My boyfriend is writing a story about a Native fisherman and his son. It is raining a lot and Portland is pale faced, getting puffy, she wears her clouds like a muu muu in the sky.
His apartment faces the courtyard of a bar, a brick wall, an alley. But no, it isn’t that depressing. He puts things on the wall that please us; he rearranges the furniture so it feels like more than one room. He is a musician. I had played the CDs at home and felt the goose bumps start. Now the nights are beginning to violet a bit before the sun falls down. Soon it will be spring and it will be possible to be happier. The dead moon face of Portland, gone.
“I don’t know what to do about the story,” he says. “I don’t know what happens next.” “Can it become lyrics?” I ask, which is not the right thing to say. He glowers and his beard becomes pricklier. “I mean, can you turn it into a song?” I held the erroneous belief that song lyrics could be worse than fiction, because they had the advantage of seducing through melody, because melody softens folks and they will forgive a bad line or two. I used to wear animal suits when I read, spiked boots, a bright tight dress, but it was still just me, talking.
“It’s already a cliche. Now I have to write myself out of a cliche.”
It is happy hour outside the window and I can hear a conversation between a few middle-aged ladies. They laugh a lot and their laughs are equally jarring, but from different ends of the scale. I pick at a blister I got from the ovens at work. Now doing dishes all day tomorrow will hurt. There is no way around it.
“They are from the Chinook tribe. The father is showing the son how to spear the fish. On the Columbia. I have a postcard with that image on it. That’s how I got the idea.”
The women howled. You could hear them taking drags of their cigarettes in the little openings when they said nothing. You could taste the rum against the lime, the final sweetness at the bottom.
He held out a band-aid to me. The whole blister had been ripped off, and blood coursed down my palm like a river.
“It’s boring,” he says, “nothing ever happens.”