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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
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the making and unmaking of person

From: Zachary George
To: Exquisite Corpse
Re: Donald Wiley

2/22/04 2:52:35 AM

I moved to New Orleans to write, to see some of the strange things this town has to offer. Now, I sit with a ridiculous suffering, one built on the desire to live in a place where my roommate is not a cokehead and addicted to sperm, a place where he doesn't have to walk through my room in order to get to his. I live with Clark who has no ideas about the money gone missing, mine, or the former roommates.

I rushed into something, thinking that I was preparing ahead, thinking that I had made the right choice. I gave him nine hundred dollars for two months and a one-month deposit. I was unemployed and running out of money. I thought he might be manic based on his quick speech and all the added details and accusations against others. Driving through the town he had comments on every building, showed me the bad neighborhoods, bitched about the lazy people who don't do any work. The projects.

The first night he took me to a gay bar where he introduced me as the new roommate. "I can always smell a redhead. Both my husbands are redheads. They have such lily white assholes," a man said. He then stuck his tongue out at me because I wouldn't eat one of his Frito's.

From there we went to another bar. A guy walked up to him and said, "Where's my money." He said that the guy at a different bar had it and so we went to get it. As we were walking, he said, "That kid's crazy, he came to my house and wanted to kill me. He's just a punk." He stopped suddenly. The kid was right behind us.

We walked inside the bar and the kid stood in the corner. "Could you give me twenty bucks," Clark said to me. I gave him the twenty and he paid the kid. We drank some six-dollar hurricanes and took the street car home. I paid. He was out of money. His parents were extremely wealthy, enough so that a few years ago they sent him 13,000 dollars to get planted in Florida. He took a vacation to Europe.

At my new place we sat on the porch where my bed sits. In his room the walls are hung with posters and plaques of Superman. His Bachelor's degree hangs proud. He says he's working on his Ph.D. He told me he liked taking on families the best. "The Thompson boys. Oh my god, were they hung. And the father. The father always made me swallow. I might have fucked the mother too, but that would have been too much work. It's power. Power," he said. He asked me if I liked to party. "What do you mean?" "Coke," he said with that mischievous grin, eyebrows rising, chubby, stubby Stevie Wonder face looking around for dimples. "No thanks, it just makes me want more." "You don't mind if I..." "No, go ahead." He snorted it right out of the plastic and talked about the dicks of famous people he's sucked. He was well read and could have bullshitted me all night about movie stars. I had no idea.

He had a box filled with Superman comic books. "Come check this out," he said. On the computer there were two cadets jerking one another off. He sent me to the sites where guys get laid for the first time. He showed me posts about a bathroom at a Campus Building with ads like, look for the white sneakers under stall number eleven, nine to noon. He was trying to plant a seed. A seed he would never nurture, but nonetheless in his coked out mind he thought he was achieving something. He is fond of honesty was what he said. "I'm know in like ten cities. It feels good to be known. I've had sex with maybe eighteen men, fourteen women. Blowjobs. Oh my God, five, six hundred." "I'm going to bed now," I said. He walked through my room and outside for cigarettes. I slept facing away from the wall and thought about getting a night shift security position. In a lot of cities the qualification seems the ability to sleep. I'm guessing New Orleans is different.

The next day we went to get a key made. I asked him for two dollars so I wouldn't have to break a hundred. "Don't have any cash," he said. We drove from the key place to a supermarket, him telling me along the way about how this city is horrible, they don't repair anything, tear everything down, nobody works. "I hate kids. Kids never work or do nothing. They should bring back child labor. They just whine and complain." The speech came at me like a speeding locomotive, faster than the Superman he adored. "I love kids. They make..." "Sorry to interrupt. They just tore out all the life. Look at these medians." He told me about his fellowship, his college, his job. I hadn't seen him go anywhere other than when he went somewhere with me.

Inside the supermarket, he kept asking what I needed and wanted to direct me around. He got a pound of ground beef and handed me three dollars. When we got to the counter I noticed a Vanity Fair. "Is this yours?" "Sorry, I don't know where my head is," he said. He probably didn't. Most likely he did.

