which ex-boyfriend are you talking to.



mike was center-stage, the nerve point of the body of the road, he was holding a knife the size of his thick, soft arm. it was pre-pre-dawn, the dark air was mentally preparing for the idea of slow sunrise. he was alone, that was visually understood, even though he was surrounded by a scramble of people, watching him like pre-k students breathlessly observing a teacher perform some unfathomable experiment.  he was facing me and there was a fury. i was his road ahead and he was very slowly stepping toward me while what seemed to be my body stepped back and back and away, hands up. he'd thrust the knife in my direction, stumbling and then he'd stop and his arms would go slack. no one else moved but him and me. as he walked, he muttered, a debate between hard or soft, hate or love and then without warning his right hand thoroughly and deliberately began to slice each finger off of the other hand with the very large knife. he watched his right hand work  as if he was creating a very detailed drawing.

"see?" he said to me. the aggression was full-mouthed and i had nothing to breathe with. i did. i saw. i nodded.

there was a sound for each hack, a sharp symphony of sorts. he barely winced but he was sobbing. when he had gotten completely through one finger fully, it would just fall off the hand like leaves but louder, they laid there bizarrely arranged on the road. 

he was talking, it was clear that he was only talking to me, i'm not sure if he even saw anyone else there. in half english he spoke, said my name a few times, the rest of it my head couldn't hear at all.

violence was jiffy-pop-cracking in the air and everyone just gawked, no one said anything, no one, like dumb-found birds. i was crying, tears like your fingers over and over down my face. he would stop between each finger and point the knife at me, quicken his pace, obviously teetering back and forth from mad to madder, self-destruction to the furious preparation to destroy all the parts of me he saw. that is what he came here for, he was there for me, i was the prey, everyone knew it, no one did a thing. i heard slaps of messy sentences when he looked at me, between the sobs and the loud dial-tone throb of fear behind my eyes. ('you did it,' 'did you know,' 'did you know they're not okay?!' 'its not okay', 'never,' 'you')


after the thumb, without thought, he used the knife to cut right through the skin past the hand -- the cartilage and then the very hard bone of the wrist. each layer had a sound. getting through the bone was the first time we saw him wince, all of us somehow surprised at its hardness, him sawing at it like a carpenter. the people would look at him and then at me, maybe for answers, i didn't have any, what did i do, what. the sky was full of heart pinching whimpers, it was like all of the birds were waking up at once. whimpers or birds whimpers or birds, he was shaking very hard now, a bad song. breathing was not an option. it just wasn't. somewhere something had gathered the breaths of all of us watching into a giant cloud and gave it to the sky. i was suspended by the oncoming hurts i could see he wanted for me but still not ready for death. shaking. still though, it sat there, fingers laced and waiting.

i was thinking after all those fingers, the crazily wasted pain, five thin bloody tree trunks in a morse-code line on the road, after all that and only after did he think of the wrist, of the rest of his hand. he removed each one just for the fuck of it, just for the torture of each one. why not the whole arm? all at once? whats never okay? and me?

trucks drove by but the people inside had no faces, or no voices, they'd just shrug as if to say 'i don't know, the kid seems to know what he's talking about,' they'd wave and keep driving, like, 'no, you'll be all right,' but i wasn't.

what was left of his arm hung there while he used the knife in his good hand to split the skin of his chest, from the bottom of his belly to his neck, with a straight deep long dash. blood isn't red, really, like in stories, but black. a sticky black that kisses crimson. he fell over, first on his knees and then face down.

i remember attempting through a petrified smothering air to get in touch with you using my mind. you had been gone for days, you had just taken off. we were in her house before it all happened, your hands were around her waist and the front of you pressed against her back while she brushed her teeth and then you both just left. the house filled up with water, up past my ankles and then people all came. people that i knew and didn't know. they filled the house up with smoke and ignored the water, which was always moving, sloshing room-temperature, threateningly. this is when he showed up, outside, with the knife. the kids looked at me and gestured out to him like i had received some package, like i was before them in line at the movies but wasn't paying attention. they shoved me out there, and his debate began. what i knew he wanted was my hands and my fingers. the blueish blood in my veins jumped startled, aware it was hunted. this is and isn't a horror story. if i pleaded it wasn't with god. they shoved me out there and you never came back.

7 comments:

Alexandra said...

You've done it again. Please tell me your secret.


Are my eyes not open enough?

kerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kerry said...

i don't know, mine are tired.

Ned Buskirk said...

i didn't have anything to breath with while reading this. this is the stuff. keep doing this. a lot of detail & cutting & black & backing up. the actions. the act. keep after this. this is why you write.

kerry said...

ned, thank you. you are a gem.

Colm said...

'a sticky black that kisses crimson'

:strikingly original description. I really like your style.

THOM YOUNG said...

thanks for your comment, enjoy your writing