Chapter 7 The Women Who Paint Nudes

Gregson wondered if the women who paint nudes, ever got self-conscious and took their clothes off. He needed to visit with the dead body, but what could it say? He was feeling animal impulses—electricity trying to escape his body—Gregson needed to plug-in somewhere.

“What are those red marks around the neck?” He asked the officer in charge.

“You’re joking, right? —that’s not pizza sauce, but the real thing.”

“I’m not so sure. There’s magenta, strawberry red, and pink flairs near his erogenous zone—that’s where my girlfriend turns me on like a light bulb—she just needs to lick the switch.”

“Make-up? Should we be looking for a woman?”

“Women—in the plural sense. He probably didn’t do what they wanted him to do.”

“When you put it like that—being with lots of women is like being in bed with the government.”

“They’ll be one-in-the-same, soon.”

Gregson walked through the creative conference, admiring the exhibits. Women in Eskimo suits were chiseling naked men with icepicks. When they got near the balls, Gregson winced. Art is the manifestation of culture.

There were valuable paintings on display. Gregson was a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe. Somehow, death and the feminine radiated from her flowers like symbolic vaginas. Was this a warning? Artists have the luxury of being undefined—they change so often, critics aren’t able to keep up. The culture complains, and then it wants more.

Mac was showing his drawings of ballerinas—their legs and bodies were more delicate than a hummingbird’s—still, art is an expression of the soul—and Mac’s soul didn’t match his image.

“Would you care to play 9 holes, tomorrow?” Gregson asked. “There’s a course on the edge of the moor.”

“8 AM, tomorrow morning.” Mac said.

“Bring your irons, and don’t be late.”

Gregson noticed the women who paint nudes. They were lying on sofas and smoking cigars. A woman who smokes a cigar can be a major turn-on because it’s a symbol of sexual liberation and her independence from society—while simultaneously signaling how dangerous she is. Men feel most alive when they are closest to death, and women with cigars allow them to flirt with sex at the same time.

Their first assessment of him was his manhood—they glanced down there like scientists, and looked-up into his eyes like prostitutes.

“I’m Gregson.”

The blonde in the middle, wearing a white cocktail dress, spoke first. “This is Claire, Kathleen, Charlotte, and I’m Kathrine.” Gregson kissed the backs of their hands one at a time. He noticed their make-up.

“Your names all begin with the same sound.”

“And they all end that way, when we’re together.”

Gregson wanted to ask her what she meant, but then decided to start with the important question. “How did you know the deceased?”

“We slept with him.”

“Did his girlfriend know?”

“I think so—we slept with her too.”

“Just to be clear, ‘slept with’ is a euphemism for sex, right?”

“What rock did you crawl out from under?” Claire asked. She had red hair, and a red dress. Some women are on fire, and they can burn down a house, with the man inside it. She smoked her cigar, and exhaled—hell was inside her, and a popular vacation spot for the naive male.

“So, just to be clear, you were all having relations?”

“Yes.”

“Who do you paint?”

“Each other.”

“Did you ever paint the deceased?”

“Frequently.”

The innuendo, and follow-up questions were giving Gregson a headache. One woman could launch a man’s migraine to the moon. Four women could cause him to colonize Mars.

“I need to go to bed,” Gregson said.

“Would you like some company?” Charlotte asked.

“No.”

“You’re gay.”

“Yes—peace and quiet is a state of bliss.”

They all pouted.

Gregson left and considered smoking a cigar.

The Wrath of My Dialogue, like Silver Slime on their Paperwork

Much of life is boring

and being boring, while talking about it, is even worse

It’s not important to have money or power

to attract women

but you must have the masculine essence

Women want Men, and the stuff of men—

they don’t want anything else. They don’t want to be bored.

Like the Eskimos who have 200 different names for snow

I have 200 ways to talk about coffee

It’s a legal drug—and I need to be high to get through the work-day

Some people call me “interesting”

and some people protest, “You’re Boring!”

I am boring—I admit it.

I get sadistic pleasure from talking to my boss about procedure, because of my hate for her love of the job.

I want her to know

this is her life.

All of her humor—I disdain—like special education being a monopoly board game.

I play the board game—it’s the boring game.

I am so boring—she is afraid to call me on the telephone. She prefers email.

And it has taken quite some time, to write exciting events, like drudgery.

I’m killing her spirit, slowly.

