by Chris Duncan
([email]cduncan204 [at] aol [dot] com[/email])

Skinny Steven Hilton stares at his bucktoothed continence in the mirror of a Shoney’s restroom. He absorbs critically his floppy ears, his close-set eyes, his one eyebrow, his oddly feminine lips, full and red, chapped, flaking, better looking from afar. He bites a piece of loose skin from his bottom lip and swallows it. He tilts his head toward the ceiling and stares as best he can into his formidably sized nostrils into which he rams thumbs and index fingers and grabs as many nose hairs as he can. He yanks. He yanks. His eyes fill with tears. Fuck’at shit hurts, he thinks, smiling dumbly to himself. He again stares at his buckteeth, stained brown from dipping over three thousand cans of long-cut wintergreen Skoal. He ruefully hears his dead daddy commenting: “You could eat corn on the cob through a wire fence with those teeth, boy!” Steven grimaces away the thought and pats down a cowlick. Steven is trying to be happy. No, he is happy. He is! He’s just graduated from Alliance Truck Driving Academy of Bristol, Virginia, and he and his girlfriend and his mom are celebrating. The girls are eating their salads. Steven has just drained what he calls his anaconda and flushed his venom down the dirty urinal. Steven is thirty. Steven is going places. Stephen imagines himself adopting a monkey, a capuchin perhaps; his monkey will wear a baseball cap, and they’ll be like BJ and the Bear, solving mysteries, stopping crime, and hanging out with hot girls in Jacuzzis.

“Oh, God,” says a meek voice echoing from behind the far stall door. “Is anybody out there?”

Steven freezes. Social mores have just had a car wreck. People aren’t supposed to talk from behind the stall doors. Steven’s heart is pounding like a scared bird’s, only half shot, broken winged.

“I can’t believe this. Oh, Jesus Christ!” continues the voice. “Somebody? Um, I need a little assistance.”

Steven doesn’t know what to do. He’ll get his Mom.

Steven exhales and starts tiptoeing toward the door.

“Hey, you,” says the voice. “Listen, aw, Jesus…um, hey, I need some assistance. Are you there? Huh? I know you’re there-or here, rather. I heard you-hear you. Don’t go. Jesus Christ, man, I need some help in a bad kind of way.”

Stephen primps nervously his moustache, which he has just recently waxed into an ostensibly sexy handlebar, a la Rolly Fingers. He stares at his fingers, dry and cracked, rough, cut up, calloused, trimmed short save for the right thumb on his right hand. He forgot to cut that one. He had been sitting on the toilet trimming his nails last night when Missy waltzed into the john, oblivious to the stench, saying, “Honey bunny? Baby? Mommy wants some dick.”

Missy had gotten her hair frosted earlier at PJ’s Scissor Trix and felt sexy. Both sides of her neck shone brightly with a redneck microcosmic aurora borealis of hickeys: bluish green, yellow, so blatant and ignorant, sometimes shimmering with stupidity instead of brilliance. In one of the hickeys on the left side of her neck, inside an amalgam of muted yellow and washed out blue is a penis shape, or maybe a Pepsi bottle, depending upon the angle the hickey is seen, or how one squints one’s eyes.

“What?” Stephen asks. “Huh?”

“Come here. Please. I-I-something is wrong,” says the voice. “Your discretion would be appreciated.”

“My what?” says Stephen. “Huh?”

“First of all-please, please, please, lock the door. Do it right now. Please! Just lock it. We can’t have a lot of people parading in and out of here. Not now. Gene will be wondering where I am. Christ, how fucking ridiculous this whole thing-well, never mind that-just, please, lock the door. I need your help with this. You’ll be rewarded-financially, you understand; I can assure you of that. Now, now, please: just do it. Lock the door,” says the voice, thin and squeaky, mousy, fragile, and tiny. Stephen mulls, That feller sounds like he might be a kware.

