Archive for Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion

Bedlam II: k-u-n-t

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by JC Cecala

A continuation of Bedlam: FAGGIT

Her nipples grew erect, rubbing against the soaked cotton shirt which was dry when she opted to wear it that morning. Droplets of water slipping from the sky felt as though they were being hurled by an angered God, colliding onto her bare arms and thighs, clinging before forming diminutive rivers trickling down flesh-made banks of elbows, hips, and shoulders. A faded and worn out denim jacket played the role of umbrella, hovering overhead, shifting heedlessly in attempts to protect her from nature’s hostility.

In the near distance was that familiar wooden sign painted white with red lettering: Old Farmhouse Market. I can wait inside until the storm lets up. The idea of remaining even semi-dry crumbled just as quickly as she wrapped jacket sleeves around her waist and knotted them loosely. Her sprint became a jog, her head tilted back and the rain consumed her.

Parked outside was the usual prehistoric grey lump; a 1980 Ford Granada, its paint chipping and donut wheel for a front right tire causing the car to tilt. A black car took up space right next to it and as she neared the door her pace began to slow, staring in a mix of intrigue and fear she found herself at a standstill. The pronounced hood stretched out, wide and long, as if it were reaching to touch, and with menacing eyes for headlights the tremors carving into her could no longer be denied.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, middle

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, middle

Ringing of a bell as the door closed. Eye contact with one of the male teenagers standing behind the registers. She recognized him from school but couldn’t recall which class. Trevor?…Tyler? Tay, Tay, Taylor? Yeah, that’s probably right. Taylor. His smile was instant as was her scowl.

Their gazes fused into her body while she walked by as if these boys were as alive as the cash registers or loose pennies around their feet. Her body was saturated, sopping wet; exposed. Every curve and dip that weaved together to make her shape was pronounced. The curvature of her backside and bust were screaming beneath drenched fabric and eager eyes feasted on every sway and movement; devouring her, tasting with their lascivious imaginations, their hard-ons rubbing violently against tightening denim jeans.

“Hey.” One called.

Her response was a hair flip, beads of moisture sprayed like bullets into oil slick faces of longing. Peering down the nearest aisle she glanced over her shoulder; they were talking to one another excitedly. Moving out of sight, browsing glossy, multicolored packages lining the shelves, fingertips poked at plastic tubes and bags half filled with potato chips.

She grabbed a few Slim Jims and bent them in half before wedging the jerky snacks into her right front pocket. Stopping, her hearing strained in search of any nearby footsteps or low volume voices. None. Meticulous hands tore into the wrapper of a honey bun and brought the sticky, sweet contents to salivating lips.

Aimless were her eyes as they continued to scan, fluorescent lights, sleek packaging, tarnished refrigerators mostly empty of the beverages that should have been, all before she noticed him.

Standing by a shelf of baking products, a specimen that piqued her curiosity. His dampened hair had been bleached with no remorse and she could tell by the patches of short, brassy, brittle hairs on the nape of his neck. His taut, milky skin was reminiscent of the lumpy buttermilk her mother used to mix with mayonnaise, sour cream, and paprika in failed attempts of making salad dressing.

Something about the width of his shoulders and broadness of back stirred a heat within; something she had left discarded for quite some time because as it rose from forgotten chambers she found herself startled. He had to be at least six feet tall, and all that covered his torso was a worn out tank top one size too small, and wet from the rain. The jeans he wore draped over his lower half as if tailored specifically for him and there were rows of horizontal tears starting right beneath his backside and trailing to his knee pits. Upon further inspection, they looked as though they had been cut by hand.

She edged nearer, noticing he was speaking with someone. Someone smaller than him. A girl with wild, red hair and a face that was unusual but not new. No, not a girl, a boy. She had seen him somewhere before but struggled to remember. Focusing in, the blond was grinning, his body relaxed as he leaned onto one of the shelves and continued to talk. In complete contrast, the redhead read uncomfortable; clutching several rolls of aluminum foil, eyes shifting from side to side as his mouth moved so slightly she was uncertain if he was actually speaking.

Moments later those auburn locks were bouncing by her and she twisted her neck, watching him squeeze by and scurry towards the front of the market. Before he turned and made his way out of the aisle he threw a glance in her direction and for a moment their eyes connected. Then he was out of sight. She shoved the rest of her snack cake passed her lips. Swallowing hard, the faint scent of lilies trailed from him and she couldn’t help but notice that he was bone dry, as if God’s downpour had spared him, peculiar cat ears sprouting from tousled curls and all.

Yes, that’s where I saw him and those ears.

“Hey,” a thick tone swept her from the thoughts she had been tinkering with.

Crumpling the honey bun wrapper she tossed it behind an organized row of Chips Ahoy! cookies before turning, and there he was. Colossal he stood before her, little droplets of water collected along the brim of his collarbone and bends of eyebrows. Eyes dark, deep-set, and demanding. Demanding of response. Demanding of attention.

“The rain caught you too?”

She shook her head “Barely. I was about a half mile away when it got bad.”

“Looks like barely didn’t keep you dry,” his pink lips curled upward.

He was handsome in the way a brute was. Everything about him was strong; The build of his frame, features shaping that intriguing face, his presence.

“Hm,” she smiled “Barely. Sort of like you’re barely wearing anything?”

A smirk as he looked away “Nobody’s telling you to look.”

Rolling her eyes she couldn’t stop the chuckle that eased out of her.

“You think the rain let up?”

“Doesn’t matter. I drive.”

“…That’s your car out front?”

