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Authors: Jaime Clarke

World Gone Water

BOOK: World Gone Water
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World Gone Water

Jaime Clarke

For my son—
and for yours

And if everything is so nebulous about a matter so elementary as the morals of sex, what is there to guide us in the more subtle morality of all other personal contacts, associations, and activities? Or are we meant to act on impulse alone?

—Ford Madox Ford,
The Good Soldier


Sonoran Rehabilitation Center Entrance Essay

Exit Interview Report



Essay #1: A Proper Introduction

Most Likely To



Essay #2: I Touch Clouds

From the Deep End

Essay #3: An Ideal Day Sometime in the Near Future


Journal #1


Journal #2

Essay #4: Amends

We Finish Nice Guys

Journal #3

I'm Good for One More

Journal #4

Essay #5: Affection


Essay #6: My First Time

For a Good Time Just Call

Journal #5

I Take Jane on a Hot-Air Balloon Ride

Journal #6


Friday Night

Essay #7: The End of Utopia

Added Up

Journal #7

I Give a Handout

Best Man

Saving Room for Dessert


Essay #8: Free Topic—Impropriety

Better Man

Journal #8


Essay #9: A Nightmarish Day

I Give a Lift

Journal #9

A Friend of the Groom's

A Romantic Interlude

World Gone Water


A Note on the Author

Praise for World Gone Water

Also by Jaime Clarke

Sonoran Rehabilitation Center Entrance Essay

Why I'm Here
Charlie Martens

I am not a good person. I don't need anyone to tell me that I am not a model citizen. People can always improve and I want to be a better person. I want what better people have. In my own defense, though, I do have moments when I reach up and brush my fingers on the brass ring of kindness, charity, and compassion.

In further defense of myself, I have to say that I am principally proud of who I am, proud that I have navigated so well with what some have called a faulty compass. Before anyone in here judges me, or starts an intense investigation into who I am, first you have to come to grips with the following ten ideas:

1. I am not a son of privilege, yet I am not an orphan of poverty.

2. I do not hold degrees from institutions of higher learning.

3. I am not handsome enough to operate on looks alone.

4. I have no family traditions.

5. I have the same dreams everyone else has, dreams whose origins are in the common myths of our time.

6. I am easygoing but will sometimes tend toward violence, if provoked.

7. I believe in equality.

8. I am a protector of those things in life that are smaller and weaker than I am.

9. I can't stand ignorance, idiocy, or intolerant behavior.

10. People talk about me in terms of sweetness and charm.

I don't pretend that these ten ideas define me, but they help you get a better view from where you are, looking down on me. The view from here is not one of looking up, I assure you, but merely looking out.

An eleventh idea is that I do not judge people.

If you want to know how far I've come, you have to understand what I've overcome. I don't just see things, I
them. You can blame a fascination with appearance and how things seem on any modern thing you like. I did. But I didn't find any answers in blame, and maybe the only truth I know is this: You have to feel something to understand it.

You ask me why I'm here, and I'll tell you that I'm here to feel my way further into the world. I haven't been remanded to your custody. I simply took Detective Rodriguez's advice. Your only job is not to judge me based on what you see.

Exit Interview Report

I, Jane Ramsey, in my capacity as a clinical psychologist employed by Sonoran Rehabilitation Center, located in Maricopa County, Arizona, do hereby swear that this exit interview report contains my personal evaluation of Charlie Martens. This exit interview is being conducted after the completion of Mr. Martens's voluntary nine-month stay.

STATEMENT OF FACTS: Mr. Martens was a person of interest in a sexual assault investigation in the state of Florida, though he was never charged due to the unreliability and ultimate disappearance of the accuser. On the recommendation of Detective Florio Rodriguez of the Boca Raton Police Department, Mr. Martens enrolled in SRC. Upon his successful treatment, Jay Stanton Buckley has guaranteed Mr. Martens's position as a functioning member of society, gainfully employed by Buckley Cosmetics in a public relations capacity.

TREATMENT: Mr. Martens participated in every aspect of SRC's program. His monthly journal entries and essay assignments are
appended herewith. At Mr. Martens's request, his creative writing exercises have not been admitted to the record.

OBSERVATIONS: Mr. Martens's rehabilitation at SRC has been a concentrated effort to even out his mind about the opposite sex and relations with women. An unexplained, alternating inborn hostility and passivity toward women has, in my opinion, been leveled, and a truer, more mature personality has been erected in its place. During his stay at SRC, Mr. Martens has displayed mannerly and cordial behavior toward the women here, both on staff and inpatient alike. Personally I find Mr. Martens a pleasant and charming individual. His presence in group and on the campus here shall be missed.

The following is a complete record and true account of Mr. Martens's rehabilitation.

