by Alissa Nutting

Wolf Rainbow (a.k.a. The Beautiful Actual)

     "You are embarrassing yourself on a national level,” Sister yells into the phone. “What about dead mom.”
     “Dead mom is not a mellow subject, Sis.” My Dearest Lover is lying on the couch rubbing ripe slices of pineapple across his chest. He’s watching a television program about dolphins.
     “Oh?” he whispers, “so rubbery.” CT is the lead singer for Wolf Rainbow. They are a total hit but CT doesn’t measure success in terms of money; true success lies in Worm Vibrations, or wormbrations.
     CT stands for Copper Tone. He is into the rays of the sun.
     Sister clears her throat. Talking to Sis makes me feel a little cosmically disturbed. I try to remind myself that she raised me and it became quite a habit for her, a passion even, and I think it’s important for people to follow their passions, unless, like Sister’s, it will hinder someone’s enlightenment, namely mine.
     My enlightenment is purple water and Sister is a levee, but CT allows me to rise up and overwhelm her walls. Sister has never before experienced the unrestricted love shown by one enlightened to the Worm as CT is–it is sad to watch, she just does not know what to do with the love; it’s like giving a can of food to forest-people who can’t understand its value nor the delicious pleasure that awaits them inside.
     A good example of this occurred when I took CT home for Thanksgiving and Sis extended her hand to him. “Mother of my love-cub, I greet you,” he said, and softly licked her face. After this display of vulnerability Sis’s vibes were so tight and secluded. The corners of her mouth tucked in really hard, like hotel bed sheets.
     CT and I prefer to sleep outdoors but sometimes we have to stay in really nice hotels. It’s all the Management. If it were up to CT we’d just find the closest field to each venue and sleep there, but Management makes some good points: privacy etc. CT’s nightly rituals, which are not exclusionary of nudity and spiritual vision accelerators for communication with the Worm Eternal, could be interpreted badly by people like the authorities.
     Guff, the bassist, uses humor to cover up his negativity when he agrees with the Management about hotels. He says things like “How am I going to round up some babes for a bonefest and then bring them to a corn field. The hottest babes will not go for this. I want the giant milkbags; that means giant rooms with giant bars and giant beds–that is how you get the giant milkbags. I can’t believe you sleep buff where it’s all wild and shit. A snake could totally bite your johnson.”
     But this is a ridiculous notion. “Snakes are messengers,” I keep insisting to Guff, who always says “duh,” like he either gets it or is making fun of me.
     Sister loudly gasps inward. She talks really fast–her voice slides from her mouth involuntarily with this natural smoothness that makes what she says seem urgent and true, even when it bogarts my cool. “What if angels get one day to peek down to earth from heaven and Tuesday was the one day mother had for all eternity to get to check up on us and our lives, and when she opened the clouds she saw your…spectacle.” Sister begins crying.
     I know from experience that her tears aren’t clear; they’re a strange gray color like weird steam. I always figured they were mixing with her makeup until I realized she didn’t wear any (not to be commercialized but she could totally use it. Something pastel or bare minerals). Her face is kind of gray too; she fears nature like it’s a rapist or murderer, even though it’s so the opposite—nature is what’s getting raped and murdered. Sister likes to pull back the curtains of her windows to stare out of them and look up at the sky suspiciously. She’ll never go outside. But she got wrinkles before her time from watching constant news television when she was too young to do so, then subconsciously reproducing Dan Rather’s facial expressions.
     “Listen, Sis, I understand what you’re saying.” I peek behind my shoulder and watch CT–naked, gentle CT, yellow pineapple juices dripping down his body like cartoon sweat– pretend to plug the blowhole of the dolphin on television with a piece of the succulent fruit. His giggles are like heartbeat rhythms–steady and seconds apart.
     “You just have to realize that we’re on different planes of existence. I’m not saying I’m better than you, just that my path is way more open with lots of colors.”
     Sis’s weeping intensifies. “What the hell are you saying,” she asks. “You’re speaking the drug-talk. I want my Lena and I want her in English.”
     If the spasm that afflicts my back at the mention of the name “Lena” could make a sound, a single note, it would be unharmonious beyond this dimension. No one would even be able to hear what a wonky note it would be, because the human ear is not advanced enough. It’s one of those things; the sound is made but does anyone hear it, was it made. I speak but Sis does not hear me. Do I speak.
     “Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhmmnnnngg.” CT lets out a guttural moan to begin his AM bowel gyrations. His torso bounces up and down while his hips move like he’s using an invisible hula-hoop.
     His is a hula-hoop made of love. It’s built of understanding, spiritual experience, and opium ether, paired with a variety of other things the human eye cannot see and the human ear cannot hear.
     Most of our senses are completely inadequate and not to be trusted; our true feelings come from our wormholes, often described as “the heart in our stomach between our legs.”
     “Think about it,” CT likes to say, “The organ that the wormless refer to as “heart” is like, entirely muscle. Like a body-builder or a worker bee. If bees have muscles.”
     Sis does not affect my wormhole but my her disapproval makes my pulse quite irregular.
     “Sis,” I say firmly, “Lena is dead.”
     Sis wails. I feel like I am some sort of hostage negotiator, except Sis is both hostage and captor. “We’ve been over this, Sis. My name is now Sorcerella Van Crystal. I have stationary and stuff. I have hemp towels from CT with SVC embroidered on them. You used them to wipe the perspiration off yourself the last and only time you visited our tree house. Please don’t back peddle. You’ve chosen to remain in my journey, thus my life.”
     When Sis is really upset, she begins salivating. It greases her harsh words; they shoot out of the phone at me, sleds of anger luging down her giant Hate Mountain. The thing with mountains is, the higher their altitude, the lower their boiling point.
     “Don’t give me this Sorcerella crap, Lena. Jesus, the court fines I paid when you lived with me during high school. That guy that set your car on fire in our driveway. After everything we’ve been through, some ooga-booga rock weirdo can come along and brainwash you just like that?”
     Sis is not receptive to my meditative breathing exercises so I decide to suggest something a little more hands-on for her anxiety. “Sis, if I send you some brownies, will you eat them?”
     CT passes by me with the walking stick and gives me the thumbs-up, meaning he’s embarking on a defecation-stroll. I wave goodbye. Perhaps sensing my tension, he giggles his dingy slightly.
     “Sweet earth for my loveworm,” he shouts, “I shall return.” Several flies are enjoying the streaks of pineapple juice that ran down his chest and pooled in his groin and thighs. As he walks past me there is a loud unified buzzing; it is so cosmic, all those many flies and just one buzz. It strikes me that it’s like my feelings for Sis—all those different harsh emotions could come out in one primal scream. I emit this into the receiver once I feel CT has ventured far enough on his defecation stroll that he will not hear me and fear danger has struck my physical person and rush back. CT and I do not like to use toilets–only when we have to, like in super-posh hotels and backstage on television programs and concert tours. Sometimes the super posh hotels have double toilets and then he and I sit on them together and stare at each other and try to predetermine when the other will flush, thereby flushing at the same time without ever looking away from one another’s eyes or communicating a will to do so. We have gotten very, drastically close to simultaneously flushing on more than one occasion. I’m pretty sure complete synchronicity is neigh the next time we are at the Plaza.

12 / 3 / 4 / 5 

Alissa Nutting has been published in journals such as Fence, Tin House, and Swink. She is currently finishing her first novel.