Mixed Tape

by Meg Tuite

It’s an endless barrage of entanglements or it’s a collage. Every morning there’s at least one love or hate letter waiting for me on my windshield. You can tell me I don’t know what I’m doing, but these desperate scrawled notes say otherwise. Yeah, I got bills to pay and a job building sets for the studios, but that also happens to get me a lot of ass. And I take pretty much any bullet that aims my way. So, I don’t sleep much, but who’s got time for that shit? I’m an artist.

I take photos of every girl. Most of them see this exchange as a love thing; that I’ve got to have the vision of their prowess in my phone as they growl, crawl, rearrange themselves to highlight the fantasy each has in her head of what rocks her unique. I appreciate that each one sees her potential. What they don’t know is what mold I have crafted from their long, short, thick and thin limbs and libido. It’s an art project I’ve been working on ever since I hit seventeen and my dick was a propeller that took off and hasn’t stopped since.

Sometimes I open the scrapbook and replay the history of my action. There’s always a photo with lots of teeth and hair, legs, breasts and that flowing erector set of a vagina that is evolving like a waxing or waning moon. Is each penis like a snowflake? I had one guy who dropped his pants and we got it on. I was maybe twenty at the time and he was long as a pencil and sharp as a harpoon. I can’t say it wasn’t a postcard of a holiday. Sorry to say the vacation with him wasn’t documented and I never excavated that terrain again.

“Don’t let go of your options, son. Get out there and knock out as much as you can before you settle down. You’ve got your dad’s damn hot looks.” He’d laugh, grab me and hold me in his lap, tickling me from the time I was twelve, before I knew what he meant. Some baseball game would be roaring in the background. I’d feel him squirming until he was hard underneath. Mom would come in at some point and laugh. “Talk about made from the same pattern. This is one historical moment that has to be documented,” she’d giggle and pull out her camera, say ‘cheese,’ and snap. I always looked bewildered and dad was all eyebrows up and pre-ejaculation.

So, I’m putting together my first one-man show. I’ve got over thirty women to choose from. Pouting lips, buoyant tits and legs that go on forever. I cut off heads, reassign boobs and ass, mixing and matching skin colors and poses. Then I work the mediums: spray paint, markers, colored pencils and pastels to max out the volume on these moments seized when nothing but hope exists. Before the expectations that never came to be, the letters, the stalking, slashed tires and broken windows. They probably wouldn’t recognize themselves if they tried. I have reworked their laborious ‘I miss you lots, it was good baby, wasn’t it?, got to have you, you said you loved me, one more time, not asking for much, just call me, we’ve got that thing going like nobody else, you playing games baby?, I’m scared you never talk to me again’ gliding into ‘you fucking bastard, don’t know who you’re messing with, i saw you with that bitch, I’ll fuck you up,’ and it all becomes music. I hum while I slaughter these sentences into poetry.

I paint over the deadly reek of day-to-day tongue licking lust and slash naked bodies into something bigger than any one of them could imagine. On the other side of each ‘I want to be your girl’ is a mixed tape. None of us gets what we think we want and if we think we want it we ain’t going to get it. It’s all in the collage if you look closely enough. She hates my guts or she gushes, she swears she’s pregnant or she begs for another roll. It’s all about what we can never get back. This is the prize. The letters and emails just keep coming. My whole life I heard I couldn’t write. F after fucking F on my essays in English class. They said I couldn’t write a goddamn sentence for the life of me. But look at me now. I know how to decompose and fabricate longing. Fuck the sentences just like the girls who wrote them. Each word breeds with its sister’s. A hybrid of family forests that come together to recreate the same tree.

Now, I’m a photographer, an artist and an author. My dad says ‘you got your old man’s charisma and looks, baby. Of course, you’re a success.’ His lap is shriveled and his wife doesn’t get out the camera anymore. I sent the book to the agent. She is twenty years older than me, but I promised her she’d be in the next book as I aimed my iphone. She threw her head back, licked her lips and arched her back. “How’s that?” she asked. “Too French?” And she rolled over and pulled me toward her. I took out my Exacto blade and carefully cut a tiny slice of her upper arm before she knew what was happening. She screamed and jumped up. “What the fuck, you psychopath! I’m bleeding!” She slapped me and ran crying to the bathroom. I pocketed a thin slice of what I hoped was her skin.

It took a bit of coaxing. “Baby, baby,” I said. “It’s just art, right? I want this next book to be more textural,” while I put a band-aid on her arm.

She started laughing, shook her head, “you freaking whack-job. Why do I waste my time on you pricks?”

This next book was going to be killer. My old man would be so proud.

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Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared in numerous journals and she has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press and the author of Domestic Apparition (2011),  Implosion (2013) and numerous chapbooks; she can be found at http://megtuite.wordpress.com.
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