Justin Bieber’s Hair
Miss tHing is trying to gain control of her cold closet moths and her colored light bulbs, bare and incandescent. Yesteryear’s boyfriend stole her mother’s lace lampshades. Still, everything hides in plain sight. On the TV, a trade-in from some Bowery guitar player calling himself Mystic Juice, Justin Bieber is singing “One Less Lonely Girl.” Miss tHing’s boyfriend knocks and enters, shaking the winter from his dreadlocks, a perpetual poker face even when losing. “Something the matter? Like you don’t know me?” he says, as if a prince of renegade comic book heroes. Miss tHing explains that she’s watching the moves on this kid, might try a couple tonight at SpeakEasy But Don’t Die Subtle on Christopher St. “You need drugs” is what her boyfriend says. Miss tHing imagines cutting a lock of hair off Justin and placing it under her pillow, the cover ruined by improper wash settings. She imagines her and Justin on a night on the town, the paparazzi snapping photos from camouflaged positions, lines of people parting as they step into the club, no checks for I.D. One girl shouts out, “I bet Selena is going to be plenty pissed!” If pressed Miss tHing will say He’s my nephew. Or He’s just a look a like. In the restroom, Justin will cut off a lock of hair and give it to Miss tHing. Then, security will smuggle him out the backdoor. She will stuff the hair in her boyfriend’s mouth when he snores. When he wakes, she will laugh the way she once did, wearing purple tutu and leotards and way too much make up under her mother’s softly shaded light. Her shadow moves, however, were intense.
The song Miss tHing’s piano teacher gave up on her plays in the voice of a man with shuffling boxcar feet, a body of accordion-squeeze. She would love to pack this little man in her briefcase before going to work, or play a friendly game of hiding him in the closet, just so she can find him again. Unlike her first and second piano teachers, this man will never reject her. She loves his fingering, his timbre mastery in her 4/4 toss and turn nights. So far her tally is: marzukas-20, etudes-30 and then some, polonaises-18, preludes and nocturnes—40 each. He’s divorced and bald, a woman with no sense of count ruined his private boleros. One day, in the Fantasy of the Real, Miss tHing confronts him, says she loves him as if a soft hand inside her, but will never take away the pain, the treacheries of her early tutors. The next day, the little man stands in the doorway of her quiet apartment, a city for amateurs and the permanently tone-deaf, claims he has broken his fingers so she won’t feel alone. She embraces him, tells him that it is only she who is impoverished. In the bedroom, under a portrait of a square-jawed man who could never play music, their movements are quiet, controlled, exquisitely shaded, with an occasional forte.
The Man She Couldn’t Forget
If he were light, he’d be a lotus petal. A fledging thought inside a girl, lonely on city streets, intuitive on mountaintops. Instead, he left a suicide note that read: The world is not a pond. I am a sturgeon. Everyone wants me for dinner. I’m not even that tasty anymore. I keep floating down. . . Miss tHing fishes him half-way from the water, imagines his eyes of negative space, the ferric taste of the stud on the lower lip, the body heavy, a gunnysack of body parts once fresh with her fingerprints. She decides: He is too waterlogged to be saved. She removes her orange silk top, the low cut jeans that were a real bargain in a city of near-drownings. Underwater, she tows the sturgeon-man to where he will be safe from swimmers, from wanna-be heroes with a missing limb. On TV, they have a whole channel to themselves. Towards bottom, it’s dark, darker than any room where she ever slept alone or never quite woke up. She has the feeling that everything here is vigilant and pristine. A thousand eyes light up. A voice swims inside her head—Leave us be. Pretend you never saw anything. She returns to shore, spitting up gobs of what she can’t remember. She looks up at the slate sky. Nothing is written down.