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Eleanor Levine

Smiling from the Cracks

I can’t extricate Brooke from my dreams. She is sitting at the base of a water fountain, waiting for me to fall in.

She digs me, though I would be insane, like The Heartbreak Kid, if I went with her again. Alas, that won’t happen because she thinks I’m a stalker.

Brooke was my religion for a while. She has red hair and freckles and slides into my life like a popsicle.

That sort of happened last night. I was trying to prove to a large audience that I could read my short story with a deep-seated eloquence. She was the only person who believed me.

Brooke grimaced as she sometimes does. She has a gap in her teeth. Few people have this gap but hers is always there, a resilient gap like a gift from Francis Nightingale, a former critic who died while reading the Bible from a feminist perspective. Rumor has it that God was upset with how she analyzed the “Sarah section,” and Francis died from Biblical side effects—several plagues descended on her. It was unprecedented in feminist literary thought. But we digress, so let us return to our heroine.

Brooke stood in front of the audience and said, “Jayne, why don’t you use one of your accents to read the story?”

While everyone was in disbelief, didn’t think I could do this, Brooke’s smirk pierced my psyche. I was so encouraged by her that my accent turned Irish. The vocal quality of the story, the piercing sensation of its erotic nature, came to life and ignited in me a restlessness that absorbed the audience.

Brooke’s Howdy Doody expression, like Dick Gephardt’s, delighted me and I giggled thereafter and was able to read.

It was reminiscent of a nightmare where we both swam in a large pool. She was floating, and I was forbidden to see her, but I saw her at dusk.

Brooke was glad I could swim and elapsed into ecstasy.

Her presence in my life has always created a great spin on things. It makes me think of myself as a large peacock with feathers that spring forth, or a huge fence that surrounds a concentration camp—an inescapable fence that completely embraces your heart and melodies.

This is all post-World Trade Center, and we are still upset, so this is the perfect time for hallucinations, in which her existence can make a hoarse voice open the channels of resistance.

I have said this time and time again: Brooke is the Beatrice of lesbians.

Many people, myself included, believe William Burroughs, in his heroin-induced prose, embodied the homoeroticism of anonymous sex in its most grueling epiphany; well, for me, Brooke brings head fucking to a supreme level.

Sort of like the shrapnel singing through the Twin Towers, the no longer existing World Trade Center. Wind blowing in a maelstrom of whipped corpses.

The dust now peruses our minds. It floats upon the agitation of souls.

We are a bare city that once transgressed the egocentricities of a universe.

This was the only excuse I had to regenerate our relationship.

Maybe courting would no longer be perceived as ambushing, for we are now post-Modern-post-mortem.

It was without the hesitancy that preceded me that preempts me prior to the World Trade Center collapse that enabled me to have the below conversation.

“You’re alive?”

“Who is this?”

“It’s me, Jayne.”

“Jayne Anderson?”

“Who else? I wanted to ensure you’re okay. That you …”

“I’m fine Jayne…You?

“Good. You still with Kitty?”

“Yes, you with Hinry?” Southerners stick an “i” naturally where an “e” would suffice. These were our pets, in case you’ve wondered if we’ve had lovers. She’s had a few, including an East German girl who climbed through the window. But none could quite kiss her with my rhythms. However, it was the repeated phone calls and intoxicated pushiness of a kike dyke in love that annoyed her in the last moments we spoke.

She was living by the East River, and though she picked up her unemployment check last week near Wall Street, she was working in the Farmer’s Market at Union Square. She could collect checks and work and remained unscathed.


• • •


The pilots who crashed were focused. They did not crash on Little Italy or Union Square.

“Isn’t this like the most awful thing?”

“Yeah…I’ve been so depressed. Are you on anti-depressants, Jayne?”

“Yes, and my psychiatrist upped the Prozac. Makes me dizzy….”

“Zoloft makes me drowsy…you staying in New York?”

“Yes, because if we can’t be self-indulgent and eat in nouveau riche restaurants then the terrorists have won.”

“You mean it’s okay to buy expensive Nikes for work?”

“Sure, if you can afford to. Don’t let these fucks prevent you from your reality.” I never sounded so patriotic. It was as if my obsession had been momentarily obliterated by the attack; my mania was legitimate because it meant THEY were not changing our lives.

“Too surreal…you film any of it?” I asked, knowing she had been a student at the NYU Film School.

“No, I was working at the Farmer’s Market.”

She always had an ineffable amount of sarcasm stored in her diminutive body.

“What are you doing with your life? Just recovering from this horror?” Brooke asked.

Hers were the only lips I enjoyed kissing.


It was then that the conversation began to teeter. Brooke was busy with girlfriends and filmmaking and thought of me as a provocative, solipsistic moron who would never stop worshipping my ego.

But thanks to her the audience clapped.

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