It’s guerilla warfare—she’ll retire because she can’t read another email

and then I’ll advance, like a slug

and those who love their jobs

will know the wrath of my dialogue

the silver slime, on their paperwork.

The Port-a-Potty Portal and the Out-House Time Machine

I was playing golf in the wind and the rain. It was a reaction against the job. Disintegration was wearing on me, like a second-grader, rubbing his pencil-eraser to a nub. Coincidence, or my lack of will, moved me down the river of least resistance. I had a job where I pushed papers across a desk, and the finer points of communication were spoken by other people. It was an anonymous feeling—like being a zero. All the job would need to do would be to bring in a 1, and they could replace me. Of course, this feeling was intentional. They wanted all employees to be thankful for their work—that way, everybody would do their jobs from fear of losing what kept them alive. The only problem was, I was dying in my soul—dying to do something that counted. When I started to find it, my co-workers noticed immediately—so did the building supervisor. I was supervised by corporate, and he knew I didn’t report to him—so when he noticed, I was feeling free—like my numbers were going up, he asked me, “Who supervises you?”

“It was Mari, but now I think it’s Audrey.”

“Oh—they switched on you,” he said, accusingly.

“I guess so.”

I said this with the least amount of conviction—like having someone above me, was incidental. I could tell it rubbed him the wrong way. My father was institutionalized. He told me, “A man needs a boss—otherwise, he’ll do what he wants—that’s why a man needs to get married.” I thought about what my dad said. I decided not to get married, and work a job until I didn’t need to, anymore. My family noticed I didn’t buy things.

“You take no joy from life,” my brother-n-law said. “Why don’t you buy anything?”

“It costs too much.”

“Why don’t you get a girlfriend.”

“She costs too much.”

“You are bitter.”

I didn’t argue. I had taken life too easily in high school and college, and now I was waking-up to the horror that a job was going to own most of my life—and I was expected to be grateful for it.

My golf game was getting better, under the worst conditions. High-pressure systems converging with low-pressure systems were pushing over trees, and ripping yellow leaves into the air like confetti. Maybe, the storm is necessary to get to the land of Oz. I started to birdie. A suburban man, walked-out onto his porch, and waved at me. I gave him a thumbs up. I could tell he thought I was crazy, but I couldn’t hear anything he said over the storm.

When I got to Number 4, a porta-a-potty had blown into some nearby pine trees, and the blue-stuff had splattered onto the green grass. I walked into it, and felt strange. I felt like I was going forward in time, and backward in time, at the same time.

It was spring, and I walked-out of the blue-stuff onto a sunny golf course. I heard the door bang behind me.

“She’s all yours,” I said, without thinking.

“Thanks,” said a teenager. He was me, on my high school golf course.

“Wait a second, before you do your business, I have something to tell you.”

“Sure.”

“I know high school seems like it will last forever, but it won’t. When you go to college, pay careful attention not to waste your time. Don’t give-up your time for anybody—not for a job. Work hard so you can do what you want to do. Choose something you can devote your entire life to, and never give it up. You will be scorned, and told that you are immature, but this is only the mouthing-off of slaves.”

He looked at me like I was insane, but I had my say. When he did his business, I thought he might not be there, but then he came out. When I went inside, I enjoyed the smell—that’s how I absolutely knew he was me. Everybody loves the smell of their own shit.

I wound-up on the windy golf course again, and I wanted to go back to that simpler time. So, I walked back into the blue stuff, and found myself on a much different golf course. The door slammed behind me. There was a man in his mid-forties, waiting. He looked like James Bond—I barely recognized myself.

“What do you do for a living?” I asked.

“Whatever I want,” he said. Then he walked inside. Somehow, I got the message. I was doing what I wanted. I had style. Not much mattered. When he came out, I went in and smelled my own shit, and it was sweet. I finished my round in the storm, and had unbelievable confidence that my life was never going to be the same.

The End

Chapter 6 A Body Leaves Clues, Especially When it Can’t Talk

“Gregson—I need you to start talking to the dead body—see if he tells you anything,” Murphy said.

“Who was he?”

“The president of the conference.”

“A chainsaw is an unusual weapon,” Gregson speculated.

“Not when you have a totem carving competition going-on.” Murphy pointed at the lumberjacks inching-up trees, preparing to carve smiles into the wooden faces.

“Was the president married?” Gregson asked.