Signed and dated this day——


If you ask me about Jane, I'll tell you that she is a fine woman. It is true that in the catalog of women in my life, Jane would come under
for “plain,” but she is tender and we go together pretty good. Besides, I prefer not to make aesthetic judgments.

The thing I like most about Jane is that she looks best without makeup. On one of our first dates, right after I left SRC, Jane had put on bright red lipstick, and the whole night I tried not to stare at it, because it looked like she was smiling even when she wasn't, and by the end of the night I was self-conscious about it. I think she sensed I didn't like it, or maybe she was uncomfortable with it too. Jane has never worn lipstick again.

We keep each other at arm's length most of the time and that is really for the best. (She knows it too.) I guess one could say our relationship is not complicated by love. We are, however, into each other totally. Our relationship is utopian. Utopian relationships last longer than marriages because emotions like jealousy and envy are removed. I never think about anyone but Jane, and Jane always tells me I'm the one for her. It wouldn't be fair if it weren't that way, and it is the only real promise we've made.

It wasn't always like that, though. At first, Jane thought I was dangerous. She didn't say much, but she warmed up when I showed her what a nice guy I can be. Jane said she'd come off a relationship with a fellow who had probably once been in prison. You have to take the good from your last relationship and put it in future ones, I told her.

And that's what we did, creating our present utopian relationship, which provides her with whatever it is she wants. This is the sort of relationship a woman like Jane deserves. It is the sort of relationship I like to initiate.

If I could change one thing about Jane, though, I wouldn't make her such a big Christian. I don't have a problem with religion per se, but sometimes Jane can really confuse the issue. Besides, like I've told her over and over again, there is no religion in Utopia.

But then, Jane thinks I am the Antichrist. “You're the devil,” she is always telling me. If she says it too often, I start to get a pinched feeling in my head and I have to yell at her to stop. I won't yell at her in public, though, and I never take it out on her in bed.

Jane is moving to California, but I want her to stay. I make a point to say “California is
Utopia” at least once a day, just slipping it into a conversation casually. Jane raises her eyebrows and shrugs in a way that lets me know she is on the fence. I'm convinced I can get her to stay.

“What's in California?” I ask her.

“You could come with me,” she answers. She knows from my sessions with Dr. Hatch that because my parents were killed when we lived in California, it's a blank spot on my mental map. Even my short stay with my aunt and uncle in San Diego feels like it took place out of time, and out of country. Of my own will, I will never return to California, a fact Jane knows well.

“But I don't want to move to California.”

“Charlie, you could easily come.”

“But I don't want to,” I repeat, and this signals Jane that I don't want to discuss it.

So I'm in the mood for a good time, and Jane and I are getting ready at her apartment to go out for the usual—dinner and whatever. She sees that I am on the verge of what could almost pass as euphoria, and I see that look on her face that lets me know it won't be smooth sailing.

And sure enough on the way to dinner Jane gets me uptight by demanding to know the name of the restaurant. When I don't tell her—when I say that I want it to be a surprise—she pursues the question about what kind of food this restaurant serves with an irrationality that becomes so frightening I finally do tell her, and though I'm disappointed about the deletion of the only mystery the evening holds, I'm glad this has happened, that the glitch is out of the system, that I can now breathe easy through dinner.

Sometimes I think I would like to marry Jane, but I know that our relationship couldn't survive the rules and constraints of a formal institution like marriage. Still, she carries herself in such a way that someone across the room looking at her would think,
Hey, that girl crossing the room could make a pretty good wife
. Someday someone should marry Jane and I'm pretty sure someday someone will.

Depending on Jane's mood after dinner, we will either go to the Sugar Bowl for ice cream or go straight back to her place. I always hope we will go for ice cream because I like to watch Jane coo like a little girl between licks of mint chocolate chip. Not only is it an amazing transformation, but it always signals the start of at least an hour of foreplay that lasts all the way from the Sugar Bowl to her bed.

Tonight dinner clearly makes Jane pensive, and I can sense that she won't want mint chocolate chip and indeed the whole rest of
the night may be in jeopardy. I dread the thought of going back to my room at the Hotel San Carlos, my temporary encampment courtesy of Buckley Cosmetics, alone. The historic boutique hotel is situated in a part of downtown I hardly know at all, and when I return to my room, I have to pretend that I'm just a tourist to stave off the depression brought on by my small pink room. Regardless of Jane's mood, her apartment is always preferable to another night in the hotel.

“I'm going to California,” she says, as if trying to cheer herself up.

“I'll go with you,” I say, and wait for her reaction. The skin under her eyes tightens, confirming my suspicion that she doesn't really want me to.

“I thought you wanted to stay here.” She tries to act like she hasn't been caught off guard.

“I could stay or I could go,” I tell her, shrugging.

going,” she says, realizing I am toying with her. My coyness cheers her up and again I am sure I can convince her to stay.

BOOK: World Gone Water
4.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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