Greg Marshall

Brief Brain Clogs Forecast Bloody Comet Hurling Toward Me

“Déjà vu means you’ve had a stroke,” Rachel tells me at dinner. We’re conversing across a round table heaped with ribs, sausage, baked beans and brisket, enough food to give both of us strokes. The metaphysical hiccup from a moment ago was not reality shimmering at its edges, but my body dying a little. Rachel says she and her husband, Brad, get naked before they bathe their golden doodle in order to spare their clothes. Brad flops forward to add, “We’ve done it three times,” and flops back.

How come when I sit down to write about you, what comes out is all about me? I make up things you said so I can refute them during conversations with my friends. I make you sound careless because you’re dead. You loved me, or didn’t, depending on the day.

I see a chink of light.

I talk to my professor about the weather. He dislocated his shoulder hauling firewood, then tore his rotator cuff and a few ligaments tumbling down a ravine. “Couldn’t stop myself,” he says. He’s defying physics standing here: his arm cradled in a sling, his hip titanium. He played point guard in college and I wonder how our conversation about temps in the mid-70s compares to a thousand men –10,000 men – stomping their feet on wooden bleachers, chanting Tho-mas! Tho-mas!

I call it Darth Vadering when circumstance hijacks previously good fortune, when machinery replaces body parts or disease darkens our intentions. Thomas asks me if everything’s all right, but he could not possibly be referring to your funeral, how I told Elizabeth your lack of T-Cells must have Darth Vadered your personality and she said, “For as good of friends as we were, I knew him as well as I was ever going to know him,” like it didn’t matter that you no longer existed.

I pet Rachel’s dog and think, “I’m such a total loser. Not even this poodle will fuck me.”

I do what the chink says. I drink the gall of fish, burn the liver and heart to ward off demons, staple the rest of the viscera to the wall and stick batteries up its ass. Get close and it sings.

I’m positive I’m negative. I’m Positive. I’m Negative. I’m Greg. Ayn Rand.

I’m writing about your arm. Are you calling my arm fat? No, I’m calling it an arm.

You depart the world in knots, like a dummy. How far you fly.

“Don’t fall for a bald guy,” mom says. “Once he’s gone, you see him everywhere.”

My Burmese friend tells me she likes tumult, is at a time in her life when she needs to up the tumult. She squints to obscure her dead eye, alternately hiding behind a curtain of hair and exposing her face. (I suspect all people with brown eyes are colorblind.) If I do my job correctly as her friend, one day we’ll have the conversation where I tell her about my crippled leg and how I hate walking in front of people, especially up stairs, not because I limp but because my ass sticks out. She won’t have much to confess about her eye unless her condition is the result of a terrible childhood accident.

Darth Greg.

Greg Marshall is a first-year fiction fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He earned a degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 2007 and, before moving to Texas, worked as the arts and entertainment editor for The Park Record newspaper in Utah.

1 comment:

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