Stephen clears his throat and dead bolts the door. “Alright, buddy. I’ve locked the door. Everything’s gone be OK. You got diarrhea? It’s going around. Missy shit her brains out a couple of nights ago. Missy’s my girlfriend. Talk about the stock in Lysol going up, whew-”

“Not to cut you off-I so appreciate your help-but, um, just to be sure. The door is locked, correct? Gene’s out there, you see. Gene’s my boss-the owner of the circus.”

Stephen tugs on the door, testing it. “Yeah. It’s locked. Look, I think I’ve got some Imodium tablets out in the tru-”

“I’m not sick. I don’t have diarrhea. It’s not that. The door is locked, right?”

Stephen sighs, looks at his watch, and shakes his head. “I don’t mean to be rude but the girls are about finished with their salads, and I ordered catfish-”

“Dear God, man, please don’t leave me-not like this. You there?”

“I’m here, feller. I’m here. And before you ask, the goddamn door is locked. You need some underwear or something? Cause I gotta go. I don’t mind helping a man out but-”

“Come here.”


“To the outside of the stall. Please.”

Steven bends down low to the floor, looking for shoes. He sees none.

“Where’s your feet, feller. I don’t see your feet. What are you, a midget or something?”

“Well, I prefer little person but euphemisms aside, yes, I’m a midget. I’m in the far stall, the one next to the wall. Come here.”

Stephen smiles and twists the right side of his sexy mustache. “Hey, wait a minute. You’re with the circus! You’re one of them little fellers with the circus. I saw y’all in Saltville last night. I’ll bet you were one of them little fellers that kept coming out of that pink Volkswagen. That was funnier than hell. Y’all just kept coming, one after the other. I said, ‘Missy, look at all them little midgets coming out of that car.’ Man, that was a hoot, brother. Missy laughed and laughed. I think she peed on herself when one of y’all midgets started juggling knives or whatever the hell they was. I don’t know why, but Missy thought that was funnier than shit.”

“I’m sure Missy’s sense of humor is simply bubbling over with a wit that would put Oscar Wild to shame,” says the voice.

“Huh?” answers Stephen, now standing in front of the midget’s stall door.

“Never mind. Now, um, crawl underneath the door so I can talk with you.”

“You can talk with me now, feller-with me out here. I ain’t into glory holes or any of that rest-stop kind of shit. That there’s some fucked up shit, feller. Now, I’m fixing to leave and-”

“Who said anything about glory holes? I just want to converse with you, face to face. OK? I need your help. How many ways can I say it? I’m desperate, sir. I’m desperate as desperate can be.”

Stephen scratches his neck and then glances at his watch. “Missy and Mom are waiting, little man. Listen, uh, I’ll tell the manager that you’re sick or whatever, and he’ll come and help you out. Sorry, chief, but I got to get to the damned salad bar before my fat-assed girlfriend wipes out everything. Missy can put the shit away.”

Stephen practically runs to the restroom door. He’s unlocking the deadbolt when he hears the voice say something else; the inflection of the voice is different, somehow transcendent. The voice, though girlishly high, is desperate but calm as an ocean after a hurricane.

“Huh?” says Stephen, frozen in place.

“I said I’ve got a gun. I don’t want to use it. But I’ve got one, and I’m pointing it at the back of your head.”

Slowly, Stephen relocks the door. “Did ya hear that, little feller? Door’s locked. Did ya hear the click? Huh? I locked’er back, little feller. Now don’t you go shooting. I just graduated from truck driving school and everything, and I don’t need no damned bullet in the back of my head. I mean, shit, you probably can’t shoot worth a fuck, you being a midget and all, but you might luck one up and-”

“Shut up.”

“You’re telling me to shut up? Shut up, you say. Do you realize that I finished in the top ten percent of my class, little man? Do ya? You need to watch how you talk to me. I just came in here to drain the main vein, the old anaconda, and I don’t need your bull-sheet. You’re lucky I don’t bust that ass for ya, little man. Why I’d treat you like the goddamn redheaded stepchild you are, punk ass. Why, why, why I’d stomp a mud-hole so far up your ass I’d-”

“Shut up. You shut up, or I’m pulling the trigger.”

