Love Song, Part I

    Bobby thought it was wrong to suck pecker for money. I didn’t think too
hard about it. I mean, I never planned on doing it. Never planned on jack.
Jack’s my name. I just think you can love a thing, even though it lives in
more than one person. Late one night after I’d run off from Daddy’s, this
thick arm stuck out the winder of a pulled-over cop car and just stuck there
real still while I peered at it from between the rails of the concrete steps
where I’d made my home on for the night. Sure as a blink, that thumb
twitched and sent a burning ash sailing over the sidewalk from the tip of a
smoke. His arm had that weight about it just like Daddy used to have.
Daddy used to weigh down the backyard hammock, stretching the woven
rope until it almost kissed the dirt an inch below. He’d be coolin’ down from
the heat of mowing that patch of grass back there flicking his burnin’ cigar,
while I’d watch through the kitchen winder of our air-conditioned house.
He’d yell for a beer and I’d bring it out to him before Mama could get it, my
hand freezin’, drippin’ from the cold can. I loved that beer smell when he’d
crack it open. He’d say, “What’re you starin’ at? I know I’m good-lookin’.
Go help Mama in the house.” I’d go back inside and watch him from the
winder. I’d tuck it—all boys do it I guess—you know, tuck your prick
between your legs to look like a woman. But it warn’t a joke like my friends
did it sleepin’ over. It was real. After Daddy took to the bed after Mama
died, I’d stand there and look out at the loose hammock, all twisted and
empty and imagine Daddy back in it instead of the bed. I’d be wearin’ my
Mama’s old silky panties and tuck my pecker back and rub my finger over
my slit, while I’d imagine Daddy’s cigar burnin’ down. “Jack!” Daddy
would yell from his sick bed, coughing up somethin’ that sounded like
death. “Medicine!” He wanted his pill and Old Grand Dad. Not my
Grandad cuz he’s dead, but whiskey. I’d get the tray ready and drip a little
Grand Dad on my finger and brush my teeth with the stuff—felt like
Novacane. I would anoint Daddy’s lips with whiskey, let it drop onto his
tongue—sizzle the cigar tip. I’d rub some down under Mama’s panties--the
fumes of whiskey burning my nostrils. “Boy!” So I brought Daddy his
medicine on the plastic tray that Mama used to bring his dinner on when he
used to sit up in the living room. Now he’s lying on the bed reeking of piss
and feces. Paper tissues cover his body and maroon bedspread spill onto the
floor around him like some picture – like he’s already strewn with yellowed
white flowers lyin’ in his casket. “God damn, give it t’me boy! Don’t spill
it! Don’t tremble like a girl!” He was alright till the Death-Man got inside
our house. Till He took away Mama and half of Daddy’s breath and turned
him into a quarter of a man gasping for air, his body seepin’ into the bed,
meltin’ away into that plastic cover wrapped around the mattress. I’d get all
welled up in the eyes seein’ him lyin’ out there, remembering him all lively,
how I used to grab at him, grab his hat, knock on his newspaper all the time
when he’d sit in his chair and finally he’d slap me good, and I’d taste my
own blood. I’d suck on the blood from my cheek or lip and think about how
it must taste the same as his since we had the same blood. It tasted good.
Now he could hardly try and scream somethin’ without coughing somethin’
up, his body melting into the mattress, cries for pills and whiskey, and death-
smell coverin’ his room intense like shit, and I had to get out before it got

And I did. And when I seen George--that cop--flick his ash, my heart
reached down to my gut. And then just as still as he’d flicked his ash, he
signaled me over to the car. I think I should have been scared now when I
think back on it—scared that I was getting’ in trouble--but I warn’t. I just
marched on over to him like I was bringin’ a cold beer to Daddy in the back
yard. He asked me my age and looked down into his lap. He asked me how
much for a blow job and I melted into his midnight blue uniform, dark as the
night, as Daddy was meltin’ into the mattress back home.

