Jason Akley

Eng 381A

Fall 2016

VOIR DIRE

Remember I was real hungry and I shot him five times because he was holdin’ and I didn’t have the money and at first it was face to face then I pulled my momma’s gun got it from that Payless shoebox she keeps on the top shelf of her bedroom closet next to the scrubs don’t fit no more but if she got to work another twenty at the hospital sits right across from this courthouse (she probably working there now used to be called St. Mary’s ‘til it secularized to Kenneth Hall she always say a church is like a hospital so she just goin to church sometimes she drinks vodka and says it different says: I would tell you to go to hell but I work there and I don’t want to see you everday… funny ain’t it how the courthouse and the hospital have to use the same parking lot) anyway them patterned scrubs they might fit again someday the gun was inside some old snow boots a snubbed .38 she got her a permit for it after she divorced my daddy back when I was about nine and when I pulled it from the back of my pants on the stairs in front of Roger it wasn’t no face to face no more he was a couple of steps above me and he didn’t give it up he didn’t hand me the rock he turned to run and that’s when I shot him. I guess since I had to shoot up he made it to the door. To the exit on the fourth floor (we was at his baby mama’s tenement on Bond and that was her floor she was at the end of the hall by the broken elevator and if he had died if he hadn’t of made it there this would be a different kind of trial) and shit I didn’t make it down to the service exit before the po po had me on the ground by the dumpsters and mailboxes little black girls in the back apartment playground didn’t even stop swinging and the boys in the sandbox didn’t even notice.

Wish he’d just fucking say that… thinks Gary Kelevra. He was in that parking lot sitting in his black Pontiac Sunfire. Staring at the yellow engine light which had just come on. Fucking jury duty. At least he didn’t have to work and he worked at a hospital too—Touchette just down Bond Avenue a bit past the graffiti on the pawn shops and barred up convenient stores. East St. Louis is just that. It’s just the other side of the river, and the Mississippi wouldn’t call it a direction.

He had turned twenty-five last month. The furor of Y2K had worn off and he must have answered the questions right the lawyer’s questions the judge’s questions. Gary had told the judge he was a writer. The judge in his black robe had turned his head to the left to look down on him in the jury box and he smiled when he said he liked Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Gary wanted to wish a train could be heard going by after all the tracks weren’t far from the courthouse and the hospital either, but he didn’t and of course he didn’t hear anything else either.

The defendant’s name was Clarence. Today was day three. The defense would probably rest today. Gary heard the buzz first then saw the fly land on the inside of his passenger window. Must of left some food in here, he thinks, insects an annoying and incessant reminder of things we like to forget about thus inspiring our resentment. They weren’t much around in winter but then it was cold. He pulls out his flip-top cell phone it was her idea they tried Sprint first but where she lived they needed Verizon he hadn’t yet got rid of his landline. He calls the dealership in Belleville and asks for the service department they’re busy so he leaves a message. The fly is moving again. He`s able to follow it with his eyes for a moment, but he doesn’t feel like turning his head. Just don’t think… she said, Live lightly and you’re not as oblivious to your surroundings. Well that should make me happy the twin tracks to why I exist (the fly lands on his window he puts his thumb on it)—experience and reflection.

Yes she worked there: Julia. Not when it was St. Mary’s but now that it was Kenneth Hall. Gary can look through his rearview mirror from the parking lot and see the sign above the ER entrance. He remembered when she interviewed. They took the Metro while her husband was at his job when she had to do all the pre-employment paperwork and she hid her daughter’s pee in her bra. She wasn’t at work now, but she’d be working tonight. Smoke breaks with the black nurses outside the door in view of Club Escapades in between traumas. She’d been caught smoking weed in her Jeep in this same parking lot by the beefy bald security guard she was reading the newspaper and simply denied the smell he was divorced his name was Larry after that he came to the lab to check up on her often he liked how she made her ramen noodles in the coffee pot from the break room.

The service department wasn’t going to call back about his engine light before court began. He would have to wait until lunch. The morning would be for the defense to close its arguments. It was sort of an open and shut dry case. A crack deal gone wrong. Clarence shot Roger but Roger lived even with five bullets in his back. There were witnesses. There was evidence. The state had to prove he was guilty. The defense merely had to shed doubts on this to make you think of his innocence. But Clarence had a public defender, and he wasn’t doing a very good job. Sure don’t think. Maybe it isn’t even pride which makes you for when you’re fully in love with yourself you can’t deny you’re happy it’s when you see you may not be as innocent as you think that you begin to resent this sort of self-confidence and then you begin to maybe wonder who’s life is on hold who’s really on trial Clarence is in a prison cell right now I’m out here in this parking lot looking at a yellow engine light will I exist for Clarence sitting in that jury box waiting to judge him or does he exist for me so I have something to do today who lives for who and is this really the measure of our happiness?   Killing flies so that the statues of ourselves stand bare of all our fine speeches? The public defender, Bob, needed to practice his rhetoric. No fine talk can really get rid of a smell.

Of course Febreze can do it or a least you say it does and maybe it really does so it’s tolerated so you buy it kind of like an Old Spice commercial look at him look at me the double of our smile in the mirror. Gary didn’t have a lot of respect for Bob. He didn’t shave probably hadn’t bathed since last Sunday a suit worn out of the Salvation Army shop and a clip-on tie hip from the emporium of his college days before the world nibbled him to what he was the dandruff and the grease of the parted line of his graying (not just for men) hair making the mouthing of his Listerine words worse. But let’s not judge.

Gary was hungry which meant he wasn’t sleepy. Maybe the fucking lunch break would cure him of that. Getting into the courthouse is easy if you read the rules. You’re just as evil as I am she said that in the storeroom of the Kenneth Hall lab it was after midnight but she lit her watch anyway to see and after he was done she said she wished his load weren’t swimmers but then what else could be his confession and they were in the dark next to shelves of reagents she went to the bathroom to see the light other than on her watch and it was her shift not his so after she got on her knees he got on his to elucidate John Lennon’s words love is on your knees and as he looked up at her as he reached out to her as he as always reached out to her she could say as she can only say in the dark no one else watching: Don’t leave me. You’re my only friend.

Shit they butted heads. And no one is ever really watching. Clarence learned that from Roger. It was a matter of esteem on those stairs. The baby mama held the money. But by day three Clarence could tell Bob was just waiting on the weekend. That`s when the funny thing happened but it really wasn’t funny there was no stir as Gary could tell in the jury box when Clarence absolved Bob of his duty and decided to defend himself the rest was like a circus animal on tranquilizers.

He questioned his mother. Clarence did. She was the last witness. Gary would have cried but that would have been subjunctive and embarrassing and the jury really didn’t really want that fear. It was a nigger interviewing his illiterate mother god-fearing speaking words in a box to the punctuation of all racial religious and right things you should do you’ve heard and always will hear. It made Gary sad, especially as he worried about his engine light, but it was a relief to see the beast was dead. And it was lunchtime. Anyone who wanted to watch had been in the courtroom and now it was time to judge but as Gary thought of Julia across the street working that night as he thought of himself the exclusion was not are some guilty or not guilty it was more absurd and it was also just and it was there for all of us waiting as we go home to read the news other than this.

He texted her the verdict. He was sitting in his car looking at his engine light again. The service department called and said it was a light that just came on after 90,000 miles. There was a thing you did with the brake and the clutch. She offered to make him a sandwitch. It was winter and it wasn’t the season of campfires and roasting hotdogs. They didn’t deliberate long around the wooden table outside the courtroom. The judge came within the hour in his black robes. He looked out the window at the parking lot. “I guess I don’t have to order you any food,” he said.

How About a Kiss?

“How about a kiss?” she asked. Her eyebrows didn’t raise but the laughter reflected in her eyes in the sunlight showing his eyes in hers the pupil just dead in the center not circular ovular without a hint of dilation to any of his responses the irises immaculate. She might as well have used an emoji or shortened text message to magnify the minimalism. She handed him a Hershey.

