The summer I turned twelve, my dad shot a cat from the back porch doorway, killing it with just one pull of the trigger.
Much of nature expresses itself in screaming. These are the things that trees laboriously record in microscopic twitches found in their rings.
“Oscar can read people’s minds, like Professor X,” he said. “He knows liars.” He wore a big grin, smug and edentulous. We looked at Allison for an explanation. She had that dramatic pissed look only preteens can fabricate, overwrought as they figure out the plasticity of their own faces, and she grabbed a fistful of Garrett’s striped t-shirt, baring her teeth at him.
Public riot provided by the audience. “You call that music? You call that ballet? You call that art? Let’s scream so loud, the dancers can’t hear the music. Let’s throw punches and fall into the orchestra pit.” And they do.
The bartender, roused from your bed, grumbles and pinches your thigh. You hang up. Fuck you, you say to the bartender when he smirks at you and then rolls over and goes back to sleep like it’s nothing, without even checking if it’s cool for him to keep staying over, which it isn’t.
“I’m worried,” she said. Her voice sounded both fearful and angry. I knew she’d come from a small town and the university life in this larger city had been challenging.
“My stories don’t sound like everybody else’s in class.”
“Well, maybe that’s a good thing,” I said.
She smiled, the charming smile she’d had earlier in the semester. “A good thing?”
Places preserve odors and echoes over the years. This decrepit lobby, drenched in the fragrance of coffee and pineapple juice, more a market than an airport, the hallways resonating like a tuning fork with the sounds of the runaway city—Mexicana de Aviación, announcing flight five fifty-eight—The laughter and the merriment that accompanied Mariana on her many departures. Where did it all go?
Every weekend we stop in Lufkin on our way to the hospital—north, where hospitals live. Outside the shop there is always a line, five or six people wearing wide straw hats. Sometimes there are super-thin kids worked up with piss.