Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I leave my bedroom

One month, I think. I stand.

I leave my bedroom-television on but close the door so that from the bathroom I won't have to hear the television-news. I don't want news or anything informative and anyway it's comfortable in the bathroom with the bathroom-light reflecting brightly in my bathroom-mirror and warm tiles warming my feet and shower-steam in the air. I stand naked and look at my naked toes which are slim and pale and which wiggle when I wiggle them but not smoothly and when I look at the fogged mirror my body's bubbled and distorted and I think it looks a little dead, but only a little.

In the shower I feel warm and wet.

After the shower I dry my body.

I go into the bedroom. I'm still naked. "Hatch," I say. "I'm back. How was the news? Learn about psychopaths? Which restaurants violated health-codes? Which people died in violent drunken random car-accidents? Or, was there a hurricane or flood or building-collapse or something?"

Hatch doesn't answer.

I sit next to him. "I think the president manufactures natural-disasters, probably, to get more votes, or to be brave on television. What do you think?"

I touch Hatch's face

"That's what I'd do," I say. "I'd act brave on television for the votes and market my own brand of soda, if I were president, and it'd be like 'Executive-Cola', maybe, and we'd make billions of dollars and not spend any of the dollars. Save the billions for decades and fund a gigantic robo-cop statue, with my face. Do you like statues?"

Hatch doesn't say anything and lies quietly instead as though he doesn't want to talk. Hatch closes his eyes and lets his mouth fall slack. Hatch's very long and narrow and pale and Hatch's body's thinly covered with soft brown hair. I touch the hair but it tickles so I stop and think about my body-hair and why my body-hair's not thin and soft and not covering my entire body.

"It's okay Hatch. Won't bother you."

This morning, I sat next to Hatch while he slept and, with a magic-marker, drew cartoon-gerbils on Hatch's forehead. Our bed's very wide and soft and we purchased the bed from Sleep-Country, USA one year ago. Hatch was very excited about owning a bed. "A bed with a mattress!" he said. "Box-spring," Hatch said. "Pillow-top comfort!" Before the wide soft bed, we slept on a leaky air-mattress and each morning we woke in body-shaped indentations, our backs flat on the floor, and, surrounded by air-mattress rubber, I'd say to Hatch, "It's okay, I'm not dead today." Then I'd lay and think about the word 'today' and what I meant when I said 'today.'

I lie next to Hatch and stroke Hatch's hair.

My telephone rings.

"Fuck," I say. "I thought I cancelled that."

I hold the receiver next to my ear.

"Are you watching television?" It's my mother. "Turn on the television and watch the television the news it's amazing a bridge just fell into the Mississippi River and there are people and cars and concrete and they're still going to have the baseball-game." I think about the words 'the television' and feel suddenly that there's only one television everywhere and every person's watching the same television.

I change the television-channel and watch bridge-collapse news-coverage.

"Absolute-destruction. Human casualities. Orange-soda," the television says.

"I see it mother. Thank you," I say.

"When are you coming over? We want to meet this Hatch. I could make dinner. We could play the 'Game of Life.'"

"People trust infrastructure. Celexa," the television says.

"Hatch's not this," I say. I stroke Hatch's hair. "You come by, tomorrow. My car's not working. I'll make corn-on-the-cob or something. I'll make mashed-potatoes."

"Okay, okay. I'll bring your brother."

"No," I say. "Just you."

"Just me?"

"Just bring you, and salt for the mashed-potatoes." I hang up the phone.

On the television, a man's crying. "I don't understand," the man says.

The next day I say, "I'm going to get groceries, Hatch. Want to come?"

Hatch doesn't answer. Hatch's sleeping.

"Wake up," I say. "You're always sleeping and I'm bored with it."

I think Hatch moans a little but I'm not sure.

I sigh quietly and feel guilty about sighing. "We'll steal groceries if you want. We'll use your duffel-bag and you'll run and I'll cry and walk slowly away. We'll distract them with a fight or argument or something like I'll say 'I thought you stopped smoking,' and you'll be like, 'no, I like to smoke, smoking's good and makes me look fucking cool' and I could throw peaches at you, or figs or something. We'll have a fig-fight at the grocery-store and run slowly in slow-motion."

