3rd of May Postcards from the End of the World: Chapter on Women
To the boy sitting on the high chair, baked bean sauce on his chin.
There is a woman who lives alone at the End of the World. She lives in a strange house that has no windows because she has no need for people to peer inside. She never ventures out of the house and instead calls the proprietors of shops at the End of the World to deliver her groceries, alcohol, cigarettes and newspapers. She is quite an attractive young woman but she is only three feet tall. She is never referred to as a midget and every part of her body seems to be in perfect proportion. Her suitors fondly call her ‘the little woman,’ like a husband would call his wife. And there are many suitors. They are always knocking on the door of the house with no windows but no one knows her name. She keeps everything about herself a secret. The jealous women at the End of the World often meet at the hairdressing salon and call her a slut, a wanton hussy trying to pretend she is mysterious. Young boys at night spray graffiti on the walls of her house, but in the morning one of her suitors will scrub it all off. She ahs live at the End of the World all her life but no one claims to know much about her. The only thing that is known for certain is that all her suitors are over seven feet tall and wear long wavy beards. When they walk past each other on the street they salute solemnly. They don’t know that every night at midnight she climbs up the stairs to the attic, to her secret room. She sits there each night writing daily entries into her private journal. Beside her on the writing desk is a framed photograph of her father. He is an extremely tall man with a long wavy beard and sometimes she looks at the photograph longingly like the way a wife of a sailor would when her husband is far away, out to sea.
I’m thinking of you
but I can’t see your face
any more in my memories.
To the seven foot tall blond woman, sucking her thumb.
Someone famous visited the End of the World. She sailed into the bay on a tall ship and when she set foot on the pier there was no one waiting to greet her. There was no paparazzi or police escort and the hotels were booked out, so at night she slept on the ship. There were no news reports of her arrival on the only television station at the End of the World. There was no civic reception and advertising companies did not clamour asking her to endorse their product. The only ones to pay attention to her were the stray cats and they sprayed their tails in doorways as her entourage passed by. Eventually tired of being ignored she sailed on her ship away fro the End of the World. This is not a place for tourists. This is where you come to when life has dealt you a knock out blow. This is where you take time out to gather your strength so you can get up from the canvas and give life a black eye and kiss Death on the mouth.
From the Italian migrant
with the caustic wit
and a taste for the absurd.
To the Polynesian barmaid in the red evening dress.
I first met Helen at the Nightclub at the End of the World. She was dancing with a man with three heads. I walked up to her with my parrot on my shoulder and gave her a bouquet of cactus. When we kissed a barber-shop quartet dressed in drag, sang Christmas carols in Hebrew. I made love to her on a bed of nails and a sparrow fell from the sky and landed in a glass of water. When she has her period, lava spills from volcanos in far away countries. When I kiss her the tastebuds on my tongue sprout mushrooms. On her birthday a million starving people in Afghanistan became obese. When she sleeps at night, armies invade the deserts and set up camp on icy ponds. Hundreds of men send her love letters and she responds by sending poems written n invisible ink tied to the ankles of blind homing pigeons. When Helen goes to the toilet a thousand samurai commit hara-kiri. Last night she told me she loved me and I said, ‘please stop this is getting too surreal.’ A man parachuted from a helicopter and landed at my feet. He was wearing a khaki wedding gown and a cigar dangled from his mouth. He tattooed a haiku to my chest and kissed Helen on the mouth. He carried her to a waiting camel that sang Al Jolson songs and I never saw her again.
From the jealous poet
befriending his rival
and stealing his poems.
To the young woman with a fur fox on her head
I met a young woman at the casino at the End of the World. She seemed to speak in cryptic messages. I asked her how old she was and she said she was as old as Methuselah, as young as a carrot. She intrigued me and I asked her out to dinner. She invited me to have dinner at her place the next night and told me to bring a bowel of mixed lettuce. As I waked away she said, ‘I better warn you I may become a lesbian.’ The following night I knocked on her door and she led me into her dining room where three men were seated at a large dining table. Each man had a bowel in his lap. One had diced onions in his bowel. One had diced tomatoes and he other had black olives. She stood at the head of the table and asked if anyone had thought to bring the salad dressing. We all said we hadn’t. She put her hands on her hips and said, ‘A woman would have thought to bring the salad dressing. Tonight I will become a lesbian.’ She asked us all to leave and as we walked out her front door, she called out to us smiling, ‘I think you guys should have brought umbrellas.’ The four of us stood at her front gate wondering what just happened. At that moment it started to rain at the End of the World in a torrential downpour seldom ever experienced here.
