The Eye of Bowie, an Ocular Obsession
By Nathan Honoré
My ex-girlfriend’s eyes did not belong on her head. They were small, yet devastatingly huge. So I killed her.
Two months ago I sat in my candy apple red car on the slanted 57th street and waited. I felt the frightful weight of the tiny gun in my palm. Like a good Catholic, I held out my hands, one on top of the other. The gun rested there. I loaded it easily and with care. A sacred vessel. Then she emerged on the porch we used to make out on. The closed eyes of our kisses were a welcome reprieve. I got out of my car with a lazy smile on my face and moseyed towards her, gun fully exposed. She must have thought it was her brother’s air-soft gun, which look surprisingly realistic. She walked towards me. The cold air made her cross her arms, hands under the armpits. It was kind of cute. Too bad her eyes enraged me. I raised the gun and shot her between those monstrosities. She was dead. Her eyes rolled back, never to be seen again.
At least that’s what would have happened if me and my parked car hadn't been creamed by a dairy truck. Irony.
I survived the collision with nothing but a collapsed lung, a fractured wrist, and a missed opportunity. The police found the loaded gun. When I had recovered enough from my injuries they questioned me rigorously. Luckily, I once saw a special on how to beat a lie detector and told them I couldn’t remember. They bought it, but suspected suicide. Thus, I was put into a mental ward for observation. It wasn’t bad, but a new obsession emerged. The David Bowie classic Labyrinth was played in the main area twenty-four hours a day. I had been aware of Bowie’s work when I entered the ward, but had never seen or heard him speak. His eyes. A fellow patient told me that one of his eyes was permanently dilated because a friend of his punched Bowie when he was fourteen for sleeping with the friend’s girlfriend. The pupil never returned to normal size, giving the illusion that his eyes are different colors. I said to myself, "Joe, you need that."
My ex-roommate, Joe, was a freak. We lived together for over a year, but never really got along. Joe always accused me of being a drug dealer for some reason. He would go through really odd phases. One day he’d sit and play the Super Mario Brothers 3 on NES for hours. The next, Joe would barricade himself in his room, coming out only to relieve himself (I hope.) Joe could be fun, but when he drank, he drank. My friends and I would be partying and he would come late. His night class almost always ran late and he would then have an hour-long fight on the phone with his girlfriend. The rest of us would have a pretty good buzz on by the time he got there, full of Southern Comfort and Diet Coke. Joe would walk straight to the fridge, chug a beer, grab another, and then plop himself in whatever chair was available. Nobody bugged him until he had his third drink. Joe caught up quick. After those first ten minutes, he was the life of the party, pouring shots, buying pizza for everyone, and getting ridiculously drunk. When he felt he had enough Joe would walk down the hallway to our apartment and pass out in his bed.
I followed him once.
Joe walked flawlessly down the narrow hallway. He fiddled with his keys along the way, humming some metal tune’s main guitar riff. I snuck in after he went into his room, kittie-corner to the bathroom. The only light on was the huge candle he lit every night in his room, so it was easy to hide behind our La-Z-Boy. I could hear him typing as though he was hammering the keys with a sledge. Then some very loud metal music came on. I think it was Rammstein. Psssssssch. He apparently had another beer in his room. The crumpling of the can signaled its defeat. Joe emerged from his creepily lit room. The lights still off, he stood in front of the mirror, shirtless. He took a hold of the porcelain with a menacing grip and leaned close to the mirror. Joe always took pride in his triceps. It felt like forever. He must have been staring at himself for ten or fifteen minutes, not moving an inch. I thought he was just admiring his body.
After we graduated, Joe and I went our separate ways. He never even bothered with his half of the security deposit.
I was working as an accountant when I suddenly received a call from an unknown number. It looked familiar, so I answered.
“Hey Craig, what’s going on,” Joe said. His creepiness had lost none of its potency. The image of Joe staring at himself came into my mind. What the hell did he want?
