It’s very hot here. Hotter than I’ve ever liked. Even when I was a kid. Growing up, summer was only good for me because school was out. Swimming’s okay but I don’t go crazy for it. I like camping to get out into the woods where it’s a little bit cool, ‘cause those nights when you can’t sleep for being all sticky sweaty, that’s not for me.
What I especially don’t appreciate is being able to see the heat.
There was nothing wrong with where we lived, except that the neighborhood was radioactive and the house was pitched at a sharp angle. When I was in high school and obsessed with my body, I used to lay my dumbbells on the floor, and they’d roll to the wall of their own accord.
You and Peggy don’t agree on many things, but the communication strategy for this whole mess might just be the worst of it. Waiting for the gray of dawn to fall into your bedroom you are having tough time with all of it. And you want to cry, cry like a baby without having to pretend everything will work out. But you cannot risk Damian hearing you.
The Glock has one bullet in the chamber and fifteen in the magazine. Roy’s got it cocked and ready. He bets me twenty bucks he can fire all sixteen while the target’s coming at him, but that’s not all. He says: “I’ll alternate – head shot, body shot, head shot, body shot, squeeze out all sixteen, and make fourteen, before the target’s five yards out.”
The phone calls start. Her mother has taken Evie’s words to heart and calls at least ten times a day. Evie can let the machine pick up at home, but at work, she has to answer. Sometimes, she puts her mother on hold for half an hour at a time, hoping the theme from The Nutcracker playing over and over again will drive her to hang up. No such luck.
Today must be the day. It’s icy out. February. No berries of any kind to be plucked for waffles. Elroy has his boots on, but still. I know how slick that ice can be. I know how you can be walking steadily and carefully one second, and the next you’re sucked to the ground. I have a vision of falling. Of Elroy’s blood seeping onto the ice for some animal, or worse, a child to find.
Tim never met the world’s gaze, his look always askance. Here, again, someone who’d rather not see. Well, I’d see about that.
“A problem, Tim?”
“That’s a load of crap,” he said. He avoided me, his classmates, choosing the black of the board. I waited and slowly, uncomfortably, he swiveled to face me.
I winked at him and said, “Yeah, Tim. Figures you’d say that. I’ve seen your mother.”
But even more than music and making art, Sara thrived on sex. For Sara sex was sustenance. There was simply no other word for it. She insisted on getting off once a day, and preferably not at her own hand. It was no accident, then, that she’d shown up at Aislinn’s wearing a plain Hane’s tank top.
On the sixth day I tried to forget about you completely and think only of survival while my eyes attempted to focus on the unending blue horizon. But I remembered the things we said we would do if you were here. I told you once I would open a vein for you and watch in erotic delight as you placed your lips around the open wound and transferred my blood to your body.
I care for small animals.
Once a week, I smuggle mice out of work. I stuff my jacket pockets with three sometimes four mice and deliver them from their overpopulated cages to freedom. It is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious, even-the-smallest-animals-count campaign that I started three weeks ago. It is a fact that mice can swim up to a mile and a half before they exhaust their energy and drown. With a highly acute sense of smell, they can also find their way home from up to five miles away.