The tinroof was growling cause the rain was coming down and pretty quick it got going so hard that I had to turn the TV off. It was alright cause anyhow I wasn’t paying much attention but I missed the bluelight. Room had grown stuffy, I couldn’t breathe the way I wanted to, so I slid the window open and poked my head out into the wet heavy dark. Streetlights waxing and waning in flickering moonphases. Bugs buzzing, a dog barking somewhere far off. Sucked all of it in through my nostrils. Blew it out my mouth. And I dunno how long I was sat there with my arm stretched out and the raindrops gathering in my palm, thinking not much of anything at all, wasting time waiting for the rain to let up. But the rain didn’t let up, so I went out anyways.
Didn’t bring an umbrella, I dunno why not, instead I lifted my jacket up over my head. Watched cars screech through puddles in the road with wings of water flaring beside them like strange angels of the rain. Stopped for something to eat, got most of the way through a burger, stayed there reading a book till it was late enough to be kicked out. Got kicked out. Went walking again.
Saw a friend later that night, she texted me asking what I was doing so I told her I wasn’t doing anything. We met up at a cowboy themed bar, we were drinking cowboy-themed drinks with names like ‘six-shooter’ or ‘buckaroo’. She started talking about someone she knew, a guy called Tim or Tom or something like that.
so, he’s double-jointed everywhere.
and you know. i don’t trust anyone whose elbows bend that way.
so, the other night, he got pretty fucked up.
there was a big crowd all standing in a circle watching something.
he was there folded in half on the floor, he’s so bendy like that.
he was folded up with his head between his legs.
jesus. that’s impressive.
or it’s upsetting. i dunno which.
i chatted to him later.
the only reason he’s all bendy like that is cause of some kind of disease.
he only got diagnosed recently. isn’t that fucked up.
this thing he’s made into a huge spectacle is also making his bones soft or something.
i said something like, “i’m sorry to hear that.”
and he said “oh well, our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.”
he said, “it’s alright, things are like that sometimes.
sometimes your bones don’t work right, but you’re able to suck your own dick.
life’s funny, huh!”
Then we were laughing pretty hard, cause life sure is funny, but I felt something wrong, and when we’d stopped laughing I wondered if I was pretending or not, and I guess I never really knew what was real about me and what was just for show. We stepped outside beneath an awning and watched the rain come down in silver dashes, melting mirror over the world dripping away its pale reflections. There was some lightning, we couldn’t see it but we could hear it, and eventually the power went out, so me and my friend went for a walk because the bar decided to close up, seeing as none of the fridges were working and the bottles inside them had gotten to sweating. Cars were stopped at blackened stoplights, I couldn’t figure out how they knew it was their turn to go. Nothing but the soft glow of candles pushing through house windows and headlamps like pairs of yellow eyes floating by. It was only drizzling now but our clothes got soaked through before too long, undoing all the time we’d spent getting dry indoors.
We walked down to the wharf. It was close to midnight, black sky of a summer storm. I was covered in mosquito bites. I never caught the fuckers until after they bit me. We sat on the jetty with our legs hanging over the water and I went at the bites with my thumbnail, marking myself along my legs and my arms and my neck until I was decorated all over with crosses. I must’ve had ten or eleven or more than that on each limb. I let out a sigh, my friend’s ears perked up.
did your dog die or something.
you know i don’t have a dog.
you’ve got that face that people get when their dog’s died.
that’s just my face.
you’re a mopey fuck.
So we swam. Hot night. The water off the wharf was warm despite all the rain. I was so distracted by the moonlight writhing white ribbons in the swell, I’d hardly even notice when a jellyfish rubbed up on me. There were loads that time of year, big ugly fucks too, slimy and gelatinous like a wayward internal organ. I hated them, but my friend liked the feel, so she’d let them float into her, then she’d pet them like puppies. My skin burned in pinpoints all over where I’d carved into the mozzie bites, and I imagined them glowing with this kind of hot white phosphorescence, sparkling mooncoloured just below the water’s surface. I watched the jellyfish float by.
what’re you thinking.
how’re you feeling.
i’m thinking, i don’t wanna be this way forever.
i don’t know what i’m feeling.
yeah. forever’s a pretty long time.
but things are always changing.
i don’t think i ever know if i’m feeling anything at all.
