If I think back to it, I can still feel that moment when I really thought you were going to burst my skull. Your whole weight pushing my head into the ground, your mouth right next to my ear, hissing at me that I couldn’t tell anyone. Like somehow if I did, people would mistake her illness for your weakness. Even after the first three times I’d promised I wouldn’t, you didn’t let go, and when you did, you left your knee buried in my chest. I carried that weight, your weight, every day until she died, all those years later. But I never told anyone, not even my parents. I even lied to them when it happened, and I pretended to share their shock and grief at the news.
Red lacquer on her toenail, in the exact colour of the Duesy parked outside. One good thing about putting up with Fritz, was the cabbage.
“Money, money” she mouthed mutely; placing the cupid-bow stencil on her lips. Painting them to match the car and the nails.
Another good thing was that a man was never going to replace her in this business; no matter how wonderful the Maybelline; no one will ever want to see scantily clad men in the movies.
I left a woman in bed recently. Suddenly. Left her lying, hips scooping toward something I couldn’t give her.
I’d been mouthing the rungs of her ribcage, climbing higher, an ardent mountaineer, when she shifted and with her, the light. The blue glow of the stereo conspired with the beams of a passing car and her arching spine to reveal the vase, winking in the corner. Her exposed neck bloomed white as the skin on the back of mine chilled.
I could just make out the glint of quick-blinking eyes as she took in the sight of me, hopping away and into a pant leg, then feeling for the doorknob in the dark.
A black and green lamppost, tall with chipped paint, across from Bryant Park, in front of a classic brown and gold twelve storied building, the wind reeking of the park’s dead yellow grass, cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust and blood. Hanging from the lamppost is a half-skinned, large white male wearing only trousers, supported by ropes about his torso, legs and arms. In agony, still alive but barely. New York City is some kind of town these days. He will be dead in less than a day.
And so the night sparked the beginning of something reckless and dangerous.
He wanted to show me the city after a drink or two. Shotgun, wondering why I dated a policeman. I sat cozily in his car as he drove around in the moonlight. I had the time of my life and he seemed to notice that. It’s a pity I had to kill him before sunrise. He perceived almost everything about me just by looking into my eyes. He spent the whole night explaining to me everything he saw in me. And he was right – mostly – which is creepy if you consider it was only our first date.
I was somewhere I had no business being, doing something that I shouldn’t, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Stomach is a damn hard taste to forget. Even before the bile claws its way up your throat, you can taste it—hot metal and candy aspirin. Then you can smell it, too. Sharp and noxious, the promise of chewed food and belly acid to come. I hate to even think about it, but memory’s a certain breed of sadist, and it knows what we dread the most.
Television News Items:
“Disturbing news out of South America. Columbian authorities are investigating reports of multiple public stonings. An unknown amount of ‘seer-children’ have allegedly been stoned to death at outlying villages in the Columbian countryside…These events are similar to those alleged to have occurred throughout the world in this past year–including one such occurrence in the United States…”
“NASA confirms that a six-kilometer wide asteroid named Tourmorlaine B will indeed pass between the Earth and Moon in 2027. However, NASA officials repudiate the findings of a group of independent astronomers who claim that the planetoid has a high probability of striking Earth on its return pass in 2029…”
“A panel of psychiatrists will gather next week at NYU to discuss the phenomena of ‘Animisitic Empathy’ as well as possible telepathy in autistic persons… This is seen as an abrupt about face on a subject which has been steadily gaining traction on social media…”
From one minute of the day to the next, Neckwrek Handel-Handel sang the song endlessly, “Ain’t No Jail Aholtin’ Me,” sang it, mouthed it, uttered it, yelled it. For his five years in Yakima Territorial Prison the guards always knew where he was, in what disposition, secure in one cell or another, or laboring on a prison work detail. Prisoner #127 was known by the only name ever used by him, Neckwrek Handel-Handel, but history had other versions that are worth unveiling if the man is to be known if not understood. Yakima Territorial Prison, as described by some Washington folks in the know, was “200 miles of nothing between here ‘n’ there,” and about the toughest place in the territory. He was 24 years old when he was brought to Yakima, the prison then just over a year old, and 29 when he escaped, in 1881.
Darby was born flying, and I was born hating her for it. Our house was just across the river from Darby’s family’s, our backyard and theirs stretching warlike to the banks. Their house was smaller than ours but more forceful; it was three stories tall and white and wide and had grand glass double-doors that looked out toward our back porch. We were born the same year, and our mothers would stand on either bank rubbing their bellies and swelling in the June heat.