Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Blue Nails": A conversation

I can’t believe I’ve forgotten my watch again.  I left it at home on the bed.   I feel insecure without my wrist watch, almost naked.  And she’ll be here soon, but she’s such an old school German, in spite of growing up as a country girl in a time when clocks were a luxury, she is punctual.  When she says she’ll be here, she’ll be here.  She is her own watch.

I could go up to the barrista and ask her what time it is but there’s a line of people and she’s cranking out drinks for them.  Also if I leave my table out here on the sidewalk someone will snatch it and she won't see me.  She'd just go into a kind of hunting mode and track me by scent like a blond haired bloodhound.  I don't like being around her when she’s like that. Twitchy.

I check the settings on the little iPod that I’ll be using to keep the interview going.  My ears are itching inside from using those little ear buds which I should probably wash.

A sharp finger flick on the back of my head.  Bop.

“Hallo, Scheißekopf.”

I reach back and touch the back of my head just as she swings into sight and plops into the other chair in front of the uncapped bottle of Heineken I bought her.  The milk pale face, the platinum silver hair, she looks as though she was poured into her clothes from moonlight.  “They don’t have Paulaner?”

“Always something with you,” I say.  “They don’t have True Blood either.”

“Oh - you asked?”

“I really did!”

She laughs with happy teeth, not a danger in sight.  "You doof!  What did they say?”

“Oh nothing, they thought I was being dumb.  I’ll bet a lot of drunks this time of night ask for weird stuff.  Hey - I found a place that sells Absinthe.”

“Like in the Anne Rice books?  You did?”

“Yeah!  I found it in a liquor store too.”

“Buy us some.”

“The Green Fairy comes high,  little miss Queen of the Damned.”

She takes a swig of beer and holds it in her mouth, looking around for a place to spit.

“Shit,” I say, “I forgot - wait.”  I run up to the counter and the barrista, a little grumpy at being interrupted in her psychic flow passes me a big plastic cup without looking.  I bring it back and Nixie spits in it. 

“You’re good to me Scheißekopf.”

Waste of good beer.  And you want Absinthe?

She lifts her middle finger and takes another swig.

“Did you watch the True Blood DVDs I borrowed you yet?  Fifth Season?”

She spits the beer.  “’Loaned you’,” she says  “Don’t you say ‘loaned’ ?”

“I come from Minnesota; they say ‘borrowed’.”

“You should be teaching me proper English.”

“ ‘Borrowed you’ says I.”

“Shitty teacher.”

I push the iPod forward.  “I wanted to pick up where we left off last night.  You told about how you were turned.  We were at the part where you had to leave your Uncle’s house.”

She waves her hand imperiously.  “You're kind of rude.  You.  We have all night.  Don't be so grabby.  Yes!  I watched all of them in two nights.  True Blood.  Sookie,what will she do?  That Bill!  Garce!  He is a monster.”  She draws out the word with a kind of gleeful relish.

“Bill has bigger fangs than you do.”

“And he has a bigger dick than you do!”

“You’ve never seen it.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

“Absolutely and twice on Sunday.”

“And mein gott - they fuck a lot on that show.  Everyone.  Schtup!  Schtup! Schtup! It’s ridiculous.  You know who I like best?”

“Who?”

“Who do I like best?”

“Jessica.  The red hair.  Definitely.”

“Yes!  How do you know this?”

“She was very religious in the beginning, like you.  Then she becomes crazy later, but she’s deep.  She has a lot of soul.”

“In real life Debra Wohl, she’s supposed to be a really sweet person.”

“Yes, but you were religious like Jessica.”

“I’m not religious now,” she says, “but I’m spiritual.”

“But do nosferatus have sex?  Sex is an evolutionary function to reproduce a species.  You reproduce asexually.  Technically.

She puts her bottle down with a sharp petulant rap.  “You.  You are all about the science.  The science.  I fucked Daniel when he was alive. Like on True Blood, like crazy we fucked.”

“You said you don’t fuck.”

“I don’t fuck prey.  He wasn’t prey.  He was never prey.” 

I turn on the recorder app on the iPod.  “Let’s get back.”

“No,” she says.  “Let’s chat.  Schießen die Scheiße.  Shoot the shit.

