This is True Love takes its title from this one, the next story in the book, "Fruitcake's First Official Murder Poem" from Nerve.com, June 2000. #12.
It's a story about love, of course, but also about poverty and meanness and how you store up the feeling that comes with love until it needs to be released just like everything else. The main character was inspired by Eminem. He was a major conversation then, all over the damn place, and I wanted to capture his true spirit in the prose, not "white-boy rap" as much as a fury that is behind the rapping and the posing. He haunts the whole thing.
This is actually the aforementioned murder poem:
You made me cry
Now you must die
You curse my name
But you are to blame
You beat in my brains
And the floor has got stained
With my pretty blood and guts
But it is you, sir, who are nuts.
For my love for you is true
The saddest part is I will have to murder you.
I will slice your throat
Like a billy-goat
I will smash in your head
Till you, sir, are very dead
And after this thing I do
I will say I love you
And you will love me too.
It's funny and not funny, but it's me, the way I pull things together: "creative writing." The voice of this one carries you to its endpoint, a lower-income effeciency apartment where 2 people figure out what is "true" and what is "love" on cracked linoleum.
It's funny but it's not.
I'm going to close with this section from "Fruitcake's First Official Murder Poem." It's a Shakespearean monologue toward the end of the narrative. It sums up everything:
But when one is in love like this you are Mr. Fruitcake no matter what your IQ and/or economic situation. You tend to know that there is only one thing on earth: the person you love. And you must have that person, you must bite into that love the way a grizzly bear digs into a boy scout’s leg on TV. Love, this kind I have, is only three steps short of what it is that keeps you from killing the one you love. Therefore I wrote this poem in order to express this problem I have – we all have, as a nation.
Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten.