New Story: Chapter 1

 

There wasn’t any time for a second bite. A plume of black clouds grew restless in the western sky. Max threw took one final chunk out of his apple and tossed the remnants into some shrubs lining the highway. It was the last bit of food we had between us. Through the film of perspiration covering my face I sensed the damning sensation of a raindrop obliterating itself atop my nose. The sun receded further behind the darkness.

“C’mon, only thirteen miles left,” I said.

“On it.”

 

I let Max take the lead since I had ridden in front the previous twenty miles. He’s smaller than me, and hasn’t been riding as long, but his endurance is that of a pro.

 

It wasn’t long after taking off that we switched from the shoulder lane to the main highway. We weren’t about to set any world records, but we’d been riding at a respectable rate for over ten minutes without seeing a single car drive past us. And besides, the road between the white lines didn’t have any potholes.

 

About a half hour after our stopping for food, I noticed that our cadence had slowed noticeably. The tendons in my knee were popping and cracking with every passing rotation, and my wrists and fingers were all but numb. Even Max, the self-proclaimed “greatest athlete on Regal Street”, was starting to show signs of fatigue. Lifting my head up slightly, I could see the ripples of muscle in Max’s calf quivering under the strain of yet another “hill”, which were really dwarf-size mountains.

 

About two more miles into the ride I heard what I thought was the crackling sound of falling timber. Only, to my chagrin, it was instead a spate of lightening stalking us, making sure we wouldn’t miss our deadline.

 

“Philadelphia   70 miles”, the sign said.

 

Sure enough, Central Pennsylvania’s lowly mountains gradually gave way to checkered farmlands dotted by dilapidated barns. By and by we started seeing construction sites where future overpriced private housing development were to be erected. It would be great, I thought, to grow up in a neighborhood where you could tip cows one second and then retreat back to your room to post your accomplishments online through the latest Apple rip-off.

 

Be that as it may, as the distance between residences dwindled, Max and I grew further and further apart. The sun had traversed more than half the sky since our last break, and my lower back was beginning to numb, too.

 

I mean, though, I understood why he was in such a hurry. It was our last delivery. Ever. And what’s more, the recipient promised us a considerable bonus if we could get his package to him before midnight, today.

“Max, slow down!” I yelled.

But, of course, that only slowed my momentum even more. I was trying my best to keep up, but these legs can only spin so fast.

 

Max rarely looked back while he was in the lead. Whether it was checking to see if I was drafting right or checking for traffic, nothing was more important to him than the world in front of him, a world that always seemed to have eluded him.

 

 

But, of course, as soon as I start thinking that Max looked back and he yelled, “Hey, do you want to stop soon?”

 

“Sure! I think there’s a rest stop in about three miles.”

 

“Sounds good.”

 

And off he went. Whatever strain or fatigue his body had endured for the previous ten miles had evaporated into the dank, thick air around us. My acceleration, on the other hand, was hampered by my now throbbing back. Each revolution sent a thrash of pain from my hamstring up through my lumbar. I thought, where the hell does this guy keep all of that extra energy? He couldn’t even eat a fucking apple last time.

 

45 miles to Philadelphia.

 

On balance, Max and I were a good five seconds apart. Within that time, I heard two lightening strikes. The second one shook the ground, and I nearly fell off my bike.

 

By the time we reached the Bowmansville service plaza, a furious torrent had already begun its assault on the sleepy suburbs just outside of Reading. Our jerseys drenched and practically glued to our skin, Max and I locked our bikes in the rack next to the gas station air pump and made our way inside.

 

“Feeling like I could do a couple cheeseburgers, how ‘bout you?” Max asked as we stood, shivering, just inside the front automatic doors, looking for just the right place to spend our last few dollars.

 

“Maybe. The calories are good but I need some protein. Gotta finish out this last leg on a strong note. Didn’t come all this way just to not the money.”

 

“Yea, that makes sense, I guess. Tell you what, take this ten and go get us both something to eat. I’ll go get us some seats.”

Longing

Last night you asked me to stop.

 

However, I’m afraid that we live to die. From nothing we enter, a few moments we last, and then we retreat into the darkness. If that’s the case, then maybe we are the aberration; perhaps we are nothingness to worlds beyond our perception. Perhaps I am nothing at all. Perhaps you, too, are nothing. But then what does that make us? What’s to make of this union of massless affection?

 

I’ll tell you. It makes a hoary creature crave a youth’s quixotic delusions. It makes a jaded dreamer lustful for bodies not yet marred by enlightenment. .

 

Left to the adjudication of the universe, you are truly worthless.  But here, in my arms, you shall be God unto me, unto us. Breathe life into me. Will me to be your seven days, your perfected madness. I’ll hold my Lord within my arms, since he is God of nothing at all.

