        This was an exercise in tone. I cobbled it together this morning. I’m waiting for Mike to get home to see what he thinks.

        Liked by 2 people

      • karenjane
        August 16, 2017

        I want to know the next bit…NOW. I suspect, dear Pink, that you are going to tease us & drip feed us tiny snippets from your interesting past very occasionally.

        Liked by 3 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        I’m finally going to sit down and put the story together 🙂 Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll see.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Carmen
    August 16, 2017

    No! You just couldn’t have believed you were ugly. I can’t bear the thought. Ugh. How do people do such cruel things?
    You know something, Mr. M.? When I describe you to my daughters I say lots of flattering things, but when I show them the picture on your blog, they’ve either commented, “Handsome!” or “Gorgeous!”. So there. 🙂
    Riveting account, by the way. I’m with Ark and Hariod.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      I did. I spent much of my teens kind of hiding. Refused to be in any photographs between around 13 years old and 20. I wanted to disappear 🙂

      Like

  4. kjennings952
    August 16, 2017

    I love the tone, and one particular section really encapsulates your mind and behavior of this period:

    “I think it but don’t say it. I don’t swear in voice, only in writing. I’m not vulgar.”

    Your perspective on it now as you work through reconciling your voice and actions is inspiring. You’re very brave and a very talented writer!

    Ps, I’m giving you a virtual hug, which has the added benefit of not making you squirm. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      And it’s virtually accepted!
      That line might still describe me today…!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kjennings952
        August 16, 2017

        You’re working to reconcile how it describes you today because it’s YOU making the choice based on who you are, not what you’re supposed to do.

        I’m with Hariod, you should publish a memoir (in whatever form). It’s a missive against hate, eloquently done.

        Liked by 4 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        That’s the plan 😀
        I actually went through the whole process years ago – but then when it all started looking very real I backed out.

        Liked by 2 people

      • kjennings952
        August 16, 2017

        You’re stronger and wiser now. When you feel discouraged, just post a snippet as you’ve done here so we can all praise and encourage you!!

        Liked by 3 people

  5. john zande
    August 16, 2017

    Superbly written. I’d like to hear that story told on Graham Norton’s show.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      I’m going to aim for a Brazilian audience. That’s where people most need to hear this story.

      Liked by 2 people

      • john zande
        August 16, 2017

        Talk shows here are atrocious. They still think men dressing up as women are funny. Soapies still have funny cargtoon music inserted to let the audience know when something ‘funny’ is happening and they should laugh. Lula will run for president next year. I could go on…

        Liked by 3 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        Precisely. I’ve been emailing with an old friend who’s Brazilian and gay, and I’ve been incredibly surprised that the idea of gay is still so archaic there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • john zande
        August 16, 2017

        Even though bath house popularity is as high as ever 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        I bet.

        Like

  6. theoccasionalman
    August 16, 2017

    *hugs* *nonverbal support for a situation that happened a long time ago but still informs who you are today, which is a person who is very special to me*

    Liked by 1 person

  7. theoccasionalman
    August 16, 2017

    And I can assure you, poor people don’t know what Burberry’s is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      They do, though! I see them wearing the tartan all the time!And I feel like confiscating it. NO BURBERRY’S FOR YOU!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • theoccasionalman
        August 16, 2017

        Then maybe we have different definitions of ‘poor.’ 😉 When I was growing up, a JanSport bookback was a status symbol. As was vacationing in Myrtle Beach. These are the ways the middle separated themselves from the poor thirty years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carmen
        August 16, 2017

        I thought I recognized that name. . . daughter #2 has a purse in that exact pattern. She flew in for a visit this past weekend and was frantically searching for her sunglasses on the morning I took her back to the airport. She figured she’d left them somewhere and, sure enough, daughter #1 turned up with them the next day. I threw them on the counter (it’s always cluttered) and grabbed a pair the next day to run errands. When I got back, daughter-in-law said, “Whoa – since when do you wear Ray-Bans?” I looked at her with that stunned look I have perfected and she proceeded to tell me how much those sunglasses cost.
        No wonder daughter #2 was in such a panic about the damned things. . . I sit on them in the car regularly. . . I’d better get them in the mail to her before that happens. 🙂 Sunglasses. .. sheesh .

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 16, 2017

        Ray-Bans are amazing quality. I’ve had mine (prescription sunglasses) for 16 years.

        Like

      • Carmen
        August 16, 2017

        “Ray-Bans are amazing quality.” I would certainly hope so. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Anony Mole
    August 16, 2017

    “I’ll have to blame being generally disliked on something else now.”

    I could have given you lessons… I didn’t used to be an asshole. Now? I don’t have time for shallow. Or ignorant. Or blatantly stubborn (hmm, is this a sign of self-loathing I wonder?)

    My patience was measured by the ton. I couldn’t measure a thimble-full today.