“No—but he had a long-term girlfriend.”

“A chainsaw is the last weapon of choice for a woman—usually reserved for maniacal masculine serial killers.”

“All she would need to do is drop it,” Murphy suggested.

“Yes—but why use a chainsaw?” Gregson asked.

“So we would suspect someone else, what else? There she is.” Murphy pointed at a woman in an orange dress. Her legs were orange— her strawberry-blonde hair was a fruit Gregson wanted to taste.”

“Look at those arms,” he admired. “Perfectly toned.”

“Able to hold a chainsaw,” Murphy suggested.

“Suspending judgement is the first rule of creative thinking,” Gregson corrected. “I want to question her.”

“Better that you question the dead body first—that way, you won’t be seduced. She’s already a widow—you don’t want to get in bed, and find an hourglass birthmark on her butt.”

“Yes I do,” Gregson said.

“I can’t help you.”

“Yes, you can. Entertain Madelynn, while I talk to the Strawberry-Blonde. The dead body will have to wait.”

Gregson walked under the staircase tape, looking-up at her, like a woman on a pedestal. “My name’s Gregson.”

“Karli.”

He shook her fingers—they were ice cold, despite her radiant glow.

“You have warm hands—the hands of someone who investigates,” Karli said.

“Yes.”

“And quite delicate too—I’m guessing, they’ve removed delicates?”

“Did your boyfriend have many enemies?”

“Roger loved art, and hated people. It was his way—not a nice man, but he treated me well enough. His enemies were artists. He was a critic. I guess we all can be, at times, but the weight of his words sunk careers.”

“I see. How was the health of your relationship?”

“I gave him what he wanted—and he gave me what I wanted.”

“And that was…?”

“Sex. Lots of sex. You see, Roger was an unusual man. Not beautiful on the outside, but potent. Women followed him around—wanting him, and I wanted him. He resisted me, and he resisted them, until he couldn’t any longer. If you wonder who might’ve killed him, ask the women who paint nudes.”

On the Power of the Unarticulated Attitude

As I read great minds

their ideas become common to me

because I assimilate them into how I think—

and there is considerable let-down

because much of what they say, is absorbed into common thought

or it doesn’t affect me

the way powerful ideas should

But—

there is one emotion that does captivate me

and that is the attitude of close friends.

You cannot read dozens of writers, and get to know them

Only a handful, less than five, like fingers on your right hand, will you ever understand, intimately

like wrinkles of character, that deepen with age

like broken bones, that heal

like scars.

When someone expresses an opinion

on one of your close friends

they misunderstand, completely

because experts listen to the gossip of crowds.

Go to the source, and discover them for yourself

It is not their ideas that will shape you

but their attitudes.

If you remember, back to your elementary years

it was your attitude, your teachers, were trying to perfect.

Nothing changes an individual more totally, than their attitude

It is strength, or weakness

or insanity,

that caries its own reason—that weighs most heavily.

It takes strength, to carry a powerful attitude.

It will come-out, at the most inopportune times.

It will create enemies—and indenture respect.

It will be misunderstood,

and slandered.

Why should you adopt an attitude that is difficult to articulate?

Because vernacular is common, and what is common, can’t be yours

There is the attitude of the Yes Man

and there is the attitude of the Reactionary Revolutionary,

that threatens officials

who have no understanding of real power.

The unarticulated, unquantifiable, individual

has the potential to act

because he cannot be pushed-up against

or pulled-on

or constrained

due to his unarticulated attitude.

It is his will

that will change

 the next century

Simply,

by being spoken.

Chapter 5 a Head, a Body and a Chainsaw

Gregson wiped the windows of Gertrude’s Mercedes with his shirt sleeve—they were fogging-up from his animal passions. He was wooing the female. Then he punched the electricity, and they rolled onto the island. It was tall beach grass, and then—dark woods, and moorlands.

“If you walk out there—you won’t ever come back,” Gregson said.

“Why?” Madelynn asked.

“Underground streams—swamps that will swallow a city whole, if tempted by footsteps that don’t know their way.”

HOWLING.

“Those are the moor wolves. I did a bit of research on Wikipedia before we left. Nobody knows if they’re real, or if the howls are the crying of the wind. It’s theorized, there’s a moor bird, uncategorized by ornithologists. Whatever it is, people disappear out here. Locals say, it’s the mourning of those sunk into the mire.”