“The black one, yeah.”

“It looks like a hearse.”

“It’s a 78′ Eldorado.”

“But it looks like a hearse.”

“Want to feel like a corpse?”

The intrigue of orange and lavender hues strewn across the sky morphed simple glances into deep fixation. Clouds like cotton candy stretched from one corner of the heavens to the other. The afternoon thunderstorm blew through with ire but left a path of ease and serenity. Those mysterious sounds that only approaching nightfall could make swirled into an eerie lullaby so she basked in it for as long as it would allow.

“Mia!”

Heaving the sigh that crowded her lungs she rolled her eyes, slouched further back into the rusting patio swing.

The screen door swung open before slamming against the house, releasing a high pitched squeak of hushed agony as it slowly retreated back to the doorway. There her sister stood, nose high and hovering overhead, wide set pelvis and protruding, round stomach blocking her view of the heavens.

“You’re just getting in?”

Arms folded, vision shifted to the side before up to the plump, pale face staring downward.

“Girl, answer me when I’m talking to you.”

“Maybe.”

“Where you been?”

“Out.”

“Out where?”

“Out where you’d know had you been invited.”

“I’m not doing this shit with you today, Mia. Now this morning there was money missing out of JJ’s wallet.”

“So?”

So?…So Mia, did you take the money?”

Another strategic eye roll was given.

“Mia, where’s the money?…Girl, I am not,” She reached out and grabbed her shoulder, yanking with thinly veiled frustration “Playing with you!”

Pulling away violently, Mia was on her feet and inches away before shoving the woman into the patio railing.

“The hell is wrong with you!” She screamed, regaining her balance “I’m pregnant you asshole!”

“Keep your fucking hands in your husbands pants.”

“Where’s the money, you little shit? I know you took it!”

Glares were exchanged and briefly after, Mia turned her back and made her way inside. The angered woman wasted little time following.

“Mia, I’m talking to you,” She gripped her arm “Hey!”

Spinning around, the ends of long locks tickled the pregnant woman’s forehead before they swooped back, hanging languid. Tearing away, she stopped moving and looked at her sister like she wanted her dead.

“Mia, I told you, I love you but I’m not doing this with you again.”

“Good…because I don’t even want to be here.”

“Oh? And where do you want to be?”

Mia bit her lip, burrowed her brows.

“Hm? Other than here with me being a k-u-n-t.”

Heavy was the hand of disbelief that flung across her face. It wasn’t the actual vulgarity of the term that made her eyes bulge or her mouth snicker. She was more offended by the poor spelling if anything and the facade of ignorance in regards to where she wanted to be.

“With mom! I’m just staying here till she comes back for me.”

The woman stepped back. The corners of her mouth pulling up as her eyelids tightened, tiny crows feet crinkling in the corners. She then released a throaty noise. It started as a hesitant chuckle before blooming into something greater and eventually erupted in a gut-wrenching cackle that slowly dwindled as she wiped teardrops from round cheeks. Face rose red, flushed from the absurdity of it all.

“Mia, mom isn’t coming back for you.”

“Mama!” A small child called from the living room.

“Hush up, Jude! You’ll wake the baby!”

Snarling “You don’t know that, Daphne…she is, she said so.”

“She said that last time…last time and the time before. And you’re stupid as a box of rocks if you believe it.”

“Me, stupid? Said the 8th grade dropout…Fuck you, Daphne.”

“No, fuck you, ya’ ungrateful little bitch,” She retorted under her breath “Now go change Jude to some clean clothes. Make yourself useful.”

“Make yourself useful. That boy’s seven and he still shits on himself. You’re at home all day doing what? Too busy watching Sally and Geraldo? It takes a lot of energy heating up three Lean Cuisine’s and parking your ass on the sofa all day, doesn’t it?”

You don’t know what I do and don’t, don’t tell me how to take care of my kids, you hear me?” Daphne’s voice raised “I swear, girl. You’re gonna end up just like your mama.”

Brushing by, Mia walked back towards the flimsy front door before pausing.

“Hey! Where you going?”

The door was pushed open and she darted out, leapt over the five front steps onto the dewey grass and broke into a run around the house to the backyard.

Thick air slipped in and out of her, sticky and warm against her skin. Loose strands of hair clung to her temples and she wiped them away as she slowed down. A few yards ahead was her little sanctuary, tucked beneath umbrage and the darkening sky.

Closing the shed door behind her she flicked the lights on. One bulb had burnt out so half of the small space was consumed by black while the other was dimly lit with the glow of a dust covered bulb. She latched the lock shut and made her way to an old desk against the wall on the brighter side.

Bending onto her knees she pulled the bottom drawer open. Inside there was a music box. Made of wood, on the top was the picture of a young girl with a cherub-like face, blowing a dandelion. In her hands, she gripped it tightly.

She had been promised a boombox on her thirteenth birthday. Mia’s mother had been working extra shifts at the diner and the pre-teen just knew it was so she could get her that boombox. The rectangular electronic was all she could think about. Its sleek black body pulsating beneath her as she’d sing along with Ian McCulloch and Siouxsie Sioux, the melodies and rhythms twisting and swaying through her veins.

April had finally arrived and the twenty-seven days leading up to Mia’s birthday staggered. That morning arrived and she awoke in her self-made pallet in the tiny room she had once shared with her older sister before she got married and moved out. Wiping sleep from her eyes she felt her heart fluttering but remained as composed as possible. After all, she still had to make herself breakfast, go to school, come back, make dinner, and her mother probably wouldn’t be off of work until well after 10pm. Rolling over, she grabbed her pocket knife before climbing to her feet.