    First person narrative suits you. You tell just enough to be evocative. And just little enough to be interesting (you know, skip the boring.) However, I’ll be a contrarian here, just to needle you.

    DON’T EVER WRITE THIS WAY AGAIN!

    (Teehee, let’s see if that spurs him to write even more… Shh, no, don’t tell him!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 16, 2017

      😀 It’s interesting because the first time around I did it in the third person – which was really about distancing myself from my life. Now I’m easing into accepting it as it was.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Diana MacPherson
        August 17, 2017

        I always end up fighting the urge to gloss over the details when I tell story (non-fiction & fiction) because I’m always in a rush to get on with it.

        Like

  9. Bela Johnson
    August 16, 2017

    I think it’s hard to write autobiographically. Because. Memory is subjective. We are us *now* talking through how we perceive us *then.* But do carry on, it’s entertaining for sure. Btbye, my mother is from Rockford and Danville. Born in one, raised in the other. You just about knocked my socks off with that one. She always aspired to glitz and glamor as well. Probably something to do with a)being a Leo and b)being from those dreadful places. The midwest is so FLAT. I almost was raised there, but thank Providence and harsh winters, I was Not. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  10. appletonavenue
    August 16, 2017

    Brilliant, as always. You have a gift with words and an uncommon honesty in all you write, especially as it pertains to you as a person, and a gay man. I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Vickie Lester
    August 17, 2017

    I am hooked, well done you!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Diana MacPherson
    August 17, 2017

    I like the story so far. Starting in medias res like that is excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. acflory
    August 17, 2017

    Wonderful, Pinky. You know how to write. Beautifully. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 17, 2017

      Thanks 🙂 Mike says I’ve finally found the voice that sounds like the *real me*, so I guess that’s progress.

      Like

      • acflory
        August 17, 2017

        He’s right. This is your voice and like you, it’s both sharp and lovely. Keep writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. makagutu
    August 17, 2017

    Excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 17, 2017

      I thought you might find my prejudices (as a young man) amusing! 😀

      Like

      • makagutu
        August 17, 2017

        Oh yes I did.
        What were you trying fighting with a truck though? Were you strong as a teenager 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        August 17, 2017

        I can’t remember the details. Just the before and after.

        Like

  15. I love it, and if I didn’t I would simply not comment in order to not hurt your feelings. What I like is the pace. It moves fast, it captures your youthful arrogance. I wonder if you will change up the voice and slow it down as you mature (in the story)?

    I’m just going to be honest with you here, I wouldn’t want to read detailed sex scenes. On my computer I use Google Safe Search so I never ever am exposed to any pornography or just violent stuff I assume is out there somewhere. If you absolutely are going to write those things, it’s your story and you decide how you are going to tell your story, then you could deploy a tactic.

    This just happened to me yesterday on Joe My God. I was commenting on an article and a regular commentor wrote, “StraightGrandmother now cover your eyes and don’t read the rest of my comment because I am going to make a sexual comment towards another person who was commenting” That was great, that worked for me, I stopped reading the comment and scrolled down. Joe does not permit pornography on his website, which is one of the MAIN reasons I enjoy that community, and if ppl break the rules I go bananas and report to Joe every time. It rarely happens though, there is some sexual innuendo but I can cope with that. IF you are going to have explicit sex in your book maybe warn the reader to skip to page 17. I’d be fine with that. It’s just an idea Pink, it’s just an idea.

    I STRONGLY encourage you to keep writing, I so enjoyed even this little snippet. What language do you write in when you are writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      August 17, 2017

      Thank you! The way I’m planning to lay out the story is childhood/homophobia and events surrounding the accident. So no sex!
      In fact, I kind of agree. I’ve rarely, if ever, read good literature about sexual acts.

      Like

  16. Dr Martina Feyzrakhmanova
    August 18, 2017

    I read a poem by DH Lawrence today, called “The Mosquito”. Seemed pretty charged with homosexuality to me https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47359/the-mosquito

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 19, 2017

      I just love DH Lawrence!
      “Slowly the moon is rising out of the ruddy haze,
      Divesting herself of her golden shift, and so
      Emerging white and exquisite; and I in amaze
      See in the sky before me, a woman I did not know
      I loved, but there she goes and her beauty hurts my heart;
      I follow her down the night, begging her not to depart.”

      Liked by 1 person

  17. acflory
    September 19, 2017

    Reading through the comments, it struck me how strange it is that Brazil should legalise marriage equality in 2013 yet still be so coy about people actually /being/ gay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      September 20, 2017

      It’s a country of a paradoxes, and the Evangelicals there operate like a mafia.

      Like

      • acflory
        September 21, 2017

        And yet marriage equality passed while here in Australia we’re still ‘talking’ about it. -shakes head-

        Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 16, 2017 by in life, thinking aloud, writing and tagged , , , , .
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