Stories for Eloise
Written by a Dandy of Russian-Jewish Descent with an Exquisite Knack for Unintentionally Stumbling Across the Lodgings of Ex-Protestant Fortune Tellers in the Noble Southernlands of the U.S of A.
He wishes to remain unnamed so that the focus will lie nearly entirely on his darling baby sister.
These stories are dedicated to Eloise. Because they’re about her, so why not? (By the way Weezy, you’re a doll.)
Story 1 (because it’s the one I’ve hardly decided to start with, but it’s first nonetheless)
“Hey Robert! Come here!”
Exclaimed the pretty young woman from the kitchen on the other side of their fairly large apartment. She was twenty-seven. A disconcertingly stable age marked, at least in this case, by excessive bouts of imaginary and lofty instability. Most of the time, however, this young lady was very charming.
Called back the thirty-five year old man with parted, plastered, slightly receding hair. He was nice looking, but not as nice looking as she.
“Come here for a minute!” She shouted out a little louder than before.
“What do you need? Jesus Weezy, I’m on the toilet!” The man yelled back in a clearly aggravated tone.
She glided down the hallway in her polka-dotted, lady bug colored socks that looked as though they were designed for little girls. Then she thrust the bathroom door open with excessive eagerness for seven a.m.
“Christ Weezy! What is it!? Can’t you see I’m on the toilet?”
“Why yes, I can see that indeed!”
She was holding a French press coffee maker in one hand filled with coffee and nearly an inch of bubbly foam at the top. Some of it had spilt on her hand and bathrobe and on the floor when she opened the door.
“Do you think it’s bad to ingest dish soap?” She asked in a somewhat cutesy tone while rinsing her hand off in the sink, which the man suddenly observed was claustrophobically close to the toilet.
“You have a knack for being irritating at the crack of dawn, ya know that? How the hell do you not know how to scrub out a goddamn coffeepot properly?”
“That’s really nice Robert. Could you be any more of a misogynist?”
She stormed off in half-seriousness and he finished his business in heated frustration, attempting unsuccessfully to read an article in the times about the upcoming election. Eventually he followed her to the kitchen and rekindled their discussion.
“It’s not like I’m saying ‘get in the kitchen, bitch!’ any human being with half a brain should be able to scrub out a fucking coffeepot adequately.”
“Oh whatever. I can wash a dish. I got a little carried away with the soap and then didn’t have the patience to make sure every single little bubble vanished. Plus something about watching suds go down the drain to meet their end makes me depressed. I’m just going to drink it. You should too, you need to have your mouth washed out with soap anyhow, you sailor!”
“Ya know Weez, we have about seven different GOSH DARN (is that better?)… Mr. Coffee pots around this place somewhere. You leave that press sitting around in its own filth all the time and you don’t make the coffee right either. Every mug I take to work has about half an inch of pure dirt at the bottom and tastes like chalk. I’d call you pretentious for using that stupid thing, but you can’t even use it right.”
“I’m not pretentious. You’re the one that’s always talking down to anyone who isn’t ‘intellectual’ enough for you. I just like the French press. Geez.”
“Christ, Weezy. You really are stuck in college. I don’t even know anyone ‘intellectual’ anymore. I work too damn much for all that phony bologna.”
“Oh what does it matter where I’m stuck Robert? It really doesn’t help…you telling me I need to grow up all the time and all. Makes me want to act even more childish.”
She went up to him and made an attempt to unbuckle his recently re-buckled belt.
“You should just tell me I act too mature. You know I’m a sucker for reverse psychology.”
“Weezy, what the fuck are doing? I’ve gotta go to work!”
“Whatever Robert. You’re always pointlessly early for work anyhow…always trying to impress that curmudgeon of a bossman. He doesn’t even notice. If anything I bet it just annoys him. It’s emasculating to get to your duties so damn early, ya brown noser.”
“God. You can be a real brat, ya know that? Stop talking like that. Nobody talks like that. You sound silly. (He was referring to her usage of the words “curmudgeon” and “emasculating” and probably “misogynistic” too, and at the same time he secretly found it amusing that her “reverse psychology” reference made very little sense). And speaking of work…when are you actually going to get dressed and leave this damn apartment and go job-hunting anyway? I’m tired of you tagging along to social events and telling everyone you’re an artist. What a bullshit self-proclamation…And I work my ass off, don’t you know that?”
“Yes I do know that” she asserted as their hands duked it out a little below his waste.
“You werk berry berry ‘ard.” She added in a baby voice.
He tried to jerk away her hands without much luck.
“God I hate it when you talk like that. It’s so annoying.”
“Just tell me I’m an old maid, Rob. Tell me I have premature wrinkles and I’m getting fat.”
