<%@ Language=VBScript %> <%response.buffer = TRUE%> The Folding Chair
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The Folding Chair

Elisabeth said that life was like a folding chair, "I can put it away when I want to." That's what she said, I don't know if anyone understood her. What I did know was that she looked as beautiful as ever when she said it.

Fiction by Craig A. Platt
Illustration and Movie by William Powhida

January.30th.2002

The Folding Chair Movie download 500k .mov file.


She stood there in my room, over me like an angel, as I was curled up in bed hungover again. She had this long brown hair that smelled like dandelions. She lighted a cigarette and blew the smoke out the window, she knew I hated cigarettes. It was early in the morning but the glare from the sun hurt my fragile brain that was still vibrating from the night before. She was arguing with me about love. About, "giving and taking," and "knowing when to get off your drunk ass and come home." I still wasn't sure what she meant.

"I can shut you out you know?" Blowing blue smoke into the yellow light, her hips were enough to make me turn into dried wet spaghetti.

"My, oh my," I said in a somewhat bubbly and drunken manner. I looked her over, in old woman shorts and tennis socks, she never dressed her age and yet she still somehow managed to look good. "You look so good right now," That's what I said.

"Don't give me that shit." She twisted her hips, her head facing right toward the window, her legs facing straight ahead at me and her torso facing left at the bookshelf and the typewriter.

The typewriter, a piece of paper half typed, words dangling, screaming at me to get off my lazy hump and do some writing, my imagination telling me that all this drinking is making me a better writer, Elisabeth reminding me I am a deadbeat and a bad boyfriend, and that page in the typewriter fucking hanging there, like a hairy, hungover tongue, "Yowch. My head."

"Don't make fucking excuses, I waited up last night. Where the hell were you?" Her voice, a hot rusty dagger, cutting through the frozen butter of my brain. Me placing my swollen palm to my throbbing forehead and rubbing, like that will somehow summon the memory I had erased the night before, and the sun now acting like an interrogator's light.

She pulled up the blinds all the way now and made her way for my desk chair, the huge burgundy fake leather chair that made me feel like big, bad Calhoun, chairman of the fucking board. She sat down and put her feet, tennis shoes and all, on my bed. I looked at them and prayed there was no dog shit at the bottom. There wasn't and I was surprised at how clean they were.

"Do you wash your tennis shoes regularly?" I rolled over toward her, me smiling, her face looking like she had just swallowed the most bitter treat in the world. Then I realized I had no clothes on. Was I with someone last night? I can't recall. I surveyed the sheets for evidence, there was none? Then I went to scratch myself and the evidence became painfully evident.

"Don't change the subject." The frown was dissolving, she knew the game and she liked to play it, I was her little baby dependent boy. She smiled and showed some white teeth, she looked real good and I was starting to wake up all over but now was no time to be frisky, not if I wanted to stay in love or moreover keep her in love with me. But there were those beautiful legs of hers, half exposed, toned and tanned and smelling like soap, her hair like dandelions like I said earlier. I wanted to kiss her but my breath tasted like the evil twin of Bourbon.

There I was uncomfortably trying to figure out how to solve the problem too. The unsightly, unthinkable was still lurking between my legs and to get out of this one was going to require some serious bodily control. Between my legs lay my penis of course still wrapped in its cellophane, latex raincoat which protected me from the stray cat I'd brought home the night earlier, stuck by my species' natural adhesive and if I were to get out of this bed with that thing still on it would be the end.

There I lay half in the fetal position rolling gently to and fro and when she asked, "Why are you rolling back and forth like that? Are you going to get out of fucking bed and take me to breakfast?" I just squinted and almost like a reflex I told her she looked beautiful and that I loved her. "Life isn't the only thing like a folding chair Calhoun. Love is too and I can put that away just as quickly, so you better get off your ass and get me some breakfast and fresh squeezed orange juice like you promised or there will be some hell to fucking pay."

I winced. I concocted the plan in a quick thinking inspired moment of genius and so to distract her with my right hand covered in chapped drunken crust and praying that the pheromones of last nights litter wasn't still lurking, I rubbed her smooth lotioned leg. She smiled; she liked it when I rubbed her legs. She leaned over and kissed my forehead and while she did I ripped the poisonous jellyfish from my flesh. I kicked it down to the base of my tucked quilt.

"Now let's get up and go." I said hoarsely almost catching the bell in the back of my throat to the top of my dry mouth, she smiled again and stood up. She stood up and walked over to my dresser. Her shorts gave no indication on whether or not she had an ass. She pulled out a pair of underwear and some shorts.

"Are you wearing socks today?" She asked her voicing popping like grease on a griddle. And so I stood up, naked as the day I was born and walked up behind her. I wrapped my arms around her and she gagged. "You smell like sex."

"What?" I nervously laughed it off removing my body from contact with hers.

"You smell like fucking sex or something damn close to it!" Her eyes were ablaze and I stood back and my body shrank to half its size. She smiled. "Scared ya! You got a guilty conscience or something?"

"What?"

"I," She pointed to her self talking slowly, "S-C-A-R-E-D," pointing at me, "you." I laughed a bit.

"On second thought, I am going to get a shower, want to join me?"

"No I don't want to get my hair wet." She never wanted to get her god damned hair wet. I bet that I showered with that girl last night who ever she was. And so I walked out of my room and into the bathroom.

