Author Topic: the fire first, the kindling next time (18+)  (Read 122 times)

sunsplintered

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the fire first, the kindling next time (18+)
« on: November 12, 2018, 03:13:43 PM »
The man's hand is more crust than skin.
 
When he takes it and holds it firm it explains the dead lands cracked around a pair of eyes remembering whole almanacs unfilled by days of drought and of famine when viridian lingered over sweet potatoes crowning amaranthine but dismissed as semi-precious when morning dew began to gather and the sun as more accomplished lapidary lit even soybeans drooping fat and pendulous with pearls that bragged of their luster through acres and acres of such fecund earth that even the wind humbled itself and sang lullabies to seedlets and slips asleep under the shadows of children beginning their own prayers for food that swelled their tiny bellies and gave reason for their beautiful mother and father to rise before dawn bless us o lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive
 
Charlie's blind to what lies beneath the strata.  He's holding the man's hand searching the cracks.  He has his own hymn.
 
La ilaha illah Allah
 
Please the man says.  Please.
 
The man doesn't beg for himself.  The man has had a good life.  A long life.  The man begs for his wife and his children.
 
The shotgun's single barrel smoothes the man's skin where it's wrinkled to crow's feet.  The man becomes a boy again.  Watch the boy holding his wife's hand when she was a girl.  Look at the boy's lopsided smile as the girl's finger trembles nervous when it's banded for the first time by something other than soil. Her freckles darken with tears yes Sam goddammit yes
 
La ilaha illah Allah
 
The bathroom door shudders.  The man's hand does not feel coarse anymore.  Charlie allows it to fall.  The tile is white under the man's head.  He can see it through the window the open skull makes.  Charlie nudges the man's head with his foot and spits.  That was for Cody you goat ****ing piece of s***.  The medicine cabinet flinches and creaks open and retches pill bottles into the running sink.  That was for Oats you boy raping mother****er.  Two spent shells tinkle when he opens the door.  The hallway floods.
 
Charlie wipes his nose on the back of his wrist.  He looks at the blood that congeals at his sleeve.  The red flannel is too thick for this heat.  He leans the shotgun on the wall so he can unbutton the shirt.  Water from the bathroom stalks his heels.  The shirt grows soggy then sags into the carpet.  He picks the shotgun back up.  Its stock feels good nestled at his armpit.  He crosses the hallway and enters the living room.
 
There are a pair of couches.  One faces the television set.  The last one looks out the big windows.  The sky is dark and soft.  Charlie watches it snow for a good long while.  Then he turns around and searches the room.  Water from the hallway has found him here.  Its long translucent nail points to a small desk with a black rotary phone.  He picks the receiver up and holds it with his shoulder and his ear.  He dials a number.  Patrol base pick up.  Patrol base.  But there are voices on the line.
 
Ma'am is there anywhere you can hide?
 
No please just get here please
 
Charlie lifts his head.  He can hear it in this house too.
 
Ma'am we have an officer en route.  Please stay calm.
 
Sam's dead he killed Sam please
 
He lets the receiver go.  The long cord spirals on its noose and jolts back up.  The voice doesn't make sense anymore.  But his eyebrows furrow as he listens.  The carpet squelches when he returns to the hallway.  He presses his ear against each closed door.  All he hears is the ocean.  Waves lap at the shoreline.  Preserved by a breath, silent and still.  Let him go deaf.
 
Sadie, the voice says again, get under the bed.  The voice comes from his left.  Charlie tries the knob.  It refuses.  Again.  It refuses.  The door is thin wood.  It's easy off the hinges when he kicks.  The woman's legs are bent beneath her.  She holds her head with both of her hands.  Her chin juts against her collarbone.
 
Charlie she screams.  Stop it Charlie.
 
How does she know his name?  He doesn't ask the question.  The shotgun bucks and it's quiet again.  Charlie spits on her.  Bitch he says.  ****ing lying ****ing bitch.  He steps on the door.  He steps over the woman.  There's a crib against a wall.  A rainbow arcs above it.  There's a small bed by the window.  The sky is dark and soft.  Charlie watches it snow a good long while.  He studies the faint gray light and the open road that leads to the trees.
 
