To Push Away or Clutch: By Clint Catalyst

    Stanis and I were sprawled out
    on the uncomfortable prickly mess
    Jason tried to pass off as carpet
    our backs pressed into what felt like
    colossus toothbrush bristles but
    that sticky October evening
    we couldn't have cared less
    the taste of summer lingering
    in the backs of our mouths like the after taste
    of charcoal-filtered vodka and orange juice
    screwdrivers we'd been mixing in our mouths
    since the second we showed up at Jason's attempt
    at a party but was nothing more than
    an extra ordinary collection of loud-mouthed
    small-town kids lounging around
    with personalities as predictable
    as the black eyeliner, teased hair, Bauhaus
    t-shirt formula they shared for
    looking dark and mysterious
    only since that was supposed to be a special event
    they were trying their damnedest
    sporting shopping mall replicas
    of thrift store clothes
    crammed into Jason's $165-a-month attic apartment
    chain-smoking clove cigarettes and
    trying to hide when they coughed
    speaking with bogus British accents
    as if they'd hide their boring American backgrounds
    based on beef jerky, bong hits, and
    microwave burritos
    to entertain ourselves, Stanis and I created
    a drinking game in which we took
    shots each time we heard a reference to
    Anne Rice novels, graveyards, tragic childhoods,
    or the expressions "killer" and "intense"
    so it should come as no surprise
    we were sloshed and obnoxious
    laughing and taking bites from the exceedingly
    soggy slice of tragically hip and misunderstood
    as they fought for attention
    any sense of importance but then
    I saw him standing in the corner
    scraggly dark hair tossed around his shoulders
    onto the walls in messy strands graffiti-tickling
    gaunt faces of models perfect and magazine glossy
    he inhaled a short forever from his cigarette and
    smiled at me with black eyes narrowed into slits
    I felt myself ignite like the Marlboro cherry
    dangling from the end of his lips once I realized
    he was watching us watching them
    his jaw cocked sure and randy
    snicker curled in the corners of his mouth
    as if he was in on a big secret
    which actually he was 'cause
    like the expression goes
    you can't bullshit a bullshitter
    I'd heard it from Stanis at least a million times
    so when he whispered "Uh uh - red flag -
    stay the hell away" that made Michael
    all the more desireable
    he stepped across the room and
    stepped into my life
    stepped all over obligatory smalltalk about
    how he'd seen me around or
    he thought I looked pretty cool or
    have I ever heard of the band...?
    instead I got to know him through the stories he told
    about his fetish for breaking into
    rich people's homes
    hanging out, kicking back with big-screen tv's and
    expensive wines till the police or
    security service would show
    then he'd hide in a closet or behind a tapestry,
    beneath a bed, listen to 'em boast about
    nothing wrong
    and all their restoring order shit which usually was his cue to zap 'em with
    his cattle-prod stun gun
    none of that hand-held miniature bit
    he owned a magic want that could clean a room
    with the flick of a wrist
    he never stole a thing without a couple of uniforms
    flopping around on the floor in shock-spasms
    'cause that's what made it fun
    just like when he was wired on
    cheap Hell's Angels crank
    and snagged somebody's Alfa Romeo just so
    he could take it apart and scatter pieces
    all over Little Rock
    he thought it'd make a great insurance report
    he made life sound like a game he re-wrote
    as he whisked across its board in a whirlwind
    surviving alone, spinning smack-dab
    in the eye of independence
    he seemed sexy and streetwise and tough
    without sounding stupid
    which excited me so greatly
    I could barely contain myself
    we bailed Jason's sinking ship of a social event
    and headed back to my place
    where we tiptoed through the door's emergency exit
    and marked the start of our deep and meaningful
    Gen-X post-John Hughes apocalyptic romance
    Stanis sort of disappeared from the scenery
    that three-week stretch
    I didn't have time to hang out with him
    when I was busy smuggling bananas,
    boxes of cereal,
    and anything else from the cafeteria I could find
    to keep Michael from starving
    I'd sit around and wait when he'd slither
    late-night through my dorm's window
    and scale the wall
    without a simple goodbye, which struck me as
