[ToC]

 

PALLBEARER

S. J. Brooks

 

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. —Nabokov

Who could I even be without that little woman, the one Joe called Fibber?—Fibber, sometimes Samson, depending on the situation and her way of acting upon him—Fibber, with her affinity for red sweaters and flowers and singing and her sleeves all pushed up, though always falling down, even when it was at least eighty-eight degrees in that little house on 12th Street, 52 12th street, where she rarely left that last big chunk of her life. 
     "How are you doing, MeMe?" I'd say right away. 
     "I'm here."
     Those dusty plastic grapes still hang and overflow over the chair, just next to those ever-curtained windows, the sheers letting plenty of light in, radiating a face.  That old Zenith with the large rounded screen, gray-white in its reflecting, its volume and power knob one and the same, it's real.
     Once, a child, I hid my head in that sweet-smelling shrub by the A/C, knowing that since my head was hid and my eyes were closed tight, hidden to everything but blackness, so was the rest of me.  She never let on I hadn't disappeared.  
     Oh, Fibber, all those chicken fingers and fries you deep-crunchifried for me, all those crispy, butter-soaked pieces of bread you burnt just right were how you loved. 
     "Old people ain't worth nothing, you might as well just throw ‘em away!" she said, meaning every last syllable, every note and trembling sound.  "I just love to kill things, don't you?!" she said of most insects, all snakes.
     Revelation of Saint John the Divine, Chapter 12, Verse 9.  Let's read it again now, slower.
     She wrought apocalypse to many a sliding serpent through Joe's hoe, chopping slithering bodies into squirming bits, to many six- and eight-legged creatures through smashing, half-disgusted, half-thrilled, in crazy blue-eyed clarity.
     Words, those Alphas and Omegas, their blood-soaked ambiguity, Fibber, shook your soul just like they shook mine, but for you it might've been the thousandth time, for me the first.  The verses, the words, always stayed the same and always opened, just like this old cracked life.

 

 

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This piece cut straight through tears and trembling.