Closely – Don’t Give Me Away

by dschapman

“I would like a haircut,” I told my mother, “I want to do it up like Jimmy Dean. Sort of like it is now. But shorter to the back. And leave the front long. That way I can do it back, like Jimmy.” My father asked me who I was talking about. “You know, dad, the actor, James Dean?” My mom knew who I was talking about, though. “Maybe in ten years I’ll get it done clean like Monty Clift,” I joked. My father asked me, “Who?” and my mother said, “Montgomery Clift, the old-time actor.” Montgomery Clift is the greatest, I said. “Did nana like Montgomery Clift?” I asked my mother, referring to my grandmother, who grew up a true blue-blood in downtown New York – Dutch blood, oil money, or Scottish – pale as ice but crinkles brown – nobody has any name’s around here, son. Won’t you go home? “I don’t know,” my mother said. “She might have.”

“He almost died in a car wreck,” I say, like me. “Jimmy Dean did die. But Monty survived. And everybody loved him. But when they saw his disfigured face, they screamed in the theaters. They were shocked. That’s who Jimmy Dean took after. Montgomery.”

I went to bed that night dreaming of Montgomery Clift and Arthur Rimbaud. I had sex with Rimbaud in a barn and it was absolutely filthy. I made two million dollars investing in a biotech startup and was a millionaire, so I bought myself an apartment downtown on the square, like a regular celebrity. “I don’t know why,” I told my parents, “I just figured that’s what I could do.” I was making $8,000 a week in dividends. Taxes were high but I was killing it. I bought myself a super large television and put it in the middle of my new apartment. I bought an expensive couch and put in in front of the TV, with a small rug in between for my dog. I had giant visualizations of the technology that made me rich – vibrant, neon geometric designs, computer chips and circuitry – printed and framed and placed them on the walls, bought a bed, and left the rest empty. “That’s how millionaires do,” I told my father. “Right? They just move in and don’t buy anything. That’s how they do in the movies.”

In this alternative history I invested in a technological commodity which was a regular goldmine, like 1849 again, and everyone was making money hand over fist. I didn’t have to work. I flew to Asia and visited some of the facilities. I invited my friend to weekend in Spain simply because it was viable. I bought a $70,000 car but, because of where I lived, I barely drove it.

My dog went down into the cellar and killed a snake. I asked my father, “Would you kill a snake with a shovel if you saw one,” and he said, “No.” In the books, the boys kill the rattlesnakes with shovels. I have a natural fear of snakes. Lousy characters, I’m just as bad. I could’ve been a nobleman. I could’ve been chivalrous. Or bad. I could’ve been James Byron Dean. It could’ve really been something beautiful. It was beautiful, once.

“I never go home anymore,” I said, in my dreams. In my life I am here in my home. I can see across the street from here; there is a beautiful crape myrtle. In the morning I go out with a saw and saw it down. I will find three more and make them into bedposts. Are crape myrtle trunks masculine bedposts? My mother thinks so; I don’t know if I can trust her. As a child, when I asked her why I was so hairless, she said it was because I was highly evolved. This is not true. In fact it is because I am not very masculine. Not that I care anymore.

Ever since I first saw East of Eden I was in love with the idea of speculating on the price of beans, and growing those beans, and making your family proud with success, and have everything. I have had chances; I could have speculated once on a technological currency and become a millionaire within six exciting months – instead I spent those months alone, in the shadow of the valley of heat, laying on a couch and feeling sorry for myself. I am always sorry for myself.

People used to love me, once… I pushed them away because they annoyed me, because I am bad. I love them back and I want them in my life. I just can’t stand to talk to them. They get so mad at me. Sometimes I make a fool of myself. Well, you know how it is.

But if those beans grew tall and high, and the girls fells in love with me again, and I sold this beans, and I celebrated and set off the fireworks, taking my family out to eat and then buying them a house – it could’ve been really something.

I knew a man like Jamie Dean once, he even liked to act. He wanted to fuck me because he was in love with me. I was in love with him too. One night, my other friend held him back while I punched him, in the face, and then we threw him outside and called the police on him. But we did not send him with the police. I do not know why we called them. I was upset and felt guilty for months. It ruined my Christmas. How could I have let those months go by, spoiled? Wasted time! Wasting precious silver time!

My bed is quicksand and my house is a tall, rotting canopy, wet with the centuries of moisture and sweat, built by slaves in the middle of a civil war – they came through the country like animals, and they left with our pots and pans; it would never be the same again – they burned the country clear to the coast; just there, that is where the general camped.


I wanted to save him, I wanted to help him, I fed him, I took him in, oh, who am I kidding, I tried to kill him. I’m gonna get drunk. Yeah, I’m gonna get drunk. What does it all mean? When we – when I was – in the ancient city ruins, by the sea, where we discovered lost technology; lasers, microwaves; Swedish tempurpedic mattresses…