The midget lay on his naked belly on the floor of the restroom, looking like a soldier on a recon mission. The midget is bald, wears small, chic rimless glasses. He sports a well-groomed red beard. A tattoo is carved into his forehead saying Frodo 4-Ever; each letter has its own font and color. With both his chubby hands, he holds a snub-nosed .38, its barrel locked on Stephen’s head.

“Turn around. And cut the commentary.”

A small nervous trickle of urine snakes its way down Stephen’s right pant’s leg.

“Huh?” says a bewildered Stephen, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The midget is going to kill him. Sure as the world turns. The midget is going to kill him. Wasn’t it just last night that Missy jacked him off while he was sitting on the shitter? Wasn’t it earlier today that he graduated from truck driving school? Wasn’t it ten minutes ago that he stole a chickpea from the salad bar and threw it at least three feet in the air-same height as the midget-before catching it acrobatically in his ugly gullet? Fun stuff. Alive stuff. Damn it, what about all the fun stuff that had been happening to him? All these thoughts, congealed and squashed, catalyze a river of more cold, panicky piss to stream down his right leg (Stephen’s a right hanger). The midget smirks.

“Shut the fuck up. You need to shut the fuck up and turn the fuck around and walk the fuck over here,” says the midget.

Stephen primps his handlebar as he pirouettes slowly toward the midget. “You sure cuss a lot for a midget, feller.”

“Quite calling me a midget. From here on out I’m a little person to you. Got it?’

Before Stephen can say ‘Got it,” someone impatiently knocks at the door.

“I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES! I’VE GOTTA GO!” says an old man’s voice from outside the restroom. Stephen and the little person lock eyes.

The little person calmly tells Stephen, “Tell him you’re sick. Tell him to give you ten more minutes.”

Stephen inhales deeply before he cranes his head toward the restroom door. “Buddy, I’m sick’ern a dog. Give me ten more minutes.”

Stephen and the little person are quiet, listening for a response from the other side of the door. They hear only the white-noise of a busy Shoney’s on a Saturday evening: clanging silverware, a hundred conversations happening at once, the occasional piercing wail of a ticked-off toddler.

The little person clears his throat. “This has got to happen now. It just has to. You-what’s your name?”

Stephen, finally overcome by his terror, starts to cry. “My name’s St-Stephen. Stephen Hilton. I don’t want to die, little man-er, little person, I mean.”

Impatiently, the little person slides out from under the stall. He is naked and muscularly formed. Between his legs hangs a horse cock, long and thick. Stephen can’t help but stare in awe at the midget’s impressive genitals. What God didn’t give the little man in height, He compensated for in dick size. Stephen nervously tweaks the right half of his handlebar while muttering more to himself than to the little person: “Now that’s a cod.”

Ignoring Stephen’s rhetorical compliment, the little person says, “Stephen Hilton, I’m Marvin Casey.”

Stephen is not hearing Marvin. Stephen stares at the .38. Stephen has not blinked in three minutes.

Marvin continues, “Unfortunately, things have got to happen this second. I’m transporting myself tonight. Tonight is the night I free myself from my captives.” Marvin looks up at the drop ceiling. “Thank you, Jesus, for giving me this day and this weird redneck man to help me. Thank you, Jesus.” Marvin waves his gun at Stephen. “Aren’t you thankful?”

Stephen doesn’t know what to say. What if he says the wrong thing?

“Stephen, for Christ’s sake, don’t you have anything to be thankful for?”

Stephen smiles. “I graduated from truck driving school-top ten percent.”

Marvin smiles. “What do you say?”

“Thank you, Jesus,” says Stephen.

