V.P., Part 2

Because I’m the Boy and I pedal, the chrome and the rubber and the steel. I spread viscous stuff on her each morning as blinking I wheel my girl out from the shed. Where we live up in Maine I can lean her up against the front of a business, no problem, and always she’s there when I return.

Candy from the drugstore. Comic books downtown. I’ve almost got all the cards for this year’s issue–all that’s missing is Rudy Hess and his fortress of solitude, a blending of hologram and gold foil.

Flash go the parts on this bike. Shift go her gears. Don’t listen to the Moon. Just don’t listen when down fall the words because he’s right, I’ve been tempted to tell my mother about the hands under the bed, how they’ve traipsed far, far past the boundaries of good taste and order. How it was one thing when they used to wave to me from inside the closet, the door in the dark having opened by itself. But it’s become something else altogether, now. They’re brazen. They’re flouting the unspoken agreement we used to have, where it was sufficient that all my extremities were at all times covered by either sheet or blanket, and kept well away from the edge. But now they’re going too far! They’re poking the soles of my feet with their claws. Not enough to break the skin—but just enough to rouse me, my heart beating and my skin too tight, and always just at the moment that, like a gauze drawn down over my thoughts, I’ve finally begun to drift off.

But I can’t tell my mother. She hates me. I’m small and I’m weak. I don’t go out for sports. I use words like, “traipse,” and “gauze” in casual conversation. They’re going to kill me next year in Middle School, if the hands don’t get to me first.

So I can’t tell her. Because always it’s the thought of the sight of her turning at the waist, standing in front of the stove and frying bacon, that stills me. How she’ll mock me like she does the changes now coming over my body. How I’ve got some hair now and how the girls at the beach like my tan, though she glares when I speak with any bass in my voice, and it’s likely that so cements a lifelong defect in speech and demeanor alike.

Smith’s cool, though. He talks to me. He invites me to weekend bonfires, where all the cool kids are, and as he drinks from this like, chalice sort of cup, deep red wine, he’ll every now and then pause to point up at the sky, eyes still level and yet detached from the revelry—and calling for silence will draw attention to the howling of the wolves.

The guy’s got a motorcycle, for cripe’s sake. He’s a thousand years old. He’s the coolest, coolest guy, and a sure shot at the arcade, too–bang bang bang in the shooting gallery, the mannequins hitting the piano’s keys as Smith lights up the works.

The mannequins. All those unblinking eyes when the old gypsy lady closes up for the night…

I wish I had a motorcycle. But for now I pedal because—



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