Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts about Richard Chiem's WHAT IF, WENDY

Lover's Spit, Broken Social Scene [Bee Hives] by NeathenAlero

What if, Wendy is a short story by Richard Chiem. It was published by the minimal/html site Pangur Ban Party in late 2010. Maybe early 2011. The story takes place in a hotel room with the song Lover's Spit by Broken Social Scene continually playing around two characters: an unknown female and Jesse. The female is a prostitute and Jesse is the buyer.

What if, Wendy
The thing is.
I don’t know how to be good anymore, he says.
The thing is.

I can’t find anyone, he says.

It seems as if Richard envisions and understands these sort of metaphysical holes that everyone has in them, odd sub-conscious vacancies that only certain souls can fit exactly into. Throughout the piece the female character and Jesse both contemplate how to enter one another. The female is looking for the perfect match, someone who knows just what to do. Jesse has lost something, he lives on the memory of a lost girl who initiated him into the world of spiritual-sexual connection. Both Jesse and the girl are cognizant but mindless creatures wandering in a whiskey-induced haze toward some promised land that is nowhere in sight.

How would he be able to read her thoughts like that? How would he know exactly what to do? What makes her happy.

It seems that the result of the yearning in this story is dispassionate action. What happens to a body on he path in search of the perfect mate? People mutate themselves and their minds just in order to feel something. The story is about the crafting of an unrealistic wish. A wish that is never granted, but seemingly always requested. It repeats just as the song Lover's Spit does in the story.

The central action centers around Jesse's first love, a girl who did everything to him, in a loving way. Her name is Wendy. She was torn away from him when he was young. Jesse seems bent on recreating Wendy's willingness and experimentation. A part of that, Jesse confesses, was when Wendy let him have anal sex with her in the reclined seat of a car. The female prostitute takes this fact well.

Yes she says, sipping the drink he hands to her, unfazed by his question. I love anal. It feels like, like a more, powerful lucid dream because of the added and soft pain. She pauses and says, masochism is still pleasure, pleasure, pleasure, and takes another large sip from her glass and almost hiccups smiling. I like admitting it too.

Like most of Richard's writing, images are stretched, poured  like liquid,  heated to a vapor all at once. His imagery is like a perfume. You feel the notes between the gestures, though sometimes the sentiments are hard to interpret, like most good feelings.

They both miss a humming growl, they realize, from the cooling vents that stopped blowing sound from the floor and ceiling. She thinks the DJ of the late, late night radio show must be asleep or away, because the same album keeps playing and shuffling over and over again from the alarm clock and she looks at the time. Nearly three in the morning, and she wants something else to happen: serendipity or bestiality. So come on, she says, taking Jesse’s palms and leading him from the bed to the middle of the room, where the music is loudest. A slow dance is impromptu and he does, tremble. Look at him she thinks, he’s wilting like blown feathers.


  1. Frank, this is awesome. I love Richard's writing and I'm glad you do too. This post is spot-on.

  2. Thank you, Frank. This is beautiful.