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Tony Nesca

there are dishes piled as high as my head on the floor spilling over the sink, iím sweating like a pig trying to keep up with this insanity, sweating out the hangover me and my filthy rags, everyoneís screaming the orders are piling up iím thinkiní thereís absolutely no way iím going to make it, then the old manís voice, TONY WE NEED YOU FOR PIZZAS!, that italian accent pissing me off like it always has, so i run to the pizza table, the old manís wife is right beside me, an angry filipino woman telling me to hurry like the sadness of the world isnít enough, and itís not enough cuz thereís always more, i start piling the toppings, pepperoni, anchovies green peppers the whole time peeking over at the dishpit seeing the pots and pans rising like bile knowing iím the one whoís stuck with them, the restaurant is full, the food orders are madness, the old man screaminí but happy cuz the more orders the thicker his wallet, i ainít grooviní with this shit, iím not really here, iím somewhere else thereís the waitress coming from the restaurant to the kitchen, that child-face, that golden bitterness, thatís where i am Ďtween her legs somewhere crazy and pure, tainted and holy-like, i concentrate on this ambition, i suddenly feel iím in love, in love, in love with failure and rejection, yeah thatís me i say, kathy is her name and i love not knowing her and never having her, the old man howls so does the wife iím dying let it happen i say, right here and now, kill me with love or hate, with black olives and anchovies.

on corydon avenue. there are beautiful people everywhere it bothers me, not cuz iím not beautiful (which iím not) cuz i prefer to see things burn. they sip on coffee and the mere gesture smothers me, they drink beer and the holy crusade comes to a halt, they talk to me cuz the world knows who i am, iím polite and i hate myself for it but i remember we are all one thing and one thing the pretty girls are easy to take even though the trendy clothes are offensive to the psyche iím thinkiní those clothes would look better in a heap on my bedroom floor and keep dreaming i say cuz theyíll never be there so iím gone through corydon i reach confusion corner, the sun is down, the lights are up i feel my prick move and i donít like it, iím a dying animal with an unquenchable thirst for inactivity and liquor, what is this? i sometimes think like nothing is real, abstract thoughts for the weary i reach the zoo, the cement moves beneath me, i know why, iím important somehow and a small killing is in order.

the zoo is a bar, always a bar, it can be nothing else iím inside with a drink in hand and with the drink i immediately feel better, a small triumph in the face of the winners of the world itís not about you, itís not about your cars and your european cosmopolitans, metropolitans, neapolitans, i write lousy and flea-ridden and i would be a lucky man to keep the courage, the courage to remain a secret, but the world recognizes me and iím essential and so are you. naked chicks on stage...this is what it means to burn i think too much so crucify me and letís get on with it, thereís the waitress, long black hair, a country girl i conclude, yes iíll have a scotch, thank you, no i donít believe in tips, sorry, but, sheís rude and i donít blame her because i wish i could be too. i want to hold her, nothing else, i want her to sit on my chest for hours, i want her to ignore me, to adore me, to squeeze my head Ďtween her thighs until i profess my love, to tell me she cannot live without me. it doesnít happen of course. itís her loss of course.

iím drunk. with that comes clarity, itís a knowledge full of doubt and wisdom cuz without doubt there ainít no wisdom, not trying to bore you with philosophy just hooking you into the dirty injustice of living, itís a beautiful thing, really, just like that woman over there, the blond with the big tits, or the redhead with the acne scarred face, or the fat one with the glorious smile, anyway, this woman i know from somewhere sits beside me and says, ďi always wanted to have big hair and big tits, big thighs tooĒ. ďand youíve reached your goalĒ i say. she laughs like the zoo was built just for her and for all i know it was. ďwant a beer?Ē i say. ďsure, why notĒ. ďi like youĒ i say. ďthatís not so interestingĒ she replies. ďwell what the....Ē i would love to make love with this woman or at least have her wrestle me to the ground but instead she says, "i used to be a hooker in toronto. thought i caught the clapĒ. ďhow about another beer?Ē ďiím 45 years old, and yesĒ. ďwhat a very strange lifeĒ i say thinkiní of washing dishes minimum wage my old man and the philippines and pizzas and italy (i was born there) but i donít really think of italy, i think of the zoo dreaming of a cool tall black woman from new orleans, what a dream it could be, what an accomplishment, jung would be proud, spiderman too, and her balls on my chin would be cool, iím not a sexist, just a heterosexual with a polite mouth, cruel mind, meaning no harm to anyone, no one but the entire world, the world without flame and glory, no god no money for beer, no nothing. perfect.

