the pillow book of tim bayliss
with all apologies to the sublime sei shonagon, from whom i have stolen with the utmost admiration.
1)Especially Delightful is the First Day
Especially delightful is the first day of a New Year, when the board is turned over and a fresh one begun. Everyone pays great attention to his cases in red and works on them with utmost care.
I also enjoy the seventh day, although by this time we are a little less excited and are falling back into old patterns. But on the seventh day Gee will usually order pizza and this I enjoy.
2)Different Ways of Speaking
The speech of men and women, no matter what Frank says.
The forever babble of Munch.
Mike's endless bitchy whiiiiine.
3)The Cat who Lived in the Squadroom
The Cat who lived in the squadroom ended up at my apartment. It was given the name "Spooky" and was treated with the very greatest care, for there is something about calling the Cat "Spooky" and having it lick my toes in the night which does give me a wonderful feeling of pleasure.
4)I Enjoy Watching the Officials
I enjoy watching the Officials as they file in and out of Gee's office. As they stand facing the Lieutenant with the shine of their epaulets on their shoulders. As they pour forth bullshit and demonstrate that their heads are firmly up their asses.
5)When I Make Myself Imagine
When I make myself imagine what it is like to be one of those cops who does not work in Homicide, who have not a single exciting prospect in life yet who believe they are perfectly happy--I am filled with scorn.
This is what Frank said to me, and I believe it of him.
The last slip of milk lying curdled in the jug. Glimpses of Mike's pinkish scalp through his short hair. A wash of red under my name. The yo-yo in Meldrick's top right-hand drawer. Serving the last drink of the night. Running out of batteries. The smell of catfood. Sending letter after letter to a loved one and never getting a reply--oh, how depressing!
Red raincoats in gloomy drizzling rain. Recieving a business card that is dingy and re-used. Books without covers. Falling a few cents short of the total and the shop-clerk refusing to overlook it. This is not only depressing; it is no less than hateful.
The corners of Barnfather's mouth. Eating Bundt cake instead of donuts. Watching your partner fall to the floor of the Box. Stinging, persistent memory.
I hate the sight of the dark smudges under Kay's eyes when she is tired and still flipping through endless casefiles.
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as though he knew everything. In other words, Munch.
To envy others and complain about one's own lot.
To be inquisitive about the most trivial matters, as Frank is, and to resent and abuse people for not telling one--
Or, if one does manage to worm out some facts, to inform everyone in the most detailed fashion as if one had known all from the beginning--oh, how hateful!
A newcomer pushes ahead of the other members in a group; with a knowing look, this person starts laying down the law and forcing advice upon everyone--most hateful. I won't mention names.
8)Things that Make One's Heart Beat Faster
The sudden salt breeze when one is standing on the warm pitch of the roof. Seeing the moment in a suspect's eyes before he confesses. Frank's smile. A waft of perfume. Sunlight filtering through the clouds in rays. To pass the coffeeroom and smell a fresh pot brewing. The disappearing dimple in Mike's left cheek. Opening the till and finding a perfect twenty-dollar bill. Understanding a Zen saying. Red wine.
Expecting a visitor at night. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of rain-drops, which the wind blows against the window-pane.
9)It Is So Stiflingly Hot
It is so stiflingly hot in the Seventh Month that there is a waiting list to run up to the roof. One is too aware of the heavy smell of warm flesh and it is unsettling. Even the water takes on a hot meaty taste and is unappealing as well as useless.
The only hope is that Gee will let us douse ourselves with water again and sit sopping wet at our desks. We will get Frank this time.
The pearly inner curve of Kay's shell.
John dressed in immaculate black for the dead of winter.
The tips of Meldrick's fingers.
Livvy fastidiously eating strawberries.
My glasses where they lie on my desk.
The line of Mike's throat when he throws back a shot.
Frank walking through the doorway of a church.
Non-dairy creamer. Reconstituted potatoes (or so I've been told). Secretaries with guns. Grilled cheese sandwiches (or so I've been told). Seat cushions.
Having one's partner interrogate one's cousin.
Playing the same song twice on the jukebox.
Wearing a gold chain to a wedding.
12)Nothing Can Be Worse
Nothing can be worse than waking up in the spilt dark of the night feeling hands on one's body. The long terrified moments afterward when panting breath is the only sound.
Stumbling to the bathroom and not recognizing the face in the mirror.
The thin red line of apple skin against the pale creamy flesh. Hail. Rosary beads. Roses dropping their petals. Setting sunlight. Freshly-sharpened pencils. Soft schoolgirl laughter. The swirl of ink in clear water. An utterly voiceless phone.
14)Things That Give A Pathetic Impression
When one of us bangs his fingers in the desk drawer and bites down on the howl.
Relatives who don't understand when we say, "Homicide".
Decaying lunches in the refrigerator.
Waking up on a Sunday. Cooking a meal and enjoying it. Walking to the Daily Grind with Frank. Finding the right car in the right spot. Forgetting to wash my hands. Extremely cold beer on Mike's boat. Rendering Munch speechless. The sharp smell in the air before it snows. A clean suit. Cereal and cartoons before one is fully awake.
An unexpected hug.
Waking up on a Monday.
The weird faces Munch makes when he drinks Alka-Seltzer.
The reedy thrum of a mosquito's wings right before you doze off.
Having somebody forget what one always eats for lunch.
Typing up reports again and again. How annoying!
Not being able to achieve peace of mind.
Sheppard's facade of cool impenetrability.
New shoes that rub against the back of one's foot.
17)It Was A Clear, Moonlit Night
It was a clear, moonlit night and I stood at my window, delighting to feel the unexpectedly cool touch of the wind, marvelling at the press of my own fingers against my arms.
