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Moses Goodreau and the Matter of the False Idol

Part III: Desperate Men

As Moses paced up and down the street, the events of the past few days unspooled from his unconscious: his peaceful life with Janine, the intriguing phone call which brought him to Chelsea Hopkins and the mysterious actions of her former fiancé Gibson Culver. Moses should have known he couldn’t have trusted a girl as pretty as that, but that had always been his weakness. He recalled his abduction by the enigmatic Brit, who called himself Oliver. If he’d steered clear of Oliver and let the case alone maybe he’d still have his cat, maybe even Janine. But that was neither here nor there. Oliver had given Moses a fair warning that the Hopkins girl hadn’t been on the level and that she was really after this small pagan doohickey, an idol of an ancient god who went by the name of Cai’us. A silly name, Moses thought, a silly name that’d sing to the tune of several million bucks if he could play his cards right. Moses recalled that savory freedom he felt when he’d given Oliver and his goons the slip—a feeling that turned to ash in his mouth as soon as he arrived home to find Janine missing, their cat dead, and a ransom message letting him know exactly what kind of peril Janine faced if he didn’t bring the missing idol to Muhlburnt Park the next day. As the memories dug their sharp little fingers into Moses’ scalp, he wrung his hands till he felt the skin around his knuckles turn raw.

“Jesus Christ…Jesus Fucking Christ!” he shouted to no one in particular. Janine was gone. Taken god knows where and suffering god knows what all over this stupid fucking idol. Moses raged against the brick wall of their building, slamming his fist against it until he couldn’t feel his hands. Moses felt a sickening cocktail of anger, nausea, and confusion welling within, threatening to spill the contents of his stomach upon the street. He clenched his gut and gritted his teeth.

He had to think, he had to figure out something. Anything. He had less than 12 hours to get his hands on something resembling this idol, or he’d have Janine’s blood on his hands, a stain that wouldn’t wash out as easy as the remains of his cat. Moses contemplated calling the cops, but quickly dismissed the idea. He only had a short amount of time and any interference by the police might seal Janine’s fate. Plus, if he could keep everyone involved in this caper out of jail long enough, there might be a payday in it yet. Pacing back and forth in the alley, Moses heard thunder rumble in the distance and felt the first few rain drops of what was sure to be a howling storm.

As the droplets began to steadily patter across his furrowed brow, Moses ground to a halt, his eyes wide with sudden understanding, before driving his palm vigorously against his forehead. How could he have been so stupid? He needed to get to Culver’s office. Moses quickly stepped out into the road and hailed a cab. “1137 Morgnec Rd,” he said. “There’s extra in it if you can get there in less than twenty.” The cab driver looked back at Moses and flashed a toothy, yellowed grin before tearing off into the night, the taillights of the cab leaving bright red tracks of water and light twisting through the city streets.

As he sunk further into the cheap leather backseat of the cab, Moses took out his phone and dialed the number Hopkins had given him at the café. There was no answer, only a standard voicemail message. Nothing that tipped things one way or another as to her true allegiance in the matter. What was the real state of things between her and Culver? And how did she relate to the lanky Brit, Oliver? Was she even aware of him? Something in the way Oliver had spoken made it sound as though he and Hopkins had shared a long and mutual enmity, but then again that could all be an act. Maybe he and Hopkins were in it together, playing as many sides as they could to get their hands on this idol. Moses’ head spun, and he forced himself to focus on the matter at hand; guesswork with this many variables at play could only lead to trouble. Just as he had begun to get his thoughts in order, the taxi came to a skidding halt outside Marcus & Brewster Attorneys at Law, Gibson Culver’s place of employment.

“15 minutes? Huh.” Moses said, checking his watch. He slipped the cabbie an extra twenty, and turned to get a proper look at the building. It was a tall, pale, concrete structure with glass doors and large, iron letters bearing the name. Moses passed on the front door and went around to the side. There was a small alley that ran perpendicular to the building, and Moses noticed an old wrought-iron fire escape snaking its way up the edifice. Ten minutes, and one broken window later Moses found himself inside the offices of Marcus & Brewster Attorneys at Law. After a few minutes of stumbling around in the dark, Moses found his way to a directory, and subsequently Culver’s office.

