Wk 10 – Union of Opposites

Project 2501 by Al McDermid

Speedy the Slug by Randal Houle

On the news, the economy is all bad, but you’d never know it from my viewpoint washing dishes at Chan’s Open Kitchen. Just like that Charles Dickens thing on TV. “Stuff’s kinda good. Stuff’s also kinda bad.”

You can’t see me. I’m all the way in the back drying clean dishes with a filthy rag. My roomate, Quon, waited tables and fed me information about the patrons. After work, we’d get so high that we’d slip off the couch onto the floor and cuddle while the record player crackled and cadenced until one of us realized the needle never reset and we would fall asleep.

“See that guy.” Quon pointed and I searched through a small portal. A man in November courted May. She laughed and pawed at his shoulder. “That rich bastard’s got it all, poor guy.”

Just then, the woman’s mouth dropped. She grabbed her Martini and threw it. The man’s head was drenched. Quon said it was a dry Martini and I howled. I bolted out the back door to the alley and laughed my ass off and that’s when I saw it – a slug racing away, leaving a trail of shiny muck in its wake.

Rib by Roberta Lawson

She smells like cinnamon. He tastes like sea-salt. Her hair is the colour of the apples on the trees. His is dark and curled, soft like animal down. When she strokes him, he purrs. In the mornings, evenings, they swim, emerge fresh and naked from untainted ocean. They tell one another they are the gods, goddesses, their laughter lazily rippling. They tell one another this is the beginning and do not laugh. Wrapped in one another, the world buzzes quietly around them. When they kiss they grow larger and he breathes: yes, we are the gods. Between her legs she is ripe red like pomegranate seeds. He reaches. She climbs atop him, asks: but wasn’t I second, smaller? Her fingers brush his rib-cage. He smells of lust and grass in the sunshine. He swells, tugging her over him. You are a goddess, he whispers. No such thing as smaller, second. The hot breath of the afternoon. Apples spill. She arches.

Experiments by Damian Pullen

He is smiling. It stinks of burned hair. He stares, grinning, while Krystelle tries not to cry. Mrs. Harley moves him to the front. He whines when she takes his bunsen. He tells her he likes experiments.

She’s new so maybe she still feels sorry for him. He’s got eczema and is small for his age. We call him “scab,” and hiss if he comes too close. Even the teachers hate him. At the end of class she reminds us about tomorrow’s field trip.

Next morning, he’s cupping something in his hands. It’s a mouse, a cute brown baby one. We crowd round to see, and then he squeezes hard, crushes it. Krystelle grabs my arm, and goes white. He shakes the floppy little body at us, smiling. By the time the teacher arrives, he’s thrown it into the bushes.

She’s put him in our group. He finds a fishhook and some line on the beach. He ties one end around a rock, and baits the hook with a piece of his sandwich. Almost immediately a gull lands, swallows it, and tries to take off, screaming. He throws the rock into the water and we watch the as the struggling bird is dragged under.

Mrs. Harley seems to run in slow motion.

Krystelle’s a lot bigger than him. She sits on his chest, her knees on his arms, and sort of scratches and rips his face with her long fingernails, shouting “How do you like it, you freak?”

He’s smiling.

Linden Sea by Kelly Grotke

Watery sweet-salt linden sea, I am, I am still, thought the dreamer. Closed and still my eyes, an eternity below me and above, and so what is the need for eyes at all.

In time her unnerving stillness exerted a gravitational pull on the others, who began their inspections, sideways at first and unobtrusive, increasingly bold because they met without resistance, without any response at all. A woman, perhaps even a girl, her face was after all obscured by a nearly perfect and symmetrical ring of dyed blonde curls; a line of delicate blue embroidered flowers ran up the side of her jeans. Details, details….young enough then, growing younger by the minute because think otherwise and fear comes racing to the surface more quickly than the inspection warrants even though the impulse for the inspection could not itself be called superficial. Of course in time it is noticed that her hands are pink and old and swollen, but by then it is no longer paradoxical. The woman is stirred by the shoulder.

The dreamer awoke, and the universe was gone, replaced by scenery whose tremendous detail propelled only the animal and specific drive to hide. I am wet, I am falling, she knew, before she hit ground. My god I am so heavy here, even as my eyes look up I tend toward the ground.

The drunk was taken away, and the bus arrived, full of Saturday girls, perfumed and mascaraed, with Raybans and hopes and hair black as Elvis.

White by Dorothee Lang

“White,” he says.

“Black,” I answer. Then I correct myself: “Snow.”

He doesn’t look up, just keeps filling my answers into little printed boxes.

“Street,” he says.

“Sign,” I answer.

He takes his time.

My mind keeps playing his game while I wait for the next task. House Mouse. Trap Escape. Door Window…

“Now pick a color,” he says.

He places 6 cards in front of me. Blue Yellow Red. Green Orange Violet.

“White,” I say.

He doesn’t get the joke. Or maybe it’s part of the rules: no humour.

“Pick a color”, he says.

“Orange,” I answer.

He takes the card, takes another note.

We repeat the color game until there is only green left.

“Hope goes last,” I comment. I can’t help it.

“They are complementary,” he informs me. “If you add all of them, you arrive at white.”

I hadn’t known that. Or maybe I had, a long time ago. I lean back, waiting for the next stupid telling question, but we are done. He hands me a cheque.

On the way home, I buy a box of water colors. I make sure that all six colors are included, blue yellow red, green orange violet. I paint them on a boxless page, one after the other. I try. I try again. White, I say. White Sky. Street Crossing. I try and try. But the only places I arrive at are brown, gray, nameless.

Back to Wk #9 – Cigarette Smoke in the Car

Forward to Wk #11 – Red Meat


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