Bobby told me it was wrong to get paid for it, but I didn’t know him yet. I
would have done it for nothin’ with George. I wanted to marry him. But he
gave me 25 bucks every time. Right in the car and he’d drop me off
wherever I wanted. A gentleman—not like some. George was obliged to
his Mrs. So he’d never take me home with him. I wished she would die, but
then she’d haunt me for wishin’ Death on her. So I stopped wishin’ it.
Between Daddy angry cuz I left and Mama gone, I couldn’t get with another
ghost yet. I had a power for the death-wish cuz I felt His breeze go by me
when he came for Mama. And I’d breathed His air in Daddy’s room.

George stopped bein’ in our spot where I’d first seen him parked that night.
I went every night, but he warn’t there. After some hours, somebody else
would pull up and ask for a suck and I’d be cold to ‘em. But finally my
body got cold and George warn’t there, so I charged ‘em 30 since I didn’t
love ‘em and got in their heated car. Then I liked getting’ money cuz I got a
place to stay, so I kept it up. Mostly, it warn’t bad. Only took a few minutes
most times. Sometimes they’d be drunk and hit you. I tasted my blood but it
warn’t the same as like my Daddy’s cuz I warn’t their blood. I warn’t’ve cared
if George had hit, but he didn’t. He would sometime rub my cheek when I was
down there. He was strong, too. But didn’t hit. Arms like a tree. Like
Daddy used to be.

When I met Bobby, he made me quit with the men—said they would chip
away my soul and make me hollow inside like a gourd. I said, money. I
need money for my room. I want to fix it up. But he learnt me how to live
outside the grid with no want for money. Just stuff and “know-how.” He
was like a bat—a vampire. In a good way. That’s the way I seen him when
I saw him coming at me. I was lyin’ out on the concrete seein’ dizzy—
couldn’t move. He swooped down like a vampire bat, velvet angel, black
leathery wings. And next we’re on a rooftop looking out at lights, yellow
lights shining down on concrete and the sound of a train rushin’ to
somewhere and I can breathe and I thought I’d gone to heaven.

Now I’m in hell cuz he’s gone. But I got my pills and my bottle and
memory. He’s in every brick of the house. Every floorboard. Every piece
of Wayne’s coat. I don’t leave the house much. I watch from the winder—
the trucks and the train and the dogs from the scrap yard. I feel the bricks. I
lick the bricks come night. I feel the sun change, move across the sky. And
at night the moonbeams tell me about a pond somewhere where Bobby used
to swim. He was part reptile--he could swim good. He was hot-blooded
though, like a mammal. He was like a bat. Even the dirt tastes good cuz I
know Bobby’s in there now. I want to leave life to be there with him but
Mama always said she would’ve done it but then you burn in Hell forever. I
wonder if Bobby’s in Hell or Heaven or somewhere else. Them spiders
crawl and talk and tell about him but I can’t quite hear—they whisper. I
can’t hear cuz the train’s screaming and sometimes I can hear my heart
pumpin’ in my ear so loud I can’t sleep good and the light shines in from the
moon like a spotlight cuz I lied and Bobby knew.