My first day out of the ward I called my old college roommate. We hadn’t spoken for years but I needed his help.
“Hey Craig, what’s going on,” I began.
“Oh… hey Joe.”
“Craig, I’m going straight to it.”
“I’m going to pay you one hundred fifty dollars to punch me in my left eye. When are you available?”
“Listen Craig. I’m not going to press charges or anything, I just need to have this done. Do me this one favor, please.” I hadn’t said please for seven months.
“Uh…can I ask why Joe?”
“Sure you can, but I won’t tell you. And I’m raising the price to two hundred.”
“Man…are you sure? I don’t want to get in trouble or anything. What if I hurt my hand? What if you-“
“Don’t worry about any of that,” I interjected. “I’ve done some research and you’ll be fine. I just need you to hit me in the eye. Simple enough, right?”
“Alright. You’re the boss. And can you write the check to cash?”
That motherfucker was always more concerned with money than anything else, always making checks out to cash. I had my suspicions that he was drug dealer. Regardless, Craig came through and slugged me good. He must have had some pent up aggression, which was fine. I waited for the bruise to settle a bit before inspection. This was a science project, replicating history to create the same result as Bowie. I had to have his eyes, and since stealing his eyes was out of the question, a little science was required. After three days, I caved. I turned the bathroom light on, stared at myself while the lights flickered and leaned over the counter. Opening my eyelid, I checked out my eye. Nothing changed. There was just a little swelling around the hole in my skull where the eye sits. It was Craig’s fault. I formulated another plan. Those eyes must be mine.
Amazon is an amazing thing. I entered “Bowie contacts” and sifted through all the knife crap until I finally saw them. Only six hundred bucks too. The set had one really good Bowie eye and the other was just for show. All in all, a small price to pay for ocular perfection.
I went for a walk on the day of their arrival. I wanted to show off my new eyes to the world. Unfortunately I have a terrible habit of keeping my head to the ground when I walk. Only the cracks that break mothers’ backs saw me.
“Joe? What are you doing?”
“I want to take you out tonight. I have something awesome to show you.” I tried to hide my giddiness.
“Ugh, Joe. We’ve been through this. Why do I even answer your calls anymore?” she asked.
“Ok Trace, how bout some coffee? An innocent rendezvous. I won’t try to touch or kiss you. Scout’s honor.” I was never a scout.
“Fine. I’ll meet you at the Cocoa Nut.”
The Cocoa Nut was a nice enough establishment. Tracy and I used to frequent it when we dated that one week. She thought I was interesting because I was odd and figured it was just an act to get her attention. It’s amazing how much of the truth you push out because you don’t want to see it. We would sit at the semi-comfortable La-Z-Boys with a clear coffee table between us. I would stare at her emerald eyes, not speaking, not smiling. She would blush, thinking I was just being flirtatious. Until the first twenty minutes passed without me changing my expression. We eventually made awkward conversation. It’s impossible to find an attractive girl who likes metal, and that’s all I talk about, so our discussions were not the greatest. We never kissed, but one night we got wasted and she gave me a blowjob while I fondled her boobs. I made sure she stared up at me the whole time. The felatio was nice enough, but I wanted to see her eyes. I got upset when she would take her eyes away from mine, but let her finish. The next day she dumped me.
The loose tile floors of the Nut were all too familiar, not that I missed them. As usual, the lights were dim, coffee house style. Faint enough to not be seen by those across the room, but not light enough to read. The teenaged baristas looked at me together, feigning the usual welcoming attitude fueled by hours of caffeine. I grabbed a black coffee and a stirrer. It gave me something to do besides look down at the liquid that was too hot to drink. Tracy had not arrived yet. I went to the bathroom to admire my Bowie eye. She would love it. How could she not?