We sit in awkward silence for a minute like a bad first date.  Finally I think of something I’ve always wondered. “Do you dream?  When you sleep?”

“I dream sometimes just before I rise.  Mostly it is very silent and time passes quickly.  When I wake up I always feel kind of sad.”

“Why?”

“Oh.  Dunno.  I miss the sun.  But I dream.  Mind . . .”

I sense the German philosopher in her rising to the surface like Moby Dick.

“Mind is like a spectrum.”

Thar she blows. . . 

“There is the conscious mind.  Then the unconscious mind, which I have like you.  But different.  My nosferatu consciousness, its a little different because I am adapted to my limitations differently.

“Do you worry about having a soul?”

“I do,” she says.  “But I am not worried about Hell.  I know about Hell.”

“You mean figuratively?  Poor me, I’m in Hell?”

“No - really.”

“Seriously?  A real Hell?  You’re usually so German about everything.  Rational.”

She looks off in the distance and slouches back in her chair, slinging an arm over the back of it with the bottle in her hand.  When she does this she’s getting ready for something.  She reminds me of my Dad in the fishing cabin when he was about to explain something abstract.  This moment, this philosophical slouch is why I know I’m safe from her.  She can’t talk like this with anyone else.  She needs me.  For this.

“There is Hell.  But to understand Hell you must understand the universe.”

“Ooo,” I say.  “Sookie never talks like this.”

She sits straight.  Puts the bottle down.  Dead serious.  Here it comes.

“Scientists now, they say that all that exists in the universe, everything that exists is within layers of existence.  And that the only thing that actually exists is energy.  There is only one thing that exists by itself. Everything is energy in different, you know, states.  Conditions.  But there is only one thing.  Energy.  And energy is never lost.  It only changes its state of being.  Like the Einstein.  E equals M and C times two.  Energy equals mass.  Mass is energy.  But - “

She looks to see if I’m paying attention.  I totally am.  Not to her words, but to her.  What does a vampire do best but fascinate?  But this isn’t a vampire anymore.    A cannibal with table manners.  This is my friend.

“ - there is one more state of existence.  Physicists say energy is the final state, the only true state.  But there is one more.  All energy has consciousness. There.”  She points the bottle at me.  “Jah?  Hören Sie?”

“Okay.” 

“That is the secret of god.  All energy is conscious.  But - consciousness exists on a spectrum.  There is a universal and unmanifested consciousness beyond energy from which energy comes forward in what the Hindu's call 'Prana'.   Prana is not good or bad.  It does not love or hate.  But it creates, it must manifest.  It must Be. It does not hate me anymore than it hates the wolf or the tiger. There is such violence in nature, Garce,  that I would look like a baby compared to what a wasp will do to a cockroach or a poor caterpillar. If you knew what horrors a parasitic wasp can do to a poor cockroach, you would weep for the icky little bastards.  Really.  But it is the fabric of the world and the fabric of the spirit.  We are all connected in one great web of existence. Hören Sie?  I’m not putting you to sleep?”

“Why do you believe in Hell if you think God doesn’t hate you?  I mean, what does the idea mean to you?”

Hell is to be outside the web of existence,” she says slowly, “It is to be in a state of exile.  But exile, existence, these things, like mind - they exist on a spectrum too.  Hell is not being alone.  It is good to be alone for a time.  Hell is to be cut out from the web of existence.  But you can never be cut off from the web of existence.   Hell is an illusion of ego.   Only a part of the spectrum of existence, even as you continue to exist within it.  Like a ghost.  I am in exile from humanity.  But I am also human, because I come from human.  Because I can love.”  She holds up her green beer bottle, tips it towards me.  “I love you.”

Did she say that?  Is that dangerous?  “You’ve never said that before.”

“I do love you.  I only just knew that now.  I don’t want to fuck you - “

“Shucks.”

“ - but you’re my friend.  We are friends.  Because of you I am not exile.  That would be Hell.  To be out of existence, to be out of the web.  Because of you I am not.  You make me gentle.  If there were True Blood I would drink it and harm no one.  That’s you.”

“Thank you,” I say. I can feel myself getting squishy inside. “You too.”

