Busted

Busted

by Bill Teitelbaum

 

Except that he’d been arrested everything would have been fine, Walter Roman said.

He’d been home for several hours by then, but now that supper was over and the boys were next door at the Bensons watching a ballgame, he asked Dorothy to sit down with him at the kitchen table.

“Look, let’s try not to kill the messenger, okay?”

Plus, it was a lame bust to begin with, Walter said. The hooker was a cop. With appropriate counsel a case for entrapment would have been child’s play. The charge would have been vacated prior to arraignment.

Still, he had been busted, and the police had impounded the car.

“But you said it was being fixed,” Dorothy said.

Dorothy was trying to focus her attention. But how could she not have known about this?

“The car, too?” she asked.

“But she wasn’t a hooker, she was a cop,” Walter explained.

“But what did she say? Was she pretty?”

“Dorothy, she was a cop. What difference does it make?”

“But why didn’t you tell me yesterday? Why did you wait until now to tell me?”

That’s what made it so confusing, Dorothy realized. He had made love so gently to her last night. They had been so happy. Afterwards they talked about remodeling the kitchen.

She looked about now at the scarred cabinets and crowded countertops, the electric stove she had never really gotten used to. All that would have to wait now, Dorothy thought.

But it was all in the way you looked at it, Walter said. She knew perfectly well that his family had been uncommunicative. That’s why it was so hard for him to talk about things. Until the arrest in fact he had taken some pride in this. He didn’t like to bother people. He considered this one of his more commendable qualities.

But she had trusted him, Dorothy said. How could he have betrayed their privacy that way?

Walter sighed, offering his upturned hands at first but then settled them in his lap. You would have thought both of them had been arrested.

But how could he say he loved her, Dorothy asked, if he could have sex with someone else?

*

Had she really asked him that? Well, she had asked for it then. You’d have thought she was prepared for his answer.

While Walter to his unending regret had seized the moment as an invitation to unburden.

Did she think it was easy for him, he asked. A sex-life with teenaged kids in the house was difficult enough. Two sex-lives was work.

There was no remorse or even sorrow in this travesty of a confession. He was only being honest with her. Who was he hurting, Walter asked.

“But Walter, it’s disgusting. Can’t you see it’s disgusting?”

He nodded ruefully to this, but apologizing in the circumstances seemed pointless by then.

“I always knew you would feel that way, but I was sort of hoping you would understand it.”

“You mean that I would tolerate it?”

But he never did it to the exclusion of the important things. It was like stopping after work for a beer, he said. Like getting a haircut. It wasn’t like he was involved with them.

But he had always been so considerate with her, she said. She couldn’t understand it.

But she liked him that way, Walter reminded her. It wasn’t her fault that she was nice. “I always thought you were right about those things.”

For her sake then, he took care of those other things himself. He didn’t want to trouble her with it. It was like everything else he took care of, Walter explained — the jiggly light switches, the float valves in the toilet tanks? She could look around the house, he offered.

Dorothy was still struggling with these putative analogies when Walter returned from the basement with the waxed canvas duffel in which he kept his collection — postcards and playing cards, DVD’s, magazines, comic books and calendars, almanacs, peephole viewers, flip-books that he riffled to create the illusion of animation.

“You really like this stuff?” Dorothy asked.

But ‘like’ was not the word, she discovered. Those little panel books, with their scabrous parodies of popular comic-strip characters — Popeye the Sailor, Nancy and Sluggo, Maggie and Jiggs, Joe Palooka — those were collectors’ items, Walter told her.

*

Dorothy saw now that she had probably gone a little crazy during those first weeks.

Who was she, this prostitute he’d solicited? What did she look like? What had she said to him? Had he approached her, Dorothy asked, or had she approached him? Wasn’t he afraid? What if he brought something home to her? They had parasites those people. They hated people. Spreading diseases was fine with them.

Or did he hate her — maybe that was it, she said. Why else would he humiliate her that way? Didn’t he see how insulting it was? What had she done to provoke all that? Didn’t he realize that trusting him might already have cost her life?

Her heart would explode if she didn’t talk to someone, but her friends were not the kinds of friends she could confide her confusion to. She had phone-pals who probably would have been happy to listen, but the occasions whenever more than two of them got together almost always took on that breathless, chittering quality of a slumber party, and the women seemed so hungry for these reliefs that Dorothy didn’t see how she could impose on them.

Dorothy’s doctor had called by then with the reports from the lab. All negative thank God, she was fine he told her. But despite the leavening effect of this news, she felt curiously undercut by its dearth of consequence.

“Dorothy, I really don’t see why we have to make such a big thing out of this. It was wrong but I’m not a different person all of a sudden and if you could calm down for a second, I think you’ll see you’re really sort of over-reacting a little.

“I know you don’t want to hear this,” he added, as if talking about it could make it all right, Dorothy thought, like anything else they might be talking about.

But it was not all right, Dorothy said. He was her husband, or he was not her husband.

*

Walter offered to move out then, to give her some space as he put it, but wandering those formerly familiar rooms seemed only to heighten her confusion. Their familiarity itself seemed to mock and reproach her. But when she tried to explain her decision to the boys, it seemed as if they, too, had lives that were their real lives. They understood everything, you would have thought. They stood patiently, letting Dorothy embrace them, but they felt sorry for her. Her tender mind embarrassed them. Obviously, they too had humored her with assurances of regular habits and wholesome companions, just as they stood now humoring her admonitions to take care of the house. She had known all that for years, she saw now. In their sullen way they had probably imagined themselves protecting her. Even now they had that look.

*

Dorothy had taken a small apartment within walking distance of the mall where she was the day-manager of a jewelry franchise and two evenings a week she attended a re-entry class at the high school where she worked at planting herself and living in the present. There was also a mental aerobics class she was thinking of joining, a combination of reading and meditation, competitive discussion, board games, low-impact calisthenics and interpersonal problem solving. That, too, would be good for her, she thought. But at night she lay awake and in a few weeks convinced herself that everything had been her fault. Though not fat she was soft. She had short legs, stupid hair, dull skin, and though her butt was small its droop depressed her. If he’d cared for her at all, she thought, wouldn’t he have said something?

*

Naturally all her friends disappeared— she was a carrier now, a home-wrecker herself. Answering the door in a bustier and hose? Even the most loyal of them had fixed her in place. Suddenly it was as if her husband’s arrest was the only thing that had ever happened to her, and whenever the ladies spoke to her now it was always with the same tiresome, condescending concern. Not how was work, or do you feel like a coffee, or would you like to go shopping? No. “How are you, Dorothy? How do you feel today?” Their pity seemed only to magnify her losses. Cheerfulness would have felt reckless to those terrified women.

