for Whom I Have Scoured the Universe
by Tom Sheehan
I have scoured
we are here patrolling our lives, moving about, now and then we
meet, not with great frequency I must admit, most memorable people.
They, in turn, haunt us one way or another until our last vision
fades away, be it a turn of their face, a hand’s movement
in sweet gesture, a universal shoulder announcement as they change
direction, or attitude, or deference. Perhaps their impacts are
from what they don’t do as well as from what they do.
was such a person. She was a highlight marker, bright, nay, brilliant,
who was on stage all her life. She knew who she was and where
she was going. Often she predicated another’s actions, like
a cue from the side. I saw it early, yet what a mistake I had
made, thinking I was rushing around on my own. All the time, I
was being chased.
hanging on a road sign, night worry working its way, trollops
in my gut giving out names I can’t remember, a single light
marks a hillside, and the edge of night sneaking up on me. The
arms of fatigue put forth hands that put forth fingers that touch
with foul fervor. I am alone and like it less than last night
in a half crowd of other loneliness. The one witness recalled,
real as an open blouse, bona fide as underpants dropped the fabulous
and witchy length of long and perfect legs, hangs on with her
imagery locked in place. Not anything more than 100 pounds, gymnastically
adroit when aboard, mouthing she was performing the orange squeeze:
I am getting you ready for breakfast, wherever you end up, which
will not be on me again, or vise versa. The morning-promised vise
went on its rampage, the last ounce ushered into place, heady,
sticky later on if only she had left it alone, but oh no, not
this imagery aloft in my morning walk who cleaned as good as any
kitchen lady at her finishing. Wipe down. Wipe out. How do you
like those oranges, my faultless mister in the night?
staring at the next light, the one on the hill known before, the
climb to a barn and a gingerly small house that looks down on
the sea, the exquisite and lightsome lady there, I bring back
the crowded room of smells, liquor on its final legs, dregs at
their last cries having found a frame to reside in, sometimes
headless, and the little madam of taste that crawled up beside
me at the bar, that creature of eyes emblazoned with stories,
cheek bones like flint at early manufacture, lips that might stretch
a river wide, sex itself having a rest after a heady ride. I’m
cheap, she said, a 100 pounds of cheap that two drinks can buy
for the night. I liberated myself for a nightly prison. But I’m
good at being jailed, being sent off for a one-night stand or
a lay-down, or however you’ll have it. I never get too talkative.
I don’t let my mouth get in the way of anything that comes
up real. Morning comes too soon, too smelly, too late for some
right here, right now. There’s not a good piece in this
whole joint. All you’ve got to do is ask me.
dress well, I said. I touched her fabric and was charged with
electrons in a shocking move, a whole laboratory of jump, tingle
and broadcast. Her dress, thin, blue as a forgotten bird’s
egg, rigged like a sail’s caught a fresh wind off shore,
hip marks saying a vault could be ajar, was right next door to
ignition. Right there. Gas-like. Bang! Poof! How do you come across
with that heat? Where does it come from? Are shock-proof measures
required? Does it have a switch? An off-on switch? A toggle switch?
A switch you can see in the dark? Is it universal? Global? A trip
around the world? Are you switchable?
I always need to attract, she said, unfazed, not falsely shocked,
not speechless for a single breath, her eyes bouncing, lit. Smallness
is too cute for some people, but not taste, those nectars we know.
The smile lurked again, a half lip’s worth; alliterations
do not alienate any matching interests.
of that, your clothes match well. You are keenly coordinated.
What color, or colors if rainbowed, if I may ask, are your underpants?
Do they match?
never wear them, not out here, not out of prison. One drink and
I’d put them back on if your thing is getting them off.
