Tennessee’s Ghosts

I don’t know who was chasing who but seeing as he died first, maybe it was me. We sat in the lobby of the Peabody in Memphis and I saw him there in his suit watching the people pass, thinking about divorce and murder. Maybe he saw a Sebastian, full carnivore, tempted him towards a room number waiting for the ducks to jump into the fountain. On the balcony in New Orleans where we got engaged I’m pretty sure he was in the hallway somewhere, musing on Stella. They say he wrote Streetcar there. Every building in the French Quarter says he wrote Streetcar there, or stepped foot in there, or passed by in the breeze and left a handkerchief.

The house opposite interested me, despite the fact everything in New Orleans has a history. Maybe it’s strange when you lived somewhere that gave birth to civilisation, but in terms of The United States this city is so old. A little skylight amidst roof tiles, you can’t see it from the street unless you look up. All those walking tours, they want vampires and jazz, eyes on the sidewalk. Turns out before the great legend Tennessee Williams stayed in our hotel and maybe or maybe not typed up Desire, he was just little old Thomas from Mississippi. Twenty-three years old and hoping this place would swallow him up in its decadence, a summer up there in the room with the skylight dying of humidity before he packed his bags and left with scars.

Do I dare compare myself with Tennessee Williams? Everyone is human, the myths only retroactive. One night we sat and watched Pepi, Luci, Bom. You know, Almodovar’s first movie at the tender age of thirty-one. Rough, loose, scratchy and running around Madrid with no budget. But it’s there, it’s all there under the innocence and the hammerings of a first time. So someone would sit in a workshop and tear it to pieces and you could stay up all night to make it something else and he did. He made another, and another, and now we have a master at sixty-seven who packs out cinemas and collects trophies.

I’m not asking to collect trophies. I’m just hoping for that moment, to see something in print and not think myself above learning or critcism but have some form of foothold. Yes, I compare myself with Thomas Lanier Williams from Mississipi, sitting up in some skylight wondering what’s going to happen with life. Legends can happen or not happen when and if I die, for the moment there’s a comfort in keeping on.



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