Teeth and Gums
It is already 4:21 PM and I still have to battle the stubborn taste of rotten blood in my mouth. Decades of poor attention to it will not only allow for faster tooth decay, but also the accelerated gum retreat that has already left them semi-naked. Regardless of what people in soap operas can make us think, no pain from social rejection comes close to the one inflicted by our own rotten teeth and receding gums. Mine gave up on me a while back.
Three of my teeth have committed suicide already, only hanging in my oral cavity because they have been unable to physically detach yet. Who could blame them for wanting to leave? I'm not about to give them a reason to stay. They can all go to hell for all I care. I won't be that far behind anyway. Heck, I've been working on it since I can remember. This anti-survival 'Tanatos' desire has stuck with me longer than the smell of dead ocean creatures from under a fisherman's nails.
The few friends that still stick with me are nothing short of social heroes. That's the chief reason I bend over backwards to keep them, firmly stuck in my jawbone.
When Alejandra told me she was attending a wedding in the Cayman Islands last month, and asked me to come for the weekend, I had to say yes. The plane had already landed when I learned she had not been offered the option to bring a guest to it. Real friendship is indeed peppered with awkward situations and flawed good intentions. This is how a nonexistent plus one turned into a miserable flat zero. I'm suddenly in an island with nothing to do on a Saturday, and very limited expectations for Sunday before my return flight.
The wedding took place near the water - as if there was another choice. What I didn't expect is that there would be a fishery next to it. I decided to grab a bottle of Cuban rum and wait for Alejandra in front of the establishment, called "Commodore Brothers Fishery". Few experiences are as soothing as witnessing sunburned men cleaning fish. As they took out the gills and pulled the intestines out, I reflected on the difficulty - and futility - of trying to remove the smell off their hands. I thought of these men's wives, eagerly awaiting their man without care for the stink. The strongest detergent wouldn't remove it, but the deepest love would learn to ignore it. In fact, the idea of a woman smiling with joy at the fishy smell of her man approaching the house draw a smile on my face, the first time in months.
Alejandra came out of the wedding salon for a smoke and sat behind me on the backless bench. She hug me from behind in a consoling manner. I must have been wearing the cornflower-blue when she saw me.
That day, it had already been a very long life.
The Mobile Home
A pretty rundown mobile home, I did not expect to see its insides covered with children's drawings. It was refreshing to miss that ugly wallpaper these homes are usually covered on, plastered over layers and layers of designs favored by the previous tenants.
She had her two little girls inside. The eldest I had met, but she didn't remember me. She had seen too many faces come and go in her few years in this filthy planet.
Jenny held my hand and walked me to the back of the trailer, shutting the door behind us and securing it the plasticized metal wire of a bag of sliced bread. I don't think they could hear us, but we could hear them play with their old plastic soldiers; the same ones I had when I was a boy. No solid argument backs the physics-defying statement I made about sounds effectively propagating in only one direction, but the thought allowed me to keep going without remorse.
She wrapped her hair around my legs and never let go again; an eternity that only lasted a few hours. We came out the next morning for breakfast. The girls had put out some unwrapped cinnamon buns of the kind one would find in remote gas stations.
"Ever had breakfast here? No? Oh. Then... there is no cake for you." I couldn't even look at the coffee afterwards.
I walked slowly towards the door and removed the piece of cloth that kept it closed. The door opened in a surprisingly silent manner. The rabbit toy I stepped on as I walked out made no sound either. Good meth helps muffle down unpleasant sounds, and ignore uncomfortable realities.
I had no cake that day, nor ever afterwards.
There is an underground organization of surprise nudists. These individuals spend their time organizing events, retreats, cake sales, trips... Then, at a transitional point during the event, the organizers address the participants and proceed to get naked as quickly as possible. Most of them show up already in 'commando' mode to minimize clothed-to-naked time.
Reactions range from vivid rage to ecstatic complicity. Singles events fare much better for the organizers than those involving full families, where parents tend to disagree with the timing they impose on their kids' exposure to the human body. Even as the organizers make an effort to instill a celebratory mood into their act, some of these events have ended in violence and arrests. However, given the preemptive payment refunds they execute and the strong legal representation the organizers have had so far, they rarely spend more than a few hours behind bars.
There don't seem to be any particular ideology behind these actions. The group is not socially cohesive, yet quite well-organized. They aren't part of any particular age group either. People join as participants, and rarely ever quit. Regulars represent more than four fifths of those present at any given event. Nudists actually represent the same demographic percentage here as they would be in the general population. They could be your lawyer, your bakery owner, your neighbor, your boyfriend... A sense of liberation seems to be the only common factor that brings them together.
