Why Is This Here? — 12th and final installment, continuing a sentence from #11

. . . where did this rage come from he wondered then and for a long time after, what match lit it, what fuel fed it, how long has it burned, how quietly. He locks both her wrists in one hand and throws open the door to the baby’s room, his baby’s, his, and drags her inside, throws her into the wood rockingchair, it slides, tips, she falls off she falls legs flailing, her head strikes the wall then the floor, everything’s in full sight, her body has no secrets, the room’s an anarchy of wails curses growls screeches, Bonita’s on her knees and elbows and elbows forcing herself up, the heel of his bare foot thumps her forehead her head snaps back and she crumples, his face is locked in terror, he runs to the other room throws sloppy clothes on and around himself, storms out, he never sees Bonita or the baby again, leave the city his messenger later tells her, don’t ever initiate contact with him again, you’ll receive a generous check bimonthly when you inform me where you are, never initiate contact again, be far away out of his life or. After a week that little house burned to the ground, an unsolved arson, but like an underground coalfire, an eternal holocaust, the tongue of those flames forever crackled out the name Martin Major.

He rests his arm on Marci’s strong hard neck, in profile from forehead to nosetip it’s almost a straight line, almost comical to him, she’s returning his gaze through those little triangled eyes, all logic is gone, reason evaporated, words in hiding, they’re all replaced by images streaming past like a gust of hurried careless birds in a silent video, soft swaying leaves on a young spirea bush and springtime grass in a light breeze, peristalsis, a woman’s hair and heaving breath, beams of sunlight, all things undulant, cadent, alive, writhing snakes and throbbing tears, a percussion of gunshots rumbling guts sparks of downed wires, I’m all of these things he feels, all and more, he closes his eyes, shuts out Marci the tapestry the teak, it’s dark now I’m all of these things in the dark and more, vastly more, the dark is vaster than all these things, he yearns for the dark, it’s all he wants, it’s all that matters now.

Time to go he finally whispers. He unwraps his arm from Marci’s patient neck, struggles to his knees and pushes himself upward, Marci tenses and raises her head, there’s blood on the floor it’s still oozing from small slits in his leg, he glares at it, Marci’s snuffling. An odd but familiar sensation assaults his thigh just above the knee and as he looks a long blue snake wrapped in transparent sheathing is shooting out, the sensation lasts only seconds this time but Martin shivers with fear and disgust and the image disappears. Time to go before I can’t anymore he mumbles, time to kill that snake once and for all. He’s still shivering. He looks down at Marci and spots the dumbbell nearby and automatically bends over and lifts it and looks at it almost fondly. Neglecting her instinct to test the red spots on the floor with her tongue, Marci turns and trots across the room, turns again and picks up the pace again, seems undecided, finally sets off toward her master but he’s out the door now, closes it behind him, the dog begins a deep drumbeat of a bark. Over the speaker system Martin Major hears Offenbach’s Barcarolle, he sops, listens, begins doing curls. Mezzos slay him every time.

He advances to the kitchen. Before entering he stops, stands, he’s a bit unsteady, he feels aromas swirling, the ripeness of fruit, the pliancy and blush of fresh meats, the clay pot rests on the cuttingboard, he hasn’t broken anything in this room yet, stained the floor with his blood or wet it with his urine, I’ll bet the wife will regret going out today he thinks as he crosses the threshold. It’s a goodsized kitchen with windows and a sliding glass door overlooking the Hudson and the New Jersey banks and dense trees and skyline across it, there’s a balcony outside stretching from the door to another one in the adjacent bedroom, the one he and his wife, he doesn’t even try to recall her name anymore, have ridden in so many times, bucking bronco rides from kitchen meal preparations to the firm wide bed under a sweeping impressionistic willow tree in the the thick goldgilt frame, their playful concession to coarseness in that room once governed by abandon and ardor. Blood smears underfoot on the bright tile floor as he advances toward the door.

The last aria on the CD has played itself out, the apartment is quiet and a pall of sadness descends on Martin Major, he stops and turns and slowly oscillates his head, his eyes are clouded with perplexity, he’s a slopeshouldered bloodied man without pants, a twentypound dumbbell in one hand, for him even the distant past has with all sound faded from his pendulous head. If he were looking in the direction of the hallway he’d have seen Toni in the livingroom, door open behind her, inching her way toward him loosely holding a plastic Rexall bag, her smooth oval face encoded with dread. The motion of his head stops, his eyes focus on a plain roundfaced clock with a thin black rim, he pivots, sees the sliding door and without hesitation winds up and hurls the twentpound barbell at it, his pacifier since the livingroom suddenly alive with menace, he screams in pain as the door shatters around an ugly hole in its center tiny cubes of glass flying like glistening water droplets, the missile thuds weakly against the baclony railing outside and drops to the floor, the remaining door a field of tiny attached cubes jutting from the heavy aluminum frame. Toni shouts from the hallway, she runs a halfdozen paces and embraces Martin Major who’s bent over yowling and holding his shoulder and crying streams of tears. He keens like a beast and writhes as she holds him and he sobs and hooks his chin onto her shoulder.

Philip O. Jung

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2 responses to “Why Is This Here? — 12th and final installment, continuing a sentence from #11

  1. So perfect an ending even though it is not yet the end for him or for his wife. How much further can one guess at his life’s muddled final days ?
    A shocking confession if only to himself of how he abandoned his mistress and baby. Did he kill her as he in a sudden frenzy attacked her ? Sadness and misery bring anger anew . So will he wander in his final days, fresh guilt from long ago twists and tortures him. Perhaps he finally move beyond all memory, blankly staring at the ceiling.

  2. Hi Ann. I couldn’t kill Martin off and the ending have been too pat if he had done it. Besides, Toni was due home and it would have been wrong of me to either dismiss her or have her arrive just as he jumped or a moment after, since in that latter case I think her presence would have had to be justified and the story go on as an anticlimax. But in fact, for some reason as I wrote the ending dictated itself. Whew. Glad it’s done — for now. I’m giving myself some time away from it before working on revisions. If you or any read have suggestions, feel free to send them. I’ll be starting something new next week after I return home from New Haven, where I am now. Take care, my friend.

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