this too will pass i say sheís at my apartment, itís tiny and ugly and dirty, she doesnít mind, the world does but she doesnít. her legs are bare her underwear is black her toenails are painted red and kathy is fucking someone else and this is good and if nothing else this is very good, kill me i think but it ainít happening, so instead we wrestle, we wrestle, her ass lowers on my face and there it is, itís right there, god is this what it means to live and die? are you there you hairy bastard, my apologies for not living like i should, should i marry and father children, should i get away from the dishpit, should i move to the south of france and sip on cognac, should i shave my ass and wear an expensive suit, should i drink Ďtill the payoff, should i go to puerto rico and climb a volcano, should i embrace a stranger, should i kiss a mountain goat, tell me, tell me, her big hands are around my cock, her bush in my face, she changes position, now sheís on my chest, sheís looking down at me, i like her, i like her weight and her maturity and her false dominance and i think i like her smile, her huge hair, those tits like mount olympian, zues you fuckhead the weight of the world is on me and i like it you hear me, i donít believe in sell-outs, i donít believe in love, i donít believe in anything but the dream, the dream of acceptance and here we go with the licking our skin is hot like depression my fingers are inside her and her tongue is in my ear mine is caressing the sole of her feet first one then the other then i figure itís all very sad and lonely just like rock and roll, just like winnipeg, weíre sweating and grinding pressed together hard and harder sheís riding me we stink we like it fucking meaningless and i get soft and hard and even thatís okay cuz sheís smiling the whole time sheís wet iím 11 years younger than her and thatís a personal vendetta as i get real hard move in she moves closer one final grind iím hoping iíll live through this and i know i will cuz living is for me as her ass rotates, her juice skims down my leg, i cum on her chest meaning no insult, only beauty and tragedy one more turn of the page, weíre breathing heavy, weíre licking each other up and down, iím kissing her ass-cheeks, sheís nibbling my cock, we finally stop iím thinkiní i could love her and as i think it she gets up to leave, puts her clothes on when sheís most beautiful, iím laying here exhausted, she comes over stands on my chest for a second, yeah yeah i say, then comes that mushroom cloud, i start thinking of kathy, what a beautiful failure i truly am, what a loser, a celebration, a simple-minded monk, where are you going, i say, she smiles, she waves, she leaves the room. i think iím happy.

so what happens next? the joint is quiet, my old man snooziní downstairs, his wife peeling tomatoes, the sun shaking its tits, weíre freezing down here you old prick, i finally get a pizza order, yeah yeah so what? as i stretch the dough kathy decides itís time to chat, we got something baby, i know it but you donít so letís decide either way, a final beer for the lonely, it could be so sweet, you see, her sweet lips up and down sheís chewing gum i donít have her and can you see the beauty? it ainít really like this i think, my old manís wife is speaking to her sister, their words are making me ill, theyíre speaking filipino and they still make me ill, another sister sits quietly by the pizza oven eating pasta e fagioli, these people are full of shit, kathy moves away, everyone is full of shit, even kathy, even me, especially me, thereís a vortex hovering around my head, a horrifying rendition of despair, pink and blue, god i need a beer.

betsyís on the phone, iím telling her i canít get out of here before 10. ďi need to see youĒ she says. ďyeah, yeah?Ē i say, but you know what that means. things die down suddenly i tell the old man i need to go somewhere, somewhere wild and pure, even boring. heís restraining a laugh and when he does that i see the pain in his eyes my heart breaks once again, for the thousandth time it shatters into a million fragments of crystal methane, shatters, hits the ground, i collect the pieces and with string and scotch tape attempt to make sense out of this fucking mess. the old man flips me a twenty and iím out of here.

so what of it? betsy is sitting in a pair of cut-offs her thighs are porcelain white and big the moon is out iím drunk but not as drunk as her. her apartment is immense no cats and for that iím glad thinkiní of paul westerburg with his wise-ass rock and roll wisdom and huxley with that big old brain of his, just for a moment i think iíve got it but then betsy speaks and once again the sky is falling.

weíre in her car and weíre following a black 4 wheel drive on a dirt road, the car is swerving from side to side the ditch feels like a reality, iím screaming shit at her, sheís crying, sheís giving it back, why do i feel the need to get involved with beautiful women, why do i continue to punish myself? betsyís hitting the danger zone we swerve to the right, the grave isnít far behind, sheís hysterical i grab her hair tell her to let me out the car slows before it stops i decide to take a dive, my shoulder hits gravel tires roll by my head then spin, rocks and dirt in my face, iím sure, i tell you, iím sure she does this on purpose. then sheís gone. iím on my back. above me is the world, i donít like it and itís for that reason that it decides to haunt me black and full of stars most people would see this as beautiful but i sink, i sink deep into the crevice, the faces of those gone are nibbling at my ears, there is a blackened hand with stinkiní claws the one on the pinky like a scythe itís deep inside my guts tearing and shredding, iím holding the entrails in my hands, my brains are in betsyís handbag, thatís when the worst realization of all beer is in betsyís trunk. i hate, i truly hate.

