Mother Mary

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Chapter 18

i don’t know i said isn’t there some sort of way it could happen like without actually doing it couldn’t it be on a toilet seat

a god damned toilet seat

or i said i don’t knowthere has to be some timejust one time we did something that would account for itkids just don’t come out of nowhere

i know he said that’s what i’m trying to tell you

he said he would kill me and the man who did it if he ever found out but i didn’t care because the taking of the life was worth that feeling of fullness that i had in me even if it was gotten wrong there was that feeling that a cloud must have not when it’s raining but just before it rains and it is warm and heavy and full and wetthere is and must be that feeling of something about to become and you are not just that shapeless mass drifting through some empty place that children in parks call the skythere is a fullness that will be sprinkled on the earth and the earth will drink it up until you are empty and you float away so the feeling is worth the negation even if it ends with lonnie that madman with his hands around my throat or putting the barrel of that god damned rifle in the mouth of that poor fool who jumped in the tub with me

but i had to let it go this time because he stood on those steps that led down to liam’s room and he said that if this shit kept up that he was going to leave he was going to walk right out the door and leave me alone with this big empty house that groans and creaks with each sway of the wind and he said if he ever heard of it again everyone would be gone so i went to the doctor and he gave me the pills to bring it on the pills for the pain and the pills to ease my mind and it was gone in a few hoursa bloody mess in the toilet bowl upstairs who was a stew of bright red blood and deep maroon blood and shards of tissue swirling in the vortex of water that led down to some rat pipe they called a sewerthe last one that filled meand i never saw him again

that’s mary alice for yuh just walking away when she started to feel goodthat’s good old white gloved mary alice who listens to every word these brutes have to say instead of just saying my name is mairesay it like that my name is maire and i want that child i want to be full and i want to rain that fullness over everyone who comes lonnie liam christy all of them over all of them rain and fill the cold black water of the bog with dead cats floating that christy should have killed you can be filled and swell and then empty out all over the floor or down the drain or all over the white sheets your mother spent the whole morning scrubbing clean or you can bleed by the edge of the river bank but you always end still and flattened with the shadow in the light above you for thine is the kingdom and the glory

the white truck pulls up on the black part of the driveway and stops they’re homei am clutching the phone in my hand trying to call my father trying to call my sister trying to call joanne down the road but no one picked up even though i called ten fifteen twenty times they just don’t listen but i’m scared the pursuer will make the phone ring again and when i’m alone i can’t help myself i can only hear his breathing knowing he’s on the other end that’s why i can’t be alone that’s why i can’t be alone you can come over and use the pool i tell the girls who work at the video storeyou can come over after you’re done working here and use the pool or the jacuzzi if you want no i don’t care if you smoke i smoke once in a while myselfoh no sure people come over all the time and use our placeno one mindsno i won’t tell you parentswell what do we do now that we’re married in bed

christy gets out first and goes around to the back of the truck they must have killed something because he leans in and a little smirk goes across his face then lonnie gets out and limps a littlehe always says that his leg stiffens up when he drives the truckit’s damned cold in the truckthere’s no heatand the clutch presses right on his bad footso lonnie goes around and drops the tailgate on the truckchristy comes around and they grab a back leg of the deer and drag it out of the truck bed it falls to the ground and its head cocks up to the skyi can even see pellets of rain bead up on its oily hair and pelt its thick meaty tongue

i rap on the window but they don’t hear me i want to go outside but i hold onto the telephone and stay still i rap on the window again and then decide to go outsidei put on a jacket and then put the phone in my pocket and go outside

we got one christy says and smiles grabbing one of the antlers and pulling the deer’s head off the pavement just a little look at this rack

the neck twisted and the gash split wide where christy had cut it open to bleed the last time he didn’t do it the deer got up and ran off and lonnie was pissed for days all we heard about was how his venison stew had run off and died in the bush so now christy is always careful to cut the throat and bleed it out when it’s down

come on lonnie says and christy helps him heft the deer up on his shoulder so he can carry it over to the tree where lonnie drops it thud a dead load of flesh on rain moist ground and then christy hands him the rope which they tie just above the back hooves and then they throw the rope over the branch of the tree and tie it tight so the deer swings in slow circles with his tongue purple hanging and his neck dangling slashed open

got the knife lonnie asks christy and now i can see why they are and i am not i can see why they go out together and take things away from the woods why they shoot and kill and why christy wants to be able to kill the deer with one shot because he is lonnie is and does all that they have the same cold and piercing expression neither looking at the other as christy hands the razor sharp buck knife over to his father and lonnie presses the blade into the hole between the back legs and jiggles it and presses through cartilage until it gives and he slices smoothly through the belly yes my mother says it’s nothing to worry about she says it happens to every woman some time or anotherbut of course with her it happens in the middle of the night and she passes out in the middle of the floor

