the unfortunate dame
by dm gillis
With the way things normally go, this is when you fall for the unfortunate dame. The one with all her troubles and the baggage and the way the left corner of her mouth don’t go up when she smiles, which makes her smile look like a smirk, but you think you know better. The thing is though, the moment you fall for her you’re fucked, get it?
Nah, of course you don’t. Because you think you’re smarter than all the mugs that came before. And you figure she’s more beautiful and easier to fix than all of the other skirts that’ve kicked you in the gut and left you there looking like the stunned bastard you are. That’s what’ll make you such a swell couple. But you won’t hear people whisper, what the fuck happened there? One of them two should’ve known better. But neither of you did. At least not until later, when you finally realise that even a whole truckload of crooked smiles won’t pay for a pair of jeans. But what the hell.
So, that place you got together in the east end. It smelled like people’d lived there, for sure. I mean really lived there. Like a whole herd of humanity stood around grazing on the crappy carpet with the beer and blood stains from previous tenants, and the spot by the door where it looked like the cops had outlined a body. And you signed the lease agreement without a squawk because the price was right, and they threw in a used kitchen table next to the wire mesh window that led out onto the fire escape.
Then you and her moved your suitcases in and found a mattress in the hall, and you sat at the table and smoked cigarettes, drank fortified wine and played cribbage, looking out the window, down into the alley, at the addicts and the hustlers and you thought that you might write a novel out of that one day. One day when you got a typewriter and learned how to conjugate a verb, which is something some slaphappy nun once told you a writer needs to know, except he don’t. All a writer needs to know is how to bang his head against the wall, and you already know how to do that in spades, so what’s the goddam mystery?
After a while, you start to notice that you and the unfortunate dame ain’t ageing so well. She’s turning into a cranky old broad, and you’ve stopped cutting the sleeves off your tee shirts because you ain’t got the physique no more. And the laundromat seems further and further away, so you only get there once a month, or not at all. And you never do write that novel because no one ever told you to never think about shit like that. Shit like that, you just do. Fuck the thinking.
And before you know it, you’re that tragic old couple that lives down the hall in the same room they always have, and you got a pot belly and a once white tee shirt, and she never wears nothing but an old flower print house dress and slippers that she bought from Walmart once when you took that exotic bus trip out to the shopping mall on the highway. And you sit there looking out the wire mesh window wondering why life is so unfair. And it somehow comes to you one day that if you want fair, you gotta move to another planet.
Then the unfortunate dame dies of age related causes and you’re left behind with a deck of cards and cribbage board and hands too gnarled and hard to work a typewriter. And as you sit there alone, the water from the leak in the ceiling drips down and flows through you, slowly replacing your organic material with minerals, and over the years you become a stone in the shape of a chump they carry away one morning on a hand truck before the whole damn place comes down to make room for condos.
I hope this advice guides you.