*

And now he wanted her back? But it didn’t make sense. Why, she asked at their weekly dinners. For what, if she wasn’t good enough? She wasn’t sexy, she wasn’t alluring. As in the costume romances she favored, her erotic imagination peaked with kisses, languid in a fugue of waves, a surge of brine, a falling away.

I always thought you liked my kisses, Walter said.

She did, she said. She had. But it wasn’t the same anymore. She would have felt childish and stupid kissing him now.

But I miss you, Dorothy. I loved making love with you, Walter said.

Yes, she thought bitterly, like home-cooking?

Yet Walter for his part seemed to think she was being petty. “Dorothy, why are you doing this?” he asked. It was as if he was embarrassed by her severity, as if he would never have expected such willfulness from her. “You’re my heart, Dorothy. I count on you. How can you be this mad at me?”

She loved him, too, that was the madness of it. Angry, hurt, diminished  as she was, nevertheless her impulse was to help him. She felt unfaithful resenting him so much.

“I just don’t understand how you did those things, Walter. I don’t even know really if I want to.”

Had their whole marriage been a joke? The memories of her life seemed impossible to her now. Her devotion to him? Her self-respect?

“Dorothy, you’re going to drive yourself crazy this way. We have our lives in each other. How can you walk away from that?”

“Don’t you dare tell me what I can do,” she replied. “You don’t care about me. You never cared about me.”

“I know you’re upset, Dorothy, but that’s not fair.”

*

 “Men are scum,” one of the women in her group said.

Yes, that made it easy, Dorothy thought. Reduce half the world to a petulant generalization.

A part-timer at the shop, Charlotte Buhler, had recommended Dorothy to this church-basement forum, which Dorothy appreciated in principle, but she felt pity for these slack and tentative, rather furtive women. They brooded and nagged but seemed lacking in the ordinary gumption to belong to themselves. Indeed all they truly seemed to yearn for was the ordinary affection one might offer a pet, for rather than be manless and somewhat vague as a result on the question of their necessity, they would suffer rapes, thefts, disfiguring assaults, public humiliation, financial abuse, and then, in pursuit of revenge, they would humiliate themselves further by having sex with people who didn’t care about them. They seemed shallow and unfeminine to Dorothy, perhaps vengeful and cunning, but broken and without character.

Nor were they supportive of her particularly. He was not a gambler or a drug addict, they observed. Presumably she was supposed to be grateful for this. Was he ever violent with her? Did he drink? Did he run up bills? Did he write bad checks? Was he into pain? Did he ever choke her, or force her to have sex with him, or take stuff from her parents, or lock her out? Did he ever destroy anything of hers, a doll or a keepsake or a pretty dress? Was he jealous of her? Did he distrust her? Did he follow her around? Did he ridicule her to the kids? Did he show up at her work and pick fights with her colleagues? Did he make her get high with him? Did he try to take over the money, or criticize her shopping?  Did he force her to say that other men were attractive to her, or that she had fantasies of being with them?

You don’t get it, Dorothy said. That wasn’t what she was for him. He was a very sentimental man, this Walter Roman. Once they went to one of those lovers’ retreats — one of those spas with the heart-shaped beds and the in-room whirlpools? The women waited patiently then for the drowning scene, and when it didn’t come they seemed confused. “Who paid?” someone asked.

*

Dorothy made it her business to be in court for Walter’s appearance, and it gratified her that the presiding judge was a woman. She wanted him to be punished, and it puzzled her that the judge could be so skeptical about the arrest and so cynical about the charges. He was found guilty of course, but when he was sentenced to only eight hours of community service, Dorothy felt betrayed all over again, and at their periodic meetings, ostensibly to resolve matters of household administration, somehow the conversation always turned on the question of what she had done to warrant disgrace.

But he had never made comparisons, Walter protested. He had never asked her to do things that he knew she wouldn’t do and he never complained that she was unimaginative or incurious. He accepted her as she was, he said, narrow maybe but her sincerity touched him. There was always something of the wedding night about their lovemaking. She was always new for him that way. He had never wanted to spoil that.

“You adjusted,” she said.

Walter made an effort to maintain a neutral expression, but his head seemed to swivel away from her despite him.

“I was dull so you adjusted,” Dorothy said.

“It really wasn’t that bad for me, Dorothy. It was nice that you were like that. I respected it.”

He looked on the bright side, he was telling her. He used his imagination. She was old-school, this little Dorothy of his, a loving, home-made, one-man woman. She was limited but she could see the compensations for him in her limitations. He would never have to worry about her. She would never be unpredictable enough to constitute a problem.

No, of course it wasn’t always wonderful, Walter said. But neither was it ever disappointing for him. How could it be, he asked.

It was just that he couldn’t understand why she struggled to hold onto these petty resentments when with even less effort they might put the past behind them.

Open-mouthed, Dorothy sat back behind another untouched salad, the spit drying on her teeth as Walter renewed his commitment to their marriage. It could even be better now, he said, he should have been more open with her, he should have trusted her more, since at least where the sex was concerned he saw now that he might have been as old-school as she was.

“You mean I can be a whore too now,” she said, “if I put my mind to it.”

*

That fall Dorothy began taking evening classes toward an accounting degree at the community college and the boys, apparently growing up, were taking better care of things. They washed their own clothes and saw to the grounds, they kept the cars repaired, and to Dorothy’s relief they seemed also to have discovered themselves lacking that serendipitous combination of math skills, menace, prudence and gall that was essential for selling drugs at a profit. But money worries kept Dorothy in a constant state of crisis — she was still waking in the small hours of the morning with that sudden vacancy of water dropping from beneath a raft — and though her classes were supposed to be improving her earning power, her fatigue made it difficult for Dorothy to think about the future in terms of concrete objectives. The counseling center at the college had helped her with the budgeting, and when Walter petitioned for child-support, Dorothy finally dismissed her lawyer and retained another to renegotiate the settlement; but she had no savings, no retirement plan, nothing put aside for the kids’ educations, and since each month saw her carrying a higher balance on her cards, each day seemed to take on its own wretchedly precarious quality. She found herself counting and recounting her change at shop counters, triple-checking her bank statements, and repeatedly verifying the deductions itemized on the coupons attached to her salary checks; yet for all these pains she would neglect to enter the odd payment or ATM transaction in her check register and fail regularly to debit the account for minor service fees. Inadvertently she would hang the A-line jumpers that comprised most of her wardrobe on the same hangers as her tailored skirts and then spend days in circular and futile, broken-English quarrels with the dry-cleaning people. She would misplace her house-keys, neglect dental appointments, forget the names of regular customers. Often there was a feeling that information essential to her happiness was deliberately being withheld from her. But by whom? For what reason?

She might have been ready to see men again, though, and she wondered if those intermittent throes of anxiety and revulsion might really be a kind of anticipatory excitement. Yet the whole idea of getting to know someone seemed preposterous and impossible to her. Dorothy herself was not to be trusted. What else had her own life taught her except this? She was supposed to feel tougher but only felt exhausted, her best ambition to avoid risking challenge.

But it was supposed to be fun now, her coffee ladies assured her. These were her new companions, shop-women like herself employed at the mall, cynical and funny, rudely affectionate. What was at stake they asked, shaking her playfully by her upper arms.  She knew more now, they reminded her, she could take it easy with herself.

But she felt pathetic, she complained. He’d made such a baboon of her. It was like those sieges of premenstrual malaise she used to suffer in adolescence when her own body had felt uninhabitable. That she had lived this long and what had it meant? She was like one of those dismal young girls who got pregnant and had babies as a kind of magical way to compel all the rest of that spun-sugar flummery to materialize, the hubby and home with the cheery fire, the holiday dinners with life-long friends, the tinsel-draped tree, the pie in the oven, Daddy proud and Mom content. Her soul had been mortgaged to those lace-paper doilies. It had all been so easy that way, like a child’s belief in Santa Claus, some delusional faith that everything effortlessly would be all right and that life like someone’s kindly Uncle Ned would make an exception for her.

What do you take me for, she had asked Walter over and over. Had she really said that? You would have thought she still had her dignity. She used to flatter herself that way, that there was honor in her simplicity.

But it was only a kind of incompetence really. She wasn’t principled, she was just lazy. Maturity was too difficult so she dismissed it as cynicism.

Well, look at her then. Look where her spurious naiveté had gotten her.

*

Although maybe in the last analysis that’s what hope was, Dorothy thought, that you could still be appalled by things.

It didn’t sound like hope though, did it? Or were hope and despair just different responses to the same abject helplessness?

She took the sputtering saucepan of canned soup from the stove and then poured another small glass of the white jug-wine she had taken to drinking recently to help her sleep.

The question was how did you say yes to things without asking to have your brains knocked out? She envied those women who seemed able with such apparent ease to fill that space between before and after, who seemed to take themselves so casually, who had that happy faculty for attributing a uniform care to whatever they might be doing. They were stylish women. You couldn’t hide those powers. Their wisdom showed in the angle of their heads, in their languor, and in the infinite gradations of expression they could draw from the corners of their mouths. She envied that capacity for occupation they seemed to have, diverting themselves with small pleasures of the senses. For herself the yard-sale excursions they invited her to join seemed always to take an extraordinary effort, but for them there seemed immense satisfaction simply turning things in their hands. They bought flowers for themselves. They traveled together. They bought season subscriptions to local theaters. Doubtless, whenever that old itch came upon them, they would simply go out and get someone to scratch it for them.  “Wrapped in plastic,” they laughed. “Always get it wrapped in plastic.”

Had they always been that way, she wondered, or was it simply an age they had reached? They felt like outlaws to her, like the bad-girls she had feared and condemned in high school, casually defiant, bending their resentments to resemble pride. Indifference like that had always seemed disreputable to Dorothy, a sort of dirtiness, but now she wondered if a bit of defiance might be just what she was missing.

Except that was a lie, too. She knew what she was missing.

But more vivid in its absence was the simple, incidental, day-to-day touching, those dozens of small casual pecks and pressings  that seemed now to have anchored her in place and stitched the pieces of her life together. She glanced then at the soup and found she had no appetite for it. In the bathroom she undressed quickly and waited for the shower to run warm.

The Cambodian woman who did her nails had recently told Dorothy a happily-ever-after story about one of her clients, a widow who ended up marrying her former brother-in-law, and from time to time Dorothy would hear similar stories from her coffee ladies, about women recycling old beaus recovered like rummage-sale items at class reunions, but when Dorothy assessed her own chances for one of these fairy-tale redemptions, her best prospects seemed either the state lottery or perhaps some pensioned halfwit with a passion for stretch marks.

The water was hot and after dialing the taps to adjust the temperature, she stepped into the tub. This was better. The percussive warmth quickly penetrated her muscles, lifting the tension from her shoulders and carrying it down the backs of her legs. She turned and leaned forward, supporting herself with the towel bar, to let the water massage her lower back.

Relaxed now, she began to lather her body, but almost immediately her own hands embarrassed her so that she had to start over, soaping herself again but this time with a coarse washcloth. Probably it was the wine, Dorothy thought. Lately it had become a little too easy to drink. But a moment later, lathering her hair, she had to wonder if she might be truly drunk. The water tracing the rounds of her body felt strangely thick, like a warm syrup, and beneath the thrum of the shower she seemed to hear a rising din in her own body, a pulling heaviness at first like a weight of fatigue but almost immediately more insistent, like something warm and boneless turning over in sleep, yawning and then gathering itself. Her spine seemed to shrink. She felt knotted, but then the knottedness seemed to melt in her, opening like a peeling open of wings. For a minute or more she couldn’t trust herself to move.

Though she couldn’t deny the relief she felt. Apparently she was a lot like Walter, Dorothy thought. She didn’t want to bother anyone.

 


Bill Teitelbaum studies writing at the Kitchen Table College of Continuing Education in Lincolnwood, Illinois. His work has appeared in journals such as 2 Bridges Review, Bayou, The Iconoclast, Jewish Fiction and Rhino, and in anthologies such as Western Michigan University’s Art of the One-Act. His short story, “Busted,” is part of a collection about the newly single called Are You Seeing Anyone?

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Declassified Documents From the Man…

Declassified documents from the man who lives in the cardboard box in the alley, #10,601

by Joseph Musso

 

FROYD is my name. I’m a dreamer and sexual deviant. I want to kill myself but I’m a pacifist, and therefore prohibited from doing so by my own moral   tenets. Yet, I think about possession as an absolute right and how both my life and my violence belong to me and are mine to do with as I please. The question remains, though: Am I still a pacifist if I only hurt myself?

