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Chris Allen Clark

How I abducted My elusive Migraine Queen

This story is for M.J.

I was sitting at my breakfast table cutting words from a newspaper. There was always frustration with finding certain words like affair. Murder. Perhaps murder was the easiest word to find in the editorials. Newspaper editors could always poke fun at a few crimes left unsolved.

I am a self-employed bassoonist for the Greenbush City Orchestra. Lean close to this sheet of paper you are reading. If you listen hard, you can hear the deep rich woody melody of my instrument as I play a piece from Prokofiev’s Peter and The Wolf.

Before my self-employment with the Orchestra, I worked for four years with Waxley’s Department Store in Jackson, stamping letters, being the "Go Boy" for my boss, the Secretary of Management for Waxleys. I grew tired easily and very very bored.

One day, I decided to "go" and get an inter-office manila envelope, sit quietly at my computer and, when no one was watching me, I typed out a memo of concern to be delivered to departmental security:

"Someone is trying to exterminate the Secretary of Management. Please warn him, his wife and young daughter as I don’t want to see them get hurt."

At 5:00, I discreetly placed the envelope in Security’s mailbox and then went home.

The next day, I knew something was up when a hush came over our department and my fellow employees whizzed past me as if I were a disease. These people I once called friends would huddle together in the break room and when I entered they would smile nervously. I wanted to go and hide some place but before I could do just that, I was called into the executive conference room. I saw a uniformed police officer sitting at the head of the table. To make my situation more complex, this man, as it turned out, was employed by the FBI. Interrogated for two hours, I admitted to the letter and later resigned my post, only after agreeing to a one year psychiatric evaluation.

Today, I have the same grudge against everyone. Public officials, FBI agents and department store managers can take themselves, their wives, their husbands and babies, even their little dogs to a Haitian bonfire and willingly throw themselves to socialist gods and goddesses.

The glass against my face is cold as I watch my lover Mary Joe get into her car and drive off to work. I was only caught because of my fingerprints precariously left on the envelope. Today from the Internet, I ordered a small bottle of fingerprint remover. It may work this time.


Mary Joe is a 35-year-old, divorced, nurse practitioner who has a passion for small artsy multicolor sun glasses; her favorite being a fuchsia and green pair dotted with tiny little lemon drops.

I realize now that our desperate love affair existed only in my imagination. I was oblivious to the fact each time I passed nurses in the hallways of the Greenbush Memorial Hospital. They always stared at me in my polo shirt and blue jeans. Did they think I was good-looking?

I always wondered what these women in their green scrubs did once they got home, what music went through their heads, their minds? What bizarre twists and turns did they take in a passionate night of love making?

I turned from a young nurse’s smile as she passed me and I slowly opened the door to the doctor’s lounge where Mary Joe slept. I had not talked to her in days and she looked tired, older. Her blonde hair was pulled tightly up into a pony tail and loose strands fell over her red cheeks. Always beautiful. Always my Blondie. She was lying on a cot watching Law and Order when I walked in.

"I have Orchestra tickets." I smiled at her as I fell into a lazy boy recliner in front of her. A white cotton blanket shrouded her body and was pulled up to her nose. Her black leather boots were placed neatly beside the bed and a bag of corn chips lay half eaten on top of the blanket.

"I’m hungry." She said looking at me and then the television, ignoring the thought of Orchestra tickets. "I don’t feel like the Orchestra this weekend. I have a migraine from all of the crap I’ve gone through today and I don’t want to talk about it."

"What happened?" I asked.

"I don’t want to talk about it!" She snapped.

Silence for a few seconds, enough time to analyze the bag of corn chips, the leather boots, the shrouded body motionless as if waiting to be embalmed, the television full of nonsense. I wanted light in the room, the only part coming from the hypnotic aerial blue lighted faces of Law and Order.

"Can I turn on the light?" I asked quietly.

"No! I have a migraine. I had a terrible day. Someone said…something to me today that I did not like. My parents think I’m never going to get married, my ex-husband is giving me a bunch of shit and…" At this point, she raised herself up from the bed, "I don’t want to take it anymore!"

"O.K." I raised my hand, trying to lower her voice and decided that I should leave. "Can you please call me?" I begged. I wanted to see her this weekend.

Her eyes shifted from the television to the floor. "I’ll call you tomorrow."

The door was opened, me leaving again and walking out into the white light and smell of hospital rooms and wondering if she would spend her entire night lying there alone, at least until an emergency happened and she was forced to raise her body up and go to try and save someone from dying. Somewhere in my heart, I knew she could never save me.


