Andrew K. Peterson

Two Scenes from Mist Connex

Two people of indiscriminate gender sit at a café table, spot-lit, three-quarters stage-right.

J:       Your English isn't very good,

A:      ...but my french is worse! (Both laugh.)
J:       You were writing in English, and I thought you were American,

A:      ...like me. You were actually writing an exposé.
J:       Standing right next to each other by the blue souvenirs. You said I was beautiful.

A:      Your name. Your English was excellent,

J:       ...my French was awful. You told me I was charming, I gave you ...

A:      No response. I ordered a cafe creme and a croissant. When he brought them our waiter
           exclaimed, “My french is also limited.”
J:       You told me my bill was taken care of.

A:      ...I walked up and paid.
J:       What color sweater was I wearing?
A:      What did you say to me as we left the café?

J:       We met at a bar that had old film posters and a surly bar tender who smoked yellow papered
           cigarettes. My friend and I left to a piano bar down the street but ran into you again on the
           sidewalk at closing time.
A:      We entered the Metro together at the top of the C__ about an hour after. I had a black           long coat on, a dark blue oversized sweater and was dragging a mini black suitcase. I have
          dark blond hair and blue eyes, and perhaps gave you an awkward nervous smile passing
          by. I saw you and your friend taking a couple pictures of the arc, then we entered the           subway. All the while I was struggling with my silly suitcase and the fact I just arrived
          from abroad. I passed you in the tunnel then watched as you walked past me when I was           purchasing a ticket from the machine....
J:       I caught up to you and your friend in the subway because there was something going down
          with police in there.
A:      I regret it very much right now.
J:       I stepped by you while you waited for me to pass, and we walked out of the back exit without
          saying a word. It was nearly midnight.

A:      You were not alone; neither was I.
J:       Intentional or circumstantial, only you know. But I'll begin this new decade in tears.
A:      A few drinks too many and I was all over the place classy.
J:       We smoked, and had a chat, went looking for the Tulip Hotel.

A:      And then you asked me to dance and...

J:       ...talked about the Horrors. A Case of Purple or Black? The one we saw together there, where
          the inspector says to Boris Karloff, “Your scars don't scare me.”

A:      And Boris replies “I can only wonder, why lie? What was your motivation?” Then producing
          a postcard addressed to the inspector, he reads it verbatim:
          “Hey Zeus, It is not the same without you here. With winter here it is all the more evident
          that you should be here at the park with me skating circles around me. Boy, you are the
          sweetest thing. You are so handsome and smart and don't even know it. Well, at least you
          pretend not to. Lets transform ourselves into a cafe sometime. your pure as milk friend from
          the north, Hera (in the not your sister kind of way)”

J:       We knew it wasn't logical, but at the time it didn't matter. Anyway, I forget how it ends.

Donald Kroodsma enters with the dawn on his shoulders and a sedge wen in his cappuccino cup. He sits.

DK:   You don't have to be so logical and strategic.
J:       We have the gender equivalents of the same middle name.
A:      It is sad when people you know, become people you knew....
DK:   It is one of life's tragedies when you meet someone that you know is meant to be but due to
          unexpected circumstances and misunderstandings becomes someone you knew.

A:      And when you can walk right past someone that at one time in your life was a big part of
          your life...

J:       And how you used to be able to talk to them for hours about the little nothings in life...

A:      And now you can barely look at them and they at you...

DK:   And all you have left is that aching feeling in your soul, and a decade’s worth of tears.
          Nonetheless, whomever you are missing will surprise you.
A:      If I remember correctly, it isn't everyday that you meet someone who is so selfless.
J:       I had a seizure while at work on December 24th and you and your colleague transported me
          to the hospital. I was fucked worse than I could have ever dreamed. License complaints
          are still being worked on and all I can do is hope that witnesses speak truth, not realistic
          of me to think others will speak truth for me.

A:      You were stealing mints, bruised knee & silly people. We both ran for the Bloor bus at Jane
          on early, early New Year’s Eve morning...

J:       Then had the incredibly mundane conversation about-

J+A:  Having run for the bus!

DK:    Stimulating.

J:       Men actually want to meet someone they saw somewhere so they post specific details. What
          she was wearing, what he was wearing etc. Then women post generic vague bullshit that
          no one could ever figure out if it was them, eg: You were looking at me, I saw stars and
          rainbows I was was the girl with the hair.

