“Air Sacks in the Hollows; or To Touch the Other Side of Your Face” by Ben Wallin

Dec. 14th

Last night I heard Jake and his girlfriend fucking behind the wall.

Our rooms are small and their bed is pressed against the other side of the sheetrock and soundboard we put up when we moved in. I knew they had been fucking before but this was the first time I heard it. They were quiet; it was the quiet sex of people in a relationship.

I lay there and stared at the wall.

I had covered it in posters and pages from comic books and pictures of Edie Sedgwick. And I was looking at all that collage and it began to get all wavy the way your vision sometimes gets wavy in the dark, and then I was crying. And I just lay there and tried to shake it off. I’ve never been one of those people who’re good at crying. So I squirmed there with my stomach tense and my face all hot and scrunched up and tried to be as quiet as possible.

I pressed my face into my blanket and willed myself to sleep, to be quiet so that they wouldn’t hear me over the sound of their heavy breathing.

Nov. 21st

Idea for a story: A man, young man, right out of college has student loans. He pays them and works as a typist, or whatever the modern equivalent of a typist is, and can afford a few pints after work some times but is basically pretty much living hand to mouth although comfortably. He has carved out a little nest of an apartment, and takes the subway to work, and in general has a kind of sunny disposition although he doesn’t have a lot of money, and his job sucks, and what he does make he pays most of to his student loans. Then one day instead of his usual student loan bill he gets a notice saying that he will no longer have to pay the loan agency, and he is elated but also a little confused, and there’s a nagging suspicion in the back of his mind that something is up. The next day he comes home to find a man sitting in his living room who tells him that he has purchased the young man’s student loan debt from the bank, which was having financial troubles, and that until the young man pays him back in full he will be a current fixture in the young man’s apt. During the resultant argument the collector, because that’s what this man calls himself, produces a seemingly endless amount of legal paperwork, and they effectively come to a consensus in which the young man will allow the C to stay until the bill is paid, but every month that the C stays counts for a monthly installment of his debt. At first this seems mutually beneficial to the young man who is thrilled to be able to work off his debt in half the time while paying the standard rate; however, as time goes on he notices that the C has begun wearing his clothes. He protests, but the C refers him to a footnote on a certain legal document that entitles the C to at least partial use of all his belongings until the debt is paid. Also the C is a terrible house guest, leaving dirty dishes odd places where they are ignored and petrify, and watching TV loudly all day, and getting drunk at night and leaving beer cans everywhere for flies to collect in. So the young man keeps going to work although he is sleeping less and less well because of the loud music the C plays when he drinks at night and the sounds of the C having angry sex with syphilitic looking women all over the furniture of his once quite cute little apartment, and his boss starts noticing a drop off in his work, and he develops a temper, and spends all his time at home trying to cleanup after the C and basically being miserable, and so meanwhile the C has started hanging out with the young man’s friends down at the bar he used to sometimes go to, and wearing the young mans clothes exclusively, and the young man feels as though the C has picked up his mannerisms too, which people sometimes do when they spend allot of time together. The young guy also is totally worn out all the time, and has started to really resemble a zombie, and every one tells him that he’s not himself anymore which naturally stresses him out seeing as there is this stranger in his house who has usurped his belongings, and friends, and characteristics, and he starts to really loose it, and goes to his buddies to vent but they are all on the side of the C now, and pretty much just deter him some more, and he eventually freaks out completely and tries to kill the C but he is stopped in the act by indecision, and the C beats him up and calls the cops claiming self defense, and the young man is arrested and sentenced to life in prison. And so the C is awarded all his possessions in lieu of the unpaid loans, and even though the young man didn’t own the apt. the C decides to stay on there too, and assumes his lease.

Nov. 24th

Blew off work today to hang out with Molly. When we woke up I felt like absolute shit, although it was probably just a hang over, so I called in sick. David is cool and never needs an excuse. We stayed in bed all morning and even though my head hurt we had sex a few times.

Sex with Molly is fun because of how much she enjoys it. She has this crazy energy about her that she brings to every thing, which is I think the reason I like her. When she comes, she makes a sound like a teakettle. It’s a high-pitched, monotone wine that starts quiet and gets louder and louder like a jet engine starting up.

It’s fun to have that control over someone, although lately, I’ve been feeling robotic about the actual sex part. I can never seem to forget that it’s a bodily function: just organs going into organs.

There’s all those secretions, and the postures and faces everyone makes are ridiculous. It would be comical if it weren’t so gross. The one benefit to this line of thinking is that I can go forever. I remember in high school hearing some older guy using the term “two-pump-chump” and being extremely nervous that that was what I was. Yesterday I was walking down Metropolitan and thinking about how stuck in my head I’ve become about sex, and the term that seemed to fit was cerebral, as in: “My thinking about sex has become too cerebral.” Although the more I think about it the less accurate and more fucking intellectual and fucking cerebral that feels. The way it really is is too human. If someone watched me fucking they’d probably see an energetic young man engaged in perhaps the most enthralling activity for a young man to be engaged in, but behind my eyes theirs a blank chalkboard; a disconnect. There’s no animal in my sex any more. I feel like a robot executing a series of movements in order to elicit a response.

The afterword was nice though. Molly put my head on her tits and played with my hair and I could smell her sweet girl sweat and tell that she was content and happy with me and that was nice. It was nice to be touched like that. I needed that comfort, that human contact.