“True spirituality, good spirituality, and I have learned this from my experience with Hell, is to be most human.  What will make you most fearlessly human, without armor, without deceiving yourself - that is good religion.  Good spirituality will make you bigger and more deeply connected to the web of humanity and your place in it and this is by compassion.  Compassion is the only real spiritual virtue that will make you more human.   Bad religion makes you small.  Good religion makes you big.  Have you read Schopenhauer?”

“No.”

“You should read him.  In Deutsch. Maybe I will borrow it to you.”

“ ‘Loan’, sweet thing.  The word is ‘loan’.”

“Oh shut up.”

This time when she tips back the bottle - I see.

Oh - I see.

It stops my breath with wonder.

“Nixie,” I whisper, grim as death.  “Oh child.  What happened to you?  Who did this to you?”

She spits the beer in the cup.  And smiles.

The killing teeth.  Now I see them.  She puts the bottle down.  So slowly.

“What have you done?”  Almost crying.  “Fuck me.  What is that?  What is that?

 She holds up both her hands as if being arrested, turns them around, wiggles her fingers, smiling behind them with a tiger grin.  Her eyes flash like a cats.

“Nixie.  Jesus.  You did your nails.”

“Yes!!”

I’m breathing again.  Laughing, both of us like lunatics.    

“You like them?” she says.  “Yes?”

“You painted your fingernails?”

“Yes! - but - " Jumping up and down; “Do you like them?” 

“Yeah!  Definitely.  I mean, I always associate metallic blue with mental illness but they look fine, really fine, kind of go with your hair.  Your nails?  Are you kidding?  Did you do your toes?”

She looks down, does something with her sneaker and - thunk - puts her left foot on the table, twisting her leg so I can get a look.  Bright red toenails. With perfect white trim.

“Jesus!  You are such a girly-girl!  When did that happen?

“Revlon China Flower and they’re perfumed.  Perfumed nail polish!  It’s new.  Smell.”

“No.”

“Smell my toes.”

“Here?”

“Smell my smelly toes or die.”

“Oh all right, okay.  Whatever.”  I swear I throw myself across the little table and get a whiff of her big toe in front of people passing by.  It smells like jasmine.  Really nice.

“And that’s the toe nail polish?”

“Scented.”

“Perfumed toenail polish?  You did that?”

“No, a sweet old Vietnamese lady.”

“Oh, Nixie, no.  No, no, no.  Not a sweet old lady.  That’s unforgivable.”

“She’s fine.”

“Swear?”

“I swear she’s fine, Scheißekopf.”  She holds up her pinky finger.  “I swear.  More than fine.  Beyond fine.”

Now it hits me.  Now I get it.  “So you gave it to her.  The little sip.”

“Yes,” she nods up and down and her eyes are pink rimmed with blood tears.  For me.  She wants so much for me to say this is okay.  

"Now I know, all this stuff about compassion.  I knew there was something way different about you."

“Your interview with me two weeks ago, my early days in Munich, just before I was turned.  It made me think about my life.”

“You’ve started a blood family.”

“Yes.”

“How many?”

“Just two.  So far.  There’s Bai.  And a man named Oscar.  Oscar’s pretty ill.”

“But getting better now I’ll bet.”

“Yes.”  She nods eagerly, wipes at her eye.  “My experiment.”

“Do they love you?”

“Bai loves me.  When she gets younger I think she wants to sleep with me.”

“Do you love them?”

“Yes,” she says softly.  “I think I do.  In my way.”

“So,” I say, “Not only spirituality, but intimacy exists on a spectrum too.”

“How is that?”

“Sex is intimacy.” Now I’m thinking too.

“Not always.”

“True, true.  But its communication.  It’s touch.  We are what we are.  We need to touch.  Its part of being human.  You talk about what makes us most human.  Sex is one way we become more connected, so sex has always had this edgey spiritual side to it.  Sex and spirituality come from the same place.  Prana.  Expression.  Connectedness.  It will make you human, Nixie.   I think its because the energy is all coming from the same place.  Maybe like the spiritual visions you used to have long ago. Its about union.  When sex is good its about union, intimacy.  There's that moment when it makes you bigger, transcendent.  Ecstatic union with the divine through another person and losing control for that special moment.  Like dying to yourself."