Even in the near-pitch dark Moses could tell what kind of room he was in. He’d seen dozens of these pre-fab lawyer offices. Dull green carpeting lined with scuff marks, Ikea shelving that bore the weight of a few legal textbooks, and a small faux-mahogany desk. In the corner of the room there was a small safe. Drawing the blinds, Moses switched on the desk lamp. He rifled through the desk drawers, filing cabinet, and shelves, finding only a few documents pertaining to nothing in particular. He took a quick look at the safe, testing a few default combinations to no avail.

Suddenly, He heard a door slam. Moses’ heart rate kicked up a notch. He could hear footsteps padding in the central office outside the door, growing louder and more distinct with each passing micro-second. As quickly as reflex would allow Moses flipped the lamp off and wedged himself behind the door, just as a shadow fell into place outside and the knob began to turn.

He held his breath and waited.

Just as the figure drifted into the room Moses leapt from the shadows, putting as much force into the spring as he could muster. The figure cried out and began to struggle as soon as they hit the floor. He was strong, broad-shouldered and obviously not willing to go down without a fight, but surprise had given Moses the edge he needed and after a few intense moments of exertion and struggling, Moses could feel the fight dissipate from the man beneath him.

“All done?” he asked. There was a moment of silence and deep labored breaths before he heard a strained

“Get off me.”

Moses shifted his weight, taking some of the pressure off the man’s chest but making sure to keep him pinned with his knee.

“I’ll get off when I’m good and ready,” he replied. “First you’re gonna have to satisfy my curiosity about a few things.” The man grunted in what Moses assumed was assent. After a few moments of blind searching, Moses’ hand found the switch to the desk lamp and flipped it on. The man had thick dark hair, clean cut, and wore an expensive blue two-piece. On his left wrist Moses noticed an expensive looking watch. Moses slowly eased up, rising to his feet and positioning himself between his unknown quarry and the door. The man got up and dusted himself off. He looked up at Moses. He had one of those vague handsome faces, the kind you admire in the moment but that soon passes out of recollection into the hazy mist of a partially remembered hunch.

“Now how about I get an introduction?” Moses asked. There was a brief silence. Moses could see the man weighing his options, his eyes darting wildly, as if there were some unexpected way out, a hidden advantage that lurked in some shadowy corner of the office.

“My name is…it’s…” The man slowly spoke, his speech drifting aimlessly as he scanned the room.

“Don’t waste your time,” Moses sharply interrupted. “There’s no way out of here but through me, and I doubt you’ll find much success there.” He was bluffing. The man was definitely more in shape than Moses, and he looked like he’d slept somewhere in the past 24 hours, which certainly gave him a leg up, but he knew who would flee and who would fight and this man was definitely the former.

“My name is Gibson. Gibson Culver. This is my office. Now would you mind telling me what the hell you’re doing? Did the Brit send you? Or Chelsea? You’re not going to find it here, I can promise you that.”

“Awfully quick to jump to conclusions, Mr. Culver,” Moses said.

“Don’t play coy, I’ve been at this long enough to know what’s going on here. Now you’re either with them or in it for yourself, so why don’t we cut the bullshit and get down to what you want,” Culver spat.

“I hoped you’d say that,” Moses struggled to force a grin through tired tissue, finding his face only capable of a weathered grimace. “Now tell me where I can find the idol.” Culver scoffed, a rich throaty cackle that filled the office and made Moses’ hairs bristle.

“What makes you think I’m going to tell you that? You think you’ve got anything more on me than anyone else?” Moses pursed his lips. He glanced at the desk next to him, then back at Culver. In a split second his hand shot out and latched onto the hefty silver paperweight. Culver dodged left and jammed his foot into Moses’ left ankle. Moses bit his lip and fought through the sharp pain that threatened to send him toppling to the floor and retaliated, driving the silver orb with as much force as he could muster into Culver’s temple. Culver staggered back and Moses pressed his advantage, springing forward and grabbing Culver’s lapels with one arm and plowing his fist into Culver’s stomach with the other. Moses landed blow after blow, feeling the muscles in Culver’s stomach collapse under the raining punches like so much snow under a boot. After a moment Moses withdrew, allowing Culver a few free seconds to moan in agony and catch his breath.

