“A flower is a glance, giggle, nod, flash of tit on a path through seasons and cycles. Its blossom swells, petals blush and a fragrant aroma exudes. The flower gazes out, smiling brazen beyond the torn landscape. It beckons, ‘Look at me. Smell me. Desire me.’ A flower is inspiration to seek and dare great heights.” — O.S. 1979
Reiko Lee Furshe opens the door wearing glasses, sweats and uncombed hair. They grin at each other. He hands her the wine bottle and book then sits down on a beat-up sofa.
When one enters a home, there is a lot to see which reveals the inhabitant. The room is spacious. Sporadically scattered on the floor are curious mounds of books, sketchpads, artist catalogues, magazines, pens, pencils, tools, soft drink cans, disposable cups and coffee mugs. It looks to him like an artistic mess.
Reiko is an emerging installation artist, an art genre conceived as an all-encompassing spatial experience typically requiring an entire room, first prominent in the 1970’s. She is represented by an emerging co-op gallery west on Randolph Street that she helped start up. Her installations are composed of long stemmed glass beams arranged in ornamental labyrinths. She mentions dropping out of art school after her sophomore year.
She explains she grew up in the suburb of St. Charles. Her Irish father is a wealthy real-estate developer. She says she misses her younger sister Winnie and hopes to see her soon.
She makes known her relationship with the actor got ugly. "He shoved me against a wall and grabbed me by the throat then threw my clothes out the door."
Odysseus asks, “Did he hurt you?” Reiko replies, “Yeah, but not too bad. I was more insulted than hurt.” She glances away towards the window. In a low voice, she reveals the actor has since moved to New York City.
The telephone rings and she answers it. "Where’s the bathroom?" Odysseus inquires. Reiko points to the back of the house. He walks in and closes the door.
He smells dampness and perfume. He takes a pee. He notices on a shelf a corked bottle filled with hairs. He investigates closer, realizing they are pubic hairs, likely Reiko’s, resembling the color of her eyebrows.
He cannot believe what he has found, cannot believe what he is seeing. In the whole world the most precious treasure Odysseus Schwartzpilgrim can imagine is there right in front of him. He opens the little bottle and sniffs. Reiko’s curly pubic hairs are silky soft and dark brown.
What fetish inspires her to collect her own pubes for display? He puts several hairs in his pocket and two in his mouth. He walks back to where Reiko is still talking on the phone.
She chats into the receiver. “I’m not sure. I guess I feel unsteady right now. Maybe I need more time. My heart is somewhere in between…"
A yellow light from the street lamp cuts through the window across the room. Reiko sits with her legs over the arm of a chair and her head tilted back against the cushion. She looks through the house out to the back porch. The wind chimes clatter nervously.
Odysseus craves a cigarette but sees no ashtrays. Reiko restlessly rises from the chair and facing him, stands with one arm akimbo. She takes off her glasses and looks away.
“I’m afraid of relationships. I seek and attract men whom I’d never truly want. I’m hoping for a man who is frightened by commitment and searching for a woman who is emotionally unavailable. I want him to be totally messed up so I can try to mend him."
He listens flabbergasted as he watches her speak into the receiver. Reiko covers the phone with her hand and speaks to him. “Have patience with me, Odys, please."
He nods agreeably while quietly sucking on her pubic hairs. He thinks she seems full of herself and not vulnerable to him. Probably she is just another spoiled suburban girl but he wishes she were the one. She is an amazingly good-looking turn-on.
He notices thin crisscross scars on the insides of her wrists. They look old and he tries not to stare at them. He thinks to inquire but does not. Secretly, he identifies to those slash marks, the damage implied.
He suspects she is trouble, which is partly his intrigue. Getting into trouble with Reiko Lee Furshe sounds like wonderful fun. Finally Reiko puts down the telephone.
He asks, "Who were you talking to, Reiko Lee?" She says, “Oh, an old friend. I love that you include my middle name when you address me. It sounds so Southern and mannered. ‘Reiko Lee,’ I love the way you say it. Odys, let me get a corkscrew and we’ll open that bottle you brought."
They sip wine from coffee cups and talk about the New York art scene and pop trivia for an hour. The wine begins to take a little effect.
She shows him a scrapbook. Inside are photographs of Reiko and her dog Purdy with the original backgrounds cut away. Underlayed are pictures of famous and exotic places in the world. It is an incredible scrapbook of Reiko and Purdy posing in front of the Parthenon, Sphinx, Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, Mount Fuji, a volcano in Hawaii, hiking the Grand Canyon, atop the Empire State Building, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
He looks admiringly and remarks, "Reiko Lee, you’re funny and a little strange." She tilts her head and smiles then pours the last of the wine. Their glasses clink.
She says, "Odys, I’m a freak. Are you sure you want to get to know me?" "Yeah, I’m sure, more than ever. Reiko Lee, you’re this exotic white girl."
"I’ll take that as a compliment. Now I need to take a nap. The wine has made me sleepy. Thank you for coming over, Odys." He says, “Thank you, Reiko Lee. I had a good time.” She grins. “Me too, Odys. Hope I hear from you soon.”
As he turns to leave, she grabs him by the waist and turns him towards her. She lightly kisses him on the lips then pats him on the butt. “Get out of here,” she leers.
As he walks home, fantasies and questions race through his thoughts. He asks himself why the crisscross scars on her wrists are alluring to him. He guesses because he feels messed up inside. He needs someone who will not run away from his moods or outbursts. He needs someone who identifies with messes and abuse. Someone experienced who can empathize and love and coexist with his craziness.