His twisted body a weird form of beautiful and gruesome. We are silent. He has dropped from the sky and now lays at our feet, dead. For a moment we try to remember the meaning behind what he was doing, the importance. But it is difficult, for the wings, what remain of them, are so wonderful. Soft, strong, brilliant. They quietly invite you to reach out and stroke them. Under the tips of your fingers they are feathery, smooth, gently yielding. We try to remember the meaning, but in the beauty of the wings all is forgotten.
They came en-masse. Old, wornout, young; male, female, other; sane, insane, unassessed. Piss shit garbage clung to them, marked them as Other. A large quiet group walking in the mall. A school of grimy sardines they turned, and entered Jones’ Department Store.
They split up. They looked wonderingly at brushes; frowned in confusion at clothes; poked dirty fingers at shoe soles.
A young manager approached a knot of them. They were admiring an alpine outfit, Ready For Winter 2014.
He cleared his throat, paused. “May I help you?”
A man turned, shook his head. “No, we’re just browsing.”
I pick up the book and look at the cover. On it there is a photo of you. You are naked, reclining, propped on your elbows. Toward the viewer are your feet, thighs, hips. From between your thighs your bare sex extends, gouging up over your lower abdomen, running up toward your breasts. It is puckered, lurid, and wanton. I hide the book under the table for the image is something the sky should not look down on. Later we swim in thick blue waters that tremble like oil. Shoals of silver fish glimmer beneath the surface, asphyxiating.
We finished robbing the grave by late afternoon. We pulled the gold teeth with old pliers and sold to a merchant on Degraves. The eyes we sold to a mute woman at the market. The liver and kidney were salvageable; in the basement of Lord’s Mercy we got cash from a doctor whose hands shook uncontrollably. At the end of the day we retired to a dark bar by the river, to smoke and forget about the following day for a while.
When I got home she half-asked how my day had been. “Same old same old,” I half-replied.
In the dark of the deep water my body arches. A dull thudding vibrates my body and around me the water is gelid. The taste in my mouth is metallic. I spin angrily desperately. My back arches, like a dolphins, and I breathe in silent agony. Straining I thrash, a moment’s effort. The rise in me subsides momentarily and I drift back to the thick debris of deepest water. A false calm engulfs me. Then my blood rises again and I can feel surging. I am desperate for air and so rise to the surface, a slick desperate animal, gasping for breath. And in rising I die.
him? yeah, he’s my big brother yeah no not many people do what? yeah he’s the success of the family yeah if you are into that sort of thing I guess hey – can I get another here? yeah he was destined to be big so no surprise thanks ah look if that’s what people need then I guess that’s fine you know I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other what? me? God no no no interest at all happy anonymity let history forget me mmm anyway it’ll make for a better story
He walked into the store, down the dairy aisle, grabbed some milk, paid. Returning to his car he unlocked the door, climbed in, started it. He drove home through the hills. He swung into the gravel drive and stopped. He cut the engine, grabbed the milk, climbed out.
The kitchen door was open. He crossed to it and stepped inside. Some deer were inside, eating lunch. They stared back, silent. After a few minutes he spoke.
“What are you deer doing in my house?”
A buck considered him quietly. “What do you think we’re doing in your house?”
Your body twists weightless, and you drift deeper into the depths. Air lights you, small bright jewels that adorn your blue skin. Your eyes are closed. You could be sleeping. I reach out to touch you, but withdraw. You are perfect and I cannot sully you with the grimness of contact. Mouthy fishes from the blue black water rise to admire you, dart away as you slowly spin. I follow the line your upraised hand traces in the water as you sink. You are beautiful and untouchable and I follow at a respectful distance, warning off the fish.
I tighten the strap around their little wrists. “I told you- if you didn’t get your work done on time then you’d fight to the death.” I turn to the class. “What is this called, class?” “Actions and consequences.” “Right.” I hand each of the boys a knife. “Whoever is left alive gets another chance to do the math sheet. Go.” The class is screaming, I am shouting, the room is super charged with nervous excitement and mad lust. For a moment the boys stare, horrified, but in an instant their faces change and the first cut is made.
Immense lips rose from the waves. They shimmered brilliantly as countless silver fish slipped teasingly across them before falling like rain into the ocean. They were red, but not too red, and creased, but not too creased. They pursed as though to blow a kiss, wobbling and trembling loosely, invitingly. At the last moment, as they smirked coquettishly, they rolled forward hugely, covering the ocean-going liner in a slow soft velvet embrace. The liner trembled, white smoke poured from the stack, and as passengers like tiny fish leapt, the liner submerged, locked in a loving embrace.
When the coffin spilled from the stand and the lid popped – allowing the corpse’s head to come rolling out – the funeral fell apart. With a stick I tried to retrieve the head from under the front pew, but I knocked it, and it went spinning away. Someone shouted in a language I did not understand and cordite filled the air. A priest open-mouthed, bared teeth in a dead man’s grin. I opened the coffin, climbed in with the corpse, and closed the lid. When the screaming started I put fingers in ears and fell into a gentle sleep.
