CHAISE (excerpt)
by Becci Noblit Goodall

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  S I L V E R T H O U G H T




Before there was Grand Central Station, there was Brooks Brothers.

—Brooks Brothers advertisement, 2003

I live on my couch because I want to believe in magic. Pan roasted turkeys. Marriages that stick. Cookies that don't. Dads who disappear in one episode but return in the next. It's sort of like a Christmas Eve special when the fake Santa is drunk and you don't have faith, but you wait up anyway because you want to believe in something other than folded Gap turtlenecks and shrink wrapped Baby Phat.

"I believe I'll wait," you say.

You do a shot every time Cindy Lou Who says who. You feel sorry for the Grinch because he doesn't have presents and his heart is small. And so it goes. Then one day you see that unused gifts are all there ever was, but you keep working to fill the space. And your heart constricts. Attacks. So there you are, hanging upside down on the monkey bars. The sky is blue. Your Hubba Bubba mouth chews out words like Tonka Truck, Schwinn Bike, Cabbage Patch Dolls. Knees slide from the rung. You fall chest-first to the ground. The air gets knocked out. You suck and suck but there is nothing. The bell rings. Recess is over. You come to on a gurney or in a padded room and you think to yourself I was closer to the clouds upside down.

The whistle blows.

You blot a bubble test.

The whistle blows.

You take the SAT.

The whistle blows.

You index reports.

Your files collapse.

The whistle blows.

You spill onto the tarmac.

Things go upside down.

Your skin turns blue.

And it is OK. good. At least the clouds are visible and you can put down the razorblade.

So begins the day of all days.

And this is how it started. It. This day that melds into the lexicon gibberish of the next. And you're not sure what chunk of minute turns that corner of Monday into Tuesday. One day. It's all one big long fucking day.

My Moleskine says it's been 156 weeks since I lay down on these velvet cushions. 26,280 hours since I pasted on this dead Elvis smile. 9,608,000 seconds of tapping away at this couch lair. I am a leather-tailed beaver gnawing my own fibula into branch tunnels.

The hole in the wall is clouded with moss and beaded teeth. I put pieces of me under pillows for fairies and lovers.

Every day I think about all the nailing and sitting. I think about Dr. Bob Jones, who can't help me. I think about my mother, who tells my aunts that I'm actually a missionary in India working to convert Hindus. I think about Jerry and Dan from Kelley's Pub, drinking Jaeger. I think about Heather and Rosalie from Juniata, questing to sell pheromones and change the world.

My friends used to call every day but right around the second year, they dropped down to only ringing on holidays. Their messages warbled into my background like cracked 8-tracks and Chaplin movies. They weren't real. Nothing was real but the additions to my couch. The fluffing of cushions and the newfound ability to stick to a solitary goal of never getting off.

I hammer shelves along the back chintz section and I think.

I think about the way I don't miss getting flipped off on I-95 or skipped in line at Whole Foods.

I think about the unfortunate lives of my kids. I imagine they say, "Poor mom, crazy mom, poor her." Then they turn to eat white pizza with Rolling Rock. Do they pretend I exist outside? Maybe they explain me to new lovers who will not understand a mother who has been sitting on a couch for three years. Maybe four.

She's a voluntary psycho. A 302 commitment. I bet that's what they say.

This is what I mull at 5 a.m., in the ass-crack of my life. The holding pattern I have chosen spins circles and laps up layers of ventricle and knuckle. I see shark fin implosions. I flip on the movie Jaws just to see the way girls and boys get chewed and stuck between huge plastic Spielberg teeth. I see that. What it feels like to be flossed out for the next scene.

If only I could stop thinking so much. I mash every little thing into rice dust.

How is a cereal box big enough to hold the Cap'n Crunch maze?

I can't stop.

I have mental Tourette's. But worse. Like that. Screams mean nothing beyond the sound bounce, which is why I think myself into corners. And I can't see a way clear of this unblued place. This triangle will require body surfing if I decide to step out.

Fake fat, botulism lips, and boob jobs. Henry Kissinger, Descartes, and Pac-Man.

I want to create a Camel philosophy. I will sit here until I'm the new think tank IT KID. I wonder if they smoked some kind of camel butt shit in the desert to keep warm. Is that where the idea of Camel cigarettes originates? I mean, who the fuck sat there in some ad agency or smoke factory and said, "Camels—let's do camels"?

A frustrated salesman? I suppose.

