Mother Mary

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Chapter 21

... come on out here he says the boy they call my brother jimcome on out here and see this mary alicecome on and he pulls at mehe pulls at my dress and tells me the farmer is in the backyard again where they keep the clucking chickens in their coop

it’s sunday and my dress is still clean

there’s dust settling in the yellow light out back dirty where they keep the chickens the turkeys the pigthere’s a pen full of mud and a broken wooden fencethere a hole in the wire fence that keeps the chickens in and the fox can get in at night

come on my brother jim pulls at me

you’re gonna miss it mary alice you don’t wanna miss this one

we are standing there outside the wire fence and the farmer is inside the fence he grabs a chicken by the head and jim says now watch this and the farmer flicks his wrist and the chicken spins around in circles until his neck snaps and his body rips off

there’s no blood for a moment as the body falls to the ground and gets to its feet and wobbles for a while

the farmer drops the head into the dust and through a cloud of dirt dust i see the mouth trying to squawk the beak opening and closing



the body runs around

jim says that’s what they call running around like a chicken with its head cut off

then the farmer takes the body by the claws and holds it over a vat of boiling water and dips it in


so he can get the feathers off jim says we’re having chicken tonight


beep beep beep

beep beep beep

click click click

not long one says and he lets go of my wrist which falls back down to the bed

no the other one says not too much longer you think she’s comfortable

i doubt she feels a thing

beep beep beep

click click click

i’ll hold your hand if you want to go up my daddy says and i hold his big warm hand do you want to try the ferris wheel this year

the organ grinder music plays everywhere through the lights that twist off the steel arms of the ferris wheel and bounce off the mirrors of the fun house and light dances on the shiny coats of the polished wooden horses of the merry go round

come on my daddy says we’ll try the ferris wheel this yearthere’s nothing to be afraid oflook everyone is having fun

people in buckets sway in the wind and jump off into the darkness terrified falling into shadows and swinging back around into the lightdarkness shadows and light again

i can’t move

he tugs at my arm and i can’t move i don’t want to go on the ferris wheelwhat if get thrown into the nightwhat if we slip through the steel bar on the bucket and fall back down to the groundwhat if the wheel breaks form the hub and rolls all the way down into the waterwhat if

you don’t wanna go my daddy says okay maybe we’ll try next year

i grab his arm with my other hand and won’t let go

what if

beep beep beep

click click click

beep beep beep

one says this is it almost anyway

yeah the other one says this is just about it

what is she listed as one asks

let’s see he says i hear pages flippingsays here she’s listed catholic

better call a priest one says

okay the other one says will do

and call the family see if anyone can make it bywe’re getting close here

beep beep beep

click click click

beep beep beep

i have a god damned headache lonnie says and he pulls off his tuxedo jacket and then his bow tie who the hell ordered that desertwhat the hell was that damned desert called the flame of lovewith the brandy and the flames and the drums banging away in the backgroundgave me a god damned headacheyou wanna drink

i don’t drink

lonnie lights a cigarette and the smoke makes me cough he pours two drinks and puts one in front of mehe puts the cigarette on the edge of the table and the ashes fall to the floor and the smoke rises up to the ceiling and makes me want to choke

try your drink lonnie says but i just smell it and my head spins my eyes go darkhe’s behind mei can feel his breath on my necki can feel his hands on my shouldersthe smoke is choking me and the drink is making me dizzyhe wants to touch mei am his wifei am a woman and his wife

i cough from the smoke and spin form the scent of liquormy eyes go blacki can smell the smoke in his hair like sulphurand the booze on his breath like acidthe sharp stabbing of his face stubble scratches my neck

i am a woman i am his wife i am

i feel his hands on my chest pulling down the straps on my dress and i choke again can’t breathei go blankmy eyes go black

oh mary i hear lonnie whisper in my ear as he is behind me dabs of sweat on his forehead

i can see the light over the bed and i can breathe the liquor smells good and i say don’t call me mary

call me maire

thanks for coming father one says sorry it’s such short notice but we have her listed here as catholic

no problem the father says it’s my callingi’ve known the family for a long time and he leans near my ear

o holy hosts above i call upon thee as a servant of jesus christ, to sanctify our actions this day in preparation for the fulfillment of the will of god

i call upon the great archangel raphael, master of air, to open the way for this to be done let the fire of the holy spirit now descend that this being might be awakened to the world beyond and the life of earth, and infused with the power of the holy spirit

o lord jesus christ, most merciful, lord of earth we ask that you receive this child into your arms that he might pass in safety from this crisis as thou hast told us with infinite compassion

so let it be done

mary alice the father whispers in my ear mary alice it’s mecan you hear medo you remember meit’s okay if you cando you have anything you want to confessanything you want to tell me

i am maire i want to tell him

just put your hand in mine liam maire won’t hurt you but liam doesn’t like mairebut maire won’t hurt youjust put your hand in mine and move it back and forththat’s rightdoesn’t that feel gooddoesn’t it see i told you maire would never hurt youthat’s what you do on your wedding mightthat’s what you domaire would never hurt you

by this sign thou art anointed with the grace of the atonement of jesus christ and thou art absolved of all past error and freed to take your place in the world he has prepared for us

i feel his hot breath and an oily thumb smear down between my eyes and across the ridge of my eyes

and thus do i commend thee into the arms of our lord of earth, our lord jesus christpreserver of all mercy and reality and the father creator

are you sure there’s nothing you want to confess before you pass on mary alice

there is nothing

i am maire so there is nothing to confess

come here brian lonnie’s not herecome inuse the jacuzzi go swimming

i’ll be right back you wait here

lonnie’s a madman

don’t be afraid he’s not herehe can’t do anything if he’s not herehe’s never herehe’s out bowling with his buddies

but lonnie’s a madman he’ll kill me

just shut up and tell me do you see anything you like

oh mary

call me maire

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