Today, my buddy JD Mader shares a story with us. He has a soulful noir style that just so beautifully accesses the pain and emptiness and loneliness and darkness that is part of the human experience. See for yourself:
By JD Mader
She was the kind of girl who could laugh when no one else was laughing without appearing foolish. She was tall. She wore tall boots and clothes that fit just right. She made you feel terrible about yourself, and you loved it. She was six feet of fierce intimidation with just enough vulnerability to really make the backlash snap. You loved her. You loved her for the moments of tenderness that slid like a greased ace between the overwhelming drama that coated both of your lives.
Some people know how to smoke cigarettes and some people don’t. You can’t smoke a cigarette furtively. You can’t do it brazenly. It has to hang off your fingers. It needs to look like it could fall at any moment, but won’t because it is an extension of your hand. You need to smoke it gently. The smoke needs to become your shroud. Your veil. She knew how to smoke cigarettes.
She was beautiful. It was an androgynous kind of beauty that you didn’t quite understand, but it was undeniable. Your chest ached when you looked at her. You wanted to be her hero. You knew you never could be. You agreed on so many things. But she was tied into this kind of LA, new-agey bullshit that you couldn’t tolerate. She was convinced that you could control your destiny. You were convinced that everything was meaningless chaos. It was the only thing you ever fought about.
She ate. God, you were sick of girls who never ate. She ate like a trucker. Nothing dainty about it. In up to the elbows, licking grease off her fingers. She was raw. You would have compared her to some kind of jungle cat, but you hated clichés. But she was. Like some kind of jungle cat, that is.
You questioned what she saw in you, but it was because you did not give yourself enough credit. You were too focused on the physical. She was spiritual, and, while the new-agey part pissed you off, there was an aspect to it that was absolutely beautiful. She liked the stupid songs you wrote. She liked the stories you printed out on light blue paper that you stole from work.
You were both poor. An exhilarating poverty. Everything was luxury. She draped herself across your Salvation Army couch, boots hanging over the edge. She liked good music. She was the only girl you knew who actually liked good music…and not even the good music she was ‘supposed to like’. She liked shit you’d never even heard of.
People were shocked that she would want to be with you. But, together, you were unstoppable. You, surrounded yourself with wit and vitriol…sitting in the corners at parties, slowly drinking whiskey walls around yourself. She was the center of attention, but somehow it worked. She would have called it ‘organic’. You evened each other out.
You don’t even remember when it started to go bad, or why. You remember one day. You were arguing about something stupid. Probably about how people can ‘choose’ whether or not they get cancer. She got up in your face. Her fist was clenched. You want to hit me?!?! You want to fucking HIT ME?!?! You grabbed her fist, rough hands around her soft white skin and you smashed the fist into your eye again and again, so hard that the world turned sideways. You heard a door slam. You ran and got into your truck. By the time you got to the city your eye was jet black. She was in her apartment icing her hand. You tried to make it right. God, it was so wrong.
Things weren’t the same after that. Two years and change. But it didn’t matter anymore. And it wasn’t about the punch. It was about everything. You hugged when you broke up. You both cried. You promised not to contact each other because you knew you were too weak to stay away. You had the disease. She was in you, every cell. Eventually, you got back together for a drink. She said you looked thin. You told her she looked beautiful as always. You talked about her new boyfriend and your new girlfriend. The fog rolled down the streets of San Francisco and softened the edges of everything it touched. You kissed. A friendly kiss. It turned your chest to cement. You saw it in her eyes, too. But you both knew that what you were doing was for the best. Some things aren’t meant to be.
Many years have passed now. Many more will pass. They will settle like an unexpected snowfall in the corners of your mind. You will always love her. And she will always love you. And there is sadness and joy in that. And you will live with it.
Be sure to check out JD’s blog for more of his great writing!