I get the Marlboro cowboy thing. The slinky-sex Virginia Slims thing. Yes. But Camels? I don't get the connection.

Camels hump what they've hoarded. They plod on forked hooves. Survive sandstorms. Where is the smoke link? The hazy thing I'm missing? I think this as I curse my Harley lighter, which I'm always losing. I scrounge with my pinkie toe.

Yeah, a camel in a tuxedo with hooves crossed like arms. Call up Vogue, Cosmo, Playboy. Full-page ads.

I'm sold.

I imagine being humped under Joe Camel's fur like a ball of rubber cement—each layer stickier and dirtier than the last. My legs and eyelashes fade in the slow whiskered pucker. He sucks. There is no water. Next rest area: seven hundred ninety-nine miles.

No tents.

No oasis.

He drinks me from a striped accordion straw that winds from his mouth to my bellybutton. A reverse umbilical cord. Body parts clump the folded straw and it grows fat in the center like Bavarian donuts full of lard and sugar. He pulls and gnaws at me like Laffy Taffy. Purple nipples give way as all my good parts slide past his Adam's apple. What's left in the IV pouch is chunky like tin can chicken, which tastes somewhere in the middle of tuna and salmon.

Bargain food.

Buy one, get one free.

A chocolaty piss leaks from my face into the armrest. I drip onto the tongue and groove floor like evaporated milk, sticky with pumpkin pies and cheesecake.

Cellulite juice.

The phone rings.


Takes a message.

It's Mom again.

She raps the door in the hall. Knowing I won't let her in. This armrest is at least four feet from the door. She's crazy to think I'm getting up to let her in.

She calls up from the lobby.

"Beep me in. I've got beef stew."

I've never liked beef stew.

I buzz her up and scribble on a fuchsia Post-it note: 1. camels. 2. 3. lung cancer.

I realize my obsessions are weird.

I can't focus on Mom-gobble, so I don't. She sets the TV table up in front of me with the food. I blow her a kiss. She leaves.

The TV is stuck on seven. The god channel. Somewhere in behind the sound stage, men are practicing their Jesus speeches. I like the matinee performance.

I get up and skulk along the wall in the shadow of my couch. I have to pee. The need drives me to cushions I've lined along the wall. As long as my feet don't touch down, I'll be OK. I skulk to the bathroom. Never touching the floor.

Skulk. Skulk. Skulk. I love that word. It's in Four Weddings and a Funeral. So realistic. Love in four episodes. Death in between. And laughter.

My shoes screech and creak. I sort of hate crawling to the bathroom in these leather metal boots. The floor sweats beneath the pillows. It's clammy with fever. I paid $6000 for this tongue and groove in '92 when everyone was doing the hardwood-natural thing. We all joined Greenpeace and then put in pine floors so we could meditate on saving nature.

It's such a pain in the ass. Crawling. Staying as far off the ground as possible. Clinging to my loveseat back.



Fashion is wondrous Fun in Mary Jane's Let's Play collection! Colorful happy cottons with embroidered play motifs; designed by Betty Barker, America's foremost designer of little girl fashions! Sizes 3 to 6x. About $5

—Mary Jane Dresses, 1350 Broadway, New York, NY, 1948


As soon as I build a bigger couch, this will be unnecessary, but for now, I wobble across the couch cushion bridge in six-inch platform boots, which I got for $250 at Bobbi Jo's Leather and Lace Boutique on Fritkin Street. The saleslady said they were worn at a Jersey concert by the originally-original hair band KISS. Clown face and testosterone. Yeah, baby, yeah.
Normally I don't wear shoes but yesterday I felt myself drifting, as if my skin could no longer hold me in, so I built a wall with all the shoes I've ever owned. I lined them around my couch in a heel-to-heel circular stack. When they got over four pairs high, there was a fear of tumbling, so I strung phone cable in and out of the arches and toe holes. Huge knots anchor my fortress of soles.

It's a weird stability, having my life strung together by shoes. It reminds me of a Druid fortress. Something you'd wander through in bluish moonlight. Maybe slit your wrist for pink lemonade and climb out refreshed. And you would feel on top of the world until you saw the cops there outside the barrier. Stonehenge belongs to the public. Do not touch. Pay five quid to see. And you scream and scream, "But these are my rocks! I was born here… This is my home." So you run. Leap into a parking lot full of cars and realize that the mystery of life is just a tourist trap.

I got these heavy metal boots from the south end of the wall, third down to the left by the sandals and clogs. I found them among the seventies and eighties shoes, which I have tissue-wrapped into filing boxes. These Are the Days of Our Lives.