Hatch doesn't answer. I shake him but he doesn't wake. Once, Hatch slept through a car-accident.

At the grocery-store I steal figs. I buy the corn and pepsi-cola. I call my mother. "What soda do you like?" I ask.

"Don't get anything just for me. I'll drink water."

"Maybe tea or something. Maybe milk?

"Not milk?


"Never milk. Human digestion system's not made for milk. I read an article somewhere about cows-milk. It's crazy. Are you cooking in plastics or drinking from plastic-cups or anything?"


"They should bottle human-milk and put pregnant-mother's to work and homogenize human-milk and bottle the human-milk in glass-bottles but not plastic because plastic leaches hormone-mimicking molecules into food and beverages and soon no human will be able to have babies or reproduce because the hormone-mimicking molecules will clog the hormone-receptors. Don't you see? It's the human-biochemical-suicide-death-sentence."

"Okay mother. I'll get orange-juice."

"With pulp or without? Because, you know, pulp is good."

"Okay, um, with."

"Anyway, just give pregnant-mothers or post-pregnant-mothers hormones to keep them lactating and that would solve most human health-problems. De-fatify human-milk, right."


At home, I boil the corn.

"Are you hungry Hatch?" I say.

I sit next to Hatch on the bed.

"Do you want anything?"

I think about Hatch and am concerned about Hatch but in a vague way because Hatch's a person with individual awareness and protective-instincts which means Hatch is genetically predetermined to take care of himself. I massage Hatch's forehead. The forehead's moist and cool and thinly wrinkled and it's a beautiful forehead and my fingers feel tingly when I touch it.

The door-bell rings. I walk to the door and open it.

My mother steps through the doorway. She's wide and tall and her hair's long and white and curly. My mother's face's framed by the white curly hair and the face's long and wrinkled but asymmetrically and the nose protrudes only a little so that one might miss the nose and think her nose-less, a mutant, somehow hideously mangled by an industrial drill-press or head-on car-collision or something.

"I've missed you so much," my mother says. She hugs me. "What's the smell?"

"Cooking," I say.

"Oh." My mother sits on the couch.

I sit next to her.

"I was at the grocery-store," my mother says. "I told the grocery-store manager about plastics and he didn't believe me so I gave him a pamphlet." She hands me a pamphlet. "Just read it and you'll understand."

I hold the pamphlet.

"I made these pamphlets myself. Do you know about pee?"

"I think I know about pee."

"You lose thousands of nutrients each morning," my mother says. "You should save the pee and drink it later and recycle the nutrients."

I don't know what to say. "Bridge-collapse."

"Isn't it terrible? I think seven people died. It's a tragedy when people die."

"Why?" I ask. I feel curious and strange and I don't understand. "Everything dies."

"But people shouldn't."

"Oh." I think about people dying.

"Where's Hatch?"


"Is Hatch joining us for dinner?"

"Probably," I say. "He's sleeping. Very tired. Just over the flu."

"It's cows-milk, probably," my mother says. "I think cows-milk is probably the influenza-virus or something, but that's just a theory. I haven't read any studies or research or anything."

I nod.

"Terrible for people to die. Can only hope these bridge-dead didn't suffer through plastics and cows-milk or at least that they cancelled out their carbon-emissions."

"I think they probably did."
"No I mean with planting trees and stuff. With bicycles. They should just draw down their own emissions but not die because even if dying is a net gain in the fight against carbon, it's still one less body to fight the government or whatever."

"I agree, I think."

We eat the boiled corn.

"I forgot mashed-potatoes," I say.

"Don't worry. I'm not very hungry anyway and potatoes grow in the ground anyway which is dirty and so, logically, potatoes are dirty food and not fit for human consumption."

I don't say anything. I know that talking about my mother's assumptions is never productive.

"Hatch!" my mother says. "Hatch!"

"Sshhh mom. He's sleeping. Tired and feverish."

"Oh…" My mother silently chews her corn, her cob nearly empty. "I see."

