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By Mike

Blake's father was, for all intents and purposes, drunk. Every morning he would stomp across the little plastic trailer and get his daily dose of Pernod, and his wife would reach up from the creeching hammock and scream at him in her perpetually half-drowsy ultra-soprano voice for drinking 'a woman's drink, you damn idiot.' By ten o'clock, he would have ventured onto Grand Marnier and at noon, he would have diluted Kahlua. Blake never knew why. Blake's father's forte, however, was vodka. He would come home right before Blake's mother would go to work, at around eight o'clock, smelling like clean and sharp and pointed and serrated and metal.

The habits all came from his parents, Confederates. They were buried with a forty gun salute-not an actual military one, but one by one, all the guns they owned were shot into their burial ground by their relatives. They numbered forty. The guns were then buried with them, and a Confederate flag had wrapped the caskets, like some freakish chrysalis that would never spring open, a rotting cyst. They were pan-Confederates, 'ber-Confederates, even, jaded by their cause but still proclaiming themselves the ultimate of rebels, the absolute unsurpassed epitome of rebellion. The only thing Blake could remember out of the entire thing was a) the doorman who was opening and closing the door during the entire service. Blake clearly remembered his face; he himself was playing with a toy truck. Blake was three or so. He looked up, and saw his face, mapped out in utter fury and rage, deathly pale and waiting for something, anything, that he didn't know. b) He had never seen a place as clean as that room. From a very young age he associated death with cleanliness.

Blake's mother worked two jobs: she was a waitress at a Roy Rogers on a homogenic, obscure truck stop three miles down the Turnpike. She also slept with these truckers. Not literally; she would just blow them off in the Mobil bathroom, and they would slip her a twenty. For receipts, she would hand out coy smiles; on the backs of these smiles were advertisements in faded pastel lipstick-ink, advertising a next time. And then she'd take her chipping lipstick-pink nails and scratch in another mark on the wall, gleefully, delightedly, wickedly grinning. A sort of fiendish delight out of it all. The bathroom walls of the Mobil were covered in these marks, grouped in fives, like in prisons. She would count the hundreds on the walls; she would think about what she'd do with the money, even though she'd already spent it; she would spend long hours in the bathroom just squatting on the dirty gray linoleum and dreaming and staring out the little circular clear circular space in the dirty square window onto the world that would fade away at every sunset, and every sunrise, it was a-release in her three feet by five feet yellow world of bathrooms and cash and urine and sex and bathrooms and cash.

Blake grew up without dreams. He would sleep long nights in his sleeping bag on the floor of the trailer, surrounded by cans of Pringles and the ubiquitous smell of alcohol and urine. Inside was his womb, his chrysalis, his little world. Early childhood brought his little hiding place frogs and plastic trucks. These were replaced with comic books, which were then replaced by cash. At sixteen the cash was taken out in the middle of the night, stuffed in ripped jeans, and his chrysalis slung over his back.

***

"Well, I mean, how else could he have put it, he said 'You tested positive,' what the hell dya think he would've said?''

"Blake, we know you're angry. You sound angry. You sound frustrated. It's okay. It isn't your fault. Did he say anything else?"

"What the fuck else could he possibly have said? It was 'You have aids' and that was that. That was it- deadpan, popped."

"Popped what?"

"The statement."

"Sounded like you were talking about an ego or a zit or..." the counselor smiled at his little joke, then trailed off purposely, his eyes searching the floor like search lights at a prison.

"Or a cyst," Blake finished. He remembered a face. He saw in his mind a three year old boy, getting up from the faded dark green tackiness of funeral parlor carpet, waxing, waning, sleeping standing up, and he saw his face mold into the man's. He remembered his grandparents' funeral, and just realized that they had died together.

"Are you alright? You look..."

"I'm fine," he lied. His chrysalis was full of lies, his little world was his ex-boyfriend and his expression, that pale sallow white dark stoic morbid expression, the doorman, his grandparents' funeral, the Mobil bathroom, all in the pale half-glow of sickly city moonlight. He dreamt that night.

From now until death she was going to have flower dust and springtime sprinkled over everything... Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now, but new words would have to be made and said to fit them. -Z.N. Hurston

Mike

anidifrancofreak@yahoo.com


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