You could say it was a fetish or you could say it was the thing that kept me alive. The way I bought sandals instead of toilet paper. Pointy buckled boots before vegetables. There was no rhyme. No reason to the charging of soles. I had six closets jammed with pairs and pairs.
Now I label everything because I'm going through a neat phase. It won't last. And I don't recognize myself this way. It's not natural.

Going… Going.

Gone. F is for the clear plastic spikes that have fish painted onto the soles. P is for the cowboy boots with the round silver and turquoise buckles. The toes are squared off for kicking. I puked up Jack Daniels many times during that urban cowboy phase of riding mechanical bulls. My hips were full of volt and electric. Plug me in for Juicy-Juicy Couture.
Thank goodness for the clogs. Each one is my story. Without them, I might forget that hazy time of 1979.

I even have the yellow rubber galoshes from kindergarten, when I fell in love with Ms. Cooper. She wore red velvet platforms. I wanted to be her so badly. Goddamn. I never got them, but I did get some red rubbers to protect my saddle shoes. You could jump in the mud and never get your church shoes dirty, which was crucial.

The patent leather Mary Janes are on the windowsill. I've planted cannabis and aloe between the buckles. Every few days I scrabble across a plank that balances from the couch back to the window seat so I can water living things.

I also have special silk red platforms like the ones Mrs. Cooper used to wear on Wednesdays, which she said was her night out with her husband. She was four-foot eleven and those sandals took her all the way up to five-foot four-something. I don't remember what I learned in that class. Finger-painting? Long and short vowels? Who knows? I was thinking that if I could just wear those shoes, I'd grow up. If only, then, I'd understood why her scent made me squirm. It wasn't roses. It was more like earth dirt and stone. No. Or honeysuckle. Hot in the sun. I'd smell her and get goosebumps to the ends of my pigtails and in my knee bends.

Tulips and chalkboards.

One day Mrs. Cooper said she liked my striped denim jumper, so I wore it every Wednesday.

What ever happens to kindergarten teachers?

I wonder. This is how I spend my days. I wonder and I draft plans for the couch extensions. Living room forecast. 70 degrees. All stations go. No immediate plans for travel.

Mom says that if I'm going to sit here and rot that I should at least sell off some of my shoes. She says I could feed the poor with the profits or donate to one of the poor stores. Now what in hell would Goodwill do with my sweet shoes? And how would my girls breathe?
She doesn't know me. She never knew me. That would be like giving away my heart to the witch in the candy cane house. I can't have a stranger editing my fairy tale.

I've tried to explain feng shui a million times.

Never wear lived-in things.

This goes here.

That goes there.

Marching in a high school band. Stepping in time. Beat. Beat. Crash. Run. Touchdown.

Push-'em-back-shove-'em-back-away-back. A cheer.

I put on my shoes when I need to feel alive.

St. Michael's. Lou's Cappuccino. Peggy's Place. Motel 6. Greece. The Miami Nutcracker Ballet. I-95. Step aerobics at Bali's. Abortions at the Front Street Clinic. Women's Lit. 302. A Streetcar Named Desire. Brunch at Martha's. Finger-fucking under the Halifax bleachers. Jaws II. Entry Level positions. The Dania head shop. Dylan at the Jazz Fest.

I don't know how to put this to understanding. To diagram what no one gets about this sit in. All I can say is that I walked before crawling. It feels like I've skipped crucial moments of absorption. My lips can't open wide enough to gulp the swirl back inside. It's all here. In my cowboy boots. Each loopy swirl winds into the next. And I have to know where it ends and until that happens I'm not getting up. Doing so would be disastrous.

So I don't go out anymore. The last time was a disaster. There was a buzz so furious in my thick head that I missed a client and a lover. I remember it best in the black Prada pumps.

The salesman and the drummer.

The one with Dow Jones connections, the other with a Cadillac penis.

The one, the one, the one.

Agent Smith and Neo.





Copyright © 2007 Becci Noblit Goodall

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Becci Noblit Goodall lives on the top of a ridge in Central Pennsylvania with her two children. She has been published in numerous poetry magazines and freelance venues. Goodall is the editor of the workshop forum Megan’s Closet and The Misfit Literati, a reader’s guide to indie publishers, writers, and artists. Her next novel, Megan’s Closet, will be published by Silverthought Press as part of the pulp speculative fiction collaboration night.blind.

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