The Boogie Monster

“It waits till the midnight hour to come, To torture me for the wrong I’ve done, It just sits there and stares at me, And it won’t let me get any sleep, I’m just waiting on the sun to rise, Oh, how I wish that old sun would rise, I got a monster in my closet, Someone’s underneath my bed, The wind’s knocking at my window, I’d kill it but it’s already dead” – Gnarls Barkley

I’ve had these strange and vivid dreams lately. The other night I was on a bus in New York City. The bus road like a roller coaster, steep inclines, sudden drops. All the other patrons were used to the ride, while I hung on to the pole for dear life. The bus driver, seeing my struggle, talked to me the whole time. In the end we decided to meet up at this ravine on the outskirts of town, the last stop on his route, at the end of his shift.

I get off in Harlem, shop, sight-see, eat. Walk around a park in East Harlem, one with sculptures, named after a write. So I sit on the bench and write. Suddenly day is night and I find myself starring into an empty lot, arms folded looking down into the grassy field at the bottom of this crater like knoll in the middle of the parking lot.

Headlights passing on the distant lone road to get to this spot, until there’s nothing—a silent hush as I continue to look upon the football field sized plain before me. Lights behind me, I think it’s the bus driver for our late-night rendezvous. Instead a man steps out of a Buick sedan and lunges for me. We tussle, him ripping at my clothes, me defending the assault. And in an instant, I’m not myself; I’m Zoe Saldana, her fighter character from Columbiana, strong in the struggle.

A few right hooks, elbow connecting to jaw, a knee to his groin, and I’m up from underneath him, running; headed for the bus stop looking for the bus drive, for any bus which will take me away.

“He’s not coming! Buses don’t run this late out here, it’s just you and me.”

I wake up at the crux of continuing to fight or allowing him to win, admitting defeat.

Last night I dreamed that I was asleep lying next to my husband, our two kids tucked in bed, and two men break into the house. But it’s ok, I’ve prepared for this disaster. We spring into action; he shimmies under the bed to the passageway that leads to the kid’s room, I grab the gun from the bedside table headed for the hidden door on the right back side of the closet. I punch in the code to the crawl space, entering the safe room.

I call the police, tell them to hurry there’s a robbery in progress, get antsy when the operator wants to know our location, “yes we’re safe for now, please hurry”, recite the address, and hang up. Waiting there head down, listening for my husband and children in the sound proof room.

I hear him enter through the back ulterior staircase which opens to the crawl space: my little angel in his arm, my warrior son trailing behind with wide yes. We huddle. My son inches into my lap; I slide the gun behind me to my husband’s waiting hand. He holds our little girl in the crook of his arm. We wait. I make a small comment about fumigating the crawl space annually as spiders sprint past our feet. I grab a fleece from the duffel bag, wrap it around us, plug in the headphones for the portable DVD player, House of Mouse playing to keep little him occupied, calm.

We hear the muffled thuds of strangers rifling and ransacking our belongings. Tiny paws appear under the cloaked closet door. Oh man, Simba. And we hear the meow—low, guttural, loud. Apparently there’s a gap, the entrance hidden on an arch, a shallow gap, diminutive, but noticeable when made aware. I move my little man to his dad and creep over. My eye on the peephole allowing me to peer out but prohibiting anyone from peeking in.

I see my cat and the assailant who followed him. Head cocked to the side; apparently he knew the robbery was too easy. Seamless door, keypad too high for him to notice: he leans down, knee to the ground, questioning the cat’s persistence. I hope he thinks it’s a mouse, I know he thinks it’s a safe. He wants in.

Small puffs of breath, I glance over at my husband, his cheek flush against nanita’s head, hand on bubba’s shoulder. My eyebrows raise, his chin nods. Meaning understood. This could get ugly.

He carefully moves the little ones back to the stairway. Both have fallen prey to the Sandman’s charms, undisturbed by the events. He lays them on the stairs, gun aimed at the closet door. I move back to the wall, heat lingering from where my family once sat. I glance out the porthole in the wall, wonder where the police are. I hear the repeated clicks as my husband switches on and off the safety. A shuffling noise leaks through the breach. Fingers try to plunge their way into the sliver where wood meets carpet. Nothing gets in, aside from the ire of the other side, lusting for more of what they don’t own, what they can’t have.

I curse the cat; curse my thoughtlessness for not grabbing that bloody wretch from wherever he hides. I moon over the unchangeable possibilities and mouth apologizes to my partner. My job was the closet, the gun; his was the kids, to keep us safe if things go awry. Wringing my hands I start to worry. Laying down the gun he looks at me. Two fingers square in on his eyes motion to my eyes, hand brushes over his heart points to my heart, lips pucker as he kisses his palm and blows it my way. Our sign, no fault, all love.

I see a crow bar under the door. I move back over to the peephole. Three of them, focused on getting in. Eyes on the door, 3 fingers signal my husband. I make a sweeping motion of him closing the stairway door as the wood starts to splinter. His rapid shakes of no, my pleading glances as he lifts the gum from its slumber, arming it for battle.

