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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aiming for a Carlisle Postcard,


I’ve been reading up on Carlisle, but the phone rang, and it turned out to be Casey, whom I’ve mentioned in “Lonesome Yanks.” Casey’s 59th birthday is coming up,

“And I’ve been losing a lot of weight. You should see me now. I’m down to 125 pounds. I have a 30 inch waist. I’ve been on this Clif Bar diet.”

“A what bar?”

“Clif. C, L, I, F.”

“C, L, I, S?”

“No, F, as in fuck! It’s a Clif Bar diet. I ate nothing but Clif bars for a while, but now I’m eating rice, beans, fish and chicken. I’m not a vegeterian. I’ve cut out red meat, that’s the worst, and I don’t like pork either.”

“So how’s your apartment, Casey?”

“It’s fine, it’s fine.”

“And the woman who punched you in the head?”

“She’s still around. We mostly just ignore each other. It’s cool.”

Casey went on to talk about all kinds of stuff, including being reduced to begging on the streets.

“Where were you?” I asked.

“12th and Walnut, and that was really hard, because I know so many people down that way. It’s the gay neighborhood, and Ronnie and Shelly, my old bosses at McGlinchey’s, live not too far away. I’d see people I knew walking by.”

“So did you have a sign and a cup?”

“No, no, no, I was just standing there.”

“So what did you say to people?”

“To beg, you have to choose your words very carefully. It’s like a haiku, you know, you can’t waste any words. So I was just like, ‘Can you help me out?’ I didn’t look sad or anything, and I wasn’t aggressive.”

“So did people help you out?”

“Yeah, some.”

Casey brought up a goofy neighbor, “You know, he’s one of these funny old guys. The other day, he said, ‘Unfortutanely, it got so cold last night, I had to sleep with my wife.’ Ain’t that funny as shit?!”

“Yeah, that’s pretty funny.”

“Oh, that woman is so horrible, I wouldn’t want to sleep with her either. It doesn’t matter how gay I am.”

Casey lives alone with her cat, but then she told me about these other beings.

“What the hell are you talking about, Casey?”

“You know, these being, they’ve always been around me. Ever since I was a little kid. Sometimes they jump on my bed.”

“Do you see them, or do you just feel them?”

“Mostly, I just feel or hear them, but sometimes I do see them.”

“What do they look like?”

“The other day, I was just watching TV and I heard these noises behind, and I knew it wasn’t the cat, because I could see the cat. As I turned my head slowly, I could see this shadow. It was a full length shadow, like a body, and I could tell that it was a woman, a young woman, but then she disappeared when I turned all the way around. These bodies are never a menace. I’m not afraid of them. Sometimes they’re in the closet, and sometimes they jump on my bed.”

Then, “You know I’m not really from this planet. I’m only hear to observe the humans.”

“Which planet are you from.”

“Saturn. I’m pretty sure. Saturn has a ring around it. It’s all alone. Even as a kid, I knew I was from Saturn, because I didn’t have any family, I was all alone, and Saturn is all alone.”

Adopted, Casey never succeeded in finding her birth mother. Then, “I also know I’m from another planet because I have these special powers. I can make people trip.”

“At will?”

“Pretty much. I can make people trip and fall, and I can make pool balls move.”

“You can just stare at a pool ball and make it move?”

“It’s more like I can change its direction. If a pool ball is already moving, I can change where it’s going. I can also make people miss. If somebody is about to shoot, I can concentrate and make her miss. Now, I don’t know if I’m messing with her head or with the pool ball, but I can make her miss.”

Most astonishingly, Casey claimed she can levitate, “When I saw David Blaine doing that on TV, I thought, ‘Big deal, I did that when I was a little kid!”

“So you levitated as a little kid?”

“You see, all the body is is energy. We’re just a bunch of molecules bouncing against each other. When I levitated, I concentrated all of my energy in my feet, and that lifted me off.”

“Can I see you doing it? Can you do it now?”

“Well, I have a lot on my mind right now. It’d take my entire concentration, but yes, I can probably do it again if I put all of my energy into it.”

I have no recent photos of Casey, but here she is in 2009, 2009 and 2010, and that's her sneaker, with "ESPERANZA" and tear drops, in a 2009 article in the New York Times.



Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: Thank you for introducing Casey to me. Won't tell Carol, but it dawned on me that I like her very much; along with dramatic weight loss, levitation skill and ability to move pool balls -- that's my kind of girl! Hilarious slice of real life, Linh -- I needed that tonight, thanks.

Ali said...

In that third picture, that red mark on her face, is that when she was punched by the other woman?

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Ali,

No, that was another incident, though I can't remember exactly what happened. When Casey was a waitress in McGlinchey's, she punched a customer who gave her shit. I don't know how good her punching is, but Casey will punch, and she can take a punch and laugh about it.


Dennis Leary said...

Casey at the bat. I like her visions. I choose to have different ones but it's the same in principle. Cheers.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.