Friday, April 27, 2007

Things That Lead To The Other World

This is a sequel to a story I previously posted -- "The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy." The novella follows Josette and Josh through another fun-filled year on the border of Detroit. I'm going to post the second half tomorrow and the third installment for Sunday. Enjoy!

Things That Lead To The Other World

We have our routines, of course. I’d like to say that my brother Josh crawled out of my bed into his own, that we weren’t hell bent on repeating the damage of our youth. What’s your first impulse when something isn’t working – if it’s to hit it hard, well, that’s ours too. Josh fell asleep next to me last night, talking to me about his accident, which was anything but.

My brother does not look like a well man, what with a knife scar from ear to ear that he’d done himself, a visible before and after, a fuck you to our parents, years after the fact. This summer, the summer of Josh turning thirty-one, me twenty-nine, had undone us. I had my own story, no ghoulish carved smile, but I haven’t heard from my married boyfriend Kevin since I stood mute in front of his wife, having shown up at his house in the Detroit suburbs right after a July thunderstorm, the kind that knocked out the power for hours.

Kevin, if you’re listening, I have no idea why I did what I did. It didn’t, as people say, even seem like a good idea at the time. When Josh drove me home from your house, and it is your house as your wife has not worked in many years and you do not own what you have not paid for, I felt nothing except the pleasant buzz of adrenaline through my veins while I thought, Josette, you dumbass, he’s never going to forgive you. Which was right, at least so far.

Today, Josh returns to school. He’s had a week of in-service days, but most of the other teachers knew what he had done to his once beautiful face, certainly a new answer to the inevitable summer vacation chitchat. The ambitious teachers scrimp to go to Europe on cut-rate deals. The lonely ones or financially overextended fearing empty hours and little money volunteer to teach, and all the rest tend to drink every night and buy too many cds. I, Josh could say, took a kitchen knife to my face and carved the shit out of it, or to quote his latest shrink, externalized his pain, as if such a thing were possible.

“You look nice,” I say. Josh shoots me a go to hell look, to which I say, already there, and he laughs. After a few years of living alone, I like living with Josh again, even if it is as his legal guardian. His shrink realized that I was the only option, much to her horror. She’s smarter than most, having figured out that I have a wee bit of a substance abuse problem, my having come to her office fucked up on more than one occasion. As if someone could be expected to deal with such things sober. Our parents exist a thousand miles away, never having made good on their perpetual threat to come back to live in Detroit . They have been gone almost a decade, not long enough. They have bought two adjacent cemetery plots not far from where Josh and I live, ostensibly for them, maybe for us, it's anybody's guess.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Domestic squalor is dark and serious. It leaves behind guilt and sadness." Ann Roiphe

Cocktail Hour

Drinking music suggestion: Burnin' Hell John Lee Hooker

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Friday!


Tony Soprano said...

This story reminds me of mixed emotions I have toward my sister Janice. I love her but it was really a pain in the ass when I had to dispose of her husband Richie Aprile's body after she shot him to death. Thankfully, she remarried and is now with my captain Bobby "Bacala." Thanks for your support, Michelle. Everyone at the Sopranos loves your blog!

Rodney Dangerfield said...

I can see where Grouchie gets his wonderful smile, if you know what I mean.

the walking man said...

Michele of all the writers I know, you have this envious talent for pulling some dark humor from the most emotion evoking situations.

"you look good" "already been there"

Then the rational for Kevins wife not owning the house because she hasn't worked in years and Josette must know that kevin, even if he forgives her, must know that she is his booty call on the side and will never get shed of his wife because thefinancial costs would be to dear for him to willingly play.

Will you teach me to write? Yes this is a serious question.



and would you get rid of this stupid security check typing letters thing it is a real pain in the ass!

CelticShaman said...

Hey Michelle, I'm enjoying reading your blog. We knew each other briefly a few years ago on the "border of Detroit." I look forward to reading the rest of the story. Hope all is well with you.

eric the blue said...

A good read, m. Just as it was the many other times I've read it.

The title is excellent and there's no typos. Who's your editor? They must be pretty good. Probably some highly educated, very stable, professional type with godlike powers of literati.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings to the glowing white page of the spell...

Take care, m. And keep taking care, like you do.

wins fan said...

go pistons!

Charles Gramlich said...

Very powerful.

MC e-bag said...

...but the main page glows black, that's your special gift.

like a trick of the aura
the colorless void
is alive
from crafting hands
and a breath into each line
You hope the right keys be stroked
in time to the rythym and rumble
of everything around that you so dearly love;
the hottest blood flows
from the pen of one who knows love within the dimmly lit borders of this motorized city at the straights
the colors bled are all and none
and recognize you as their own
by the warm dark light of your aura

be well, m, the best to you and yours and your writing, second person or not.

strawberry newtons and redi whip said... seriously, what are Luna bars?

half a molar said...

are luna bars soft?

through a haze of pain said...

"What's your first impulse when something isn't working--if its to hit it hard, well, that's ours too."
What an entendre, subtle and punches the head around a couple spins when it sinks in. I don't think a lot of people got it before. If anything, it was too slick, I guess I'd say if I was held at gitmo and forced too say anything. But that's

I'm glad to see an answer to "how's the _____ doing", and I'm glad to see that it's in the best hands to be shaped and controlled. Let me know about any future work.

Taking Care of Business said...

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

Vector said...

O O O O That Shakesepeherian rag.
It's so elegant.
So intelleigent.

Melvis Presley said...

wulla, good night ma'am.

I'd have sang you another one,
but I owe my soul and had little left to praise you with but me--and that's how we got here, twisted in these torn bedsheets in this shadowed, familiar room. The candle burns, cloying incense penetrates the gritty odor of our sweat and sex--I'd sing you a new song, but you've probably heard it all before, and the window facing eight mile cries a wrenching blues for us tonight, enough to make us sound like animals struggling in twisted, dirty sheets, stifled under it's sultry moan.

Hey baby, the king's always got time for one more. Time to shoot out the TV and go to bed.

TCB with a flash--wit is the soul of a brief comment; too bad these two tiny ones up here are so deficient. You couldn't run my spell checker, bub.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm looking forward to the other parts of the story. When I'd originally read "The Difference Between Pluto and Goofy," I had difficulty with the plausibility of the brother and sister sharing a bed together; it really made me think about their past. I'm hoping the parents make a surprise visit, especially the father.

Jon said...

Very, very nice. The pace is amazing-running like a spring stream-readmereadmereadme. The end comes so soon, but the beginning of this story is satisfying none the less. And the unexplained details are wonderful hooks. Like the others, I can't wait to see the rest.

baron sacha cohen's stand in said...

great success!

Tell borat, do you have, how you say, um, light were you work?
High five!

No 2 or 3 best story in all Kazakhstan; they are naughty naughty.