Tip-toeing towards the kitchen she was stopped by that same dark, raspy voice she’d spend so much time avoiding.

“Well someone’s up early.”

He lay sprawled out on the sofa in nothing but boxers, right arm dangling to the ground, left arm twisted behind his head.

“Morning.” She said before continuing with her routine.

There was little in the refrigerator which was nothing new; milk on the verge of expiration, leftover fried corned beef hash from a week or so ago, maple syrup, and some cottage cheese that had gone bad months ago; so she grabbed a few packets of butter and jelly her mother would bring home from the diner and smeared it on a slice of white bread.

“Gonna make me some too?”

Standing in the entrance of the kitchen, his figure was imposing while he looked down at her leaning onto the countertop.

“No.” Was sharp as she bit into her breakfast.

“Oh, now Mia, you’re too sweet to act so salty.”

Shoveling the rest of the condiment slathered bread into her mouth she opened the cupboard and reached for one of the small emptied jam jars they used for drinking. His arm shot out over her and snatched the intended before she could. Thin, pursed lips stretched and bent into an ugly smile as he handed it to her.

“Here ya’ are.”

She turned, walked out of the kitchen.

Johnny was a phenomenal pain in the ass. He was there more than at his own place but never pitched in for food or electricity. He was loud when he was fucking her mother, louder than any other man Mia had heard screwing in her home. He was proving to be far more obnoxious than the others.

Harold had been a two-timing slut, Larry possessed an abusive streak, Donald was lazy as a sack of cow shit, but Johnny was what Mia imagined Harold, Larry, and Donald would’ve created if they got together, fucked, and had some science fiction baby that was raised by ravenous perverts.

She’d never shower when it was just her and Johnny at home. The only reason she felt moderately comfortable being left alone with him is because someone was usually in the downstairs neighbors’ place in the split level house.

Quickly grabbing handfuls of water she slid eager fingers through matted hair, trying to smooth out the tangles as best she could. While brushing her teeth she captured him in the corner of her eye, again, hovering in the doorway.

“I wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”

She spit “Thanks.”

“Is it exciting?”

“Is what exciting?”

“Discovering womanhood.”

Shrugging, she spit again “Was it exciting?”

“Was what exciting?”

“Discovering fire.”

Rinsing her mouth out she was rough as she wedged by him and walked back towards her bedroom. The muttering of little brat slipped as easily out of her awareness as it had slid in.

Changing her underwear and bra she saw something brown on the bedroom wall. She knew what it was before she even looked. Instinctively she grabbed an old tennis shoe from the floor and slammed it with force onto the creature. Dropping the shoe, its smeared remains stuck to the wall and she took a moment to wonder what that had felt like for the roach. How it feels within that instant where life meets death.

Mia rummaged through the crowded closet, eyes eager to fall upon the saffron colored fabric used to make her favorite dress. She slipped into it like a second skin and glided her hands down the front before angst began suffocating her. It had to be zipped up from the back. Mama wasn’t home.

“Fuck it,” She mumbled while twirling, eyeing the ruffles as the folds spread, reminding her of daisy petals blossoming in springtime.

Squeezing into her jacket that she had outgrown in the seventh grade all Mia had was hope that she looked presentable. The only mirror in their home hung high above the toilet and wasn’t big enough to give a view of her entire body. She’d usually sneak into the girls restroom before first period class and make any necessary adjustments to herself.

“Have a nice day at school, snotty bitch.”

Turning to Johnny she looked him up and down, slow, intense. From the enormity of his feet to the baby-beer belly starting to form, to the hair spreading across his chest, to the aging face she had grown to despise.

“Johnny…just go. Go home to your knocked up wife. Go to hell. Go back into the womb you came from, come back out, and try again. Go crazy. Go fly a fucking kite. Go anywhere. But please, Johnny Wright…just go.”

Opening the music box, there was no cylinder or spring motors, all inner workings had been removed. The current contents were an empty Visine bottle and crumbled ball of aluminum foil. Taking the bottle, she untwisted the cap before placing it down on the desktop.

The foil in her hand, she took time unwrapping. Inside were several small, black, pebble-like chunks. She dropped all three of them into the bottle before unlocking the shed door and entering outside.

Nearing the back of the house she made her way to the water hose and carefully unraveled it before turning on the water, just enough that it dripped out in a thin stream. Holding the hose steady she slipped the neck of the bottle beneath it and watched it fill to the brim. Biting her lip, Mia turned the water off, carelessly dropped the hose, and walked nimbly back to the shed.

Propped up on the desk, she shook the little bottle and waited until the liquid inside was a deep brown, the small pebbles dissolving completely. Eyelids slid downward and did not open as she titled her head a bit and slid the squirter into her right nostril. She pinched the Visine bottle and sent the liquid up her nasal passage, inhaling slowly and holding it there, making sure it did not slide down her throat. She repeated this act four more times until bare was the recycled bottle.

Heat soaked into the skin on her face and she slouched back into the wall, monitoring this intense sensation while it spread across her cheeks into her neck, down her breasts, wrapping around her areolas, seeping into her belly and dripping down her listless legs draping over the edge of that old desk.

Fingers through hair lips softness dark black reds into purple the air is heavy pressing down grin tongue birthday cake party hats laughter mama staring into eyes stroking hair please hold me mama why don’t you let me stay alone beneath blankets thinking about rainbow sprinkles I never got to taste balloons polka dots clowns with doofy grins I sing and sing and sing and I can’t stop if I stop I’ll explode and I talk but nobody listens prayers unanswered fuck God why won’t you love me

 A knock on the door. The room was a blur and it took her a moment to focus her vision.

