The Falls

He was late for the test, running across the quad and then he saw her. He abruptly stopped.  All her parts were there: the bare legs and small feet snuggled into flip-flops, the slight curve of her shoulders tipping forward, top-heavy as she walked; her deeply black hair silken in the breeze.  A pair of kissable red lips was parted against straight white teeth. Two or three thick law books rested between her forearm and her breasts. He could see the tight grip of her left hand pushing the books into her body as if it was softly mechanical and overprotective. Everything was blossoming, growing toward the sun.  He was destroying himself in every way and he could see her looking at him from the kitchen door.  She was wondering where he was and thought it was not like him to be late.  As it turned out, those were some of the last thoughts they would ever share.

The minute hand of the tower clock started drooping slightly as it moved toward five after nine in the morning and as he stood there it began to rain black drops with writing on them and they were like bombs falling from the sky over Afghanistan or maybe it was Syria, he couldn’t tell.  They came down with their cameras on and the images grew as they fell closer and closer to earth and then the screen went out and the unfortunate people below were no more.  Some of them were children, but that was just the way it was and the people who knew the children were probably dead as well, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, friends and teachers, so all of the immediate pain had ended with the explosion and strangers were completely unaffected, people like him.  Pain was not easily transferable.  One needed a reason to hurt.  It was just not a question of information.  The hammer must come down directly upon the thumb before one can hear the song of the hammer.  The father of a child who commits suicide has a sudden insight into depression and anxiety.  Only a transgender can truly understand the terrible storm of another transgender; the pounding in the heart, the cutting of the skin, the dark descent.  People were divided by groups: it was a black thing, it was a woman thing, it was a cop thing, and it was a rancher thing.  For him it was a bleeding heart thing and all of this was obvious like the reservoir in his soul that would occasionally spill over and run out his eyes and down his cheeks.  He could hear the water scream, but his doctors could do nothing.

At night his friend would come to him and sit on the top shelf of his book case, part of his head missing. The dirty water would float into the room and the first thing the friend would say was “Don’t get out of bed.  There’s three feet of water on the floor and I brought some of those brown worms with me, so watch out.”

They’d talk and eventually he’d get around to saying, “You’re not real,” and his friend would ask, “How do you know you’re not real?”  Back and forth it would go, a ball over a net, and his friend would breathe heavily and the white, bubbling noise from nostrils, mouth, and bone would finally put him to sleep.  The friend was an asthmatic and heavy smoker who had killed himself after having sex with a prostitute.  They had been driving back from the border and it was late at night and they stopped along the highway to take a piss, and the friend went into the bush and then there was the sound and he found him there in the sand and it was a full moon and he sank to the ground and looked at the side of the head blown away and then everything got very cold and troubled, as a slight north wind picked up and ran smoothly along the West Texas soil.

Get up.  Go outside.  Dig a hole.  Run and run some more.  Shake hands with the beggar.  Walk down to the river and wade into the water.  What will happen?  What will happen, as the current carries you toward the falls like a trick of light.




6 thoughts on “The Falls

  1. Hmmm. Duke, I like it. Comes at a good time. Nursing my 100 year mom, Room 344, Med Center here in Naconowhere. She’s had a setback but is rallying well. Tired beautiful 100 year old bones with a strikingly lucid brain is a rare and strange condition. Your piece is a less than cheerful magnifying glass analysis of the hopeless and purposeless reality we all ultimately arrive at. Same end point. Piece of dust over the falls we go. We can pretend you’re not right at your core but we’d be wrong. It’s the frame of this picture that needs illumination. This piece and all your others capture characters we’d all like to know better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You guys are so tricksy. Lure a guy in with common sexual intrigue and then stab upward, twist, the knife tip slicing through the pulmonary artery.
    Duke, I’d recommend The Dog Stars – Peter Heller. The story is unconventionally told – not a quote anywhere. But it made me think of LaDwD in the abstract way Heller sometimes drifts with his prose.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi AMole,

    Whenever someone compares my work to another writer, I always consider myself to be the infinite monkey, typing away across the wave of infinity, finally hitting upon that Heller book. I’ll read it for sure. Thanks. Duke


  4. I could hear Strawberry Fields – “let me take you down” and felt that I was floating down a river listening to the voices of the fish. The other thing I was reminded of is the ending of The Dead (Joyce) which is one of my favorite passages. Or the beginning of Rebecca – let me guide you into my dream but come in slowly and navigate around my pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi J.,

      More infinite monkey, wave after wave of infinity and along the way we have a bit of Joyce and oh yeah, “Last night I dreamt I went to hell again.” Yeah, that’s not quite right, but after all I’m a monkey. Thanks. Duke


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