Alice (Part Four)
…wasn’t ever in wonderland, she just thought she was. Her thoughts had been derailed in a viaduct and there she lay, stupefied in the haze of booze and drugs she’d wreaked upon herself in search of the answer, that answer that never arrived. All Alice got were questions, one after the damn other, meat hooks to hang her guilt upon in the slaughterhouse called love. Alice was bruised and battered, shaken and stirred, thrown between the need and the despair, the love and the loathing. She wasn’t the prettiest of girls, not even a girl at all really, but Alice excelled at pretense; she ate her own insecurities and shat out allusion,
Alice flitted through the nebulous of illusion, left her footnotes here and there in conspicuous places for the ones who wanted to follow to be able to do so. Alice, they’d say, won’t you drop by and see me sometime? All the young girls loved Alice. All the young ones and the old ones and the ones in-between – Alice had become magnetic and her magnetism had drawn the polarized and the disenfranchised − all the lonely people, where do they all come from? And Alice had successfully trapped herself in her own web of deceit, ensnared herself in her own growing reputation, her own lies, her own treachery. The White Queen made her play as the Red Queen licked her wounds; Alice, stuck on the wrong side of the tracks, fell for the White Queen’s twisted play, fell for the contrived innocence, the role play, the wordplay – even though she knew, she was wrong. It was the Red Queen that Alice loved, and yet their tempestuous relationship had unraveled. Correction: Alice had unraveled it by constantly picking at the loose ends, by picking fault, casting blame. Alice was a prima donna. The Red Queen waited, abandoned, deceived; she waited for the inevitable, for the train crash.
The White Queen seized her day, blissfully unaware of quite what she was walking into, for Alice had long since deviated from the norm, and now, swirling in the vortex of her own ruination, she had schemed, plotted and planned the most abhorrent catastrophe: Alice had become the Black Queen, the queen of madness, the queen of deception, the queen of all games. The White Queen, oozing innocence, was immediately enchanted by Alice, because Alice knew how to charm everyone. Alice, her mood darkening by the hour, fuelled by booze and painkillers and self-disgust, took charge of the game with a ringmaster’s aplomb, spilling everyone’s toys and then systematically breaking them. Yet, no one complained. They were unable to fully comprehend quite what was unfolding, and patiently waiting for what was certain to be a spectacular finale.
In Alice’s games however, she played the hero and the villain; the hero in her own distorted mind, the villain to the assembled cast and stunned audiences, and now she had her game set in motion: – Alice’s games were unstoppable until Alice herself called ‘Cut!’ She had an incoming Red Queen, a scrambled White Queen, a disfigured Mad Hatter and a mute rabbit – all the players she required to put on a show. Why so glum Alice? Why so drunk, girl? What’s wrong with you? Maybe Alice already knows how this game is going to unfold; she ought to − she wrote the script. Alice waivers dangerously between honesty and deception, swings wildly between truth or dare; Alice is coming apart, her stuffing is spilling, her mind is fast becoming a milky nebulous full of obnoxious gases – she carries on regardless, carries on arranging her players, carries on dancing down a path already strewn with the detritus of her past lies and spoiled truths, not a looking glass in sight.
Forget everything, Alice says: Alice lives in a fantasy world; Alice isn’t fucking real!
Somebody fix us
Give me a fix . . .
She knows what I’m going to do before I do – she drives me to the airport, we’ll see each other in eight hours. Only nine hundred clicks to desolation, I can do this. I can prove that her trust in me is solid, and I can be a fucking adult for once in my life.
A friend in need…a friend is just a known enemy…these friends have agendas no longer hidden − these friends are aiding and abetting, railroading, goading, manipulating, waiting for the cracks to appear; such friends deserve every damn thing they get. A drink, I must have a drink; and no, I don’t like this other woman, reality always supersedes the virtual illusion, the typed allusion − words of comfort stained with blood.
The day drifts, fuelled by alcohol and deception, by misunderstanding and miscommunication, and she is in the air, en route. All I have to do is tell the truth, spit it out, regurgitate it onto a strange city street, and let the commuters deal with it. She calls me, I answer, she asks me, I lie, she tells me it’s over. Enter the friends, always willing to pour gasoline onto a fire, to do anything to protect their own fragile reputations. I go to a gig, fail to perform, leave before it’s over −Oh what a night! I should send a text, find out if she’s okay, but I’m just too scared, and too drunk. Mind fucks and little black dresses and love lost and friends vanquished and Pepsi Max and the stench of deceit: I wake up, then wish I hadn’t, jettison my cargo, catch a bus, only just make my flight. I am in the tail section, the last row of seats are all mine. It’s easy to get a drink, easy to get catapulted into hell when this thing takes a nose dive to Valhalla.
When I get back home, she’s gone. The flat screen, her computers, gone; just a note about cat feeding and how I’ve gutted her. She walked alone all night hoping to be mugged or raped. I was sleeping with my bitch in a hotel room that I and my girl had paid for together.
She’s leaving home bye-bye… Fly in the temporary secretary, use and abuse, punish the sinners. A lost week, a week of mercenary drinking, of falling out, over, down… She gets her shit; I get exactly what I’d asked for. Everything has come full circle; my dick still rules my roost. I want my red head back, want to nestle-up to her tangled mane, feel her breath on my flesh again. I can’t sleep, so instead I float aimlessly through the dark void like a transparent sea creature.
I want to go back to the good times, back to the intensity, to the couch, curled up together, to the floor, fucking, while Prince and Lenny Kraits belt out ‘American Woman’. Back to those crazy Sunday mornings of razored sunlight and eclectic egg breakfasts, back to the empty fridge and the very long afternoons in beer gardens.