I’ve known guys like that, who never get all the way home.
really. Never really. Too much macho waiting for show. Too much
vanity in the way. You know the kind who’s afraid to read
the sex manuals because he’d know in a fucking second how
much he’s missed on the way here getting to be forty and
near the end. Once I told a guy four or five times he ought to
read the good book on sex, and he thought I was ridiculing him
or was just playing games, but I was balliky bare-ass waiting
for him to come down where I wanted him desperately and he missed
it all. I was lying across the seat of the car and in love I think,
my nipples talking to his mouth, saying all the good stuff about
attention and how he should be more alert. Only later I found
out his wife was hardly the clean type and that foul odor drove
him too far afield even of the cleaning lady. I don’t know
where he went, or if he ever went down, to Australia or any place
else, but I hope he’s had a good voyage. He was cute too,
but even his fingers didn’t know what to do, or had not
paid attention, never mind his being a good talker. He called
me Sam and he loved me, that I know, but could not let go the
hard aversions he was trained on. When I touch it all the way
every night, it’s for him where I left him, on the seat
of that old Plymouth convertible parked in a field at the end
of a dark lane, a February chill sneaking into the front seat
slyer than he was, my Mr. Wanderlust.
he not averse to you or something you did or had contemplated?
Was it all his fault?
had intruded on another’s family, with the father, and Mr.
Wanderlust had his family broken up by the same kind of intrusion.
The paired reality hit me but it was only later, after he had
gone, that I cemented my own intrusion, getting what I wanted
where I wanted it. The revelations do not demand too much explanation;
we are what we are. I am the animal mother, the bitch leader,
the caller of signals, like the unerring quarterback or like the
Pace Car at Indy. I know where I am going and what I am doing,
and if you’re what I think you are, you won’t be far
lip curled at my understanding. Oh, yes, I like how your eyes
light up at my word play, saying you are alert, that you are in
read everything at first light, don’t you? I like that.
There’s no bullshit here. I want you on. I want in. I passed
my oral exams a long time ago, in the last century.
left shoulder moved at further introduction, a breast easing to
view, as though it were pure and virginal in its utility, its
horizon never at assault, its whiteness further expanding, demanding,
commanding, imagination at play, its memory on the move. I contemplated
the artful exposure, my mouth stilled with silence, with admiration.
Parts of an old story began to unfold, a noun leaked free, a verb,
an adverb shook loose in my mind, a mystical story, outworldish,
outlandish. Then, oh, fucking loveliness, right then, a fairy
of a nipple stood in place, swearing its softness, elfin, impish,
exquisite, truly virginal yet truly erect, saying the pot of gold
was at hand. My little 100-pounder, without underpants in place,
sliding effortlessly on eggshell blue silk, everything moving
in place, replied: You’re like the wide-eyed kid in the
front row at school, the one who sucks up everything that comes
his way, who gets an A in every exam and every test and every
dinky quiz thrown at him except how to get out of the classroom
if there is a fire. Do I read that you have missed something here?
Are you not my Mr. Wanderlust come back again?
mean, from that old Plymouth convertible, where you had shared
another man with another woman?
old altar is yet in place, locked away for the evermore, the sense
of urgency that drove me there, undressed me, put me prone and
lascivious, hangs about dense as a dream nearly gone over the
edge, but never letting go. Always, the night temperature of that
far field of that dark lane touches with its long reach, the way
it slipped in through the canvas top, came up through the fabric
of the seat, set my sweet little ass on fire. Oh, the subtle ironies
that impale me.
meet you in the barn.
went home, by different routes, to the house on the hill, the
single light still lit, the mow in the barn piled high with fresh
hay, me and my salty actress.
the way up a single leaf shone with a ray of universal light.
She was never far afield no matter what old Chemkin said. I had
found Apple’s orchard.
books are Epic Cures and Brief Cases, Short Spans, Press 53, NC;
A Collection of Friends and From the Quickening, Pocol Press,
VA. His work appears in Home of the Brave, Stories in Uniform
and Milspeak Anthology, Warriors, Veterans, Family and Friends
Writing the Military Experience. He has 14 Pushcart nominations,
Noted Stories for 2007 and 2008, Georges Simenon Fiction Award,
and is included in Dzanc Best of the Web Anthology for 2009 and
nominated for Best of the Web 2010. He has 155 short stories on
Rope and Wire Magazine. Print issues include Rosebud Magazine
(3) , Ocean Magazine (7) among others. He has hundreds of internet
publications of prose and poetry, and has published 3 novels (An
Accountable Death, Vigilantes East, and Death for the Phantom
Receiver, a football mystery) and 5 poetry collections including
This Rare Earth and Other Flights; Ah, Devon Unbowed; The Saugus
Book; Reflections from Vinegar Hill. He served with the 31st Infantry
Regiment, Korea, 1951.
for Whom I Have Scoured the Universe
2010 by Tom Sheehan