Joe was a mistake. I see that now. We only dated for a week, but a week in hell is an eternity. I was lonely. He was whatever he was. We spent most of our time in the Cocoa Nut. He just seemed so interesting. It was clear that there was some darkness about him, kind of like Donnie Darko. Maybe that was the attraction. I dressed kind of Goth back then. My black eyeliner was always with me. I wore black pants that were a little too big so the back of my panties could be seen by those curious enough to look. On top I would wear a tight black or white t-shirt with one of those fishnet type things that clung to my body like a parasite. Joe was really into metal. It seemed to be the only thing that he would get excited about. He assumed I liked metal too, but I was a Goth chick who liked Jewel. It happens.
I don’t think Joe was intentionally abusive. Nothing physical, but more of the constant distance he put between us. The neglect. I tried to cover it up by drinking. The vodka made me like him again. Instead of dark and weird, he became mysterious and rugged. I tried to love him. I really tried. I had to prove to myself I could love someone again. My last boyfriend cheated on me with a girl who would apparently do the things I wouldn’t in bed.
People say that when something bad is about to happen you can feel it, some sort of animal instinct. As I walked up the stairs, I prepared myself to see something unbearable. Tears started pouring down my face before I saw it. The door creaked, but that wasn’t enough for them to stop. I took out my key, turned and was greeted by the wonderful sight of my boyfriend fucking this blonde in the ass. The blonde was on all fours. They were facing the door, like they were waiting for me. She looked up first, in painful pleasure. Her mouth was already open, but now for a different reason. The blonde was still moaning. My boyfriend was gripping her hips, thrusting with eyes closed. His neck was tense, veins protruding. I watched in a frozen silence. The blonde put her head down with a little smirk and let him continue to fuck her. He finally opened his eyes, but didn’t stop. Instead, he stared at me with his bright blue eyes, thrusting harder than before. The image of him looking at me while fucking another woman is burned into my brain.
I guess that’s why I wanted to love Joe. Maybe my boyfriend would be jealous or catch me fucking Joe. Rebounds are there for a reason. Joe and I never had sex though. I got too drunk and gave him a blowjob on the night before I broke up with him, but that was as far as we got. He made me stare up at him the entire time. Whenever I would close my eyes, his brow would furrow and he would whisper in a harsh tone, “Look at me.” He stared into my eyes, rarely blinking. I’m not sure if Joe enjoyed getting off as much as he did looking into my eyes. It was too intense. Why the hell did I agree to meet him? What could he possible have to show me?
When I emerged Tracy was sitting across from my empty seat. She looked as good as ever. Her long black hair complimented her green eyes perfectly. Red would have been ideal, but those are reserved for albinos. Though her skin was as pale as paper, her lips were thick and sumptuous. The last time I had seen her, my cock was in her mouth. Her teeth were far from perfect, but still quite white. She used to be Goth. That’s what made me think she might be into metal. Turns out she’s more hippie than gothic, just like I’m more drunk than sober.
I walked towards her with a fire-like passion in my eyes. She stood up as if to shake my hand. Instead of taking her hand, I took her body and held it to me. She resisted at first, but only at first. Saying nothing, I let her stare at my fantastically alluring Bowie eyes. Her coldness towards me melted, her bedroom eyes emerged.
“Let’s get out of here. I want you right now.”
“Ok,” I replied.
Of course that’s what would’ve happened if I had watched where I was going. I tripped on a displaced ottoman, sitting right in the aisle. Who the shit put it there? My hands were slow on their response to brace my body as I fell so my chest took the brunt of the fall, knocking the wind out of me. Tracy ran to my side with a hint of a smile on her lips, concern in her eyes.
“You klutz! What were you in such a hurry for?”
I lost my balls with the fall.
“Oh nothing. Just zoned out I guess.”
Seeing that I was ok, Tracy helped me up and took her seat across from my still too hot coffee. It took me a few seconds, but I finally got situated in the chair and started an old habit. I met her eyes and stared. This would be the best way for her to see my new eyes. Conversation is so meaningless sometimes.
