Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Girl At Terminal 63

She has cowboy boots on. That’s the first thing I notice about her; that and the fact that the boots don’t really go with everything else that she’s wearing. But yet, they sort of do. She has on a peach pink dress which stops just short of the top of the cowboy boots when she’s seated, which is how she is when I first see her. The dress is covered sparingly with an open pattern of tiny little flowers. White opalescent buttons the size of dimes run down the middle of the front of her dress stopping at a braided cloth belt with leather on its ends where it buckles. It’s not a belt, in the true sense, but part of the dress. The large airport window behind her reveals a silhouette of the shape of her legs when she shifts positions to refold herself into a new posture.

She is pretty, in a plain way. Her shoulder-length light brown hair looks well taken care of but it’s cut simply, devoid of layering or other fancy salon trickery, and frames her face in an unpresuming way. I imagine her as the daughter of a rancher in Oklahoma, a living breathing piece of modern Americana. I can practically see her kicking up dust with her worn cowboy boots as she walks across some ambiguous dry prairie, the wind tugging at the hem of her thin dress.

She twirls strands of her hair between her fingers with one hand and she holds a cell phone, almost invisible beneath the hair that has fallen over it, to her ear with the other, speaking a few words occasionally but mostly listening. Her arms are pulled in tight to her body and she leans forward, as though she is trying to find the optimal position in which to fold her thin body in on itself. I wonder what her relationship to the voice in the phone is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Little Jonah

Jonah wasn’t stupid. He had a pretty good idea why he was the way he was. It probably had something to do with the endless queue of abusive men that his mother had yanked into his life as he grew up. Yea ‘his’ life. There was no ‘their’ life as far as Jonah was concerned. She was his mother because everyone has to have a mother, but that was very clearly where she felt her maternal duties stopped. If he complained that Jack, or Jon, or Steve, or Mike, or whoever the latest guy was had done something to him, she didn’t care. Whether she believed him or not didn’t really matter to her, she would lock little Jonah in the closet for a few hours seemingly just because he spoke to her. He stopped complaining, stopped talking altogether eventually. It didn’t matter. There was always a reason to hammer on little Jonah a bit and throw him in the closet if he bled a little too much or if she heard the bed warmer of the month’s car pulling up.

He wasn’t stupid. He’d learned to hate his mother exactly as he believed she wanted him to. It wasn’t that hard really. And right around the time that his voice would have been cracking, if he had ever used it, he came to an unspoken (unspoken: funny, right?) agreement with his mother. The less she saw of him, the less he saw of the inside of some closet, cupboard or cellar. He came to suspect that this was probably better for his mother’s health, not that he truly cared. He was big enough by age thirteen that her, and whoever else’s, vicious beatings only happened if he chose not to fight back. He rarely fought back, but he wasn’t stupid and tried to avoid having to make that decision as much as possible. He’d be gone for days, sometimes only coming back to steal food and a change of clothes.

On the night of his fifteenth birthday he came home to a dark house, everyone asleep for the night. He threw the two cats he’d killed and what remained of the large dog that he had found smeared across the road, a lucky find for sure, into the oven and headed for the bedroom.

When he opened the door to the bedroom he was greeted by the smell of cheap bourbon and something else. It was like a swimming pool full of alcoholics. He didn’t think it would make a difference but he carefully tied his mother’s hands together through the cheap wooden posts of the headboard using part of the electrical cord that he had cut from the living room lamp with the paring knife he had found on the kitchen counter. She didn’t even stir while he did this, so he made sure it was really tight. The feet were harder to get a good solid bind on, but he eventually got them attached to the foot of the bed.

Around on the other side of the bed he stared at the man laying there, partly covered by a sweat stained sheet. The paring knife’s blade was short but sharp. He missed the man’s eye on the first down stroke, instead laying open the cheek all the way to the bone. Some blood but not much. The man was screaming and trying to sit up when the knife hit home the second time. Jonah had stopped him from getting up simply by holding the man’s shoulder down. Clearly he was very drunk. Jonah slammed the meat of his palm into the butt of the knife, driving it down through the man’s eye and further into his head. The man twitched, gurgled and went still. Jonah wasn’t sure but he thought the guy has shit himself as well. He smiled at that thought. Digging his fingers into the eye socket of the last of his mother’s lovers, he got a couple fingers around the slippery handle of the knife and pulled it free. Much more blood now; a tiny well of it in this man’s face. With all of his strength, he rolled and slid the man until he was partially laying on Jonah’s mother, then sawed the small blade back and forth through the cords of the man’s neck until his shoulder burned with the exertion of it. A lot of blood had soaked his mother, the bed, and was dripping onto the floor. Jonah stabbed the man four or five times in the back for good measure and jumped off of the bed. When he left the room his mother was just starting to stir, still nowhere near conscious.

After trying to wash most of the blood off of his arms and neck, he set the oven for 600 degrees, threw the knife inside on top of one of the cats and slammed the door closed. Turning one of the burners on, he blew out the little blue flame and then turned the burner all the way up. It hissed at him.

He never came back, never checked to see what happened to his mother, didn’t really care. Most people he met seemed to look like her or one of her ‘men’, so his method got more efficient, more skilled, but no less messy. The blood was the money shot.

He knew what he was, and didn’t mind so much.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Not part of Laura's Story:

She is on top of me, straddling me as I look up into her face; a perfect face framed by her dark wavy hair. She supports herself with her arms as she leans over me, strands of hair coming loose from behind her ears and falling to brush against my face. We sit like this, motionless, for an hour, maybe longer, looking into one another. Her face shows no emotion, yet behind the windows of her eyes, all I see is her, and love. In this moment there is no difference between the two. She sees the same within my eyes. I know this because I see her truly. There are no walls now, no double meanings.

My vision blurs and thick tears trace down the side of my face as I blink. Her face softens just slightly, “What’s wrong?”

I reach up and brush some loose strands of her hair back behind her ear. My hands linger and I hold her head delicately between them, a simple reassurance that she’s here, she’s mine. “Nothing,” I say, seeing myself from behind her eyes, “How did I get so lucky? …to end up with you.”

She smiles, a simple small smile, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I blink quickly to clear the tears that have regrouped and now threaten to obstruct the connection of her and me. “Are you kidding?” she says softly, “You’re perfect.”

My hand trembles as a tear falls from her smiling face to mine. We continue to inhabit the other’s soul, lost together in an abyss of perfect oblivion.