I’m not sitting here saying this is what happened. I’m not saying it went like this, and this, and this, and then she died. I’m not saying that this is there or there is here or anywhere is anything, you know? I’m not even saying that I’m here to make you know something, get anywhere, feel anything. Frankly, I don’t care. All I know is that I shot her. Accidentally maybe, but definitely shot. And right now, as I lean over to tie the shoelaces of my old Tiger Asics circa 1998, with the scuffed toes and peeling leather soles, from when I was, what?, I don’t know, 13 years old, all I know is that I feel good. I am sure I’m supposed to feel like some terrible person. I am supposed to feel guilt. Shame. Terror. The works. But the thing is I may be alive, kicking, and wired to feel these oh so natural things, blah blah blah, but truth be told she deserved it and I’m too numb to care about remorse. Not until they catch me.
Imagine me as a chubby baby, sitting on the hard-tiled floors of my parents Miami home back in the 80s. Coral Gables. Palm trees. Jackson Pollock originals framed on the walls. I’m holding a rattle: rattle, rattle, rattling the beans together so that something will make noise in the big empty house I will call home for sixteen years. I’m making noise because my mother will not raise her voice above a whisper if indeed she speaks at all and my father is never home and there is no television and I’m not one of those colic babies who cries and cries or one of those talkative babies who goos and coos. Imagine me that baby who didn’t say anything until she was three years old and then one day simply spoke in fully formed sentences.
“Mama, I’m hungry, can I have some asparagus grilled in lemon juice?”
And then I’m getting asparagus grilled in lemon juice and eating it in my black and chrome high chair with my fingers, piece by piece, asparagus by asparagus, smiling with my eyes at no one, my long black eyelashes a shield from the sun streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows that look out on the Lake behind our house and no one is congratulating me on my new achievement. Speech.
Mother, mother mine, mother sweetest dearest who forever detached from me when the long gooey chord was cut after nine months of warmth followed by a lifetime of cold. Mother lovely and her long flowing dresses: chiffon Vera Wang, silk Dolce & Gabanna, finely spun cotton YSL, airy knit Christian Lacroix, I am six years old and watching her spin in circles upon the white tiled living room floor, avoiding the leather chaise and the uncomfortable chrome chairs, her dress billowing about her like a parachute. I am caught in the beauty of long legs, blonde hair, parachuting white silk, elongated wrists and fingers, glimpses of shiny pink nail polish that I later look for in the bathroom medicine cabinet next to the Darvocets and Percodans and Dihydrocodeines; I watch her twirl.
“Mama, why are you dancing?” I ask.
“I’m spinning time, DeeDee,” she whispered.
She was always whispering. Imagine me this kid who knew nothing of noise except for the swish swish swish of mother’s dresses when she was busy spinning time and the honking of the geese when they escaped their water world for the dry grass of our backyard and the vroom and whiz of the cars driving by our house. But to be honest no one really drove down 54th street. We were the quiet house on the end of the quiet street in the center of my quiet universe.
So imagine me the quiet kid in our quiet record room: not playing records. It was a large room that should have been used as a guest room to house guests when they came over except that we never had any guests because no one ever came over except for Grandma and Grandpa, once a week, on Sunday. But Grandma and Grandpa are for later, so right now just imagine this room that housed no guests and instead housed hundreds and hundreds of records: 12-inch, 7-inch, old, vintage, new, LPs, EPs, 16s, 45s, 78s, The White Album, The Times They Are A-Changin, The Basement Tapes, Cheap Thrills, Sticky Fingers, Let it Bleed, records by Dizzy, Sinatra, Nina Simone, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, AC/DC, White Snake, The Clash, Morrissey, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart. Imagine me touching every record, studying every cover, tracing the outlines of the faces of these musicians that had so much to say. I would take out from the cover, every record and finger the smooth vinyl, circle the ridges, around around around and then I would return it to its home back in the cover, back on the shelf. I began counting. Counting and recounting to pass lonely hours inside the big empty quiet house while my mother spun time without me.