“Whaaaat?” was drawn out and breathy as it sagged from her tingling lips.

“S’me. Open up.” A familiar husky baritone.

Hoisting herself off, she stumbled, regained her balance quickly, and walked to the door. She cracked it open slightly, peeked outside. Night was upon them and she was surprised to see how dark everything was. When did that happen?

“Come on now, move.” He said as he pushed the door open and closed it behind him.

“J,J,Johnny…Johnny what?”

“How long you been out here?”

Hearing the question, she was having trouble formulating a response. Partly due to the fact that her tongue felt fuzzy, mostly due to the fact that the concept of time seemed foreign to her. One hour? Three hours? So she poked her lips out and gave the most nonchalant of shrugs as her final answer.

“Important question, old man. W, where’s my stash? And not… this cheap, black …Mexican shit. I want the powder like you normally get me.”

“Money’s tight right now. I couldn’t get it today. That’s what I was coming to tell you. Can you wait till Friday?”

Squinting her eyes she looked over her shoulder then back at him “Are…are you talking to me? You think I can wait that long? I just finished off what, what I had…not to mention, you’re interrupting my high.”

“Listen, money’s a little tight right now and Daphne’s been on my ass about new stuff for the baby.”

“F, fuck that…and fuck Daphne too. You know Daphne was, was a nymph of fountains…and, and streams and springs in mythology. But my sister Daphne is too big to fit in a fountain or a stream so…because…um…”

“Mia, how much did you have?”

Turning her back to him she took her time walking back to the desk and climbing onto it. She leaned her head back against the wall and let her legs dangle over the edge as they had been before, her legs spread, eyes closed.

Not a moment had passed before she could feel his calloused hand on her thigh. It seemed heavy, as though it would leave a bruise or fracture a bone but her reaction was delayed as it moved upward. She sprung up and her arm flail was instantaneous, a wild hand slamming into his right eye.

“Ahh, God damnit, Mia!”

“What the hell is wrong with…?” She yelled, anger festering from her eyes, her chest rising and falling with intensity.

He held his eye, looked at her with befuddlement all over his fourty-five year old face.

“You know what…you’re one grade A piece of shit, Johnny. You ruined my life. You did. You’re fucking selfish. Because I wouldn’t fuck you and your old man dick, you made sure my mama didn’t buy me that boombox.”

“Again with the boombox, Mia?” He shouted

Yessssssss, again with the boombox, Johnny! That’s all I wanted…instead, I got this cheap piece of shit music box,” She hurled it at him and he twisted his body out of the way so that it sailed by his head, slamming forcefully into the wooden wall “because you convinced her to buy your drugssss for you. What, what kind of fucked up person does that to a thirteen year old? Huh?” Her voice was sharp as she catapulted her words his way.

Silence consumed the quaint shed and she slid down off of the desk-turned-perch.

“I wasn’t dumb enough to fuck you when I was twelve, so why do you think I’d do it when I’m seventeen?”

“Because you’re high as a fucking kite.”

“And you’re lower than a fucking snake…you’ve got until tomorrow to get me more, you geezer.”

Daphne’s voice carried from the front of the house and the two stood within that small space, within that hostile moment, staring at one another while her words penetrated.

“JJ! JJ, baby, I need you to fix this damned handrail! It’s loose again!”

“…You hear me, JJ? Tomorrow.”

She could see the resentment bubbling beneath his collected exterior and as he began to leave she said “Oh yeah, and if you go crying to your wife again, about how I took money from your wallet, I’ll have to cry to her about how you were fucking our–”

“I didn’t tell her anything, damnit,” He spat “She’s money hungry and monitors every dollar I make.”

“Whatever, Johnny. Tomorrow.”

Once more Mia was in complete solitude but this was nothing out of the ordinary. She was always alone whether by herself or in a space filled with people. The music box did not break and as she dusted it off a part of her wished it had.   Returning her Visine bottle inside she crumpled the foil and tossed both it and the box back into the bottom drawer of the desk before kicking it closed.

Her body was still burning from the inside and she wished it could last the rest of her days. Slumping to the ground she rolled onto her back and stared upward at the bulbs on the ceiling. Digging into her pocket she pulled out one of the jerky snacks she had stolen earlier and bit into the wrapper, ripping it open and chewing on the salty meat inside. A gentle feeling on her chest, she placed her hand near her collarbone and felt a wrinkled piece of paper.

Holding it up to the light it dawned on her what she was looking at. It read: 603-624-1950 Alexander

 The boy from the market she thought, remembering his dark eyes and toned body. Chewing vigorously she took another bite as she closed her eyes and wondered how big his cock was. A giggle slipped out of her after the thought came and went and she shook her head, embarrassed that she even had allowed it to cross her mind. Smiling to herself she clasped the paper in her hand and stuck it back into her pocket.

Finishing her food she threw the wrapper aside and started to scratch her ribs. There was trembling that trailed her limbs and her stomach was beginning to feel peculiar. Running her tongue across chapped lips she was succumbing to feelings and delusions that began to flood her and she could feel her mind slipping back into a dreamlike state.

“Under blue moon I saw you…so soon you’ll take me up in your arms,” her voice was soft, hushed while she sang to herself “Too late to beg you or cancel it…though I know it must be the killing time, unwillingly mine.”

