Boys are delicate and can break in the wind. They fall to pieces. The rain makes everything sick. Dangling at the edge of the cliff. Water a crash. A bloodbath. A clock stops and minutes become days.
The highway winds toward the scattered lights of the city. I swing a moss covered stick in my hand and knock it against rocks on the side of the road. The rocks make a hollow sound, like a lobotomy patient.
There is a torso of a squirrel, haloed by a ring of blood, on the side of the road. I tap it gently, turn it over. The belly is rotting. Slits of skin exposing food for worms. Satanists live in the mountains and the mentally disturbed need less oxygen to survive. Water supports life and is strongest when it floats below the clouds. The smell is overpowering, a pocket of death, but I do not look away. What is inside the hollowness is what I am searching for. My name is Violet Wonderland and everything is a shade of gray. My boyfriend is dead, trapped within the confinements of a dying Cadillac, and I have nowhere to go.
A car stops ahead of me and parks in the dirt covered shoulder. The passenger door cracks open.
The driverís name is Freda. She is in her mid thirties and her belly is huge. She may be stuck beneath the steering wheel.
Do you know Lamaze, she asks me.
Breathe in, breathe out, I say.
Fredaís hair is bleached white. She scratches her head, her brick red skull. I think itís a load of shit, she says. Iím gonna get filled with drugs. I do not want to be there, whenever it happens.
She shifts gears. Her arms are so frail. Her body does not match her belly. Her stomach looks painted on.
You ever think about having kids, she says.
I donít answer.
If you want to smoke, go ahead. I donít mind.
I light a cigarette and reach to roll down the window but I stop. I see my reflection in the glass. A smear of reds and purples across my face and the smell of death in the air.
Itís electric, Freda says. She rolls the window down. Air rushes in and it feels like there are holes in my head.
Where are you going to stay tonight, she asks.
Donít know, I say. Iíll figure it out.
Why donít you stay with me. I could use the company.
I donít want to impose. No. What about your husband.
No husband, no man. Just me and the little one. She pats her belly. Stay at my place, she says. Iíll make you dinner...
(The complete version of this story has been anthologized in the collection called Year of the Thief. Please visit www.thievesjargon.com/press for more information.)
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