“You know what they say about love and chocolate. And I’m definitely not sure how well it goes with beer. Maybe I shouldn’t take any chances and just let them come to me.”

They were adjacent to each other at a black foldout table the chairs the same color except for the damage left by the cats. He holds a can of Natural Light in one hand and a pink fly swatter she gave him in the other. He watches as one fly circles the bong landing on the latest issue from Tulane (he didn’t know how they kept getting alumni addresses) but he thinks of Bukowski and laughs at the cover. It portrays what you have to fill in with your imagination a woman’s face the lips present a black bowler hat for the head even a monocle piece for the eye but the face isn’t there and sometimes he has to wonder as a fly lands on the cover what he’s really trying to kill—the pesky fly or what it lands on.

She already knew the poem about it they already had a history with it he didn’t have to tell her she picked the color but he didn’t care much about Bach or what he did between what to do and what he had to do that really didn’t matter the thing is he did it and others felt compelled to write about it maybe even another poem and maybe that was what was most important and the words that came out to convince it just left out the more it said and anyway it’s forgotten anyway with each new buzz the eye following it the inevitable swat. Besides she was a liar and anything she had to say about it was bound to come out backwards.

Call her Sue. His name Rich. Sue was looking for a new car (preferably used) using the LG G3 he got her on his plan and the Wi-Fi of his home. He let her do the search for he knew she was much better at it. He could talk and she would listen but after her question about the kiss the look in her eye the smile in the question he knew a question like that had no answer and all his words were useless. So he accepted the chocolate and took a picture of her with his phone doing her search. The can of Natural Light on the corner of the black table with its condensation the Dixie plate of marijuana and the blue glass speckled bong just seen in the other corner of the picture she appeared concentrated over the phone in an Old Navy t-shirt and a pink bandanna on her head her arms in a graceful bend as she leaned forward elbows resting on the foldout table. Beautiful bone structure but she wasn’t begging.  A fly lands on the Natural Light. He doesn’t take a swat at it for it would knock over his beer.

“There’s a dealership in Cambria with a few cars in my price range.”

It was February and she was using this year’s tax refund, or at least the part of it he gave to her since the divorce three years earlier—the child tax credit. Two children two grand. Sue had sold her Jeep to Gary the next door neighbor, who flipped cars for money when he wasn’t installing carpet. He said he’d give her $700 for it but he never did. So she had been without a car since May. Summertime wasn’t that bad an IGA was within walking distance, but when school came round rainy days made the morning walks tough. It was wintertime now. She was desperate to find a car. Snow was on the ground a cold front had come through the past weekend and a few inches were still not melted the snowplows leaving huge hills in parking lots.

“Isn’t that where the hippies hang out?”

“That was what I was told when I moved down here. I almost got a house there, but I wanted a closer drive to Heartland.”

“Like that really mattered… How the hell do these flies get in here? Ever since the girls broke the screen door they always manage to slip in when I leave the back door unlocked.”

“You spend too much time alone here anyway. And nobody cleans up after you.”

“Well my mornings wouldn’t be so long before going to work in the evening if you had a car and I didn’t have to take the girls to school. Maybe you should get Gary to do it.”

They planned to go the next day. He would take the girls to school she would make them an omelet and then they would head off to the dealership. When they got there heading north of Crab Orchard the lot hadn’t been plowed and the cars looked like plumped up marshmallows with the un-scraped snow on their windshields and the pavement wheel trails of slush.

He was dealing with a boy. The salesman that came out in the cold was a kid. Sue had found a yellow Volkswagen bug. After the boy salesman swiped it off they took it for a test drive. It drove well on the roads. But when Rich tried to put it in reverse (which didn’t really matter anyway there were always roads to turn around in even in the icy slushy roads of winter) Rich laughed at his mistake when the boy simply showed him to push the stick down and then shift. Rich loved the connection in the icy conditions. So he told him about their tax condition. Rich and Sue really worked well as a team. He asked what else was in her price range. That’s when the boy’s pride and joy came out. Even with a pack of Evian water in the backseat. A North star V8 Cadillac with black matte finish. The kid had painted it himself. And it really drove like a dream. Total cop trouble if you’re black.

Winter be damned Rich used a credit card to fill in the rest (400$) what the child tax credit didn’t the rest in cash without the paperwork and Sue was grateful for a while trysts at Devil’s Kitchen pictures of privacy but they don’t make them like that like they used to and even with a pink decal in the back saying protected as you go to a cornerstone church and children in the back that hate the winter flu season disguising it as chips when the cops smell weed and yes Sue coming over to his barbeque hut for St. Patrick’s day with corn beef hash and cabbage mourning as she cooks mourning over the goddamn drainage that makes doing the dishes hard mourning that she should have been his wife but hell in hibernation what do we eat anyway? A mistake.

Don’t Murder Me

Well I didn’t really know what he was talking about until I walked through Thompson Woods at SIU myself after being assigned to Los Angeles AFB as a space systems analyst and what happened during acquisitions training in Texas and here it is almost Veteran’s Day the students stand in line to vote in the Student Center built when he graduated in 1960 it’s been uncommonly warm up until now and the paths behind Faner Hall are crisp with colored leaves the trees not quite naked yet and a fine time to be walking in the woods so when my father told me about them on the levee in New Orleans during a Taj Mahal concert this my senior year some twenty years back at Tulane 1997 after my piece of shit Ford Escort broke down in Memphis on my way to school from St. Louis (had to give two blacks twenty bucks and bought them a six pack to take me to AutoZone and fix my starter at a gas station in Horn Lake) but the oil was leaking too and like a dumbshit I put too much in then the fuckin’ rods started knockin’ on the causeway right at the I-55/I-10 interchange and if you know that’s pretty much a long bridge over bayou with nothin’ had to get it towed the rest of the way and had it dumped in front of our house on Burdette Street and now my father had driven all the way down to haul it back (he should have never bought it from that ex-con conformed Christian from the barber shop fixing Fords out of his garage) anyway he said he lost his mind in those woods his senior year and ROTC and examinations were getting to him and I guess he decided to tell me this because I had dropped acid before the concert (he didn’t partake and it was my first time got 5 tabs from a genetics major I roomed with freshman year in the Honors Dorm I took a tab with my father then I used the 4 other tabs with two ROTC buddies and my roommate) and my father being a retired Air Force Colonel watching us students with our blankets in the grass digging the blues on the outdoor stage (I highly recommend Taj Mahal) took a walk with me down to the muddy shore of the Mississippi where the barges were tied up and the driftwood mingled with the lines the music above us and behind and that’s when he told me about Thompson Woods and what happened there but then you need to know a little about my father he was valedictorian of his high school and during his speech in Taylorville the cops came to arrest him because of a joy ride he took with his brother in a stolen car a white trash background to say the least his father a carnie and a drunk dead when my father was seven the family name an alias William Akley my grandfather beat a man to death in a fight and changed his name my dad’s step-father no better a drunk too and at sixteen he moved out leaving his some 14 siblings and half-siblings with one pair of blue jeans he washed every day hating hominy for the rest of his life always refusing the milk the teachers tried to give him in the school cafeteria so when the principal of the high school came to talk to him about a scholarship to SIU while he was busting out a field I wonder why he went he told me some things but I guess you don’t really talk about that and my mother said he was different before he went to Vietnam (he volunteered after being a nuclear weapons officer in the Netherlands his peers said it wasn’t a very good career move my sister was born in Germany I was born after he came back from Vietnam while he was at the Pentagon) anyway he wanted to pursue a graduate degree in psychology while he was at SIU (he was an English major) and he wanted to be a counselor in fact he did just that with returning prisoners of war but he met my mother in the school cafeteria where he was working as a busboy and she spilled her coffee to get his attention and ROTC and the military would provide the stability he never had growing up so despite the visits I remember to his family (they were always moving but to me it was always like “The Jerk” the same yard out on a back road with junk in it mange dogs running and you better know how to run the power lines his mother before she died in bath robe varicose veins above the slippers sitting on a badly upholstered couch that didn’t seem to change Sis and Pud and