nobody hurts me like i can hurt me


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...

FUCK.

It was the absolute essence of pain, vexation, bewilderment, the moment the heartbreak crescendo hurts so much I'm barfing, actually barfing, because my whole body is so alarmed it can't do anything else. If this has never happened to you, you are probably not meant to read this. Maybe you think you've communicated meaning.

Maybe your heart is only allowed to pump blood.

It started out innocently enough, in a quasi-commercial setting where someone was suggesting I bring a flier about our million-dollar stallion to a mogul in a mansion nearby. So I think this is a great idea, would help Mom a lot, and run over to her tiny cottage on the main street of Santa Ynez/Solvang, where she's taken up residence to avoid housework and be near her horses while she's too senile to do anything more than look at them after she's had her morning birdfood and coffee and reading without comprehending her newspaper, to get one of our stallion fliers for the mogul.

She cooperates because she likes stud fee money and there are no words left unread on her daily paper. So I tear off toward the mansion with the glossy information sheet about our Triple Crown winning stallion who was the product of all her decades of maniacally poring over thoroughbred bloodlines to dose horse genes perfectly to end up with him.

It was a very weird mansion. No clear place to park. No garage. You drove into it. But there was no real inside to it either. So I just drove up and handed it to the mogul. He didn't want to breed to our stallion, wanted to buy him and our broodmares for a stupendous sum. Mom could even keep visiting them as ever. Could forget she ever sold them, even, or giggle and blush over the mogul who'd had the sense to purchase them like he was her favorite movie star. I told him this might require some serious dickering and I'd get back to him.

I'm driving back to Mom's, and I see my sister and a friend walking down the street with many bags of fast food, but they are not just carrying them. They are eating from them as they waddle fatly down the sidewalk. And you know how fat people make love to whatever is going into their mouths. They were doing that. Still, if she'd speak to me about anything, I could stop and tell her to get to Mom's for this, but she won't.

She'll just act as though she's been confronted by a convict who wrongly isn't in prison. What if she's going to Mom's and will storm out like the outraged empress the moment she sees me there, leaving poor, terrified Mom flailing and in no condition to understand what the mogul was offering. Mom is very afraid of her, and made much worse afraid every single time the real world reminds my sister I'm related to her. She takes it out on her.

Which Mom would deserve if she were not so old and this afraid. All the petty differences she marked always as outrages, all the stubborn refusals to take help with Dad, so tired and angry and at her wit's end until she was so close to drowning her sense in existential terror she snapped into hardened fantasy mode so that she might betray him, me, utterly, recover her wobbly d├ętente with decline, deny any culpability or cognitive dissonance, resume her carefully plotted routine without losing face.

I can't describe my anger over that, but neither could I bring myself to fight with her over it. She was too old, and had worked too hard, and it would not penetrate her ironclad adherence to reality denial. I understand. I can have compassion for the size of her terror. I can keep her from the epilepsy reality checks induce in her.

Maybe I need to hang back and see if they're going to Mom's and wait until the coast is clear, but I'm also wanting to get this deal done for Mom so she can quit worrying if she'll have the money to keep her comfortable dotage should she live to be 98, a major have her cake and eat it offer. She likes that cake even more than stud fee money.

Fuck.

Now I'm getting flustered on her behalf. Mom's scared half to death of my sister, literally loses her bodily equilibrium, arms and legs flailing, every single time I mention my sister's name, let alone try to parse what her problem with me is all about. I don't want Mom to stroke out over this idiocy. I gotta think and I'm so close to sister cataclysm I can see cheeseburger grease dripping from the side of her mouth and down her chin. So instead of passing Her High Plumpitude and friend, I hook a left into a restaurant parking lot right behind them, unnoticed, so I can wait to see if they're going to Mom's or just getting their "cardio" in.

I'm all rattled after I've stopped my car behind the restaurant, because they're not coming into view at the intersection that was just ahead of them when I hooked my left. I think I have to find a better overwatch than this and start to back up. A man from inside the restaurant is yelling at me, "We're closed, we're closed, we're closed," in a frantic, panicked even, tone. I'm waving calm at him. I don't care. I'm not here for your restaurant, but I'm not able to get back out the way I came in because now the parking lot is full of dining tables and lounge chairs.

I drove over them.

I'll just go make the deal with the mogul, pending a simple up or down from Mom later.

Back to the mansion. Which is in the same place, but now it's Mendocino and an actual mansion, a very tasteful quasi-Victorian one in stark white. I get out of my dilapidated car to go knock on the door. Eighty-Six comes out to greet me. He's not the mogul, but he's also not drunk for once. He wants me to come in and see his latest artwork. I do, and it is now what one would deem quite impossible, even better than when I last I saw it. Transcendentally gorgeous — so beautiful it needs its own museum — paintings and sculptures he will still never sell or even let almost anyone see.

I'm starting to melt with love and grief, as he is pouring himself a drink. I can't do this. I must leave. As I'm going, I see one of his ex-girlfriends sitting at the dining room table, looking at me with a mixture of question and pity on her face. Argh. I am going through to the kitchen to exit back to my car. I start noticing all the beautiful black and white, high contrast, photos of Eighty-Six in various attitudes of covering his face all framed in white and hung, as usual, in a perfect presentation in that perfect kitchen in that perfectly white mansion. The only not perfect white items here are these photos. His art. Us.

I only slowed my exit for half a beat to take this in.

I was in the drive now and that barfing was going to start any moment.

So I woke up instead.


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