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"Everyone kisses. Boys and boys, girls and girls, boys and girls. My lips are sore and plump by night's end."

by Kimberly Nichols


The men in my life have gone nuts. Mars is creating havoc and the testosterone-capable are finding new ways to fuck up.

My dead dad in heaven sends down surreal computer dreams that represent a series of ways that I can deal with life. I can become cold and proficient like a microserf. I can let my heart beat in places where the motherboard is screwed up, letting pain be my inclination in life. I can use duct tape and grease monkey mechanics to add new solutions onto old problems or I can nix it all in lieu of a fresh pool of inviting water where one goes unconscious in order to swim.

Johnny Cash, the original punk, dies.

My other dad decides to become a junkie; his version of a mid-life crisis and I look at all the gutters while I drive trying to keep tabs on his track marks, learn of his whereabouts through piles of bile lining the roadways in town.

The heat has convinced me that I am done with the media circus. I cut off flashbulb fascinations. I begin to sweat and let the clothes wilt on my tanned skin. I begin to let my hair curl in rebellion and my jewelry to clink and leave silver paint chips all over my body.

I stuff myself on fruit and whipping cream, tofu ice cream and honey beer. Sweets for the bee farm, fat children, neurosis and me. It counteracts the poison monthly. I need to get away.

It's the end of another seedy summer and I spend the last few days partaking in the sultry. Louisiana beckons to me while the plane lands, everything is gray waving in marshmallow taffy-like heat waves. I know immediately that I am perfectly suited to disappear here.

In the most sinful place in the world, I find my salvation. I meet my soul sister Caitlin for the first time ever. It is love at first sight and we partake on a two-day whirlwind in New Orleans. She kicks ass and giggles simultaneously. She wears glitter and fuschia streaks in her hair. She is a smaller, more reconciled-with-her-wildness, version of me.

We watch straight boys perform banjo songs about Turkish cock and dress up like red velvet washed out tiara princesses. We watch a graying-at-the-temples punk boy strum his guitar and belt out swampy blues with a Louis Armstrong voice. We watch an old hippie talk to us about politics, fairy tales, carpentry and termites on his 60th birthday. We remain attached at the hip with a long faced blonde sprite with sashaying hips and a walk of entitlement. We watch a boy in a Black Flag shirt co-mingle with a girl in a see-through blue polka-dotted gown who drinks her own wine, sexily, from a milky plastic cup. We watch cigarettes flick into ashtrays. We play Stooges, Ramones, Roxy Music and Wilco on the jukebox. We shoot Playboy pinball. We drink blood-colored Merlot. We stumble upon a house party in the middle of a street and everyone is sprawled around on rocking chairs like concrete gods and goddesses. I fall in love with everyone I meet and feel drugged on humid bliss while discussing Todd Colby with Steve at two o'clock in the morning, while discussing love with sweet James a half an hour after that. Summertime in the South and the psyche of the city is bleeding. Cabs cruise around at 3 AM delivering West Coast girlies back to plush and musty hotel rooms, past the French Quarter, smelling of murder and mayhem and the potential of each within five minutes of everywhere, in all possible directions.

The sky is lavender at night as shadows come out to play. It is lavender as the porch swings begin to lazily drift. It is lavender as I read in the back courtyard of a coffee shop to a few new friends. I read a story about a painter of hearts and a story about a girl who is nowhere and I apologize to my audience that I have nothing upbeat in my pocket. It doesn't seem to matter. Caitlin's eyes grow glossy with mirth as I speak and the couple in front of me, half Taiwanese/half French, take pictures of my lips moving, telling me that my words are sexy. I meet a writer whose work I love and we trade books in the bathroom of a rundown catch-all bar where everyone ends up for everything. We spend the rest of the night caught between martinis, water, and dance on Decatur Street.

The Mississippi heaves and bends. The soil is soaked with lead. Everything is decrepit, peeling and old. Spirits beckon from behind cast iron gateways, from up long narrow stairways, from underneath dark recesses of trees where the only light is seen in shiny droplets on the perimeter leaves. In this fog of tension, in this overhang of danger, the body becomes hot and ripe with life. Even the moonlight hides the bogeyman, carving out dark mystery behind dim doorways.

Everyone kisses. Boys and boys, girls and girls, boys and girls. My lips are sore and plump by night's end.

Ten minutes before the sun comes up over the swamps of Louisiana, Caitlin strolls up to my barstool, takes my hand and puts "Crimson and Clover" on the jukebox. We sway slowly in the dim lit bar, twirl each other round in slow motion circles. Her body is swathed in black velvet. Her smile is sloppy and eyelids swoop low. That becomes our song right there…and within minutes I am in a cab on my way home, beads of sweat jumping in lazy rivulets from my nose to my lips, spiked with the essence of salted love. I fly home.

The world is becoming a big fat mushroom. I read Dostoyevsky on the plane.

R stands tall like an iron fortress through this all, holding up my diploma for that point when I finally reach the end. I have graduated from the class of perpetual pain. This is the year that I have begun to find my own homes. Brothers and sisters. True lovers. He, with open arms, is waiting for me.


Kimberly Nichols is a freelance writer/artist/burgundy spaghetti strapped Raggedy Anne in fishnets, living in the California desert. She attributes lust, hedonism, the electromagnetic field and white light as pure motivation in her drive towards omniscience. When she isn't glued to her computer screen she can be found dancing barefoot at drum circles, skinny dipping in the ocean, scouring the desert for cactus skeletons to pose people upon or gathering a good blistering drunk with fine friends and sangria. Her psychological non-fiction appears frequently in the alternative rag Desert Post Weekly. She has been published in Alternative Arts and Literature, Small Spiral Notebook and Feminista and is currently at work on a collage series called Girls of the hundred Proof Bordello Define Desire. Let her write on your back with thorns, wine or iodine and she'll paste you on a rusty nail in one of her paintings.

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