"It's not like he wants to miss you. He wants to meet you and even told me that, many times, but, you see he works these long hours and then's tired and unfocused so that I can almost not see him and he works outside, in the rain, and, for long hours, he's just moving and soaked. Road construction or something. And the rain's caught him now and made him feverish with the flu that's almost gone or is gone but is still affecting him so that he's probably hallucinating now."

"What's he hallucinating about?"

"How should I know?"

"You seem so sure about his body's inner-workings so I thought you'd know."

I take a breath. "I'm concerned. That's all."

"Let's visit. Peek in the bedroom."


"But, I just want to say hi and if I don't say hi he'll think I'm rude and I should tell him about the milk and plastics and stuff."

"Maybe later."




When the corn's gone we sit on my suede-couch and watch the television. There's news. The television says, "Poly-carbonate, bisphenol-A, construction-material, infrastructure-safety." My mother's silent and calm and my mother's body's sort of slumped and wide, as though, as she sat, my mother's body spread out and covered as much surface-area as possible and I begin to feel competitive and my body spreads until it covers as much surface-area as possible and with my eyes I try to measure our bodies' territories and I want to know if my body wins but my analysis is inconclusive. "Soda," the television says. "Bleach."

"Where's the bathroom?" my mother says.

I point.

My mother stands and leaves.

I pull my entire body onto the couch and spread and lay until my body covers the entire couch and I giggle a little and feel powerful and I've always wanted to be powerful and I imagine my mother returning from the bathroom. "Sit on the floor," I would say. "My body needs all this room." I'd push my mother with my hand and my hand would be much larger and very strong and my mother would stumble backwards, over the coffee-table, and lay stunned on the ground. I'd take a digital-picture and post the digital-picture on the internet and make a website for it and above the picture I'd put the word 'weak-ass mommy' or something and then maybe pour milk over her sprawled body and take another picture. A whole series of digital-pictures with ketchup or onions. Reposition her body. Dress her in pantaloons. "Pantaloons," I say. "What are pantaloons?" The television doesn't answer so I turn it off. "Fuck off," I say. My eyes look for my mother. My brain imagines my mother tangled in pantaloons, or something, and crying, weakly, from a deep and endless clothing-hamper.

A deep and endless clothing hamper, I think.

"Mother," I say. It's been too long. "Everything okay?"

There's no answer.

I walk quickly toward the bathroom. The bathroom-door's open. The bathroom-light's off. There's no fan-sound and no toilet-water-gurgle. I step into the hallway. At the end is my bedroom. The door's open. From the doorway I hear heavy breathing. The breathing's deep and coarse and sounds strangely like an inefficient air-conditioner and I imagine the air-conditioner hanging noisily in an apartment window with rattling interior-parts, leaking water onto the sidewalk.

I move my body faster. I imagine my mother fucking Hatch. How many Hatch's has mother fucked? I think. Mother-fucking, I think, but not really because mothers don't fuck probably. I'm in the doorway. I'm in the bedroom.

"Hatch," my mother says. She's standing next to my bed with her hand lightly touching the edge of the bed and her other hand touching her forehead.

"Leave Hatch alone," I say. "He's sick."

Hatch's in bed with eyes closed. The blanket's drawn up to his neck. Hatch's face's wide and strong and beautiful and his black hair's shiny and tangled and I want to touch and stroke the hair and explain to my mother the beauty of the hair and maybe cut hair-pieces from the hair and keep the hair-pieces for myself, framed, on my bed-stand.

"But…" my mother says.

"He's sick and worked so long and needs to sleep," I say. "And even now we're being too noisy."


I walk quickly to my mother and grab her arm and drag her toward the door. "Come on."

"But the smell and."

"Just go, okay. Dinner's over."

"Smell in here," my mother says. She's crying.

"I haven't had time to clean lately." I feel impatient. "Don't criticize me about cleaning and smells, okay."

"Hatch," my mother says.

I look at Hatch and Hatch's very peaceful and calm and, somehow, not yet awake, and for that I feel happy. "Sshhh," I say. "Don't wake him now."

"I can't," my mother says. "Hatch's dead."

