Saturday, September 08, 2012

Sheepskin Esplanade

Oh Land - Rainbow

      In the kitchen of a two-story olivine stucco on Garden Drive a boy named Uriel sits sobbing with knees pulled to his chin. He rocks back and forth upon marble tiles once described by his mother as Andes Calacuta but to him it just looks like someone spilled chocolate milk and never bothered to clean up the mess. Uriel is five years old, pushing six, and he weeps because the master bedroom on the second floor of this particular stucco on Garden Drive is ablaze with his parents dead inside it. He wails because his brother, Tristan, lies motionless upon the staircase while his aunt, Amelia, rests lifelessly just outside the dining room of this once happy home, each the victim of at least one blast from a Mossberg 590 pump-action shotgun owned by a man whose name no longer exists, for it has been lost within the corpse of a catlike, manlike mascot lying at the base of the stairs. Tristan, a shot to the chest, unexpected; Amelia, one to her left hip, from behind, another, point blank, to her right breast, on the floor, rolled over, unaided by desperate pleas; the Cougar, nothing quite so loud, yet easily twice as sweet.

     Within the stuccoed carcass of this broken home the boy remains, rocking and weeping, living and breathing, watching and waiting; for he is neither deceased nor abandoned, and the one to thank for this rummages through the kitchen in search of an agreeable meal, her disdain for clean eating readily apparent. Clearly, almost sardonically repulsed by the likes of spelt bread, homemade almond milk, roasted summer squash, wheatgrass smoothies, hummus and carrot sticks, citrus celery salad, organic peanut butter oatmeal, and a pizza without cheese the woman settles for a clipped bag of Lay's Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper chips, a jar of pesto, and a 2-liter bottle of Canada Dry. She then joins Uriel upon the floor, sitting cross-legged, naked, and peculiar. That the woman lacks clothing should trouble him, as should the bits of charred flesh clinging to her own skin which, despite its griminess, appears significantly healthier than it did a few minutes ago. That her hair, though dingy, remains intact should elicit curiosity and indeed it does, but for a boy on the verge of six, it is the hair between legs spread which captivates one so effortlessly, and the urge to cry has been supplanted by an urge to know more.

     The scorched woman, both mindful of and amused by the child's fascination, repositions the bag of chips, thus obscuring Uriel's view of her crotch but the accompanying laughter, mildly hyenic, assures him that he has done nothing too wrong. In the punctured heart of this bloody, burning maelstrom Uriel watches intently as the woman blithely dips a pair of fingers, middle and fore, the gooey, bloodstained ones, into the jar, scooping out an oily, almost putrescent glob of crushed basil and nondescript additives. She complements the luscious sludge with a handful of potato chips, only to stuff the stinky, salty mess into her mouth. Chewing profusely, Uriel's charred companion, this angel without a halo, sticks her tongue, mangled contents and all, out at him, much to the boy's momentary, detached delight; for even in the darkest of hours a child can be distracted, and in this moment, an idea springs to mind.

     Uriel leaps to his feet, leaving the woman to chug, chug, chug the ginger ale while her free hand wipes the remnants of the sumptuous, artificially-flavored feast into her sooty, matted locks. By the time half the bottle's contents have been consumed, the boy returns, teary-eyed, dragging a flamboyantly colored Desigual jacket behind him as an offering to his unclad champion. Again she laughs, postulating, though not contemptuously that he can be the kid brother she's already had. Risen, the woman snatches the garment from his outstretched arms and tries it on, noting that it's just a tad big; that she adores the splashes, swirls, and various shades of red and blue which define it; and finally, accompanied by a smirk, that Uriel really ought to see her in the coat after she's taken a shower. He doesn't quite grasp what she means, but neither of them seem to care.

     Sounds, sounds, as they're apt to do, abound: the crackling of encroaching flames; the recurrent whine of smoke detectors; the distant shouts of onlookers; the incoming blare of sirens. It's all so terribly annoying, the woman informs Uriel, and she hasn't the patience for such things let alone an inclination to gratify strays; but in this case, given that she relishes his mother's coat, is willing to make an exception so long as he can brown-bag those emotions of his and keep up or, to be precise, keep quiet. Without giving him the slightest chance to respond one way or the other, the woman tilts, jarringly, toward the patio door; each step taken a disjointed lunge of sorts, and for a second or two Uriel wonders if she'll simply use her body to stab through the glass itself, but she doesn't. She unlocks the door, slides it open, and questions whether he's coming or not. With nary a thought, Uriel chases after his dilapidated savior, eager to make her acquaintance and, somehow, meet with her approval while the woman, in contrast, merely shrugs and steps further into the night.

1 comment:

Juls said...

I agree. Sometimes life is simply like that. Unfair and unexplainable.