Friday, October 28, 2011

The man's children occupy no permanent real estate in his mind
He watches the docks.
He breathes. He turns off the engine.
Take solace in the real. He glides his hand over the leather, over the glass. Real.
His dark mind filled with the faces of those who judge him, those he hurt. Imaginary.
Take solace in the real.
He breathes.

It's not that the crows live in their own world, so to speak, that bothers him.
They have their own conversations out there, sure.
They don't include him.
They fly up and land again, in the order that they land there is a posturing. The man watches. One crow asserts himself and then another. Friendships are formed, vengeances are exacted. Grieving hearts are eased. Their own little world.
It's not that they don't include him that bothers him, it's that they don't listen.
He opens the glove compartment. The gun just lays there.
He lights his cigarette, he smokes in the presence of the gun.
Memories of his childhood, what guns were to him as a child. Frivolous.
He looks at the gun now, he places his hand on it. It steals the heat from his hand. Real. Very real.
He places it on his lap.
What will make them listen, he laughs.

Dance my fingers into her crotch.
He drives.
He looks at himself in the mirror. He holds a tumbler of scotch, not the flask.
He steers with his knee to light a cigarette. He takes the corners in a way that makes you think he is on the edge of crashing. He is drunk and on the edge. You would like to think he is in control. That in his stupor he is secretly in control.
Veer off the cliff.
He considers it for a second. He closes his eyes, takes a drag. He laughs.
His wife laying there half asleep. He dances his fingers on her thigh, he walks them up her silky. She opens an eye at him. What the hell? No. She covers up.
The pain.
How did it get to this point, that she rejects him.
He gets under the sheet. Her warmth. He reaches over for her hand. Look at how tenderly I hold you. So tenderly. He takes her hand again, softer, he squeezes it very slowly. He closes his eyes and breathes her in. True intimacy.
She puts her hand under the pillow.
The feeling in his stomach.
The events that lead to her insolence. Her innocence when he met her. Her disappointments, her thorough disillusionment with him. With men. She is grown up now. She is grown up and power hungry, now. It was the kid. The kid listens to her and not to him. His little kid arrogance, his damn toys. An array of toys of varying types and sizes. His command over the toys, his greed.
The look on the faces of the family in the oncoming car that interrupts his daydreaming and, unable to retake the road after swerving out of his way, goes down the side of the cliff.
Right in front of his eyes. Right then and there.
He smokes the cigarette.

There is a certainty now.
There is a certainty that he will drive to find a phone. That his hands will shake on the steering wheel. That this time of driving around will be torture. When he arrives at the store he will take a second before coming out. He will vomit three steps out of the car.
There was a second when he thought the car would not go over. When the right front and rear wheels
He is in the parking lot now. The cashier girl has no idea what just happened. She sits there in the window, bored. He submits to the certainty. He breathes in the certainty of things. He opens the door. He counts his steps.
Three. He releases the vomit.
Okay, he says. He walks. He sees the phone. The girl just stares at him. The dumb look on her face. She hands him the phone. She doesn't know but she knows.
No dancing his fingers into her crotch. No judging the kid. No kid.
You know they are dead?
They are dead.
How do you know?
They are all dead.
How many people were in the car.
Four, maybe five.
Four or five. Oh my God.
My God. My God.

He sits in his car. He waits.
The fantasy of the family man. He knows men who are like that, men who are about their family. Kids who play baseball. Discipline. Trips. It all stemmed from some fantasy those men had of themselves before they had a family. Some people had thought of him that way.
The sunset in the mirror there. He adjusted it so he could see it better. Be honest, John, he said. Those were never your fantasies, anyway. They were other people's.

He spent the night in a hotel instead of heading home from the police station.
Something great about hotel rooms. You reach into your pocket and put money on the table and pick a room. That's perfect. Hotels are a perfect thing. They'll never go away. No wonder some people live in them. The way the light makes a hotel room look in the morning. It's like no other feeling.
He stopped a block away from his house. The street never felt right.

She stood there and waited for him to look at her. The premise was that the look on his wife's face was important to him. What she's thinking. There was a time when he did come home and anticipated what she would be thinking. Idiot, he said. I should have never met you. That's what should have happened. He turned to her. She was looking at the gun on the bed. There's no fucking food, is there, he said. He turned back to the window. Never anything to fucking eat in this house. She walked down the hall and down the stares.

There is a certainty now.
He drives. Slowly. His hands shake in the certainty of things.
The rubber crawls on the road, pulls the road under him.
The sound of pebbles and sand.
He will find a phone. In the parking lot he will pause to appreciate the certainty of things. Three steps out of the car, he will vomit. He cleans his shoes with his hanky.
The girl at the counter watches him.
The girl real. Her pretty face, her hair.

