The forest of the gods of torn jaws? Sure, I know it. And it’s pretty easy to get to — once you’re out of Bismarck here, jump on the I-94 and head west. Drive to the sun.
It’s Mother’s Day. In the village in a foreign country my host grandmother has hooves for feet. She sits in the living room after bending her back from morning to evening, in the garden, in the outdoor kitchen, in the animals’ home. I serve her thick, dark coffee with a piece of Russian candy. Does she worry I’ll hit her with the silver pot one day? It’s a jazva, she spits. Use our language. Her teeth are badly eaten but it doesn’t affect her self-esteem. She would not know the concept, anyways—she would not see its selfish grace.
I’m Les. That’s right, Les Moore. I know, I know…here lies Les Moore. Killed by four slugs from a 44. No Les. No Moore. Funny. Well, it’s not so funny now. Being dead I mean. It’s my name. Thank my parents for that. But the no Les, no Moore part may happen, and in a matter of minutes. Why? Because I did something stupid and chatty. I talk to people and notice things. I went too far this time. I bargained with the devil’s disciple.
I have a brother who isn’t a boy at all, but a fish.
When I tell people this, most of them chuckle politely, their bustling minds already flicking past the youthful imaginings of the charming little boy. That is, until they’ve seen him with their own eyes. My brother with his transparent fins and gills cut into the side of his neck and of course- the sea of shimmering scales that secretly hold all the colours of the world.
My wife left me for good this time. She euthanized our dog, an action I believed extreme. Quit her job, salted the flowerbeds, grabbed a suitcase it turns out had been packed for months, banged the door behind her. Didn’t even say goodbye to our boys. Just stared at them for a moment, as if ciphering. Me, she’d learned to unsee. Then she scrammed.
I am a ghost. It’s best to get that out in the open, right away, for the benefit of those persons who still support the notion that the dead cannot possibly communicate with the quick. I am neither the walking nor the talking dead; but I am of the writing dead, whom living “literary types” resent for they feel that they have enough competition in their field as it is.
There are two worlds.
One is conscious that we see.
And one is invisible that we feel