Marvin lowers the .38, pointing it toward the floor. “That’s good, Steven Hilton. That’s really good.”

“What do you want, feller?”

Marvin sighs. “Stephen Hilton, I need help getting out of the window, the one above the stall I just came out of. I’m trying to escape. I’ve got it all planned out. Tonight is the night. I’ve charted weather patters, wind directions-all my calculations, Stephen, say that tonight is the night. Now are you going to help me get out? Please help me? If I could reach that window, why, why-I’d already be airborne.”

“What the hell are you talking about, feller? Escape from who? Your momma and daddy?”

“Stephen, I’ll tell you all about it on the way to the launch pad. Right now, we’ve got to go.” Marvin walks toward Stephen and lifts the .38 until its barrel is only an inch away from Stephen’s nose. If Stephen weren’t already urine depleted, he would have surely wetted himself yet again. “OK OK OK! I’LL HELP YA!”

Marvin walks backwards to the stall. “The window is over here,” Marvin says, his voice sing-songy and excited.

* * *

“Why do I have to go naked, feller? Unlike you, I’m, I’m, I’m a grower not a shower, if you get my drift.”

Skinny Stephen Hilton and Marvin Casey stand in a secluded clearing near South Holston Lake. The mosquito filled night is alive with peepers and fish flops and cricket serenades and lightening-bugs and the lap lap lap of the lake’s giant hand clapping the edge of the shore as if trying to catch an interloper. At gunpoint, Stephen has driven himself and Marvin through Abingdon and onto route 11. “Put the pedal to the medal, mother fucker,” says a more excited than angry Marvin. Finally, after twenty minutes they park; Stephen kills the lights. Marvin asks Stephen to strip.

“You have to because this is a night of purity. My purity. And I’m not going to have my purity contaminated by the idiocy of clothing. Shuck it off, or I’ll have to use Mr. Grumpy.

Mr. Grumpy is the name Marvin uses in reference to his .38.

Stephen twists his mustache. Stephen is very angry. Stephen is being wronged. Stephen would love more than anything to shove Mr. Grumpy up this short little shit’s ass. Who the fuck knows what Missy’s thinking? Who knows what Mom is thinking? Who cares that this was supposed to be my night of celebration. Who gives a fuck if I can’t be happy one night of my life? This little bastard with his huge rod has robbed me of my night. My night! Short little fuck. Why, God, are you doing this to me? I don’t want to die-not like this. Why can’t I ever win?

“My mother gave birth to me in a public swimming pool,” says Marvin, waving his gun at Stephen. “Start stripping. Nobody even knew she was knocked up. She was skinny as a rail. Tiny. She was a sophomore in high school. She played basketball and volleyball. She was a sweet little thing. She knew I was growing inside her. She didn’t tell. She was afraid. She must have been so afraid. Take your fucking clothes off, Stephen!”

Stephen takes off his shirt. He begins unbuckling his belt.

“Her parents were God-squad members. My mom’s mom wore denim, the bow in the hair, no makeup, typical holy-roller. I’m not judging them. I’m sure they were good people. There you go, Stephen. It’s just a body. Yep, you are a grower. Anyway, nobody knew that I was growing inside my mom. I didn’t want to grow. I held off as much as possible. Don’t you see, Stephen? Each cell in my body divided with me kicking and screaming. I drug my feet. I held my breath, but I had to eventually breathe. What else could I do but come to the surface?”

Stephen stands among the mosquitoes and peepers and bats and stars, naked and simple, his hands cupped over his anaconda. Stephen can’t help but quickly glimpse at Marvin’s member, slowly jerking to life, rising to meet the stars. Stephen’s shrinking sex is hiding in its nest, impotent in its fear and release.

“Everybody called my mom Sweetie because she was such a sweet girl. Her daddy would say, ‘Sweetie pumpkin pie, I could just eat eat eat you up!’ And he’d hug her and kiss on her, and my mom would squeal. Everybody loved and hugged on Sweetie. She had naturally curly hair, a little pug nose, and sweet brown eyes. She was a sweetie, Stephen. She was. She was my mommy.”