My sister is an anarchist. My father is the Anti-Christ. It’s been so long since I’ve seen any face with similar bone structure to mine that it’s very possible I dreamed up a family. I have no family. I don’t remember being born. There are no family photographs or relatives of any kind to inform me on any sort of a childhood. I see no one with my tendencies, characteristics, hopes, fears. To that end, what other conclusion can I come to, other that one day I simply appeared?

I have a clock face. My nose is running. Time is running out of me. Swollen eyes and isn’t life just shit these days. I’m 400 pounds and filled with juice and meat. But my carcass is drying up in the sun. The skin on my legs is hard and rough. My hands crack from dryness. Out from these cracks, the blood comes out already dried. Am I dying from the inside out or from the outside in?

My name is FROYD.

When I think of painters and prostitutes of course Modigliani comes to mind. What innocence remains in the whore? Much! comes the answer in paint and dreams. Such enormous life in their faces, their eyes and necks, their naked and half naked bodies, their sadness and beauty – one which cannot be pried loose from the other. It is always said about M that he paints the soul of a subject. Her viciousness. His subtlety. Her quickly evaporating innocence. His diabolical nature, apathy, shyness, poverty of spirit.

In all life there is innocence, decadence, joy, pain. Why would anyone rip the puckered, pouting lips from such a face? Why would anyone clothe such bare and rare sadness and beauty? Don’t paint happiness when no such thing is currently present. Don’t paint lies! says M. Express each truth as it flows free out of each posed subject, each man and woman, each situation and circumstance, each room. Express truth, dear artists of the world, be it pretty or ugly or cruel and devious! Express truth!

Hi, my name is FROYD.

A question posed, if I might: For only self-destructive reasons (or its opposite), do we each denounce the one in our lives who most closely possesses the same turmoil, the same moments of clarity and peace, the same helplessness that dwells also in ourselves? Is our love or disdain for others merely the love or disdain we feel for ourselves?

Are we all not both whore and virgin? Corrupt and pure? Many selves within the one self?

If one woman is a whore, then all women are whores. No?

If one man is a deviant, then all men are deviants. Yes?

My name is FROYD. I am both king and peasant, at times ruling over myself with a benevolent hand, at times with a cruel hand. It’s simple: I’m complicated.

My name is FROYD, and isn’t this life just the shit?

 

An Army of Dogs

An Army of Dogs

by T.O. Davis

 

Mac checked his phone; it was almost time to pick up his daughter. He walked out into the sticky afternoon. He did not put on shoes, and the sidewalk was cold, damp and then rough and hot – stinging his soles until they were numb. He would have to pay for this infraction. His daughter, Alicia, would give him the usual eye roll, take him by the hand, and quietly escort him into the house to prevent further embarrassment. He would not let her arrest him so quickly today. He had a mission. He had to talk to the bus driver today and not that filler bull shit. Not the Hi-how-are-you-white-people-robo speech. He had to tell the bus driver how he felt about her. Alicia would probably never forgive him, but Mac knew – or forced himself to believe – that she had a lifetime to get over it.

Mac was still worried about what to say. He had taken on a more doughy, rubinesque appearance since his halcyon days when he actually gave a fuck about his life and the world around him, which started as a hurricane-sized romance known as Amy Mercado. Then the war happened, and he left and came back and left again. A tire iron to the head brought him back to Amy, but cancer took her away, but not before she gave him Alicia.

Some days, when he is waiting for the bus to arrive, he can feel Amy’s hand on his back, but it is only the wind or a ray of sunlight. He doesn’t tell Alicia about these “tremors,” but he wants to think what life would have been like had he not gone over there. Then a cloud covers the sun or the breeze dies and the moment passes and Mac hears the bus and opens his eyes just in time to see her – the bus driver.

Years before, the bus driver had been an old man, Jack or Joe, whom Mac had not paid much attention except that Alicia talked about him. Then one day, Alicia said it was Jack’s last day and they would have a new bus driver. Mac didn’t think much about it until he saw her. Maybe it was the way the early morning, amber light glinted off her mirror shades, which bathed her angular face and auburn hair in such a way that Mac was still standing there wrapped in diesel fumes not realizing the bus had left.

From that point – despite his rotund appearance – Mac made an effort to wave and distribute the niceties. He had not had the “talk” with Alicia. He dreaded that. His own sexual history had been a series of fumbled grope fests, a health class where a nurse showed pictures of scarred and wart encrusted genitalia and, as a gift on his fourteenth birthday, a few Club magazines and a bottle of lotion from his oldest brother. Ralph now practiced law in Winston. After the funeral, Ralph advised Mac to take a trip out West, and go hit up the Mustang Ranch.

Ralph checked in on Mac from time to time, but it was more an obligation, Mac felt, a to-do list item, but Mac didn’t mind these conversations. Lately he had been thinking his whole concept of reality was wrong. As though he were in a race he could never win. Mac often dreamed of a rooftop. He was   running across it trying to catch his daughter. Then there was an explosion. A mushroom cloud and then nothing. This dream was not new; he had this dream all his life. He called it a bi-product of growing up in the Reagan Administration. However, the thing he was chasing was always different. Sometimes, something was chasing him across that roof; a pack of Chow Chows that used to roam his neighborhood when Mac was a kid. He kept this dream, like the phantasms, to himself – it was his secret. Perhaps it defined him? He did not know. It would be the one thing he would take to the grave or maybe he would tell Alicia about it when she was old enough. He couldn’t believe she’d be driving in the next few years. He already eyed his neighbors suspiciously, or any man, and he had the app for locating sex offenders, but it wasn’t enough.

Mac looked at his phone again; the bus was late, but she was never really consistent, which Mac loved about her even though he only mustered up a polite wave and smile, which she always returned. Mac was sure there was something there in the ether between the bus driver – he still didn’t know her name – and himself, but what would he say? He felt as though an army of dogs had been released in his heart, nipping and shredding it to pieces, and then he heard the squeal of air brakes and the rumble of a diesel engine as it was gunned to help the bus make the corner.

Mac opened his eyes and she was there. The bus driver smiled and Mac waved, weakly, and she returned his wave, but there was something in her eyes, which Mac neither understood nor could he. He felt a chasm between where he stood on the curb and the open door of the bus.

What could be taking Alicia so long? He thought, but then he saw her standing in the aisle and he looked back at the bus driver; she was still smiling and talking to the kids as they disembarked, and Mac felt those dogs dig their way deeper into his heart. He felt like he was having that roof top dream again, but he knew what was happening right now was real.

 


T. O. Davis has a Masters of Fine Arts in fiction from Boise State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Idaho State University. Although he was born in Alabama, he grew up in High Point, North Carolina. After his discharge from the U. S. Army in 2001, he moved to Idaho with his family (his wife, Jennifer, is from Idaho). He has recently returned to North Carolina after a 15 year break. T. O. has been teaching writing for seven years, and his writing has appeared in The Storyteller, Black Rock and Sage, Plain Spoke, Cold-Drill, Shotgun Honey, Flash: The International Short-Story Magazine, and The Slag Review. He currently teaches for Halifax Community College and lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

Brandon Benevento: Back at the DuPont Plaza Hotel (essay)

Back at the DuPont Plaza Hotel

The hotel looms. Over the beach, it hangs brute uniformity over tourists and staff, people playing volleyball, lounging on chaise, bringing drinks, raising umbrellas, calling to children in the water, and here I sit picturing my mother on this same spot of sand picturing her children burning— have they got in an elevator? she has told me she was thinking, have they passed out from smoke? And the hotel is literally on the beach, like sprung from the sand, sand right up against it. How can these things not lean like Pisa after so much time? Twenty-one stories—no, there’s no thirteen, so twenty—and I count and it’s just tall enough for that disorienting thing where you lose count somehow even though you’re looking straight on; twenty stories plus that pillbox sign-cum-A/C-unit thing on top which made landing helicopters so difficult, almost thirty years ago. This is when it looms from for me, though with what we know about memory, the refraction of this moment though VHS in the form of an episode of William Shatner’s Rescue 911, plus my family’s retold stories, and newspaper clippings saved in a box marked FIRE, not to mention my way-too-many attempts to write about it (the best from first grade, when I drew myself behind the grid of the hotel, flames at the base, helicopters in the air, with a brief descriptive paragraph below)—all this seems active in the loom effect as well. But it’s the physical loom of this bulking box I’m struck by, lounging—a bit tensely, it turns out—under it on the beach. The Marriot, previously the DuPont Plaza, seems too big, while all the space around it feels sucked away, making everything tight and close and charged with energy, the insects in the air and voices against an inconsistent meter of surf.

So it looms, this hotel. Large in rectiline mid-century mod—why, I wonder, did the era of square buildings overlap the age of such frivolous, baubbly cars? And really, how great a Batwing Impala must have looked parked out front, or down at the still gorgeous Caribbe Hilton, disposing suitcases from a huge trunk and a nuclear family in Bermuda shorts, waited on, as we are still, by uniformed people probably wishing they were somewhere else, or that we were. I think of the woman cleaning my room, maybe at this very moment I hunch writing on the mesh of a not-new lounge chair, waiting for a waiter to bring me my second Presidente. The era the hotel looms from, originally, when conceived and raised from the rich port sand, is gone, leaving leisure ideals spaced out all along the Candado, and just shit tons of poverty. This mid-century idyll is not the moment the hotel looms from for me, though as a story of connectivity, the middle of the last century can’t really be over-emphasized here as background for first my parents’ and now my own luxie dreams. I would frankly love to pull some rented big-finned gas-guzzler up to the deco fluorescence of cool, like in the picture.

Anyway, the fucker looms, and, under it, I think of my mom on the beach, letting her children run on up to the room for cartoons 28 years ago. Perhaps a few moments of peace, with John at the casino and a New Years Evening ahead, a few minutes of sun… and then a smell she thinks, at first, is barbeque. I never heard an explosion, she said, just things starting to be not right, the tones of voices altering, a very different moment emerging from where she’d been, facing that blue water. So she turned and God smoke had surrounded the bulk, the bottom half gone, and her children gone, and the top sticking out, looking like it might be carried off, out to that very blue sea. This is the moment from which it looms for me. But I’m struck, just shocked, at this moment writing on the beach, by the material loom of the thing. It doesn’t pretend, like newer buildings with curves and glass, that inside it isn’t all steel, straight and unyeilding, infallible apparently, as that very steel met flame hot enough to bring Joey Cal flying down with Bob and Al’s dental records, and seems to have not sagged an inch. It is now painted the color of sand as envisioned by Florida mall-designers, a bit pinker and more orange than real sand ever is. The balcony rails—from which actual people actually dropped tied-together sheets with big cartoon knots—are a color or teal reminiscent of 1993. In 1986, the year of the fire, they were black, against which the previous white of the then-DuPont seems so classy compared to the current scheme, a color-combo admitting, I think, the not-first-rate status of the now-a-Marriot, though my father in a New Haven Register interview remembers it even at the time of the fire as not quite on par with the other destinations of his poker group’s junkets, which for the first time that year had decided to allow families. It was kind of an older hotel, he says from the past, in the black ink of newsprint. The picture of its opening in ’64, as a Sheridan—it’s like a cat, this hotel—show a horseshoe-shaped entry flanked on each side by an arc of flags, frozen in diplomatic snap, a residue of steamship luxury-liner pomp; this entry would keep San Juan’s hook-and- ladders from getting close enough to bring people out, and is, far as I could tell this morning, standing on the street, holding the picture on my phone up to the hotel, still here, though the flags are gone. Other tourists were also holding their phones up to the structure, presumably not comparing it to old photos from before the fire, so I looked, I guess, to be capturing the present like the rest, which I suppose I am. Anyway, the hotel is now Pink-Orange and Teal, which makes the loom more repulsive, like a dictator in Mickey shades.

What have I come here for? My wife told me my mother said I hope he finds what he’s looking for, which is exactly what the towel kid said this morning—as we stood where I’m fairly sure my father landed after jumping from the casino—after he asked, quite politely, why we were taking pictures of windows and patio pavers. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Which is extremely annoying, but as yet he’s the only one even remotely interested in my story, which I’ve been introducing with something like: the last time I was here this place was on fire, which is also extremely annoying. The best response by far came last night from the baseball trophy sellers’ convention guy at the bar, who said Hell-Yeah! When we first started coming this place was on Fire!… Now it sucks. The towel kid pointed out, when I asked what he knew about the fire, that he’d not been born in 1986. He, my wife, and I, standing by the pool, surrounded by palms lit in midmorning sunlight, looked up at the underside of the big spiral staircase, leading down from the lobby. On my phone, I have a grainy newsprint image of two men walking on these stairs the day after the fire, between them a sheeted body on a stretcher; seeing the staircase was the moment I realized how little had changed. I’ve been watching people flip-flop up and down it with books and beach gear, and have avoided using it. The hotel has no plaque to memorialize the 98 people who died here, which I hadn’t expected, but which gets weirder as it becomes clear this really is the same place; I pretend the stairs are a memorial, and when I do take them, I take them slow. After checking-in yesterday I asked the concierge—definitely born by 1986—about the fire, and if anyone who worked here then might still. No, she said, pissed off behind her desk, a few feet from the window I think my dad jumped from, it’s a completely different hotel. These words set me comparing old pictures with current structure, and the only major change I’ve seen is the casino now occupies a larger windowless side area, no longer overlooking the water of pool and sea. The window’s same Cartesian frame can be seen in another picture I can’t stop looking at, stored in the phone next to me on the lounge: a cindered body behind the aluminum bars, cinder legs hung over the ledge; it appears he or she almost made it out.

So I sit and soak the sun, a tourist on vacation, thinking of my mother, here, looking up at this same structure, knowing her kids are in it, her husband nearby, having been dragged off the patio, placed on a lounge chair, bones broken, disks slipped, just besides himself she has said, just beside himself, in pain and fear for my sister and I, refusing to go to a hospital, screaming God, Please don’t take my children, God, please don’t take my children, which He didn’t, which we reconstruct as both luck and love of God—as in: we were so lucky and as in God was looking out for us—not accounting for the 98 people who were, by logical extension, both unlucky and un-looked-out-for by God, let alone of course the just endless numbers of people subject to the hotel’s now fifty-years of labor and resource expropriation—a group that includes the men who started the fire, who never meant to kill, who were angry at management—people I see all around me, here, at home, everywhere, always close to wealth, the Bridgeport-in-Fairfield County effect we always think is an accident—people making my bed and worse; here, I sit and write where helicopters landed the groups of tourists my mother kept looking for us among, but no children, who would have come first, she knew, as that afternoon wore into darkness—the children would have come down first—and then no more people coming out, despair unlike anything I’ve known, so unlike this other moment, this so-called “now” with my wife next to me on a lounge chair, and all of it, suddenly, poised to slip away as well (and I think, God, please don’t take my wife) even though life and death seem so absent as I wait for a dark-skinned person to bring me beer #3; here where despair illuminated in helicopter spotlights scouring the grid finally, after four hours, yielded the happy resolution she narrates from the taped past, posed by Rescue 911 producers against the floral print of one of her many terrible sofas: when I just had no other places to turn, I thought I saw some movement up in the balconies and as I got a little closer, I could see that someone was carrying someone, a little closer still and that person was a little person, and then the dark hair and then I saw that it was Brandon, who was me.

 


Brandon Benevento works as a PhD student in UConn’s English Department. His dissertation project is titled “Upkeep: The Celebration and Erasure of Maintenance in Twentieth-Century American Literature.” In his spare time he cares lovingly for an aging strip mall in the New Haven area, a job in which he excels at picking up lots of trash. He lives with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Hypatia, in Branford, CT.

Watching Superman

Watching Superman

by Scott Weiss

 

Doree’s feather duster passed in brisk whispers over the TV console in the corner of the living room. She reached down and turned off the power switch and the black-and-white cartoon picture collapsed into a single bright point of light at the screen’s center before vanishing into lifeless, gray-green glassiness.

“J.R. does not need to be watching that Casper show, Danny. He’ll have nightmares about ghosts again.”

“But The Lone Ranger’s on next,” said Danny, who, in his wheelchair, had been watching TV beside J.R., “and then we planned on watching Superman.”

Doree was tired and wouldn’t argue. She still wore her white nurses’ aide’s uniform from the overnight shift.

“There’s your Lincoln Logs over there, J.R.,” she said, “You go play with those.” Without complaint the boy crossed the living room and dumped the tin of Lincoln Logs onto the floor.

“But what about me?” said Danny, “I don’t get nightmares from cartoons.”

“You’re also old enough to keep yourself busy without the TV on.”

“Come and play cards with me, Danny,” said Patty, who had been playing solitaire at the dining room table and had stopped shuffling the deck long enough to light a cigarette. “We can play twenty-one.”

At twenty-two years old, Patty was three years older than Danny, who wheeled around to face the dining room table, but said nothing in response to his sister.

The telephone rang from the kitchen.

“I’ll get it,” said Doree, and she hurried through the dining room to the kitchen doorway.

“Oh, hello Jay,” said Doree.

“It’s your old man, J.R.,” said Danny, whose stringy black hair fell over his shoulders. In addition to old man, Danny said things like groovy and psychedelic, and he burned incense, rolled Laredo cigarettes, and listened to bands like Blodwyn Pig.

Danny craned his neck to see what he could of his mother in the kitchen. With just two small windows, the kitchen was as bright as the mid-morning light could make it. Most daylight entered the house through the two southern-exposed French doors in the dining room; beyond these doors was a painted concrete porch with a plywood wheelchair ramp that led to a gravel driveway. The light that reached into the dining room was little help in the living room, where the windows were dimmed in the shade of a large willow at the northwest corner of the house. The family rarely used the front door that opened up to the willow because the angle of the steps was too awkward for Danny to manage.

“No, you cannot come over here and get him,” said Doree, “the lawyer said so.”

“Oh, lord—here we go again,” said Patty, who set down her cards and took a long nervous drag on her cigarette.

“No. No you will not!” said Doree. “I’ll call the police, Jay.”

“Sounds like the old man’s up to something,” said Danny.

“Jay! I’m calling the p—” said Doree.

She took the receiver from her ear and looked at it as though it had somehow let her down. She hung up the phone on the kitchen wall and stood silent for a moment in the doorway before turning to the dining room.

“He says he’s coming over to take J.R.,” her voice quavered. “He says he’s coming now.”

“That man’s crazy, I tell you!” said Patty. “There’s no telling what he might do!” She tamped out her cigarette in a compact fit of fury and stood and went about the living room pulling blinds closed. “Anyone with even a bit of sense could tell from the first how crazy he was.”

“I’ll be right back,” said Danny, and with an awkward left turn he wheeled himself into and then down the hallway, whose entrance divided the dining and living rooms and led to the bedrooms at the back of the house.

“I’m calling the police,” said Doree, and she turned back to the kitchen and picked up the phone and dialed zero.

Her arms folded at her front, Patty paced a short circuit between the living room and dining room and after a moment lifted her voice to say, “Anyone could tell, I’m telling you! Anyone!”

From the kitchen: “We’ve been separated. Yes. For two months. That’s right. I’m trying to get a divorce from him. Well, he’s hit me before…that’s why we separated. Yes. I’m scared of what he might do. Well, if not to me, to my son. Yes. Yes, he’s just four years old.” By the last of these words she had broken into full sobs.

