The limousine sped along the busy causeway, efficiently navigating the grisly traffic with the pronounced accuracy of its humanoid driver. He leaned back in his seat, allowing the narcotics to ease his trembling nerves. He had no luggage to worry over, no personal effects to concern himself with, and only the clothes he was wearing to call his own. Everything else had been willed to ORI as a condition of his service contract. With two simple signatures, D’Jaron Almandor had become a non-entity, a ghost in the citizen registry. The poisoning had taken almost everything else. What little was left now belonged to ORI.
Although the hospital was just renovated, it still has the same antiseptic smell of all hospitals. No matter how much bleach is used, Patrick still thinks all hospitals smell of urine and death.
Elizabeth has come to see him after four years, and all he wants to do is take her to the hospital. She agrees. She almost always let him lead the way. Today is no different.
Lay Panel 1 on its side. Place the left end of Panel 2 (marked with an “L”) against the right end of Panel 1 (marked with an “R”) so that the two panels’ ends are flush. Make sure the screw holes on the ends of Panels 1 and 2 are aligned.
Screw two long screws (L screws) into the holes at the end of Panel 1. Make sure the screws go into the corresponding holes in Panel 2 before screwing them in all the way. Panels 1 and 2 should be arranged to form a right angle. Put a lock washer and a flat washer on each screw before screwing it in. Do NOT put the flat washer on first.
She liked to play with shadows on the wall before bed. I’d see her doing it when I walked by the room at night. She’d struggle to get her fingers into the right shapes so that the shadows held the forms she wanted for them.
Sometimes, when I walked by, all I could see was a looming shadow across the wall, stretching across the room. The strangely shaped mouth of a shadow wolf, moving open and shut. When I walked down the hallway the other way, all I could see was her, sitting cross-legged in bed, holding her contorted hand in front of her, staring intently at the wall I couldn’t see.
My children could never play in your living room. Your white couch would be covered in red juice and blue crayon and runny, clumpy shit in a matter of minutes. The sharp edges of your coffee table would cut flushed foreheads and sticky fingers. Thick books and artsy figurines and travel photos are just waiting to be pulled down from your bookshelves with a loud crash, sending me flying into the room, heart racing, hoping for a bruise instead of a trip to the E.R.
A thousand tiny pools of water hang suspended on the windshield, waiting for the impact of a single raindrop to send them cascading downwards, racing to cross the window before—schwump. The windshield wipers glide back and forth cutting swaths through the rain in their endless battle against the deluge of water. “Schwump, schwump, schwump.”
Tense. My whole body still as stone. Not a muscle twitching. Both my feet flatten the break pedal to the floor. My hands crush the steering wheel like a vice. I want to let go for fear I’ll snap the wheel in two, but I dare not move. For if I move, the earth will know I am here, and it will know what I have done.
They’ve started up again. The voices. Whispering things I don’t want to hear. Making me feel things I don’t want to feel. Making me do things I don’t want to do.
“They ain’t nothin’ but sin.”
Charlie, my youngest begins to wail. Or maybe he keeps on wailing. He’s been colicky since the day he was born. Damn near impossible to shut that boy up.
“Just shake him a little. Just to make him stop.”
I know that’s wrong and I shut out that one voice. The loudest one. The one that sounds most like me.
She was always affected by death no matter how small it was. When the house had run over with those spindly spider-type things I’d taken a plastic gun and hunted them down. The gun fired wine corks and ammunition was abundant. She cried a lot as their little bodies were turned into shrapnel by the corks. Leaving their stains on the stripped walls. Sometimes I would look at the blotches of innards against the white and they would haunt me like tiny ghosts had fallen out all over the walls.
I can relate to the way the wipers swish back and forth with a satisfying, though slightly irregular, rhythm; it’s like they are pushing all my problems to the side, wiping away my tears and my anxiety. And the rain! Yes, the rain! What better analogy for cleansing than to have the very sky itself fall down upon you, washing away the filth and the excrement.
“Can you slow down, please?”
“I’m not driving fast. The sign said fifty, and I’m doing fifty.”
The Mississippi sun broils the street and we squint against the shop’s tinted black windows, with red dice decals on the door, next to the Napa Auto Parts and Marco’s Pizza. The men snicker, Nascar flags inked into their red necks, like popped collars of the deep South, as me and my twin brother walk in, Confederate flag printed in color on a piece of paper, limp in the humid air. I go first. Then Cain. Looking over my shoulder into the mirror, the white stars show most clearly. The red triangles and blue bars don’t stand out on skin like ours, don’t belong there, I hear them say. [Read more…]