"La petite mort."

"People who have direct experience of god, especially mystics, often describe it in erotic terms because there is that moment when they lose themselves in ecstasy.”

“In the past,” she says, “there were sometimes people when I drank from them, it was very erotic.  For me.  I felt their spirit, I felt union. When I felt that union I would spare their lives.  When it was an evil man I didn’t.”

“Usually when we think of God we always think of god as being dominant, but in your visions it wasn’t always like that.  I think what God wants is a lover.”

“No,” she waves her hand with its blue fingernails.  “You’re being a theist.  That’s a mistake.  There is only god.  There is nothing else.  Don't be a dualist.  Sat Chit Ananda.  I am That.  Thou are that.  All This is That.  The web of life and union.  No energy is lost.  All energy has consciousness.  So no consciousness is lost.  There will be existence after death, not the same as in life.  But there will be something.”

“But you’re dead.  Sort of.”

“No, I’m not.”  She sets down the empty bottle, pushes it aside.  “I’m still waiting.  But now I think I have something to feel hope.  My little blood family.  Now I can wait longer.  You.”  She comes across the table so suddenly for an instant I feel a wave of fear as if a viper is striking at me too fast to escape.  Her face is suddenly close, her lips open.  She plants a big dry kiss on my mouth with cold lips.  “You have awakened something in me,” she whispers.  “Thank you.”



 



14 comments:

  1. Sigh. Truly an enjoyable read. Where to begin? I think, Garce, It seems to me that Nixie is you. The curse of a bicameral mind is that we are always having discussions with ourselves in our minds. Primitive man used to call the "other" voice by the names of whatever gods he/she believed in. We now know that these "conversations" are a part of our consciousness. But Nixie, for you, is the "devil's advocate" to your questioning pilgrim. You're still asking those questions that used to burn so hot within you during your younger days, but now you're couching them in fiction. And ascribing eternal life to one part of you. She's the yin to your yang, the foil to your actor. And not coincidentally, she's female while you're male. In this piece you express the duality of our natures, while exploring the important questions we usually ignore as we focus on the minutiae of our lives. But for you these questions won't go away.

    I love to read your stuff. It always makes me think, going back to the first thing I read by you that involved the "tulkas", a concept I'd never heard of. You really need to get Nixie into a full-length book of some sort. This reminds me of that "Interview" book, only you're so much a better writer than she will ever be. (She's vindictive so I don't want search engines to find a mention of her name here.) You use the eternal person to provide answers we all need but are afraid of, so we never ask the questions. The only other thing I can say is "Bravo!" and thanks for sharing.

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    1. I had to go running to the dictionary to find out what bicameral means! I think writers are bicameral by nature. Nixie is very much a part of me, combined with a few other people I know. I think she represented a part of me from a darker time. This is a better time so she is becoming more sunny. The questions that bug us are what we should be exploring in fiction or we're missing an opportunity. She is kind of what Jung would have called my "anima".

      I think a lot about AnneRice and what she was going through when she wrote "Interview With the Vampire" which is my vote for greatest vampire novel ever written flat out. She had a little girl who had died from an illness and she is spiritual agony at the time and for a while became an atheist. The child vampire Claudia who also dies in the novel was definately based on her lost child.

      Thank you for saying so, but Anne Rice is over my league. She's a better writer, but we write along the same lines.

      Garce

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    2. Oops! Seems my last message got "lost".

      What I said was I preferred Lestat, because in it she has Lestat's mother, once brought across, pondering if given immortality, most people would improve, or just become more of what they were as mortals. In other words, if you were a selfish pig as a mortal, would you become more altruistic, or just more of a pig? Because what reason would you have to improve if you didn't fear any eternal punishment?

      And also when she leaves Lestat to go out into the world, she thanks him for that gift. She will never again have to fear men, or being a lone woman in a crowd of men, again. She can experience the world as a man would, without fearing the reprisals so often visited upon lone females who dare to be independent. At that moment, I'd have gladly given up the sun for the opportunity to experience the world like that, knowing that any random alpha-hole who gave me trouble would quickly find out he'd picked on the wrong "little woman". Make your own damned sandwich, you cretin! YOU are MY dinner tonight!

