On the Bed, Making Stories

by David Eide 

Scenes from the Province of the Empire 

He sat on the bed making stories. He had loved, she had died and he sat at the edge of the bed dreaming a story. It was a sticky night. The moon had come and gone. Inside was cool and black. His hands closed on top of each other between his legs.

In the city people slept and he (jewel green eyes wide) continued to dream a story to tell himself so he could say to someone who asked, "this is how she died."

The bed had been retrieved from the fleamarket and creaked when he moved his foot along the floor. And for a moment he forgot he was dreaming and lowered back onto the taut springs of the bed and laughed, then belly flopped, now wrapping the cool pillow around his ears like wet leaves.

He coughed with a stutter. His head lit with story. He gasped. He wet his lips, once, with his tongue, along the corners where spit collected.

The room was dark, run through with white shadows between the blinds. The room was a table, bed, and a bulb. The table was pushed next to the bed and on top sat a Bible, its gold lettering flicking in the white shadows of the lamps outside; poles hooded the light away from the street toward the window of his room.

The room opened through a doorway and from this doorway came the smell of onion juice of a stew he had eaten he had eaten that day and he loved the smell of onions slowly dying in the stew and nearly got up from the bed to scoop out a plateful, heat some water for coffee, read the final pages of Ecclesiastics but suddenly his story grew a sharp, ivy trellis about it and framed in the center by the body of his lover in a soft field. It was like a miniature painting has family owned., stuffed at the bottom of a sea trunk in the attic.

She had been a little girl in an orchard full of swings.

She had seen the tree's die in the core and topple.

She had been sentimental.

She lay in white, eyes closed, skin wet.

He rarely had visitors so the lace was dirty bare. The window was covered with faded Venetian blinds that he hadn't raised and now street light streamed into the room like rivers of dust.

He rolled on his back. She had been beautiful and wise. Dead now. He folded his arms across his chest and turned the radio on. It was a cheap set with a bit of the speaker thread ripped away and he never received the stations he wanted.

Something came on; on and over, then up by the naked bulb above him that was dark. The room was dark except the running beams of light from outside.

He told the lover to get up, "get up out of the meadow of flowers you lay in, get up and move maybe dance" He would enjoy that, a dance and maybe, he wondered, she would enter the room full of laughter. But she didn't move. Flogging brown pedals wrapped her body. He wondered where the wind came from. It hadn't been there but now the pedals of flowers were flogging her body and it was a wind. He didn't feel it.

She was rouged lightly on the cheek. One arm was visible through the play of flowers. Her nose was like a hill shaved of trees and browning as summer comes.

But she didn't move and for a moment he became distracted by a single wheel (that must have been four wheels sounding like one, he thought) going by his window. In the later hours it was usually quiet but this wheel rolled by and he listened as it rolled through the avenues of the city, past the jut of buildings, through intersections of amber lights, past the neighborhoods all shut up for the night and shut down that way, like a aeries of carefully cut movie screens, seemed sad. The yellow lights. Every street had a line of yellow lights impaling the sidewalk and one could imagine someone walking by and getting trapped by one of these yellow lights and being stranded, twisting to get free but laughing too and swearing when a dog comes along and pisses up his leg and the man remains stained until the white- gray morning peels back the sneer of night.

When he returned to his dead lover she was still in the pose of death and silently he whispered, 'get...get up...' but she lay like brittle news and disappeared for a moment leaving a trace of redolent ivy in his mind. He bolted upright in the bed and she returned.

All week he had planned for the visit of a friend. and remembered now that he needed milk. One-half gallon. And maybe a baguette. He hadn't seen the friend for a year and they had much to talk bout but it was best to talk over food and the corner store existed a block away and smelled as an old kitchen.

This friend was special because of experiments be was conducting in his spare time. He was very intelligent and these experiments were in the nature of old chemists in the suburbs of Leipzig. He laughed the hearty laugh. The dead woman returned in a white sky. A sky that nearly camaflouged, made her meld into that she rolled softly out of like a fish in mid stream, rolledóby the currents But she didn't move.

* * * * * * * *

Music came from the radio jingle. Then a voice announcing the midnight show. It was a plangent voice cutting through the cheap speaker in the radio that tinted everything but still the voice was resonant. The radio broke away for a commercial. And when the program resumed the mans voice had changed a bit. He said, "This is your program folks this is yours and I'm here to talk all night...we've got telephones lined and hot...but this show is yours...I'm not going to sit here all night waiting for nothing . Now...where is that... oh yeah, now here's a quote from Shakespeare..you know...we'll get the show rolling with a snatch of culture..it goes..." "Now that that is out of the way let's go to the phones. Tell me everything, tell me anything. Any problem. Hey! You wanna hear a joke?"

And the announcer finished the joke with a blow from his gazzuu.

The dreamer got hungry. A pot of stew waited in the kitchen. The onion's had been tiny boiling onions, particularly sharp. Even if he didn't eat it he'd have to put it in the refrigerator so it wouldn't spoil. Maybe it would be best to get the bread. The grocery stayed open twenty-four hours. Robbed twice the last month. The store was open but he decided not to go to the store because he was afraid the lover in his brain would disappear again.

She was all motion, no motion.


David Eide 
Oakland, 1980 

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