It got chaotic when the head came off the corpse. Before that it had been unruly, but it was when the coffin spilled from the stand and the lid popped – allowing the head to come rolling out – that the funeral fell apart. I tried to retrieve it from under the front pew, but it went spinning away. Someone shouted in a language I did not understand and I took the easy way out – I backed up to the coffin, climbed inside, closed the lid, and waited for things to calm down. Sometimes you have to be conservative. one two three four
The streets are quiet tonight. Clouds slide across a half moon and a breeze gusts. My heart beats slowly. My blood runs sluggishly. It sounds thick in my ears, a faltering rhythm that speaks of fading. Death is coming.
The main square is empty tonight. Wind shakes the shutters and somewhere a dog cries to be let in. My heart beats weakly. The contagion is growing rapidly. The smell of it oozes from my pores, a greasy aura of infection.
The town well is idle tonight. My mouth is thick: I lean forward and into darkness I spit.
Evidence now exists to support the theory that form and mass both directly affect auditory expression occasioned by vehicular impact against flesh. Throughout experimentation a clear pattern was manifest – aged bodies differed markedly from young, morbidly obese from anorexic; sexual dimorphism was measurable. More data is required to compare differences between bodies projected super-vehicle versus those manipulated sub-vehicle. After controlling for subject flight response, point-of-impact percussion ranged between low C and low E; decibels ranged from 105-125, excluding spontaneous ululation evinced by target subjects who saw it coming.
I bumped into you five fathoms down. Seaweed crowned your head and fish the color of garnets swam in and out of your eye sockets. You were the prettiest drowned corpse I’d ever seen. I fondled your clavicles with my suckers, exuded my gut over your pubis, nibbled your metatarsals with my beak. Entwined, we drifted through sea galleries, where the rise and fall of the swell picked your bones clean. I moved on, letting you fall into the depths where the blind creatures dwell. You were the best I ever had. Was I your first? Don’t answer, it doesn’t matter.
Remember that time we buried someone in the neighbor’s garden? Their dogs barked all night, so it was an obvious location. We were surprised at how hard it was to dig six feet down. Strange bones and alien pottery were unearthed in our descent. And by the time we climbed out we were tired, dirty, done with ceremony. You pushed the corpse in with your foot. Once the soil was back, we put flower pots on top, then went home to bed. But the following morning the corpse was in pieces in the backyard, the neighbor’s dogs gnawing the bones.
He’s not a bad kid. He’s not. He’s young, aware of the trouble he is in but not understanding it. “You’re late. Again.”
He peers around his mother. “He’s been with the babe,” she tells me, both defending him and exposing him. “I know. But he has to come. Now.”
I’m an awkward kid myself, but it’s my job. From somewhere inside I can hear him saying goodbye to the girl, to their baby. Soon we are moving together, him laughing, doing tricks on his bike. “How is your baby?” I ask, and we pretend he still has a life.
He put the tea cup down on the saucer where it rattled, like the final breath passing through the body of a dying soldier.
He had gone down for breakfast and saw her firm round rump trembling beneath the table. He admired it, thought about fucking her. No. Not now. Where is the baby? He is unsure and leaves. Walking past the neighbors house he ignores the dying dog in the yard. He glances back at his own house, frowning. Smoke is rising. Horror like a dull echo of human feeling flickers inside him. Unreal. He walks, passes strange fruit hanging from a tree, pink and obscene. The worst of things. Red was trickling from under the table but soon he will forget to worry about the baby.
A dark entrance with soft gold grass waving slightly. There are rusting cars and a hollow wind carrying dust. Entering, there are long passages: it is a place to explore. When I hear her voice I turn and stare. She is naked and precocious, a hand rests on a hip that she has stuck out jauntily. Lust stirs but I do not move, do not near her unblinking eyes, for the skin and meat of her thighs belly mound are curled back red and black revealing the glistening sinew and wet gore beneath.
Girls smelling of urine brushing horses beneath pine trees. Heat swelling in the shade and the horses are edgy angry. Moving from the girls and the horses deeper under the pines. Then the drumming hoofbeats and me clinging to a tree for safety peering through its forked trunk. Chasing a small pony the herd’s white teeth are champing at his sweating rump and he is crying with a human voice. I must avoid them. “Here he is!” comes the chanting of the horses and with raised legs they are passing the severed head of the pony into my waiting hands.
They tell me to begin leading the horses to the side of the ship. I do it. The breath of the gray is warm on my hand. His nostrils twitch and flex and the hair of his muzzle tickles. We approach the edge and before us all we can see is the slowly rolling infinite blue. His head jerks. I do not stop for this is something I cannot do so with a shift of the weight in my hips and a smooth gesture on the bridle I send him into the nothingness. I turn and move toward the bay.