Hammon Wry's Words of the Day for February

Well I'll be damned Here comes your ghost again But that's not unusual It's just that the moon is full And you happened to call

Now you're telling me You're not nostalgic Then give me another word for it You who are so good with words And at keeping things vague Because I need some of that vagueness now It's all come back too clearly Yes I loved you dearly And if you're offering me diamonds and rust I've already paid Diamonds and Rust, Joan Baez

She called me one day, out of the blue. "I need to talk with you," she said, "And get some information on AIDS".

I was stunned. Some part of my brain kicked in, took over. I became The Priestess of the Tarot, scrolls spilling open across my lap. Knowledge over loins. "Where would you like to meet?" Silence followed, brief and eternal. "How about Gina's?" It's usually quiet there on weeknights. "That's fine. Tonight, 9:30?" She laughed, apropos of nothing, a sign of nerves. I knew it from our days together. I had found it endearing then. Now it echoed over the telephone like the jangle of a wrong number at 3 am. "OK, I'll be there".

I worked at the local AIDS Project. I was the "Facilities Coordinator", a nice way of saying that I was the janitor. I was also a trained volunteer, a "Buddy". I had access to materials, and the training to use them to educate and support. I tried not to speculate. Not her, surely. Not any one of our friends. I thought of Mike, and of Rich, lovers. No, please, not them.

I worked that night cleaning the Project's offices. It was situated in an old jewelry factory. Printed materials were kept in the huge vault that once held the crystalline fruits of the lapidary art. I collected a library's worth of pamphlets and contact sheets. My hands shook.

I put on my jacket, over my tank top. Earrings swung from my earlobes, tiny garnets on gold wires. My hair was gone, I'd shaved it earlier that summer, an act of radical defiance. I ran a soothing hand over the stubble on my scalp. It felt like puppies.

I walked into Gina's. The heat engulfed me. Again, another jewelry factory, converted to upscale shops and the only lesbian bar in the state. She sat facing the door, a glass of white zinfandel before her.

My gut clenched. It have been less than a year since I moved out of her apartment. She was the reason I had shaved my head. I needed to get the memory of her out of my hair.

I sat down and handed her the material. "Please tell me this isn't for Mike and Rich", was all I could muster.

"No. Sally."

I was stunned. Sally was a distant relative of hers. She was married, and pregnant. It seems that her husband had given it to her. It was a foreshadowing of the statistics of the following years--the fastest growing risk group are sexually active straight women between 18 and 30. Of course, this was all sub-rosa. She trusted me to not reveal the fact that I knew to anyone. She offered to buy me a drink. I asked for a brandy, I think. I smoked non-stop, answering questions.

Finally, she looked at me. "What have you done with your hair?" I shrugged, and could feel the earrings brush against my jaw. Smiling, I said "I shaved it. You would not believe how it attracts baby dykes." She laughed, a real laugh this time. "Well, it's radical. You know it doesn't suit you--you look like a chemo patient." "There you go again. What ever happened to that legendary tact?" She had the grace to look chagrined. "I know, you're right though. But I like the way it feels. It feels like puppies." She reached across the table and stroked my head. I felt oddly detached. "Besides, you did the same thing when your parents disowned you for being a dyke." "Not that short, I didn't!" We laughed.
We talked for hours, it seemed. Eventually it turned to memories. "You were always the one to introduce new things. I miss that. Kathy doesn't like anything but vanilla..." I stiffened. "I miss the sex we had. I miss BD/SM. I've even considered cheating on her." I looked at her. She looked me in the eye. I saw the question there. I am sure that my nipples must have been hard. I'm sure that I was probably wet as hell, too. I've heard it said that dying men get erections, nature's last-ditch effort to spread the genetic material. But like that dying man, my focus was torn between possibility and reality. "Do you have anyone particular in mind?" An eternity passed. I could see her swallow. Her eyes dilated out, and her lips parted. And then the door slammed shut, and we both started. Like every other woman there, we turned to see who had entered. Another dyke, no trouble. I looked back to my ex. By then her sanity had returned. She sighed. "No, you know me. I would die of guilt afterwards. So I just fantasize about it when I masturbate."

I murmured some inanity about being sorry that she wasn't fulfilled sexually. Another part of me howled in pained triumph. "That", a small, snide voice said in the back of my mind, "is what you get for shoving me aside." We finished our drinks, and said our good-byes in the parking lot.

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