From the Inside
When we were eleven, I named myself Brad. I chose that name because it’s a good strong name. I’m eighteen now.
The one on the outside, her name is Martha. She’s a lot older. She’s going to blow it with her thesis, they say. She never saw her supervisor most of the year and now he tells her to give it up. Her thesis isn’t any good, he said. She’s very upset about it. She barely manages to hold on.
Sandra had to come out to take control. She looks after school whenever Martha blows it. I don’t like Sandra very much. When she’s in charge, she always pours my beers down the drain and gets rid of my cigarettes. She hollers and shouts at the empty space when she finds out that I’ve taken the cigarettes from the garbage can and hidden them.
I don’t like it when she gets mad. I don’t want to make problems. I just want to drink my beer, smoke a cigarette or two, and watch some TV. I don’t bother no one.
But I’d like to be independent. I think about it a lot. I’d like to be in charge of myself.
The body’s a problem though. It doesn’t look much like a man’s body. The long hair is fine. It’s nice hair too. Thick and black. You see a lot of guys with ponytails these days.
You should see the prof Martha’s been going out with. He has a little tail in the back. You need a looking glass. He’s nice enough but it won’t work out. He doesn’t know that Martha’s not alone. We don’t exist for him and, at times, he even acts as if Martha doesn’t exist.
There’s Uschi now. It’s because of her that I’ve been thinking about leaving the body.
With Uschi I would be a real gentleman. Uschi, I think, knows all about looking from the inside. She really seems in tune.
The professor is clueless. Hasn’t got the foggiest of what goes on with Martha and he seems just as ignorant about what goes on inside of him. They have a lot of problems.
I hate it when he kisses her.
I’m almost always there now so I know what goes on. The others don’t know half of it. They’re always complaining about Martha’s father. They think he’s still alive. They think it is him doing those things to the body.
Someone does. But it sure ain’t him. He’s dead. I know who does it but I’m not supposed to tell.
Why can’t I be left alone with my beers and my cigarettes? And with Uschi.
Things are different now. I think it’s because of Uschi. She seems to be getting through to some of the others. Sometimes, they’re all shouting at the same time and at one another. It scares the hell out of Martha. She always ends up with a headache. She’s got some horrible pills she takes for that. They make her all dopey and then it’s a free of all.
I’d like to talk to Uschi some day. Just me and her. I know she would understand. I’d like to take her out for a beer and treat her real nice.
Yesterday we went to the bar with Uschi. Martha was in a good mood, so I got my beer and then some. The other ones weren’t there. I was feelin’ real good.
I’m pretty sure Uschi knows I’m there although I’ve not approached her yet. I caught her eye on me as I followed the swirls of smoke from the cigarette. She’s got the most beautiful big brown eyes that sparkle with life. She kept twirling her earring around and around as she was laughing at this and at that. I couldn’t help laughing as well. I was feeling giddy.
I should’ve introduced myself to her then and there, but I’ve never done that before. Talk to someone else, I mean.
Well, I shouldn’t really say that. I used to talk to Martha’s father before I had a name. I’d tell him to fuck off. Right to his big red ugly face. To leave Martha alone and the others. To stop cutting the body.
Not that I ever cared much for Martha. Or the others. It’s just that they’d get too afraid to even leave the bedroom. I don’t mind telling you this: girls are pretty helpless creatures. If you ask me, all they ever do is cry when they should be mad as hell.
He, with fingers like a surgeon’s scalpel. We were only eleven. That’s when I named myself Brad. On account of the broken bottle and all that blood.
I don’t know what’s been going on in the last week. I wasn’t there. Didn’t get a chance, I figure. There were cuts on the wrists. I don’t think it was Martha who did it. She doesn’t know enough. And it sure wasn’t me. Not the wrists. No, that’s not me.
It was probably Norma Jean. She figures herself hot stuff but she can’t handle a thing. She messed it up good for Martha and me, though. Even Sandra couldn’t stop her. I’m dying for a beer and a cigarette. Hospitals! And with Martha crying all day.
If only I could get out.
I feel as if I’m losing control. I don’t like it. It makes me think about the last time I shouted at Martha’s father. I tried to hurt him. He started to beat me up something fierce. I don’t even know how bad it got because I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
After that, I stopped talking, stopped trying to make contact. Then, with Martha getting her period for the first time, I was sure that would be the end of it.
But I’m still around. I don’t do much. Not much I care for. Except for the times when I’m told. But no, forget I said that. I don’t bother no one.
Yesterday I saw Uschi again. She had this guy with her. He kissed her and had his hand on the back of her neck most of the time. Martha and I got pretty drunk. I don’t think I’ll ever come out now.
Uschi seems to really like Martha. I don’t understand it. Martha’s so boring. They were talking. I just sat quietly behind the screen of smoke.
It makes me angry when they talk about the body. They don’t even know I exist. Somebody should set Martha straight.
We’ve not done much lately. Martha doesn’t want to see Uschi any more. I think it’s got something to do with that guy. She thinks Uschi has stopped caring.
Or maybe it’s got to do with the blood. They don’t understand. Not any of them. It needs doing. It’s the ritual.
I’ve been thinking lately that, maybe I should get rid of the body. Cut myself loose. Go it alone. Be free. Be rid of the others.
Maybe then, I could just sit and drink my beer in peace. Smoke as many cigarettes as I want. And talk to Uschi.