SOMETIMES HE WHISPERED his own name for that was all he chose or perhaps all he could. Whether Curly Parsly understood the implications of that moniker, only the god of his terrible making could say.
“Six o’clock and all is well.”
Those were the words, until today, Emory said each morning when he rose for work. But this morning there was silence. Not the natural quiet of day which springs from solitude. This was lack of sound when noise is expected. A decided silence … the kind of nothing that withers the insides of triage doctors, expectant lovers and lookers for lost dogs.
Poet Peter Mann believed not in muses nor inspiration but trusted in the cruelty of all wretched scribes to pilfer that which was true and necessary from the unwitting.
“This town, how can I put this? This town gives my soul the shits … borough, burg, and ville.”
“I have to do something before he kills me.” Smoke rose gently from mom’s mouth. She leaned in her chair and peeked out the curtain which cast a shard of sunshine into the darkness. “Maybe I’ll just leave.”
Milt the younger was right but the old man scoffed, and threw his book, scattering everything on the bedside table to the floor.
They stared: same steely eyes, long ginger foreheads, same trembling indignant jowls. Opposite walls, for a long while, they looked upon with angry breathing out of time with the drunken metronome tick of the large bug against the window overlooking the garden.
When your last chance reaches across the latitude and longitude of impossible happenstance, and plucks your name from that old slouch hat, you don’t ask, you don’t argue—you just nod in solemn uncertainty and go.
Henry watched the others pretending not to watch him. Young. Dyed hair, tattooed skin, heavy lipstick and funny hats, retro slacks and grandma’s jewelry. He noted them with cryptozoological curiosity. Never could grasp the desire for uniqueness. Delicious tall legs, straight spines, slim fingers, joints without ache. Polite, proper, respected, known. Why would they want to be different?
Libby worked the blade into the dirty skin slowly and without thought. The mindless task soothed her. Thin metallic chirp as she whisked away the peels into a musty pile on a dank bed of yesterday’s news. Baptized the newborn spud in a bowl of rinse water, eyed its brilliant white pulp, and pronounced it clean before tossing it into the kettle.
On to the next secret rendezvous where, in Charlie’s mind, anything could happen—anything bad.
St. John’s wounds were visible, but his motive Charlie could not see. Swollen lips and bloody nose, reddened cheeks and snuffling crimson he tells the truth now all.
Older brother cut a hole center of a pink-flowered quilt.
“Zip up yer coat. Put yer head through.”
She dropped the old naked doll dancing in her hands.
“Hold still.” He tied the loose material round her waist with twine. Cut holes at the shoulders. Guided her little arms through. A ragged hem he sliced above her denim ankles.