Not the great Gatsby by Candyce Pelfrey Kannengieser

Joel-Edgerton-as-Tom-BuchananTom Buchanan’s shoulders are two feet wide, and his hand can break a woman’s nose with one deft slap. The danger, I think, is what attracts me. The lies he tells arouse me. I long to rub my hands between those shoulder blades. I long to pour him bourbon, sit alongside him, see if he’d pick me next.

He did not serve in the war. His father, probably, paid to get him out. And while Jay and Nick made their ways through the trenches, he stole Daisy with a Chicago entourage and a pearl necklace worth $100,000. Can you imagine? Even now it’s audacious.

He is driven by sex, and I get that. He is trapped by marriage, and I get that. But he owned things. Not just cars and houses, and stupid gas station women, but bigger things, things people aren’t supposed to own.

Money drips off him, and besides his good looks, he games women for fun. Daisy is nasty and weak in the end, but he’s the one who fucked the chambermaid on their honeymoon. He moves like water between home where he is labeled “brute” and the outside world where he is free, alive, suited for nothing but drinking and whorehouses. Up and down, like the stock market.

Oddly, he seeks approval. This is his weakness. He wants Nick to like his whore; he wants Daisy to love him, even though he’s “revolting.” He doesn’t love Daisy, but he can’t lose to Gatsby. Losing is not an option. He wants to control things, all things, all the time. Because that is who he is. He is in control. And he maintains that control through cold cash, and if forced, cool violence.

The danger, I think, is what attracts me.

photoCandyce Pelfrey Kannengieser is a writer of short fiction, long poems, flash memoir and experiments in prosody. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. She also teaches English, tends to a dog named Wyatt, and is currently working on two projects of mosaic fiction – pieces fitting together to bring a whole work of art into focus. Other writings were published at Pithead Chapel.