Danny reemerged from the hallway, the barrel of a rifle poised over one shoulder.

“Oh, Jesus, Danny!” said Patty, “What do you think you’re going to do with that?”

“Just let him try and take J.R., man,” he said. “I’ll put a bullet right between his eyes. That’s what I’ll do!” Danny retook the center of the living room, spinning into position with a flourish so that he once again faced the French doors.

“The police say they’re on their way,” said Doree, wiping at her eyes and nose with her wrist in the kitchen doorway.

“Danny has gone and gotten his twenty-two, momma,” said Patty.

“Oh, Danny, no!”

“I’ll put a bullet right between the old man’s eyes,” he said. “Come here, J.R.—come on up here and sit with me.”

The boy got up holding onto a couple of segments of Lincoln Logs and scrambled his way onto Danny’s lap, where he turned and faced forward. Danny crossed the rifle in front of the boy, as though to secure him into place.

“Right between his eyes, man,” Danny told the boy, patting his arm. “Just let him try and take you.”

“Probably be better off letting Jay have him,” grumbled Patty.

“You hush up now, Patricia Marie!” said Doree, “That is enough of that!”

Five loud raps sounded, rattling the loose panes of the French doors in their frames. The two startled women jumped and gasped.

“Jesus, help us!” cried Doree, and they all looked up to see a tall, thin figure standing backlit against the mid-morning light.

“It’s alright, mom,” said Danny. “It’s only just Ray. Let him in.”

“Oh,” said Patty, “this is a fine picture; that’s what this is.”

“Lord help us, Danny!” Doree said, shouting and whispering at once, “Things are bad enough around here without Ray Ronald coming around!” She went to open the door.

“Hey, Danny!” said Ray Ronald as he stepped through the doorway, lanky and dark-featured with the day’s light behind him. “Some of us are headin’ up to—hey! what are you doin’ with your gun there?”

“J.R.’s old man says he’s comin’ over to take him from us,” said Danny. He patted the butt of the rifle. “I say let him try!”

“There ain’t nobody gonna shoot nobody!” said Doree, positioned in the kitchen doorway, her arms folded and leaning one shoulder against the frame.

“I’ll go get my gun, too!” said Ray.

“We’ve already called the police,” said Patty. “Why don’t you just go on home, Ray? We’ve all got family business to take care of here.”

“Let me help!” said Ray, “I won’t even need a gun. I know karate!” Ray began a slow-motion demonstration of his prowess.

“You can’t learn karate from the back of a comic book, man,” said Danny. “The old man would bust you in two if you tried that baloney on him.”

“You’re crazy,” said Ray. “You seen what I did to that Burns kid that time!”

“He was half your size, man. And you really just wrestled him down and pinned him.”

“You’re lyin’ Danny—” Ray started just as a car door slammed shut at the front of the house.

“Heaven help us—that’s him!” said Doree.

“Maybe it’s the police,” said Patty.

Doree turned and hurried to the window over the kitchen sink for a look. “Nope—it’s him alright! Lord Jesus—where are the police?”

She hurried back to the dining area just as the man’s figure appeared through the doors. The locked door rattled and shook—the glass panes quivered in their frames.

“Let me in, Doree! Let me get my boy!”

“Go away, Jay! I already called the police. They’ll be here any minute!”

“I said, Let me in, goddamn it!” Jay pounded on the frame of the door, and wood and glass trembled violently. “I’m comin’ in, Doree!”

With that a fist broke through one of the panes nearest the door handle. The women screamed.

“Goddamn it! I’m comin’ in!”

“Get down, J.R.!” said Danny, pushing the boy from his lap.

The hand groped for the lock, smearing blood over the wood and glass it found and worsening its cuts with its reach.

“I got you in my sights, old man!” yelled Danny.

But the hand found the lock and worked at turning it.

“Help me, Patty! Help me!” cried Doree, as she ran to throw her weight against the door to oppose the man’s push.

“Oh, Jesus!” cried Patty, hesitating a moment before throwing herself beside her mother’s effort.

“I’ll knock this whole damned door down!” yelled the man. More glass cracked and broke onto the floor.

“I’ll shoot, old man! I’ll shoot!”

“J.R.!” called Doree, “J.R.! Call the police, J.R.!”

The boy had been standing in the living room mouthing one of his Lincoln Logs and watching the scene unfold. He dropped his pieces, and against the backdrop of this drama he hurried to the kitchen and dragged a dinette chair to the phone. He climbed up and took down the receiver and for a moment gave a vacant stare to the rotary dial. Dropping the receiver with a clatter of heavy plastic against the wooden chair back, he climbed down again and called into the mayhem from the kitchen doorway, “What’s the number?”

No one seemed to hear him above the threats and cursing, the pleading, and the shaking and breaking of glass.

“Police!” A commanding voice shouted from outside, a deep male voice.

“Stop right there!” said still another man’s voice, higher in pitch than the first. The struggle at once subsided.

“She’s got my boy in there!”

“Just stop what you’re doing and back away right now!” returned the deep voice.

The two women retreated from the door and it came to a half-open rest, riddled with broken and fractured panes. Glass lay in untidy constellations about the dining room floor. A chaos of blood streaked and spotted the clothes and arms of both women, smeared the wood and the brass and the glass of the French doors, and dotted the hardwood floor in drops that shone like scattered pennies against the morning light.

The three figures from outside made their way through the doorway as the two policemen—one a full head taller than the other—pushed their way in; the shorter one restrained the boy’s father from behind.

“You ladies alright?” asked the taller officer, the one with the deep voice. A brass nameplate on his uniform read, “Jacobs,” when it caught the light from outside.

Breathless and teary-eyed, the women took a moment to examine one another and themselves before nodding to the officer.

“How about him—how bad is he cut up, Jack?” asked Jacobs.

“Let’s see…. Looks like he’s gonna need some stitches, but he’ll be okay. He’s bleedin’ all over me right now, though.”

“You better put that rifle down right now, son,” said Jacobs, motioning to Danny in the living room. “You trying to get yourself shot, or what?”

Danny said nothing, but dropped the rifle across his lap again as Jacobs gave a long awkward stare at the wheelchair, where Danny’s too-small legs didn’t measure up to the rest of his body.

“Polio,” said Doree at last, her voice breaking, still breathless and frightened sounding. “He was just a little boy.”

“Uh-huh,” said Jacobs. “Well, can somebody tell me what’s going on here?” He rested his thumbs inside the belt at his waist and refocused his attention.

“That’s my boy over there,” said Jay in a mournful tone, as though he might break into a cry.