Marvin and Stephen, a sequoia and a scrub pine, stand under the stars, asses aglow, and their backs shiny with a thin sheen of sweat.

“Bucky, my granddaddy, Sweetie’s daddy, why he’d fuck her hard. He would, Stephen Hilton. He’d fuck Sweetie because he could. He’d go into her room, paneled brown, the only picture a K-Mart print of a tacky whiter than white, blue-eyed Jesus kneeling next to a river in a ray of His father’s light. Bucky’d lift her denim skirt over her pug nose, leaving it draped over her fifteen-year-old blond head, blinding her with herself, and he’d fuck her. Then he’d pray for Sweetie, begging God to stop making his daughter do these things to him. He’d walk out of the room. He and Sweetie made me just like that. Those were my ingredients. Can you believe that, Stephen? Lift your hands up, Stephen Hilton. There’s nothing wrong with whatever you’ve got between your legs. Let Jesus see you whole. Lift up your hands. Close your eyes and touch his eyes.”

Stephen untwists his mustache, destroying his handlebar. He raises his hands above his head, feeling himself crawl from his nest.

“Sweetie loved me even though I was a sin. I was the sin itself. Hear my words carefully, Stephen. I was and am sin ITSELF. But Sweetie loved me. She tried to make me shrink into oblivion, back into sweet Jesus. She didn’t feed herself or me. She tried to help me not grow. She starved me as sweetly as she could. But I had to breathe. I ran out of breath. So I popped out of her and into the Glade Area Public Swimming Pool. Stephen, people will always remember that Sweetie birthed her baby in the Glade Area Public Swimming Pool. Sweetie thought her tummy was being ripped open from the inside. Her eyes bugged out. She didn’t know whether or not she was going to shit on herself or what. I happened in a blur, Stephen. I slipped out of her and somehow wiggled my way out of the side of her swimsuit. Sweetie looked at me hanging out of her, my eyes burning from the chlorine, my mouth gaped open; and, Stephen, I’m space walking in the water with my umbilical cord holding me to Sweetie. I couldn’t float away. I couldn’t disappear in the black. Sweetie stared at what she’d done until little girls and boys stared screaming and ‘oh my Gods,’ started raining down on our wet heads, Sweetie’s and my own.”

Stephen couldn’t help but ask, “Little feller, what the shit are you talking about?”

Marvin answers with a grin, “Stephen, I needed your ability to reach places I couldn’t-the window at Shoney’s mainly. You see, I must go back to the place from whence I came.”

Marvin’s red beard shimmers like fire under the starlight.

“What does whence mean?” asks Stephen, his hands on his hips.

“Inflated talk from a deflated little man,” says a still smiling Marvin, his erection now completely angled toward Cassiopeia.

Sweat moistens Stephen’s hairy stomach. A fine night mist enshrouds the two erect men as they stand, one in front of the other, funhouse distortions of one another with hands on hips, the .38 resting on the ground in between. The men’s bodies glisten with heat and moisture. However, sexuality is as absent from this scene as rational thought. The erection is indicative of a conscious longing on the part of Marvin and an unconscious longing on the part of Stephen. The hardness of the men in the soft, hot night is a hardness of the stiff peckers of dead men, their necks snapped, their bodies swaying from the end of a taunt rope. Their cocks are half dead and half alive, hard, yes, but longing not for the finite of the bounded woman, whose transport leads to nowhere. No, their cocks, the enormous on the short, and the short on the tall, long for the infinite transport that begins not with a gasp, then a contraction of ass muscles, and then pointless ejaculation. No, their cocks long for the infinite transport that begins with the asphyxiation of sweet death, followed swiftly by the hardness of cock reflecting a hardness of death, reflecting a softness of eternity, an endless cunt, then, finally, an eternal orgasm.