She let go of his belt to lift her shirt up until it folded upwardly and stayed in place on her breasts by itself. Then she tugged at her non-existent stomach flab with one hand and pulled on her cheek to make it look jowel-esque with the other hand. She looked a bit insane.
“You’re none of those things and you know it. Stop begging for compliments. It’s so fucking unattractive.”
The girl started tearing up.
He hated when she pulled these stunts on him. It was wearing him down.
He grabbed sternly then sensuously at her shoulders with both of his hands then
forced her to make eye contact with him by lifting up her chin.
“I love you Eloise.” He said with grave truthfulness despite being aggravated to the core.
He brought her in for a hug and peaked at his watch behind her back. Then picked her up, set her torso across one of his shoulders and carried her back to their bedroom, spanking her playfully along the way.
Story the Second (I’ve learned that it's best when there’s only two stories and one rents the place on the top floor. Not a strenuous staircase, nor too much racket.)
A twenty-nine year old girl was laying on her childhood bed, in the house of her mother, the would-be widow of her father, had they not divorced a little before it was in fashion.
She was talking on the cord landline phone. It was a transparent plastic one so you could see all of its guts. She’d won it for selling an absurd amount of wrapping paper to neighbors and friends of her parents who were suckers for her cuteness. At the age of 7 she was already a helluva businesswoman. It was as though she had an innate knack for selling herself.
She was lying there, coiling the already coiled cord in her fingers unconsciously and talking to someone she’d already said her goodbyes to a few times and then called back again.
This was the beginning of their fourth conversation over the course of a couple of hours.
“Jacob, sorry to call again”
The person on the other end was sitting in his den. He was in his early thirties and lived in the suburbs of Raleigh. He was a non-tenured professor of early American History at an all girls’ college. He’d put his young children to bed and kissed his sleepy-eyed wife on the forehead and said his “good nights”. But was himself a night owl and enjoyed, quite anachronistically, reading, drinking medium grade brandy and smoking a cigar in his man-den. His wife hated him smoking in the house, so in the winter time, as was the season of this anecdote, he just made a puffing gesture on an unlit cigar and quickly took a few drags of a cigarette outside whenever he reached a dull point in whatever he was reading. It was a bizarre little ritual he’d been playing out nearly every night for a couple of years. Like anyone else, he was okay with having a nonsensical ritual which was held in confidence by his own private self.
“It’s okay Weez.”
“Were you asleep?”
“Of course not. You know damn well I wasn’t asleep.”
“Are you still in your den?”
“Oh good. I wouldn’t want to disturb Laura.”
“Well there is a phone in our bedroom Weezy. And it does ring every time you call.
But it’s okay. Laura is a very understanding woman.”
“Yes, she’s so wonderful Jake.”
“What is it this time, sis?”
“Well there’s this small spider sitting in the exact same spot on my ceiling as the day I moved back home, nearly a month ago. I always stare at it and try to figure out if it’s just a spider shaped patchy spot on the ceiling. But then yesterday morning it came down off the ceiling about five or so inches on a strand of web and then crawled right back up the strand and into his former position. I don’t think he’s moved since. I think maybe in a week or so I’ll notice that the spider or spot is gone and then I’ll find a shriveled up little corpse on the carpet and then I’ll feel all weird and depressive.”
“You’re being frantic again Weez.”
“Should I stand up on a chair and retrieve it and put it outside?”
She asked with nervousnous. Because for one thing, she was afraid she was hallucinating, and that the spot most certainly wasn’t a spider. And also she was deathly afraid of spiders and was made anxious by the thought of putting it outside herself. The brother she was speaking with had always performed these acts of heroism for her when they were growing up.
“That’s up to you, sweetheart.”
He responded a little jestingly.
“Fuck. I’m too lazy. I swear he’ll be shriveled up on my carpet tomorrow, goddamnit. Okay, well anyway, good night Jacob. Sorry for calling again and so late.”
“It’s okay Weezy. Get some rest. Good night.”
“I can’t believe I’m back at mom’s house….Do you think he’ll ever take me back?” She added, as he yawned silently.
“Maybe after you grow up a little kid. You’re not even thirty yet. And I’ve heard people say that thirty’s the new twenty anyhow.”
He concluded this with an added little fake laugh to illustrate that he wasn’t taking his own comments seriously, and wanted to get off the phone.
“Well me and this spider are probably about the same age now and I’m going to find him shriveled up on the carpet first thing tomorrow morning. I swear to God.”
“Jesus Weez, find some of mom’s Ambien and get some rest.”
“I’ll take the whole fucking bottle and drink all of that cheap tacky sparkling rosé she keeps in the goddamn refrigerator. It’s probably been sitting there for years. In fact, I believe I saw it there when I was six and took a swig of it thinking it was pink lemonade.”
