Metazen Contest Winner…
ROBERT DUNCAN GRAY
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD
There is a woman. There always is.
And like most, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. She smiles soft cotton and laughs cheap red wine. She has been telling the same old jokes her whole life and they keep getting funnier. When the most beautiful woman in the world walks into an empty room the lampshades blush, the paintings giggle and other inanimate objects shit themselves in awe.
The most beautiful woman in the world was born with a medium sized penis.
For as long as she can remember an unreasonable cock, a scrotum and two throbbing testicles have been swinging to and fro between her hulking thighs like a pendulum counting infinity. The fact that none of it belongs there is a secret. She has never told anybody that the cock is not hers. Neither is the scrotum nor the testicles, none of it. They probably belong to Ghengis Kahn or Charles Bronson. Perhaps it’s Miles Davis’ cock and Richard Nixon’s scrotum and the testicles of someone whose name we don’t all know. The point is that the most beautiful woman in the world’s genitalia does not look like that.
Having never told anyone her secret, the most beautiful woman in the world has traveled through life in what feels like fancy dress: blue jeans and t-shirts, suits and ties. She has grown up into an investment banker with the wrong wife, three kids, two in college and a golden retriever who can smell that something is wrong.
The more the years drag their feet the more sore the sight of herself in the mirror becomes. This goes on for decades and culminates on a Sunday morning in the kitchen of the home she bought with the money she earned pretending to be a man. Everyone else is asleep as the morning sun creeps in through the window, shedding a sudden bright light on what she feels must happen, right here, right now.
It’s been too long. It’s too much. It’s been too long.
And in a haze, she finds herself with Ghengis Kahn’s genitalia in her left hand and a serrated bread knife in her right and it’s now or never and it’s now. S L I C E. She purges herself of a definition she never agreed to and what she feels is extreme pain, extreme pain which is easily overshadowed by another sensation, which can only be described as relief.
That’s better. That’s so much better. Why didn’t I do this years ago?
What follows is confusion. Many trips to the hospital, uncomfortable realizations for her family and friends. Many arguments and accusations, fights that stretch long into the night. The wrong wife does the right thing and leaves. Two of the three children become estranged but the youngest drives his kids across three states twice a year to spend some time with their Grandmother.
The most beautiful woman in the world leaves lipstick marks on her Marlboro reds, on empty cocktail glasses and the cheeks of her grandchildren with the same lips she uses to kiss the man she loves whenever she wants to.
She’s been telling the same old jokes her whole life and they keep getting funnier and funnier and funnier.
Larry was born in North East Portland and died in Gresham. Fifteen miles is the furthest he ever got from home. At time of death, there were at least seven of him and one of those seven hated the Beatles, hated the Rolling Stones and loved Herman’s Hermits. One of those seven missed his mother so much that he would cry out loud in the middle of a hushed library, a grown man in the company of perfect strangers weeping for a way to say I’m sorry for being such a fuck up but this is schizophrenia. This is not schizophrenia. This is schizophrenia. This is not This is SHUT THE FUCK UP.
This is a list of the lies Larry told me before he died: Hello. My name is Cuba Gooding Jr. I was born on aisle six of somebody else’s supermarket in the company of avocado and artichoke. My first memory is lettuce wilting. I was raised dirt poor up on North East South Street. I saved old chewing gum wrappers to help out. I gathered moss, I kept my fingernail clippings in an old coke can. Nothing ever seemed to do any good. I once met Paul McCartney and punched him in the groin for no reason at all.
I could tell Larry was lying by the way he moved his mouth. His name was Larry, not Cuba. He was born in a hospital in the company of scalpels and syringes. He had a mother who loved him and a father who loved him and never even met Paul McCartney. He did tell the truth about one thing: Nothing ever seemed to do any good. The lies unwrapped themselves before anyone had the chance to shout surprise. He lost control. I’m Henry VIII I am, Henry VIII I am. I have no limbs. These are hallucinations. There is a team of tiny scientists inside my body hitting switches. My self is a stranger. I am saving up nickels and dimes. Nickels and dimes. I eat them and keep them in the pit of my stomach so that when I die and go to heaven I can cough up everything I owe my mother. My shoes had wings. I cut them off, superglued them to my sweatshirt and spent the night in Paris. I thought you were in Paris, I said to myself and replied: I AM in Paris.
Sometimes his lies were so wild I was unable to translate them into English. The last thing he told me was I will be gone before the next full moon. I have unfinished business elsewhere. I used to be a soldier in a war that changed the world, now I am something else. I do not eat cheese. I do not build buildings. I strongly suspect my spirit animal to be a 1965 Ford Mustang. You will never catch me. I am uncatchable. So don’t even try. His last words were: Don’t Even Try
His tombstone was an old book. His grave was covered in compost and poppy seed as per his request. Upon reflection, I think we probably should have buried him seven times.
Throughout the funeral a disco ball reflected everyone’s mood into thousands of tiny splinters of light, rearranging the sorrow and translating it into something Larry would have understood. This light flew over our heads like dandelion petals. I caught a handful and stuffed it into my pocket but when I tried to find it later all I had were nickels and dimes. Nickels and dimes. I swallowed them for safe keeping and sometimes feel them jingling and jangling around in the pit of my stomach waiting to be coughed up. It’s the least I can do.
Even though he is gone and it doesn’t seem to matter that much, Larry deserves more than a fucking poem.
© 2012, Metazen.