Nasty Club Jewelry
Ravenue has split. She’s on E Bock gonking the military. I’m lucky to be rid of her. Her and her Nasty Club jewelry. This morning I found one of her bracelets under the bed. It cut my hand pretty bad. I had to get stitches. If I was thinking straight, I’d have used a magnet to retrieve it, but my brain was a little cold and I grabbed it impulsively. That’s how I got mixed up with Ravenue in the first place. By impulse.
She was a dream manufactured on Clink Street. Clink street, I shudder to think of it. Don’t ask me how I got there. All I can say is I found myself there after a three day sleep when my brain temperature was at an all time low. Nobody goes to Clink Street on a cold brain and lives to tell about it. I am an exception.
It was in this cold brain state that I came upon Ravenue, all wound up and strutting her terrible stuff in front of the Nasty Club. Instead of averting my eyes and hurrying by, as I would have if my brain were warm, I looked right at her, impulsively, and damned if she didn’t get into me. In a few dizzy seconds she was mine. I bought her; lock, stock, and barrel. Strictly on impulse.
The next morning I woke up covered with cuts and bruises. Ravenue was lying next to me on the floor by my bed. “What the hell did you do to me?” I yelled.
“It wasn’t me,” she said, “it was my jewelry. You’re lucky I wasn’t wearing my good stuff.” She pointed to a large metal tool box. “That’s where I keep my best accouterments.”
I went over to get a better look. It was padlocked and very heavy. I could hardly budge it. “How the hell did this get up here?” I asked.
“Why, you carried it up,” she said, “with me on your shoulders. Don’t you remember?”
I felt suddenly sick. Doomed. I asked her to leave. She laughed. It was a grinding, mechanical laugh that continued through toast and coffee. I told her to knock it off several times, but that only threw her into high gear. “You’re driving me crazy,” I said. “I find you absolutely insufferable and quite ugly. Please leave.” She looked wounded. Her mouth opened wide and vibrated rapidly, but nothing came out. A sharp steady pain invaded my temples. The neighborhood dogs all barked. I begged her to stop. “Please, please, I can’t stand it any more.”
Something in her steel composition took pity on me. Her mouth stopped vibrating. The pain in my head went away. The barking stopped. “Thank you,” I said, “that was very nice of you. Now, if you will just go away.” Her mouth opened wide again, as if to launch that hideous laughter. “Never mind,” I said quickly, “I didn’t mean that. You can stay as long as you like.” I had to play her along. Be careful not to wound her or make her angry. Keep her at a safe distance until I got to work and talked to Phil. Phil would know what to do. Phil would make her go away.
She followed me all around the apartment, from kitchen to bathroom to bedroom. She watched me pee, shower, and shave. She watched me dress. It got to be annoying. “Cut it out,” I said. “Quit following me around.”
“Say pretty please with a cherry on top,” she said. I said it sarcastically as I pulled on my trousers. “Say it nice or I’ll come over there and give you a big hug,” she said, tucking her hair in back of her ears so I could get a better look at her earrings. Two Wilkinson Sword Blades dangled above her collarbones. I said it again, as nice as I could. “Can I pick out your tie?” she asked.” How like a dream, I thought, to threaten your existence one minute, and help you pick out your tie the next.
“Sure,” I said, “why not.” She picked out my favorite. Red winged blackbirds on a white background. Pure silk. I told her she had good taste. She beamed. A little too brightly. I grabbed my hat and said I would be home about five with company for dinner. I had spots in front of my eyes and tripped a couple of times going down the stairs.
Phil was my law partner, but he also fixed dreams on the side. He specialized in the bizarre and was considered by his dream-fixing colleagues to be the best in the field. I told him about Ravenue and her terrible jewelry. I showed him my cuts and bruises. He shook his head and said it looked bad. “What’s the matter with you, going to Clink Street on a cold brain? I thought you had more sense than that.”
I told him the last thing I needed was a lecture. “I need help, Phil, don’t give me a lecture.” He said he couldn’t make any promises, but he would try. There was a slight possibility he could get rid of her, with a strong emphasis on the slight. It seemed like he was trying to persuade himself that he could do the job. That’s the impression I got. He said he was anxious to meet Ravenue, a little too anxious, I thought. I rejected that though immediately though, on the grounds that my thinking at the time could not be trusted. My brain was still a little on the cold side. Phil was my best buddy. Anything he thought, said or did, in connection with Ravenue, would surely be in my best interest.
What was the matter with me? There I was, stuck with a lethal dream like Ravenue, and at the same time, worrying that my best buddy wanted a piece of the action, might get a bigger bang out of her than I did. Phil was much better looking than me, but, as stupid as it seemed, I didn’t want Ravenue to think so. I didn’t want Ravenue to leave me for someone else, I just wanted her to leave me. Actually, it was her jewelry that had to go. She wouldn’t be so bad without her jewelry.
