July 9, 2001
I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff
My father threatened to blow my head off with a rifle. Well, he didn’t actually say anything to me his ex-girlfriend told me. And she didn’t say he actually said it to her either; that he could come here with a rifle was just her impression after having lunch with him. (He never does say anything. “Driving the truck” meant picking up drugs and guns in Mexico; to “have a talk” with someone in the old days was to break their legs. After killing a little dog to keep it from alerting the police searching for my father, he described it as “convincing him not to bark.”) He and I fought over money and visitation rights a month ago, and I hadn’t seen him or answered his calls since. “It’s better to make up with him than to get your head blown off,” reasoned my father’s ex, pulling blades of grass from the cracks in my stone steps and examining them.
Having been in the public eye my entire adult life, and being wont to correspond with schizophrenics, this was not my first death threat. After abruptly cutting off correspondence with a Vietnam vet, I received an envelope filled with something like powdered poison. I threw it away, but every place I’d touched with powdered fingers my knee, my forehead, my neck came up in giant, red lumps. I had to go to the hospital, a stumbling Cyclops with a goiter. Since I didn’t have health insurance, that piece of mail cost me $450.
What was I to do now get a restraining order? Against my own father, who has never laid a hand on me and goes to work every night at the plant and hasn’t said a single threatening word to anyone? Besides, murder victims always have restraining orders. They’re a prelude to murder, like pinning a carnation on a dress before the prom. I called A Safe Place, and they said get a cell phone, program it to 911, and keep it with me always. And be vigilant. Me, vigilant, with my twenty years of insomnia, my memories of uniformed men busting down the door and taking my father away and shining a flashlight in my eyes while rummaging through my possessions? No problem!
If my father did come over, what would I say? “Go away, I think you’re going to murder me”? No, I would have to let him in. So I didn’t answer the door for a week. I stayed upstairs with the shades drawn. I felt like I had low muscle tone it was hard to move. When Fed-Ex or the mailman showed up, I looked both ways and darted out. I tried to imagine every scenario possible so I’d have an absurd reaction ready. Bernadette suggested that. She said people hellbent on vengeance get confused when your response isn’t “right” (scared, defensive). So I thought of absurd things to say. “You’re going to kill me, you say? How about a banana? I love bananas!” I wondered if he would want to have sex before the end. I mean, why not, at that point? I tried to imagine how that would happen, too, to ready my absurd response, but I couldn’t. I never have been able to. I see his hands on my neck turning me around and that’s it, it always dissolves there.
When I was a kid, my dad would tell me about things he had to do. Like the guy who owed him $500. If people found out one person got away with cheating my father, then no one would pay up. So my father entered his house through the window. He didn’t put a silencer on the gun the guy lived in a sleazy section that the police didn’t much care for, and my father wanted everyone to know he’d done it. Just that one time. That was the first one. After that he got stealthy. He told me these stories so seductively; they were our secret. When I got married the first time at nineteen, my father grew suspicious of me and claimed he’d fed me wrong details all along about his “activities” places, times so that if I ever went to the police, it would look like I was crazy. Just maybe, he never did any of that stuff. Perhaps he simply liked to talk to me like that, about murder. When I called my father four years ago to say my mother was dead, he said, “Of course she is. You killed her.” My mother had cancer of the stomach and brain. At the end, the doctors gave her three to five more days three if I authorized stopping liquid feeds. She was in a morphine/pain/terror nightmare and I authorized it. He says he’s going to get away from me so I can’t kill him, but he never does get away.
And now I was afraid he’d kill me. All he did was have a look on his face, just gave an impression to a third party, and to me that was death on my head and I had to go to him and make up and give him what he wanted.
Except I didn’t go. He doesn’t have to know it’s because I was too scared; he can think it’s because I got out from under him this time, that I’m free. In fact, I’m sort of wiggling out from under his thumb, very slowly, if I’m moving at all not triumphantly casting it off and rising up whole and mighty. I can’t get him out of my fingers. Writing is how I think, and I keep coming back to him, like a daddy’s girl. I look like him, I walk like him, I’m stubborn and manipulative like he is everyone says so. Who knows? Maybe I like it.
I was lying in bed with Dave. I said, “What if a giant were kneeling outside our house and he stuck his six-foot penis through the wall into our bedroom do you like that?”
“No, I do not like a six-foot penis in my house.”
“Big pulsing veins . . . I think you do like it, Dave.” I reached under his half of the sheet.
“See? I’m not hard.”
“You’re half-hard, and I’ve only been talking about it for fifteen seconds! You’re going to come to love the giant penis. We could get on top of it naked and have sex it would be vibrating under your bum.”
“Ew!” said Dave.
We lay there for a few minutes, then I remembered something. “Hey Dave, where’s the tarp we bought that time we went camping?”
He didn’t know maybe in the basement. Why?
“Because I was thinking we could get that and coat it with all the lotion and shampoo in the house, and then rub it back and forth along the giant penis head me on one side, you on the other, like folding a sheet.”
“You’re sick,” was Dave’s only comment on my brilliant plan.
“Okay, if I tell you this, you’re really going to be hooked. The giant says in his big voice: ‘Get me off now. You better do a good job or I’m going to beat you to death with my cock.'”
I was right: he was hooked.
There is a six-foot penis in our house that threatens to beat us to death. It’s my father, or my poison pen pal, or my kidnapper. It’s my longing for a man like this, and Dave’s longing, too only he’d never let himself invite them in. He lets me do it for him. Our marriage is me, Dave and the six-foot deadly penis. I suspect every couple has a hidden third. Like me, Dave wants to be told he has to please the six-foot penis; he pretends to try, and then how he loves to taunt and evade the much stronger, much more masculine foe every time. We hold hands under the giant penis and plot our escape. I wonder if I make all this up, if Dave is leading a normal life with me and all this is in my head. Whether it’s under the shadow of authority that Dave and I hold hands and conspire, or whether the shadow is my own insanity either way, I think this is a pretty good life.
Lisa Carver and Nerve.com, Inc.