Issue 35, Final Fringe

illuminated destruction

by Amy Dupcak Issue 23 08.23.2010

…this couch is not the kind you’d want to fall asleep on. it looks like a giant band-aid, curing something self-inflincted.

max and i know, without knowing, each other.  he is a bruise; a few shades darker than me and geometrically misshapen. i am a rat and he is the flashlight. i am the clap-clap-clap and he is the echoing microphone. i am in mono and he’s the distortion, cramming the room.

sometimes he dances on stage in white shoes. but now he’s scratching his head through bleached hair, violin f-holes tattooed on his wrist. “she’ll be here soon,” he says.

i nod, not speaking. i’m still unsure how i got here.

we’re waiting for a friend of a friend, some person i’ve never met: a body that strolled across the lawn, a ghost that flickers in and out of consciousness, a unit occupying space at protests for ending violence.

she’s probably been penning-and-inking symbols on her skin, the same way i do. everyone fucks in library study rooms, don’t they? everyone writes songs about anarchy, heartbreak, and terrible psychiatry. everyone’s tasted rain and thought, new york is acidic and i miss home. where’s home, again?

max and i don’t attempt conversation because my stomach’s too empty for camaraderie and my voice powerless. i’m an empty shell scattered on a shore, but i’ve never been to california, where max is from. his head is bleeding because he keeps scratching and scratching at it.

finally she walks into the lounge, the place where all the “hip kids” hang, and sits on the opposite couch. i’ve never seen her before. not once.

she’s frowning bright, a genuine sylvia plath in the making. maybe this girl almost bit the bullet too, not one but three times, almost squeezed her way through “suicide proof” windows because she couldn’t take the bitter taste of defeat. maybe i’m wrong, though, and she’s frowning because her smile would fill the room with too much light, and these “hip kids” enjoy dimness the way william s. burroughs needed heroin, but didn’t die from it.

her face is a diamond; her eyes are not windows to whatever soul she hides, but they buzz. i can hear them humming above the room’s chitchat. like crickets. her nerves hot-wired.

max whispers, “that’s violet. hand her the envelope.”

i extend my shaky arm. i’d rather pass a candy heart, glass rock, autumn leaf, paper valentine, but she accepts. leans back. shakes the curls from her ears and sighs, puts her nose inside and starts to sniff. must smell good, all that medical herb that’s legal where max resides and one day this past july i signed a petition that said, “make it legal here too!” but no one listens to a goddamn thing any one of us has to say, because we carry on about how much we “love” to soak our sole-less feet in grass, how much we “love” to shoot our energies through the souls of people we barely know, and they ridicule. hey max, hey violet…i mean to say, they don’t care what happens to people in iraq, new york, or the black kids next door, so long as they’re kissing the toes of a crucifix on the bathroom floor.

all of a sudden, the chipped wall, or the broken light fixture, or the knockoff dali, or the modern art atrocity shouts, “ok, we got you now! come with me.”

a man emerges from the shadows and yanks violet’s curls. he rips the envelope from her tightly-clenched fist as two identical men rise from the backside of the band-aid couch. one of them places his whole hand on max’s bleeding head.

a terrified hyena: “fuck you, you maggot faggot, gonna give me aids!” aids is terminology for the coming together of youth culture and max was only loving himself in the backseats of all those cars. he isn’t afraid of aiding. the other man places his hands all over my torn and dirty sweater. “fucking pig,” he says to me. to me?

we are noon shadows, exact. they are long and looming (the evening kind).

we are dragged into the parking lot where their cars are parked. typical police mobiles with cages, just waiting for us rats. they’ve got the sirens ready to switch on full blast, and blast they do.

violet and i are shoved into one car; max into another. “the bloody boy, a more violent threat, a mad man,” we hear them say. where are his thorns, they wonder. where’s the stigmata? yeah, he’s mad all right. i’m mad, and she’s mad, and we just like to fuck, not get fucked. we know the government loans oceans to submarines and drops the fusion of atoms on the heads of babies. you think it’s easy to be this aware?

we whisper while the identical men talk on intercoms in the front seat. she says, “call me vie.” i tell her, “call me my.” and i tell her, “i have to pee.” she tells me, “i’m going to start a riot band.” observing her face, i want her to know she’s so beautiful. also, that her purple barrettes are coming undone. instead, i think of the faulted ones i fall for, that boy who snorted heroin for one week. my breasts pressed like flowers. my life: a chalkboard, constantly and easily erased.

there is no past, only future: a road out the window.

we’ll look ahead; we’ll help create.

while the earth gets blown away, we smell the leather of the seats and each other’s hair. we watch prisms form in the glass.

i am a sonogram, my insides illuminated destruction.

and here i am, thinking about a book i barely remember. it has no pictures, only words. even though words are lies, they are good lies. white blinds the blinded.

Amy Dupcak

Amy Dupcak

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Amy Dupcak studied writing as an undergrad at Sarah Lawrence, and then earned an MFA in fiction from The New School. Her short stories appeared in Slush Pile, Broken Pencil, Cavalier Literary Couture, Thumbnail, and nonfiction is forthcoming in Sonora Review. She’s a music+culture journalist, a high school creative writing teacher, a vegetarian, and a lover of gummy vitamins. She’s also trying to publish her first novel. Visit her at