Dec. 1st

List of Potential Titles for Things Cont.:
A Swallowed Seed Grows Unseen
Burning Effigy of Horace Greely
Piano Music for String Quartet
Solving The Loneliness Problem
Air Sacks In The Hollows

Dec. 5th

I was arranging stock in the basement at work today and I kept thinking about the other week when I saw those kids playing in the park. The way they took such pleasure in each others’ unhappiness was excruciating. When the little girl skinned her knee, her brother jumped down beside her and laughed in her face—literally got down close so he could laugh right into her face. He teased her and I wanted to slap him, but instead just got up and walked away.

What’s happened to me?

I used to love kids: baby sitting, playing with them, and now all I can see is the worst of people acted out in their selfish bullshit. I tend to think its something innate. When I think of a baby it is as a person larva, a disgusting thing that lives only to consume not caring what it disrupts or destroys in order to feed its endless want.

Idea for a story: A woman gives birth to a very large baby which is in fact so large that she dies in labor even though she is in a completely up-to-date modern hospital. So the father is mourning, and staying at the hospital, and the doctors tell him that the child is otherwise healthy but has an astonishing growth rate, but the man is naturally very protective of the child and insists on taking it home where it grows to the size of a full sized man almost over night. The baby trashes the man’s house, and is impossible to feed, and continues to grow at an exponential rate until it is almost the size of the town at which point it has long become a natural disaster of sorts, but the town can’t kill it because that would be inhumane. And the baby has caused a three county milk shortage, and destroyed millions of dollars of property, and every one is basically given over their lives to the baby who in return gives nothing.

The story ends with the man, who like any father loves his child unconditionally, but whom the present series of events has driven basically totally bonkers, singing the baby a lullaby, and getting picked up by his infants sleeping hand and gummed to death in its gigantic maw. Fuck, that’s Honey I Blew Up The Kid, isn’t it.

Nov. 23rd

When I think about all the reasons I want a girlfriend, I always come back to just wanting a dog.

That sounds fucked up kind of but its true. What I want from a girl: someone to cuddle with at night or basically anytime, someone who’s good looking/cute, someone who cares about me and is a companion, and someone to invest all my love and attention in. It would be so much easier to just get a dog.

I wish I didn’t work so much.

Then I would get a dog and I would be a really good dog owner. There’s nothing worse than people who are bad pet owners. Fucking up a relationship with a person is always complicated; man-dog relations are simple: dog loves man. Don’t fuck with that.

Nov. 29th

Got drunk last night and flirted with this girl at the bar. Having sex is like smoking cigarettes; I only want to do it when I’m drunk.

I called her today anyway. She was smart and probably thinks I just wanna sleep with her, which is not totally untrue but sometimes I’m afraid I come across as super machismo and kind of a dick when I’m drinking, which then comes off as me compensating for how small and limp-wristed I am.

She didn’t pick up, so I tried to call my friend Nick who lives in Seattle but he didn’t pick up either so I went for a walk. I poked around the bookstore for a while looking for anything by Hemingway that I don’t already have. Its weird seeing Brooklyn in Hemingway’s Paris. Sometimes it excites me because the portrait he paints is glamorous, and there’s a very real nostalgia at play, but then when I think about the people in his books, it makes me uncomfortable. Most of them are myopic drunks with crippling emotional pathologies. But then, I don’t think I know any one who at least doesn’t claim some sort of chronic bummer.

So I was thinking about that, and milling around, and by this point had almost made it to Greenpoint, so I ducked into Five Leaves for some absinthe to go with my mood. Now if there’s one place that reminds me of my own imagined mid-twenties Paris, it’s Five Leaves. Kind of a bar/restaurant, they decorated it with cream-colored walls and bronze and oak, the place looks good in a classy, I’m-about-to-spend-twelve-dollars-on-a-drink kind of way. I went in and got my drink, and then I wanted a smoke so I walked across the way and bought a pouch of Samson and rolled a smoke, and then went back inside and got another drink. At this point, I was basically out of money, and hadn’t eaten anything all day, had no food at home, and was starting to feel pretty stupid about the whole thing, and then in comes Kristine with two friends.

We exchanged the typical greetings and she told me that they had come to get dinner, and I asked if I could join them. We sat down and I ordered another drink, and then realized I couldn’t pay for it so I excused myself and got some cash from the machine across the street. When I came back, Kristine had gotten the same cocktail. “It smells like apple cider,” she said, “but it tastes like dreams, which is incidentally also what apple cider tastes like.” When she pulled the glass down from her lips it was imprinted around it’s cusp with her lipstick’s red.

We bounced around to a few bars and ended up at The Gutter drinking beer. I had been talking to one of Kristine’s friends, I don’t remember her name, and I was really drunk at that point. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t mind if I kissed her, the way she kept putting her face right in front of mine. I thought about kissing her and drained the rest of my beer, and told her I was going to the bathroom. I took a piss, and looked at the graffiti on the walls. Someone had written: “You are home.” I was going to go back to the table and maybe kiss that girl, but then all of the sudden I was tired and felt sad and stupid so I left without saying goodbye to anyone.

I should have gotten her phone number at least.

Dec. 13th

List of potential titles for things cont,:
To Touch The Other Side of Your Face
Solving The Loneliness Problem
Explicitly Laid Open
A March Down To The Ocean
Transvaluation

Dec. 11th

I think things are over between Molly and I. It’s weird because two days ago I was telling Jake that I was thinking of breaking it off, but then when I tried to call her she didn’t pick up. I tried a few more times, spacing out the calls so that I wouldn’t seem weird, and also texted her twice, and now its been two days and I don’t think I’m gonna see her again. I guess I shouldn’t care, but now I do, which makes me feel extra shitty about the whole thing. I guess I need to find someone else to touch my hair in the morning.


Profile: Ben Wallin

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