i felt the pain all day all week and then i went to sleepclosed my eyes and went to sleep and felt the warm rush between my legswoke up and tried to get to the tubbut saw the blood on the white sheets in the last of the moonlight and

then he has to hack away at the rib cage there’s a saw part on the back side of the knife and he turns the handle and starts sawing on the raw white bone i can see as the flesh falls away like covers overturned before bed i can see the pink white red bulge of intestines and stomach pressing through the seam lonnie cut down its middle splitting it in half

i can’t breathe as he leans against me with the muscles of his chest he leans over me still in the light for a momentthe light behind him turns him into a silhouette without relief with the light behind him burning my eyes until isee spots and halos dancing around his blackened figureand then comes the pain for the first timehe groans and there is more pain

i am torn and i feel the warm trickle of blood on the side of my leg

i hold my breath stop i thinkstop i think this will take forever to come cleanmy dress is ruinedthere’s blood everywherewhat’s the matter with mary aliceis she dyingeverything’s going to be fine

blessed art thou and blessed is the fruit of thy womb i amthe ketchup and the yolk mix and look like blood eat up mary alicei won’t be late to church on account of you i am

and the trains rumble over head while the air comes up from the empty steam beneath the empty city i am

the young black boys sweat and glisten and their arms hang crooked in mid-air motherfuckernigger who you calling nigger motherfuckerwhat happened mary alice the water diluted from father’s hands twisting down the drain i am

the shadow the lightthe painthe bloodthe dirt beneaththe shadow cries and

then the saw part cracks the part of the rib cage by the gash in the neck and lonnie reaches into the carcass by the cut between the back legs and the full slimy guts fall out onto the ground with an easy tear and inside there is bloody meat hanging on stark white bone covered in oily water and the brown oily fur of the buck will hang twisting in gentle circles as it dangles from the rope wrapped around its two back hooves swaying back and forth when the wind rises the pelting rain hitting and then repelled dripping down its wiry coat and dripping down into the pool of blood that turns purple in the wet earth

i can’t breathe

what’s that christy asks his father and i know why they have to be and why they have to be together that’s gotta be at least a ten pointer

don’t get crazy lonnie says and he limps over toward the buck and kneels with a groanthe rain gets his knees as bad as the cold gets his foot he grabs an antler and says eight tops so don’t go around bragging about some twenty point buck you caught

matt said he saw a twenty pointer back behind the school in the pits christy said

matt is full of shit lonnie said and pushed himself up with his hands on his knees groaning again come on i have to get inside and get a drink or i’ll stiffen up to where i can’t even walkcome on

christy follows him

i am still the buck is empty and swayingi am still empty the phone in my hand conflated waiting for the ring though it may be my pursuer again breathing his hot venomous air through the phone lines at least i will be full that is full of fear and dread and not the deflation being emptied out

come mary lonnie says it’s getting cold out hereyou coming

i am still

well lonnie says are you coming or what

i am still staring into where the saw part of the buck knife hacked through the breast bone and there were bruised purple lungs and a heart webbed with purple veins she’s not coming around this time my father says and he pours water over the crown of my head and i feel the cold run down through my hair and the ridge of my eyes and the bridge of my nose and over my lips and i see him over me my fatherwith the lightbulb hanging from the plaster ceiling behind his head and i look at the light until dots of light dance all around him

mary he says mary can you hear me

well lonnie says did you hear me you’re going to get sick again damn it and you’ll be back at the doctor’s again before you know itcome on

come on mom christy says i hear him through a long shallow tube distantcome on

i am still

to hell with it lonnie say as he walks away into the house and i hear the screen door slam behind him

i am not still i feel myself moving the way i picture ghosts moving in the attic before the fire gliding without legs behind the flowing drapes of my mother’s old house i feel myself moved across the slick wetness of the pavement blood and water onto the wet green grass beneath me gliding like nuns down saint theresa’s elementary school hallways moving feet invisible beneath black dresses down the slope going down almost slipping but never falling until i reach the edge of the bog

my feet are where the black water meets the soft earth the rain is coating me getting heavy and then running down my face and under my clothesi feel the cold seeping into my skin and i am therei am looking at the wall where the calico pranced and fellthe water is cool on feet the water is a black mirror where i see my shadow my reflection drawn out on the black soggy mirror dappled by pin pricks of rain until i am just an impression or dots coming together like a batch of cells comes together in a woman’s stomach and i am breaking apart into those little pinpricks each alone to itself dissipating floating away banging together for a moment where i can see me i am breaking floating

i am sitting by the edge of the water watching what i am in the water being broken by drips of water and i reach into the water and the cold stings even the joints of my hand and i freeze looking at my reflection

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