    strange and poetic in a very nineties way
    as I wondered if I'd ever see him again
    if he'd get shot in a fight with some gang
    o.d. on smack he scored off the street
    get thrown into jail to rot
    by the time he'd saunter back to my room
    my stomach and nerves were crushed-up
    like aluminum cans
    which usually kept me from class but
    as soon as I saw him, I did my best
    to act nonchalant:
    re-cycle a sigh of relief with his steel kiss
    remind myself he probably knows no other way
    must've known nothing else in the past
    he told me next to nothing about
    I was sure it was hell though
    somebody must've loved him at some point
    at that time I thought I did
    which is why once I stepped with him into the night
    white tattered t-shirt on his back a beacon
    that led me over fences, through alleys,
    around playgrounds,
    backyard pools, I tagged along the trail he tore
    just tight enough he didn't notice me behind
    pad in my pocket, in case I needed notes
    about his secret ways of crime
    I followed, sure he led me down a path of danger
    more intense than anything I'd thought
    or heard about
    I was starving for excitement, so hungry for a bite
    strands of saliva hung from my mouth
    but at trail's end was no pot of gold
    but a stucco home the color of dried tuna
    a front door Michael opened by key rather than
    screwdriver or stolen credit card
    floodlights in a constellation that came to life
    when I moved towards a window, tried to peek
    through its slats
    I was lit on display on the well-trimmed grass
    framed for Michael's mother, a chubby lady
    who popped outside
    like some sort of parent-in-a-box
    a blaze of fuzzy-blue-nightgown fury
    her face contorted in disgust
    as she screamed about how I should be ashamed
    poking around on their private property;
    she'd had enough
    of snotty-nosed brats, ill-bred punk rockers
    & democrats like me
    being bad influences on her sweet little Mikey
    keeping him out to God-awful hours of the a.m. &
    causing him to get bad marks at school
    and detention
    just what was I trying to prove, anyway
    bullying her sweet baby
    I stood speechless, the situation making no sense
    till I found out he was seventeen
    I didn't know what to say so
    I watched the sweat shine on her cheeks
    mounds of flesh which shook as she rambled,
    flapped as she screeched
    her mouth an opened map to a world
    of PTA meetings,
    baloney sandwiches, gospel choirs,
    and country crafts
    as common to him as to me
    that reckless little wanna-be street-smart daredevil
    he slid into my life like a soft whisper
    but faded to a dull outline
    a stretched-out shadow lingering inside
    his mother's home
    he watched her bring the truth to life
    watched her watching me
    about the things I learned he wasn't:
    mysterious, powerful, mean
    as I turned and walked away
    grinning wider still
    I loved him most for what he was
    a scared boy trying to hide behind a leather jacket
    and look tough
    he never came around again
    I haven't seen him since
    still some night thoughts of him keep me awake
    the times we shared within a slot when
    neither of us was sure of much of anything
    wrapped right in colege, the world of make-believe
    just as it starts to seem real to me again
    suddenly it's morning and I wake
    to milky bright sunlight gushing
    through the windows
    waves from my loud alarm clock
    rippling throughout my bare apartment
    no furnishings of Michael, Stanis
    no traces of Jason to be found
    the only things to push away or clutch
    a wad of cold sheets on my bed


Comtesse Melusine on the Many Faces of Catalyst:

Clint Catalyst and I lounged around and frenetically chatted for a couple of hours. I got lost in esoteric concepts enough to forget to ask him to produce a bio. I hope to capture in printed still-life a glimpse of him through the bio I now script.

Having escaped from the deep south, Clint now resides in San Francisco. In the City he accomplishes a myriad of fabulous things: writing, regular publication and performance of his writings, pursuit of various scholarly degrees in writing and the finer arts, and random stints as a model for fetish fashions. Also on his lengthy list of busy credits, he co-hosts Roderick's Chamber, a once-a-week nightclub gathering of gothic/industrial and otherwise aesthetically lush scene-stealers.

Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point. (The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.)

Photo: Nicht Bohn