Headless Nude Descending a Spiral Staircase
by John Moss
It's ten in the morning and she says, "I'd give up most of my light and be a crescent moon for you, baby." She makes an interesting observation.
"I would give up my Corvette and be in an accident for you, sugar." His not good. They come together in a friendly lover's embrace on a bench beside the bike path. No one has passed this area for a few minutes and they feel it is safe. The dew in the grass hobnobs with cigarette butts and by God there's a lark in the morning! To the euphonious sound of tweets and twits Brook stands up and lies down, a fine opportunity for dance that she misses, but Captain TJ understands why. Besides, in his pocket there is a piece of paper, and on that paper his code of life transcribed at age twenty that says nothing about being cruel to your girl for not dancing. In fact, #46 says something quite different: Dancing is a relatively dangerous form of intoxication. He finds it hard not to dance to the lovely song of a lark in the morning.
"TJ, come here. Let me see you this morning." She is on her back and he gets up from the bench to stand before her. To her down there he looks dangerous. Not because of his height or his clothes or his face, but because he has just put out a cigarette butt on her leg three minutes earlier. He sees the blackened pink ring on the flesh above her knee. He wants to stop standing over her, but she wants to see him in the morning like this. Not like this, so he kneels down beside her, putting his cheek on her forehead. The strong port wine on his breath invades her nose down here, and she is ready for him now.
"Won't you whistle for me, Captain TJ? Won't you whistle like the lark up there this morning?" He has other thoughts but they can wait. He stands up and his dried lips form a loop to make music; instead they shoot flat breaths out of his mouth. Her eyes are closed, imagining the sounds of the music from his mouth just like the lark up there this morning. Unable to see is just fine with Brook, but unable to whistle is too much for Captain TJ. He drinks the port wine and tries again. His wet lips quickly crack and dry and again the sound is flat and breathy. On the ground, beside the bike path Brook twitters with excitement even as her leg shines pink and hot this morning.
"You are such a lovely whistler, Captain TJ. Please now won't you come here?" This is what he wanted to make things right. Kneeling again, the port wine in one hand, he reaches into his jeans as she braces. There is nothing on his sheet of paper about this, and he feels like a headless nude descending a spiral staircase this morning. It is hot so he douses her knee with the port wine and she screams. Her leg turns purple and he dries it with his shirt. In the distance a puddle splashes that whispers life. People are coming. He wraps his bandana around her knee which will do for now and pulls her up to the bench. All the while the lark is watching from atop the tree as two older men jog by without even so much a cursory glance. "Is everything better now, my darling?" she asks as the lark stops singing now they are not alone.
"Everything is beautiful again, and there is no need to give up your light one day for me, sweety." She misses his reference or else was not listening. Her eyes are closed again, and he feels mischievous knowing why the lark up there will sing no more for them this morning.
About the author:
John Moss lives in Chicago and works in a library. He has contributed music and movie reviews to St@tic and Chicago Innerview.