You are one man standing barefoot in a grocery store. You regard rows of snack cake cartons stacked like bricks when at that moment your mind begins to go. You knew it in your heart. Your heart is a wall of the same brick repeated. You're standing barefoot because you put your slippers schk-schk into the coffee bulk bin. Rabbit ears.
At home, you call your sister and her voice reminds you of a pancake you dropped on the floor that morning. Because you have no dog, you got on your hands and knees and ate the pancake off the floor. You licked your lips and the floor and you took a nap in your nap spot.
You call your mom and say you don't remember her wearing a lot of denim. Your mom cries because she did wear more denim than you remember. She says, your father worked in denim. Your crib was made of denim. He covered it for your safety. Every problem can be traced to attention or its lack, your mom says. As your mom weeps you watch a video which features a woman facing the camera and talking about yoga, and her nipples straining her costume individually talk in a sea tone of the responsibility of owning animals.
As you watch the video you work your way down each of the numbers in your casual encounters file but receive no response. Hit redial on one number until a bird picks up and tells you to fuck-right-off, fuck-right-off. Your heart is a wall of the same brick repeated.
A man returns your call and asks if you're the guy who wants a visit. Says he knows a guy, knows a lot of guys actually and some women, that everyone knows a thing or two about bricks, and they're all coming over.
You have been surrounded all your life by people concerned for your safety. Construction workers build scaffolding to protect your stupid skull. Drivers stop to allow you to cross in the crosswalk. Every problem in the world can be traced to attention or its lack.
The man arrives at your door wearing some serious denim. You carry a folding chair and follow him down to the alley. He has assembled a crowd. He produces an awl and taps it thk-thk around the circumference of your neck. Checking out, he says. I've had my days and yours aren't my business.
You can't feel it. The man says tells the crowd that it's all a good sign. He angles it expertly in the nape of your neck, your shoulders. He is a magician. You smile for the crowd. Your heart's a wall. Your heart is a wall.
Mom calls and you answer but the man is tapping his awl beside your ear and you can only hear her saying denim denim denim, denim denim. Denim denim. Den-den-denim-denim. Denim. Den-den. Denim-um. Denum. Denumm. Den-den-den-den. Um. Umm. Um-um.
Your collarbone crk-crks and is liberated. The man in denm is whistlin "Home on the Range." Word lip saside. Yu make a momont to fleck on the lean of the nalley, the pn sponch & yr hart it's a wallv th sambrick repeetd, th snik-snik, th sm-brk, rpt-rpt-rpt.
Amelia Gray is the author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2). Her first novel, THREATS, is due Winter 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.