West Side Story Story


Years and years ago there was a young man I think was a bit in love with me. He had something wrong with him, not because he was a little bit in love with me. Though perhaps that too. It was something , perhaps something that had happened at birth, something that had no name in those days, dyspraxia. Dyssomethinga.He dropped stuff and drooled. He loved horror films and his dream was to make a horror film or act in a horror film.
He was very poor, and I think had to save up money to visit me on the long subway ride into Brooklyn. Maybe he walked, or limped. He had a strange walk as well. He would have been good in a horror film, blonde, blue eyed, but with a bad gait and drooling mouth.
So he kept calling me and calling in on me at odd times. One time he came over with a present. It was the strangest present I have got. It was surplus Farina, a wheat grain based hot cereal my mother used to make for me when I was ill. The surplus was from the state he was from, Michigan. His mother thought he was starving and sent him boxes of Welfare farina. It just said Farina. It was not the popular brand of Farina.
But it was also the way he presented the present. He showed up, with blood running down the side of his mouth. He handed me the farina, and said, “Here is the present. It’s farina, but special government farina from Detroit. They have a whole mountain there of farina. In case there is a holocaust and we all need to eat farina, those of us that live. Through the Nucular accident. He said Nucular like a bad president. I let it go.
“But you’re bleeding. Did you have to fight a guy to get the farina? A diamond, yes, possibly worth a fight, but farina? Yeah, I like it OK, but mainly when I am unwell and can’t eat anything else. But it’s the thought. How nice of you to stockpile for me, in case of nuclear war. But why the blood?”
Oh, no, he said, I was not really in a fight. I bit on a blood capsule. It only looks like I am bleeding.
I thought about this. “Did you think it would make the present more exciting, if you bit a blood capsule while you gave me some processed wheat?”
He looked forlorn.
“Oh, it totally looks real. You really look like you are bleeding, and I am glad you are not really bleeding.”
He shrugged and smiled and drooled. “I just thought if I gave you farina and looked like a zombie, it might make the present more, exciting. I mean, have you ever had farina from a zombie?”
I had to admit, I had not. I had never had farina from a zombie, but it got me thinking, this was not good friend material, let alone boyfriend material. He was unhinged. Like most unhinged people I have met, I welcomed him into my flat.
I said, would you like a beer? Some farina? Shall I bite on a blood capsule as well so we could drink beer and eat farina and be slightly normal zombies? We could watch TV? There might even be a horror film on.
So that’s what we did. We drank beer, we watched tv and I tried to make the farina but it was just solid, bowl-shaped lumps, just like mum used to make. It congealed.
There were no horror films on, but they were showing West Side Story. I love this movie. I love the dancing. I love the Puerto Ricans. The fake Puerto Ricans, the Greek one in particular. What a dancer.
Bleeding dyspraxic zombie was bored. It was not his kind of film. I thought, oh, I have to get rid of this guy.
I said, OK, you like movies. There is a great scene at the end where everyone dies. We can go to the basketball court over the road and reenact the scene. I’ll talk you through it. We don’t need blood capsules, we need a knife, and we might have to play multiple parts, but I want to be Natalie Wood.
He was totally confused. I was out weirding him. This is a great strategy for getting rid of men. I said look, I don’t even like beer, I don’t really like farina, but I
LOVE West Side Story. Let’s go play it.
And he was so lovestruck and crazy, he agreed. So we went to the basketball court. I gave directions. OK, I said, first I stab you, or shoot you. It’s all fake so it doesn’t matter. The important thing is you die. When you die, when you are dying, I come up to you and hold you, and then you die and I walk away.
This was night-time. Those funny yellow lights were on. It was a well-lit set, I have to say. I said, “You lay down there, and look like you are dying.” He laid down. He said he had an extra blood capsule and should he chew it. I said no, not from the mouth. Save it for another movie. Then I turned into Natalie Wood, but with some improv. I said, Oh my God, welfare farina guy, you have been murdered.”
He sat up. He said, no , I’m not dead yet, I’m only dying.”
I said, OK, say what you want to say.
He said, Oh wow, like, I’m dying. Did you stab me. I’m totally confused. What do I do next.
I said, oh for fucks sake just pretend you are dead. He closed his eyes but he was smiling. He couldn’t help it.I think he thought I was going to cradle him in my arms and kiss him. Maybe.
But I said, just keep playing dead. Something will happen.
Time passed. Not lots, but some. I crept away. I left him playing dead on a basketball court in a not great neighbourhood. I went back to my flat. I threw the farina and beer tins away. I never knew what happened to him. I never heard from him again.

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