Brain Chemistry, Extinction, and Moon Honey
By Meg Pokrass.
I was drumming the “William Tell Overture” on my throat with my bony fingers, and that skill made me feel superior. We were having a sleep over, and playing roles that felt real. “The nurse” (my best friend, Julie) was thin waisted and she had tiny broomlike arms. I remember flipping around on the bed and playing the nutty patient in the psychiatric ward. The nurse looked like she was always witnessing a disaster, and was threatening to quit nursing. She would say, “They do not pay nurses enough money!” This role made her feel superior. Since we both felt superior, neither of us had a problem feeling worthless.
Unlike Julie, I actually liked a few boys. I mentioned this when Julie had me pinned down on the bed and was tickling my shoulders with the ends of her long unruly hair. I liked the boys who were direct about what they wanted from me, and the ones who admitted that they wanted to have my mouth very close to them, and I liked the boys who were pleasant with their lips.
“Gentle Jesus,” I said, even though I had a growing suspicion that Jesus was far from gentle, in fact the Jesus I knew was very fierce, quietly sexy. Recently I had begun to touch myself and think of his eyes and his chiseled nose. I would ball up some socks and move them around between my legs and feel sort of holy and grateful.
Just thinking about this made me want to change my brain chemistry. I reminded Julie of the cabinet in the garage where we could get what we needed to make the night really fun, the place where my father stashed his Jim Beam. Dad did not believe in religious stuff, he called Jesus both a faker and a fraud, like president Reagan. Dad was often in court for driving bad. He called his bottle of liquor “my holy slap of delight” as though holding it was like bringing first breath to a newborn.
Julie didn’t say anything about the Jim Beam. Her silence felt like the outcome of something bigger. A poem by Shel Silverstein about obedience came to mind, and I remembered how much Julie and I had loved it. Shel was our man, our poet daddy, our friend. He was what we were about. Her quick laughter no longer seemed unguarded but instead resembled something like snotty gurgles.
“Jules…” I said, “what is his real name anyway? Sheldon Silverstein? Why was he called Shel?”
Julie sighed. She moved to the far side of the bed and sucked on her fingernails while she thought.
“Cause it makes him sound small and perfect?”
Jules looked pointier and more serious than she had just yesterday, her face delicate and slightly off-kilter. It was my turn to be the nurse.
“Honey bees are dying because of atmospheric electromagnetic radiation,” she says.
She says this while she rubs his back. Then she kisses the hair below his neck, where it comes to a point between his shoulder blades like a heart.
“What happens in the world, and across the street exactly?” he says, fidgeting.
She can feel him stiffening, and she is going to wait, but not forever, not too long. An asteroid could hit, is likely to hit… any minute. The Big One, the nine pointer on the San Andreas fault is looming like an angry landlord.
“Feed me immediately,” he whispers. “Feed me for I am God. I am the Internet.”
“I will call you Wiki,” she says.
“Did you see the update? There is a gunman with lips pointing toward a man’s waist.” She kisses his waist, and he knots his fingers deep into her hair.
Species dying every two seconds. Breast cancer multiplying and dividing and running triathlons – making women hate their own lovely breasts and praying for male children so they won’t have breasts to poke and worry about and the ozone ripping apart and melanomas on white cat’s faces.
She rests her head on his thighs. He lips her nipples, licks them. She moans a bit.
She is a dangerous person, a person who has been treading on the flagstones of men with wives and kids… but this does not stop her from wanting.
We eat beans and rice, and try to take into account the radar bouncing around Reno, the biggest little city in the world, or the littlest big city in the world. We have a room at The Homestead Motor Lodge – free movies and Wi-Fi.
“We’re pioneers,” he says. He unbuttons my shirt and stares at my breasts. He smiles and I try to do the same, to copy him.
“Some honeymoon.” I sit Indian legs on the floor, trying to beat the dizziness. Focusing on a cockroach near the door. He pokes at my breasts with his fingertips that have been newly lotioned, and says, “These are real.”
Next, he inspects the network of moles in the corner of my neck. I have never liked them, but they are an oddity – and have been good for conversation most of my life.
“How many eggs for women in life?” he asks, as though I am a beaker.
I laugh and it sounds like the sound of fire or a range of other boom tones.
There are tarantulas next door.
The room is shaking.
The Dial-up preacher said it this way: “Love is similar to the voice of God, and a very, very, very special fruit.” Each “very” he said softer than the one before it. “Fruit” was whispered.
Perhaps his words were sliding-scale based, and he had more intelligent things to say for those who upgraded from “White Rose Basic Vows”.
I imagine bruised mangos too often.
“Are you on space, moon honey?” he says, flicking on the tube. It is an adult channel and three women are tonguing each others ears.
I’m out of room #506 and the door smacks me toward the highway. What happens next is I’m going to ignore the road lights, and other things that can happen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meg Pokrass is the author of “Lost and Found” a chapbook edited and illustrated by Cooper Renner. Meg’s stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Gigantic, Annalemma, 3:AM, Monkeybicycle, The Pedestal, Matchbook Lit Mag, decomP, Pank, JMWW, Mud Luscious, Juked, Pindeldyboz, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Elimae, Keyhole, FRIGG, Wordriot, Thieves Jargon, Eclectica, Kitty Snacks, Rumble, and various upcoming anthologies of flash. Meg serves as a staff editor for SmokeLong Quarterly, and is currently mentoring with Dzanc’s Creative Writing Sessions. Meg’s story “Leaving Hope Ranch” in Storyglossia was selected for Wigleaf ‘s Top 50 Flash Stories, 2009. Her story, “Lost and Found”, in elimae, was chosen in May 2009 by Storyglossia for Short Story Month anthology. Meg has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize Anthology 2010 for her story “What the Doctor Ordered” by Monkeybicycle. Her blog, with prompts and writing exercises can be found here.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, January 20th, 2010.