Bobby would go out on his scavenger hunts every now and again and he’d
be gone for days. They would do stuff. He’d be looking for “materials”
from torn down places or “cleanin’ up the neighborhood,” like down from
where we stayed was an old house that looked abandoned—well ours did
too—but ours is nice. This one looked like it might cave in and had plastic
stuff on the sides. Well, Bobby said those people were bad and would hurt
us and would probly catch their own house on fire from the crack pipes, but
I never seen any of them do nothing bad. ‘Cept one time this one fella broke
in when we was out walkin’. Bobby caught him when we come back and
that man was runnin’ out the winder. He had some stuff of ours, some of
Bobby’s tools, and started running out—he jumped onto the roof next to
ours and Bobby chased him. Then that house down the road burned down
while Bobby was gone for a while. He came back—didn’t say much about
it. Said something about crack babies. This man asked me about it. The one
I still got paid by at times. He was a cop like George. I’d quit cuz Bobby
told me to, but I kept on only with Roy. He asked me how that house had
burned when we was sittin’ in his car. He said it was fine—better that it was
gone, but folks shouldn’t be taking the law into their own hands. I didn’t
know, I told him. He laughed and pushed my head down. But I felt sick
when he pulled it out. I kept seeing Bobby’s face and I didn’t like the smell
of it, so I jumped out the car and run off and back towards home. Then he
drove right next to me hollerin’ out the winder that he’d have us kicked out
of the squat if I didn’t do it. He said he’d have Bobby arrested. He said
he’d tell Bobby about what I did to him for money. I did stop, with the
others. But he—I used to pretend he was George. I’d shut my eyes when I
rode in the car and smell the leather or fake leather vinyl seat and the smell
of cigarettes in that cop car ashtray and it was like I was visitin’ George
again and it was like with Daddy again and we needed some money for food
even though we did ok off the grid and all. Bobby didn’t seem to notice if I
bought food with the money, and soap, too, even though Bobby made soap,
but his soap he made my face rashed. We’d go eat at Taco Bell and go to
the movies. I’d say my aunt gave me some money when I’d visited her, but
I didn’t even have no aunt. Sometimes I think Bobby knew it, too. He’d
always talk about how he hated Johnny Law and all that, but when Roy
came by, he’d talk all loud to him about how he fixed the plumbing himself
and Roy would say how that was an awesome talent and on and on and
every once in a while Roy’d look at me and I hated it. I asked Bobby why
he’d talk so much with a cop if he hated ‘em so much. And he’d say how
Roy was alright and didn’t mess with a man’s castle—didn’t bother into our
affairs. He said he needed man-talk sometimes. “Talk about numbers,” he
said. “What numbers?” I’d ask. He said I didn’t understand, but he loved
me for other reasons. He said he felt a power run between us when he’d
have his finger in my bottom and he’d be jerkin’ his prick. Or when he put
it in me. Or when he shined the flashlight under the blankets up around
there. He said I looked like a statue. He said he felt a power. His chest had
two gray hairs and the rest were black—not thick like George’s—just a
sprinklin’. His hands were strong and rough from workin’ on the building
but he could be gentle at times. And when he reached for my hole, I knew
he owned me. I want to leave life to be with him again. He used to cry
sometimes and he’d look like a little boy. He used to laugh real loud. He
used to get mad about the black folks who lived in that house that burned
down. I never thought they did no harm. ‘Cept that one who robbed us. I
don’t think Bobby’d done nothin’ to that house if that man hadn’t come into
his castle. It was like a spirit had been in the house who was evil or bad
when we seen him. I don’t know how Bobby knew whether or not he even
lived in that house they burned. He said you have to prove a point. I hope
nobody died. But I feel their ghosts running through the house cold at times
like when we seen that one man run through with our stuff. I don’t like it.
Maybe Bobby was right about ‘em being bad cuz after that man ran through
the house was when things started to turn bad.

Bobby said Roy was decent, but I knew the truth after he made me keep on
with him. He didn’t even pay anymore. He said that was our rent money. I
told him Bobby would kill him. But that’s not what happened. Bobby
caught us at it in the car once. That’s when I felt like he said I would.
That’s when I knew I’d be hollow forever. When I felt Roy go stiff in his
body and limp in the other place. I knew. I didn’t have to look. My body
froze and I heard Bobby scream at me and thud on the winder and then
again. I looked and the glass didn’t break and I saw his wild stare at me and
then Roy jammed him with the door. I screamed and reached for Roy to
hold him back. I don’t remember. I was throwin’ up on the street but
nothing was comin out and I saw Bobby pinned down and I had a crushed
torn can in my hand and hit Roy’s head and he fell off and Bobby rolled on
top and had him by the throat and I still had the can to slice against Roy’s
neck but I got the end of Bobby’s finger instead and then it all switched and
Roy told Bobby to freeze—we’d go the hospital. Bobby wouldn’t freeze.
Roy pointed his cop gun. I told Bobby to freeze—just freeze. He gave me
that wild eye again. His blood pourin’ out of his finger--everywhere, he was
still swingin the other hand and Bobby wouldn’t freeze and Roy said to
freeze and I said to freeze, to do what Roy’s telling him--and Bobby
tried to grab the gun and punched Roy and then they rolled more and then
the sound. And it was quiet. And it echoed. And I was sick and the blood,
now Bobby’s face. All—the street. Pieces. I couldn’t walk. When I woke
up I was back inside.