Mary Joe has a Piranha fishpond in her front yard. Serrasalmus piraya, by far the most dangerous kind. Shane had them shipped from Rio Sao Francisco in Brazil to Biloxi by a specially chartered boat and then he gave them to Mary Joe for her birthday. How pathetic, to give someone you love killer fish! Mary Joe always liked the exotic, the bizarre. They have sharp teeth. I have seen them with their small white eyes full of rage on top of black bellies. They scurry around in a pool of water that Mary Joe sprinkled with red food coloring, just enough to not pollute the water. I teased her one day and called the fish pond Mary Joe’s red bubble gum water that bites. Fall into it and you will be shredded to pieces.

I can see them walking together in the shadow of moonlight from her car. He is a small man. What would she want from him? He isn’t Shane, I know, but still some man from work. Another doctor perhaps? She fiddles with her purse, looking for the keys to the front door, while he stands like an oaf with his hands in his coat pocket, quietly observing. She laughs as if to say "Oh here they are!" They go inside. I look up to the second story room filled with a blue light that falls eerily down upon the ground and reflects upon red piranha water. Mary Joe’s bedroom light has been left on. I hate this man.


I found on page 5 of Penthouse magazine the word "Affair." Noticing how big Heidi’s coconuts were, I pulled on a pair of latex gloves to destroy all traces of DNA. These gloves were for my plan incidentally, not Heidi’s coconuts. Well…Never mind.

Grabbing my scissors, I cut around a paragraph and cut out the word AFFAIR printed in big bold letters. That word along with others I had cut from more tame magazines was pasted next to each other on a clean sheet of paper dabbed with snappy finger print remover mix. No one would ever know. I sealed the envelope with a damp washcloth, put it in my mailbox, raised the flag, and waited for Mr. Postman to come and get it. The words from a song by the Marvelettes rang through my head as I ate a bag of pop corn.

Wait a minute, Mr. Post Man! Please, Mr. Post Man!

I knew when Mary Joe received my masterpiece, she would drop this motherless amoeba, this Shane, like a toad being swatted from a lily pad. Dr. Doo Doo Wad would be appropriately lifted from his party pad after I was finished with him.

I sit at my typewriter which has been conveniently placed in front of the breakfast room window. From here my world revolves around Mary Joe’s house, a moving picture through Venetian blinds of Mary Joe and whoever may be her lover today. He does not fit her well, this preppy pom squad king. I know he must be a doctor because these are the only men she will ever see. I type out my frustration…

Her hair must smell like scrambled eggs against his shoulder.

There was another man like this one, a doctor at the Veterans Affairs Hospital who drove a Porsche. I do not recall if he was a neurologist or pathologist but his cologne reeked of scotch whiskey. A doctor who drives a Porsche and whose breath reeks of scotch whiskey is worth nothing. I could smell this doctor in the hallways of the Greenbush Memorial Hospital every time he came to visit her.

I wish this man she has with her now would leave. I can imagine the indecent thoughts he must have in mind, to watch rented John Candy movies and eat popcorn with my Mary Joe. She will probably rest her feet in his lap and he will rub her toes while John Candy dances around in a spaceman suit. How pathetic! I want to throw my typewriter through the window.


We stood beside each other throwing rose petals into the fish pond. "I want to get rid of the rose bush." Mary Joe said. "Mark planted it for me."

I did not know what to say. The best we can say at times is nothing at all. I wanted to take the rose from her hand and touch it against her cheek. Her face was a rose to me in the sunlight. "I love you." I whispered.

Her expression of joy vanished as she turned from me. "I can’t love you, Barkley." The rose was dropped into the water and it floated peacefully, until one of the piranhas pulled it under. "I want a man who can give me the world, Barkley." To have seen her eyes behind those dark sunglasses, perhaps would have made me see someone different. "You can’t."

I tried to see her eyes. We were alone, away from the hospital room that had stolen her away from me. "I wish I could." I said. "I’m not rich, Mary Joe. I probably never will be."

She tried to smile. "I’ll go with you to the Orchestra one day, Barkley. And then afterwards we’ll go eat sushi like we used to do." A hand reached out to me. "We can do this and still be friends can’t we?"

"Yes." I said, taking her hand and, holding it in mine, I felt like I was a part of my own creation.

