Read This Is What Happens Next Online

Authors: Daniel MacIovr

This Is What Happens Next (4 page)

The cellphone rings.

Oh good! What's next?!

Light shift.


(He moves his hands as if laying out cards.)
This is the recent past. This is the present. This is the near future. Everybody wants the same thing behind the cards. In the past people want hardship and strife. In the present people want searching and solitude. And everybody is looking for one thing behind this card: the Future. Everybody wants change. Everybody wants to feel like they're good people having some bad luck and moving toward something better. They want to hear that everything's going to change. They want the Ace of Pentacles: wealth and health. They want Strength with her hand on the lion's mane. Or the Lovers. We're all looking for the hookup. Even if they're already with someone, maybe there's somebody better out there, the real one, the one who's going to save me. We're all blindfolded sticking our hand in a bag of snakes looking for the eel. That sounds bitter I know. I blame my ex-girlfriend. I blame people who lie; I blame people who use other people to forward their own agenda; I blame righteous people… I used to be righteous. Until I realized that righteousness is damn ugly when it takes off its choirboy robes. Righteousness has no eyes, no ears, just a big mouth in its oversized head—oversized to hold all those facts, all that information—and huge hands, huge hands for pushing, pushing away anything that doesn't agree.
(He looks at his hands.)
I asked them if they could make my hands bigger. Ever since I was a little girl I hated my little hands. And my long hair. My Gramma, she got it. She didn't care. She was the one who took me for my first haircut at a barber when I was twelve. I had this long curly hair that my mother treated like it was hers and that my father looked at as proof. And I was twelve and sick of my long hair and my little hands and of course my boobs had already started. All the girls praying for boobs and all I wanted were big fleshy hands and short hair. Well I couldn't do anything about the boobs and the hands but my hair I could. And my Gramma got it. She didn't take it personally. And I sat in that barber's chair and when it was over I felt the bristles on the back of my head and it was like the chains had been cut off and I was two feet taller. My parents called me selfish, but I wasn't doing what I wanted, I was doing what I was. My mother doesn't believe God makes mistakes. Yeah well okay but that's the kind of thinking that makes me worry for the kids. For kids like me. For my nephew.

My sister still calls me Erin. I changed it from Erin with an E to Aaron with an A but when my sister says it I can still hear the E. But she chooses me over her ex when she needs someone to look after the kid, but that's because her ex is usually too drunk or hungover to be responsible. So she puts me on the list above a deadbeat chronic alcoholic. That's something I guess. See my nephew, he's at that age where he's still acting from his own truth but he's starting to notice that he's being judged. The looks in the room when he says that at Halloween he wants to go as the Little Mermaid. He loves
The Little Mermaid
. And that doesn't mean anything, he likes giants too. But I want to make sure he grows up in a world that gives him the space to find out if he's a mermaid or a giant. Not in a world that says “you can't be who you are because we don't have a box for that on the form,” that says “you can get married but you can kiss my ass,” that raises its eyebrows every time he leaves a room. So I guess I want to change the world. How do I do that? I have no idea. But I know it has nothing to do with righteousness. You don't get there by writing letters to the editor and eating indignation for breakfast, puffed up with pride. You see righteousness doesn't like contradiction and we're made of contradiction. Righteousness wants you to choose. Righteousness is my ex-girlfriend. Calling herself an activist and making her speeches about the rights of the marginalized. And when I told her I wanted to transition she was all for it. She was supportive. She was encouraging. And she came to all my appointments and she used me in her speeches and she was at the front of the crowd in every parade. But after I had my breasts removed and the hormones kicked in and I was living as a man I felt more myself than I ever had before. I didn't need a penis to be a man. I didn't need any more operations. I didn't need to manipulate my body any more, I was me now. I was who I am. So I tell her. Oh then everything changes. She doesn't know what her speeches are about anymore. She doesn't know what she's supposed to be fighting for. She doesn't know what story to tell. She doesn't know how to feel. She doesn't know what to call me. Call me contradiction. Call me the future. Call me Aaron. See, righteousness wants the definitive; righteousness wants you to have the operation. Righteousness wants that box checked. So I leave. Fine. This is who I am. This is where I belong. This is my power. This is my place. This is my body. And if that makes you uncomfortable I understand that, because I'm talking from the physical and we're trained not to talk from the physical. We're trained to use our language to tell stories and talk about feelings. But language is physical. Language is made in the body—these bodies we're so afraid of. Our bodies become our nightmares when they should be what set us free. And that is the freedom I want for my nephew. That's how I want to change the world. Will I get there? I don't know. But it's pretty funny that I'm the father figure in his life. I was supposed to babysit him today but I might have a date. I decided to start again. She cancelled but then left a message to say she was suddenly free. Suddenly free. That's a nice feeling. It would be our third date today. I haven't told her yet. I don't know how she'll take it. She's pretty cool. She's a lawyer. She's older. Got a couple of kids. If I see her today I tell her. Who I am. The contradiction. And if she doesn't go for it that's okay. Maybe I can save myself three hundred bucks and get some free legal advice. I'm thinking about suing my ex-girlfriend for being a cunt.

