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Muse seeking mister

RYDER COLLINS

Charles Bukowski wants a piece of me. Yeah, I know he’s dead and no, I’m not crazy. He's been spelling lust, booty, scrumping, skeet skeet skeet (he’s keeping up with semi-current slang somehow) through the Ouija board. The scary thing’s I’ve been doing it alone. The scarier thing’s I’d rather contact someone like Poe. Someone who can commit, you know? The love he had that would last forever. Soul to soul: Annabel Lee. The scariest thing is I’m not a poet or even a writer.
           
I would be a muse. I could be a muse. I want to.
           
I drink black coffee and wear black clothes and white out my fingernails and I’m thin, thin, thin. I read books during my breaks or at least I pretend. My ex-boyfriend’s in prison; he’s an anarchist and a writer and a sadist. Just what a muse needs. But, he found someone better, someone named Emily, someone who’d be there all the time, who’d pick him up drunk in the middle of wherever at 3 a.m. And he’d get into her car with his buddy Frank and they’d smoke crack or crank or whatever, I’m a muse, I just give inspiration; the writer provides the details. He’d give her details about her cottage-cheesy ass as he fucked her hard from behind, I know. She’d hold his hair back as he puked from drinking too much Night Train or Boone’s or whatever else his broke ass could afford. She’d feed him chicken soup when his tummy hurt. She’d clean the sheets after his night sweats. She’d let him throw balled-up papers at her and then beer bottles and then boiling spaghetti noodles. Poor girl, she’d only been trying to feed the artist.
           
But writers don’t eat. They’re too busy. Well, at least until they get old and then they get big. Their appetites, always insatiable, turn to food for once.
           
I miss that appetite, though. I don’t know where to find another like it. I like hard hot sex. I like sweat. I like to inspire.
           
Maybe I should go to an open mic.
           
That’s where I met him, my ex. He didn’t read. He sat in the back, at a table for two, scribbling furiously in a moleskine. I was drunk and I saw him writing and he looked lonely. I sat down and smiled.
           
A fucking moleskine. That’s all it took.
           
He said, “Nice teeth.” Then he said he’d dance on my teeth. I didn’t believe him; I bought him a drink. He said a lot of things, but maybe my ex was right, maybe he did dance on my teeth, maybe I let him and I’m a doormat because being a muse’s hard work and no one gets it. Maybe I do like the tweaking and the pain of giving. Maybe that’s the only way to inspire. I’ll ask Bukowski. He’s dead; the dead know a lot, can influence us somehow. Like I’ve said, we’ve already been in touch, we’ve communed. I’ve lit the black candles; I’ve opened a can of PBR; I’m playing Mozart’s Requiem.  I’m a hyper-ironic muse, to boot.
           
“So Charles, whatcha think? Am I a masochist?”
           
The planchette moves slowly. S-E-P. The black candles sputter. U- L-C-H-R-E.
           
 “Huh?” No answer. Bukowski’s probably playing with himself; I drink his PBR, open another. “Will I find my writer?”
           
The planchette doesn’t move, maybe Buk’s confused.
           
“Will I find the one I inspire?”
           
M-A-I-D-E-N. M-O-O-N. D-R-E-A-M-S. M-E.
           
I’m channeling Poe all of a sudden; I realize I don’t want him.

I imagine they’re all laughing at me: Bukowski, Poe, Hemingway, Cooper, even. Those great writers now dead. One of them’ll whisper in Emily’s ear tomorrow and she’ll write this moving letter. It will go on for pages. If Faulkner’s there, one sentence will go on and on and on in greater detail and with more convoluted punctuation; the words will twist themselves through parsing and syntax to get to the truth about her love for him. Emily will write about this burning love she feels, how much she needs him, how she wants to dance with him in the gutter as it rains and they both smoke Gauloises and he’ll write a poem about it. My ex’ll be inspired; it’ll get him through the tedium. He’ll write and write as the sun crawls across his cell. He’ll note the sun crawling and think of Emily.

Emily and not me.

I have to try again.

“Buk – Bukowski?” I pop open another tallboy. Would Bukowski want me to pour some for his homies? No, he wouldn’t want me to waste any.
“Where’s my true love, Bukowski?”

There’s no answer; the planchette just spins and spins. I ask again. I want it to spell “prison.” My ex, my writer-boy, I want it to point back to him.





Ryder Collins has work published or forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Dogzplot, DIAGRAM, shady side review, and Segue among others. Her story, “White girl/boy angst” was a finalist in The Southeast Review’s World’s Best Short Short Story Contest, and her story “Name game” has just been nominated by Juked for storySouth’s Million Writers Award. She has a chapbook of poetry, Orpheus on toast, forthcoming from Imaginary Friend Press.