Then something heavy and malleable landed on my chest. I opened my eyes, cause they had been squeezed shut, and I looked down where my body crested half-out of the water. There was a big amber jellyfish trembling on my sternum, giving off a strange moonlit glow. Let it slide off me. There was a kind of nebulous arrangement of pale dots all over my chest, it stung a little but not too bad. I looked over at my friend. She was smiling, floating on her back and looking at the sky.
did you feel that?
So we climbed out of the water and went walking up the street with our clothes bundled up in our arms. We were in the yellow halo cast by a streetlight, I guess the power had come back on. We were towelling our hands off in our shirts and slipping back into our jeans. She wrung her hair out and left a round wet shadow on the concrete like she’d squeezed out pure dark. I was full of warm heavy air, the rain had let up but not for long, I could still hear the thunder. We sat on the curb a second. I rested my head on her shoulder. We got walking again.
Still felt the jellyfish’s sting on my chest. It was a wonderful, soothing kind of pain, like I’d get when I was little and pushing a tooth that’s ready to come out, the kind of hurt that’s good and just what you gotta do for a new tooth to sprout. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed across the road. There was a little sandstone church with a set of stairs out the front. Five wet dogs were sitting in a strange and deliberate configuration all faced toward the closed ornate doors. There was some shelter over them, they were shaking themselves dry one at time, taking turns pawing at the doors. Some of them sitting so still they looked like stone idols.
aw. look at them.
i wish i was a dog.
do you now.
yeah. cause i had this thought today.
it was like, ‘i think i’m made of plastic.’ or whatever.
and now i’m thinking, that kind of thought would never occur to a dog.
but because i’m not a dog, i have to think stupid shit like,
‘i’m deflated. whatever used to fill me up isn’t there anymore.
i got all these holes letting the air out of me.’
oh well. if being a dog doesn’t work out
you’ll make a real good blow-up doll.
or a pool-toy.
or a pool-toy. anyways. it’s okay.
you’ll get new holes poked in you all the time but it’s okay.
cuz, holes have a way of being filled. by something or other.
Another stray came and joined the clergy. Then another. All dripping with rain and reeking of that wetdog smell. Tongues hanging out their mouths, tasting the air. I felt like I was seeing something I wasn’t supposed to see, some secret gathering of godfearing strays come to pray for a bone or whatever else a dog prays for. My friend must’ve read my mind, cause she asked me this:
do you think there’s a dog god.
dog is god backwards.
huh. sure is.
or god is dog backwards, whichever came first.
chicken and egg kind of thing.
Then my friend was quiet a while, she was breathing very deeply, one of the churchdog’s got howling and then they all followed suit. When they were done howling they started licking each other’s muzzles. I was crying and I didn’t know it. I guess my friend must’ve noticed though, she started talking again.
god is just dog spelt backwards.
everything’s not so bad.
Then the rain got going again, so we found the only bar that was still open, this bloodcoloured dive dug deep in some unremarkable artery of town. It had faulty red lights which cast over us something organic and pulsating, the glowing innards of the dark edifice it was nestled in. Silhouettes slid across the darkened windows like stains seeping through a sheet. We were huddled up in the corner with our hair still dripping wet, sipping out our pint glasses, we had gotten pretty hammered by then. I guess dogs were allowed inside, there were a few wandering around with their leashes dragging behind them, a few others tied round barstools that their owners sat atop. People playing cards and people sitting around not talking at all. Somebody crying into their friend’s shoulder a few tables over from us. Somebody laughing so hard they might crack a rib. Everything moving, everything going past, clouds ferrying from one end of the sky to the other filled with I dunno what kind of cargo. My brain was working a little different now, it formed a new wrinkle and the wrinkle was doing its job right, something like that, I don’t really know how brains work or don’t work. But anyhow I was thinking pretty hard. I knew things would be okay but I didn’t know when they’d be okay and I didn’t know if I could wait too long but I decided I’d wait anyways. So I said:
it’s a beautiful night.
do you ever shut the fuck up.
We must’ve looked crazy cause we weren’t really talking much but we just couldn’t stop laughing. Something which had been balled up inside me ruptured. There were holes in me everywhere, new holes opening all the time, that’s how the world snuck in. It was very painful, but it was nice too. Felt my chest still stinging from the jellyfish. Felt a dull burn where the mozzies had needled me all over. Nothing was any different but still something had changed. It was good, like looking at a photograph you’ve seen a hundred-thousand times and going ‘oh god, I’ve been doing this all wrong, I was supposed to be looking at it upside-down,’ and then it’s alright.