Two days later, I went with him to the same bar at ten thirty in the morning to get a bag of weed for me. He bought each of us a drink. A guy asked us if we wanted a bump. I said no. He followed him into the bathroom. They came back. "Don't be shy baby," the guy said. "I don't like the stuff. I don't do it any more." The cocktail was strong and Jason said, "You asked for some last night." "I was drunk. I was wearing fucking beads for Christ's sake." "Just peeling the inhibitions. You want to lie, go to Baton Rouge." "Fine fuck it." He'd gotten at that bullshit pride nerve. He'd practiced this scam a lot and intended to go on.

I followed him into the bathroom and he locked the door and used my key to scoop a line from the bag. "You straight boy, huh," he said in a strong Cajun accent. "I used to fuck girls, eat pussy. Every guy likes to get his dick sucked." "That's true." He gave me two more and offered a fourth, but I declined. I unlocked the door. He tried to grab my dick. "Come on now. That's bullshit," I said, opening the door.

The coke had me paranoid, guilty. I wanted to get away from that shit. Why'd I do it I kept asking myself, walking to the riverside, Clark explaining all the buildings and history to me in his non-stop rambling. The night before I'd collected beads and gotten drunk. I met the landlord who said, "Another one. He goes through roommates faster than anyone I've seen. And yes, I did ask him for coke. I guess I really shouldn't drink, but I usually enjoy life more. So I think. So I drink. For now, I cannot. And it's Mardi Gras.

He must have been Superman, because when we got back home the coke that was not available the previous evening appeared again. I was living with Superman, gay Superman who came into my room unannounced, my room with the door that didn't lock, my room adjacent to his, not really a room at all. A three hundred dollar porch. "Need a bump," he said. "No."

He had first said the marijuana was twenty dollars for six nickels. I'd gotten nickels in New Orleans before, so I thought the price was fine. The story changed. Since he owed me twenty, he'd pay another twenty and I'd pay forty for six ounces. "I want to see it first," I said. "No problem." "Six ounces for eighty bucks. You sure," I said, thinking since the white was his drug he didn't know how much green cost. "Yeah, it's like a going out of business sale. They're trying to get rid of all of it." I drove him to the bar.

I wouldn't get a chance to see the marijuana because the police were towing away cars for the parade, but he had the money to pay. I drove around in circles for fifteen minutes before he came back out. "You've got to get this fixed," he said, trying to close my broken door. "It looks bad. I got good news and bad news. Bad news is there were police everywhere so I couldn't get the weed. But I got you twenty dollars worth of coke. You can do it now, save it, whatever." "I don't want any coke." "Okay. I'll take it. We can go to campus now and check on your financial aid." He directed me, right, left, curve, fast, go through the light. "These fucking slow drivers. Oh yeah, they got nothing to do, nowhere to go, they can just drive around all day." We stopped by his old neighborhood so he could put a flyer on a car.

The administration building was closed and therefore so was the financial aid. I followed him to the infamous building.

He walked into the bathroom. In a classroom, college girls were dancing and singing "Beat, Beat, Beat got a hump a hump a hump a hump a hump." He was in the bathroom sucking, or maybe humping. I waited five minutes, ten, and thought, fuck this I'm leaving. I walked to my car and his bag was sitting there. There was his phone, his keys, a camera and the flyer that read:







15-20 MINUTES.





24/7. CALL 555-5555 OR




The phone number was my new phone number. The office surely must be my address. Still, I felt guilty leaving with his bag and so walked back into the building. I waited for forty minutes, forty fucking minutes. I said fuck it and left. I pulled the panel off my door and put it in the parking place so he would know I was gone. Eddie the Englishman had broke it while trying get the door to open from the outside. The panel remained broken and fell off in cities all over the States.

I drove to the hostel because I had to talk to someone. Thank God tall Le John was there. He provided an ear and a can of Red Dog. "Watch your ass, literally," he said when I left.

I came home and checked my wallet. I was paranoid, still feeling the reeling effects of the cocaine, the drug I swore off, the drug I had done only three times in the previous three years. In a hidden corner of the wallet where my hundred was, there was, yep, nothing.