Light begins to filter in to the crawl space. Multiple hands pull at the shattering boards. Involuntarily I back up, but they see me, the streaming shards not yet reaching the shadows where the rest are hiding. Even my husband is surprised. I scream to muffle the waking croak of “mommy”. He reaches down to muzzle the sound. My leg extends out and shuts the back door, while he’s distracted, foreign hands reach out to grab me. Evil looks on masked faces. Body dragged forward, carpet burns through pajama bottoms. Thrust into the enemy’s arms, the unknown.

I wake up.

And people wonder why I’m so tired in the morning. Each night I fight for my life.

1+1

“Baby we aint nothing but love, and darling you got enough for the both of us, Make love to me…when my days look low, pull me in close and don’t let me go. Make love to me…so that when the worlds at war, let our love heal us all, Help me let down my guard, make love to me…”– Beyonce  

I notice a man’s hands first. Imagine them drumming on my shoulders, the repeat sensation of thunk thunk thunk, the security of being clutched in the crook of his arm, the casual claim carved in this natural position. I fabricate the slide of his palm on my thigh, back and forth, the rhythm, the steady rub of infatuated appendages, watching t.v. my legs in his lap. Nestling. A nest built on the splinters embedded in the wings of failed relationships past, swaddled with the cloudy mucus-like hope of the moment the rib finds its way back to the cage; the sound structure completed. The melody of songbirds chirping of full circled unity, one and one, a cord braided, unbreakable.

I can feel the crinkles in the cup of his hand as he clasps tightly onto mine, intermittent thumb swipes on fragile L-shaped flesh. Unaware-awareness, the taps tingle messages of thought, of me. Clear! The wipe of his thumb jolts me back, reconnecting our lifeline from the pause where I felt his absence even as he stands near. Tactile feedback erasing the alley where my mind wandered, the dark and desolate place of female insecurity: where the women are cuter, the wine wetter from prolonged exposure to the vine.

His hands clap to clear the hollow of my doubt, reuniting the spark of two bodies in confinement. The strength of his grasp changes the question mark punctuating a suffocated breath, to the easy exhaled period of his presence before me, forcing me from the recesses of my mind, the Disney world where fantasy ignores reality.

Intimately aware am I of the calluses at the distal end of each arm, the road map of his life. How hard he works, the dedication to tomorrow’s promise, pain withstood: welcomed as it molded the appendages, formed him into the man with head held high though shoulders are weighted. Nightly, hands outstretched to relieve a small portion of his burden, body knelt in full submission, rubbing oil on the harden cracks, his helpless chuckle whispers that they will only resurface at dawn. Continuous movement a plea that maybe my ministrations will ease the tension in the crimped crease; the problems that upset, at least for a moment enjoy soft strokes of pillow-cushioned comfort, worry free smeared in the furrow, kneading the belief that everything will be alright, smoothing over the speed bumps, the obstacles of his day, pleating my trust in the capability of those hands.

What I like best about his hands is they’re not romantic. They don’t hand me wilted flowers to profess things he may not mean, or leave me Hallmark cards with words that he wouldn’t express. Yet I explicitly understand the letters his fingers sign when words escape the breach in our entangled digits. My body the sonograph translating the sounds his hands make when he holds me close, emitting blueprint sonnets, love words cast in clay, jars collected on the tracks of my veins.

Each 4 on 4 reunion replete when the thumbs intertwine and join the fold. All the books in all the world couldn’t communicate the assurance of the meeting of two hands.

Don’t pay attention if you catch me starring, I was just trying to map the moments of my life. Of you. Who I think you are. All lounging unbeknownst in your hands.

Knocked Up

“She don’t care what her momma says, No, she’s gonna have my baby, Taking all I have to take, This takin’ is gonna shape me, People call us renegades, Cause we like living crazy, We like taking on the town, ‘Cause people’s getting lazy” – Kings of Leon

I have baby fever, actually I have baby madness. The firenzy only amplified while watching The Kardashians, the episode where Kourtney gave birth to daughter Penelope. I watched as she anxiously waited for her cervix to dilate. I watched as she pulled the baby bare-handed, pulling her from cavity to chest to coddle, welcoming her into the world. And… I cried. On my couch. Boo hoo’d puddles, a flow of grief pulling on the fullness of my cheeks. The death of a desire I rarely express, yet always wanted.

I literally wanted to run out in the streets screaming to every man I see—INSEMINATE ME! GIVE ME LIFE! Then I’d pause for a breath and ask them if they pay their taxes. “Excuse me sir, do you contribute consciously or unconsciously to the IRS? GREAT! Now please donate your sperm in the same way you give to FICA, unknowingly and with expectation of great reward later.”

I love babies. Adore them. Bask in their presence. They bring me joy. I’ve had names picked out since, forever; solidified since high school. Debating between 3 and 5 little, itty, bitty ones. I think often of the type of knowledge I would impart, on the charges I would give, on the raising of my prodigy.

I could simmer in the smell of babies. Never mind if they cry for hours, after the immense success of ceasing the tears. Nothing can beat the sound of a child’s laugh or the excitement they experience on an adventure. When they learn something new, when you’re the one to teach them, when they then use that lesson for the rest of their life: remarkable.

I just want to give breath to a miracle, a hand that holds thumb to forefinger to the breadth of my palm to the clasp of maturity, a piece of forever that I can call mine. And I want it now.

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