Battleship

Posted on May 20, 2009

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Sometimes, when I am alone and feeling bad about myself I will go into my closet and take out the board game Battleship and play against myself. I will set up the boats as strategically as possible on both sides, trying to hide their aquatic locations from myself. As I take a turn, I try to remember where my mind was when I placed the boats on the opposing side. When I discover I have hit a ship I sink my fingers into the pile of little red plastic pins. My skin is delighted at the feeling. After a game of Battleship has finished, I tend to feel better as if I have done something successful, as if I have done something manly.

These days, I don’t feel very manly. When I wake up in the morning and force a gaze upon myself in the toothpaste-speckled mirror, I see sad, wet little eyes. Sometimes I will trace a smile with my thumb on the mirror in the texture of a smudge, but it usually ends up looking more like a transparent mustache than a smile.

When I am done in the bathroom I like to sit in my living room, on the couch that is pillowed with dirty dress shirts and old jeans- you remember the one.

I open up to a picture of you, the only picture I have. It is your yearbook photo from grade 9. In it your teeth are crooked because you hadn’t yet got your braces. Your hair is thick and puffy like one of those expensive dusters. Still, you are beautiful and your eyes erase any other imperfections. I know that you do not like your eyes, but to me, and I’m sure to a great number of other men, your eyes invoke the feeling a boy has when he finds a brand new bicycle next to the Christmas tree. You’re eyes are like two Mesozoic Earth’s, unpolluted and lush. When I look at the picture I imagine you are staring at me and I am the forever camera man, my exposure unlimited.

My coffee is always cold when I am finished with the picture. I will take a shower after that, a long hot shower that lasts until the water turns cold. When I brush my teeth I will watch the fresh spots of toothpaste crash against the smile smudged mirror but I will make no effort to clean them. Although I feel fresh, whenever I step out of the bathroom, all I can smell is cat piss. The cat’s litter box reminds me of you. I remember how angry you would get when you’d come over and you would say “that’s disgusting! I can’t believe you don’t clean that out every day!” Although your voice is angry in most of my memories, the intonations always warm me as I walk about my day in the acrid Newfoundland cold.

One day I went to the store to see if the Astro Boy Season 1 DVD series had come out yet.(You know this.) As I sifted through the store’s collection of anime DVD’s I saw the back of a blonde head and traced it’s neck and spine down to the buttocks, which I believed to be your buttocks. The girl walked just like you walked and she was looking in the Canadian Rap CD section, just where you would look. The girl had to be you. I started to come up with a conversation we would have and I started by thinking of a way of coming up to you.

I would walk slowly behind you and pick up the Gazeebo Unit album that hung directly above your shoulder. I would let the edge of the CD case brush against your shoulder or maybe your neck. Not enough to scratch you, but just enough to make you turn. As you turned I would make sure my face was close enough and I would catch your nose with my nose and then trap your lips with my lips. I imagined that you wouldn’t know what to think, but nostalgia would just make you go with it. I was already chewing peppermint gum as I imagined this scene. And I was already eying the Gazeebo Unit album. The girl’s fingers brushed from rap artist to rap artist. I could hear the girl’s nail tap atop Buck 65 and then down to Choclair. I smiled as she passed over Kardinal Offishal, that is so something you would do. I took a step toward the girl and then another and then I changed my plans.

“Jill,” I said softly. And the girl turned and the girl was you.

You didn’t say anything at first; you just looked around. There was nobody else in the store, as you will remember. And then you said:

“Hi,” and you smiled at me. At the time I thought it was a grateful smile, but I now know that it was a pity potent one.

I am assuming that you said “no” to my offer to have a coffee because of the DVD I was holding at the time. I want you to know that I was not there to buy “Sailor Moon XXX”, it just happened to be in the stack I was rifling through in search of Astro Boy. I don’t know why I carried it over to you, I just forgot to put it down. You know my anime tastes Jill, and you know I would never pay for Sailor Moon hentai.

When I came home that day, I played three rounds of Battleship. I placed your yearbook photo on the opposing side, and I imagined your moves. A-6, B-2, I-1. When we used to play Battleship in real life, I always won, but on that day it was you who won. You have sunken the Battleship of my heart, pinned it to the ocean floor with synthetic red missiles and left it to rot and rust beneath the plastic ocean of my soul.

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Posted in: May 2009