Wanwan – Uzodinma Okehi

-Iowa City, 1995

Bright, white gloves, arms going. Get that, hit the mushroom, bounce, get the other one, coins, coins. But running . . . And Cubism. Puffed-out, polygon heads, bodies, but also, perfectly round, cute cannonballs, tromping, on cartoon feet, get behind him, gotta pick him up, tick, tick, throw him—bang! It is weirdly fascinating . . . Ok, again, bounced out from the portal, same dialogue, scroll through, bit about a picnic. A princess. He’s supposed to be, what, an Italian plumber? Mario, back on the green, same music, behind the fence, coins, get the coins, little platform, go up on that, and now I notice the galactic, planet-sized, cannonball head, with shark’s teeth, rising, leering from behind the horizon! Is that a glitch? But pumping, running the same trail, crazily, around and up the same mountain . . .
“Ehn. I hear you.” He says, clearly not listening. Abdul’s got a doormat, something, piece of a carpet over the hardwood, that he’s standing on barefoot. Now that he’s been playing non-stop, in sweatpants, now more of a Zen type of movement, flowing, with the controller, kind of, hypnotized mime, rundulating, and as usual I’m back, sunk into the couch, I’m watching, trying to figure everything out, the more I think on it, the more I realize how absolutely miserable I am, cold all the time, how much I hate Iowa City. And maybe this thing with Inez is gonna turn out to be the goddamn story of my life. Searching for ass, lost in a desert. One of those dudes, that I’ll be scraping, sniveling over some girl or another for the rest of my life. I light another cigarette. At least there’s palm trees in a real desert . . .
“Shit.” I say. “Seriously. She won’t touch my dick. Not even the balls. Not even when she’s drunk. How am I being a jerk here? You tell me. Getting dressed up. Eating tem-pora, all vegetables, man, with her corny fucking friends. Looking in each other’s eyes, all that, and week after week, but the minute I try for some ass, as usual, turns to a wrestling match, and it’s like I’m a rapist.
“I’m saying, we can’t even talk it over? Not even for Christmas? I’m like, ‘is this some kind of test? We’re dating, how can it not be about sex? Sooner or later? By the way, this is last night, she’s leaning over the bedstand. I’m easing by to get to the chair in the corner. Right? Not trying to be sleazy. You know, for once. She backs into me, like we just happened to bump each other. She opens up, lets me spread that shit and she’s grinding, like, moaning, so I’m basically there fucking her through her clothes. But again, this is while her roommate is right there in the kitchen. Then later, we’re alone, it’s back to the same old story.”
“I’ll tell you-
“Yo, how many times you played this level?”
“Each level, man. Go back, play it for time—Woo, hold on.” He’s got the volume up. Buzzing from the speakers, in my fingers, my feet. Again, from the portal. But from all directions this time, the big cannonball heads, grinning, teeth, this time hungry, now diving at him, barking like dogs, snapping against their chains. Star behind the gate, gotta get that. Back up the mountain.
“Hm. Thought you fucked already. Hold on, watch this-
Cannonball boulders now, coming down the trail. Bounce, slalom through those. Full-speed, the fence, up the trail, running, wait—into a shadowed alcove there, that I didn’t notice the first few times, where Mario fades out, teleports, or something, but straight-up, disappears.
“Ima tell you,” he says, controller behind his head, stretching. Thinking. Then, making a face. “Dunno man, I seen that girl. My question, you sure that’s what you want? Assuming she decides, right? Your sweaty dream come true.”
“What I want is-
“Friday, disco night, Airliner, the Union? Ehn? That how you see yourself? Also, what up with thin guy she’s always with?”
“Think he’s into dudes.”
“Then you have my blessing.” He shrugs. “What you want me to say?”