Rosie just out of jail for writing bad checks always asking my father for money since his mother’s Social Security and Pud’s disability didn’t quite cover the bills) you can’t really escape that my father couldn’t really escape that they say a man’s character is his fate but where does a man’s character come from so it is funny taking a walk through those woods Thompson Woods where my father lost his mind back in 1960 holding my ex-wife’s hand on a Saturday night before Daylight Savings Time watching our children run ahead (it’s still not Veteran’s Day yet not even Election Day she stole my mail last Thursday while I was at SIU finishing up Delbo’s Auschwitz and After and viewing the dystopian movie “District 9” but she made chili she wanted a bud if I wanted my mail back and it’s fine weather for chili for a walk in the woods and she’s wearing the ring my father gave to my mother just on the wrong hand) it was a purple sunset and I guess the marching band had practice we watched them walking back to their dorms with their instruments but see people want the fucking end of the world so let me tell you about my ex-wife about how our children catch us fuck as I put my suitcase against the door and she says I should get a fucking lock on the door but against Delilah’s denials we were married once and how the fuck do they think she and Bell got here and so let me just do a rundown of the last week since Daylight Savings Time since I saw the soldiers stand with their heads bowed on campus Delilah turned ten the day after election day I won’t talk about her birthday let me just talk about Veteran’s day I locked Delilah’s phone the Walmart special smartphone I gave her for her birthday then fuck Leonard Cohen died and my ex-wife admitted she cried hard so I turned Delilah’s phone back on and she texted they were going to Toys R Us to use her birthday money and I said come get me I don’t know how many lip balms she made me smell from all that aisle from young girls I had to get a shopping cart her favorite purchase the poop emoji pillow and she promised to give me the six dollars she went over at the cash register then we took a drive in my ex-wife’s new Ford Fusion (she hasn’t had to make a payment yet but a tax refund is coming gotta love that child tax and earned income credit) listening to Beethoven from a CD left in the car she rolled some doobies from my weed and I tell you what God made some beautiful weather as we drove past Devil’s Kitchen where the road is closed right now and headed to Giant City my ex-wife wanted to climb the water tower at the Lodge and the girls came down the stairs on their butts after seeing the cross way over on Bald Knob and we met a man from one of my previous stories a veteran himself his son killed himself out by the Herrin Lake Reservoir a couple years back (that’s how long I’ve been writing this book) he was climbing up with a pair of binoculars I said that was a good idea and his daughter Bell’s age said they were hers then instead of eating we took the trail at Devil’s Standtable the girls noticed a lot of fucking bird feathers under the rock overhang I handed my ex-wife one and said, “Birds of a feather…” she just laughed and mentioned it later after we read the sign about erosion and a glacier from a million years ago then we went back to the Lodge and ate the chicken I love how they have books about the Shelton Gang in the gift shop as my ex-wife said, “Good old Charlie Birger…” and she talked about Leonard Cohen again how she was lonely and listened to him a lot and Delilah asked me about the first time I heard him it was back at Tulane I bought his CD “Songs of Leonard Cohen” from a music store on Maple Street and my roommate from New York stole it from me and laid in bed all day listening to it and as my ex-wife said he was a gentleman and a poet and then we came home because I was expecting a package from China and Bell chose “Superstar” on Netflix and it made me cry because yes God does work in mysterious ways after my ex-wife and I both told Delilah to shut off the Vine compilations on YouTube and read a book even though it is creative but exhausting and futile and Delilah and I talked about how they’re shutting it down anyway then from the hard-on my ex-wife could feel at Castle Park as I was rubbing her back (the neck dissection she went through while were married a vascular tumor grew from hormones because of the pregnancies that and finances fucked up our marriage) Delilah texting me “LOL” because she heard her mother saying a muscle was stirring and after faking sleep well we fucked and it was stinky and good (I fucked her tell she came got tired and since she’s too old to get on top she had to suck me off with her stench on her) and it’s happened many times before and there were stains in the bed the girls had to sleep next to me in after she left (we listened to Leonard “You Want It Darker” and danced to “Traveling Light” before Delilah interrupted us with a