There was a man who was a monster. He later forgot it though and from his jail cell could not or would not admit his rapaciousness, even to himself. When people came to gape at him he would repeat, in a rather reptilian fashion, the words run relay races over and over as if each word was the weary tick of a clock that was either about to stop working or had already stopped working and was only keeping a nonsensical, disjointed sort of time. He hated the visitors who stepped out of clouds and sun, who passed by his claustrophobic cell wearing wide-brimmed hats and beach tans.
Most jail tours at Tip Hat were sparsely attended. Not his. For him, the queues of morbid visitors zig-zagged the hallways and stretched out of sight beyond the walls, even beyond the tin diner down the block. For him, these afternoon tours were either tedious or horrible, depending on the exact hue of daily aura the cafeteria had predicted at breakfast that morning. If the oatmeal was a little bluish that meant one thing, if a little dry or yellow, another.
As he lay lanquidly on his bed reading a porn magazine disguised as "The Reader's Digest" he thought, as one terribly familiar, waifish girl-thing stared at him from beneath a hat with a trembling flower, that he'd like to flick his tongue out like a toad, and after a flash of desire too quick to even be seen, digest her. Was it actually her, the same one? The girl of many shortcuts through the woods? The same one whose dark eyes had been beds of coal embers burning down? If so, she'd grown much taller since their courtroom days together. Had she come back to visit him in his crumbling rib-caged palace where there were no gaps, where on one had bothered to make an Eve? Her eyes were a schism of fire and pity, and seemed to ask him how far he'd had to carry his baton of pain, before handing it off, burning, to her.
Come a little closer if you want a real blood and gore bedtime story. Ride a shortcut to the answer. Read and wince, my girl.
Meanwhile, the calculated cacophony of his eyes terrified her.
Her pale constricted face and agitated footsteps ticked away. Retreating to the diner perhaps. To weep in her coffee and call a friend, choking, on her cell phone.
He would turn a page further into his artificial porn, wallpapering the cinderblock of his cell with day-glo, mind-pressed bloomers. He dreamed of the Eden of a studio apartment next to a playground, and resumed his interminable wait for the day of the crimson oatmeal.
words: Phoebe Wilcox, Pennsylvania (homepage)
image: 'Escape' - Jeff Crouch, Texas (the crouch collaborations + more)