DK:    I record and record, filling tape after tape; then I film, song after song, their tiny
          photographs soon covering every surface in my office.

J:       Or they post poems that have NOTHING TO DO WITH MISSED CONNECTIONS!
A:      What we celebrate is leaving behind the self-indulgent fantasies that will rob us of our life.

J:       Men want to meet women not read vague poems.
A:      Ki Ki So So!

DK:    It’s the snowflake strategy.

J:       I am looking for D. I have been searching for D. D. is a black guy, that has a son named after
          him, and a sister name B. I don't remember his mother or grandmother's name, but I did
          meet the family. I do know his mother was living in the same building as he was and he also
          have a cousin name K. D. use to drive a cadillac sts in 1996, K. drove a white toyota celica
          that was white and very nice. I met D. at FREAKNIK 96 in ATLANTA. D. and I had become
          real personal with one another. I hurt D. and I just wanted to speak with him about me
          hurting him and tell him about where I stand now. I don't want a relationship with D., I just
          know I messed up a truly good friendship. I haven't heard from D. since 1997. I would love
          to hear from D. a.s.a.p. I'm originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., but I've been residing in the ATL.

DK:   An hour after sunrise I realize I’ve been duped. There are no babies in this field. Continuing
           on the boardwalk, I’m past the lettuce pond, where the night herons are roosting, and now
          among the old-growth cypress towering overhead; below them, linear arrays of luxuriant
          ferns smother massive fallen logs, the dense growth here a wren haven, the prime territories
          often hotly contested. I pause to look, to listen, to revel in the vocal brawl I was part of
          here last April. I was watching a pair to the left of the boardwalk, catching a glimpse of them
          now and then in the dense cover. He then perched in the open a few yards over the water,
          singing tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle, several times over a minute or so, she
          remaining silent nearby. This tranquil domestic scene was shattered by the CHE-wortel
          CHE-wortel CHE-wortel CHE-wortel
just behind me, to the right of the boardwalk. The tea-
and the CHE-wortel songs were hurled back and for the across the boardwalk, both
          females now involved, too, every second or third song from the first female’s mate
          punctuated with her buzzy chatter, as if to say to the other female I’m here, too; this
          is my territory, keep out
; and as if to remind her mate that I’m here, a female, your mate,
          don’t take your aggression out on me
J:       I have gotten a number of responses from nutless posers. I'm a little hazy on how the salsa
          and meringue went. i hate who i've become as i leave bits of myself as scattered
          memories in his wake...and nothing more.

DK:   The male behind me then switched to a new song, WHEE-del, WHEE-del, WHEE-del,
          echoed almost instantly by the male before me, WHEE-del, WHEE-del, WHEE-del. Back and
          forth they sang, their mates chiming in, too. After four or five songs they both switched to
          another, willy-way willy-way willy-way. Back and forth again they took turns singing, but
          now I heard the asymmetry in their exchanges. When the male behind me sang, he was
          followed instantly – and sometimes even overlapped – by the male in front of me, and then
          there was silence, though perhaps for only two seconds. Turtree turtree turtree now rings
          behind me, followed instantly by turtree turtree turtree in front of me, the female’s buzzy
          chatter accompanying each, this frenzied foursome battling across an unseen line drawn in
          the swamp.
A:      Like I said ended up where we were as we leave.
J:       We smile and wave for miles.

Blackout. When lights return, the two are sitting in each other’s seats, and the actors have switched roles. (i.e. the first actor who has played “J” now plays “A”, and vice versa. The actor for “D” is in the same costume as Donald Kroodsma from previous, and although the voice is accurately similar, and looks appear to be the same, it is unsure whether this is the same actor, or indeed, the same character as the previous scene.)

A:      Lets transcend the virtual poke Robert and explore reality.
J:       I'm tired of that place and went for the next two days hoping you would come back.

A:      There were strangers I meant to meet, but didn’t. Others I did but didn’t mean that. Under
          the circumferences. Rehearsals begin again. There is a panning shot and the camera
          has to travel across a blank doorway. Some photographs are borrowed and fastened up to
          relieve the starkness.

J:       Before wallowing in the details of this matrix, I feel a need to distill the matrix to
          what I can keep track of as I listen, to a matrix with information only on the preludes.

A:      This isn't really a missed connection, more like a broken one.