If I go on my date the kid goes to Mike's, his father's. Which probably means an afternoon on the dirty floor in front of the
, building castles with beer caps. The kid means a lot to me. But the Goddess has her plan. I go with the Goddess. Goddess, tell me what to do.
(He moves his hands as if flipping over each card.)
The Recent Past? The Moon: losing direction and purpose. The Present? The Hanged Man: giving up control. The Near Future? Ah ha. The Eight of Wands: moving to a conclusion, having a meaningful conversation.

takes out his cellphone.

Here we go.

He turns it on.

Light shift.


(on phone)
Hello, Awkward Moments Bistro. Table for two? Sure we can get you something at the back.

Music: “Happy Ending.”

puts the phone away.

Oooo that's going to be one uncomfortable lunch date. Or who knows maybe it'll be wonderful. Maybe Susan's always wanted a… a… a… One of those. Maybe everything will be a really truly and really and truly a happily ever after.

Music: “Happy Ending.”

But the chances of that are slimmer than a crackhead on a fast. So where are we at now in terms of story? (
goes to the table and pours a vodka.)
Let's see. Well Warren has decided to go and get his stuff. And that's a good thing. And in deciding to do that he's blown off a lunch meeting with Susan. So as a result Susan has rebooked a lunch date with her new “boy” friend Aaron. Which means that Aaron now can't look after her—his—her?—his?—whatever—nephew. And now the kid has to be babysat by his ne'er-do-well alcoholic father Mike. Whew. Gosh I hope nothing happens to the kid.

takes a big drink of vodka. A phone rings. Sound of bottles falling over. Light shift.


Is that my phone? No? Is that my phone? I thought that was my phone. No? I'm waiting on a call. No phone? No phone. No pool. No pets.
(He sings.)
“I ain't got no cigarettes”…
(re: vodka)
Don't worry about this. This is not a problem. This is not a problem. If I had a problem—and I've got lots of problems—but if I were going to say I had one problem I'd say my problem is I don't think I feel. I don't mean “I don't think, I feel.” I mean I think instead of feel I mean. A normal person would just say “I think too much.” Which makes me I guess not a normal person. Because I think too much. My kid he's a feeler. I'm trying to get him a little more into his head. He lives with his mother. Seven years old can't ride a bike. I was born riding a bike. Seven years old and he can't skate, can't swim, can't ride a bike. How's he ever going to escape?
But I made her get him a bike though. Some Saturdays I take him out on it with the training wheels.
(He considers the drink in his hand.)
It's all good it's all good. I'm not drinking like I used to. Not heavy like I did. I was not a social drinker. I was a pound-myself-over-the-head-with-the-bottle-till-I-blacked-out drinker. But now I'm more social. And now I've got the program. I go to meetings. Now and then. It's all good. I'm not saying I'm not drinking I'm just not drinking like I used to. Just I get lonely. Not dangerous lonely, regular lonely. “I'm so lonely” then have a drink, that kind of lonely. Not “I'm so lonely” then
(mimes hanging himself).
And I think too much when I'm not drinking. When I'm not drinking I'm like a brain dragging a spine around. When I'm drinking I'm okay, I'm right in there, I'm not thinking, have a laugh, have a drink. But I still go to meetings anyway. You can go to meetings and drink. I mean you can't drink
the meetings. Yeah yeah, “Open bar over by the Big Books, by the lit-er-a-ture stand. Have a chip!” There are different kinds of meetings you can go to. I like what they call a “low bottom” meeting—a
low bottom
meeting—that's where people tell stories about alcohol poisoning and meds and incarceration. I'm not so much for the “high bottom” meetings—a
high bottom
meeting—those meetings where the parking lot is full of foreign cars and they're telling stories about going wild at the office Christmas party or blacking out on their Mexican holiday. Not my world. But no matter what meeting you go to the principles are the same. The central principle being: main thing is: you have to give over. Give it over. So I give over and give over and give over and I give over and I give over and I Give Over and I
give over! (He laughs.)
Mondays are fine. No desire to drink on Mondays. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, not so bad. Thursday I'm getting a little antsy. Friday I wake up scratching my head wondering: “Why'd I stop?” Friday night I forget to even wonder. Friday night is hard especially if I'm seeing the kid on Saturday. Saturday's the day I'm sometimes supposed to see the kid. It always helps if I'm a little hungover. I get in there then, have a laugh with him. As long as I don't have a drink. If I don't have a drink in the morning I know I'm all right.
(notes the drink in his hand)
Yeah yeah yeah but yeah but. That's all right. See it wasn't the plan to see him today. Yesterday it wasn't the plan. I'm waiting on a call. I wouldn't have had a drink if I knew I was seeing him today. If that was the plan. But it's all good. I just go with the flow. Most Saturdays I never know what to do with him. Sometimes I take him down to the library. I used to spend a good deal of time in the library. I'm no big reader though. I first started going for the free newspapers and because I was trying to quit smoking. I met my wife at the library. Ex-wife. His mother. She's a character. She's a big reader. Disappears into a book and calls it a holiday. Maybe that was my big mistake. She sees me at the library and thinks I'm some big kind of reader. A big reader and all that goes along with that. And not having all that came along with that not too much but shit came of that. No no that's not true. There was good stuff… There's the kid. He's still there. Saturdays. Or if not the library maybe a movie. But there's not too many movies he likes. Mostly he just wants to watch this one movie over and over and over. This cartoon about a princess mermaid. Which I think is a little… But he's just a kid. He likes science. And he likes science. I liked science. I see me in him some ways. Or forget the movie. I might take him to this Chinese restaurant I go to. I've been going there for years. They know me there. This angry Chinese waiter and I have this joke fight thing going. He's not really angry though he's just excited; he's not even Chinese he's Korean. I took my wife—ex-wife there for our very first date. Shrimp fried rice, moo goo gai pan and Peking chicken. Peeking chicken! Peeking chicken! Peekaboo peeking chicken! And then after they bring us the fortune cookies. And this is beautiful this is beautiful. After, they bring us— Wait back up back up back up. You gotta know this. Always always forever with me with fortune cookies I always go for the fortune cookie farthest away. And you're not supposed to do that right. You're supposed to take the cookie closest to you. The one closest to you is the one that God or the Universe or Buddha or whatever put your fortune in. But I always took the one farthest away because that way I had some say in my fortune. Like if God or the Universe or Buddha or whatever put that cookie close to me because it was supposed to be my fortune then I was going to trick them up and find my own fortune. I'd get to choose my destiny by taking the one farthest away. So this first night of the first date they bring out the fortune cookies and before I even make a move she goes for the one farthest away from her. She goes for the one by me farthest from her. And so I go for the one by her farthest from me. So hey, right, maybe we got one another's fortunes. But what's really beautiful? Really? She takes the cookie, doesn't open it, doesn't take it out of the wrapper or anything, and she drops it in her purse and she says, “I'm going to save this for later.” Awwww. I saved mine too. I never said anything though. I've still got it. Not crushed up or anything. It's in a cigar box with my birth certificate and an old Bobby Orr Boston Bruins hockey card. I doubt she's still got hers though.

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