broken earing of the Eiffel Tower) she’s working and I have the girls this weekend and Delilah wore her monkey ear muffs and sleeping blindfold Bell the first one up this morning watching the lava lamp (another purchase from Toys R Us) as I listen to Leonard Cohen already drunk waiting for the liquor store to open at 0900 and as I write this Bell gives me a hug because she chose the movie “Nine Lives” last night before we went to bed and Keven Spacey is fucking good and that’s all I have to say right now but then another fucking week goes by I’ll be really pissed when Willie goes and as I told my ex-wife at Castle Park young girls are out and a woman my age is gonna have kids which means my kids have to get along with her kids her ex with my ex and then whoever they meet and it just gets really fucking complicated and if they don’t have that kind of baggage at our age something’s wrong with them and she says I’m her porn when she masturbates but men are visual and I’ve planted my share of trees for PornHub while she just says, “You’re an oak alright…” and goddamn sure a woman can be the boss when it comes to love but when that’s all they want to be it becomes a business and if she wants to be treated like Uriah’s wife a writer of Proverbs to her son as she listens to her preachers on the smartphone I got her she should know sure you are forgiven but there are consequences and living off a veteran’s child support and food stamps for over three years while he works at a VA hospital ruling the roost of her own household but ex defacto dating him and fucking him on his days off leaving his bed empty at night and smoking his weed well that’s not very lady-like and when I grill pork steaks Sunday night after her two day 12 hour shift ordeal is over and Bell asks which one is hers and she says, “It’s all mine…” there’s something fucking wrong which is why I resigned my position at the VA and enrolled at SIU where my father and mother met thinking about getting a MFA in creative writing it’s been an enlightening experience and I ain’t no master planner (just like I’m not a master debater) but I’m looking forward to the spring semester and I don’t know what the fuck is going to happen one door closes and another opens I could become a traveling lab tech again or I could just head back down to New Orleans and live off my VA disability there’s just the children to think of and it’s a shame I don’t know if it’s my daughter Miss Blue texting me or my ex-wife I bought “Suicide Squad” on Amazon Prime Delilah is a big fan of Harley Quinn she’s been following the trailers for a while now and as pointed out on YouTube in one of the things she looked up the relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn is a comic book story we just read all kinds of shit into it and I think Harley Quinn is awesome (“You don’t own me…”) it’s the enchantress who’s a real bitch anyway their TV is hooked up to my account and we texted as we watched it so let me tell you about the trip I took with my ex-wife to Du Quoin last Monday after Veteran’s day after she worked the weekend she wanted to show me again the lake she visited many times growing up her grandmother Marguerite had a house there my ex-wife really does have a beautiful soul and just like Jack in “Easy Rider” jokes about the marketplace where people are bought and sold ending it with “I tell you one thing I’ve never done is talk to bull frogs in the middle of the night… Swamp” who knows what happened out in the woods in Freeburg where she grew up there is a lot of Cajun blood in the family and the stories of witchcraft they dabbled with (supposedly Shannon was baptized in a demonic ritual when she was born and her mother still thinks cats talk to her even though they gave it up and went back to church her father becoming a deacon and leading a prayer group for the men at the Baldwin power plant at least until the kids were grown then they started drinking at the bars again I met her mother for the first time playing with a dildo they have a clubhouse Shannon’s father built and invite many friends over basically good country folks her mother married her father when she was fifteen and didn’t get a driver’s license until past thirty though she drove anyway she took care of the house and Shannon’s father worked the night shift for many years Shannon would sometimes stay up to talk with him before he went to work buttering his bread diabetes eventually got to him and they had to amputate one of his legs a couple of years back a good man he would sometimes wink at me but then Shannon’s grandmother her mother’s mother Rosie had a big part in raising her she was a whore of East Texas Papa Frenchie still lives out in the swamp and I wrote about their origins near the Sabine and Hemphill and walked with Shannon along Holly Beach (when she was my wife she wasn’t a whore but she does like her fountain sodas from her days of doing coke and working at Casey’s and she has though eyes and a