My wife is 6’ 4” and wears Manolo Blahnik high heels. Hers
is an obsession with embellishments. Her first-grade teacher,
Miss Lion, told her so. Despite her height, everybody remembers
to call him her. She doesn’t need hate speech laws to protect her.
She kicks high and will drive her heel like a spike right between the
eyes of anyone who forgets she is a girl.
She was born Cecil but the boys called him Cecile; believe me, they
lived to regret it. She was more violent than the boy named Sue.
Next to her, I’m a dwarf. At home, I wear a collar. She even makes me
bark. She won the Mile-High race at the top of Mount Everest, which
I’m told Hillary was named after. Evidently, she and her wife Bill made
the run shortly before he died of a heart attack. Not Cecile.
She’s all-woman all right. She just can’t bear children. Who cares?
She’s taller than Michelle Obama. She’s tougher than advanced arithmetic.
Being called Cecile at ten toughened her up. But things opened up
after she began wearing heels. Now she looks like Melania Trump.
I love to bring her breakfast in bed. I love to wash her feet. Even better,
every Saturday night, she makes me suck her toes.
She buys a new pair of shoes every month, this time in bright orange.
Fabulous. I hear the Pope is jealous. He knows. She writes to him daily.
Cecile rides a bike while in heels. Every morning, she delivers the New
York Times through our neighborhood. She’s had the job since she was
twelve. Nobody forgets to pay her. Her entrepreneurship began young.
She sold lemonade out front of her house for years.
She even sold neighborhood protection to shopkeepers and homeowners.
If you carried her policy, you never had to worry. Bugsy Segal got her
into the rackets. He wore heels, too, but wore them with his tuxedo.
Cecile never wears pants. She never chews gum. She wears crimson lipstick
and dark eye shadow; she dyes her hair yellow. Back in the day, she might
have worn a polka-dot dress and a slip, but now she wears a moo-moo.
My Cecile is all girl. I do all the cooking but she likes to clean up. She reads
dime store romances about men with sex-pack bodies and pronounced
bulges. She spends her days shopping. She talks on the phone and won’t
be told what to do. She likes it when men lean forward to smell her hair.
Now she’s pilot for TWA. She had to stop drinking. The Embassy gives her
small packages to deliver when she lands in Moscow or Santiago, Chile.
Yes, Cecile secretly works for the CIA. They recruited her when the Director
saw her orange heels. He had to have a pair just like hers. When she told
him she wears Minnie Mouse panties, he offered her a job. Sometimes, they
share underwear. He’s always borrowing her bras. She and the Director are
the same size. I was jealous, as one might imagine. No worries. Cecile and I
will always stay together. She got me a job at the FBI.
By the Bay, By the Bay, By the Beautiful Bay
I lived on Potrero Hill not far from a grand Victorian owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
In a little closet I slept, rented from an activist who drank cognac and smoked
with an ivory cigarette holder. Sharon Gold: her refrigerator was off limits.
When I told the head of the local party apparatus, he confronted her and made her cry.
I baby-sat for a prison reformer who loved to sleep with black felons. She was in and out
of San Quentin every week and ate dinner on Nob Hill. She, too, was a communist. She
sent home pictures of her new Peugeot to make her mother proud. She wore leather
and hoped to be picked up at bars by men driving Porsche. She loved to be slapped around.
I took classes at the People’s Law School in a back room at Glide Memorial Church.
There I met curly-haired lawyers determined to mend the world. They all knew the Mitford
sister over in Oakland who ate caviar and drank the best champagne. They held poetry
readings in her sunken living room. I met one who knew where Patty Hearst was hiding.
It was a Superfly summer. There was something in the air. Fellini was still alive.
They were digging below the earth, making tunnels for something known as BART.
The city ruled by Alioto was abuzz with famous killers, known to all as the San
Quentin 6 and the Soledad Brothers. It was the birth of radical chic.
I was a block away when Dan White murdered the Mayor of San Francisco. My friend
Paul drove around city hall looking for excitement. There was no more talk of revolution.
By now, the Black Panthers had dispersed. Poor Huey was dead. The communist
lawyers I knew were desperate for clients. The party, literally, was over.
My pal came home one night to say he had struck a man in the road and killed him.
The police told him to drive away and never look back. It was just a homeless nobody.
We were no longer in emerald city but living in gritty Oakland. Whilst there the Hearst
family delivered frozen turkeys to the masses, mostly frat boys from Berkeley.
Dungeons and Dragons replaced the Communist Manifesto for this generation.
They played in the attic. I worked now at the Jesuit seminary on the posh end
of town. We left the side door open for the Brothers returning late from the
gay bath houses. They raided the ice box for midnight servings of rum raison ice cream.
In ten years, they would all be dead. There was no AIDS yet. They stood at the buffet
too greedy to carry their food back to their tables. They cut the centers out of three or four
steaks, leaving the bone and the grizzle for their Brothers. They picked off the strawberries
and left the short cake behind. They took one sip of coffee and demanded refills.
The last communist I knew was my professor, an Italian from Calabria, who invited us
over for chess. He gulped wine and crawled around his kitchen floor. He pulled down
the garbage can and sat covered in coffee grounds. He cried about not having enough
money to take out women. His wall was covered with a ripped portrait of Joseph Stalin.
David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. In the US, his poems can be found at the RavensPerch, New Orleans Review, Nice Cage, and The Drunken Llama. Internationally, his work appears in journals located in Australia, India, Ireland, Malawi, and Hungary. His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo.