Today’s one thousand words;
Sally is a grocers daughter. She loves French jazz from the 1920’s and regardless of how people label her, make fun of her and give her trouble, she wears cloche hats – in the style of Anais Nin, long, black sleeveless sweaters with fringes – and utilizes a cigarette holder when out back on her break.
If you come in on a Saturday early when she’s responsible for opening, the speakers throughout the store will be blasting Sidney Bichet, Django and the Hot Club, and whatever other pieces of prewar treasure she’s managed to find over the work week – squirreled away in the trunk of her car and setup on tape at home in preparation for this moment at the weeks end.
The girl isn’t a misfit – she’s dedicated, intelligent, witty and insanely detailed and organized. It’s almost like the organization genes for the whole family got squirted into the batch that made Sally – and there was a lot – and it became engaged with organizing an entire genre of music and culture and can’t find its way out.
It’s funny because home isn’t like this. She lives in a side by side on the highway – out by the reserve and the casino – and it’s a tidy bit of property – backing up onto government forestry land – her backyard goes all the way to the coast if you look at it that way. No one’s ever building anything out there – and sure as hell, you could walk in a straight line to the pacific ocean from here if you set your mind to it.
Her house is completely normal. All the trappings of a twenty year old woman, just fresh out of college, independent, happy, successful and the only thing missing by conventional standards or by anyone else’s idea of what’s normal – is any evidence in any way that she is interested or looking for companionship, male, female or other. There is just no hope chest visible – metaphorically or otherwise.
Her brother Dan has always been one of the most disgusting samples of humanity in the county. At an early age the child decided that pissing in his clothing was comfortable, firstly for the warmth, the feeling of fluid finding paths down pant legs and even into boots gave him a temporary connection with temperature. After that, when the liquid began to cool, he became aware of the scent of his own piss. It bothered him at first, this stink that came with such a good feeling, but after a time, after he’d begun to become used to it, he started to like it, and he began to connect his intake of food and drink with the associated scent of his urine so that some foods he would seek out during times of stress knowing that in a couple of hours he could calm himself with the resulting smell in his pants, and some foods he avoided altogether because no matter what was happening at the time he couldn’t abide the stink that particular substance would generate after it had gone through his digestive system and was let loose in his trousers.
The boy pissed himself daily for months and was taken to the doctor for a year or so – as everyone tried to find the source of the habit and break him of it. In the end, he decided that rather than have them win, he would change his approach and while being less overt about the practice, actually allow it’s continuation in a more stealthy manner.
When he was fourteen years old, he began taking jam jars from the recycling – from the shelves when they were almost empty. In the mornings when he was roused and made to get out of bed to get ready, he would go to the hidden boxes in his closet, extract a jam jar containing Monday’s, Tuesdays, yesterdays or last weeks piss sample, and dip a piece of handkerchief into it. The torn piece of fabric, small – easily hidden he would pin inside the leg of his pants – at the cuff on the bottom – and thus the familiar scent would be around him during the day – occasionally he could smell it – but mostly it was the knowledge he had a piss soaked cloth marking every and all territories he occupied through the day that gave him comfort.
He didn’t completely forgo the habit of pissing down his legs either. He saves that now for days when he can get away with it. When his pants are going into the laundry machine immediately – by his hand – or when he’s alone in the woods in the summer – back up in the hills with time enough to piss himself, throw the pants into a stream and then up onto a tree branch to dry in the afternoon sun.
To this day, if you walk by Dan you will wonder what it is about him that makes you want to both avoid his presence, and try not to look into his eyes. It’s the molecules of piss that follow him everywhere he goes, and have since he first discovered their utility at the age of ten, in elementary school grade four.