On the train looking through an independent literary journal I read a poem that made no sense to me at all. It was mostly about watching TV in the desert (I think). The train groaned and swayed along and my eyes were suddenly caught by the line “Alien Cave Woman Sex.“ Absolutely no image came to mind, none. Nothing at all. In my best David Sedaris voice I thought “Well, that’s interesting” and read something else. But the words “Alien Cave Woman Sex” wouldn’t leave. Weeks later I was reading a novel about a family of circus performers. They worked side-shows as “Living Oddities.” They’re acts were not “Big Tent Material”. The narrator says to another character “It’s like having a secret. Like having a bluebird tattooed under your pubic hair.” I can clearly see a small vivid cartoon bluebird, but not on anyone (anywhere!), just by itself. Another twist of words stuck in my head. Another unclaimed picture.
Neither phrase would go away. They would not be banished. Why couldn’t I leave them somewhere? Casually work them into conversation and abandon them. Give them to a stranger. Let someone else deal with the mess. I didn’t make up either one. Why should I be stuck? Burdened for months with these two unspeakable clunkers. Finally I wrote my way out of this putrid mess with a short story.
A handsome and mysterious stranger is suddenly stuck with appendicitis while waiting in line for the Alien Cave Woman Sex theme ride. While prepping him for surgery Carnival Nurse Betty Brazen was surprised (and intrigued) to discovers his secret tattoo. And quick as that both phrases were gone! Vanquished forever!
Freedom at last, because now, they have become yours. “Enjoy.”