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
"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
Her eyes shifted from the television to the floor. "I’ll call you
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
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
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
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
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
I love you. What more could I say or do? Then suddenly it
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 …
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