All the time, I would see her, like, every day, this woman, dressed all in black or sometimes, like, a gray, a dark gray. The trail—the hike and bike—ran right past my house and every morning, there she’d be. Walking. I don’t know what she was doing there. I mean, I don’t know why she was living in our little suburb. She wasn’t the only one, of course. They’d opened up a whole goddamn mosque a year before, and a couple of new Indian food places. Not that she was Indian. I know that she wasn’t Indian. You don’t have to tell me she wasn’t Indian. I don’t know what she was but I know she wasn’t any kind of Indian lady. Those ladies don’t cover up so much, even if sometimes they should cover up more of themselves than they do.
Anyway, so I’d see her all the time, and I’d think to myself, as any normal god-fearing, respectable kind of guy would, I wonder what she’s hiding under there. That’s what everybody thinks. Don’t tell me it’s not. And I’ve got a pretty wife, much like you’d expect, and I look at her when I get home and I see her in her pretty little dresses or sometimes her curvy little jeans, and I think, that’s fine, that’s good. I know what I’ve got is a good thing. But then I think, sometimes I think, I wonder what she’s hiding under there—not my wife but the other lady—and then I think, What would Jennie look like under one of those. What would I do if I came home and found Jennie under one of those things. Or if all the time except for bedtime that’s all I could see her in. I’d tell, of course I’d tell her to take it off. I mean, what the hell is she trying to pull with that shit, but also I’d wonder about her, think about her in that get up. I’d want to know, What she’s hiding under there. I’d want to know that even though I already know that. And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. Because, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it. Not. Well, maybe it’s not the point of that big black cloak that lady wears or the mask, or, whatever, not a mask, I don’t know. What is it? A veil, I guess. I mean, that’s probably not the point of that kind of get up, but I could see my wife, like, if she didn’t think I was noticing her as much, enough, I can see her doing something like that. Maybe in the opposite direction, with some frilly little thing at night, or with something to do with her hair, making her hair purple (it happened). The point I’m making, what I’m trying to say is, I can see how this kind of thing might work. Not the purple hair, maybe. I mean. I noticed it but wasn’t happy about it. It didn’t make me wonder, What’s she hiding under there, in other words. It made me wonder other things, but not that. Anyway, we can all see how this could work, this thing, is the point I’m trying to make.
You feel sometimes like people don’t notice you, don’t see you, or they see you and think they know all there is to know about you, and that’s just the same as not seeing you at all, but then showing more of you doesn’t ever seem to work, and so what are you left? I mean. I’m just trying to get you to see it the same way I’m seeing it.
In any case, I didn’t know where you were supposed to buy this sort of stuff, the full-body wrap stuff, so I kind of put some shit together. A costume store, some drapes, some heavy black drapes. My wife’s eyeliner. It wasn’t hard. I mean. It was hard to make it look right, look even close to right, but it wasn’t hard to do. Doing it was pretty easy. Then I took a picture—one of the old cameras because of the timer and because I didn’t want Jennie to find it by accident on my phone or the digital camera. To be honest, I took a few pictures. And then I took all that shit off and threw the drapes away. I spent a hundred dollars on them and then just fucking threw them away. But now I have this. I have this thing now, and why shouldn’t I. Why shouldn’t I be able to look at this thing and wonder, What’s under all of that.
What’s he got going on under all of that.
Story by Manuel Gonzales
Photo by Emily Raw