“You can either stay or leave,” says Marvin. “I’m not going to shoot. The gun’s dead. Hell, Stephen, it was never loaded.”

“I’m leaving then, feller. Missy’s gone be going out her mind with worry-not that you’d give a good goddamn, you little shit you. I’m gone put my clothes on. People might think I’m a switch hitter or an out and out fag or something,” answers a smiling, simple Stephen, stepping into his underwear and wishing his mustache was stiff and properly shaped.

Marvin doesn’t say goodbye; he starts walking toward an opening, maybe three feet high, camouflaged well in a gigantic wall of brush, leading to the dense forest guarding South Holston Lake. He leaves the impotent .38, a harmless Mr. Grumpy, lying on the ground.

* * *

Marvin fights his way through thick laurel, thorns, and scrub spruce trees before he reaches a small clearing in the brush. There it is, just a he left it: a new lawn chair and in its seat a plastic bag filled with balloons and string. Under the lawn chair is a smallish helium tank. Without hesitation, Marvin starts inflating balloons and securing them strategically to his lawn chair. In the distance he hears the loud smacking flop of a bass upon the lake’s surface. From this sound he is transported twenty years to an algae covered pond, not very big, muddy all around it, hardly a place to stand without getting dirty, without sinking up to your shins in the muck. The pond is on the outskirts of rural town, somewhere in Tennessee. The pond is a mile away from the rather pitiful excuse for a town square where the circus is setting up for tonight’s performance. Marvin has waddled away and found this oasis by accident. The day is August hot with a myriad of insects and birds filling the day to its brim. Caw Caw, cries a crow and Marvin answers back, Caw Caw. This conversation continues until the crow tires and flies away, perhaps to harass a hawk. Grasshoppers hop by the thousands and Marvin wishes more than anything he had a pole with which to cast for a bluegill. Sweat pours down Marvin’s tiny body, stinging his eyes, moistening his hands, and filling his ears. Marvin squints his eyes and sees the evaporating moisture escaping into the air like minute angels awakened from their sleep. Marvin glances down into the cloudy water, green and brown, tadpole filled, mosquito egg filled, and he sees a bluegill, tiny like him. He lowers a small hand and cups the fish and lifts it out of the water. The bluegill’s spines pierce Marvin’s hand, and he quickly flings it high into the air. The fish turns several involuntary summersaults in the air before it lands flush on one of its flat sides. Plap! The bluegill, stunned, rests on top of the water for a second or two before it leaks back into life, regroups, and swims back into the murky pond water.

Marvin smiles at his bleeding pricked hand. He decides to find another bluegill or perch or even a tadpole. Marvin decides to spend the next couple of hours tossing the pond’s children as high into the air as he can, and with every plap! Marvin is overjoyed though he doesn’t understand why. On this day in asphyxiating, wet August heat, Marvin knows that eternity resides somewhere within the plap! of the crashing fish into the surface of the dirty pond.

Now some seventy-five balloons are tied to the lawn chair that is kept bound to the earth by a piece of rope tied to the brush. Marvin, drenching wet from the soggy night and from his perspiration, climbs into the lawn chair and is about to cut the chair’s umbilical cord when he hears a voice.

“Little feller?” calls the voice. “Where are you? Come out come out wherever you are.”

Marvin shakes his head incredulously. “Are you alone, Stephen Hilton?”

Stephen emerges through the small opening in the brush cursing under his breath. “I was worried about you, little feller. Half of Abingdon is looking for you. Cops everywhere. I told Missy about you, and she’s afraid you gone off yourself or something. I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you but listen, Missy’s on Prozac and that shit really works. Maybe you could start taking some of that shit. I’m telling you, little feller. You can even come live with me and Missy if’n you want to leave the circus. I’ll be on the road most of the time. We got room. Just don’t you be trying to bang Missy with that cod of yours, and we’ll get along just fine. Hey, wait a minute; maybe what you need is a piece of tale. Is that it, little feller? I seriously wouldn’t try that pole of yours out on another midget, er, I mean, little person. Hell, you’d be committing a homicide, you big dicked little shit you. Surely to hell we can find a woman who’s got a hankering for a fire hydrant up her privates. I’m just trying to help–”

Marvin smiles and then laughs mightily. “Cut the cord, Stephen. If you want to help me, cut the cord.”