She did a slight double take upon realizing what was different. Her usual empathetic eyes changed to disgust. Tracy’s face elongated with her mouth agape, her head shaking in disbelief. My gaze remained stoic.
“What the fuck have you done Joseph?!” She was the only one who could get away with calling me that.
“Looks pretty awesome, huh?”
“No, Joseph. No. You look like a fucked up David Bowie. And not in a good way. Is that a contact?”
I finally broke my stare and looked down to my coffee instead. Shame started filling my blood.
“Jesus, Joe. I can’t look at your eyes when they’re like that. Let’s just pretend like they’re not there. But I’m leaving in fifteen minutes.”
“I thought you’d like it, Trace.”
“Let’s drop it.”
Silence filled our section of the Cocoa Nut for a minute or two. Each slowly taking sips of the searing beverages we held. Neither of us wanted to speak. This is not how things were supposed to go. We needed to talk about something. I could only come up with my accident.
“So I got in a car accident a while ago.”
Tracy looked up at my normal eye. A slight feeling had returned to her.
“Yeah, I was just sitting in my car, parked on 57th and Lincoln. This truck just rammed me and I got pretty beat up. I was in the hospital for a while, then a psych ward.” I shouldn’t have said that last part.
“A psych ward? Why?” The empathy was still there, but blended with a suspicious character.
“Joe. What were you doing on 57th? Isn’t that where… Oh Joe…”
Tracy had known my other ex as long as I had. She knew our history. She (apparently) remembered where she lived. Tracy’s lovely sympathetic eyes were gone. Now she was clearly ashamed to be sitting with me. Ashamed to know me. I came clean and told her the entire story. Why I was there, what I was going to do, how I faked out the cops, everything. I kind of hoped that the cop thing would make her like me again. But with each word brought out sides of her I’d never seen; hate, malice, loathing. The skin between her perfectly formed eyebrows creased and became ugly. When I finished, I sat back in my chair, my piercing gaze resumed. This time she stared right back. After a minute of hating each other, she slowly reached for her coffee. Tracy looked down in it as though she was looking for answers. She jerked her head to me and stood up.
“Fuck you, Joe.” A tear leaked out.
Before I could respond, her coffee was airborne, scalding my face and eyes. I screamed like a banshee on steroids as Tracy turned and fled the scene. My hands held to my melted skin, I saw her between my fingers. I tried to stand and run after her, but I tripped on the glass coffee table that lay between us and crashed through it. Glass pierced my hands as I braced myself. I felt dead, but in pain. I was a Frankenstein monster.
I must have passed out from the pain. When I reopened my eyes everything was blurry, but I knew where I was. The color of the hospital walls was unmistakable. There were many blue-ish/black blurs surrounding me. Tracy called the cops. I couldn’t make out their faces, but I’m sure the looks they gave me amounted to absolute detestation. The doctors patched me up pretty good, assuring me that my wounds would heal and my eye sight would return in time, just like Han Solo coming out of carbon freezing. When my recovery was coming to a close, the police read me my rights and explained what was going to happen. First I would be tried, but the District Attorney had been working on my case while I was at the hospital and wanted to get me moved to the psychiatric ward of the prison.
“Sounds like a plan,” I said.
Sure enough, I was found guilty of attempted murder and sent to our city’s version of Arkham Asylum. I’m still there. It’s not bad though. Like the psych ward at the hospital they have a movie playing in each of our rooms, 24/7. There’s no main room here, we stay in our padded cells. The movie in my room is Papillon, the Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman story of two guys trying to escape a prison. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but I didn’t care. All I watched on that tiny screen were McQueen’s eyes. He had fantastic blue eyes, didn’t he? Those eyes could melt the ice caps quicker than Global Warming. They could pierce ten layers of Kevlar. My Bowie eye contacts were destroyed by the coffee incident, but I wonder if I could get some nice McQueen eyes.