From the horny
old dog writing
in his journal.
Dear Morticia the ice queen,
I’ve known you for a long time and I care for you dearly. I don’t mind that you cheated on me and had sex with a bouncer while I was in the lounge room watching the Greco-Roman wrestling event from the Olympic Games. It’s okay that you hate cats and keep a python in a large fish tank and feed it live kittens. I didn’t think twice when I heard you were the prime suspect in a serial murder investigation involving the death of seven nubile young men (although seven has always been your lucky number.) I wasn’t angry when I found out you had sabotaged every relationship I had since we broke up by telling all my girlfriends I had A.I.D.S. I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled. The fact that you model your philosophy of life on the teachings of Charles Manson doesn’t shock me. I was a little concerned that your last three boyfriends had died from the same mysterious illness and that you were sole beneficiary of their wills, but I put it down to a strange coincidence. But today I heard the most shocking news. I heard that you think Kylie Minogue is a goddess, and that Ricky Martin is the new Elvis. Really, Morticia – that is too much. May God have mercy on your soul. There are some things that cannot be forgiven and I think we had better not see each other anymore.
All my love,
From Harry Houdini
and his magic sword.
To the young woman with the Mickey Mouse tattoo on her wrist.
I have the same dream every night. I am walking through a desert. I have not eaten for many days and I am very tired. Finally I come to a mountain and there is a cave and I enter. It is cool inside and on the floor of the cave is a sack of berries. I eat a handful of the berries and then fall asleep. Every time I wake up from my dream I feel relaxed as though I need this dream to give me strength through each day. Last night I met an attractive girl with light brown hair and large hazel eyes. She told me that no man has ever made love to her and she always felt alone. I had never told anyone before about my recurring dream, but I told Katrina. She reached out for my left hand on the restaurant table and touched me gently. Her hand was soft and I felt an incredible longing. Later we walked to her house. I laid on the bed beside her and it was a hot summer’s night and I perspired profusely. I undressed her on the bed and removed her panties only to find that she had no vagina. I saw her looking at me with her sad hazel eyes. I kissed her and told her it was all right and lay down with her and held her close to me. She reached down to her navel and with both hands began to stretch it open. Within a minute there was an enormous opening and she told me to climb inside. I crept inside her navel and it was cool there. I was tired and fell asleep. In my dream I am walking through the desert and she is there with me holding my hand gently. We come to a lake and there is a small boat on the shore. We get inside and she begins to row to the other side and when we get there a cool breeze blows gently over us.
From the stranger
who is your
To the dog curled asleep at a woman’s feet.
My friend is starting a new business. She is about to become a merchant. She isn’t selling cheap clothing donated by family members of the deceased. She isn’t selling manufactured meat and calling it gourmet hamburgers. She isn’t a high tech madam of prostitution over the inter-net. She doesn’t own a fish and chip shop that is a front for money laundering or child pornography. She has become an importer of perfume. It is not an everyday perfume which smells like all its competitors. It is not manufactured courtesy of the death of many animals. It is a perfume unlike any other which she had to travel to Geneva to procure. It doesn’t have one identifiable scent but offers any one of a million possibilities that only someone who smells it can recognise. To a businessman it smells like money. To a sailor it smells like an ocean wave during a violent summer storm. To a builder it smells like sawdust. To a chef it smells like a perfectly cooked medium rare fillet mignon with sautéed truffles on the side, bathed in gravy so fine and smooth it glistens in the candlelight. To a baker it smells like golden brown bread straight from the oven. To a farmer it sells like fresh cow dung on a spring day. To a painter it smells like turpentine. To a doctor it reeks of iodine. To a mechanic it smells like a combination of sump oil and gasoline. When the merchant woman dabs a little perfume behind her ears, it is another different fragrance all together. It is the only product she believes in and it smells like a perfect faith, like speed, like a drowning man in an ocean waving for a life raft. It smells like the holy water blessed upon a baby’s brow at a christening. When she wears her perfume it smells like her laughter: wild and gregarious, like a mob of drunken seamen standing on a pier singing songs of sirens stranded on rocks.
From the organ grinder
with a maladjusted chimpanzee
as his only companion.
To the blind saxophonist, of the Salvation Army band.
