Mother Mary

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Chapter 14

then put it where i can’t see it then i say i don’t have to be reminded of the damned thing all the time do i

put it in the closet christy you know how her nerves are lonnie says and he reaches underneath the sink and grabs his bottle of john begg’s and pours some more over his floating melted icehe smells like sweat and whisky outside smells like a good rain is coming like leaves just before they’re dampened by a storm and the rust of screen doors flapping unclosed

he brushes past me and i can smell the musk of sweat on him he’s always stank of it he’s leaned over me since the day by the river and dripped sweat on my forehead on my face on my chest sweating and pounded into me taking away my breath as the sweat drizzled from his bony chestbut ever since he shot himself in the foot he’s gotten fat he can’t run anymore he can’t coach football anymorethe pain is too muchand he can only hike in the woods just long enough to go hunting a few times a season

then i’m always reminded that it’s the season

a deer hangs out front on the oak tree christy gets to tie up its back legs now right by the feet and throw the rope over the limb of the tree and pulls it up so swings and danglesthe dead doe with the wet blue eyesthen lonnie takes out the army k-bar knife and he cuts into the deer from between its back legs all the way down through its throat and they pull out the offal and throw most of it into the woods for the dogs and raccoons but they keep the stomach cut it open and poke at what’s in therecorn means to hunt in the cornfieldsthat’s where they killacorns means they might head over to meyer’s cornersthen that’s where they killapples means they have to head out to lagrange and then they will kill them while the trees are bare gray with bark and all the leaves have fallen on the row paths between the trees while the doe and fawn are nuzzling fallen applesthey’ll kill them and then they’ll take them home and sling them over a tree limb and gut them

christy’s always there to remind me he wasn’t the first onethe first one never wasthey took the first one away while i was looking up into the lightchristy was the third one

he was supposed to be my little girl i was going to name him christina but he came out and almost killed me all ten pounds of him covered in water and bloodhe was uglyjust look at the picturesand there’s his father just sweating and limping around brushing up against me

they sit down at the table and i put the plates in front of them

lonnie cuts into the steak and it bleeds all over the plate

can we go out tomorrow christy asks

not if you shoot like that lonnie says

christy says it’s that damned gun

watch your language i say you’re not out in the woods with your friends

but it is dad you saw itit shoots anywhere it wants to

i sit down and see the blood from the meat on my plate staining my white potatoes pink on the edges and pop pop pop one falls off the wall i just can’t eat iti push the plate forward and lonnie asks what’s wrong

my nerves are bad tonight i guess i say i’m just not hungry

well i’ll eat it lonnie stabs the steak with his fork and drops it on his platedon’t wanna waste a perfectly good kill like thishe saysand besides what am i paying all that perfectly good money for that doctor for if he can’t fix these nerves of yourswhat’s the hold upcan’t he get at it

i saw the river and his shadow formed by the sun and my dirty dress and i saw him running off to get someonethank god lonnie was there i heard her say thank god he was there to get someone

didn’t he give you anything to take the edge off lonnie asks and wipes some blood from the corner of his mouth

yeah i tell him he gave me those blue pills but you know how pills are

pray for us now and in the hour of our death hail mary mother of god the lord is with thee give us this day our daily bread and he held me against the muscles of his chest and told me everything was going to be fine he always told me things were going to be better

yeah i know how much i pay for the god damned thingsyou have a whole cabinet full of them and you can’t even eat a simple meal lonnie sayshave you seen those bills lately have you seen themtake a look some timeyou’ll need more than pills for thathe stuffed more meat in his mouth and washed it down with whisky

i can’t help it lonnie they just haven’t found what’s wrong yet that’s allthey just haven’t found out the cause of anything yetthey’re still looking

what’s it been ten doctorstwenty doctorsdrugsshockpsychotherapyoccupational therapyholistic medicinenatural foods organic foodsbiorhythmic feedbackdid i miss anythingis there anything else out there lonnie saysdo they still do frontal lobotomies maybe you could just go ahead and do thata lobotomythen you’ll never have to do anything right

