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Buffalos Are More Than Animals

D.L. Zimmerman

If I had a bird, I'd name it Shima. Right now I am so cold and alone, just the name by itself would take me somewhere else. But I'm standing outside the YMCA in Bellingham, Washington wishing that I had a pet. Been here for a couple of weeks now with a few books and a shared room upstairs on the fourth floor. Forget about the shower room. The air smells like old tuna and there is no good reason I'm here except for the girl with the allspice love beads.

           YMCAs suck without a mission and she's not interested anymore. Too far away to go home, so I'm forced to stay for awhile. There is something about tribes, perhaps. I know I miss mine. Everything is different up here and there is no solace except the diner down on Main Street. I am very sad. But coffee is coffee. So I order some.

           End up buying everyone's meal for the evening by giving a fifty to the waitress and saying "it's on me as far as it goes." Don't think it makes any sense to her. But that's Ok. I know it's an act of defiance and I don't want to fight anyone right now. Probably should've joined the army or something, cuz there is just this giant hole that has no end or boundaries. It's not Bellingham. It's me and I need to get out of here.

Few months later, end up in an apartment on the side of a volcano with a gal named Becky. Little town about ten miles from anything else. Only apartment there. Right off the parking lot to the only bar in Buffalo, WA. Interesting place, not only because of the volcano, but most of the hundred or so residents had some connection or another to an old-time Socialist union in and around WWII. Radical bunch these folks. Blew up some stuff once or twice over something or another. Also has a great small lumber store with a mill in the back and a guy who runs the place that you got to talk wood with before he shows you any of his stuff. And after that, great wood for sale. So it seems like a reasonable place to be for awhile.

           Two, three shotgun room places with a boarded up hall way in between right in the center of a town that stops both ways up and back and behind and over from the single street. Becky and me rent the one that is vacant. It has a nice bay window looking at it all. Emilo used to live there, but he just died.

           We redecorate immediately. Find a full size, unused Kent cigarette billboard and use that for wall paper for the front room. Build a solid seat for the bay window with wood from the local guy and put a real nice Nixon-smoking-a-joint poster right over the middle, looking out. Leave our bedroom alone after we paint it stark white. Nail up some sheets for curtains. And then we completely transform the kitchen and bathroom into a continuous multi-color rainbow against a double coat black background with the sun, stars, and moon in appropriate places. Get a cat from the local pound and, after some discussion, name it Shima. Can't remember eating anything but don't remember going hungry either.

           Only problem is that almost every night around 1:00 am or so, two or three boys from the bar across the lot come knocking and banging on the kitchen back door screaming: "Is Emilo Here!? Is Emilo Here?!"

           And every time I have to get up and scream back that "Emilo doesn't live here anymore! Go Away. Emilo doesn't live here anymore!"

           After about the third or fourth week of this routine, start to pretend that our little kitty is a ferocious lion standing by my side and carry the kitchen knife to bed. In the meantime, we get this notion to take photographs of everything we see and start taking pictures all the time.

           We're smoking dope after drinking for awhile, making sex, making sense while making sex, smoking dope, drinking for awhile, and making more and less sense and stuff like that and then it starts to snow. We end up on the tracks breaking an egg on a tie and watching the yoke make a picture of the sun on the ice that can't be told. She's laying down on our mattress on the floor, flood lights on, and I'm experimenting with angles. We're laughing in between the comments. She's feeling good about herself. I take something purple and end up listening to John Coltrane all night long, way too loud cuz I just have to hear this stuff. Working, working, working, working, and waking up feeling OK.

           Shima runs away underneath the place and is gone. I get back to the apartment and the back door is open. Go in, and see that we have been visited. Books, papers. wallpaper, and clothes are scattered all over the place. Nothing taken but everything seen. Three cookbooks and one avocado carefully placed exactly on top of each other are left stacked up in the middle of the kitchen floor. Then someone took a piss all over it. Go to the local police. He says that these things happen and that me and the girl should just move out to prevent any further crimes like this from happening again. I tell him about Emilo, Shima, and even John Coltrane. He just grins. Funny, cuz, otherwise, I think I liked the place.

           It makes no sense to her, too. But that's Ok. I know it's an act of defiance and I don't want fight no longer to live like this.

About the Author (click here) © 2002 D.L. Zimmerman, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

This story also appears at www.thepoetspress.org/wings/Archives/WINGS.HTM#STORIES.

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