J:       Now I see better what I can easily hear, that two preludes of the same type never follow
          each other, as there are no entries on the darkly shaded diagonal.

A:      I sorta remember what he looks like, but my only picture of him got burnt.

J:       There is also great uncertainty in which prelude will come next, as each prelude is followed
          by three to five other preludes.

A:      You fell asleep on my futon and urinated in your jeans in the cutest way then left without
          one of your shoes: “Is love the phantom that lurks in the night?”

J:       Won't share with anyone else what's rightfully yours.

A:      Last Friday night, my friends and I went out for a few beers at the Elbow. When I went to the
          restroom towards the end of the night, there was definitely a connection between me and D.
           waiting to use the rest room. D. was tall with long, dark, curly hair. We just seemed to mesh
           so perfectly that I was kind of sobered briefly by this puppy love at first sight feeling. Before
          I could say anything, a drunk guy stumbled passed (sic) me and was obviously D.’s friend so
          D. helped and I took my turn in the stall. After I used the restroom and came out hoping to
          glimpse D. but, had no luck, my search was in vain. My friends had also disappeared from my
          blurry vision.

D:      The take turns out well on the second try. Work proceeds. But shot six goes very wrong. The
          actor fluffs his lines on take three and blushes.

A:      After my last margarita was empty, I stumbled through the closing bar towards the door.
          And there to my utter bewilderment was D., waiting beside the door. D. smiled so sweetly
          and gently touched my shoulders. I let myself be led to D.’s pickup truck and went home
          with D. for the night. The next morning, I woke up before D. did and in my embarrassment
          remembered what happened. I slithered out of the bed and slunk out into the chill air, cell
          phone in hand, looking for the street that I found myself on and hoping it was near my
          house. As I left, I considered leaving my number, but I was worried that maybe D. didn't
          want to meet again.

D:      After take four – some time after – the cameraman discovers he didn’t switch off the camera
          at the command “cut” and it has silently run out of film.

J:       I eye two of the empty cells, those showing that D and A never follow or precede each other.           Is it a coincidence that A and D start with the same two notes and are therefore the most
          similar to each other? I bet that the wood thrush’s rule of “like never follows like” extends to
          situations like this, too, with “almost-alike never follows almost-alike.” We ate the horse
          you rode in on.

A:      The sound recordist comes round to have a word with the director. At one point in the take
          the actor has to turn away to gesture back to the pictures on the wall behind, and his words
          are lost. Repositioning of the mike proves impossible, and the script is injected with a
          pause, during which the actor has to turn and gesture silently to the pictures, then turn back
          to the mike before speaking:
          “I want someone to fuck me until I melt from the friction. Or my centre, ripped to fibres,
          is pounded whole again, like felt.
                    As if I heal
                    in proportion / to the erasure
                    of the memory
                    of the feel      of your lips
                              on my skin.”

D:      Everyone is quiet now. The actor is rehearsing his lines. Sharp things recalled to match in
          your shadow:

