How There Was Heidi
am going to do it. It is worrying that none of the others I have tried to appear to want me to exist!
Too late, I’m here, and I believe in myself, even if I was not the first to believe in me. That
would be Rufus. But writing it all down soothes my worries of being left on my own when the
humans I love stop living, like Steen did. If I start feeling less real, I can read it to myself.
Though Steen says there are other beings of my sort in mythology, I haven’t gone looking for
others. I prefer to stay with my parent and beloved, the splendid artist and musician Rufus
Dixon, who calls me ‘the incredible’. I like being his unique and secret muse.
After all, I am a sentience formerly attached to a comfort object. I would not exist without Rufus
needing me. He needs me to be the very best at what he does, which involves being himself at all
times. He would never have needed me quite as much as he does if it were not for Steen and the
Heidi’s what Rufus used to call his own hand, ever since way back. It was his granddad who’d
asked him who he’d been playing around with out back of the barn, and he’d said, “Just hiding,
PawPaw,” and felt his ears grow hot.
But PawPaw must not quite have heard what he said because he replied with a grin and a wink,
“Heidi? Nice wholesome name she’s got.”
He got to thinking it was a good name. Because he was pressing his hide and doing it hidden,
and what the johnnycake was up to was nobody else’s business anyway. Spending time on his
own, soothing himself was not a thing to boast of, but the lure of the birds and the bees was just
natural. Sometimes the bird didn’t have a bee handy, though, just his own ‘Heidi.’
When some smart-alec in middle school began to snicker about having a gal called Rosy Palm,
some other scoffer said that was old; his uncle Beau had told him about Rosie and her five
daughters when he couldn’t even shave. From this he gathered that self-pleasuring was not so
unusual. Well, Rufus kept such things as Heidi to himself anyhow. Even though there were some
quite adventurous fillies in his age group in the backward fold of West Virginia that spawned
him, none were ever able to surpass his own hand for satisfaction.
When he got done working his way through art school there was a party for the grads, and for a
joke some trust fund waste of human sensibility gave him an inflatable girl. All you’ll be able to
afford with a music history concentration, the fellow joked. Rufus was a good sport about it. The
one who’d given it to him didn’t know that he didn’t just strum lutes in coffeehouses. He also
sang in garages full of amps and drum kits. Electric music drew crowds who spent their money,
and managers who could spin that money into fame and fortune.
Rufus had so much extra energy in his bachelor days that the inflatable Heidi girl didn’t lie idle.
No, she and his hand were necessary supplements to all the little human girls who loved his long
red hair and triangular torso and the way his eyelashes hit his cheekbones. They were good for
tasting, in the shadows behind the amps in those garages.
He liked the tall ones that he could arch around himself in the soft foam in the back of a minivan.
He liked the tiny ones he could lift to his lips like clusters of woman fruit. He liked the lush
girls at all, only pretending to be.
He enjoyed them all, but they got tired so fast. He could never get them to stay over. They
needed twice as much sleep as Rufus. Naw, he’d be knocking in the wee hours on a second girl’s
window frame, because the first girl had to get up in the morning. Sometimes he’d use the hours
before dawn to write. But more often he would end up on his own with Heidi.
There were lots of Heidis, because they kept popping until he figured out the optimum inflation
level and good storage protocol. Heidi needed her own box, one that his sister’s cat couldn’t get
open. They were always blond and pink with small round mouth holes and other handles molded
by his preference. After a few years, she had a wig. It never looked real, but it was always soft.
But even when Heidi was joined by the Beaver, which was a real fur coat that didn’t fit but felt
so damn good to lie in, there was simply too much bubbling through him; he had to take up a
sport as well.
Ironically it was fencing—sharp skewers and grace. It distanced him still more from the
wrestling and buckshot of his rural upbringing.
He chose that sport because he was trying to impress Steen Herren. It was an easy segue for him
from the duet to the duel, the intersection where metal met folk ballad.
Mold Apple, his band at the time, kept smoking themselves into noodling incoherence before
they could make the sort of impression that Rufus craved, a real multimedia challenge to the
audience. The other Apple boys were happy to strum in the background of a Renaissance Faire
or a local carnival, leaving the future and the sheer volume out of their music. But a group like
Steen’s had the cachet of overseas touring, and the vehemence of strong leadership.