“Now I’ve had just about enough of your shit,” Moses growled, punctuating the end of his sentence with a sharp kick to Culver’s heaving sides. “I’ve been on this case for a day. One day. And I’ve been led around on a wild goose chase, abducted, had my cat’s guts repurposed as window dressing and my girlfriend kidnapped, all over a stupid fucking idol. Now you can tell me where it is or I can keep beating it out of you. Your choice.” Moses put his foot down on Culver’s chest, slowly, but with enough pressure to keep the moaning man on the ground.

“Fine…Fine,” Culver spat. “It’s at my house, just leave me alone. This isn’t worth the trouble any-” Moses delivered another swift blow to Culver’s side. Culver screamed.

“Don’t. Lie. To me.” Moses whispered.

“Fuck! Fuck you!” Culver screamed. Moses raised his shoe again. “Jesus! Hold on! I’ll tell you everything I know!” Culver waved his arms desperately.

“I know you will.” Moses said as he drove his heel into Culver’s side. He felt the ribs crack beneath his shoe. Culver screamed, a long howling guttural scream that seemed to rise up out of the depths of a vast pit and strangled Moses’ senses with its sharp grotesquery. Moses snarled and delved into the recesses of his memory, pulling rage like taffy to the forefront of his mind, picturing Janine. He imagined her torture at the hands of an unknown assailant, the violations she was suffering, the toll it would take on her. All over this statuette. He let the thoughts pool at the base of his skull and then funneled them with all his might into his elbow, which he brought crashing down on Culver’s ribs.

There was a moment of silence and for a split second Moses wondered if he’d actually connected. Then Culver broke into tears. Long desperate sobs of pain intermingled with mewling pleading for relief. Moses pitied him. He pointed at the safe, bent over, and whispered into Culver’s ear.

“The combination.”

Culver moaned “2-5-6-8.”

“Thank you,” Marcus said, moving over to the safe and spinning the dial lazily. “2-5-6-8,” he mouthed. The safe swung open. Moses retrieved a small black duffel bag, unzipped it and scowled. The bag contained a few photos, some documents, and a thick manuscript, apparently of considerable age. Moses threw the documents on the floor. “What is this?”

“It’s…It’s everything I-” Culver paused to cough up blood “It’s everything I have on the idol…take it. It’s yours.”

“What do you mean? That’s all you have? That’s it? Where’s the idol?”

“You think if I actually had it I’d be here?” Culver spat through thick mouthfuls of dark blood. Moses stared, gape-mouthed. His rage was ebbing and utter exhaustion and vexation slowly crept up the back of his spine, weighting his limbs like buckets of water. His head bowed. Culver got up onto his knees, stared into Moses’ face and laughed. It was a weak, desperate chuckle that burbled through the gushing torrent of blood. He grasped his sides in agony and fell backwards, chuckling and choking.

Moses had had enough. Culver wouldn’t give him anymore tonight. He collected the papers into the dufflebag and was about to leave when Culver stretched a hand up.

“Please,” he begged. “Call an ambulance. Please.” Moses looked at him, this pathetic lump of sagging meat, cracked and broken, leaking vital fluid across the floor. He grabbed the desk phone and chucked it to the floor.

“Call yourself,” he said. And left the building.

————–

Moses walked to a nearby diner, ordered a plate of waffles and a beer and began to delve into Culver’s papers. Most were nonsense. Shipping receipts, names scribbled on pieces of paper, symbols that Moses couldn’t make heads nor tails of. He quickly tossed them aside and began to examine the photographs. A few were of buildings, colossal ancient structures, houses. Some were of people, most he didn’t recognize. Then he found one of the Hopkins woman. She was dazzlingly beautiful.

Intoxicating, wearing a long formal gown and glancing over her shoulder to the photographer with a gaze that filled Moses with the filthiest of thoughts. He shook his head and covered his eyes, shamefully moving on to the next photo.

