1539 c/o Stephen O'Toole

Introducing Pigs to North America

The night of the thing.

Pigs is giddy. She's taking clothes from her wardrobe, holding them against herself, twirling. Twirling the appropriate number of degrees so her face and front are in the mirror; so her eyes are there. Either of those ways. The meaning's the same.

The twirling is irritating. I'm starting to think I've made a mistake.

The mistakes she makes she drops at her feet. Kicks them to one side. Errors in colour, length, sleeves, that sort of thing. A pile of clothes that don't work; that she won't need now. Later, I help her. We carry them out to the bins, and make a bonfire. Expect this is symbolic, but then I have Spanish blood; am something of a misogynist.

I go to the back bedroom, text North America.

'I think I've made a mistake', I say to him

Flames quite high now. Birds look troubled and children have gathered. Sticking their hands into the flames, trying to get a brassiere.

'Still time to cancel', I say instead.

I delete this, say, 'Still time to cancel', then add an exclamation mark and an ';)'. Delete the ';)'. Add an ';)'. Send it, then rue my ';)'; rue it.

Listen: I live with Pigs but I'm not in live with Pigs. I'm standing in the back bedroom, thinking about burning North America. Sticking him with something hot.

North America is Australian. We went to the Art School together, though neither of us are artists, are anything. He has grey hair that he dyes grey, usually over the bath. I have stood in the bathroom doorway, looking at his neck. Putting his beard together in my head.

I'm in love with North America. He is—one word—a Renaissance man. He can, and does, do many things. At once. I know. He can hold my attention and still do just about anything else at the same time: drink, breathe, blink, swear, think about someone else. I've watched him do it. It's remarkable.

He has piercings that people can see. On the earlobe typically, but often on his nostril. He has a long nose attached to the earring, to the nostril, and so on. Might describe it as a 'probing' nose, a 'controversial' nose. He would like it, North America, if it was described like this. He spent a summer as a shepherd; is immune to criticism; came to our fancy dress party (theme: the famous dead) dressed as me.

'You've only ever been partly warm', he explained.

(It was stronger on theme than execution. Big laughs, obviously, but none of the clothes fit.)

Pigs giggled and he looked at her. One of five Lady Dis, I hadn't noticed her standing there. She was looking too, looking at him. It was towards him that her giggles were directed, and I was just getting in the way. Both of me. Me, and North America dressed as me. She wanted to tear the me off him, and have him, with me in a pile next to them. The outgrown me lying there, kicked to one side, waiting for a bonfire.

(This, I thought of later. I am thinking of it now. It was never so neat as this then.)

I introduced them like a fool. I mean that I introduced them foolishly. My way of going about it was the way a fool would go about it: wearing a paper hat to keep the rain off, for example.

'This is my North America', I said. The possessive just stood there, stuck in; a flag with my face on it wobbling at the top. I tried to push it down further into the ground. I thought that if it went in far enough, it would be invisible. The claim that I had made.

(Imagine that we are on a mountain top. We have climbed all the way. We are alive and have not eaten ourselves. I take my flag and turn to them, say, 'I'd like to take this mountain into my mouth. And love it. Love until it is raw.' The other two just look away. They are whistling on the balls of their feet, then whistling on the heels of their feet, then again on the balls of their feet, and so on. They are doing it to keep warm, and give no indication that have they heard me.)

I just sat and sulked in a stovepipe hat. Watched Pigs dance for North America's mouth. Watched her start the steering wheel round her neck spinning. I watched and sat and pushed my hat back until River Phoenix spoke to me.

'Lincoln isn't famous for being dead', he said. 'He's just a famous person who is dead.' River Phoenix clenched his fist.

'But he was murdered', I said, sitting forward.

'Lincoln was a man of many achievements. His being murdered was just one of them. You have misunderstood me; you have misunderstood the theme of this party; you have misunderstood everything.' He took a sip of something from a small paper cup.

'I am the host of this party', I said.

'It's no thing at all', he said, crushing the cup in his hand, 'to misunderstand your own party.'

Bits of a burnt child sprinting across the grass. The bits I can see through the smoke. An arm held high with a smouldering floral print dress wrapped round it. A pair of cotton underpants on a head. Shouts.

North America hasn't answered me. I dial his number to tell him that he hasn't answered me. It rings out. I think he has just missed me, has got to his phone and is holding it. I dial his number again. I think about him staring at his phone. I am standing behind him and his neck is red. He has just shaved his neck in my head. He's annoyed that he has just missed my call. It feels like the ache where the hair of his neck once was. He wants this, North America. I give North America what he wants.

I give it to him again, and then again.

He returns it unopened. It is sitting in a pile in the hall. Pigs kicks it on her way out the door.