La ilaha illah Allah
 
He feels something push at his boot.  A girl rushes from under the bed and runs to the door.  She slams headfirst into the doorframe.  She slides slow down the wall.  Charlie kicks the spent shells out of his way.  He walks to the crib and looks down.  The infant is quiet.  Its eyes are blue just like his.  The color is strange.  It reaches up to him curling its fingers.  The fingers curl and uncurl again and again.  Charlie searches his pocket for more shells out of habit.  The denim doesn't tinkle.
 
He pushes the infant's fingers away.  The shotgun's stock is almost as big as its body.  The infant's neck is segmented like an earthworm.  When he pushes it flattens into a fat collar.
 
You look like me when I was a baby he says.
 
Charlie looks at the infant's blond hair.  It's wispy at the top of its head like a thought of something before it begins.  The infant holds the smooth stock in its hands.  It smiles at him.  He nudges its head by the chin and it giggles. Its laughter has no teeth.  He stares at the infant a good long while.
 
La ilaha illah Allah.
 
The stock drips into the water that has followed him.  Charlie holds the shotgun at its middle and flicks.  Blood scatters the water but it remembers its shape.  It looks like a finger giving directions.  He follows where it points.  He's back in the hallway then back in the living room.  The finger points to the door.  He pulls the handle and the wind carries snow into his face.  At his feet there's a package wrapped in brown paper.  It's tied together with twine.
 
He leans the shotgun against the doorframe.  He bends to pick the package up and fill his palms with its shape.  He turns it in his hands to look for a name or an address.  There's a white label at the center of the bottom.  Or the top.
 
Lt. Charles King
C/O Mr. & Mrs. Sam Grace
1922 Oakdale Rd, Rock Hill, South Carolina 29730
USA
 
The twine tears when he pulls.  The paper's easy.  The box is simple cardboard sealed at the crossflap with clear tape.  Charlie turns around and searches the living room.  There is no one here but him and the water.  When he sits on the couch the water laps the teeth of his boots.  The door is still open.  Snow scratches the final length of carpet before the door.  He stares at the box a good long while.
 
Charlie's nail digs at one end of the tape.  When it's loose he pulls the strip until the flaps are free.  Inside is a photo album and a disassembled pistol and a manila envelope.  He takes the envelope first and squeezes the metal latch with his index and thumb.  He guides the flap along the latch then digs inside the envelope when it's clear.  There are a handful of papers inside.
 
 
Dear Lt. King,
 
I'm so happy to hear you're getting along with the Graces.  When we first set you up with them, I felt they were truly the right family to help get you back on your feet.  Sam has told us so much about the work you put into the farm and how much you enjoy spending time with their new baby.  He even told me you were teaching him French!  
 
I'm sending this package because we cleared out your old locker here in New York and what we found seemed too important to throw away.  I hope that what’s here helps lead you back to a better place than where you left them.
 
Good luck and God bless,
 
Melissa Dean, Helping Hands
 
Charlie bunches the paper into a ball.  He looks into the hallway.  His tongue runs slick along his bottom lip.  There's another letter.
 
Charlie,
 
It was nice to see you during mom's memorial service.  I know you wanted to be here for dad's.
 
I miss you, man.  Come back soon, okay?  We can go down to the coast and surf like we used to.
 
Love,
 
Tony.
 
And another.
 
Dear Mr. King,
 
With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that Anthony King has
 
Charlie stands from the couch.  A tiny pathetic sound whistles out of his mouth.  The water has found the linoleum in the kitchen.  Its finger points to the stove.  Charlie turns the knob that ignites the burner.  He searches the drawers.  He searches the sink.  All he can find is a spoon.  He holds it over the burner.  Charlie stares at the flame a good long while.
 
And then.

sunsplintered

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Re: the fire first, the kindling next time (18+)
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2018, 06:25:43 PM »
Q: Why haven't you slept?
 