The pills are my friends now my only friends are the pills and Bobby’s hairs.
I get out the bowl and count ‘em up. I like to open his sock drawer. It still
smells the way his socks always smelled after he’d wash ‘em with his soap.
The dirty ones don’t smell like him no more. They did for a while. I kept
the window closed after Bobby died to keep his smells in as long as I could.
I didn’t wash his pillow or his clothes. I’d get out a fresh shirt or underwear
or socks every few days to sleep with—one that still smelled of him before I
wore it off. I found piss in the toilet he hadn’t flushed. I sat down next to the
can and stared at it. I found some of his hairs on the bathroom floor and
gathered ‘em together. I didn’t want to use the toilet—didn’t want to mess it
up. So I would go back behind the house. I didn’t want to flush it. I would
go in and smell it and just sit there next to it. I licked the rim in case there
was any there. I hunted the soap dish and shower for hairs. I ate some of
the soap he had made with his hands. I licked his razor to get his hairs out
and it cut my tongue. I don’t know where he’s been buried but I’m lookin'.
Roy hadn’t been around since, but I think I saw his car drive by one day.
One day I washed in the toilet water. The rest of it started looking so nasty
I finally flushed it cuz it started to stink. And then wished I hadn’t flushed

Bobby and Daddy and Mama swirling and Ol’ Grand Dad and Mema and
my body floats away. When I was with Bobby I felt Grand Dad and Ma
close and all the elders near. When we were together, I felt all the ghosts of
the ancestors present in the hall and the room and in the floorboards. Now
they swirl around the room, down the hall, they call to me, reach out. Bobby
with that wild look when he caught me. I didn’t want it, to do it to him.
Roy would get us kicked out. He said Bobby would go to jail. But if I had
told him, Bobby would have killed him and we would still be alive together.
Does Bobby know why I done it? Does Christ give mercy to the sick? Find
him. Do they get wise after they cross over? Be together there. Is it forever
there? Is it frozen like ice? Like the moonbeam spotlight through the
winder? Are they all there? Or separate? Can we find each other like on
the earth? He found me and claimed me for his own. Did Daddy lead him to
me—guide him to save me from dying on the concrete. It’s cold there. Is
Bobby cold? Can he see me? I’m filthy. Bobby knew it when he saw me
with Roy. He hated me when he died. Does that mean he’ll hate me always
in eternity forever? I see his face looking through the winder. I want him
back inside me. I want to be wrapped around each other again in the
blankets. I wonder if he and Daddy hate me together in their world and
make plans to destroy me. Make me suffer. Do they know how I’m sorry?

Am I alive?

Troy Hill is a writer living in New York City, originally from Atlanta,
Georgia. He directed a full production of his play, "Home Again" at the
Abingdon Theater in New York in 2004. This play was published in Lodestar
Quarterly in the Summer 2003 issue and was also part of the Genesius Guild's
Raw Reading Series that same summer. His play, "The World Was All Before
Them" was given a reading by the Nomad Theatrical Group in December 2004,
and his short play "Como Te Atreves" was part of the Untitled Theater
Company's 24/7 festival in March 2005. He recently directed a reading of
his new play, "unlovable" in the Ensemble Studio Theater¹s Octoberfest. He
studies playwriting with Keith Bunin.

© 2005 Underground Voices