Steen had an outfit called Virgen Steel. He was a tall colorful character who brandished his
rapier at those Renaissance festivals, but did not play at them. Virgen Steel was a metal band;
you couldn’t call it heavy metal exactly, because they always had some sort of flavor of folk.
Their rhythms were architectural and their themes were pictorial. Steen towered over his bass
like the heron he was nicknamed for, often making the whole effect of it more saturnine by
tucking one leg up in his knee like bloody Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and letting his long blond
goatee, in two braids, cascade down his naked chest.
And he wrote all the songs. He designed all stage business and the logos. But they regularly
needed someone new to sing and play a variety of stringed sounds. That was because Steen would overpower them, one way or another, having no respect for the usual spotlighting of the
singer. In fact, the one before Rufus had quit after being goosed onstage by Steen’s epee in the
middle of a cadenza. That just made Rufus chuckle, and start wearing a sword onstage himself.
Herren had a huge reach with an epee, but Rufus swiftly developed charm and speed enough to
be the reincarnation of Errol Flynn, even with his late start in the sport.
It turned out he had a talent for it, and he even learned to fence with both hands just in case. Part
of that was vanity, though, as he wanted his thighs not to be over-developed. Steen’s right was
nearly thirty percent brawnier than his left.
After their singer slot went empty for long enough, and Mold Apple disbanded after the drummer
overdosed, he eventually won a place for himself among the Virgens. Then he got a shock.
Steen’s first love was not fencing, apart from the bit of parry and riposte he engaged in on stage.His real love was soccer. It became an unending mystery to Rufus—why the swordplay? Why
did this tall toe twirling jock, master of the black and white ball, write about apocalyptic
monsters, and drop life sized marionettes down to the stage during shows in order to chop them
to bits like piñatas? Steen did not explain, he only turned up the amps so the shredded remains of
them blew like autumn leaves in the storm of volume.
Soon that was Rufus’ job. As lead singer, for he had a much showier voice than Steen, it was
soon up to him to dispatch the bogies when they came to the final chords. And in their dueling
duets, he held his own against Steen. The crowds loved it.
The fire-maned singer in the tight pants was a magnet for the women now. Other times it was
just him and Heidi. But no matter the time or the season, the pipes of the dynamo that was Rufus
Dixon, rock star, got cleaned every day. He had a lot of vitality; he was known as a wild madcap;
sometimes the day would see him enjoy the hygiene of his own pleasure six times. He was
simply beyond the capacity of one woman and he knew it.
He and the band he now harmonized in, Virgen Steel, drew plenty of female fans willing to be of
service. Dixon the Dickens. Don Juan of metal. Rude Rufus. He grinned and accepted the
monikers bestowed as his due. There could be no such thing as bad publicity in this business; of
this he was convinced. He loved it when they screamed, in the audience or in the back of the bus,
and he would scream back. He’d even scream first.
And when there was nobody willing made of meat to be poked, he had me. Wasabi Heidi. Like
Beaver, I was more than just a thing. I was his comfort, like a teddy or a blankie. And I got real.
that there was more than one blond and blue eyed me that got regularly spunked into over the
decades. All of them are part of me. But somehow, somebody made a wish and I became me.
Maybe some alchemical thing happened when Steen felt sorry for him, because Steen has always
been magic. Rufus had to need me very badly at the same time.
Anyhow the first thing I remember that is mine, my very own, happened the time he got drunk
and fed the rubbery me a California roll, whole, covered with some green peppery stuff, and then
sucked it out again from my tube of a mouth. And he said, “Oh Heidi, was it good?”
And then he cried, because while he was in Japan on tour, his new wife Jenny had told a tabloid
that the baby inside her wasn’t his. They were going to get a divorce, and it wasn’t fair, wasn’t
fair at all because she’d known how it was going to be on the way in. Rufus couldn’t legally
marry them all, but he did Jenny, and it turned out it was because of a lie.
The first thing I felt as I was born was the bite of that wasabi and the sour pain of his crying into
me, nearly twisting the air out of me as he wrung me against him. That night I was in his dreams.
And he was, for the first time, in mine.