lot of spunk) anyway her grandmother her father’s mother Marguerite lived in Du Quoin and my ex-wife would go there for Thanksgiving she liked to put ham on rye and eat from the olive tray and in typical fashion it was a cousin who showed her her first dirty magazine and her older sister is really wild and gave her her first joint out of a cutout Bible when she was 13 then she took a whole sheet of acid and sat in the woods for three days and nights watching the sun and moon pass her older sister trying to feed her ding dongs and she took me to that lake and she said after we drove around it it seems small now and I held her hand she doesn’t like drinking she had some bad experiences with alcohol (when we first met and she read my first novel she said I should be raped) so I can see why she didn’t like fucking me when I was drunk I stopped drinking for a while when we got married (yes we committed adultery but she married young) but then nothing happened with my writing and our children were born and finances became strained as I traveled from one lab tech job to another trying to hide our weed habit (when we first met she wrote me a lame poem about a flower and gave me a joint then started selling weed to me she got from her older sister’s retired biker husband he works at a meat market in Fayetteville now) and I turned to drinking again as a crutch the divorce was volatile and ugly and at first I thought it was just because of finances and for God’s sake half of her neck was cut because of a vascular tumor but maybe it was something more though as you get into the semiotics of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose you realize sure there’s always something more because there’s the maximum of confusion achieved with the maximum order a sublime calculation and we will always be on the inside and we do not know its rule having found it already made and the creations of art only retrace the operations of the artificer not the creations of nature which are not the work of our minds so when the cops were called in the day before Thanksgiving it just seems sudden I got my girls Tuesday night the day after we went to Du Quoin Shannon already nesting on her couch with her comforter asking for a few hits from my spliff (I order wax or shatter off the darknet get it mailed to me dissolve a little bit in some highbrow vapor by nuking it in the microwave which was the mail she stole before Veteran’s day I order it because it doesn’t have diacetyl in it and if you’re looking for that other ingredient you won’t find it there) and she admitted they started calling her Harley at work she was scheduled to work the nightshift over Thanksgiving at Anna Union County Hospital and she was talking funny because of a head cold she passed on to Delilah and stupid me I got drunk that night watching them feeling vexed by Shannon who yes I pushed down after our trip to Du Quoin no excuse for that but I man can get physical when a woman exasperates him and he loses his words and I left after she came after me with a baseball bat but she still needed me to watch the girls over Thanksgiving and when I woke up Wednesday I put on “I Saw the Light” in the bedroom while they blared “Rio” to their elf on the shelf (they went back to Toys R Us without me) the volume high on Delilah’s Samsung tablet a birthday gift from Shannon’s father and it just reminded me of how Shannon turned up the volume to “Marie Laveau” on my Pandora account the Bluetooth speaker hers during Delilah’s birthday meal of pot roast and mashed potatoes and it sickened me and yes I yelled at them to turn it down and discussed their mother to children who are not of age and I made Delilah cry which made me cry and I left them to get some Pall Mall cigarettes at the local Hucks (where Shannon has stood outside waiting on niggers to give her a join) I guess Delilah texting her mother while I was gone then Shannon called me on my phone talking about how Delilah’s phone was off and the voicemail wasn’t set up she called twice again the last time seeming to confirm my address and she goddamn knows good and well my address Bell dancing with the peace sign necklace she said could be a weapon and Bell knew when the mailman showed up I received a next day verified letter which got the girls excited because the monocle revealed I got the code to this prize giveaway event at a Chevy dealership in Herrin and I was on the phone to call it in at the girls behest when Bell said the cops were at the door I had already apologized to the girls about my outburst I just want them to be happy and laugh and not have to deal with shit like this anyway three cruisers showed up and it was raining two cops came inside while “Alice’s Restaurant” was playing on Pandora the younger cop saying “Damn I can smell weed in here…” he took the Dixie plate of shake out of the cabinet after I showed him where it was and left the orange lighter and I told them I get it in the mail from mom and pop growers here in the good ‘ol USA off the darknet which was created by the United States Navy TOR the onion router it helps you stay anonymous if you’re a journalist or a political dissident or want to dabble in the black market but shit buying bitcoin ain’t anonymous (well unless you go to Western Union) the older cop asked about K2 and I said spice was awful I went outside with him while the younger cop talked to Delilah (Bell had to put on some clothes because she likes to run around in her underwear she told the older cop not to look at her and he joked about her skivvies) we stood in the rain for a little bit talking about different beers and military assignments then went back to my patio with a tin roof to get out of the rain the younger cop came around knocking a dead hornets nest down in one of the eaves with his stick and we stood there for a while talking about the situation then they left as I waited for Shannon to leave work and come get the girls though I texted her not to get fired it’s okay here when she showed up in her Ford Fusion she wouldn’t talk about what’s next I told her I hid nothing and she said “Jason, they already know…” she left with them so I decided to drive back to O’Fallon (my dad retired out of Scott AFB before he died of an inoperable brain tumor maybe from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam) spent the night in my mother’s guest bedroom after fixing her Roku and watching “Fletch” and “Fletch Lives” she fed me a nuked ballpark hamburger patty and a baked potato (she tried to feed me old lady food and I hate to say it my mother does more harm than good though with the best of intentions) got a good night’s sleep and the next day we went to my sister’s house in Collinsville for Thanksgiving their dog Cooper has gotten big and almost broke my sister’s middle finger keeping him in check as we brought in our dishes and it was good that my nephew Dalton was there he’s graduating this year out of Rolla (my father’s brother who he took a joy ride in a stolen car with before his valedictorian speech lived there he died just a week before my father of lung cancer) Dalton is getting a nuclear engineering degree and has already got a job lined up in Charleston to teach the protocol to navy men on submarines after an exhausting sixteen months training I asked him if he’s got a girlfriend and he said no all he’s got time for is to study and at least he doesn’t drink or take Adderall like most kids Justin wasn’t there he’s assigned at Fort Campbell working on diesel trucks his first holiday really away from home the meal was good my sister worked really hard on it but as she admitted you put all that time into it and it just gets eaten in a matter of minutes and while we were waiting on the turkey to get done I ordered some more Ego battery chargers from China on my smartphone (it really has nothing to do with politics or patriotism it’s more a matter of free trade after the FDA started regulating the e-cig industry the prices went up that good old trickle-down theory and when you can get the atomizer cartridges for a dollar while they cost five dollars here it’s a matter of common sense though sometimes the parts are defective after all they work for ten cents an hour over there and I’ve met students at SIU who make their own vape apparatuses there’s how-to manuals on YouTube they’re awful bulky though doesn’t fit in your pocket that easy) so after the meal when we didn’t watch football and the talk turned to politics after election day I got mad because all politicians are salesman they all lie to you (in one of Bob Dylan’s songs he says “Somebody just asked me if I’ve registered to vote…”) so I left and came back to Marion and no goddammit California shouldn’t fucking secede that’s what my father said to me down on the bank of the muddy Mississippi during that Taj Mahal concert we don’t really need another civil war and as the cops told me without giving me a ticket I probably could get a medical marijuana card (Shannon could too) if I think it works better than taking a pill and as my dad told me it was my mother that helped him get off his and that’s all I really have to say it’s Black Friday now and Delilah and I texted over the holiday and about this weekend (I got a dog on Saturday a lab mix puppy her name from the humane shelter is Carrie but the girls said I should call her Rosebud she’s as sweet as can be inside sleeping in my bed at night but take her outside and put her on the purple harness and 20ft blue cable I got from Rural King with the girls the bitch is wild she tore up the soggy pillow and teddy bear out there and goddamn I enjoy watching her regal with her muscles sleek and twitching) I haven’t had a chance to talk to Bell and sure there will be a cyber Monday (all it did was fucking rain here) and sure I still don’t know what the fuck is going to happen so let’s just keep singing our songs people.

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