Sunday, April 01, 2007


It was a raccoon.

I was six years old, I think. I could've been nine, or even ten.

A car had hit the raccoon and really the raccoon was a half-raccoon but the little front raccoon-legs were still shivering and pulling in a forward motion, as though, if the raccoon persisted, it could drag its bleeding half-raccoon carcass to the field beyond the road. I thought, 'I should hurry home with this half-raccoon and put the half-raccoon in my parent's hands or maybe my grandfather's hands and beg my grandfather to fix the raccoon, to put the raccoon back together with science or magic or something, to sew the raccoon-pieces into an unsullied whole, I think, to super-glue the raccoon, maybe, to resurrect it.'

Instead, I poked the half-raccoon with a stick. I flipped it and inspected its fleshy holes and jagged misshapen bones and the little pink muscle-tears and everywhere the thick black blood. I wasn't surprised or sad or happy but I thought I should be surprised or sad or happy.

I thought to myself, 'Death's very normal and boring.'

"What is it?" I heard from behind me. It was Anastasia and Anastasia was small with long hair and a delicate white dress with little puffy sleeves and a lacy hem. "What are you doing?" Anastasia asked.

"I found a raccoon," I said. "It's my new pet." I poked the half-raccoon again. "Come look. It's a mutant raccoon. Look at its funny waving legs."

Anastasia stood next to me.

"We should operate," I said. "We can make an experiment. We can play with the raccoon-muscles and like the lungs and heart and stuff."

"I don't want to experiment, I want to fix it, you should fix it. Why did you hurt the raccoon?"

The little raccoon-mouth opened and the little raccoon-teeth were wet and slimy with thick black raccoon-blood and the raccoon-jaw was shifted a little so that the raccoon-face was symmetry-less and swelled and the raccoon-eyes were bulging and misshapen and I wondered if I was hit by a car would I be a half-me with a symmetry-less face and bulging misshapen eyes and would I try to pull my little half-body into a cold wet field?

"It's my experiment," I said to Anastasia. "I'm investigating how raccoons survive with half-bodies and stuff so I can do magic-tricks and cut you in half with a saw and so I can be a doctor. I could cut you in half and keep the bottom-half in the closet and the top-half in my bedroom in a big fish-tank or on my nightstand attached to a plaque."

"I don't want to be cut in half and die."

"Everything has to die sometime. Besides that's why I'm doing the experiment. So you won't die right away and I'd probably save you when I'm a doctor."

"I don’t want to."

"I'd put you back together," I said.

Anastasia didn't answer.

"What about the raccoon?" I asked. "Look at all the blood. It's going to die probably. I could kill it now."

"I would probably bleed until I die and then I would be dead so don't cut me in half, you can't, it's weird and mean and I'll tell grandpa."

"Forget it. We have to experiment on this raccoon before it's gone. We need to get some knives or something and some rope."

"You don't have to." Anastasia was almost crying. "You could fix it or grandpa could fix and someone could fix it so don't kill it just fix it please."

"Grow up," I said. "This is a half-raccoon and a half-raccoon might as well be a dead raccoon as far as god-or-whatever's concerned. This raccoon is going to raccoon-heaven with the other raccoons and they probably run around knocking over trash-cans in the middle of rainy clouds and fight and stuff or maybe they just go to like raccoon-hell and burn up forever. You should go to church and ask the priest and the priest could tell you what happens to dead half-raccoons who are experimented on in the road."

"I hate you," Anastasia said. "You're mean and nasty." Anastasia was running away as she said this. "I'm telling grandpa," she said.

"Go be a liar," I said. "You're the nasty liar."

The raccoon was still moving but I left it on the road and walked into the field which was wet and cold with tall grass and thick mud and the mud was slippery and dark and brown and as I walked my feet seemed to disappear beneath the mud only to reappear a step later and the mud was in my shoes and soaking my socks and I moved my wet little toes and thought about my toes and how my toes were wet and moving. I imagined myself buried in mud, moving my toes beneath the mud, sleeping quietly in the muddy field then waking later in the muddy field with mud-toes and a mud-body and a pet mud-raccoon.

"Will the dog live?" I hear Merna ask.

"Probably," Noah says. "I stitched it up and injected morphine. It's sleeping now. Later I'll determine if it should be put down."