lonnie wiped his mouth and his napkin was smeared with brown and red christy sat there quietthinking about being in the woods thinking about hunting thinking about having to kill that cat because he made one bad shot and then he had to walk through that black water up to his knees and shoot it in the head thinking as he stuffs that damned meat in his mouth and thinking just thinking all the timetwelve hours of labor on the hottest day of an indian summer in september and he couldn’t even wait until we got home to come outlonnie had to stop the sedan in the middle of harlem at a place called flower of fifth avenue hospital where they dragged me down the hallway to a room and i sweated and sweated and felt myself splitting right down the middle the sharp pains right between my legs all the way on up through my chestlonnie said he had to go home to get some sleep for work the next day so he left me there sweating with a spanish nurse who came in every now and then to put a cold rag on my head and hold my handtwelve hours and when he came he was eleven pounds and ugly as sinall wrinkled twisted clay white covered in blood and afterbirth

i didn’t move for three weeks after that i tried not to breathe but they put a tube in my nose and forced air down into mei tried not to chew the mush in the bowl the nurse held under my nose so they stuck another tube in my arm and that kept me alivei tried not to speak and i was silenti tried not to move and i was stillthe doctors leaned over me and flashed thin beams of light into my eyes and looked in my ears and they put the cold metal disc on my chest to hear my heartthe nurses told me christy was a quiet babyall he did was sleep and eatsleep and eatcouldn’t i wait to see himwait to hold himi tried not to movei tried not to stir

i heard my father’s voice and saw him against the light above my hospital bed he took off his fedora and his head was rounded with lighthe put his hand on my shoulder and told the doctor next to him that this has happened before that i come out of it and that it was just a matter of timebut we don’t have time said lonniewe don’t have time lonnie said again i have two kids now and a job and i still have the army to think aboutwhat the hell am i gonna do

the best thing to do the doctor said is to waitthese things usually work out naturally

i don’t have time for things to work out naturally

then there’s only one other thing we can do but it may have an effect

what effect

a long lasting effect the procedure can shock her out of her stupor but it may destroy something in her mind

like what

hard to say could be memory could be short or long term

do it

you sure

we have to

i don’t want to hear see feel know be touch spit swallow or have the light lingering over me i don’t want the wheels of the gurney cart to roll against the white tile floors of the hospitalleave mecut the tubes and let it drown on the floor whatever it is that flows into mecut it and let it flow but the tubes reach down into my veins and they roll me to another roomthe nurses and doctors are inky blurs against the fluorescent lightsmy chest is barei feel cold run over me like the air when my father takes me out of the bath and tears me away from his chesthands rub thick gel over my chestthere’s a beep beep beep in my earthe doctor holds two discs in his hands and he presses them against my chest

did you pack everything up like i asked lonnie asks christy

yeah i got it all and i’m gonna wear your field jacket if that’s okay

fine lonnie says

how’d that hole get in the back christy asked

which one

just below the sleeve

ohlonnie said got caught on barbed wire when i was crawling through the woods where

camp drum maybe fort dixprobably some training exercisemight have been overseas who knows

how long were you over there

long enough to get shot lonnie says and then finishes off his drink but he’s a liarhe never went farther than new jersey and he came home every weekendall they ever did was fill the back of jeeps up with beer and get drunk for two days when they were supposed to be out on maneuvershe never went to any war and he never killed any onethat field jacket got ripped on the hood of the sedan when he was trying to fix the radiator two days before christmas before christy was even bornit got caught on the arm that holds up the hood

and his foot wasn’t a communist bullet from some viet cong in the jungle when he was defending democracy and our way of life like all that bullshit they have in the text book in school he did that toohe was sitting at his bunk when the lieutenant came in and said to pack up and stand on call they were going over to the jungle to fight the war and he was scaredhe said he leaned his head on his bunk while the officers screamed at them to get their asses in gear and everyone around him took out their duffel bags and stuffed them with socks and jackets and everything else in their lockers and he stood still amidst the motion everything swirling around him but he still heard nothing but a song from the radio swirling around himthe singer sang of strawberry fields that lasted foreverstrawberry fields foreverthere was nothing to get hung about said the singerhe sang that living was easy with your eyes closed

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