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A Matter of Public Record
Wall Cloud

This is a record. There was the woman who wrote the perfectly rhymed poem about how her mother sold her to a whorehouse at thirteen, they hooked her on heroin, then after a year of service sent a psycho into her room who wanted nothing more than cut her below and watch her bleed. Between cuts, he had her get him a drink, so she mixed her heroine into his whiskey and slipped out the window while he gurgled up foamy blood. The point wasn’t this. It was the marriage which followed; she left him, felt she couldn’t stay because she’d lied for so many years and couldn’t possibly stay and be a good mother with this shadow hanging over her head. He wrote his own piece about it, making it impossible for anyone to refute. Maybe it wasn’t her, maybe both poets were the same person looking for attention, but the story itself continues to exist. There was the girl I roomed with while selling magazines door-to-door across the country (well, not really, since we only made it through Illinois, Ohio, and Kansas in the six weeks of eighteen-year-old wasted autumn, before, finally, I had enough of the potheaded drunks and took off to go back home). Her mother was a drunk, beat her, let her stepfather rape her, let the state take her, then they kept giving her back so she got a fake ID which said she was nineteen, joined the crew, screwing the twenty- eight year old manager, who swears up and down he had no idea she was only fifteen at the time. When they found out, since they weren’t one of those crews who wanted to traffic in young boys and girls, they brought her back to Seattle and she threatened to sue the state, so they emancipated her and she stayed with the crew. She spent her free time cursing alcohol and her mother, smoking pot, every morning a wake and bake, and I gave up trying to understand, gave up trying to fit in with these people, after she threw a glass bottle at our other roommate and it broke against the wall, shattering everywhere, and it would have cut me if I hadn’t been wearing thick, tight jeans. There was my old landlord’s son who told me about living on the northwest side, sitting in his friend’s house, watching motorcycles circle the house and then drive through the front door so the gang could rape and claim his friend’s mother as their property, which his friend’s father had forfeited by giving the police and newspaper insider information on his own gang. He said it hurt to watch and he was terrified, but at sixteen, he had to stay quiet, or they would have shot or raped him. There was my sister, two years older, who claimed the reason she was an hour late, after dark, at age eleven, from delivering newspapers was because a white man, half his face covered in a ski mask, roughly in his early twenties, pushed her against a brick wall, covered her mouth so she couldn’t scream and then proceeded to stick his other hand up her shirt and then down her raggedy jeans to assault her. She says this is why she would only date black men from then on, but they used her after she was initiated into the GD at fourteen as a drug-runner and gun-runner and prostituted her out to earn her keep until she turned state’s evidence at sixteen and finally swallowed what the system was willing to feed her. The original assault might have been a lie, but I think someone, somewhere, did something, otherwise my clear-as-ice memory of her doing things to me in the months which followed really isn’t true and I dreamed the whole sick thing up in my head. That’s not the point of this, because if it is, this becomes another pity-me confessional, which it’s not. It’s a record. It’s an old LP, skipping on a vinyl scratch, repeating the same story in different ways, in different lives, at different times. It’s the scene in Clan of the Cave Bear where she had to submit or be cast out. It’s little boys forced into the same positions, arguably less often (perhaps just arguably less inclined to talk), or all the black men raping each other in American prisons, or Russian girls sold into sexual slavery in Japan, or the Minnesota girl kidnapped to a small town in Iowa and forced into the same kind of slavery. I could repeat until the scratch becomes so deep it’s only one sound, one wave, regurgitated ad-nauseum. But, that’s not this. This is the rest of the LP, it’s the rest of the song the skip won’t let us hear, it’s the other notes sounding which we’ll never know, it’s the place where the story isn’t told, where the poem isn’t written, where the film isn’t shot, where the newspaper doesn’t print a report.  This is a record.


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