whenever me and betsy get drunk we strip to our underwear, or i should say she orders me to strip then follows suit. thereís no sex, not in the conventional sense but maybe, just maybe, this is the greatest sex of all cuz sheís as beautiful as tropic of cancer, insane, terrifying, i ask her to wrestle she says no, i laugh pour a scotch she starts talking. ďwe used to fight so much...violent arguments about fuck-all, i didnít understand it then, i understand it even less now...and i stayed with him for 5 years, 5 years of pain and know, tony, life isnít about love, thatís the mistake everyone makes, they focus on love, they search for it, and they donít know what it is, people have no idea what love is, we can never have it because we donít understand it, it doesnít exist except for in our imagination, we invented this fucking concept, animals donít love, stars donít love, the universe doesnít give a shit about me or you, love is a human ideal and the funny thing is that we come up with this fucking idea and then it runs away from us, the creation outgrowing the creator, like we did with god, you see?Ē ďi need a drinkĒ. ďpour me one tooĒ she says. i bring her the drink as i hand it to her i kiss her lightly on the back of the neck, she smiles rubs my chest then itís over. something about this relationship keeps me alive and coming back. ďi know weíre being watched, as we speak we are being watchedĒ she says. ďyeah?Ē ďkiss my feetĒ. i do, i go down there start doing it softly, i reach the calf, the knee, i find the thigh she stops me, i comply cuz iím a gentleman, it makes me sick how kind and gentle i can be but never fight who you are, iíve learnt that through one painful experience after the other, so weíre slow dancing in her luxurious apartment on roslyn road i feel her breasts rubbing against me my hand is on her back and this is very sad but who the hell said it was going to be easy? i find myself thinking about hitting the road but then i get thirsty i figure i need a drink, always a drink, this will kill me one day sheís got a record of james bond songs on, goldfinger, live and let die, my best friend barney is travelling the world while i subject myself to this ambiguous brand of living. travel can be a good thing, but itís a good thing iíve resisted, the sun is coming up, betsyís in bed, iím beside her, we have a bottle of scotch between us and weíre laughing and weíre sad and thatís alright.

somehow i find it tragic to see the sun early in the morning, the pink and blue streaking across the horizon, itís like staring into the face of god and i donít like it. i feel if i spend enough time alone i stand a good chance at figuring it all out so i call betsy and her answering machine clicks in i leave a message, ďhey darling, did i do something wrong?Ē itís the third message in as many weeks iím thinkiní she got tired of my way of living, my tired repetition who can blame her, being around me is a tragicomedy and i think of my good friend liza telling me women like arrogance and power, and that if they canít change you they wonít stay with you, the horror of all this is too much to take in, blood and guts donít leave me the wind in my face the clouds in the sky and i couldnít have it if i tried. ragged jeans, i make my way down the residential streets not a soul in sight that absence gratifies me. ah fuck i say as a car approaches, they park and get out, a couple of hippies i pass quickly, i approach osborne and the festival, there are people everywhere, music, lights, the street is blocked to traffic.

a sudden gust of wind reminds me of a woman i once knew, young and foreign, erotic, youíll never keep that moment, getting fucked doesnít help, becoming a hermit doesnít help, getting drunk simply delays it. the sadness never leaves, itís the only thing that never leaves you as you order a drink and twist and shout. iím dizzy with recollections, it makes me feel like telling memory and void to fuck itself cuz this is all arbitrary and if you tell me different them fighting words. iím on the curb. where this will take me i have no clue, a drink in hand seems good enough but is that the right way to look at the world?

from one side to the other itís all the same, even the smiles are deafening. but i know iím not a real recluse and i know this is sometimes necessary, iím tempted to drop by betsyís but even as i think it i know i wonít do it where is kathy in the arms of her lover, i picture him to be a perfect asshole cuz all men are, i find it hard to believe a woman can live without me yet i canít imagine one staying with me for any long period of time, iím thinkiní i deserve some small praise for this thing but like betsy said, the universe doesnít give a shit. so there are old friends everywhere and i talk, talk, talk like theyíve never heard it before, and of course they have, but they listen like iím saying something important itís one of my powers to engage people, always has been, theyíre buying me drinks like itís highschool, a highschool nightmare one guyís wearing a tie and another a fedora anotherís an artist anotherís a school teacher and iím a dishpig, ďi make pizzas tooĒ, then betsy shows up out of the dream. these guys are jealous of her beauty cuz suddenly iím not just a dishpig, iím a dishpig with a beautiful young woman, thatís all it takes to turn the minds of people, some outside symbol of your success, a nice car, a bank account, cool pants, nice hair, an elegant lover, loud and clear, the louder the better, the more obvious the more class you have, like my thoughts and my presence arenít enough i say goodbye to this idea, concentrate on betsy.

sheís wearing a red dress, yellow blouse. her sandals are red. i see the sun in her eyes, we could burn together cuz sheís a little girl in a womanís body. i put my hand on her ass. her perfume is all around me.


Tony Nesca was born in Torino, Italy in 1965, and brought to Canada at the age of three. He was raised in Winnipeg but returned to Italy several times until finally settling in Winnipeg at the age of fifteen in 1980. He taught himself how to play guitar and formed an original rock and roll band in 1984, playing the bars around Winnipeg until 1990. He eventually traded his guitar for a Commodore 64 and began writing at the age of twenty-six. He has now published six chapbooks of short stories and poetry, a novel, and is working on his next book, a novel written in poetry form called Emma Strunk. He currently resides in Winnipeg. dishpig the full-length novel is looking for a publisher. Interested parties should email him directly.

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