by Joan Opyr
hen I'm not writing gay novels of literary genius that sell for vast sums of cash, or however that lie was supposed to go, I work for a small and impoverished non-profit. This, my day job, is housed in a single room on the second floor of an old house, the K House. We're kind of on the edge of campus, stuck between the fraternity houses and the wilder bars, but I like it over here. I run a onewoman office, and that suits me. If I want to take my shoes off or sing along to the fabulous repertoire of Pink, I do. The down side of my job is that I'm often the only person in the building. All of the other residents are campus ministers. Yes, in case you were wondering, I get along fine with the ministers. This is a liberal place, and none of them seem to mind that I'm as queer as Dick's hatband. If only all ministers were like this, California wouldn't have a Proposition 8, but I'm trying to forget all of that and be funny, so quit reminding me. On to my story. A few days ago, I arrived at work at 8 a.m., unlocked the building, went upstairs to my office, flipped on the light switch, and found a strange woman standing in the middle of the room. Oddly, I wasn't startled by this. I was puzzled. I said, "Can I help you?" "No, I'm just looking around." She said this casually, like she was at WalMart, and I was a sales associate. "And you are?" I asked. "Chris," she said. She scratched herself and looked around.
"Can I help you, Chris?" "No." A long pause. Then she said, "I'm going to be leaving now." I didn't argue with her. Her tone was getting nasty, and Chris was pretty nasty physically. Dark, dirty hair, large coat over what looked like a backpack, tennis shoes, and the damnedest socks I've ever seen. They were teal colored with pockets knit into the back. She also had that meth-head look cracked, red skin, bad teeth, twitching from her eyes to her ears. And so she left. Writer that I am, of course, I'd been noting important details about my surroundings. Shall I list them? Yeah. I'd noticed nothing. It wasn't until this woman had left the building that I realized my desk was a wreck, that she'd drunk half a case of Coke and tossed the cans on the floor, that she'd raided the K House kitchen and made herself an impromptu quesadilla out of six corn tortillas and a can of spray cheese, and that she'd left the remnants of her dinner stuck to my coffee table. There was a pile of books next to the sofa, and, because her hair was pretty greasy, I could see that she'd been lying there, reading. I looked through the books. She'd gotten spray cheese all over my copy of The Bourne Identity. I saw all of these things and still I wasn't thinking. I was born and raised an urban queer in the popular imagination, that's the only kind of gay person there is but I was missing something. I stopped and closed my eyes. What had happened? I came in at 8 a.m. The woman was already in my office. I'd unlocked the
building. The woman was already in my office. Holy hell! The woman had broken in and slept in my office! And she drank my Coke, and read my books, and went through my desk, and . . . it was just like Psycho only without the big knife and the taxidermied mother. Okay, it was nothing like Psycho. You know, the problem with being a lesbian is that we love dyke drama, but we're crap at being drama queens. Here's the real problem. I write murder mysteries. I study police procedure. But what did I do? I cleaned up my office before I called the cops. I had to! It stank of spray cheese and unwashed burglar. I vacuumed it, I put my desk back in order, and I made look like home again. That's what we do, isn't it, when we've had a shock? We try to make things normal. But I tell you what if this big butch lesbian ever happens upon another burglar in the act, I'm going to bend my knees, clench my fists, and run like Marion Jones.
Joan Opyr is a gigantic crank. Her life is frequently weird, and she enjoys writing and talking about that. She's a transplanted Southerner who dreams of golden beaches, sweet iced tea, and sunny skies. She believes that Eva Cassidy should be beatified. Oh, and she's also an award-winning novelist.
www.qviewnorthwest.com | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | December 2008 |