We fell into the orchestra pit, into bed and then in love, and after that we fell into bars and tattoo parlours, stood in the jaws of the shark, danced under the stars and swallowed demons, took trips, attended happy hours and shot 8-ball. We wrote words, painted desire and sculpted dreams, read aloud to one another; we walked deserted beaches and called down the moon.
Craving the touch, savouring the taste, inhaling the scent, the mind reels at her beauty. The groin is a power boat stuck on full throttle heading straight for her reef. No thoughts of abandoning ship, you want to be shipwrecked with her, a cast-away on some atoll where no one can ever reach you again, a place where the stars blanket you at night and the sun caresses you by day – love is a fire and you are its flames. And you can never die, never be hurt again, because you are safe, safe in her harbour, anchored to her soul.
Maybe you think that about every lover, maybe not; because sometimes you realise you thought you were anchored, but when the storm came you were torn apart, cast out onto the waters again to drift aimlessly from port to port searching for another berth. But not this time; this time you know that you are moored to an immovable object and that no storm, no matter how ferocious, can shift you.
I have come undone instead, undone her in the process, ripped the trust from her heart and the love from her mind, gutted and filleted her – left her out in the gutter to dry. We’re writing together at least, via email. Ironic, that’s how we first got together. The words this time, however, are made up of vicious parallels drawn together with rage. My psychiatrist has prescribed sleeping pills − there are one hundred and fifty, I’ve counted them. The pills are yellow, the colour of cowardice, and all I have to fear now is the unknown. But I’ve done it before…
We’ve had a night out; no, she’s unsure whether she can stay - because I’ve betrayed her.
She loves me, she loves me not.
Some said that I’d never be a woman anyhow, it was impossible, and not only that, it was abhorrent. And others, the ones without saddles or bits, simply said don’t worry baby, it’ll be okay, why not come over and do the twist. I took up residence in a world neither there nor here, a fantasy world of non-specific gender identity and zero gravity. I flitted here and there, into both camps, refusing to believe that femininity or masculinity could, or should, be defined simply by what inhabited the cave between one’s legs. It was a world where the pronoun ceased to exist, where those who visited left their binary ideologies at the door.
They were right, I’d never be a woman; they were all right. Fuck, I couldn’t even be a man, so how in the hell could I be a woman? All the pills are crushed, just add wine – relax, this won’t hurt a bit. Something blurry, words, vitriolic, then pain – then emergency then tubes then words then…then it’s early in the morning and I ask her to stay over and she says yes, but only because I might have a relapse, that the crumpled Nirvana in my brain might rise again, see it through – this time for real.
And ain’t this the night of immaculate conceptions, of divine interventions?
No, this is the night of the long knives, the night of broken glass – the night of bogus miracles. Christmas Day, small respite, at least we’re talking, I don’t have all the answers, there are too many holes – too much blanked, whited out. Maybe we’ll have dinner together New Year’s Eve. Maybe…
The poetry we wrote when we were apart is published; we’ve been back together for three months, trying to remake the jigsaw. I have so much to learn about being a woman, so much to learn about truth, consideration, support, love. Maybe I will learn it because being a woman isn’t about tits and lips – maybe now that Alice is dead the boy will finally leave me too, give up trying to protect me. I’m a big girl, I can look after myself, I think.
“No sympathy for the Devil, bear that in mind.”
Hunter S. Thompson
What have I learned in a decade of tampering with gender ideology? Well, I’ve learned that gender is a weapon used all too commonly in the ongoing war against the social conscience. It is used as a cudgel in religious propaganda, as a marketing tool in the cesspit that is capitalism – as a loaded gun by those that stand to lose the most should the holy bastions of masculinity and femininity fall into the abyss of androgyny. Children are raised to believe wholly in the birth role afforded them – raised to believe that a boy becomes a man and a girl becomes a woman and forever the twain shall meet. Gender is the last hurdle to be surmounted on the track to social freedom, to freedom of expression – and just perhaps it is the transgendered community who are fast becoming the revolutionaries of the twenty-first century – going far beyond the limits of their peers, living in the grey area between pink and blue, finally adopting the belief that one need not identify nor live nor dress as one gender or the other – that everything can, and should be blurred, because then and only then will humanity be able to justifiably call itself a community. Once you remove the suit and tie, the dress and the heels and replace them with whatever goes, misogyny, intolerance, stigma and phobia will fall by the wayside – once you pull gender apart you will find that the differences between the sexes are nowhere near as wide as the media would have you believe. What is gender if not a one in two chance? What are you, anyhow; a boy, a girl or a human being? Stop labelling yourself and those that profit handsomely from the labelling business will soon find themselves rendered superfluous.
What I’ve realised is that I wasn’t averse to being a boy, nor had I a burning desire to become a woman. What I set out to do, I understand now, was to make me, and if that me happened to be a composite of both genders, undefinable, then that was how it was supposed to be. I like that I confuse people, and that women call me love and men call me mate. I may have changed my body to some degree, but what I’ve changed more is my mind, my outlook, my tolerance. Nothing surprises me, and the more weird it is, the more undefinable, the more confusing, the more I appreciate it. I saw a line, but I neither crossed it nor walked it; instead, I erased it.
I changed the way I viewed myself, quit worrying about what people thought I was or expected me to be, and took up the challenge of being what I wanted to be − something undefinable, a blurred line − and if that confuses, aggravates or inspires people, that's up to them. Being happy in your own skin is one thing, but being happy in your own mind is of far greater importance. After all, the only acceptance you really need is acceptance of yourself for who, or what you are.
I am an outsider, I am Alice.