 

But still, against my will we now must part. The last traces of night have receded from the eastern sky. You must remain silent. The road home is treacherous, and school is about to start. 

Je suis au bord de ta fenetre

I remember the second Monday of April. I woke up around 8, which was pretty early, considering school started at 7:30. I remember the nauseating smell of freshly cut grass permeating the entire room. Which was weird, because I could have sworn I closed my window the previous night. Must have been Delany. She knew I was allergic to pollen, but decided to fuck with me anyway because, well, that’s what siblings do. We used to torture each other back then. Not literally, of course, but we came pretty close. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it had been her. A few weeks prior I had dropped a booger in her chocolate milk. I told her it was a tainted raisin. She ate it, I guess, to prove how tough she was. I think she knew I didn’t have a penchant for lying. I don’t know, she could be pretty disgusting back then. After she ate the booger her thin, dark lips stretched into this fiendish smirk, and then she started chuckling in a way that made her thick eyebrows oscillate like a caterpillar having a seizure. Well, that definitely wasn’t a raisin, she said. I returned her stare with limitless perplexity.  She had a propensity for getting beneath my skin, for taking the little victories out of small but momentous moments. It almost made fucking (with) her less than worthwhile.

 

I mean, if it wasn’t her, I don’t know who else it could have been. Dad was in Boston for one of his fraternity reunions. Mom was dead. I wasn’t sure, and still am not till this day. What I am sure of, though, is that my social life nearly died on that day, because hell hath no fury like pollen allergy mucus.

 

When I didn’t get any takers to prom that day, I honestly thought it was because I was an asshole. But then I thought, it’s high school, what guy isn’t? Plus, I was pretty tall my age, six feet four, and I already had a car. It wasn’t like I was asking a girl to marry me; I was just asking to them to not make me lonely for a night. If I wanted a girlfriend I might have bothered to apply deodorant everyday, or to wear clothes that had been washed within the past month. But really, in high school who’s really thinking about that kind of stuff?

 

Later in the day my good friend Julian told me that a lot of girls spurned me because of the greenish-yellow glob of mucus dangling from under my nose.

 

“They said when you tried to snort it up it looked like piece of dirty film stretched out over the mouth of a black hole,” he said.

 

“Well why didn’t they motion for me to clean it out?”

 

“Most of them said they didn’t’ bother because they would have said no, anyway. They just thought it was funny, and wanted to get as clear an image as possible so they can tell their friends.”

 

“Even Chartreuse?”

 

“Uh, I guess you could call it chartreuse. I don’t know how that will make you feel better, though.”

 

“Dickhead. I mean what did Chartreuse say?”

 

“Which one was she, again?”

 

[Palm slaps forehead] “She’s the one with the truncated, cinnamon hair, and mossy, cat-like eyes. Her lips are plump cherries atop a mountain of vanilla flavored cheeks,” I grunted.

 

 

Julian was short, Hispanic, and painted in the poststructuralist style. He doesn’t know rejection.

 

“Oh, yea. Nah she pretty much said the same thing. You should probably look in the mirror before you ask girls out, you know.”

 

 

Our house didn’t have any mirrors. We had kind of a violent childhood, and mirrors were just another source of glass to break or cut someone with.

 

Like Minds

Genesis: 

Look at your palms, they feel like cotton in my hands. Your cheeks are smeared brown with rust. Stay, and rest a little longer, while I go search for some timber to start a fire. I’ll be back by moonrise. You’ll still be waiting for me, here, I’m sure. Don’t move. Don’t move on.

 

I’m leaving now—did you hear me? I’m heading east, right up this hill. You mustn’t move. You’re still in my sights, you know? I see you sprawled out across the barren bottom of the hoary oak. I see the lime white bone extending from your upper thigh. If that thigh is heaven that bone is god’s lightning. But where does it strike? You cannot move.

 

Look, I’ve trapped a rabbit: brown, robust, and full of life. I’ll slice open her stomach and remove that life, and place on the fire I’ve yet to build. We’ll feast on her life. We’ll feast on the lives we took for our own. I’ll light a fire that devours life. Here, the timber. I’ve found them. Let’s set it afire, and dine.

 

You’re cold, like me. The rain has dampened all hopes of flame. Your eyes are low, as they were before. Let me help you. Take my hand in yours. Take her head in yours. Can you tell the difference? I know I cannot. I cannot see. I cannot feel. Nothing moves me. Nothing moves you, because you are still. Or are you still because nothing moves you to move?

 

Come, the moon is high. The hours are low, but rising.