Nestled between consciousness and fantasy, for a moment, Mia swore she could hear mama telling her to pack up her belongings and come back home. Visions of ruffles on that pretty saffron dress lingered though she lost it somewhere within the confusion. The violent chaos that strung together eight moves, petty theft, stints in foster care she had made since she turned twelve. That’s when the pillar of mental anguish melted from her eyes and stained her flushed face.

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Bedlam: FAGGIT

Posted in Dark Fiction, Literary Fiction, Novella, Prose, Short Story, Transgressive Fiction, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by JC Cecala

He pulled his dick out, wrapped with a slick latex, and pressed it against Saint’s lower back. He stood up. Saint rolled over. Stared. Watching while he pressed his index finger and thumb firmly around the base of his member, still filled with the excitement spilling over from just moments ago. Sliding the transparent, forest colored condom off, a familiar drippy white pattern cascaded down its insides.

Feet heels riddled with powdery dead skin pushed off of the ground, balancing two hundred pounds of bodyweight on their calloused balls and toes, distal edges like claws. Stretching, what little body definition this stout man had accentuated beneath the wild brown hairs coating rosy flesh. A twist of the neck, a grunt, pelvis poking out, he sucked in what seemed to be, as far as Saint could tell; all of the air his lungs could accommodate before exhaling. Mr. Giblin morphed back into the portly, short man he was during the pre-calculus lessons he instructed, adjusting the wire frames of his corrective lenses and transporting the beads of sweat consuming his forehead onto the backs of veiny, wide hands.

“Now remember,” Giblin gripped an imaginary key in his condom-free hand and put it against the side of his mouth, giving it a gentle twist.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, left

With eyes slowly shifting to the side and lips twisting into an annoyed pout, Saint pretended the gesture was unseen. Each time they did this it was the same old cautionary motion, same doggy style position within the same old eight minutes of heavy breathing and erratic thrusting. Repetition in its finest form.

Saint’s clenched fist blossomed with expectation into an opened hand, palm exposed and dewey, slender fingers distancing from one another.

“Oh, right.”

Giblin became inanimate, another item amongst the moonlit background as Saint counted the crisp dollar bills. Twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, one hundred, twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, two hundred dollars. Two hundred dollars in less than ten minutes. Not bad as far as he was concerned.

The flick of a switch and light spread from the ceiling, consuming the room. Coiled ringlets of vibrant copper hair were prismatic beneath its intrusive gleam and as he approached the corner of the bed where Saint was standing, slipping into a mint colored t-shirt, Giblin succumbed to urges of curiosity. Sweat soaked digits glided through the untamed forest aflame growing atop a delicate face. Saint recoiled, etching a scowl over features that were usually gentle and demure.

“Don’t.”

“You’re just so exotic. Like an alien…and your hair.”

The reflection captured within the rectangular frame of a mirror hanging on one of the walls in that quaint, humid bedroom was still. Not even its chest moved as musk, sweat, and desperation tainted air slipped in and crept out. That boy trapped in the mirror followed Saint through lingering days and never ending nights. He was odd. Oddly wedged into the uncomfortable space between adolescence and adulthood.

His appearance was odd. Brownish red hair, thick eyebrows, burning ferociously against deep olive skin. Freckles dusted across a face that straddled the gender line. Eyes; bright amber circles seemed to burst out of their sockets with an eager naiveté, amidst all of this physical confusion.

Perhaps it wasn’t confusion. He certainly didn’t feel confused, giving his slim, toned physique a once over. Pronounced collar bones leading to sleek, strong shoulders. Trim waistline, hip bones just barely protruding. Flicking his flacid penis, he had seen enough dicks to know he was well above average. Twisting his torso he admired the definition in his supple thighs and round calves.

Sometimes he loved the young man in the mirror. Other times he hated that boy trapped inside.

“Alien,” was soft and low as it slid off of his tongue.

The car rolled slowly as it came to a halt and from where they were parked Saint could see diminutive squares glowing amidst an opal backdrop off in the distance. His mother was still awake and that realization sunk into his pores, like melted lead, and suddenly dread hung heavy from his heart. Ideas of disappearing into the surrounding black flitted across his stream of thought but they didn’t stick. They weren’t solid enough.

“I wish you’d at least let me drive you closer. I hate droppin’ you off so far away.”

“I’ll be fine. I’m a lion after all.”

“You know, you sound batshit crazy when you say stuff like that.”

There was a slight creak when the passenger door opened. Climbing into the night, Saint noticed that the moon was looming, hanging low and close to the treetops.

“I’ll see you in class tomorrow.. Don’t forget about your spherical coordinates assignment. Oh, and here, take this.”

He stuck his head back inside, Giblin’s stocky arm extended, a dangling denim jacket in hand.

“It’s chilly.”

Saint didn’t bother closing the door and the “Mhm,” he responded with was lost in a breeze, carried away from Giblin while he watched the silhouette walking away from his vehicle, slipping into the oversized  jacket he gave him moments ago.

Pinching his right pocket he felt the crumpled bills. He had checked to make sure they were still there several times already and that feeling of money beneath denim eased his worry. Looking over his shoulder, the space Giblin’s car had occupied seconds ago was now empty; a patch of dirt road with a new memory.