And suddenly there it was. Or at least what Moses assumed it to be. The idol of Cai’us. It was larger than he thought, about the size of a small child. It was brown and dull, looking more like it was made out of brittle clay than wood. The figure was that of a muscled man with a monstrous serpent-like head that twisted, forming a ring around the figure’s torso.

A sharp uneasiness flashed in and out of Moses’ consciousness as he turned his attention to the manuscript. It was heavy and contained a detailed history of the idol. Moses idly flipped through the pages, searching for some explanation of the idol’s mysterious allure. It had been crafted somewhere in Africa, an unfathomably ancient artifact of an equally inscrutable god. Cai’us’ cosmological function was unknown. Doubtlessly the final remaining piece of a pantheon long since vanished from knowledge, the idol was one of two known representations of the deity; the other, a carving of similar design, had been seized by the Nazis from a small French museum and had been destroyed. The one Moses was looking at had somehow escaped the same fate and dropped out of history.

The faded photograph showed it being clutched firmly in someone’s hands. Who the hands belonged to was anyone’s guess. Moses flipped it over and found, scrawled in pen, “Grenada, 1993. Dr. Sandoval.” Moses got the feeling that the game he had stumbled into had a lot more players in it than just the three he’d already met. There was, of course, whoever had Janine. He recalled that vague voice, reaching into Moses’ life and rendering it asunder with such a small gesture, tearing the tenuous peace he’d constructed for himself to shreds, undoing a lifetime of therapy. Moses thought about Culver, lying on the floor, a heap of trembling flesh and bone, and Moses knew that there was no coming back from this. A man can build a peace for himself, can lift himself out of the cesspool of violence and suspicion, of raw animal tearing and gnashing for survival once. But twice?
Moses knew this street only ran one way. He pitied everyone for what he knew would be done before the week was through. He pitied Janine for trying to let him in, he pitied Culver for all his broken bones and loneliness, and he pitied himself most, because what else can a man do when his reflection stares back at him with empty eyes?

Moses ate his waffles and sipped his beer. Before he went any further he was going to need a gun. And he knew just where to find one.

End of Part 3

Nyathia Pa

A poem beginning with a quote made popular by Madiba

Our deepest fear
is that we are powerful
beyond measure,
that we burn bright like the sun,
or that we’re weighted
in our history, rooted in
and built upon our name,
and fear what to do
when the bottom falls out.

Let me mourn with you.
Speak to me in your love,
in your hieroglyphics,
like I am the Papyrus plant.
Then lay me soft
and let me bundle in the warmth
of the language you left us –
in your tongue –
in your blood – my blood.

Let me smell the spicy scent
upon landing in Entebbe
to reach you before we say
“Goodbye.”
There is a misconception
in this phrase;
it is succinct, narrow, intense,
like you.

So carry me deep like Victoria.
Deep like your love.
Wakathi: We go
to walk the sunken soils
of the butterfly garden you once
called home, but you are called home now
and I just want to be part
of your passing memory.

Did you know: Goodbye
comes from God be with you,
and you, (being a god-fearing man)
deserve to walk with him
side by side as he escorts you to Mama.
Together like it was intended.

And we need to believe that’s true;
from there we will find comfort,
from there we’ll bake in memory
of your resplendent smile.
Reminded of how to thrive.
Reminded of how to rise from the fire.

For Martin Obbo (Grand Pa, Kwara, Baba) Rest in Peace

Anti-Legend

One day, the world
will be full of cold, stale graves,
endless names lining
the long rocky walkway
of an immense cemetery,
each of us waiting from first breath
to add our bodies to the ground.
And what happens then?
All is barren,
and the fading moss-covered stones
cannot speak.

I Imagine There is a Fairy in the Woods

Forest damp,
shaded by the
darkening of day.
Daylight,
an emptying hourglass,
as dusk glides
over the cool green land.

A fairy rests nearby,
her luster of dark gold hair
and metallic eyes
capturing the last light
in open pasture where a horse
breaks through crunchy leaves
to wrap his pink lips around
long wet grass.

She wanders through woods
as the last sands sift
through a glass flask,
day playing its end.
A small bird calls,
rustling in the thicket,
and the fairy disappears in flight.

The Birth of a Storyteller

A black figure slowly pushed its way into the light; its shapelessness appeared menacing. The shadow began to morph, taking on distinguishable features. An eye, blank and bright, formed above an elongated snout and a single fang descended from the creature’s maw. With a roar, the monster pounced through the light, seemingly intent on finding and devouring its prey.

From the left a smaller figure popped up, a simple circular shape with two small protrusions poking out of the top. The monster was startled by its appearance but quickly recovered. With blind hunger, the creature surged forward, mouth open, ready to snap. The smaller form, undeterred by the monster’s ferocity, hopped its way over to the beast and bopped the monster on the head. With a cry, the monster wiggled its way down and out of the light, leaving its opponent to sway with victory.

“The end!”

“Wait, I’m pretty sure that’s not how the story is supposed to end.”

“My bunny beat the alligator and now we get to eat at Grandma’s House.”

“It’s a wolf, don’t you see. It’s got a fang and everything.” Patrick fumbled with the flashlight as he tried to prove to his daughter that his shadow puppet was most certainly a wolf. Upon closer inspection of the form, Patrick thought it could use an ear, but the man only had so many fingers, and his daughter, it seemed, only had so much patience.

“I want another!” she exclaimed, already squirming on the floor. Patrick looked around at the books sprawled around his daughter’s bedroom.

“Well, we could try Little Red Riding Hood again, perhaps with less creative liberties? Or how about…” Patrick struggled to think of another animal he could coax his hand into butchering.

“I want a story about a unicorn and a princess with a sword and the sword makes cookies and then there’s a power ranger,” the little girl continued to prattle on. Her arms moved emphatically as her mouth struggled to keep up with her mind. Patrick stood, shaking his head as he moved to turn on the light. To be that young again, and to have that imagination!

“How about instead of shadow puppets we draw this story out? I want to see what this princess looks like.” He picked up a tub of broken and worn crayons and a stack of paper before once again sitting on the floor with his daughter. Eyes bright, the girl reached for the spoils, eager to put crayon to cardstock. As she began her masterpiece, making sure to keep up a running dialogue of her heroine’s adventures, Patrick began to clean up the room. All of these books, these classics, and nothing could hold a candle to his daughter’s thoughts.

Books put away, flashlight stored, and pillows rearranged, Patrick sat back down next to his little girl. Already on her third page, she paid no mind as her father sorted through the papers, attempting to place one scene behind the other. The bright colors and constant chatter had Patrick smiling; even if the tale made little sense one thing was certain, his daughter was one hell of a story-teller.

“Now tell me, what kind of cookies does this sword make?”

Images in Song

I like American music, the sound
of cocaine-fueled ecstasy and
regurgitated beer hitting the pavement.
I like the sea-salt smell of the west coast,

the sweaty backs of the east. And
lying on the hood of my car I listen
to the waves of the shore, pretending I
smell like teen spirit, I taste like Pepsi

cola. In Bel Air once, I danced in a burning
ring of fire, knowing that if god didn’t
have my back, the Duke would. And so
I twisted my body, electric in the day

and plasma in the night, the sound of engines
and pounding feet drowning my senses.

Baby Bird

I’m trying to fall asleep but the damn bird keeps chirping.

My father came down for a visit the other day. He and my brother met me by the theatre and we had dinner on the terrace. My father told us that he loved us all very much. When he was done, he put his plate on top of my brother’s.

My mother came down for a visit on the other other day. We sat on the lawn and talked about the play I had been in. There was a tree in bloom beside us and it was snowing petals. When she was done, she placed her hand on top of mine.

I’m trying to fall asleep but that damn bird keeps chirping.

When I think of my sister, I think of brown eyes and colors. I think of her laughing and of the time she couldn’t stop screaming. When I last saw her, she made me breakfast. She stuffed the batter with cheddar and apples and I talked with the quiet boy who loved her. It was the first time I had been home in a long time and I was leaving the next morning. There was sunlight on the dining room table and colored cloth everywhere. When we were young, we painted the walls with vines and flowers. We spent the ensuing years making paintings to cover them up. She always loved birds.

When I think of my brother, I think of quiet conversations. I think of his flexing and of the time he somehow cried. When I last saw him, we sat in silence around a table on the terrace. It was the first time in a long time I had seen him since I had moved. When we were young, we figured we would live together. We spent the ensuing years realizing that we would not. He was always the good brother.

I’m trying to fall asleep but that damn bird keeps chirping.

My father married [nameless], my mother, [unmentioned], [no one else]. Somewhere in the mixture, he started smoking and said it was that they had gone crazy and he didn’t know what to do. When we were young, we wouldn’t talk about my mother around him.

My mother loved [nameless], my father, [unmentioned], [no one else]. Somewhere in the mixture, she became a mother and said that it was all she ever wanted to be. When we were young, we wouldn’t talk about our father around her.

I’m trying, trying, trying to fall asleep but that damn bird keeps chirping.

I walked down the street with empty bottles of milk and something moved on the ground beside me. I looked down and saw flesh and feathers and expectant eyes looking up at me and heard chirping come up from it. It hopped along the brick and seemed to move to me and stop. I looked up at the hot sun and continued along.

(i love you)

My father came down for a visit the other day. My brother and I sat in silence as he talked to us on the terrace. My father told us that he loved us all very much. When he was done, we wished him a happy Father’s Day.

My mother came down for a visit on the other other day. We sat on the sidewalk and laughed that we were a family of itwasagoodgigwhileitlasted. There was a house for sale beside us and we looked inside the windows. When she was done, I laughed and cursed.

I want to fall asleep but that damn bird won’t let me.

When I think of my sister, I think of brown eyes and colors. I think of when she would watch over me and my brother and try to find scraps of food for us to eat. When I last was home, I did not sleep and instead stayed up with a yet stranger. It was the first time I had been home in a long time and I was leaving the next morning. I hid smiling in the bathroom and looked at the moonlight and saw a strange man smoking in the dark. When we were young, the man didn’t smoke and we called him by a name. We spent the ensuing year forgetting it. She always offered it to him.

When I think of my brother, I think of strained strengthenings. I think of his drawing and of every time we laughed at how much stronger he is than I. When I last saw him, we gave each other worried looks and tried not speaking. It was the first time in a long time I had seen him since things had moved. When we were young, we figured we knew how things would stay together. We spent the ensuing years realizing that they would not. He was always the good brother.

I want to fall asleep but that damn bird won’t let me.

My father married hopeful, loving, trying, no more. Somewhere in the mixture, he started crying and said it was that they had gone crazy and he didn’t know what to do. When we were young, we wouldn’t talk around him and he thought it was because of him.

My mother loved freely, truly, unknowingly, no more. Somewhere in the mixture, she became a mother and said that it was all she ever wanted to be. When we were young, we would cry and she thought it was because of her.

I want to fall asleep but that damn bird won’t let me.

My father came down for a visit the other day. My brother and I sat in restrained silence and tried to respond. My father told us that he loved us all very much. When he was done, he asked that nothing would change. We wished him happy Father’s Day.

My mother came down for a visit on the other other day. We sat in a restaurant and talked about restaurants where we used to go. There was ice in the bottom of the cup and I kept chewing on it. When I was done, my teeth hurt.

I want to fall asleep but I keep talking to that damn bird.

I walked down the street with a full pack on my back and something moved on the ground beside me. I looked down and saw flesh and flowers and expectant eyes looking up at me and heard chirping come up from it. It hopped towards the road and seemed to move to me and stop. I set a parcel of water beside it and continued along.

(i love you i’m sorry)

When I think of my sister, I think of brown eyes and how she always laughed about being the only one in the family with them. I think how she would insist on bringing us to our grandfather’s house and how much he would tease her. I think of how she is the only one of the children to remember our grandmother. When I last was home, I did not sleep and instead stayed up on the roof. It was the first time I had been home in a long time and I was leaving the next morning. I sat on the beam and she called up and asked that I not fall. When I was young, we would climb trees. She always managed to tumble safely when she fell.

When I think of my brother, I think of improvements. I think of how well he worked at liking who he was and how poorly I did. When I last saw him, we picked at our plates as our father cried and loved. It was the first time in a long time he had seen things move. When we were young, we would grow quiet together when things got bad. We spent the ensuing years gaining voices. He was always the good brother.