"It's in a lot of pain and I can't tell what happened to its musculature and internal organs when the leg was torn off. It'd be different if it had been chopped off because everything within a body is sort of connected but I don't really know about dogs, I mostly know about humans."

My neck is sore and pinched so I sit up and stretch. The room's white and empty except Noah and Merna who are standing near the low white front-counter and behind Noah and Merna are flat gray computer-monitors and wide bulky desks and a hanging row of metal clipboards. Noah's very tall and thin and Noah's arms and legs are long and thin and delicate and Noah's wearing thin round glasses which reflect the fluorescent-lights and obscure his round black eyes.

"How is she?" Noah asks. He points his obscenely jointed index finger at me.

"I'm okay," I say.

"She's just tired," Merna says.

"I said I'm okay."

"I'll take her to get some coffee or something or take her home or whatever. Can you call me with the dog news?"

"Of course."

"I said I'm perfectly fine," I say.

Noah hugs Merna. "I have to check on my patients," he says. Noah moves away from Merna and with his obscenely jointed fingers, Noah squeezes my shoulder and smiles a wide fatless smile which shows his teeth and each tooth is wet with saliva and shiny and so I think about saliva and acids and mouths and digestion.

Merna is standing in front of me. "Are you ready?" Merna asks.

"I'm ready."

We're outside. It's very cold and very dark and the parking lot is wide and empty except for an ambulance and Merna's car.

"Where are Aaron and Erik?"

"Back at the ice-skating place."

"But how'd they go?"

"Aaron called a cab or something."


"Why does Noah hate me?"

Merna looks at me. "What are you talking about?"

"I know," I say. I sit in the passenger-seat of Merna's car. "I can tell by the way he glares at me and how he moves when he's near me which is kind of tentative and quick and violent, maybe, like he's imagining holding a butterfly-knife and thrusting the butterfly-knife slowly into my face, like he's imagining where to thrust the knife to get the least resistance and to kill me the fastest and he chooses my left eye and then slides the butterfly-knife in until the butterfly-knife cuts little chunks out of my brain."

"That's sort of specific."

"Noah probably imagines how to dissect my body and dispose of my dissected body-pieces and where to dispose of my dissected body-pieces, like in a canvas sack off a tall bridge or in the ocean or in some dirty restaurant dumpster, or something, next to fish-guts and gristle. I wonder if he tells you about the fish-guts and gristle or he probably thinks you'd think he's a serial killer, maybe, and would call the police so it's like his secret hobby and when you're sixty-three years-old you'll go into his study and find serial-killer newspaper clippings and little bone trophies made from clavicle pieces, human-bone jewelry or something. Maybe. I don't know anything."

"Want to get coffee? Or go home and sleep or something? It's very late."

"I'm getting too close to this Noah thing aren't I? Is it scary?"

"Stop being weird. Noah's my husband."


"We're making a family."

"I said I was sorry."

"You always do this. You're always negative and paranoid and hurtful and I can't ever tell when you're joking."

I don't answer. Merna's shaking her head and Merna's thin pink lips are moving quickly and soundlessly. I watch the digital-clock in the dashboard which is composed of tiny red-lighted bars and I think, 'These red-lighted bars are shuffled and reshuffled to produce numbers and the numbers give me hints about what I should do at any moment, or something, and it's very late.' I cover my mouth and yawn.

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a little song.

"Good morning," I say into my cell-phone.

"It's done," says Erik.

"Oh good," I answer. "What's done?"

"The security-guard."


"What's next?"

"Coffee," I say. "What does 'done' mean?"

"The usual place?"

"Done?" I say.

"Okay." Erik turns off his cell-phone.

"They're done," I say to Merna. "Coffee, I guess."

Merna's lips continue to move soundlessly in a sudden and jerky way.

"Done isn't always a final word, I think. It could mean anything probably, and Erik probably meant that he melted the ice and drained the ice-water into a big tanker-truck and shipped the tanker-trunk to the starving emaciated homeless children of Lisbon who, before this melted ice-water came, were crawling around dirty alleys and with long thin hanging tongues were licking little dewdrops from cold trash-dumpsters probably and Kevin Costner probably paid transportation costs for an oil-freighter and together with Erik drained the ice-water into one-million little baby-bottles and held the baby-bottles near the mouths of the emaciated children who suckled at them."

Merna turns the car onto a wide empty highway and the streetlights flash through the car's windows at regular intervals.

"Right?" I ask.

"I don't think so." Merna says. "You're being ridiculous."

Merna was prom-queen of her high-school graduating class. I photographed Merna in her prom-queen dress and Merna stood next to her prom-king who was tall and thick and hairy and who wore a white tuxedo-jacket with black pants and a black bow-tie and shiny black shoes and whose name was Anthony. I over-exposed the film but made fifty eight-by-tens anyway and hung at least one eight-by-ten in every room of our house and handed the others out at school.

Merna said, "That picture's disgusting I hate you."

We were walking home from school with wide backpacks slung over our shoulders and it was sunny and cool and a little wind moved the tree-branches slightly. It was May.

"I captured a moment in prom-history."

"Anthony and me look like poltergeists or something. We look like holograms."

"Artistic expression and stuff. I wanted to show the 'innate ephemerality of the human-body as object.'"


"I call it, 'Prom-queen alley.' I think that's a good title."

"It's a shitty title," Merna said. "I think you should call it, 'Photographer as bitch.'"

"I like that. I like naming things. I think I'll call you 'Cross-patch.'"

"What's that supposed to me?"

"I don't know. I read it somewhere once for some reason."

We were walking next to a narrow two-lane road that curves downward and along the two-lane road's curb were dozens of gray-sedans and each gray-sedan was slightly different from every other gray-sedan so that from a distance I thought I was looking at replicated gray-sedans but as I approached the gray-sedans appeared unique and individual and I felt strange and warm each time I discovered chrome tailpipes or bumper-stickers or any other distinctive detail like neoprene steering-wheel covers or baby-on-board window-shades.

"Everything's the same," I said.


"Everything's different."


There was a driveway and in the driveway was a gray-sedan with its hood up and behind the gray-sedan's hood was shirtless boy with little thin chest-hairs and cavernous, shadowy black eyes. The boy closed the gray-sedan's hood and moved carefully toward Merna and me.

"What's up Merna?" the boy said. "Who's this?"

"I'm me," I said.

"It talks," the boy said. The boy laughed quietly. "Kind of."

"This is my sister," Merna said.

"Oh?" The boy scanned my body with his cavernous black eyes. "It doesn't look much like you."

"I'm the 'innate ephemerality of the human-body as object.'"

"Whatever," the boy said. "Check out my rims. I just got these rims. They're spinners because they sort of spin backwards when I'm driving my car. It's fucking tight and shit?"

Merna squatted and looked at the rims and the boy leaned and looked down Merna's blouse. "Just got these rims today?"

I said, "The rims are very shiny."

"Pretty awesome," Merna said.

"Spinners spin?" I ask. I was laughing a little.

The boy glared at me. "Yeah, they spin." The boy squatted next to Merna. "What's wrong with your sister? Is she a retard or something?"

Merna giggled. "Stop it," she answered.

"Just wondering, cause, I mean, look at her eyes which are kind of weird and shaky and maybe she has down-syndrome or something. I don't want to hurt her feelings, if she has any, I mean if she can think or whatever. I heard down-syndrome kids don't have feelings because they can't remember more than a five seconds at time. Is that true?" The boy was whispering. "Do you keep her in a cage and feed her dog-food or something?" The boy pointed his chin toward me and sniffed loudly. "How often do you change her diapers?"

Merna giggled a little and nervously looked at me.

I didn't say anything.

"You want a ride," the boy asked Merna. He stood and leaned against his gray-sedan.

"I'm going home," I said.

"Can she find her way home alone?" the boy whispered. "She looks kind of confused."

I shook my head. "Bye," I said. I moved along the sidewalk.

"Now that that ugly bitch's gone," the boy said loudly, "you want to go for a ride?"

"Fuck off," Merna said. Merna was walking next to me with her hand on my shoulder and Merna's hand was small and wrinkled and warm and Merna's fingernails were painted purple and the fingernails were very smooth and pretty and my stride and Merna's stride were the same stride for a while so that we moved slowly together. "I'm sorry," Merna said. "I'm really sorry."


MadisonGlass said...

Good! Why is your text field so narrow? You're writing prose; it's annoying. Is it just my computer?

amber said...

no. the text field is narrow. this chapter is good.