“You’re so dramatic sometimes Weezy. And your language has gotten horrible. I don’t like hearing my baby sister curse like that. It’s tackier than mom’s rosé.”
“Well I’m finding myself to be quite amusing right now, dear brother. And blame the cursing on that god awful estranged husband of mine…Anyway, bonne nuit, Jacob!”
“I love you Weezy. Seriously, try to get some sleep.”
“I will. Love you too.”
Story III (because Roman numerals are even deader than cursive handwriting in the year MMXII)
Two girls of similar mannerisms and coloring were lunching in a pseudo-upscale pub.
One said to the other, “I haven’t really been drinking lately. I mean, I am today in celebration of your visit, but I’ve been taking it real easy. I have a drink or two a week, that’s it.(She could only ever recall a maximum of two weeks of the recent past.) I did drink last night though. But that was just because I wanted to get some rest for once. I haven’t been sleeping at all lately.(She’d gotten at least 8 hours of sleep every night for weeks with the exception of the previous night in which she’d gotten only 6. And maybe four or so nights before that she’d only gotten 7, which were split up by bouts of a stuffy nose or a full bladder, and therefore felt like less than seven (although she’d counted it up to be a total of seven in her head)). I’m glad you’ve come to stay for a while Weezy. It’ll be good to have you around. Mom is totally neurotic now, you know? Anyway…I drank a bunch of wine last night to try and get some rest for once, and guess what I did?”
“Well now that I’m such a lightweight from not drinking, I can’t resist any temptation to drunk dial.”
“You’ve never been capable of that sort of restraint, even during your days of record high tolerance.”
“Well that was only when I’d really had a ton to drink, Weez.”
“Sure, sure. Well anyway…What did you do?”
“I called her up. That’s what I did.”
“Called up whom?”
“Geez, Weezy. You know who Georgia is. God you’re always forgetting everything I tell you.”
“I’m sorry Nora. I really don’t recall who..”
“Georgia! Knoxville girl! Remember her?”
“Oh right. The girl you met in the grocery store while you both dug through the banana stand in search for some not-so-green ones?”
“You know that story never really added up Nor. I know for a fact that you eat out every meal…well at least when you’re currently in an eating phase and not starving yourself to death. I also know that you’ve loathed bananas ever since we were little and Jake told you that spiders hatch their babies in them and that’s what the little black dots are in the middle. AND the most peculiar part of all was the fact that you don’t live in Knoxville, silly girl!”
“Jesus, Weez. You know I met her on a dating website. So shut it. I just didn’t want the whole fucking family to know.”
“Oh who cares how you met. All they’re thinking about is how to come across as though they’re super duper comfortable with your sexuality while simultaneously imagining what lesbian sex entails. That’s the problem with liberal smarty-pants; we’re always trying to act so goddamn comfortable with everything.”
“Well anyway, back to my story Weez.”
“Right. Georgia. The gorgeous lesbian you met on bananas.com or whatever…Bananas are a fairly phallic thing for two gay women to be searching through so earnestly.”
“Shut it Eloise.”
“Fine, fine. So what did you say when you called her up?”
“I told her that my mouth tasted like her hometown.”
“What the hell’s that s’posed to mean?”
“Well ya know she didn’t actually live in Knoxville. She lived out in the county. She grew up there and everything. It was strange how smart she was. And not just smart…but intelligent too. You know what I mean?”
“You sound like a real snob right now Nora.”
“Whatever. Anyway, you know what I mean. Well she stayed in the town due to all sorts of circumstances I never told you much about.”
“You told me all about those circumstances Nora.”
“Oh. Okay, well I’d go n’ see her in that hick ass town. She had the sweetest little twang to her voice too. She didn’t sound ignorant or anything though. Her voice was lovely really. Sometimes we’d ride around in her car and she’d sing along to the music, softly, but I could tell she could sing. She was so shy about stuff.”
“Just because our parents are Yankee transplants doesn’t give you a right to toss around the word ‘ignorant’ like that Nora. You were just as born and bred in the South as that girl was.”
“Christ Weezy. Let me finish my goddamn story.”
“When I’d go and visit her she’d have to work the majority of the time. And there wasn’t shit to do out there. So I’d go to the ubiquitous Starbuck’s. The closest thing they had to a quaint little café. I’d read and use their internet and just sit there and stare at people for hours.”
“So I was doing the same thing the other day, except here in Charlotte. I was sitting at a Starbucks. I was pretty jacked up on coffee. I started kind of smacking my tongue against the roof of my mouth in a zoned out nostalgia. I realized my mouth tasted like her hometown and I missed her like crazy.”
“So you called her up and told her that?”
“Yeah. I said ‘My mouth tastes like your hometown, Miss Georgia Blue Eyes.”
“And what did she say?”
“Well nothing. I got her voicemail.”