Inside, with two Pomeranian puppies at our feet, she made me coffee and we sat across from each other looking at a painting by Thomas Hart Benton called Approaching Storm, one of the few items she had been able to keep after the divorce.

"I want to do so many things, Barkley." She said. "I want to completely redo these floors in slate, paint my walls fuchsia and green, the color of madness, and go mad all by myself." She rubbed the head of one of the puppies. "No man will ever be a part of my life again."

"Don’t say that!" I reasoned with her. "I will always come…to see you."

She shook her head and laid the puppy down on the floor and I watched it scamper around her feet. "I have to be alone." She whispered. I wanted to pick the puppy up, hold it in my lap. I wanted to hold her hand and tell her she would be o.k. as long as I was here. "I will always be here, Mary Joe." I told her.

She placed fingers against the temples of her head and closed her eyes. "You have to go, Barkley. I am getting one of my headaches."

"Alright." I said. How could I have caused so much pain for a woman, I wondered. I gave up and arose for the door, leaving her there to sob and cover those eyes with gentle hands. If I had kept my courage, I think I would have stayed.

"Barkley." I heard her call out to me as I opened the door and turned to see her holding her puppy. Such a fragile woman. "Always remember, the one thing you love most in life, the one thing closest to your heart can turn on you and shred your heart all to pieces."

I nodded, pretending that I could so easily walk away. "Remember." She said again.


I fell asleep that night and dreamed that I had rescued her, that I was a prince and she was my Cinderella. I had taken her away from the hospital and sterile surgery rooms, the smiling faces that so easily told a lie.

Awakened by the sound of a slamming door, I arose and walked to the breakfast room window. They walked beneath the blue light of her room, holding hands. I was sickened by it all, the sound of crickets outside my window as if they too cried for it to stop. She only laughed and I noticed the way she was dressed. I remember the music that night; wild jungle music that came from her car radio until the engine was dead. I remember the dress she had on and the shoes she held in her hands as she walked over a carpet of moonlit grass. I could only imagine what would happen, what might transpire once they had made it to her room, once they had undressed, what she might have in her closet; a closet full of sex toys, whips and chains, a red leather executioner’s mask with a hole for the mouth so that a woman can give a man a…well, you know.

I wanted so much to take her away that night that I began to plan. I began to scheme.


I looked from house to house to see if any lights were turned on. Darkness, so I crossed the street and walked into her yard, crouching behind a hedge bush for a second to let a car pass. I heard that strange music, a slow seductive waltz, and I could see their shadows moving in the blue light behind her bedroom blinds. Make it stop! I begged any god who might hear me. I wanted to kill this man. I quickly ran for the wall behind the fishpond, and grabbed the lattice. I pulled at the lattice as hard as I could, lifting my body up towards the moonlight and the sound of their laughter. Then a soft muffle and music. It tinged my nerves. The trellis was cold and I prayed that I could make it on time, before the music stopped, before they began to…well, you know.

My heart fluttered into the sky, lifting itself up once more to find its way back into her body. I would make her love me. The words were there.

I love you. What more could I say or do? Then suddenly it happened.

I felt the trellis give way, pulling from the brick wall. Slowly, I looked behind me at earth and shimmering red blood; red blood that smelled so hideous to me as I fell. The water twisted with an intrepid sound of snapping. The horrible sting. I clinched my teeth and thought of warm blood, my blood, and Mary Joe’s red bubble gum water that bites.


"Now Barkley," The doctor says to me. "The surgery will take about six hours. We’ll do the very best we can, but I’m not promising we can with the amount of extensive damage done to your face and your lower … anatomy."

I can feel his fingers move across my face, then out of nowhere the soft gentle caress of a familiar hand rests upon my leg and I began to quiver. I wish I could remove the bandage from my eyes and see her beautiful face that must match her sweet voice. She says to me "We will take care of you." It is the memory of a soft voice and funny painted glasses against a face so beautiful. I would have her again soon. In tragedy we sometimes find our hearts burned by love and mystery. It is the mystery of love that can make us lose ourselves. My Mary Joe was so special to me. My head hurts and I want to sleep. I am much better now. I can smell her perfume and feel her fingers as they rub my leg. I like nurses. I hate doctors.

Chris Allen Clark is a poet and short story writer who currently lives in his hometown, Morton, Mississippi. He received his BA in English and history from Belhaven College in Jackson. He works occasionally as a disk jockey for WQST Radio in Forest. He has published poetry in various magazines, and will have poetry published in the April 1st issue of the Bathyspheric Review in Monterey Bay, California

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