Come tomorrow, they could be you. Then, perhaps you can finally be you.
Aida Conway should have had an easy childhood. The only girl in a family of six, she was her father's eyes. She was also the only technical heir of a family of patriarchal publishers.
Mr. Rutherford Conway, the father of four boys and Aida, lost his wife while she was in labor for her. Himself was one of four brothers. Used to a world ruled by men, Rutherford was biased against them. Losing his wife instilled such a sense of gender imbalance that he became thoroughly attached to Aida. Towards the end of his life, before Aida turned 20, he would be heard uttering his wife's name in tight association to Aida's as if he implied that he saw his wife in his daughter now.
Aida was known for a unique combination of high intelligence and limited mental stability. Upon Mr. Conway's death, her mental state worsened noticeably. Someone once said that she "outright jumped off the deep end, out of the ship of human sanity". When her beloved rabbit pet died, shortly after Mr. Conway, Aida decided she was one herself, living in the body of a person. Her brothers were much older and, knowing they hand't even been considered for the inheritance, left the nest early to build their own lives. Save Mrs. Jennings, there was nobody to take care of Aida through her unusual transformation. It was particularly difficult to manage her socially; for even though she thought she was a rabbit, she kept attending every event she got invited to. As a wealthy woman, she got invited to many of these and was courted constantly by suitors that would feed her all the carrots in the world in exchange for the possibility of a piece of her wealth.
She fucked like a rabbit, indeed. In fact, she became a local legend for her kinky ways and indiscriminately frequent escapades. She was the queen of the personal classifieds, seeking men of different walks of life. If you were from town, you didn't truly lose your virginity unless you spent a night or an afternoon at Aida's. Rabbit Lady wouldn't turn anyone down, but they had to treat her like a rabbit and follow her commands in a true femdom fashion. There was no safe word or test drive. Coming into Aida's was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that varied widely from lover to lover. She had an uncanny ability to read people in that she never asked anyone to do anything they wouldn't agree to. No anxious boy was ever asked to accept being tied to her old bed. No insecure man was ever asked to endure her professional use of a strap-on. It felt as if she had carefully studied her partners to be, and stuck to what they'd be willing to accept even if they hadn't done it before.
An avid drug user, Aida died of a crocodile and bath salts mix overdose. Ms. Jennings organized the funeral services and contacted her brothers. They all showed up, eager to take on any residual family fortune after the publishing company went under years ago due to lack of attention by the owner. The older brother was tasked with putting it all together, - assisted by the family lawyer - selling whatever was of value, and dividing it all up amongst the four.
Most funeral attendants were strangers to the brothers and other family members. According to Aida's instructions to Ms. Jennings, the ceremony was officiated by a Buddhist monk that threw her ashes into the wind towards the end. Many of those colorful invitees tried to catch some of these and rub them on their body or chew on them. Fireworks were launched immediately after, an unusual choice for those that knew Aida and her disdain for loudness and explosions.
During the ceremony, a few dared approach her older brother and ask for money - $5,000, $12,000, $20,000 - they said Aida owed them. Some also asked for drugs she had promised them. In each instance, they had produced a note or a text message signed/originated by Aida providing details on the location - safety boxes at different banks in the towns nearby. The brother refused to address any of these requests, but chose to see for himself if they were right. After receiving a power of attorney, he visited these banks and, sure enough, there were boxes in Aida's name containing money, drugs, small weapons, crow feathers and rotten carrots. One of them even contained the skeleton of a guinea pig that disintegrated upon exposure to air and light.
The older brother collected the non-illegal valuables and threw everything else away; but he didn't even try to sell Rabbit lady's old car locally, a 1977 Alfa Romeo Spyder. He was allowed to keep these items, and already knew a man in New York who would buy it at a high premium over book value.
He took all sexual toys and paraphernalia to a local theater company that accepted them gladly. He then went through her clothes, putting her best dresses and shoes in the trunk to bring to New York city for donation right before delivering the car to its new owner to be in Connecticut. A few miles after crossing the state lines into Massachusetts, he was stopped by a cop that happened to be training a drug-sniffing dog. He is still in jail for a federal crime involving intrastate drug smuggling, as Aida's clothes and car were full of them. He did not think about checking them before leaving the house in Vermont.
Rabbits have a way of feeling a person's soul at a non-human level. They are also known to be capable of causing harm beyond the grave. However, they don't tend to be associated with death as much as crows do. Herein lies their power, that of those that seem harmless and are thus freer to act as they please.