|Bong Bong. DOGZPLOT is for the babies.|
I was in love once when I was nine. It was a neighbor boy who used to chase me down the street whenever I passed his house. One day, he wasn't there to chase me. I went into my own house and found my mother, who was sitting in a chair beside the window.
"Mama, where is Jack?" I asked.
"The neighbor boy? They moved away," she said.
"But I loved him," I told her.
"You're too young to know what that word means," she told the window.
"Oh," I said, because when you're nine, you think you can know anything, and you become accustomed to being told you can’t. "What does it mean?"
My mother looked at me then, sharply, the way she did when I was being insolent. After a moment, she told me, “Go and play,” so I did.
That night, my father left for good. Or maybe I'm remembering it wrong; perhaps by then, he'd already gone.
Yesterday I stepped through glass doors uninvited, shifted from light to dark. Yesterday I applied; spoke to a man, to a woman. Their suits were gray. Their words were gray. They said nothing at all. I said nothing in return. During our exchange, a bird died on the windowsill. In deference I relented, accepted, extolled. The man collected signatures; the woman extended a flaccid hand. We nodded equilaterally. I thought I heard gunfire in the distance: an execution, possibly mine.
Afterward, I traded dark for light. I shuffled home hired, shed my suit hired, watched my girlfriend fold origami penises hired, sat atop the crest of my roof and traded whispers with the moon hired. Despite myself, I had been hired, indentured.
Today my suit is gray. My thoughts are gray. I slip pills under my tongue, linger at a gleaming urinal and mimic the touch of yesterday’s flaccid hand. At my desk I sit dutifully rigid and peck randomly at ordered keys. I watch letters bestrew a screen once bleached and barren. Punctuation pecks at my eyes. AutoCorrect shaves razor-thin layers from my brain. Blood splatters onto my corp-issued Blackberry in 160-platelet bursts.
Tomorrow I will demand a raise.
Stephen King and Peter Straub
“I grew up just the same as her,” Brian often said, “and I didn’t kill myself.”
Sometimes he sounded proud of himself, sometimes angry with her. Increasingly now, as he grew older, he sounded confused. He’s started using polite euphemisms for ‘kill myself.’ Take my life. End it all. Bow out.
“Bow wow?” I said once.
Brian doesn’t think I should joke, but she was my sister too.
My son used to tell me all the silver linings that clouds had. “Some people say that there are beautiful sunsets after a nuclear winter. When a bird dies its body nourishes the soil that keeps a million flowers alive.” I thought he was such an optimist. My little trooper, always finding the bright side to everything.
It was Brian who pointed out that he was spending every waking moment thinking about nuclear winters and dead birds, desperately trying to find the good things that come out of bad.
“You should watch him,” Brian said. “She used to do that too. You don’t remember because you were too young.”
Brian thinks my son will bow out.
Suicide, my son tells me, often brings families closer together.
The 158 Pound Marriage
She takes six baths per day and listens to the radio while she soaks. He forgets sometimes that he has to help. It is easy now for him to get lost in television, where all the women still walk upright on long lean limbs that support upper halves with ease. Long lean limbs that do what limbs should. Lean limbs that flinch and tense and spread.
She howls and bangs a fist against the side of the bathtub. She crawls like a stone with her arms to the corner of the bathroom where linoleum meets carpet. She cries out and brushes her cheeks, chin, palms and tongue tip against the soft and cool places her feet used to go. She explores the wet fibers and dirt tucked into the crevice there, loose but still bound. The dirt in some spots adhesive. He likes the strain in her voice, her need makes him hard. Reminds him of when she could still feel below the waist, before she was numb to thumb tacks jammed into her heels and long jagged razor traces of flesh folds along her inner thighs and calves.
When she sleeps, he conducts experiments.
When she sleeps he watches, waits for spasms. He pinches until blue and punches until tired when her shakes come. She wakes from the sound of his breathing, not the dull thuds of fist against dead nerves and meat.
He asks if he can and she lets.