Within that small piece of time between getting out of Giblin’s car and walking towards his home, Saint felt something. It crawled into him slowly before growing into a notion that made his thoughts rattle with wonder. What if he wanted to make this arrangement with Giblin into something greater? Underneath it all, perhaps he wasn’t as terribly bland and unamusing as he seemed? Could there be, hidden beneath vapid speech and argyle vests, someone with the capacity to understand Saint? Keep his secrets and flaws a private matter and protect him from the arrows and daggers of the outside world? No, probably not, he thought. The man slept with a stuffed walrus and collected Magic: The Gathering cards. I wish I could gather everything wrong about Giblin and magically make it disappear. If not for purposes of morphing him, physically and mentally, into a man he could become enamored with, at least so the eight minutes of sex they engaged in twice a month could be enjoyable and maybe…last longer than eight minutes.

He couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the barren space existing somewhere within him. He just patted his pocket, stargazing with hungry eyes and a starved spirit.

His left hand pressed flat on the doorframe while with the right, he gripped the knob and twisted as slowly as he could. Cautiously he slipped his head into the house and shifted his vision from left to right of the small living quarters. He eased in with stealth and and twisted the inside door handle so that the latch wouldn’t click when he closed it.

There wasn’t much space inside of the one floor home. Saint often found himself frustrated by the screaming plaid sofa, languid geraniums, and ancient coffee table crowding him. Busy patterns, oversized house plants, and out of place trinkets suffocated his thoughts, berated his concentration, so he never spent much time outside of his room.

From the kitchen came the sound of drawers slamming and monotoned ramblings. A high pitched giggle split the air and then the home returned to being quiet. Saint was reticent, easing towards the hallway leading to his bedroom.

“Penny!”

Still. He stopped breathing and listened for the sound of creaking floorboards.

“Penny, is that you?”

Creak. Silence. Creak.

 She’s coming.

“Pennyyyy.”

A slender, brown-skinned woman peaked from behind the dining room wall. With eyes more opened than any Saint had ever seen, he stared into those gaping black pits and felt himself slipping, helpless.

“Hey mama.”

“Did you see ’em?”

“See who mama?”

“You know who…you know who.”

“…Naw, mama, I didn’t see them.”

She glanced around, this woman, before cracking a wide smile. Her head disappeared back behind the wall and just as quickly, she reappeared in her entirety.

Her tiny torso was wrapped in layers of aluminum foil, her massive breasts being held up by her bra and spilling over the silver, self-made corset. Wild tufts of black hair looked as if they were pulling away from her skull as she stood there, tugging at the wrinkled ends of her lilac dress.

“Good, good, good, good..good,” She nodded quickly “I’m almost out of foil.”

 That’s because you wrapped yourself up in it all to look like a fucking Salvation Army tin man.

“I’ma need you to buy more tomorrow, I’ma need you to buy more.”

“Mama, did you take your medication?”

Fidgeting fingers froze along the hemline of her hiked up cotton dress. Her sharp chin sunk into her neck as she averted anxious eyes to different areas of the living room.

“…Yessss.”

“…You didn’t, did you?”

“I said yes, God damnit!” Lanky arms flailed, her right foot stomping the hardwood floor.

Taking a step back, Saint kept his vision focused on her. At sixteen he still wasn’t used to this colorful behavior but he had gotten much better at pretending to be and masking the fear it often evoked.

“Mama…you don’t have to yell,” He said softly “Remember? We talked about your yelling.”

“I..I know, Penny, sweetie,” A loud clapping noise could be heard as she clasped her hands together “I just…I get so riled up trying to keep them away all day long and I-I..I get so damn angry.”

He nodded.

“You know?”

“I know, mama…but that’s why,” there was a brief pause as Saint smiled, nodding in sync with her “That’s why you’ve gotta take your meds.”

“No,” was sharp as she spat it out of her mouth “No! I don’t like them meds, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t! They got to ’em!”

“Mama, no, they didn’t. I picked them up myself.”

“No!” She gripped handfuls of her hair “No, Penny! They’re trying to turn you against me too! They’re gonna hurt you!”

Legs beginning to tremble, his heart slammed around its prison of bone, begging to escape. The same way Saint begged God when he was alone at night.

“Mama…mama, please. Nobody’s turning me against you. Remember, it’s just you and me,” He crept towards her  in the way one might approach a rabid animal, hoping this would assure her of his sincerity “You and me against the world.”

“You and me, my sweet Penny,” Her hands dropped and she chuckled “That’s right.”

“Come on. We should…we should go to bed, huh?”

“Ohhh, no, no, no, baby, you go…you go to bed. I’ve got to cover the windows in the kitchen. They keep trying to get in through the kitchen.”

“Oh.”

“See! Shhhh…you hear that? God damnit! I gotta, I gotta,” Trailing off mid-sentence, his mother dashed back towards the kitchen “No!”

Pots rattled and a chaotic song consisting of cabinets opening and closing, foil tearing, and a one-sided conversation seeped through the house.

Retreating to his bedroom, the clamor slowly faded as he closed his door. The noises were still there, shaking up his thoughts and taunting his emotion, but they were dull, fading from piercing red to soft pink.

Saint’s room was small. No more than 10 x 10 feet, and there wasn’t much to it. He had no posters taped to the bone white walls, no television or decorative pieces. There was a neatly made full sized bed and next to that, a little cherry oak nightstand with a small framed picture and lamp. Despite the modest size, his closet was more than spacious. In it he stored his laundry hamper, clothing, and books upon books upon books.

Bending onto his knees he opened the singular drawer of his nightstand revealing it to be empty of anything but a pair of costume cat ears and a rosary neckless. He slipped the rosary around his neck, the golden ears on over his red mane and adjusted them before closing the drawer. Digging deep into his denim pockets he pulled out the money he had earned earlier that night and took his time straightening each bill before lifting his mattress. In the moonlight he could make out the outline of a neatly aligned rectangle spanning the length of his box spring; the money he had collected over the last year. He placed the new additions on top of what he had already acquired, gently placing the mattress back down.