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    3. In the Anne rice novels we find when a person is turned they lose their humanity, or seem to. They lose their compassion for their prey. They remind me a lot of the valkyries in Wagner's opera "Die Wulkrie". If you ever hear them singing their parts during that famous piece "Ride of the Valkyries" they're laughing at the slain, they have no empathy for the dead at all.

      I personnally don;t think the ego personality survives death, though i secretly hope it does. I do think something more fundamental does. But it raises an interesting question, if the natural quirks and evils of our personalities were allowed to survive in healthful vigor for an indefinate amount of time, how would that twist us out of shape? Especially in Heaven where you have to be goody-goody all the time?


      What's interesting about the vampires in that first book is that its stated by Lestat I think that very few of them are ever killed. Most of them die after a fairly short time of existential enui.

      That's interesting about Lestat's mother, i had forgotten that. It can be very empowering, and now that I'm exploring Nixie's orgins I can see the same for her. It represents power as it might for anyone who has never had power. But also you discover quickly that if the sun will result in yoru fiery death you become extremely limited too, especially without any honest friend to watch over you during the day hours.

      Of course one of the pleasures of being a lady vampire would be luring cretins to that dark little corner where they think they're going to take advantage of you and - whoops.

      Garce

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  2. What Fiona Says, indeed. But my shallow mind gets the greatest kick out your Moby Dick image.

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    1. Hi Sacchi!

      Have you read Moby Dick? I've read it twice. It's all about God. Ahab is angry at God.

      Garce

      "Speak not to me of blasphemy man - I'd strike the sun if it insulted me!"
      Ahab

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  3. Tremendous post once again, Garce. Always insightful, thought provoking stuff from you, as this topic truly calls for. Your philosophies dovetail nicely with my own. Check out my post next wed.

    Communicative connection between human beings is a catalyst toward achieving profound states of experience.

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  4. Hi Daddy X!

    Definitely looking forward to your post next week. Will there be Indians?

    Garce

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    1. Hehe-- No, not this time Garce :>)

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  5. Hello, Garce,

    I've known Nixie for a long time (though not as long as you have). Every time you bring her on-stage, she becomes more real and more complex.

    Do you have these conversations with her when you're not writing? Does she hang out in your mind, engaging in dialogue, when you're on a bus, or in the supermarket? Or does she only emerge when you sit down to write one of these exquisite vignettes?

    I loved the Moby Dick image, too. Plus this one:

    "The milk pale face, the platinum silver hair, she looks as though she was poured into her clothes from moonlight."

    Gorgeous.

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    1. Hi Lisabet!

      I don't talk to her in my head, but she speaks to me naturally on a good day. When I was a kid I used to have a kind of dream girl that lived in my head whom I did talk to.

      Now - there are under the surface some sutble ideas going on. What is a blood family supposed to be? There is a premise to the vignette that I have been interviewing her over several evenings to try to hear her origin stories, very similar in a way to the young reporter and the vampire Louie whose origins he explores in the interview narrative of Rice's "Interview With the Vampire".

      This vignette is based on the premise of Nixie telling me her story over several nights as the material for "The Tortoise and the Eagle" which I am dying to show you when I finish this last overhaul.

      Garce

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  6. I am so glad to see Nixie again. I would read the hell out of a Nixie book, as I think I've said before. She is one of those characters that breathes, that seems to exist in a reality beyond a set of writer ideas.

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  7. Hi Annabeth!

    I hope you're right.

    I always see myself as a short story writer. As an ADD guy I've never had the attention span to come up with a novel, but Lisabet once pointed out to me that if I gathered together the Nixie stories that have been published so far in different anthologies and filled in the chronological gaps I'd have a novel. That was a real revelation to me. I've been trying to do that since, so someday there may be a novel of sorts. i do hope so. The problem has always been the origin story. The story of her demise was the first story i wrote followed by others, so I'm actually writing a novel -

    - backwards . . .


    Garce

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    1. Good luck with that! And there's nothing wrong with writing a novel backwards. It's a time-honored tradition. :)

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