The Paper Me

By Wayne H.W. Wolfson

We were not living together, officially. I was in-between places, staying with her. Lugging my box of Blue Notes over early in the morning so that she could let me in before she left for work.
She lorded it over me, making a big ceremony of giving me my own key. I had not thought anything of it then. Just another thing in life’s long list of humiliations.
Snow always reminds me of death.
Snow, winter lay dead on the road. Secrets buried beneath a cold soul.
It started with the snow. We were sitting around. I was playing one of my favorite records, explaining different passages to her, the images they gave me.
“Save your artifice for your writing.”
I had not thought anything of it, I did not have time, Monk’s solo was coming.
When we fucked, she yelled. It was distracting, not from any passion, but just to be obnoxious and annoy the neighbors. After she got hers, while she waited for me, it never failed. Her hoarse voice.
“Mmmm, yeah, yeah, show me.”
I did my best thinking in the shower. She never tired of banging on the door, just as the words were starting to come, and ask me “What I was doing?”
Her internal clock was precise to within a fraction of the second the words would appear. Startled by her banging they take wing, leaving behind the vaguest notion of a piece.
Last thing on my list. She always waited until I was in the shower to put her music on knowing I couldn’t change it. Just that one song and she just dropped it right on top of my record.
Dismissively. “Oh it won't hurt anything.”
I didn’t know, but she was making her list too. My failings, my things that she would have to change.
She actually had a mania for lists. No, not lists, notes.
Drinks that first night, cool vodka breath delivers the message.
“I don’t mind some eccentricities, I have a few myself.”
Ah, be careful what you wish for.
She left these little yellow notes for me everywhere. It was maddening. It was without pause.
That last night.
I had nothing left to think about, but I stayed in the shower until the water lost all its heat. From the other room came her song.
She was going out. I waited until I knew she was too far gone to come back for anything forgotten.
He was under the bed. It had taken awhile, not as long as it should have, but I made a perfect replica of myself. Me, made entirely of those little yellow notes.
I placed him in bed on his side, a position in which I would never lie, but she would not notice. I turned off the light and kneeled in the tub.
Without saying a word or turning on the light she climbs into bed. Patiently I wait until I hear the sleep breath come.
It comes, let it come down, let it come now.
I hold a naked flame up to the bottom of his foot.
A serpent of flame rapidly crawls the leg.
The heat twists his jaw and makes it slowly open. The outer edge of some notes now the charred lips. Lips which quiver with a life both starting and ending with a flame.
I take a final look. The mouth is now open wide. It vomits out letters. Letters of the words written in ink which was his blood.
don't forget... fold twice... dirty towels in the hall... the light above the oven... scrub.scrub.bathroom... fold
I felt bad that the bird had burned up too. He never bothered me, just sitting on his perch looking out the window.
To say I got caught would be wrong. It would imply a freedom that was never acknowledged, did not exist.
I had been there, I did that. Now I am here.
The color of my skin prevents me from joining certain groups, philosophical differences others.
It took awhile, but I found my niche.
There are some of us. Those who have seduced or killed with words, a brotherhood of ink.
I am.
I am still blue.
Still here.