Madelynn put her hands on Gregson’s chest.

“Just stick with me, baby—and it will be all right,” he said.

The dirt road was turning to mud. Intermittent rains, like flurries of fury from the gods hit their automobile without mercy.

“It’s up ahead,” Gregson pointed through foggy windows.

“It looks like an abbey, or a mental institution, right up there on the cliff,” Madelynn gasped.

When they pulled up, there were warm lights on the inside. It was like they were entering the bowels of a steel octopus. A butler opened the doors, and Gregson glanced around. There was a Bugatti Veyron, Ferraris, and a Lime Green Lamborghini. Obviously, they were the poorest guests.

“Where are the starving artists?” Gregson asked.

“Oh—they’re parked out back,” the butler said. “There’s a Volkswagen Rabbit, and a junk-heap of a pickup truck. The creative conference has to keep-up appearances, if you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” Gregson yawned.

Mac got out of his Ferrari.

“You must eat well,” Gregson said.

“What?”

“Never mind.”

They walked inside, and saw the spectacle. A staircase with yellow crime-scene tape. A head and a Body and a Chainsaw.

“I judge the murderer dropped it from the second-floor,” said the officer in charge. “What’s your name?”

“Gregson.”

“And your affiliation?”

“I’m working with Detective Murphy.”

“Oh—the maverick asshole. He’s over there. What’s your judgement of the situation?”

“My judgement is the poor bastard is dead. What else could it be?”

Chapter 4 What’s the Point of Living, if You Can’t Feel Alive?

Gregson drove Gertrude’s electric Mercedes onto the ferry. There were white caps on the water. Leaves were leaving, caught-up by the wind, blown by what they didn’t plan for—so beautiful, and yet, so dead—lost forever. Gregson thought about his time. He knew when he was wasting it; and when he wasn’t, it was beautiful.

“This could be my day,” Gregson said.

“What do you mean by that?” Madelynn asked.

“When the planets align—when you feel good, and then something makes you feel better—when death doesn’t matter, because the moment is too beautiful.”

“Oh—I’ve never heard anyone say that before.”

“Just watch,” Gregson said. “This feeling floats around and lands on me from time to time. If there’s gambling on this cruise, I have the magic hand.”

They left for the bar. The wind kept hitting the windows, and the waves rocked the ferry. Everyone was drinking.

“Don’t worry. We’re in the Bay, and the island is 10 minutes away. Anyone care to chance their luck?” A dealer in a purple tuxedo asked.

Gregson raised his hand. “I want to gamble.”

“21 is the game.”

“One game—50,000 dollars.”

“I’ll have to call my manager. Are you sure you don’t want to place a smaller bet?”

“It’s not gambling, if you can’t lose?”

“Sir—vacationers do it for amusement, to stave-off boredom.”

“Exactly—they’re neither living nor dead—and what’s the point of living, if you can’t feel alive?”

“He can play,” a voice said through the radio.

“Just one thing—bury the top three cards. Now, deal!” Gregson flipped his over. “20!”

“19. Hit! 27! Bust! You just made it. Collect your winnings at the Creative Conference.”

Gregson walked to the observation deck, feeling like God, or at least how he thought God might feel when beating the odds.

A patch of rocks at the horizon was growing, like a whale worshiping the sun—an island, cut-off from the horde of humanity—mysterious, like an individual, unwilling to cross the ocean to join the mainland.

“She’s perfect, isn’t she?” Came a voice.

“Where?” Gregson was looking for a strawberry-blonde.

“The island.”

“Rocks?”

“Not just rocks—but possibilities.” He had an athletic build, and wore a silver beard with binoculars draped across his neck. He looked like a tourist.

“What’s your purpose at the conference?”

“Are you a cop?”

“Ex-cop—private investigator.”

“I’m an artist.”

“Maybe we’ll see each other again?”

“Maybe.”

They shook hands.

“My name’s Gregson.”

“Mac.”

Gregson wanted to be with Madelynn in the Mercedes. He walked down to the main deck and got in, turning-up the butt warmers. It was too chilly, not to enjoy some heat.

A Man will Relinquish his Manhood to be Loved

Those with low self-esteem are happy

if your life suffers

they don’t know where it comes from.

When I am feeling good about myself, there is nothing good to feel about

this is a truly good feeling, because the world might end

and I would be sitting on my dead lawn sucking at an umbrella drink.