 I’ve got to count that at some point.

Not completely sure of the total amount he had saved up, Saint had been procrastinating. He was guessing he had a decent stash of cash but he didn’t like to think about it. Mostly because he knew what he’d do once he had enough. He wasn’t even sure if enough would actually be enough. So he continued to push the festering idea beneath the excuses of homework and reading and guilt and everything else he could conjure. Just for now. Just for a little while longer.

As he stood up a glint of light ricocheted off the corner of the picture frame beneath him and before he realized, he was looking at it yet again. Holding it in his hands he glided a thumb down the pewter frame, going over the engraving spots made up of bunnies, kittens, and kites with whimsical tails. Inside of this frame was a park on, what Saint imagined to be, a spring afternoon. Perhaps during May or June. In this park was a four year old on the bench of a wooden picnic table. A mop top of curly, wild, fire red hair and a smile made of incomplete rows of tiny teeth. He clung to the woman  beside him, whose eyes were gentle while she gazed upward at the man sitting behind her on the table. She was wedged between his athletic, beige legs and his hands were placed on her shoulders. The man looked down at the woman, lovingly and seemed to be saying something.

The contrast of her cocoa skin against his was sharp, and the boy’s curls were reminiscent of the blond waves pouring from the mans tilted head. Saint used to look at that picture for hours, entranced by the different skin tones and hair textures, wrapping himself up in the variations of beauty he found.

 Alien.

That beauty that maybe wasn’t to some people. A sight that not everybody understood. He used to ask his mother about it. Why he didn’t look like anybody in his class. Why she was so dark and daddy, so light. Why nobody else had the same shade of hair as he did, and where did freckles come from.

“You black, Penny” She once told him, when he was nine “You black, just like me. Don’t you feel it?”

He looked at her long and hard. The chestnut complexion and thick, graphite colored hair. The fullness of her lips and the broad width along the bridge of her nose. Being completely honest within his thoughts, he acknowledged that no, he did not. He didn’t really feel anything. What was black supposed to feel like? If it had anything to do with how he appeared to his own eye, he certainly didn’t feel it. Looking at his mother he sometimes wondered how he came out of her as their resemblance was non-existent. He had seen pictures of his father when he was a boy and that was more or less what he saw when he passed by a mirror or caught his reflection in a pond. In fact, when his father got a bit of a suntan, they were the same color.

“No.”

“No?”

“…No.”

“You feel white?”

“No.”

“Well what do you feel like then, I’d like to know.”

He shrugged.

“You don’t know?”

“I just feel like a person.”

The sound of metal on ceramic tore Saint from his reverie he had succumbed to. He could hear the lid of a pot spinning on the floor, speeding, a metallic discord, increasing in harshness before calming and then coming to a complete stop. He placed the picture back down and backed away.

Opening his closet door he stepped inside. Curled fingers like claws swiped around in the darkness and he grazed the pull string. A tight grip and light tug. Easing some of his hanging clothes to the side, behind them there lay rows of books and pens and loose leaf paper pinned to clipboards. There was a small, worn out wooden matchbox on top of an off-white clipboard. Sliding it open, inside was a pair of ear plugs he slid into either ear.

Snatching up a book he had been reading he sat on the floor before tucking himself into a corner. Flipping to where the bookmark was wedged he picked up on the line where he had left off.

 “Den they’d tell me not to be takin’ on over mah looks ‘cause they mama told ‘em ‘bout de hound dawgs huntin’ mah papa all night long. ‘Bout Mr. Washburn and de sheriff puttin’ de bloodhounds on de trail tuh ketch mah papa for whut he done tuh mah mama. Dey didn’t tell about how he wuz seen tryin tuh git in touch wid mah mama later on so he could marry her. Naw, dey didn’t talk dat part of it atall. Dey made it sound real bad so as tuh crumple mah feathers.”  

They congregated in the hallways, selling stories of the night before, stringing together the real with the make-believe so that they might be deemed interesting. So someone would like them even if the person they liked didn’t exist. Leaning on lockers, hands cupped around mouths spreading rumors like a cancer. This is what Saint assumed anyhow as he made his way through his peers.

He always felt heavier when he was at school, well, with so many eyes on him, weighing him down, how could he not? Every now and then he’d overhear someone speaking of him, almost always in a negative light. But before school let out last year most of the name calling and harassment had dwindled to passive aggressive muttering and locker vandalization. Despite being painted over, when he looked hard enough, he could still see the word FAGGIT beneath the new burnt orange coating.

He arched his thumbs, hooking them behind the black straps of his backpack to relieve some of the weight from his slouched shoulders. A sound; one that was familiar and exciting. Saint stopped, mid-step and strained to listen. A song he had heard before and enjoyed. Turning to his right he spotted the source. A stranger to his recollection stood at her locker, a walkman attached to the waistline of black acid washed jeans and the sound of percussion and saxophone blaring from the massive headphones that devoured her ears. Soft brown tresses poured along her back like a chocolate fountain as she swayed her head back and fourth, hips popping from left to right.

“Don’t go for second best, baby, put your love to the test,” Saint could hear her singing under her breath before closing her locker and twirling around.

Their eyes met and the movement that trailed through her body ceased. Saint was right. This face was one he’d never come across in these hallways, in town, or anywhere for that matter.