I'm on the couch. My elbows are on my knees. My hands hold my head and my head's big and round. Mother sits next to me. The television's on.

"Mine-collapse, bridge-tragedy, Paris Hilton," the television says. "Eat organic," the television says. "Foster-farms."

"He's dead," my mother says.

I shake my head.

"We have to do something with him because he could contaminate everything. It's terrible to die and to be around death and the smell and everything and the body must be buried or burned or something."

"I don't want to burn Hatch," I say.

"Did you kill him?"

"What?" I'm standing, I think. I'm holding the telephone.

"You killed him didn't you you're crazy or something," my mother says. "You're not my daughter you're not my anything you're crazy."

I hold the telephone firmly.

My mother's taking deep breaths and leaning away from me on the couch which is soft and brown. "Don't hit me," my mother says. "Please."

I don't say anything.

"I'll help you with the body. We'll take care of it, we don't want you to go to jail or anything and we'll get rid of the body. I'll call your brother, okay, and he'll help because he has a pickup truck and he's your brother which means he genetically has to help."

I walk to the window and look at my hand and in my hand I see the telephone. Out the window it's cold-looking and bright and old cars slowly drive down the road. "I don't understand. Hatch wasn't dead before so why's he dead now?"

"I don't know," my mother says. "You said he was sick."

"Just a little sick."

"Did he drink milk, from plastic cups?"


"He could've done a million unhealthy things and you wouldn't know. He could've eaten poison or something."

"We don't have any poison," I say. I set the telephone down.

"Everything's poison, probably," my mother says. She stands and hugs me and her arms are soft and old. "Everything's poison all the time."

My brother comes with the pickup-truck. We put Hatch in a garbage-bag. We use two garbage-bags. When it's very dark outside we load Hatch into the bed of the truck. My brother drives. I lean against the passenger window. Mother sits in the middle.

"What now?" my brother says.

"Take him to the woods and smash his teeth," my mother says. "Maybe cut the body into small parts and hide them randomly, far from each other."

"Like vampire, werewolf, or whatever?" My brother's laughing.

"Not funny," my mother says. "What do you think we should do?" she asks me.

"Eat him," I say.

Then there's silence.

At the campsite, we unload the body. It's cold and dark and above us the stars are hidden by clouds. There are trees and the trees are dark and tall. My brother leaves the pick-ups headlights on.

"Real tragedy," my mother says. "People shouldn't die."

"If it's a body it's not Hatch," I say.

There are car-sounds in the distance. My brother turns off the headlights. "Help me drag him," my brother says.

I don't want to drag Hatch or even to bury Hatch or burn Hatch and break Hatch's teeth or cut Hatch into tiny separate pieces. "No," I say.

"We have to," my mother says. "Do you want to go to prison?"

The car-sounds are closer. There are gravel-sounds.

"Do something," my mother says. "We have to do something before more people die."

My brother's laughing. "It's just a body."

I tear the garbage-bags until Hatch is uncovered. I think I see Hatch move but I'm not sure. "He moves," I say. I'm convinced his moving and I know I'm wrong.

There are lights.

"Hatch," I say.

"I didn't kill Hatch," my brother says. "I killed everything else."

My mother's crying. "Milk, milk, plastic."

I want to watch a television. I want to watch the news.

There's a car. The car contains police-officers. The police-officers stand next to the police-car. "Don't move," one officer says. "Don't fucking move."

I stand very still. I can feel Hatch against my feet. I feel Hatch moving. "He's moving," I say. "He's moving."

The police-officers draw their guns. "I said don't fucking move," one police-officer says.

My mother's crying on the ground. My brother runs into the woods laughing. His laughter becomes distant and disappears.

"Milk, milk, plastic."

"Hatch," I say. "Hatch, don't move."

The police-officers hold me against the police-car. One officer shoots Hatch three times. "I said don't fucking move."

"Mashed-potatoes," I say. "Bridge-collapse." I imagine a bridge through the forest and the bridge falls and crushes ten-thousand Hatch's. The bridge crushes me. Everywhere should be a bridge, I think. Bridges on television in an endless clothing-hamper. Hatch, I think.

No comments: