The Ghost of Little Edie Beale Meets Me in a Gay Bar
I spot her by her headscarf: bright rainbow colors
falling onto her barely covered shoulders.
She’s at a barstool taking in the bartender in his torn
jeans and leather harness. The lights are dim.
Music is thumping. Not my kind of music, if you know
what mean? she whispers against my ear as I order
a drink. We both like rum. Can you handle this costume?
I felt this was the perfect costume for tonight. What do you think?
I agree with her as my eyes drift the length of her body,
examining the fabric she’s bunched and pinned at her hip—
not a fan of skirts. I promise her she won’t see many
tonight—at least not on women. She wants to dance,
but needs space. Wouldn’t mind performing on a stage
in a place like this, with all those beautiful ladies who I have to
politely explain are really men. Are, in fact, not singing.
Her mother wouldn’t approve, but Edie likes the mystery
of it: the world she missed. A world that missed her.
I tell her she’s safe here like the man across the bar
wearing his mother’s old Sunday dress with hairy legs
and a cheap wig flopping down his face. He’ll smoke
cigarettes for the rest of the night, standing right there
with a great view of the bartender’s ass, and the dance
floor already covered in sweaty man on man action.
Edie’s a star here, where gay boys love the eccentric,
the wild, the unbelievable. I tell her there’s a beach
out back and her eyes light up. I could stay on the beach
for days. But it’s dark and this beach is made for cruising,
for hands in bushes, on thighs, a head disappearing
downward then reappearing all smiles and glistening.
She wants to see the beach anyway, wants to feel
the sand on her feet, which may or may not be sanitary.
We walk hand in hand. She’s thankful we met.
Says, where you been all my life? I shyly remind her
that her life is over, that she died alone in her condo
here in Florida. Her body rotting for nearly five days
before she was found. A quietly tragic way to go,
like my single girlfriend who fears her cats will one day
eat her face after she’s fallen in the shower, hit
her head, and bled to death, because there was no
one to come home, find her, and save her life.
No white horse. Edie’s mouth moves south.
She asks how old I am. 28. And if I’m married.
Been with a boy for seven years. She nods, is he good to you?
I don’t believe in divorce. I tell her he is. At the beach,
Edie is quiet. There’s the crackling of twigs in the brush,
a flash of man ass. She doesn’t notice, but stares out
across the water, the sand curling up between her
painted toes. My eyes drift to the man emerging
from the trees shirtless and out of breath.
That’s when she lets out a cry and we both watch
a raccoon scamper across the waterline, make for
the garbage bin behind the bar. She thought she left
her old life behind, but nothing truly leaves us, she whispers
as she lifts her hand to her head and rips her scarf off.
It catches in the wind, dances: a rainbow of colors.
Her head is bare, shiny, with little patches of hair
that move in the humid gusts of Florida wind.
Then she dives into the water with barely a ripple.
Barely a sound. Not even the raccoon is startled.