With a heart shaped head, her slanted brown eyes sat atop angled cheekbones and were sparsely covered by the long, straight bangs sweeping across her forehead. The loose fitting t-shirt she wore was jet black and had: bauhuas in neat, white print placed beneath a picture of what looked to be a bat or something of the sort that he couldn’t quite tell. It looked as though the sleeves had been torn off along with the bottom of the shirt, as the slightest bit of her flat midriff was exposed.

Saint couldn’t decide what was most fascinating about this girl before him. Her milky skin was without a flaw. Not a blemish or a pore could be seen. Eyebrows, pronounced and arched to perfection, lips full and nude; it took him a moment before he realized just how long he had been staring and just how twisted with what looked to be disgust, her face had become.

“What the fuck?” She said loudly, rolling her eyes and walking in the direction Saint had come from.

A small group of onlookers were staring so he gave them his back. Rubbing his left cat ear, he continued down the hallway, hoping his embarrassment would settle before he got to class.

In the back of the class, the desk closest to the window, he sat. There was dialogue being spun between teacher and some nameless student in the front of the room about Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men. This was the current English assignment that Saint found no interest in. He had read the book twice; once at age twelve, again at thirteen. Listening to people his age, some even older after being held back, stumble across the synopsis didn’t interest him in the least.

Beyond the confines of a window decorated with oily fingerprints and crevices caked with dust, were stagnant clouds stretching across a slate sky. He hadn’t brought an umbrella with him and hoped that if it were to rain it would do so after he made it back home from the market.

“I think everyone was sort of, like…chasing the American dream.”

An uncertain statement or perhaps question drew him back indoors. He looked down at the blank paper beneath him, where notes should’ve been scribbled. He had enjoyed Of Mice and Men both times he had read it, but it reminded him of a space in time he tried not to think about.

Most of the colorful details had grown wan and Saint did nothing to try and breathe life back into them. They were living in a different town, Durham, and at the time he was happy, or as in reach of happiness as he had been for some time. It was around the time his mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he didn’t fully comprehend what it meant. She started taking pills regularly and acted in a way Saint hadn’t seen before. Her movements were sluggish, and at times there was a listlessness to her.

It was May, no, it was June, because they were getting ready to take finals. Saint was told that he needed to go speak to the principal.

“…For what?”

“I wasn’t informed. I was just told that he needs to speak with you.”

“Oh…okay.”

Before he could gather his thoughts, his teacher tapped his shoulder.

“You should probably get your things from your desk.”

“I’m not coming back?”

She hesitated. Lips pursed together, she fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger before eagerly smiling.

“Well, we just don’t know how long it’s going to take, that’s all.”

The interior of the office was reminiscent of a museum. From the gold gilt picture frames hanging on the walls to the wooden floors creaking beneath his weight. The moment stalled for quite some time before the principal finally entered the office. He closed the door and turned to face the adolescent.

“Saint Goretti.”

He nodded.

“You…may be wondering why I called you down here.”

Saint’s eyes stalked the giant in a charcoal suit as he stepped behind his desk, towering over him like a tidal does, impending before the crash.

“A, uh, a very serious matter has been brought to my attention and I thought it’d be best if I asked you about it before it goes any further.”

“Okay.”

“Your mother is on her way to the school, she shouldn’t be long.”

“You called my mom?”

“Because of your age it’s most appropriate that she be here.”

“…Why?”

“Saint, you know Mr. Wall, yes?”

A lump in his throat.

“Yes?”

“Mhm.”

“How well do you know him?”

“He’s a teacher here.”

“He’s your teacher, correct? Sixth period, English?”

A hesitant nod. A knock at the door.

“Yes?” Called the principal.

The secretary opened the door.

“Mrs. Goretti is here to see you, Principal Sweeney.”

Before the woman could step aside, Saint saw his mother push by her, bounding into the office. Her body language was lacking in refinement and she did nothing to mask the contempt on her hardened face.

“Mrs. Goretti, thank you for–”

“I want him fired!”

The secretary quickly closed the door. Saint stared up at his mother, who threw her purse to the floor and stood across from Principal Sweeney.

“Do you hear me?”

“Mrs. Goretti, please, I understand your concern but there are channels we have to go through before any steps can be taken.”

“I send my son to school and this is what happens?”

He lowered his head and stared into his unzipped backpack, reading words from the covers and spines of different textbooks. Repeating the titles of them in hopes that he’d come across as too preoccupied with what was in his bag to be bothered with the world around him. Glencoe, McGraw-Hill, Algebra I. Of Mice and Men. Holt Science & Technology, Physical Science.

“Saint!”

“Huh?”

“Answer the man!” She gripped his shoulder and he felt the agitation pulsating through her.

“Have you ever spent time with Mr. Wall outside of school?”

“…Mr. Wall’s a good person.”

“But have you spent time with him outside of school?”

“…Yeah.”

“Do you know it’s not permitted for teachers to spend time with students off of school grounds?”

“No,” He was losing his composure to rattling nerves, this sinking feeling trying to birth itself through his chest for the world to see.

The air that seemed to be smothering him with an unbearable, thick heat “No, I didn’t know that.”

“You’re supposed to go straight home after school. Straight home! Why would you go with this man to his house?”

“Mrs. Goretti, I think it’d be best if we remain calm about–”

“Did he threaten you? Did he force you to go with him?”

The boy sitting in front of Saint passed him back a sheet of paper; homework questions for the chapters they were expected to read. He carelessly slipped it into his bag, looking around as everyone started getting up from their desks. He followed suit and made little eye contact as he exited the room, cat ears in hand.