My shaman is colors. He is ashen coffee skin. He is cotton ball white Brillo hair on his head and on his upper-lip. He is orange button-up shirt. He is red guitar leaning by his chair. He is blue bicycle chained to the rack out front. He is all of these colors and mostly a grandfather's smell which today is tinged with the salt smell of sea water. To my shaman, Bruce Lee is a genius. This time we are meeting at the Presidio which is a very fashionable fresh air bistro overlooking the bay. My shaman has ordered us every appetizer on the menu and he hasn’t touched a thing. He tells me that, even without touching them, the crabs taste like they came out of a can. He tells me that, even without touching them, the breaded shrimps were frozen up until a second before they were put in the fryer. He points to the bay and says, “What I’ll never understand is what is so hard about just catching a fish.”
On the table beside the fake orchids that are the table’s generic centerpiece is my shaman’s oracle device. The black orb isn’t shiny and the white paint on it is faded almost all the way. The Magic 8-ball has seen many days, it seems. Just as soon as I think it, my shaman tells me that there are bigger fish to fry than the trivial timeline of his Magic 8-ball’s existence. It isn’t rolling around because it’s sitting on the flat surface of its lens. My shaman tells me that we aren’t sitting here so that I could contemplate nor so that he could review the Magic 8-ball’s personal history.
“The Magic 8-ball,” he tells me, “is a very private thing.”
What my shaman hasn’t told me is why we are sitting outside on such a cold day. My shaman, it seems, isn’t ever cold. I have never seen him wear a sweater. As for myself, I am shivering on the inside of a black denim jacket lined in wool. Even though the sky is clear and sunny, a rumble of thunder persists behind the blue. The TV meteorologist’s forecast, accurate and scientifically viable as ever, didn’t say anything about electric clouds in the sky. Not that there are any. The sky is clear blue. My shaman chuckles silently at it. His nostrils flare and his belly bounces beneath his shirt. He leans back in his seat, points up to the sky, and says, “It’s a wonder to me that you haven’t been struck by lightning.” He continues, “I don’t have to look into the Magic 8-ball to see that it thinks the same thing as me.”
Then my shaman asks, “What do you think of the ceviche?”
I don’t consult with my shaman for long on this occasion. Though I come with a list of fifty-four questions, the Magic 8-ball stops answering after the first three stating as a matter of fact, “This girl has too many questions.” My shaman concurs and sets the mystical orb back down on the table. He asks the waiter for the check and we leave without ordering any entrees or desserts. As I leave, my shaman suggests to me that it is never a good idea to come at the Magic 8-ball with lists of questions. My shaman informs me as he is unlatching his bike lock from the bicycle rack on the walk away from the Presidio, “It is some times lazy and does not like to be over-worked.”
A month and three days after Valentine’s Day is St. Patrick’s Day. For whatever reason, the ogre who is now my live-in boyfriend is preparing a celebration. I ask him if he is Irish and he points to his eyes and says, “What do you think?” I am not really sure about anything when it comes to the ogre who is now my live-in boyfriend. On February 15th, I awoke to find him pulling some clothes out of a suitcase the size of a modest four-seating dining room table. He hadn’t told me then, but I knew that it meant he was moving in. A month has passed and I still hadn’t gotten his name. When I call to him, the ogre who is now my live-in boyfriend, I just say “Hey!” and he seems to respond without taking offense. A month has passed and it is two days until St. Patrick’s Day which, it turns out, is a big deal to my ogre live-in boyfriend. Even the fish hadn’t cared as much about that particular holiday. Even though he was a selkie and, for the most part,
is where his stories come from. He is, after all, nothing short of a folklore-ish sort of creature from that place. Ireland
Ogres, it seems, don’t care much about where creatures’ stories come from. They just Bogart everyone else’s holidays. I am told that ogres celebrate Easter just as they celebrate the Equinox and Mitaartut, the Greenlandic Halloween which takes place on January 6th. Why they celebrate all those days I think might have something to do with being greedy. What I don’t know about ogres can fill a book. Multiple books, even. If I think about it, it might already have. I consult the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales and find nothing of any use to me. Ogres, it seems, aren’t classically regarded as good-looking sorts with blond hair, freckles, and a penchant for indie rock music and 1990s
grunge. Either the Grimm brothers didn’t know shit about ogres or my ogre live-in boyfriend has broken the mold of what is true about most ogres. My ogre live-in boyfriend whom I call out as “Hey!” is also very very old. As he has moved in with me, so have the pair of silent green parrots. It is like taking care of Sue again when I am cleaning up the carpet of their shit. My ogre is, unfortunately, not inclined toward house-cleaning so, much like when Sue lived with me, I am always on my hands and knees on the carpet scrubbing the bird shit away. Seattle
“If we knock down that wall, do you think we could fit a hundred guests in here?”
My ogre live-in boyfriend asks me this while pointing at the kitchen wall which separates my apartment from the one wherein the old bat used to live. I take a moment to consider it and I don’t know so I don’t give an answer. The thing I’ve learned about ogres is that I don’t think they really care regardless of what anyone would have to say. I think, If he is asking, he probably already has his mind set to do it anyway. I think, I wonder if this means that I’ll have to pay a contractor.
He shrugs his massive shoulders and his thinned, worn-out Police baseball shirt rises to just over his belt. The sleeves of the shirt reach to about his elbows. Those blue sleeves. I wonder how he manages to find clothes that fit him. When they’re in the laundry bin, they look too small to fit his gigantically large frame. Something about the way he doesn’t break the floor when he stomps around the rooms with his gigantically large ogre feet is somewhat disorienting. I am always wishing that I had some measuring tape with which to measure him when he is asleep. I make a mental note to buy some measuring tape some day. Since my ogre live-in boyfriend has moved in, my sense of size and space has all but distorted so that it’s all like a magical equation that makes sense to people with –ologies and PhDs. If I was so inclined toward the sciences, I might just have a new study to undertake.
“I don’t think we have the time, anyway,” my ogre live-in boyfriend says. “The party is only in two days.”
What I don’t tell him is that the party will fall on a Thursday and that I doubt so many of his friends will show up. But, then, I don’t know about what kind of schedules the friends of ogres have. I don’t know about what they determine as appropriate party-nights. What I don’t consider is how my upstairs neighbor will take to not being invited. Since he is always playing his videogames, I doubt he’ll mind at all. What I don’t consider is how, since he is not invited, I will probably not know anyone at my own party.
Surrounding the sofa in the living room is what my ogre live-in boyfriend is calling his “work studio.” All scattered about and lying upon each other are now, at least, two hundred paintings. My ogre live-in boyfriend tells me that, until the day before Christmas Eve when I had seen him at the show, he had never picked up a brush to paint. He says, “I hadn’t ever even picked up a pencil to sketch.” Every single day of the month and a day that he has lived with me, my ogre live-in boyfriend barely does anything but plan for this party and draw and paint all day. It is a sad affair that most of the paintings are of the parrots. It is a sad affair that most of the paintings look nothing like me.
Even though I’ve never mentioned it, I’d like him to paint something of a swan. Even though I’ve no pictures of her, I think I’d like to see him paint a portrait of my darling swan-daughter, Sue.
As I am cleaning up the bird shit on the carpet for the fourth time in the day, my ogre live-in boyfriend is stacking up his paintings and moving them out of the way. He says that it is important to make as much room as possible for our guests coming by in two days. Though he doesn’t know how to work a vacuum, he says aloud that he thinks that we should clean the carpet. He says, “Dander and other allergens are collected amid carpet fibers.” He says, “A lot of people, even those without diagnosed allergies to dander and dust, suffer reactions from inhaling or even brushing their skins against carpet.” As I am scrubbing up after the green parrots, hands and knees itching from the carpet, I nod and agree that this would be a good idea. For a moment, I consider how my nose has begun to water a bit and that I might have developed a psychosomatic allergic reaction to what my ogre live-in boyfriend has suggested might be a dormant allergy or sensitivity to the particles harbored between carpet fibers although I had never before had a symptom of it. I wonder, too, if I have the instruction manual for how to use the vacuum cleaner.
My ogre live-in boyfriend is careful with his paintings. While he is careful of his paintings and moving them out of the way, he spills a paint can on the coffee table. He doesn’t even notice. And I don’t say a thing about it.
I get up from all-fours to my hind quarters which on proper humans are called “legs” and walk up to the coffee table with a rag covered in layers of some-crusted, some-fresh parrot shit and set about wiping off the paint from the coffee table.