“He’s come here trying to take away my son!” said Doree, with a nod to the boy. Then she added, “Get on over there with Danny, J.R.”

J.R., with two fingers of one hand in his mouth, made his way to his half-brother’s side and climbed back onto the lap in the wheelchair where he was once again secured into place with the twenty-two rifle. To Danny’s right the living room door stood ajar where Ray Ronald had at some point exited without anyone’s notice.

Jacobs let out a deep sigh and turned to the father. “You don’t live here, then?”

“She’s kicked me out of my own home!” said Jay.

“This ain’t your house!” cried Patty. “You ain’t even got a job to help make rent!”

“Excuse me young lady, but who are you?” asked Jacobs.

“I’m Patty.”

“She’s my daughter,” said Doree.

“But not his daughter!” said Patty, sharpening her features in a show of disdain.

“And the young man in the wheelchair?” said Jacobs.

“Danny,” said both women at once. “He’s my oldest son,” finished Doree.

“Uh huh,” said Jacobs, “but not his son?” He nodded to the father.

“That’s right, officer,” said Doree.

“So,” said Jacobs, waving a finger from the mother to the father and back again, “you two are married?”

“Yes, we are!” said Jay.

“But I’m trying to get a divorce,” Doree quickly added.

“Second marriage?” asked Jacobs.

“Yes sir,” said Doree.

“It’s his third marriage,” said Patty. “He’s got three other kids of his own that he never even tries to see.”

“Mind your own damn business!” said Jay.

“Calm down, buddy,” said Officer Jack, giving a jerk on the handcuffs from behind.

“But that boy is all I got left!”

“Sir, it scares me to think of what might happen to my son with this man,” said Doree.

“Like hell!” said Jay. “I would never hurt that boy!”

“Sir, I got a restraining order to keep him away from me,” she said.

“That true?” asked Jacobs, turning to Jay and tipping back the glossy black bill of his cap. The officer stood straight and imposing, one side of his face aglow in the daylight, giving outline to a square chin, a large nose, and a stern brow.

Jay seemed to weigh something for a moment, and then said, “Yeah. Yeah, it’s true. But it doesn’t say a thing about my boy!”

Jacobs curled his lips under and looked over the father who stood with pleading eyes; then he glanced at the shaken mother before his gaze came to rest on the wheelchair and Danny, in whose lap J.R.’s form seemed to dissolve in the low light of the living room. The officer shook his head.

“Well, then,” said Jacobs, bringing his eyes back to the father, “We got no choice but to take you down to the station. Probably need to get you sewn up, in any case.”

A rapid bleating of busy signal erupted through the kitchen doorway. Jacobs stepped around the corner where he appeared to consider the arrangement of telephone and chair for a moment before picking up the dangling receiver and replacing it on the wall. He stepped back into the dining area.

“Okay, take him to the car, Jack.”

Officer Jack turned the father toward the outside light.

“Wait!” said Jay, twisting his head back toward the living room. “I’m your daddy, J.R.! I’ll always be your daddy! I’ll always love you—don’t you forget it!” His voice again broke with emotion, and he added, “Don’t you ever forget it!”

“You all done now?” asked Jacobs. After a moment and a deep breath the father nodded. “Alright then, get him out of here, Jack,” adding quickly, “Oh, Jack—one thing.”

“Yes?”

“See that he doesn’t get blood all over the back seat there, would you? Try to put a rag under him or something…whatever you can find in the trunk.” Jacobs watched them down the wheelchair ramp. “Ma’am,” he said, “why don’t we step outside and talk about this?”

The bustle of activity made its way across the violated threshold. Patty followed her mother outside with Officer Jacobs.

After a moment, Danny removed the rifle from in front of J.R. and nudged the youngster from his lap.

“Your old man must think he’s invincible or some such thing, J.R.,” he said, as the tike clambered down. “Hey, that reminds me!” Danny looked at his wristwatch. “It’s just now time for Superman!” And with the rifle tipped barrel-up over his shoulder, Danny wheeled to the corner of the living room and snapped on the television so that it came to life, coating the room in projections of gray. “Let’s watch Superman, J.R.—you like watching Superman, don’t you? ‘The man of steel?’ You don’t get nightmares from Superman, do you?”

The half-brothers settled in front of the glowing tube. On the screen George Reeves stood colorless, his hands on his hips, his cape waving into outer space, the world nothing more than a backdrop at his feet.

A moment later, Danny reached down and gave J.R. a pat on the head and said, “Superman killed himself, you know. Blew his own brains out with a gun.”

 

Languish For Desire

Languish For Desire

by Kik Williams

 

 

I tried to squish my body into a bottle

pretended to be a shell   a bunch of shells

the bunch I found on the beach

in Cuba when I was a little girl

the day the sand was covered in blue

balloons   the nurse said non toca

es mal   bad balloons  man of war

balloons   decorate the beach

para me   I want to put everything

in my mouth for him   a leg

a hand   a breast through the slits

of fabrics   I want to do everything

to reveal myself   I’d cover my body

in blue balloons   pretend I’m a conch

all pink inside   and listen   if you hold me

up to your ear   you can hear me sigh

 


Kik Williams is a grandmother who just started kickboxing. She loves it. Kik is also aceramic artist specializing in certain female body parts. She lives with four chickens, two mini dachshunds, a cat and a couple of gold fish. Kik has traveled to over 20 countries and most of the United States. Her Spanish is terrible. She is looking for a honey. Until she was in her 60’s, Kik had never written a poem, a late bloomer in many ways.

Kintsugi

Kintsugi

by Jameson Croteau

 

 

Can you drink love from a woman,

Even if she has cracks?

 

She was not perfect.

Nearly, by not.

It was a simple thing,

At first,

To buy gold earrings

To match

Her green eyes.

A small Augmentation.

 

At parties,

A loose ringlet,

I would fix

With a silver barrette.

Pressed down into her skull.

She adjusted it.

A platinum ring weighing,

Down her frail hand.

 

Freckles dotting on a nose.

Cute, but a blemish

That I would have to hide.

No. Not disguise,

Show, gild with gold.

It was my job, my only job,

To make her beautiful, admirable, desirable

Despite her humanely flaws.

 

Piece by piece

I showed her imperfect nature

To everyone,

Until there was nothing left to hold.

A cup shattered to the floor.

It had taken me far too long to realize

That scars were human,

And she was not pottery.

 


Jameson Croteau is an undergraduate English and business management major at UConn. He has a penchant for violent sports, eggs on burgers, and spewing terrible freestyle raps.