This is probably the best short story I’ve ever written. It’s also the one I had the most help with from a couple highly perceptive and imaginative editors. You know who you are, Tom. It’s the story of a party gone wrong. It’s a love story. It has blobs that will annihilate you. And Shayla…
I hope you enjoy this story. If I had ten of these gems in me, I could sleep a happy man, but in the meantime, I’m still stuck at that party, probably out on the back deck watching the pontoon make ripples in the black water.
The link is embedded in the first sentence, but if you’ve made it this far: click here.
I am at the house—again—to ignore a bag of bread, shell casings; guests stare, gnaw the perimeter like trees that get tangled in your hair when I bring you cake. You are hungry, tossing potato sacks down stairs. Let us sit at the table and wonder, we can conjure how to stop time. Rum raisin is not my prayer. You would know this if you didn’t fall asleep on street corners or use your belt and stave hunger, stay the father. I once saw my grandfather come out of the mirror. We built molotov cocktails in the bedroom and set priests on fire—the driveway is where goblins burn. Humans burn. Priests burn. We know how young men run through forests and drink milk, become branches or paste for maidens to eat. We hobble around the camper. I’ve brought popcorn and corn cobs for us to suck until we explode in gorilla suits with pink star-trails and organ flare. It’s not enough—melt. It’s not enough—save my mother from eating an apple. I’ve taken showers in green, hid under covers and shoo away teen boys who feign love for girls who take trips in vans to Nilbog. My grandfather is an angel. Goblins don’t exist. Repeat. This is not your kingdom of shadows. This is Provost in hell. We are a modern family: the van, sunlight, clover leaves and pianos lure mouths open—this is about not eating food. And if we speak, we shut our eyes to hear. And if we scream hard enough, our family just might sprout magic windows and stones of love. Press your hand against the stone. Press your hand against my heart of ham. Feel blood run. I’m made of sap, leaking son.
A new essay(istic) piece influenced by John Carpenter’s THE THING is up at my other home, The Eyeslit-Crypt. Read on, readers: THINGS: AN ESSAY
It wasn’t that I was a writer and you a wife or a good place for our son to play. It was none of this. I don’t speak of dark kitchens at night when you are asleep and I am at the edge of the window looking at windows upon windows—how hot night becomes when soaked in drinks from a locked cupboard or freezer. I should have spoken of axes and typewriters. Typing is not just the clack of the keys or the insertion of paper into the machine, it is a ghost of hate that I will turn novel. I will complete this ghost even if it means I should reach a baseball bat or you walking up the stairs backwards, you dragging me to the freezer, but I’ve slashed all engines, dismantled the transmission and stolen the family key. I have the key. Here is where love lives unchangeable in the glow of soft light. It’s 1920 and I’m wearing a tux. You will notice my tux, because there was a photograph taken of so many people and you were not among them. We were not yet married. You have never stood in the kitchen at night or used an ax to chop down a door. There is more light where you are. The chef comes. I am redder after dark. But I’ve learned. I’ve learned how to follow your little steps around corners. You move quicker than the father. It’s my burden to be a father. I will make things right. Fathers make things right. It snowed on my birthday. My fingers can no longer type like the way snow falls on a maze at night. And it is night when we step into the maze. It is all I can do to give you something to remember me by—in the kitchen, the bright kitchen where you eat ice cream and drive trucks into hotel rooms. There is a room in the maze and I have the key. I’ve seen they way the other women smile. I have seen the father of the girls and I have to keep walking this maze so someday you’ll know what it means to be a father. I won’t carry you far. I won’t carry you at all.
We enter the cabin—it’s often a cabin, a house of wood: lights dim, click off. This is how it begins. Girls play guns in the woods, stack stick-piles by the creek and summon fire in Shinto dirt. They stick fingers in the dirt—never like this, not a blood soaked ritual by the grave. It ends up like this. Shane is the first to go: lopped off legs, eyes gouged, hair torn, mouth zeroed. There are no football players in our house on this night of red—not anymore. First names are not written, they are jack ‘o lanterned and lit. Do not use a hacksaw or a meat grinder or an ax. We know this. We know how to throw rocks in empty windows as if hitting a ghost-girl or a rivered spirit will release the darkness of being a teen. Shane is a teen, so is Eva, Linda, John, and Bill—dead, dead, dead. They are not fashion models. This is not Milano. Cut. Arms pile in the fireplace of the cabin: a fisherman’s net, a brick, a saw blade, rope. This drip is the sound of teen snapshots on Tumblr. Leave. Suck drugs from the soaking lungs of bones in the closet. Burn the oven. Torch the cabin. A step does not make a sound. The rocks we throw in the windows of the cabin in the woods, when we hold them in our teen hands, they are soundless oracles. They never make a sound and I would like to think of that ghost-girl in the dark by the window. She is still there and knows this night is a teen slasher, a way to ruin parties: the sex, the drugs, the blood, the dirt. Turn off the lights.
1. loop the sound of spiking the coffin lid
2. your black dress and european strings
3. an old tavern where you secrete time
4. priests pursue you under soft light
5. a doorway to the cavern of hate
6. sink asa in milan and i opened to:
7. godflesh stills of you at the stake
8. selfless eyes, barbara in black gown
9. run barefoot to the chamber, boil it
10. you’ll nail faces with mallet and hood
11. i hide your shell in the basement, but
12. red marks on your breasts are not stains
13. you don’t stain, it’s a smear of light
14. here is how i immortalize your visage
15. they’ve come here to burn you alive
16. like night of satan, or how the dead stalk
17. these caverns are not made of wood
18. heart caverns are made of skin—of you
19. like telepathy as transmission
20. you will reach the end and live on, dead
21. this is how i view lack of love, pretty star