On the floor lay a purple pair of thong underwear and I scooped them up as Elisabeth followed me into the bathroom. I hopped in the shower and screeched as I waited for the water to warm up, little purple panties balled up in my left hand. What was I going to do with this damn underwear? I shook from the cold water and every muscle in my body went tense. Then I opened the shower's window to the outside world, the one with the windowsill where there was a half full can of beer sitting, and I threw those purple britches out the bright blurred window into the shrubbery of the neighbors lawn. Now I could blame it on my roommate Harris, he was always running around with women that wore purple thong underwear.

Elisabeth began talking to me. "Calhoun can you believe how tough my job has been over the past three months. I mean I am sorry I haven't been around for you ..." And there in my shower, my sanctuary, I closed my eyes and rubbed the water into my skin. I flashed through my brain and the story I wanted to write dripped from my brow. I watched the characters oozing slowly around and around swirling my reflection until they rushed down the drain. This was where I washed it away. But it was always there and I picked up the bar of soap and washed and washed until the evidence was lost. Elisabeth was talking and I heard the sound but the words were not forming thoughts in my brain. I looked into the water and saw Davis, my character, running through a garden at midnight the moon hanging like an enormous breath mint in the sky causing the wind to burn his eyes. Davis stopped and picked a rose and ignored the thorns that were puncturing the soft pink flesh of his cold palms. There he stood with the rose and he picked a petal off the rose and placed it on his tongue. He chewed it slowly and smiled a red fleshy smile. The smile was so sinister it seemed the devil himself were smiling through Davis. And as he finished the first petal his hand, automatically like a fine German machine, placed the second petal on his tongue. Then there was the third petal and then the fourth until there were no petals and as he ate each petal the whites of his eyes turned into the red velvet color of the rose. He looked down at the green thorny stem and shrugged his shoulders with the look of having nothing better to do and no thought, just instinct, and he looked at the thoughts in his mind and the devil racing back and forth across the midnight garden and again he shrugged his shoulders. He looked up at the breath mint moon and thought, "peppermint, juniper, mescaline, bourbon, I wish I felt something that God didn't intend for me to." He then took the thorny stem and crunched it into his mouth. The thorns would not allow the acidic saliva in his mouth to break them down and a war ensued within his jowls. He never made a sound though and he just chewed and chewed, bloodying his lips and gums. The red velvet of his eyes spread to his hair and then his nails until the night had consumed him. He became a soft, red greeting card designed to be the bearer of bad news. Then as the velvet began to overwhelm his skin the wind picked up and blew the velvet off like seeds from a dandelion. There he was washed back by the wind and the moon transformed from a breath mint to an old style grandfather clock and then finally into a typewriter with mud tires grumbling with an eight cylinder engine and too much horsepower so that the words would fly out faster than any other typewriter in the world and the page couldn't keep up in recording the words. Davis was alone in this garden watching the world succumb to his imagination. "... and then my boss asked me to work again this Sunday and next but I don't get paid overtime and," her voice trailing in and out of my consciousness, a light murmur, a whiny humming reminiscent of a Charlie Brown episode, "... wonk, wonk, wonk, and then I looked at him and shook my head and he asked what is wrong so I told him it was out of the question because of everything else you know? All the plans we make and never follow through with, you remember our plans right? ... wonk, wonk, wonk." Silence, she figured I was listening she loved it when she thought I was listening, I never listened. "And so he said that would be OK and told me that he agreed I was probably working too much and he agreed to hire me my own assistant. Can you believe that? My own assistant is like so unbelievable. And that leads us back to what I was saying, I know I haven't been around a lot and you have been out drinking and cavorting with your artist friends, I am going to make an effort from here on out to spend more time with you." She sneezed, Calhoun still in his vision forgot to say god bless you. "Did you hear me?"

I instantly snapped out of it looked down at my white legs covered in little rough black hairs and then down to my crooked toenails. I stared down at the water rushing into the drain. "Yes, I think that is just what I wanted to hear."

She unfolded her chair. "Good, because I really want to make this work and I know you would be lost with out me and there it is I guess. But remember Calhoun that it is just like a folding chair. I will have no problem folding it up and putting it into the closet until the next time I need it." I laughed a loud and obnoxious laugh. It was the kind of laugh you'd expect from a 300 pound man that chews on cigars and sells children's shoes. I laughed and looked out the window at the purple underwear and wished I could feel guilty. "What are you laughing at?"

Peeking out from behind the curtain. "Wanna come in?"

"No, I already said I don't want to get my hair wet." She was laughing at the way I had knotted up my curly hair. "Now get out and let's go get breakfast."

"Alright, but only if you take that towel and dry me off."

"Oh you are so crazy, I don't know what I am going to do with you, my mother really is right though. You are all wrong for me." She stood up and grabbed the towel. Turning the knobs to the left the water stopped like traffic at the sight of a dead squirrel in a suburb. She dried me off while I danced like a 5-year-old. She told me to sit down and then she brushed my hair for me. "If you want later I will give you a haircut."

I went and dressed and in the process disposed of the jellyfish. It was a wonderful breakfast complete with fresh squeezed orange juice. I tried to give Elisabeth my undivided attention but somewhere I was searching for the story and I was searching for my memory. There was a lot of explaining Davis owed to himself. And there I concluded that I was guilty of never giving Elisabeth enough credit and maybe she is onto something when she says, life is a folding chair.




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