Basically, an FU attitude to life feels good

and it isn’t filled with anger, or emptiness

It’s amnesia from knowing my context—

how I am supposed to feel, and what I am supposed to care about.

I’ve talked to grown men, trying to be right, all of the time

because they are constantly being corrected by their wives

they complain about the status of their situation over beers

and virtue-signal the books they are reading

that teach them

their masculinity is harmful

What’s worse is that they turn on themselves, and they turn on each other

they think they are thinking

profound thoughts

by reading these books, suggested by their women

but someone is doing their thinking for them

and it’s the need to be accepted by the feminine

that keeps them reading.

A man will relinquish his manhood

to be loved.

Chapter 3 Gregson Learns Snob Lingo

On the wharf were gay clubs, art galleries, bars, houses of witchcraft, fish markets, and a steady stream of smells, coming from the sea urchins that lived like barnacles on the boardwalk—they were sailors, hairstylists, painters, antique dealers, vendors, and tourists. Patches in the fog of scents were mixing, without anyone’s permission—cotton candy and fish, tacos and ketchup, tobacco and coffee.

Gregson was thinking about scones. He smelled them, but then they washed-out to sea in the salty air.

It was the art gallery he intended to visit. Gregson opened the glass door, and walked inside with Madelynn.

Thin, non-binary art appraisers were pointing at paintings with spindly fingers, and gasping at the bad taste, hanging on the walls.

“Oh my god—have you ever seen something so disgusting—quite hideous.”

They walked by the paintings and graded the artwork. Then they looked at Gregson who had decided to put-on cargo shorts, with a golf shirt. He failed their appraisal. Gregson was a portrait of slobby masculinity.

“You can’t possibly want anything to do with these finger paintings,” one of them said. “Are you a collector?”

“I collect guns.”

“Oh—how horrifying.”

“I would be interested in a portrait of a naked woman. Do you have one?” Gregson asked.

“Let me see—ah—Henry, from the merchant marine—doesn’t have any women he can paint—that’s why we have so many naked men for sale—they’re sailors. Henry wishes he could paint the opposite sex, but no women have volunteered to be scrutinized by his artistic eye.”

“I’ve been working on the female form, myself,” Gregson said. “It can be difficult to paint the cunt hairs. I haven’t perfected the technique yet.”

“Honey, you can’t say that in public,” Madelynn corrected.

“I can say cunt in pubic!” Gregson shouted.

“Sir, you are a toxic man. Perhaps, you should educate yourself.”

“I just did,” Gregson said. “Now—we have a ferry to catch, so I will leave you to watch the paint dry.”

In the Land of No Man

As I get older, the basic necessities, are appreciated, even more

like being able to lie in a warm bed, and listen to the street sounds outside

I hear yelling and horns honking

neighbors arguing and political demonstrations

I know, I don’t want to be a part of that.

I start my day reading Thoreau or Bukowski, and sometimes Nietzsche

the librarians know me by name

I’ve discovered Sherwood Anderson’s Short Stories

and I’ve enjoyed some D.H. Lawrence. There’s philosophy in literature

lives, writing about other lives.

In the world of work that I go to

everyone is panicked, and they keep playing these games of importance

they pretend to be leaders, but they don’t have anything on the line

they are actors, some of them, master pretenders

and the ones who care, don’t get very far.

Sometimes, I think their lives are a big act

to signal to others they are good. I don’t care to be known as good or bad

What I show the world, is what they believe

and knowing this, makes me sure, that I must know myself—nothing else matters.

People are caught up, like fish, that swim together in schools, like sheep, that don’t know any better

they are dangerous because they aren’t dangerous

they are easily led

to slaughter or to slaughter

without knowing why

because their why

is given to them

like scraps

to pigs.

I read their Facebook conversations

their compliments and distain, for each other

Even through well-articulated words

there is a hollow echo.

I love the sound of my own music

I love the thought, that their misunderstandings, don’t matter

that a purpose beyond their contrived lives, is salvation, that only I can know

It can’t be proven, because it is my own self-belief

I write for me—I try to do it perfectly

It’s the one thing I have—a kind of purity

not done for external gain

but to satisfy my internal thirst.

My vision of paradise, is a home library,

a piano in a cabin, in the deep woods

where only the wind knows my name

I’ll keep living

for myself

telling stories

that I need to tell

while the moon

is waiting

on a frosty night

in the land of no man.