There is a certainty now. He will drive to find a phone.
His hands shake in the certainty of things. That's all right.
When he finds the store, he will sit there. He breathes.

There is a certainty. There is a certainty he will drive to a phone. His hands shake in the certainty. His stomach turns in the certainty of things.
When the car was going over there was a second where he thought it might not. When the front and back left tires were over the cliff and the belly of the car was sliding in the dirt, there was a second when he thought might stop. But it went over.
That fucking second.
When he steps out of the car he will vomit.
He looks at the girl there in the window. She's staring out the window, bored. She stares at him.
He steps out of the car. One, two, three. Okay. He releases the vomit between his shoes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The pig finds the boy sleeping in a pew and wakes him. It buries its snout in his shirt, pinning him in and standing on its hind legs for leverage. It searches for that which brought it here: the smell of food emanating from the boy’s rags of clothing. It finds the bread in his shirt, but he grabs it and gives half to the pig and eats the rest himself. It searches out his open shirt for crumbs and sniffs his face and licks his lips and chin. He pushed himself up and looked around for any belongings. The pig sniffing about the altar. He bundled up and tucked his rags and walked to the back of the church where there is a door. The burst of cold wind not the least bit startling. It was always winter for all he remembered. The cold froze his snot and dried his throat and burned his cheeks as he trudged to a crowd in the street.
              A gallows set up in the street. It was built for six but there were only two. A tall man nearest to the boy. A woman between two older men standing arm in arm. Three young men on horses near the gallows. The boy tugged on the man’s shirt. He asked the man if he had anything to spare. It’s the man’s sons with the rope around their necks and he watched them closely. His shoulders were wide and so was his stance, his long legs braced hard against the ground behind him as if prepared to bare a heavy load. His face bespoke a career of meanness. A fat man in a fur-collared coat and a bow tie had read aloud their crimes and now asked if the boys had any last words to speak. They declined to do so. The fat man took his time to adjust the rope and put black sacks over their heads. He did one and then the other stopped him. He could be seen to breathe heavily. The man paused beside the boy with the sack in his hand. The other boy fidgeted in the already tightening noose and the stuffy burlap sack and the man tried again and the boy didn’t object this time. The executioner made his way to the far left end of the platform and the man closed his eyes and dropped his chin against his chest. The sound of the trap doors in the gallows falling open and the ropes snapping and the counterweights hitting the ground. The wooden frame straining under the sudden weight.
              The man stayed like this for a long time. He didn’t heed or see the boy who was tugging at his coat. He opened his eyes and lifted his head and turned to walk back to the hotel like a statue come to life to the boy, like an all-powerful God compelled to awaken from a great slumber. He walked with a long gait. He did not change his course to accommodate others in the street. They watched his pale figure through the falling snow- something wicked, something that was not like them. Their fear made them think foolish things as they scurried out of his way.
              In a back room of the hotel a young woman in labor. Her screams were horrific. Her bare legs writhed in the stained sheets in a way that excited the doctor. Sweat dripping from his beard, his tired eyes. The nurses circled about them working in shifts. They covered her breasts when they shown through her torn blouse and gave her water to drink. They moved about her like diligent workers accustomed to scenes of horror and agony. Their unflinching eyes set upon the ground or on their task at hand, on you the horrified observer. In the thick of it the doctor and his dainty fingers doing his grotesque and necessary duty. She was unreachable in her agony. Inconsolable to the world as if possessed, as if put in a trance by the black magic of an old world shaman. The young woman’s voice became hoarse and it was a relief to stop screaming. She was in labor from the morning of the day before to just before sunrise. It was a long time before they let her see the baby. She knew something was wrong with it. The doctor presented it laying stiffly in a blanket in his arms. The infant’s color was a deep red unlike the color of a newborn. Two prominent ridges above its brow. A tail could be seen between its legs struggling to point upward like an earthworm in the sun. His mother was hysterical. She rejected him outright and wept hoarsely into the pillow.
              The doctor stole away with the baby. The man passed the doctor in the lobby. His face did not reveal his intentions or the extent of his knowledge. He went to his horse to the bag of provisions behind the saddle with coffee in hand. He put a foot in the stirrup and drank the coffee and watched the doctor step into his carriage parked directly in front of the hotel. It was just light enough to ride. He could make out the driver’s silhouette stretching and yawning himself awake. He reached into a pocket on his saddle and took out the revolver and checked the cylinder and placed it in his belt and walked over to the carriage.