the old woman and I make up the bed. We put sheets, blanket, sheets, blanket in about ten layers. I am an aide. I watch the clock.
The restaurant has twenty-foot ceilings and an immense black bar with round barstools. Around the corner of the bar sits a toddler who is part sloth. I pick him up off the barstool and hold him in my arms. His sloth arms reach down my back. The Indian woman comes in. she faces away from me but I can see she is frantic.
“where is he? Where is my child?”
“i have him!” I yell. “he was hungry. We don’t know what he eats.”
i’m in my car, ruminating. I used to see someone here. But still. Cloud-studded sky and dust devils. Jungle rot on the side. I lock the car.
wool hat busts his ass; his mouth slack while he stocks the shelves at high speed. Chicken patties. Chicken strips. The florescents vibrate overhead.
They have love songs now and conceal- carry permits. his speedy impatience and small hands. He’s smaller than I remember. Back in the day As he put it to me years ago. no reason to come back
“I mean,why would I want to?”
. We stood there like we had so many times, paralyzed .
We are packed like sardines in the train to the east coast after riding the subways all night in the reversible seats to get here.
I sleep with the cats.
me and jeff go in the place, which is mostly plate glass walls. Outside is the windy parking lot. Inside, a long row of the line, where cooks scramble to keep up. a walk-in behind. Bill is at the very end, giving me smoldering looks. No one will show me what to do. Bill walks past me, goes outside and crouches on the pavement; his jacket billowing like a parachute behind him.
“they’re tricky. They can be knee-deep in your blood before you know what’s going on.”
the car dealer on the cliff.
All the lights blink off behind the glass.
“this is a closed society.” the blond woman. “this is a happy social school. You are a mother, not a teacher.” the student bodies all in clay to do a pantomime. Then they wash it off in the pool. The blond woman belongs here. She is young.
“sorry. No more tickets available.”
my purse. I cannot get home. There is a way that you can fly instantly, with decompression in your seat and you need to hold on with zero G and super-pressure. It’s emotionally and physically risky.
I can’t afford it anyway.
This society is an obsidian cliff.
kevin has a massive house. We go in and people come for the party. I sit on a lounge chair made of hundreds of wooden slats. Two girls come in and sit on my lap, making out.
“oooo they know how to stir it up!” kevin turns to me. I look at him.
“get out,” he says to the girls.
The head girl is furious.
“well you two wanna fuck, go ahead. Go ahead, I dare you.”
“my house,” he says.
“fuck you, man. Who the fuck do you think you are?”
we will have sex without the alcohol.
I’m lost. i’ve walked farther into the top of the world to the east than I ever have before. At a school of the special village of lapeer ny in the gym crowded with the people who live there who are all related I say to the guy “give me a map” and he does, but keeps shifting it out of my hands so I never know which is true north. the house goes on and on from room to room I follow the guy in the baggy jeans my tour guide over rotted floors and stacks of clothes kids crying and an unsavory bunch of men. the women are not fazed. the horizon stretches to an infinity of undulant fields to the west and the setting sun. I know this road this is where I got lost. Brian had his skin next to mine and his wife was going completely apeshit, hysterical crying which is why I left. I can’t do this, tho I want to. instead I walked off into the giant wasteland of the top of the world, where the people of lapeer found me saying i’m lost i’ve never been this far out before.
These gardens are so beautiful. the house on the hill. Shingles rotted on the perpendicular dutch roof. Tiny slatted third floor windows with their own peaks. Metal shutters, rusted and banging in the wind.
“this house was immaculate once. Why did they do this?”
“it was an incentive plan, y’know. Do improvements. See, they added an extension over there.”
“well it looks like shit.”
“yeah, I know.”
the house doesn’t complain. It sits watching its same view from decades ago. The sloping down gardens. The catholic church at the bottom of the drive. The Hudson river, with its backdrop of rolling hills. Beyond that, the mountains; turned blue by distance.