Chillicothe, 3.B.1, 600 words

A long drive scrapes filth from the tongue. It recomposes the bony compass of the legs. It erodes an absent hollow for a fixation to swell further into once crowded and diluted sands. Set alone upon spread out clothes, scrutinized by reflected light, and canonized in isolation its inhuman impulses loose into their own nomadic morality. The landscape bleeds. Groups of buildings block each others’ doors and windows from a distance. The two sunken in seats are formed afresh each instant. They explore the little hamlets born whole from the sand with growing curiosity. The isolation cultivates an urge, a resolution to claim the ejecta of his footprints. The sick, seasoned smell of hayfields and communal living, of unattended arboreal funerals, dried spring rooms with doors finally open, finally setting loose a surge of composted breathing, noseblowing, sputum flicking, shit-accidents in filling station wastebaskets, exhaust-fans and greasy siroccos, fires from garbage burning untended, saturated antimacassars in unoccupied parlor armchairs all in diffused protective chorus submerge the scent they hunt. Unnaturally hurtling and dipping back into the earth like a worm into acute and delineated silence of the twinkling, abandoned hamlets. Each hamlet is depopulated. The neglected hide on display, on posters and handbills, in shop windows, one by one over and over on racks and pegboards, in mowed fields, leaning on porches, leaning in courtyards, leaning on shopfronts, marching through the streets. They neglect to be seen. A group of buildings no different from others, passed numerous times, suddenly in hypnotic reflection gains a frantic imperative drawing he and Connie through all night and all day just to hear the wind mouth directions, Tonopah Lodge, Roxana Lodge, El Dorado. They drive again. The cleaved, still air batters the closed, loose windows. Connie and he tumble in the dark. A new man arrives at and leaves each hamlet, each mutating the former to an unrecognizable savage possessed afresh to circle about and redefine the terms of his decayed orbit. Hidden in costume, bearded. The depth of familiarity stops at the mask. Once he once was infatuated and possessed, a kidnapper, then intoxicated on the distillate of his own breath and slime steeped in that of his pet, a dutiful father, stern mentor then, guilt-ridden lover, so a nursemaid and compress twirler, the burdened, the suffocated, the suffocator, the abandoner, he forcibly became the detached, a man choosing to be elsewhere from where the erg had tumbled him, though still inhaling its sand, detached so thoroughly to sever that silver cord at his nape from around the sick bed, if tedium can be housed, into oblivion of his actions, taking up the role of wanderer, geomancer, one who misattributes noises in the dark, dining alone on nearly nothing without a daub of responsibility yet feeling guilty to the very finest thicket of capillaries about it for no earthly reason, in another hamlet pushing aside furniture in a collapsed building, shuffling knick-knacks with his toes and dusting scuffed linoleum, standing over his shadow questioning the texture of that phantom guilt, attributes it to the queasiness of unrequited infatuation, of proximity to an abandoned possession. Pollen blankets over color and feature of the car. Windows are masked with the sky and salt, weightless birds cower in ventrifacted foam and stucco bergs, rotten woodchip enclosures enclose still, and all dulled with a superficial grain arisen to them in such detail as to reject human touch. On windows he spits and swipes an arched eyebrow clear. Mugs of evaporated tea, approximate bowls ‘neath primeval mold, chambray drapes over hard chairs and bloated, rolling bedclothes are preserved.

Critical Response:

« | »