I want to fall asleep but that damn bird won’t let me.

My father came down for a visit the other day. My brother and I sat in our chairs and wondered about our sister. My father told us that he loved us all the same and always had. When he was done, he asked that nothing would change. We told him we know he had tried and that we loved him equally as well.

My mother came down for a visit on the other other day. We sat in my old car and talked about people we used to visit. There was a bitterness in the air and I rolled down the windows to let it out. When I was done, my head hurt.

I walked down the street with clothes that didn’t fit me and something moved on the ground beside me. I looked down and saw flesh and flowers and expectant eyes looking around for me and heard chirping come up from it. It hopped towards the road and seemed to grow tired and stop. I set it in a box and asked the world what to do.

(i love you i’m sorry i tried)

When I think of my sister, I think of brown eyes, how she made an odd and wonderful Irish girl. I think how she would always set our grandparents off and how she loved them all the same. I wonder what my grandmother thought of the only grandchild she knew. When I last was home, I did not see her nearly as much as I would have liked and instead saw her leaving through the door. It was the first time I had been home in a long time and she was getting a lot out of life. I sat in the living room and called to her that I loved her. When we were young, we were hell to the other. The hell lessened with each house we left.

When I think of my brother, I think of the people I wish could meet him. I think of how lazily he dresses and how dedicated he is to being well. When I last saw him, we agreed. It was the first time in a long time he had seen things move. When we were young, we would grow quiet together when things got bad. We spent the ensuing years gaining voices. He was always the good brother.

I want to fall asleep but the bird won’t let me, no.

My father married one ring, two rings, three rings, no rings. Somewhere in the mixture, he started losing rings, said it was that they had gone crazy and he didn’t know what to do. When we were young, we figured he had thrown them away and didn’t think any better.

My mother loved a promised ring, a given ring, a substituted ring, no rings. Somewhere in the mixture, she became a mother and said that didn’t need a ring. When she was young, she would cry and think it was because of her.

I want to fall asleep but the bird won’t let me, no, no, no, no

I walked down the street in clothes that were soaking wet and something moved in the clouds above me. I looked up and saw black and blowing and heard rumbling coming from far away. It blew towards me and seemed to grow angry and run. I ran for my room and asked the world what it was doing.

(i love you i’m sorry i tried i tried i)

My father came down for a visit the other day. My mother came down for a visit the other other day. I think of my brother. I think of my sister. My father married. My mother loved. I walked down the same street a dozen times getting somewhere. My sister always loved birds. My brother was always the good brother. We climbed trees when we were young and she could always tumble safely when she fell. She could always tumble safely when she fell. She could always tumble safely when she fell. She could always tumble safely

and i’m trying to fall asleep but it is looking up at me and it is chirping like it’s asking for something, asking for food, asking for water, but it wouldn’t take my water, it wanted its mom, it wanted God, and God is anything that can give life and i am no god, i’m no mother, it wanted me to be anything and it wanted to live, wanting the only thing it understood because what creature understands dying, and if it chirped loud enough then mother would come, but mother never came, it was just there on the other side of the fence in a pile of leaves with a broken wing and i put it there and the ants would have been crawling all over it and the rain would have started and washed the ants away and it would have been nice but the rain would have gotten heavier and the sky’s not right and is mother and home getting washed away and that sound, why’s that sound, and if god chirps then he chirps like the devil and the alley is filling up and the leaves and water are washing down to the fence, the gate, and if the gate was open then maybe all could leave, and find a tree, and mother would be there, but there are whole rivers rushing down, and i just want my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers, and i’m sorry that i fell and i didn’t mean to and i won’t do it again but i just want my mother and the water’s rushing up and i’m cold and where did all my air go?

How My Stories Start

Usually, but don’t quote me,
“One time when I was drunk”
but never high. I soak myself

in the purity of depressants,
submerge myself in baths of

black jager, purple Jesus. I
remember snippets of each
“last night” where phantom

conversations slosh in my head;
mixed drinks for mixed

emotions. Now I’m playing
reruns of episodes
I’ve never seen before.