We never could realize the irony in our being upset with each Other for being upset…
I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can do this.
I’m doing this but I don’t want to. I’m doing this but I don’t want to.
Let it be over… let me know when—it’s done.
I will always love you… this was never going to make sense.
This was never going to make any fucking sense.
If a relationship is just a collection of shared moments… so much has been lost. So much has been lost. So fucking much has been lost. Lost. Lost lost fucking lost. What happened to it all? Where the fuck did it go? I can’t handle this. I can’t handle this. I never could. It being that which is lost. Lost forever. Forever lost. Where the fuck did it go? I never could.
I Sometimes Feel Like I Am Drowning [title of story]
the soul (if truly it exists)
can lonely find itself
birthed into solitary confinement
but later always later
by the waterboarding knowledge of said prison
it’ll then perform undue atrocity exhibitions
just for a minute glimpse
of all that lies outside its purview
Ciudad Paso to Newton… or close as he could get. Maybe a li’l ol’ detour for succoring meditation in the Rothko Chapel’s ruins, like him and Love had always dreamed aloud about, should he be feeling chipper. Come each springtime’s finale, an impurifying fever settled for sovereignty over his bodies astral and physical.
Yes—Sloth had decided to walk across the former state of Texas. Or, well… what remained of it. Sure enough. All my exes live in… ‘n all that. Decision struck him apropos of naught. Nothing a t’all. Sumpin’ to do, though, at least. Occupy the time in occupied Sovereign Texas. No gear. Nope. Not even a Geiger counter. Perhaps a bandana. Yeah, a bandana. Figured he’d forage, rely on Christian charity.
He’d stay cool, this time. Sure would.
Starting off, he felt damn good. A couple miles in—even better. Hitting Independent Cornudas, however… a needling ache stirred his soles. Fuckin’ Walchain kicks… ain’t no giggles no more.
But the downtrodden, arrayed lawn parties, the Texan horde… all came to notice his march. Kids skipped along behind him, shouting Bolaño’s choicest quotes. A catalyzing drumbeat surged from the land of cacti and blood sacrifice to cause nearby bodily fluids to roil with fervid intensity. Cassocks floated about the sky, impelled by hidden forces… or, shit, was it Cossacks? Nonetheless, fireworks, pistols and pistolas attempted a moon landing: a cacophonous dis-unification only disheartening to the local police force, who made themselves scarce. Roman Catholic priests noisily called up rumors concerning the future sanctification of Sloth himself, also as the 8th Heavenly Virtue. Change… could that usually invisible god have created a theophany here in IC, of all the godforsaken places?
Maybe… teleological happenstance? shiiiiit, is Love round here? or… she already paved the way pour mois…? therefore this toothsome reception? Could be it, yeah, sure could…
Anarchy indeed did bloom into obvious life, then, if only for a small window outside time. Feet matched the desert drumwork cadence; soul floating away, he attempted a catchy whistle, failed to carry it, but was pleased he tried. Maybe the whole town broke into a flash mob routine, just then; he didn’t know, would never know, he was leaving it all behind… he wasn’t Lot’s wife. No sir. He was as in love with Love as ever; knew exactly where his life was going…
Yet thru that yearning night, buoyed was he by their surefire enjoyment of the nonsense, the performance art, the awesome glory latent in any ultimately hermetic endeavor such as this all too casual undertaking. Though his followers dwindled in number… more just more stars waxed into sight, creating pinpricking omens sometimes blanketing over sky. And yet, somehow… the closest star consumed the eastern horizon quickly enough—and it shimmered with manifold careless hues, delightfully perplexing as his undying need to one day live as a sheep dog, high in the Alps.
Whispering Veil was next.
As if his body could sense a possible return to the womb, his footfalls coupled themselves with his pulsating heart, building a mantra fell enough to carry him thru any aches or pains, flowering though might they be. Centered; an actual human being, just this once. That’s when the storm malingering round the distance, soaking up the sunset… it went from future to present tense. Hail exponentially larger than any snowball he had ever seen in the south: abounding, all a frightful sudden. Sky a shade of green he had only ever mindfully envisioned, never able to duplicate. Any possible windbreak: uprooted, soon for the heavens. Cows mooed, ran off to cower behind the cairns dotting the landscape: what amounted to hills round those parts. A living roar enfolded him into its uncouth embrace, forcing its debris down, up his throat.
His few remaining followers proved erstwhile as his sneakers left themselves behind what amounted to a mere scrabbling crawl. All was drawn into an ever-transforming wall upholding local chattel. This natural yet ungodly façade, beckoning as sin, perused about his peripherals’ fluctuations like a clown dashing in then out a treed home.
Breezes turned to gales that transmogrified into an inexpressible force uplifting Sloth’s aching joints out of gravity’s pull into and thru noise-fueled air. Shit, was he… flying? No, that would imply he had control over his current station. Maybe he was dying… or dead?
In any case, he swayed over the various frontlines grinding cross Whispering Veil’s sprawling suburbia, one second close enough to whisper a combatant’s true name into their ear, the next capable of a thousand-yard stare. Then, forced to move towards the storm’s eye, he was persuaded thru the sik-like canyons of skyscraping blasphemies forming a moat for—plus the boundaries of—Whispering Veil’s thunderdome: Sloth’s ancestral habitat.