“Phil, I just got a brainstorm.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Suppose we ask Ravenue to get rid of her jewelry? I mean, it’s not like it’s worth a lot of money or anything. I could always buy her some new stuff. Rubies. Emeralds. Nice dainty little jewelry that she could wear when … I mean if, I took her home to meet my mother.”
Phil put his hand on my forehead. “Just what I figured,” he said, “Still cold as an icebox.”
“You don’t think it would work?”
“I know it won’t work.”
“Because Ravenue is her jewelry, that’s why. How could you not understand that? It’s like saying if you take candy from a baby it won’t be a baby any more. It’s the same principle. Ravenue and her jewelry are a package deal. You can’t have one without the other. Now, make up your mind. What’s it going to be?”
“I guess she’s got to go,” I said, reluctantly.
“She’s got to go, Phil. She’s got to go.”
“That’s more like it,” he said. “Now you’re talking sense, buddy. And let me tell you something else. You better keep your brain good and warm from now on. If it drops one degree lower than it was when you picked her up on Clink Street, you’ll be coming home with her big sister.”
When Phil and I got home that night, Ravenue was in the kitchen taking a pineapple upside down cake out of the oven. Phil poked me in the ribs and whispered, “Well, at least she can cook.” Ravenue must have heard him. She looked right at him and sneered. She was wearing a gruesome looking spiked collar and hug, hideous rings on each finger. Her arms, from her wrists to her elbows, were covered with bracelets that jutted, as did her rings, razor sharp projections of glass and steel. Her good stuff. She was trying to make an impression on Phil, I thought, jealously, and doing a good job of it if the expression on his face was any indication.
There it was doing it again. Getting jealous. Worrying that Ravenue would leave me for Phil. That she would get into him the way she got into me. How utterly absurd. I couldn’t help it, though. She was devastatingly beautiful, especially with her face glistening and flushed from the heat of the oven. And she was wearing the cutest little ruffled apron. I wanted to protect her, yet I knew it was me who needed protection. Again, I found myself thinking about the unpredictable nature of dreams. The infinite inconsistencies. The bliss that changes without warning into overwhelming fear. The hope that turns it’s back and becomes despair. The sorrow that cracks jokes. The lust. The bullshit. The blatant, ever present bullshit.
“Ravenue, this is Phil,” I said, ever the gentleman.
“Of course,” she said, “Who else would it be?”
“Phil, meet Ravenue.” The formality of such an introduction struck me as ludicrous.
“Uh-huh,” said Phil. It sounded an awful lot like a compliment to me, like hubba hubba ding ding or something.. Ravenue extended her hand for him to shake. He declined. A smart move, I thought. That wounded look came over her face again.
After dinner, which was excellent; steak, O’Brien potatoes, corn on the cob, I told Ravenue that Phil and I had some business to discuss in the study. She said, “Gee, you mean I get to do the dishes all by my lonesome?” Phil and I laughed, like we were supposed to. “Shall I bring you your cake and coffee?”
“Yeah,” I said, “In a little while. That would be nice.” She was going all out. I wondered if she would do the same for me, for just us, if Phil wasn’t around for her to impress. “So what do you think, Phil old boy,” I said when we got to my study.
“I think you’re in for a siege, that’s what I think, pal.”
“That bad,” he confirmed, with a repetitious nodding of his head.
“What about that slight possibility?” I asked.
He said it still existed, but it was getting even slighter, but that I shouldn’t give up hope. That I should just go along with whatever he did. I wanted to know what that was going to be. What his plan was. He said he didn’t have a plan yet, when he did he would let me know. And then again, maybe he wouldn’t let me know. It all depended, he said, on the circumstances. I thought he was being evasive. Deliberately shutting me out and I resented it. After all, it was my dream, if he was going to get rid of it I was entitled to know how it was going to be done. It was only fair and I told him so. He asked me if I was into slam dancing.
“Of course not,” I said.
“How about voyeurism? Are you into voyeurism, pal?”
“Absolutely not!” I said.
He chuckled. I didn’t like the sound of his chuckling. It was totally out of place and completely inappropriate. I told him so. He told me to pull myself together. He called me a wimp. Me. A wimp. I couldn’t believe it. I was the one who saved his ass when we were in the combat zone, and now, he was calling me a wimp? “You’ve got a lot of nerve,” I said. “You’ve got one hell of a lot of nerve!”
“You know what you’re problem is?” he asked.
“No, Phil. What’s my problem? You tell me.”
“You take everything too seriously, that’s your problem.”
“Damn right, “ I said. “It’s my life that’s at stake here. Excuse me for taking my life seriously.” I was pissed.
“A little while ago you were talking about taking the little lady home to meet your mother, and now you’re all ears to hear the gory details of how I intend to go about getting rid of her. Please. Be consistent. I mean, if you want to take your life seriously, fine, but do it consistently, that’s all I’m saying.”
