(Note: this piece was inspired by a quote from an author I admire very much, Richard Kadrey.  Go read him – he does better antiheroes and creative invective and sanity-from-the-back-of-the-mirror than anyone else I’ve read in quite some time.)

 

“What are little boys made of?  Meat and tears and bones and fear, that’s what little boys are made of!” – Richard Kadrey, Butcher Bird

 

MEAT.

“Just what are you made of, son?  Maybe it’s time you found out.”  The coach’s voice is dry, nasal, cutting across the chatter of the other guys.  I can’t decide whether to be angry or ashamed, and end up being both.  He looks me up and down, like I was a steak he thought he could get a discount on.  Fuck him.

We lined up again, all in our lanes.  I’m on fire now, one big lump of resentment.  I work, I do, I’m just not as fast as everybody else.  He doesn’t like me, wants to cut me, because he thinks I’m slacking.  Just because I’m tall doesn’t mean I’m fast.  I mean, c’mon.

He blows his whistle, and we’re off, beating another rut into the dirt.  Gives whole new meaning to leaving somebody in your dust.  I’m eating dust again, as always, losing again, about to hear about it again.  And it occurs to me, in that space between pounding feet, that if I could just make my legs work better, I wouldn’t have to hear shit every single time I come out here.  I mean, they’re just meat, after all.  Meat stretches.

So I stretch them, really make it hurt, and it’s crazy.  First time I’ve ever breathed clean air in this shithole.  It feels good, winning.  Never done that before.  What’s a little pain, compared to not having to hear somebody ragging me all the time?

Well, I found that out, but not till the next day.  By then I couldn’t do a damn thing about it, either.  Just grit my teeth and feel what I’d done to myself, hope nobody else noticed.

 

TEARS.

I’m in the shower again.  It feels like I spend half my life in this little two by two pouring wet night.  Maybe I do.  Don’t know.  Don’t know if I care.

It doesn’t matter how long I stay in here.  I know that.  Just can’t seem to face it.  No matter when I turn it off, how wrinkled I am, the house is still going to be dark.  There’s not going to be any noise I don’t make, no lights I don’t turn on.

I used to say I was just a solitary kind of guy – enjoyed my own company more than other people.  You know that feeling you get, when you think about the shit you’ve said, and realize that you couldn’t have been more wrong if you’d bought a ticket on the wrong train in the wrong town to the wrong goddam continent?  Yeah.  Like that.

Turns out that I only enjoy my own company until I don’t have any other option.  At this point, hell is not other people.

 

BONES.

There’s a real fucked up kind of closeness in feelin somebody else’s bone break.  It’s like, that’s something nobody should ever feel happen, and you’re feelin it with them.  But, if you’re feelin their bone break, you sure as hell don’t want to be havin fuckin quality time with em while it’s goin on.  It puts your head in the wrong place en-fuckin-tirely.

It’s this wet kind of crunch, most of the time.  Like if you’ve ever pulled the leg off a roast chicken, but bigger and sharper.  Gross fuckin noise.  Pay too much attention to it, you won’t ever eat fuckin frosted flakes again, I tell you.

But it’s the closeness that gets me.  Why does doin somethin that shouldn’t feel natural feel closer than fuckin?  Literally and otherwise, I mean.  I don’t know if it’s everybody, or just me.  Maybe there’s just a wire loose in my head.  Probly it’s just me, droppin screws out of my brain left and right.  Cause who the hell would be thinkin about this in the middle of doin it?

 

FEAR.

It’s indigestion.  It’s acid reflux.  It’s that gastro-intestinal thing, where you shouldn’t take too many antacids in case that’s it.  It’s psychosomatic.

It’s on the left side.

Oh god.

Can’t breathe, and it’s shooting, just like they say it does.  So sharp.  I’m too young for this.  I can’t be having this now.  Not now.  So much left to do.

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