red right hand

The taunting dull ache emanating from my right hand was the culprit that sucked me up awake from my drowning slumber. Lying still in the hot room, the rattling fan stirred the hot air around, making the junk mail piled sideways on the table flutter, then still, flutter (alive) then still (dead).

The sun poked itself through the slats of the yellowed blinds and beckoned me out into the day. Warming my bruised eyelids, the heat mounted till the youngest Johnson across the hall started her first tantrum of the day and puppeteered me into motion.

Pulled on the jeans from yesterday (and the previous days) and put two arms through the corresponding holes of my last clean t-shirt hanging in the wire hanger graveyard that is my closet. Slipped on my Chucks barefoot and locked the battered door behind me.

The bandage covering my right hand was an artist’s palette now, burgundy with dried blood was the blurry centre, enveloped by a ring of yellowed dried pus leading to the dirty cotton strings around the thread worn edges. I slid the hand gingerly down the scarred banister as my head started to feel a little loose around the edges and that kid unleashed a lung flamethrower through my brain, and oh, for a soft square pillow to muffle, then still the volume. The violence needed to fix the volume...

Violent. Eyes shut to swirling-stars strength, one leg be-bopping under the table, knocking the empty shot glass onto its side and its slow roll. My hand trying not to flinch or twitch and jaw locked to no turning back mode. Footsteps, sweat beads roofing my upper lip, a hatchet swish to the digit, a “fuck to the fucking fuck” echo to the stars bursts out of my mouth and a greasy pair of lips to my ear. “Open your eyes boy.”

Ground floor now. Legs not too wobbly; happy. Two bikes left propped against the mailboxes. The black one closest to me had a personalized miniature dollar-store sign license plate reading “Stevie’s.” To the rest of the world, it declared that. I read “steal me.” So I did. Pedaled it standing up; huffing and puffing, gearless, legs like spaghetti pistons, I pumped my legs and pedaled viciously through the sunny streets, letting the wind pull my dry lips back into a smile where the downhill stretches began. One handed.

Straddle dumping the bike into the curb fourth-grade style, I strolled into the newsstand on the corner and shifted my weight from foot to foot while scanning the headlines of the two city papers. Page A8 of the Gazette. I purchased it and a pack of Cinnamon gum from the teeny tiny Asian girl manning the counter with a cheek full of bubble tea and eight jangling bracelets falling off her skeletal wrists.

Sitting on the curb, absentmindedly spinning the bikes back wheel with my left hand; making it spin, stop, spin faster, stop. I unfolded the paper and read. Trying hard not to move my lips, I followed the tiny type with my left index finger so my eyes wouldn’t bounce around like Mexican jumping beans to the bottom of the story. Finishing it, and folding the first piece of gum into my mouth I stood and stretched and surveyed the street.

The barbershop was open, peppermint sign twirling, and the first chopped locks of hair already being swept into the sidewalk, ready for nest making and gutter clogging duties.
The deli next door where all employees (all related) sported thick mustaches had its front door ajar letting the bloody smell of your best dinner ever waft out to the morning.

The Bakery/Café next to it countered with its buoyant beckoning fresh bread nose ticklers, and my stomach rumbled. A girl I’d gone to high school with worked the six tables there. Her hair would be freshly washed and piled haphazardly onto her head perfumed with violets and ozone chemicals keeping it in place. Her nose was slightly upturned, her eyebrows plucked into arches; she wore skirts. Skirts that flared and swayed and sashayed; polka-dotted and striped, lace and cherry-prints concealing rounded calves and high-arched feet slid into flat sandals, toes like water washed pebbles sneaking out. She served with a knowing look on her face and an aura of temper and tempest and temperature. She’d shown me her tits once after an assembly while we pucker-mouth sucked on a poorly rolled joint the size of a toothpick. They were round and melon full; creamy white with radish-red nipples; two perfect laser arrows aimed directly at my groin.

So there were my two choices. One-I wheel the bike across the street, kickstand it to a stop and rest my aching hand around a cup of hot tea and tell her my story around mouthfuls of buttered muffin till her mouth forms an ‘O’. Two-I empty the cash register soaked in bubble tea while the teeny tiny girl curls up in the corner knees to her chest and head down to the docks to buy my middle finger back.

Fuck it; I’m hungry.

marvin ~ spirits ~ back to blog