He had a point. I was a mass of inconsistencies. I was beginning to understand his reluctance in letting me in on his plan for getting rid of Ravenue. He sensed I was harboring an unconscious emotional attachment to her which kept cropping up in the form of jealousy and suspicion. He wasn’t the best dream fixer around for nothing. He was on the ball. He knew what he was doing. He had a plan alright, he wasn’t kidding anyone. He had it all along but just didn’t want to risk his spotless reputation by giving me the opportunity to screw things up with my penchant for inconsistency and impulse.
“You’re right, Phil. I’m too involved in this dream to be rational. I’m not thinking straight at all. In fact, I think I’m going to pieces. Look at my knee. It won’t stop twitching. But I’m not a wimp, Phil. Don’t call me a wimp.”
“I know you’re not a wimp, buddy. That was a tactical maneuver. I was trying to warm your brain up a little. Here, take a slug of this.” He handed me the bottle of tequila. I took a swig and rubbed a little on my temples. “I want you at your best when the ball starts rolling,” he said.
I heard Ravenue approaching. “Shhh,” I said, “Here she comes.” The door to the study opened and Ravenue came in carrying a tray with our cake and coffee. “Boy oh boy” I said, “that sure looks good.”
“Sure does,“ said Phil. Ravenue glowed and sat down on my leather sofa, a little too close to Phil, I thought. He didn’t move away from her as I expected him to. “Great cake!” he said.
“I’m glad you like it,” said Ravenue, “It’s only a box mix.”
Phil dropped his fork. They both reached for it at the same time and Ravenue’s lethally adorned hand brushed against Phil’s, cutting a deep gash across three of his fingers. I jumped from my chair. “Christ almighty,” I said, “you better get some stitches in that quick!”
“Nah,” said Phil, “ wrapping his hand in a handkerchief, “ it’s only a flesh wound.” He was smiling idiotically and licking the blood that ran down his arm.
Ravenue laughed. “I’ll bet you were in the army, weren’t you, Phil?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I spent a couple of years on E Block before it became fashionable.”
“I thought so,” said Ravenue, “What did you do on E Block?”
“I was on E Block too,” I said, before Phil had a chance to answer her.
“Um-hm,” she said, without taking her eyes off Phil. “What were you about to say, Phil?”
“Excavation,” he said, “I was in charge of Excavation.”
“Oh, how interesting,” said Ravenue. Their thighs were touching. They were acting like I wasn’t there. Phil asked for another piece of cake.
“I’ll have some too,” I said. Ravenue cut two pieces of cake. A big piece for Phil and a dinky one for me. The she had the audacity to take the cherry off my piece and put it on Phil’s so he could have two cherries while I had none. “This stinks,” I said. Phil told me to shut up. Ravenue giggled. Her bracelets were digging into my sofa. “Watch what you’re doing to my sofa,” I said. They continued to ignore me.
“So, tell me, Phil, what exactly did you excavate when you were on E Block?”
“Oh, this and that,” he said, and then “Can I have a little more whipped cream on this, please?”
“Not until you tell me what it was that you excavated over there,” she said, holding the whipped cream above his head like a tease.
“Well, if you must know,” said Phil, and then he leaned over and whispered something in her ear.
“I knew it!” she said, “I knew it! I can spot one of you guys a mile away.” Phil’s neck was bleeding badly from coming into contact with Ravenue’s spiked collar. He didn’t seem to mind. He just wanted his whipped cream. She put gobs of it on his cake and then started squirting it into his mouth. His white shirt was soaked with blood.
“Phil,” I screamed,” for God’s sake, man, your neck is bleeding and it’s bleeding bad!”
“Aw, why don’t you shut up and relax,” said Phil, “What’s a little blood between friends now and then?”
Ravenue giggled. Phil giggled too. “In about two minutes I’m going to throw both of you out of here,” I said, trying to gain control of the situation.
“You and who else,” said Ravenue. I could tell by the glaze over Phil’s eyes that his brain temperature had dropped radically. He was working on impulse, and impulse alone. He wanted Ravenue the same way I wanted her the first time I saw her on Clink Street. Phil was on Clink Street. No doubt about it. Ravenue had entered him and there was no way I could pull her out.
I asked Phil if he wanted me to call the SWAT team. He said “O-nay.”
“How about the National Guard, Phil?” said Ravenue, “Do you want him to call the National Guard?” They both giggled. Phil told me to take a hike.
I left the room. I left the house. I took a long walk and sat in a diner for about two hours drinking coffee. Finally, I went home. The house was empty. The study was in a shambles. My leather sofa was torn to shreds. There was a note on my desk from Ravenue.
Dear John, I’m splitting. You are a lousy bore. I sent Phil to the ER in a taxi. He was still breathing. That guy has guts, let me tell you. Before he passed out he begged me not to leave him. What a trooper. He knows how to handle a dream alright. As for me, I’m going to E Block. Phil says the guys over there would kill for a dream like me. I’m ready to gonk, man. I’m ready to gonk.
Phil’s cake was still on the coffee table. Poor Phil, I thought, he never even got to eat his cherries. And then, I figured what the hell, and popped them into my mouth. Impulsively.