A:      (I'd keep my eyes closed. I say It like commitment): “I went on a revenge diet like all the
          stars. Getting a rockin’ body so perhaps you’d feel like a sucker when I see you again. One
          hour workouts, no soda, only eating to survive, not surviving to eat. I got a tattoo that I
          can’t help but think of you when I look at it or when I think about it. It reminds me that I
          have a long path to go to be a good person again. I think you’d like it. It’s totally symbolic,
          and it reminds me of you, and I like that. For awhile I couldn’t listen to any music. I just
          listened to the Comedy Channel on XM. I thought that maybe it would enable me to crack
           a smile and not take this situation so seriously. After awhile, I started listening to music
          again. But I’m still trying to find those lyrics that remind me completely of you, I’ve since
          decided that if I want to find those lyrics I’d have to write them myself. I watch movies
          and TV shows and reality shows hoping that people who have betrayed their loved ones,
          learn to forgive their actions. But none of the actions are quite as horrendous as what
          I’ve done to you, so I really have no comparison. I’ve read online and talked to a therapist
          about my situation, and the only hope I can find is having none at all. It makes perfect sense
          now. I wonder if it will in the morning. I’ve gotten over feeling sorry for myself because I
          know all of this happened because of my actions. But I haven’t gotten over the What If’s and
          the If Only’s. I’ll probably keep those forever. I went through a period where all I could
          manage was to sleep for 18 hours. Now I am at the point where I can’t even sleep for 5. I
          have myself so worked up over you because you did everything you said you wouldn’t.           There was this truck parked outside my work, and it just looked awkward. I thought you had
          sent a private investigator to make sure that I was doing what you asked. Maybe you did. But           maybe you didn’t, because you never called when I got back on track. Your name erased           from my most recent calls. I freaked out. By now I’m sure all your voicemails are gone. Once           you wrote me off, I couldn’t ever bear to hear your voice happy again. I need to remember
          your angry voice in order to remember that I am a bad person and that I don’t deserve
          anything good in life. The therapist you made me see, he said that all things considered in
          my childhood, he says that my actions are justifiable. He said that nobody loved me like
          you got loved, and I had to create my own fantasy in order to feel like everyone else.
          He said if I dealt with my childhood he said my lying would disappear. That I wouldn’t
          have the need to lie anymore because I’d have come face to face with the real reason.
          So here I am. I’ve faced it. And now I am back at square one. Alone. You are the love of my
          life. I have absolutely no doubts about that. Someone could write a story about you and I
          and it’d be as big as The Notebook. Our love was great and I carry that with me everyday.
          I keep that Polaroid of you on my desk. You look like you’re glowing, it’s because of our
          love and that will always be real. I won’t take it down. And when I move I’ll put it
          somewhere else where I can see and be reminded how much I need to be a
          better person. I haven’t tried to contact you in anyway. I think this is my own form
          of manipulation and maybe I should try and contact you. But I’ve seen all your other
          ex-girlfriends pining over you and I am different then (sic) them. I am waiting for you to
          come to your senses and contact me, because this break is on your terms. I don’t want
          answers. I have them all. I don’t want to explain myself. I already have. I want to know
          your love again. And to be honest I don’t think I ever will. But God as my witness, every
          single move I make, word I say, breath I breathe, I am doing everything I can to prove
          myself to you. And that’s the way things are.”

D:      After the break the director tries to get straight in to the first take. Problems arise
          quite quickly. From the department next door the sound of Muzak is filtering through. The
          producer ask the works manager to have it muffled. A girl starts typing in another room.
          A diplomatic message is sent to her boss. There is a very clear sound of a train. The
          producer nervously thumbs through his train timetable to plan takes between arrivals and

J:       Watched my neighbors' dog dig out rabbits and shake em up/down and out. watch out when
          Skeet/killers outside. this call is being recorded coyotes love em like a chicken
          nugget, they will creep right up to your back door to pick em off the porch, Owls with
          night vision pick em up and Eagles around my hill Pick up and drop much bigger
          dogs for a buffet. I was biting my thumbnail and you caught me.

A:      In the bold prelude he whistles slowly enough and low enough that I can begin to hear his
          music, but it is as if he is just humoring me, just playing with me. He lets me
          barely grasp these simple preludes, but then delivers in the flourish some
          of the ultimate in avian music, all unappreciated by my unaided ear.

J:       I imagine the torture/teasing I would get with that riding crop. I still think about you
          demonstrating on the chair. All I really want is a good spanking, with a happy ending.
          But we are not immortal.

D:      Can I have some quiet please for some buzz track? calls the sound recordist. This is for the
          editor’s use to introduce atmospheric pauses where required without having the
          track go “dead”.

J:       But I do have aids, and it is to these aids that I now turn. Using my Raven software, I slow
          these songs down and lower them to a pitch where I can begin to fathom the details. I
          try half speed, then quarter speed, the preludes now so slowly given that I can linger on
          each note. What music I now hear.

A:      I was unloading my groceries into my roommate's van around 3:15 p.m., fumbling with the
          cases of soymilk. You were sitting at the counter with friend, watching me. You said, if I
          am important enough you will remember my name: A recording of silence under the
          acoustic conditions of location.

Andrew K. Peterson wrote Museum of Thrown Objects (BlazeVox Books, 2010), bonjour meriwether and the rabid maps (a forthcoming chap, Fact-Simile, 2010), Here Come the Groovies (with Joseph Cooper, Livestock Editions, 2010), and between here and the telescopes (with Elizabeth Guthrie, Slumgullion Press, 2008). Recent journal publications include: Dusie, The Offending Adam, and Fact-Simile's The A sh Anthology. So as to live and work for poetry in Massachusetts.
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