A: Charlie pushes her through the door and gathers her faces into his palms.  The candles inside pale his eyes to a blue lit chiaroscuro: the sudden gloom follows and darkens the world past the doorway so she can see his face unblemished by the sky with its moon and its stars.  She's seen his pupils by now; she's seen the way they frenzy over her nose and her mouth and her eyes, sight turned amnesiac, forgetting and recalling the same landmarks in the same second.  "I watched you die," he says, and kisses her mouth.  "I watched you drown," he says, and kisses her when he can't remember that he did.
 
Q: What could happen?
 
A: His callouses scale her cheeks.  Their path scrapes to the sides of her head: Charlie pulls until their foreheads join; he pulls until their skin is wrinkled together, remnants of rain flooding the terraces made by their twinning.  "You said 'This is it for me, baby boy.  See you on the flipside.'"  Charlie's knee parts her thighs: the denim at the hinge rubs the familiar route going hot closer to the meeting at her legs.  What his eyes see is a girl choosing Charybdis: a smile sinks into the dawn promised on the surface of the river, ascends to the sky in the depths.  What his eyes don't see are the candles silenced by the breeze, the darkness filling the room.
 
Q: Looking at you like what?
 
Charlie's fingers travel south.  They meet at the button at her jeans and pluck the brass that keeps her skin secret from him; they pull the tab that hides her mouth with a mouth filled with teeth: when the zipper's defanged, Charlie tugs her belt loops so he can feel plains softer than the ridged metal his prints had abandoned.  His index finger traces her slit: the fabric that's left is thinner than denim; it cleaves to his touch, cleaves over and over again until it's hot with the friction, until it's wet with his sweat and with hers.  "I've missed you," he says, and sucks her tongue into his mouth to steal words he refuses to hear.
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
There's thunder
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
and the lightning that follows
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
brightens her faces to a paleness the eyes
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
that still watch her witness her vow to become mermaid, or was it angel,
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
something from myths only his childhood remembers, books open past midnight and
 
Q: What's wrong?
 
into the dawn.  There's still a question that needs to be answered.
 
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?
Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?  Q: What's wrong?

Q: What's wrong?  

Q: What's wrong?
 
A: Charlie's cock's stiff at her panties, leaking into the cotton.  "I need to **** you," he says, returning her tongue.  "I have to."


--

She guides a nail across his collarbone and says

Charlie…

The grass beneath them still carries dew: by the time her finger ends its trail, his clavicle bears the smallest hints of letters.  There’s a C looping in keratin calligraphy at the border of his chest and shoulder, C knotting into H before it can evaporate into A silenced at his sternum, half a name inhaled by the afternoon, all of it exhaled by her.

Charlie…

Her thumb tugs his lip to coax more complexity than just his panting, but he takes her hair and reels her closer.  Her mouth goes flat against her nail and their noises join: she sighs Charlie at his teeth, the syllables caught by the sweat from her cheeks, salt and sound sneaking through her throat until a sentence sputters out.

His eyes struggle to a quarter-shuttered and I he can see fragments of the sky muted by the brightness of her hair, the have fairness of her skin: he unwinds his fingers from the strands and when he to blinks, there’s nothing between the bones go except what’s left of the day squeezed through fossilized Venetian blinds now.

His breathing interrupts the dust.

Dead skin pops and seeds the room with other days and other minutes scratched off, peeled away: time crumbles onto a single mattress at the center, its bedsprings nudging past all the meat and sweat and cotton until their coils can catch the light from the street outside.

Charlie shuts his fist around the amber.  It trembles at his knuckles and pulls away from the bruised black pair at the middle.  Charlie tightens his hand, but it’s gone now, it’s gone -- red splinters over the blue-green vena tunneling down the length of his arm; red splashes onto linoleum cracked and gasping underneath the glass caked with another shade of red, red dried and fermented, what’s scabbed tricked into reflecting the living breathing heap.

And then the light changes.  There is something he wants to say, something he should do.

Somewhere outside, a train rumbles to a stop and snuffs out the light.  For the first time, Charlie walks to the blinds and looks out at the city below.