Right then a taxi pulled up. I could see his mulatto afro sticking out of the backwards red cap. He saw me standing behind the gate, staring him down. "Does anybody else have a key for this place," I said. "No," he said. "Does Chris still have one?" the lesbian National Guard officer who lives in back asked. "No," he said. "Then how the fuck am I missing a hundred dollars?" "What?" "Yeah. I had a hundred dollars in my wallet and it's gone. I'm eating fucking beans and rice here. I had a hundred and forty six dollars to my name. This is fucked." "I don't know. I have plenty of money. Don't look at me," he said. Turning his cap around he continued, "That's bullshit. I don't know why this shit happens." "And you fucking make me wait for forty minutes. That's fucked." "I came right back out. I couldn't find you anywhere." "Bullshit. You need to do something about this." "I can loan you a hundred dollars." "Fuck that. I want my money back and I want the fuck out of here." "I'll have to talk to the landlord. I'll get the money."

He sat in a chair, facing my room. I ate baked beans in chili sauce in rice without any spices. I asked if he had kitchen stuff when I moved in. "Of course," he said. There were plastic spoons and paper plates. He had a George Forman grill covered with grease, two pots and a strainer. I cut my onions and garlic with a Swiss army knife. I wanted salt and pepper more than Knut Hamsun wanted to eat wood.

We were both silent for a good three minutes.

"Do you take me for a fool?" "What?" "Do you think I'm fucking stupid?" "No, I'm just as pissed as you are. This is what happened with the old roommates. This is why they left." "Why the fuck would someone come in here with this shit," I said, pointing to my computer, scanner and printer. "And only take one hundred dollars from my wallet. You think some crackheads going to leave sixty dollars in twenties when he can get away scott-free?" "I don't know. You can call the police."

I called the cops and the lady said they'd send someone over. That was at eight. I called them again at midnight. I know there are more important things, and so understand their tardiness. He was in bed when I called the second time. An hour later he must have woken up and as naturally as my father coming from slumber for a cigarette, I heard two lines go up his nose. And two more. And two more.

The cop arrived at one-thirty, but by the time I got the piece of shit (push it in all the way, all in the wrist) door open, he had left. I read Kafka's diaries and tried to sleep.

I called the cops again the next day and waited another three hours before I went to get drunk and watch people show their tits and cocks for pieces of plastic, varied in many ways, some flashing, some characters. Clark had two sets of Superman beads. One of which he hung on my door. His favorite book was E.M. Forster's Howard's End. I should probably go and read it tomorrow at the library. Has a copy of TOP DOG/UNDERDOG signed to cousin Clark, Lori Parks. That was a real good play. The con man dies in the end.

I met the roommates he'd said he kicked out because the roommate in back had money come up missing. She was a jazz singer into spirituality. He was a visual artist. "Yeah. He asked me to take him to the supermarket one day and then he says, can I get him a gallon of milk and he'll get me back. He comes back with a cart full of groceries. I'll just take it off the rent," he says. "Then right before he posted his official eviction notice there was forty bucks missing from Grace's purse." "I'd like to call his sister or parents. He needs help. He's fucked in the head man," I said. "Coke fucks people up. They probably know." "I've seen good friends just go over the edge." He let me use his phone to call Le John to see about a job working security for a bar in the quarter. That's murder at my size. Le John, bigger than me said he'd be willing to take a chance on death for no less than twenty-five dollars an hour. And he didn't have the guy's number any more. It was good I wasn't working because I needed to wait at my house again for five hours.

The reason I needed to borrow a phone: he brought that and his computer with him to visit his grandmother in Texas. His signed Warhol print of Elizabeth Taylor was there with his television.

While waiting, Chris introduced me to the passing landlord. "I don't get involved in any of that. That's Clark. Sounds to me like he's robbing ya'll. Hell. I'd rather have someone in there that pays their rent on time, but the lease is with Clark. Where is he?" "He went to Texas." "Hell, maybe he's left and broken the lease. I'd like to get some decent people in there. Then ya'll could just take it over. How many they got living next door." "Seven. Apparently he's still got some stuff in there." "He's got a signed Warhol print of Elizabeth Taylor. He's got a T.V." I don't know why, but I've realized I dumb down my speech a bit when people say ya'll. I'll have to work on that, ya'll.

The landlord was smart. His speech was just different. "Sell his stuff," he said. This was the first time I'd heard this voiced. And talking with Chris, he said he'd thought the same thing.

I've served my bad karma these last three days. Maybe the circle is turning. Maybe Superman will fly away. Maybe he won't.





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the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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