Frank's voice behind me asked gently, "What are you doing?"
The heavy feel of my eyelids as I murmured, "Looking at the autumn moon."
The benediction of his sonorous reply. "Of course you are."
Mike trying to reclaim the hurriedly-receding Meldrick.
Putting on a trenchcoat in a hurry.
Talking to Gee when he just sits there smiling.
Avoiding blood when one is searching a body.
Trying not to stare at the front of Ballard's blouse.
Julianna's distant tones.
The first moment when a man finds one attractive. There never seems to be anything to say--very awkward.
Spooky's soft paws when he bats at my ties.
Livvy falling asleep while I'm holding her.
The bump of Meldrick's nose against the soda can when he drinks.
Sunlight creeping silently through the blinds.
Mike trying to dust spilled coffee whitener from the counter onto the floor and smudging his pants with it instead.
The delicacy of the skin on the insides of Kay's wrists.
Girl Guide cookies.
20)When One Lives Alone
There are always clean towels.
Meals are eaten quickly or slowly as one desires.
The night becomes bleakly long.
Singing in the shower is permissible and even encouraged.
There is no immediate need to wash the dishes.
The floor becomes a hazy particolored memory.
Home is a lonely place.
21)When I First Went Into Homicide
So many different things bewildered me that I could not reckon with them and nearly slid under the strain. Observing how experienced the others seemed in their duties and how smoothly they carried them out, I was embarassed greatly to be paired with Frank. I was scared that I would humiliate myself.
I did do that, many times. But there is only one thing which haunts me still, as the other mistakes can be overlooked.
An angelic thing.
22)People Who Have Changed as Much as if They Had Been Reborn
Me, for one.
Mike has undergone a complete transformation. When he first arrived it was with the fiery rush of youthful enthusiasm, with a blazing spirit and confidence which threatened to scorch us all.
Then he quieted into a cheerful sparkle, a dash of warmth and freshness in our ranks. Our very own fair-haired boy. Mirthful blue eyes and ebullient cameraderie, the streak of unlikely red in the morning sky, the fwoosh of a lighter in a dark bar.
But then--he burned.
He went up in flames that ate his confidence, his friendliness, his trust. He was charred, badly; scorched by the fires of accusation and desertion...and then, hope singed beyond repair, our Mikey threw everything away and walked into the fire....
I miss him. And I was scared of him.
There were times when his fire beckoned to me....
23)Men Really Have Strange Emotions
What draws us to one woman or another? What draws us to men instead of women?
If the workings of my own mind are so clouded and misty, how can I hope to understand the mind of a woman? Especially taking into consideration the times of month when a woman can't understand her own mind either?
Maybe we were never meant to comprehend each other fully.
Why didn't Munch ever tell Kay that he loved her?
Unwrapping an ice-cream bar. Beer and cookies. A warm cat in one's lap. Sunshine.
I especially like when I get a Cavalier with a full tank of gas, both windows in working order, and no lingering smells of lunch hanging in the stale air.
25)Once I Wrote Down a Poem
Once I wrote down a poem on the back of a thin white order form for napkins. It was a slow night at the Waterfront; the blues on the jukebox echoed miserably through the bar and made everyone grey and depressed.
Feeling sketchy, I scribbled a short poem on the form--about love and rain and language, mostly.
But then Munch flicked it from my fingers and proceeded to read it aloud in the most disagreeable interpretation, suggesting that I was stealing from Ezra Pound here and Dr. Seuss there. Really most embarassing.
I don't think I will be writing any more poems soon.
26)A Handsome Young Gentleman
A handsome young gentleman winked at me as I wandered among the piles of cantaloupe and cherimoya.
I didn't know what to say and so I concentrated on plucking out a few dusky plums with utmost care, glancing up at him now and again, trying not to look like a Japanese girl hiding behind her watercolored fan.
He smiled, deviltry in his moss-green eyes, and came over to lean against the raw wood of the produce stand. His voice was low and gliding, cream poured over honey. The bottom edge of his stiff grey jacket brushed across my knuckes as he stood next to me, seducing me.
The sweet luscious smell as my fingers bruised the delicate skin of the plum.
27)Things That Are Unpleasant to See
Roadkill. Munch eating a Popsicle. Pancaked bullets smug in the plastic lab bags. Dog shit in the park--*very* unpleasant!
The dreaded greasy brown paper bag unearthed from some quiet drawer in my desk. Frankly unpleasant....
Ants marching over the eyes of a body, drinking in the leaking fluids there.
Little girls with big adolescent bellies wearing tight pants and teensy tops. The flashing red "Exact Change Please" light on a vending machine. Mike picking nuts off his cake and tossing them onto the floor. Soap opera sex.
Kay and Meldrick in another skirmish--her frustration and his attitude. One lone passenger in a taxicab in the cold dead of the morning.
Brodie's scraggly facial hair.
28)Features That I Particularly Like
How milky white is the samite skin under Kay's dark eyes! Everything about her suggests toughness and resiliency, but for the translucent paleness of that fragile skin. So lovely.
How endearing Meldrick's eternally-pursed mouth is! The slight overhang of his upper lip, lending a touch of vulnerability to his endless jibes and snickers.
How sombre and priestly Munch's thin black-clad form looks! Behind the bar counter, he seems like a confessor, a spectre--utterly calm and collected.
How pure and hard is the blue of Mike's eyes! Staring into them is like falling down, down through a pool of freezing cold icy vodka, drowning in azure dizziness.
How big and dry and calloused Gee's hands are! The amazement that he can use a typewriter, a gun, a pencil. The rasp they make against his chin when he is thoughtful.
How brilliant Frank is.
stories // parodies // sacrelicious