He wanted to stop, for just a bit…? talk round life’s emptiness amongst ol’ buddies, listen to a sermon sourced from a dead megaphone, eat a fucking kolache, and, of course, see his pregnant wife, Love, if only for what might… shit, it might very well be the last time.
Uh, fuck that—he needed that shit. Needed it so much, he prayed aloud for the first time he could then recall… and the hurricane-force winds carrying him round and about the stars rendered his pleading pure gibberish. Sometimes he found himself yawping his blasphemous exhortations, his seductive incantations, all mindlessly styled after his favorite street preacher, 010 X… tortured though might their relationship have been in the past, ignorant of the fact that not even the Unknown God would’ve been able to detect his prayers, let alone answer them.
A hippo yawns into existence, perhaps sourced from the sublingual wilds of his enduring attachment to Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams”. Its sexless sandpaper tongue carouses round Sloth’s sweaty visage. His eyes wander the wondrous savannah that’s the monster’s humungous teeth, luxuriating in this instant safari, staying the impulse to reach out, touch, prove its—and his—existence…
Eyes opened to a pierced veil of sun-flecked clouds creating a flaxen corona for a stray mutt, who is polka dotted, curly haired, friendly as can be—cute li’l guy. This guardian angel began slobbering on his pink face either as a good morning or afternoon (where the fuck am I?), as a desperate grab for food he doesn’t possess, or, perhaps as a means to some end which will only reveal itself on his deathbed, currently made of leaves and windtorn cotton, should he never arise.
Well, fuck me. He arose, renewed by sleep’s former embrace, willing himself ignorant of the dog, given the plainly insurmountable nature of his self-chosen task.
Brass fucking tacks. Less than ten days of walking left. If he doesn’t stop… just ten fuckin’ days, yeah? He knew he’d complete his journey. His feet knew it too. They carried him like those weirdass posters say Jesus carried you when the reality of your unending time in solitary overwhelmed you. You remember? Sets of footprints on a beach, sometimes two, at others just one…? Everybody had ‘em round WV, back in the nineties, couldn’t tell if it was a joke… or not… unless…?
Crashing thru underbrush, whipped by branches but whiplashed bodily and in mind by his trauma, prior or not… stumbling falling crumbling away—internally, perhaps externally… if the tree falls and no one’s around to… blah blah blah… evading feral hogs hotly trotting after his confused trail, he finally came upon a road built of compacted scree. A couple minutes and a sign appeared: 3435.
Numerology, Kabbalah, Madonna… too complex… hmm, wonder what the Unknown God has to—ow, “Fuck!”
Toes, arches (or lacks thereof), heels… bonfire knives pinprick every pore located below his crown. Like a virgin, touched for the very first time… ow! like a vir-ir-ir-irgin…
Cracked feet. Fractured mind. Streams of blood pooling behind him: a tale of distension intermixed with suffering… come see, observe His torture… at His own hands, yes, even so…
Blisters bloomed into a searing boil set at an unbearable heat, then oozed into a scraping along in His wake, breeding with His blood, bits of His skin. Pissing, shitting Himself—far beyond society’s grasp. Walking pigeon toed. Grumbling out prophecies. Dancing like a ballerina cross sidewalks, what with all the cares of this evil world nailing Him down.
No palm leaves. No donkeys. Nothing but Him and His horizon. Just further. Further. Further, goddamn you, further.
He walked, and he walked… then he fucking walked more, see? Thought of not much. Missed his wife. Hoped the kid would have a good life. Of course. Who wouldn’t want that? Wondered after the baby’s gender. They thought it would be a nice surprise. Surprise: would he even be there? The birth better go okay. Hell to pay if it didn’t. Well, either way…. Don’t want no trouble with the doctors again. All the usual shit that drowned him at night. Après toi, le déluge, Amour, Je viens….
Hey, maybe he’d even be there for some of the kiddo’s childhood? Some’s more’n none, right? Why the fuck not, hey? He could do more than put in appearances. If they could work it out. If they could both move on from their past. Back to couples counseling…?
Maybe it was just him, though. Something broken inside. A problem no one could solve. Not even the experts. It could always have been… just him. Every problem. His parents’ divorce. Et fucking cetera. Pulling everyone down with him into the shit. That shit no one likes thinking about. All the time, being a fucking drag.
Yeah, he was a-gonna walk until he couldn’t walk anymore. Nothing else to it. The least he could do.
The Louisiana border feels so close, its siren call currently almost as clamorous as any klaxon, yet… his life compacts into but a moment—and fog climaxes into a righteous downpour. Visions, shame, regret; the usual. Only available light, is that, squinting… shit, it’s Love herself, alone yet redolent, hovering above a median somewhere near Saint Angel (né San Angelo), invisible to all but Sloth.
Back together. Indivisible. Fuck yeah. But… forever? Time, time… she possesses not a mouth.
Enveloping abyss. Only somewhat—tears cushion his collapse.
About the Author: Luke Dylan Ramsey is a poet, fiction writer, screenwriter, and educator who lives and works in Central Texas. Luke’s poetry and fiction (or a mixture thereof) have appeared in Big Echo and the shinnery review.