An Excerpt from Patricide: A Memoir
In the morning, in the hazy light, you make bologna sandwiches on white bread with mustard and American cheese, then wait out the time before the turntable listening to rock and roll. Then the time comes, and you step into the street. Every house is an empty house, every window faceless. The driveways are filthy with oil. The ruined grass is bound by rows of ruined plants. Orange trees barren of oranges endure, lime trees barren of limes, and lemons barren of lemons. The hills behind the houses walk toward the sea and wait for a smoggy rain. You walk down the street through the septic air, past chain-link fences and cinderblock walls, scanning for butts and coins. At the place where you enter the bus you light your butts with cardboard matches and smoke until the bus pulls up with a hiss. There are no people, just faceless bodies moving in a construct. After a time, you step onto a street like the street where you started and search out a butt to light before you make your way into the zone. Then you enter the zone, and wait for the bell to ring. After a time, the bell rings. Bodies shuffle beneath fluorescent lights, past lockers and doors of frosted glass. A man or woman stands in the distance, speaking of A.E. Housman, the boiling of water, and photons, which are little packets of energy inside all light. Bells ring, bodies shuffle, distant men and women speak of hexagons and theorems and bills. Among the bodies, you see what you see and hear what you hear, you eat your sandwiches and smoke your butts, voiceless with your long hair and pimples and jeans, and wait for the last bell to ring. Then the last bell rings. At the place where you enter the bus, you search for butts, and if you find a butt smoke, or not if you don’t find a butt, until the bus stops before you with a hiss. You drop coins in a meter, a driver nods, the bodies begin to sway. After a time, you step through the doors onto a street like the street where you started, where you light what’s left of the butt you found before you entered the bus or search for another butt to light before you head up the street beneath struggling trees and power lines, past cinderblock walls and oil-stained drives and stunted grass in which orange trees barren of oranges endure, lime trees barren of limes, and lemons barren of lemons. The yellow hills walk through the smog, on toward the sea. The sky is ceaseless and brown.
Front page image by Tim Psych.