Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Long Night of Jackie Jones

"The Long Night of Jackie Jones"
a borderline obnoxious five-chapter story about the photographer Jackieif it were (quickly and lazily) written by Charles Bukowski.
by Jake Kilroy

Chapter I: Hot Night
I got home late from the newsroom. It was dark but pretty. The sky was still there, so I hadn't died on the way home. There was music on somewhere. My studio was still and hot, but what else do Americans expect from their bedrooms in the summertime? People want to come home to a disaster or flowers, and they never learn it's nothing but a room. There are a hundred rooms on the block. Why would any of them be different from the others?

"All these weddings and no assistant," I cursed with salty gums. I had hoped my work would've done itself in hours ago.

Chapter II: Sure Enough, Here
The clock was a sloppy mess, hands everywhere. Or maybe it was the heat. Maybe Dali was right about clocks. Maybe Einstein was right about time. Maybe I was right about nothing. At least here was cold beer in the fridge. It would be a long night, but that's the only kind I've ever had.

"All these weddings and no assistant," I mumbled again, waiting for the air to come on. The air was staler than the bread I begged for when I was a rotten youth.

I set my bag down and considered my computer. Lurking in it were brides and grooms and the terrible aches of the future. How had so many deadlines come knocking at my door to let themselves in? Why was I always at the Orange Circle taking photographs of sunlight?

Ah. So I'd have something to hold onto when the darkness and wine came later.

Chapter III: Sacrilege of the Photographer by the Writer
Hours later, I had a headache and my pajamas on. There were photos everywhere with memories nowhere to be found. They let me drink at these weddings, and they shouldn't. I'd be a mess if there weren't other messes. I can blend into a crowd. It's not that hard. All you do is stand tall and micmic the others. This is why sheep get eaten by wolves. They try to show off.

Individuality will get you killed. Conformity will get you married. The irony will get you grinning. But, ideally, in the back of your mind, you also see yourself smiling in front of a firing squad.

Joe Purdy came from the small radio I keep by the window. His answers made sense, but I had no questions I could ask this late after so much work with words. I nearly drowned in the wine bottle that watched over me like a concerned friend. These were troubling times, but I was in no mood to be anything else than drunk and glorious at photo editing.

So many lovers, so many meadows, so many holding hands with daylight glimmering until nausea sets in later, often around midnight. Then I will go to bed, convinced that I am the reason these people even love each other. The artist with the loaded gun, bullets flying out (months later, after I've touched up the colors), here now in the foxhole of her room, waiting out another summer of engagements, weddings, and babys being goddamned babies, drooling on themselves, like I will one day when I have finally given up the camera for good.

Chapter IV: When You Finally Give into Everything You Want and Your Body is Silent
When the slurs finally came to my mouth, the empty room felt like another person. It sheltered me and kept me company. I wasn't lonely, though every strong-hearted person says that, whether they mean it or not. I can be mean or not. Whatever suits the mood suits me. There's nothing to do about the world if it doesn't feel like it.

Around 2, I called Celeste. She didn't answer. It was just as well. I had seen New Girl GIFs online, and my only intention was to giggle with her for 45 minutes, or until one of us lost breath and fell asleep. These were the nights, and we welcomed them.

The sun was still gone, and I was still awake, but we would both be changing soon. What lousy creatures night owls are, with their broken eyes and their busted hearing. So I called a man. His name was in my phone as "Robert, M.D." I didn't remember him. I remembered what I had that night. But you can't make a house call to eight vodka tonics and a handful of vicodin.

Robert answered without any tone of drink or drug. He was asleep.

"Hello?" came the groggy voice.

"Hi, is this Robert?" I chirped.

"Who is this?"

"Are you a doctor?"


"Are you a doctor?" I repeated, slower this time. This brute was a drag.

"I'm a maitre d'. Who the fuck is this?"

"So you're not a doctor," I moaned in distress, this time making sure to roll my Rs like the bad girls from high school had taught me.

"Who. The Fuck. Is this?" he growled like a monstrous beast from Hell.

"Your worst fucking nightmare."

I hung up. If he wasn't going to give me the time of a day, I didn't see any point in giving him the time of night.

I wondered what Kristen was doing.

Chapter V: The Devil's Play Things
I tried to do the math to figure out if Kristen was just going to bed or just getting up, but the numbers might as well have been sworn enemies. I can count cigarettes, and I know what radio stations play the right songs, so I stopped. It was enough math.

I went back to the computer. I had enough of weddings. There was more to life. There was more to the world. The problem wasn't the system. The problem was me. I had made a living taking pictures of happiness, and they weren't me. I was happy, and I've been happy. But happiness to me is free booze and a dance floor. I don't need a whole goddamned society telling me otherwise.

Still, I suppose there is always something left, even at night. The fears and the anxieties come out of the darkness swinging at you. The problem is that it requires a choice. Step back, swing back, or die. I decided to find a man, to find sex. I was bored, and I was hungry, and it was more work for me to make a sandwich at this hour.

I took down the last of the last bottle, unable to read labels anymore until rest. So I went to the window. I wasn't a beggar, but I wondered. Where were the machines of sex? Where were the men, soldiering on as nobodies in their great lifelong campaign of nothing? Where was the entertainment for a young woman hellbent on everything? They were supposed to be ready and willing and eager to ruin.

So here I was, a woman, empty and coarse, relentlessly pursuing a dream, any dream.

And then the young man dropped off the morning paper. His eyes lured up to my window like a catfish with his mouth caught on the grime of the hook. I grinned, starved for attention and sweat. He, on the other hand, gulped so loud it should've woken the neighborhood. He set down his bike, and I walked to the door to unlock it. There is never a need in this world to be impolite. Always be a good host. It will be repaid in the afterlife.


James said...

Yes. Fantastic.

Jake Kilroy said...