I have been the manager of this massage parlour for twelve years. We cater for every sexual fantasy, from bondage to golden showers, and all the girls have their regular clients. Nothing shocks me and I have seen it all but it never ceases to amaze me how popular Ingrid is. She charges twice as much as the other girls but doesn’t perform sex. For three hundred dollars an hour she lies on the bed with her clients, fully dressed and holds them. She caresses their foreheads and kisses them, which no other girl will do. They tell her their problems and she listens patiently and when they are finished she whispers in their ear that everything will be all right. She thinks long and hard before she gives the advice. The clients enter her room with worried brows and leave relaxed and smiling. For an extra hundred dollars she will tell them about her past and they are intrigued by her honesty. Her motto in life is, ‘No bullshit.’ I tell her she shouldn’t get so involved with her clients and she sighs and says she is only giving them what their wives and girlfriends can’t: unconditional love. When she leaves here in the early mornings she catches a taxi and the men queued outside our front door eave goodbye to her.
From the son of the wife
who sold her family down the river.
To the long legged blond falling down the stairs.
I was walking along a beach at the End of the World. I could see a figure in the distance running towards me. To my right was a cargo ship moored in the bay. She was tall with her long blond hair in a ponytail. She wore a long white see-through nightie and running shoes. She dropped a white handkerchief and I called out to her stop but she kept on running. I took off after her but she ran at an incredible pace and I had to stop to catch my breath. I looked up and could see her standing on a hill. I climbed up to the top but she was gone. I looked out to sea and could see a lone figure standing on the railing of the cargo ship. I climbed down the hill and dived into the ocean and swam towards the ship. A crewman helped me aboard and I looked for her every where until finally I came to the captain’s cabin. I opened the door and she was seated at a table naked except for a diamond tiara on her head. There was a small feast set on the table. I sat down and ate a chicken leg. I then paused and made my confession. ‘I have fallen in love with you.’ She had some salad on her fork and ate it. Ten she looked at me and said, ‘I love you too. You make my cunt ache.’ I choked on my food. She laughed and said, ‘You didn’t expect that did you? Have you got my handkerchief?’ And then she drank a glass of wine to wash down her food.
From the reluctant celebrity
Chanting, ‘Hare Krisna’
in a one hundred room mansion.
To the girl complaining her breasts were too small to her friends.
Before I banished myself to the End of the World, I lived with a woman who worked part time in a massage parlour. We had lived together before and I had broken up with her. I had a feeling that she was living with me this time to get her revenge. Later I was proved right and we ended up in court. That was just before I came here. There was one peaceful night that I remember though. Fran had come home from work at two in the morning and had gone straight to bed. I stayed up all night writing a story that was never going to be published about a woman who kept her memories in a brown paper bag. I was writing a portrait of the woman asleep in my bed, only a few paces away. My flat had a view of the city and I could see the dawn cast light upon the skyscrapers in the distance. I stopped writing because I could hear Fran breathe as she slept. I walked over to the bed and was about to kiss her forehead when I smelt the fragrance of her sleep. It was like the salt air from the ocean. It was not like the sweet scent of strawberries or a rose. It was the salty perspiration of a breathing and sleeping woman. A few weeks later I left that city to come here and live at the End of the World. The women here aren’t angelic of perfect but they try hard to be human even if that is an impossible state of being to attain.
From the man staring
at the three triplet boys
staring at him
To the raven haired sired stranded on jagged rocks.
I was weary after waging a ten-year battle to regain my dignity, to walk tall and strong. I walked past the luxurious and decadent cafes of a busy tourist promenade at the End of the World. I noticed the women… the way they glow with sensuality beside their men. The way words flow from their sharp tongues. The way the dresses and skirts cling to their bodies. The way they can kill you with just a single glance, or comfort you with one enigmatic smile. They way the let you win, or lose them and it means nothing to them either way. The way they conspire to plot the downfall of men in their little coteries or mourn the loss of love in solitude. The way the can manipulate in a thousandth of a second the destiny of the Genius, or the death of the Fool. The way they can smother you with tenderness and rescue you from certain defeat yet it was them who lead you there in the first place. The way they dance to life’s primitive ritual or stand close to you quiet and still… that night my dignity came back and whispered to me never to forget this night as the women at the End of the World sleep gently beside their men. I wait again for another woman to call my name.
From the aspiring
young actor watching
television in his pyjamas.
To the famous comedian lying on his death bed.
Every man at the accounting firm I worked for was in love with Anna, including me. She was a genius with figures and no one ever beat her at the trivia nights held every Thursday after work. Every time someone asked her why she wasn’t married, she would rub her palms together like a mad scientist in some movie and replay, ‘don’t you worry I have a plan.’ She would work at the accounting books at her desk at a furious pace like Jackson Pollock working furiously on his next masterpiece. Then one day she mysteriously quit her job. Various rumours circulated around the office about Anna embezzling the company’s profits and also there was talk she had been having an affair with the boss by his wife. I didn’t believe any of he rumours. The boss was devastated because she was his best worker. I took three weeks annual leave and decided to search for heart the End of the World. In the last week of my search I went to the Race Track. It made sense. She was great with figures and astute when it came to money. I saw her standing with standing with a bookmaker’s bag hanging over her shoulder. She smiled when she saw me and we went for a cup of coffee after the last race. She told me she was tired of making other people money and wanted o be her own boss on her own terms. Later we went and saw a movie and I took her home to my apartment and we made love. The ext morning as she lay beside me I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me. She burst out laughing. I felt humiliated and asked her what was so funny. ‘You fool,’ she said, ‘I left my job because I wanted you to pursue me. Of course I will marry you. That was my plan all along.’ She rubbed her palms together and laughed again in a deep and sinister voice like a lunatic.
From the man
Playing computer games
In the internet cafe
To the tree year old girl drinking a ‘baby-cino.’
Brian was known as the ‘con man at the End of the World.’ He was an average artist who forged copies of famous painting and sold them at private auctions. He had several money making schemes including receiving many unemployment cheques under false names. His greatest swindle was to convince Emma that he loved her and only she could change him. Emma was born in Romania and came to the End of the World to study fine arts. In order to pay her fees and book costs she strip teased at the Men’s Club. I met them both there playing pool and Brian was a former amateur snooker player before he was deported from Ireland to the End of the World. I better tell you right now that I was secretly in love with Emma too. One night I stayed at heir place and slept in the spare room. I was woken in the early morning by heavy snoring. I went into the lounge room to have a cigarette and heard Emma call my name. The snoring had stopped. I opened the door to the bedroom and they were both in bed. Brian was asleep on his back with the covers over him. Emma was next to him naked under the blanket and she had her right hand over his nostrils to stop him from snoring. She smiled at me and said in her broken English, ‘I’m clever aren’t I, yes?’ I looked at her and smiled in agreement, and thought to myself, ‘not only are you clever, you’re funny and beautiful too.’
From the man
who you let escort you
one summer’s night.
To the old man trawling for women in the cocktail bar.
The diner at the End of the World was the last place I expected to see her. I left her in another city to come here and forget. Now she was serving me coffee wearing the waitress uniform and her long blond wavy hair tied up in a ponytail. I told her she still looked beautiful and she replied that I had aged a lot since she last saw me. It was true the God of good looks had not treated me well and I had lost my pretty boy face. I had learnt to be grateful for small things. The God of television always put my favourite films on to cheer me up when I felt low. Although the God of bountiful and beautiful women had not smiled upon me for a while, I had enough memories to last me until the next one blessed me by coming into to my life. The God of friendship had given me many friends who understood me. The God of creativity was still feeding me with small crumbs and I had enough to feast upon for quite a while yet. She said she was to busy to serve me and walked away and I could of said something to put her in her place, but I said nothing. The God of solitude sat down beside me like it had when she broke up with me twenty years ago and it helped me to write this postcard to you.
From the man
who is waiting for
the last and perfect laugh.
To the ambassador of a place lost in time
To some people I am a media whore. To others I am a shrewd manipulating gold digger. To the many men who used me I am a great lay but here I am the most glamorous failure to ever have travelled to the End of the World. Everyone knows my story: how I was born in Ireland but faked a Spanish accent and changed my name to ‘Gigi’ I was so famous I sold out the Men’s Club for seven years running playing five nights a week. I never stripped off completely but wore corsets and fishnet stockings while sitting on a leather couch in the middle f the stage. I would take questions from the audience and they would ask about my many lovers and the various sexual acts I performed with them and I always answered in graphic detail. They ate it up. I was a whore and I spoke like one. It made men very excited and then they went home to their wives. At the end of each show I always finished with the ‘alligator.’ It was a dance I had invented. I thrashed my long legs around the stage re-enacting the gnashing jaws of the alligator and climaxed it with horizontal splits. I never did leave the End of the World. I liked how no one bothered me after the shows assuming I would go home with them. I liked the way the children smiled at me as I walked past their playgrounds. I like the way the women thanked me for making their sex lives less dreary after their husbands had come home after my shows. What I liked most was that I was a whore but no one ever treated me like one here at the End of the World.
From the woman
who you would love to possess
but you don’t have the courage.