Hello, hello! Like I mentioned last week, I’ve written more on this Aladdin thingy-ma-bob, despite protests that I ought to be working on Frankenstein or BotG. So many haters!
But it’s finals, life is crazy and this is what I have, so it’s what you get. I still have no idea where this thing is going, if it’s even going anywhere, but that’s sort of refreshing. I don’t have to worry about it, you know? It just happens, or doesn’t happen, and that’s just fine by me.
In other news, I started reading Redwall yesterday while I was commuting to work. I know it’s a book for little kids, but I never got around to reading it when I was a kid and I’ve always wanted to, so now I am. I think it’s wonderful. Not particularly complex or anything, of course, but delightful in its own little way. Although it does have a character named Silent Sam, who sort of makes my hobo Singin’ Sam look like a rip off. Oops.
Also, yesterday’s write away was particularly scandalous. Audra hasn’t posted the minutes yet, but when she does, all y’all should go take a look at our group poem. I would definitely rate it PG-13….
Aladdin (Part 3)
My room isn’t much better off than the rest of the warehouse, but I did my best to make it livable. A small fire pit serves as the only source of heat, which I try to keep fueled with discarded furniture or whatever else I can find. I have a worn-out old carpet that doesn’t do much in the way of warming the place up and my bed is really just a pile of moth-eaten blankets and pillows stuffed into a corner, but it’s better than living on the street, and I’m not picky.
Plus, the view is spectacular. Whoever’s office my room use to be must have been some kind of hot shot, because it has its own little balcony thing with a complete view of the city skyline. At night, you can sit out there and just stare at the lights, watching them blink on and off in all sorts of colors, and forget where you really are. Even during the day, like on that morning, you can watch the whole city unfolding itself in front of you. All the parents rushing to work, the children rushing to school, the self-important CEOs and entrepreneurs shouting into their phones as they dash past the beautiful young ladies walking their impossibly small dogs along the waterfront, and all of them as tiny and distant as the stars in the sky.
Sometimes, I think it would be wonderful to be one of them, but then I remember that they aren’t stars. They’re people, and each of them has a set of problems all their own, and I’m as sorry for them as I am for Singin’ Sam.
The place I really wanted to be was at the top of the Mandeville tower. It stands in the center of the city like a lighthouse, tall and proud even in the dead of night. Some nights I would sit out there for hours, just staring at it through the fog of my own breath while my ears froze, wondering if anyone was up there staring back down at me.
I use to know one of the Mandevilles. I met her when I was in high school, before I dropped out. She went to St. Mary Bartholomea’s, because they were the only all-girls catholic school that had a volleyball team, and she wouldn’t go to a school that didn’t have one. They use to come downtown to scrimmage our girls’ team a couple times a season, and it was there that I met her.
I don’t usually watch girl sports. Actually, I don’t usually watch sports at all, but especially not girls. There’s something disturbing about watching a girl strut around, snarling and sweating like a man, but Belisma made it look good. That was her name—Belisma. I was only at that game because my girlfriend had whined for weeks about how I never came, but the second I saw Belisma that was all over.
She had long, silky black hair and a soft pink complexion that seemed to glow under the fluorescent lights of our rickety old gym. She beat the volleyball across the court with a resonating thud that I could feel in my chest, her stark white sneakers squeaking against the rotting floorboards. There was a rhythm to her movement, as though she were the bass line of a concerto and everything depended on her to keep time, but she did so effortlessly.
When her team had finished beating ours into the ground, I dodged my girlfriend and made my way to their bench, hoping to catch a closer look of her before they disappeared into the locker room. Before I could get close enough, a bulky man with a black suit and a mean face cut me off, glaring down at me as though I were the scum of the earth.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded. I shrunk back.
“Nowhere,” I muttered, shrugging nonchalantly even as I tried to peer around him. “Just trying to leave.”
“Not this way, you’re not.” He sneered. “You can go out the back way.”
“Aw, c’mon, man,” I whined, doing my best to sound innocent. “It’s my school. Can’t I use the front door?” I stepped forward hopefully, trying to push past him. A heavy hand fell upon my shoulder, fingernails digging in slightly.
“I’m warning you,” he growled. “Turn around, or—”
“Is there a problem, Martin?” a musical voice from somewhere behind him, it’s owner obscured by the man’s bulk. He stepped quickly aside to reveal the object of my fascination, the fluffy white towel slung across her shoulders like a fur coat.
“No, ma’am,” the meathead murmured, suddenly seeming quite a bit smaller.
“Who is this?” She smiled, revealing a set of brilliantly white, perfectly straight teeth. She started to extend a hand toward me, but Martin seized her wrist.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, ma’am,” he warned. Her brow furrowed and she shot a soul-shattering glare in his direction.
“Thank you for your opinion, Martin,” she replied. Reluctantly, he released her wrist and crossed his arms behind his back, head hung like a chastised child. She turned back to me, so close now that I could see the soft blue color of her eyes, and offered her hand again. “I’m Belisma,” she said.
I took her hand, and it nearly disappeared inside of mine. “Al,” I said, suddenly embarrassed at the plainness of it.
“Pleasure to meet you, Al,” her handshake was firm and business-like, as though she’d had lessons. “What did you think of the match?”
I saw a lot of Belisma over the next few weeks, much to the chagrin of my now largely inconsequential girlfriend. She wasn’t at all the way I expected a rich girl to be. She had been to places I couldn’t even dream of, and yet she was always more interested in where I had been. She ate all kinds of expensive foods I had never even heard of, and yet she was always delighted when I managed to scrape together enough money to take her to Applebee’s. But most of all, she cared about what I had to say, and she had things to say about them, too. She loved to talk about all the things she was going to do someday, when she was old enough to take over her father’s company. She wanted to help people, to use all of her wealth to make the world a better place. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more generous soul.
But that was a long time ago. She was up in her tower, and I was down in the sewer, and that was the way it was always supposed to be. I couldn’t argue with that, so I turned my attention away from the tower and to the strange little flask in my jacket pocket.