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Maliblu Eyes
Janice Slater

'Mickey’s a cool dude...

I was looking at a statue of a Grecian Goddess. The Goddess was doing what Greek Goddesses do. She was carrying an urn. One of the arms was missing. So? Nothing unusual about that. The café was empty. Latino music infused the airwaves. I was drinking iced tea with a twist of lemon when a red sports car drove by. It was a throwback to the 1980’s. In the blink of an eye the sports car vanished. A fast horn section, from the Latinos punched a coda and my mind went into stall mode along with the music, then it went segueing back to something I didn’t need right then, a man called Mickey and a red Corvette Stingray.

I looked out the window. In the village life was slow moving. Now the Latino’s were back rattling timbales in my eardrums. A waiter walked by. The muscles in my stomach tightened. Sometime later, I called it intuition. That long limbed stride of his, it also said Mickey. That stride and sports car had something to tell me, something I needed to hear.
‘I’m listening you hear me?’
It was Mickey I needed to find.
‘I want you to tell me. Tell me where she is Mickey.’

In 1984 before he left Port Jefferson, Mickey showed me photos of female body parts. Parts that came close to studies in forensics. I smiled when he showed them to me. When he said ‘Chicks with needle marks are high on my agenda’. I smiled. I needed to be as cool as Mickey. So what does Mickey Schneider, the lean machine from my teenage years now have to tell me?
He’d ignored me for most of the time.

My name is Paula Oesmer. I live on the Lower East Side and work in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I majored in psychology at Amherst. I did the expected and volunteered a year with my father and his entrepreneurial cousin Basil in their law firm, ‘Schmirler & Oesmer’. My uncle and father nurtured and gave me direction. Now I’m a psychotherapist with my own practice. I had no intention of becoming a Profiler. Not until Cindy Overton. Cindy and her husband Richard needed to find closure. Their daughter Tina was missing, but everything was pointing to her not being found alive.

I’m up early. Early for anyone with half a brain. I welcome no brain when I’m back in Port Jefferson for the summer. The wind in the pines woke me. I like the dark before first light. ‘Get out the door Paula and brace the elements! Climb down the rocks and we’ll take the lakeside? ‘I’ command the royal ‘we’, then ‘we’ figure ‘too hard. Today we take the roadway’.
Now singularly, I push up the incline and through the big iron gates. I’m thinking into my ligaments into my Achilles stretch, preempting my pacing, when a light goes on, then the crap routines of my mind command me. I stumble forward.
‘Stupid ass! Keep the light on, turn it back, the mind back Paula’
And as I move down Branson it shines lucid.
It’s my 16th year. I’m walking mom’s hydrophobic little Chihuahua Curly Girly. I’ve just turned into Branson when I hear it. I see its parking lights. My stomach tightens. As if on cue the street lights go on and the car loses any semblance of menace. I let go of the air I’d held in check. The car moves past. Our eyes lock but he’s staring without recognition. It’s Mickey. He does the expected. He ignores me. He drives past in a red Corvette Stingray. Curley Girly and I keep walking.
My folks are big deal now, have the whole shebang, mansion with iron gates and a cottage down the back, my father pointing
‘See now. Straight across to Connecticut’.
My mother
‘A place such as this, whoever imagined?’
I want to do photojournalism, like Ant Rea, Mom’s "screwed up sister". Ant Rea in the bylines of the headlines - Palestine, Israel, Beirut, and phased by Nothing. Except by the guise of my mother.
‘FORTY years alive Rea and still NO husband.’
Ant Rea’s heart sinks, but I love her, when she smiles at my mother and says ‘Fuck off Fuck off!’

I’m into taking portraits of the locals with my second hand 35mm Nikon. I make sure the features of my subjects are out of focus. My family thinks I’m talent less. Friends say subversive.
Our gang’s beginning to splinter into sub-genres, virgins and sluts, passengers and drivers. Some of us still hitchhike on weekends to the Hamptons. In the beginning I was so out of my comfort zone but still I risked it. My rationale belonged to my parents... ‘Safety in numbers’.

Mickey’s a cool dude. Tanned and lean and new to the neighborhood, he looks like he’s stepped straight off Sunset Boulevard.
My mother says.
‘That boy has a gene pool from Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee’.
Then she sings, to the tune of Barbara Streisand ‘Papa Can You Hear Me?’ ‘Malibu eyes in Port Jefferson’ Anties, cousins and every girl in the neighborhood speculate about Mickey’s bad boy allure, but it’s wasted. He watches us watching him. He ignores us. We try harder. He remains unmoved.
Only once did he say words that altered my take on the world.
‘Those pictures of yours?’
Then followed without a question mark.
‘They‘re crap’.
I stopped taking photos. Not long after Mickey left Long Island.
My mother said.
‘They didn’t have time to unpack the furniture’.

My father said,
‘What for? Such a big house? A woman and two boys?’
Then Denny my boyfriend announced.
‘Mickey said he hated us ‘fucking islanders’ and he hated his father commuting through ‘fucking Queens’ day in and day out. ‘He’s schitzo. His father never lived here’.
Mickey went to Valencia, California. He went to Cal Arts. Mickey majored in photography. How do I know this? I’ve checked him out but I need to know something more about his life, not only his art. I’ve got access to files on him. I’ve traced where he’s living.

© Janice Slater Feb 2005


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