Marvin kicks his feet back and forth while he sits in his lawn chair like a toddler sitting in his father’s recliner. He isn’t secured into his contraption in any way, but secure is his smile as he awaits lift-off.

“What the hell are you doing?” asks Stephen, unleashing a long stream of brown Skoal spittle.

“I’m going back from whence I came. I’m going back where I came from, Stephen. You don’t have to understand, but understand this: meeting you in the john at Shoney’s was no coincidence. I needed you, and you needed me. I’m sure of this. You’ll always remember me-even if it’s as a big dicked midget who held you up in a Shoney’s bathroom with an unloaded gun. That’s ok, Stephen Hilton. That’s ok. Memories are usually lies anyway.”

Stephen spits again, tweaks his mustache, newly stiff, curled, and quite sexy looking. He walks up to Marvin and grips the armrests of the lawn chair. “Missy told me to come get you. She said you were a desperate soul. She said she understands about feeling desperate. She said that I needed to see if I could save you.” Stephen spits. “What do you say about being my sidekick out on the road? I need a sidekick just like BJ-from the TV show. He had Bear. Look at you, you’re about the same size as a monkey.” Stephen slaps his hands together and laughs at the possibilities. “Hell, you could be my very own big peckered monkeyfied sidekick. Whatdyathink, letter feller?”

Frodo 4-Ever glows with a phosphorescent sheen in the sticky night. The rest of Marvin is slick with heat and anticipation. Marvin’s nose and beard drip sweat in a steady stream which slides down his slight body and fills his belly button, sticking to his pubic hair, settling in the creases where thighs meet lower abdomen. Even Marvin’s fingernails are covered absolutely with salty sweat, causing distorted reflections of the stars winking overhead. Mosquitoes and peepers and bird tweets and bass flops and lightening bug explosions and cricket chatter and clatter and the background hmmm of the star filled night paint a Jackson Pollack picture around Stephen and Marvin.

Before Stephen can say anything else, Marvin slashes the air violently with a Gerber knife, sharp as a scalpel, and severs the cord keeping him close to the ground. Immediately, Marvin falls away from the earth and as he rises, Stephen Hilton’s gaped mouthed, buck toothed face becomes smaller and smaller.

* * *

Marvin Casey looks down upon route 11, usually benign and without bite, but tonight is a twisting, writhing electric eel with fire trucks and ambulances and innumerable other vehicles racing toward the lake. Marvin has long since lost sight of Stephen. He rises and rises, and he begins to cry. His is a precarious position in the wobbly lawn chair. He is no longer sweating and drenching wet with himself. No, he is pale as snow. His nipples are wrinkly and cold. His balls are pulled tight to his body. He shivers. He hugs himself, but he is ashamed of his weakness. He curses all of the people in his life that have hugged their bodies so desperately, so tightly, trying unsuccessfully to keep out the cold.

Marvin spreads his arms, stops crying, and without a second though he slips easily from his lawn chair, wearing only the beginnings of a smile.

Stephen is standing with arms folded, surrounded by the kinetic night when there is a silence that cuts through the peepers and buzzing mosquitoes and the chatter of the policemen and firemen and onlookers. The silence is broken by the large plap! of Marvin Casey’s small body colliding with the surface of South Holston Lake.

[b]Author’s Note:[/b] Chris Duncan’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Small Spiral Notebook, Intertext, Carve, Ygdrasil, Southern Ocean Review, and 3amMagazine. (c)2002.

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud