Cupid's homemade napalm
Fenced by a halo of dead grass, dizzy with napalm stench, newspaper-stuffed robe
hardening around his waist in the obnoxious sunlight, Bruce absently stacks three
lighters. The neighborhood forgets its morning routines and trickles to his side
like a fledgling cult of spectators, their questions vapid and insulting. He holds a
lighter up Statue of Liberty style and everyone fans out, retreating to their small
mansions to dial 911.
The future fire fighters of America dart to the rescue. Youthful wonderment has made
them indifferent toward human life. They gun him down with Super Soakers, giggling
about the pettiness of his suicide. The water will not stop Bruce from melting
himself into his ex-girlfriend’s lawn with homemade napalm if the bitch doesn’t
surrender her time.
The children get bored and leave. One throws a rock that settles in his wet hair.
The giant heart he has painted across the chest of his robe drips crooked. He feels
like a dead super hero. He feels like prison food.
Distant sirens peck his brain. They are coming to knock him into a better
understanding of social behavior. Amongst hundreds of other misconstrued charges,
this neighborhood’s cops will most likely interpret his amorous protest as attempted
murder. Fucking with someone’s lawn is a serious crime here.
For a girl whose skull is so oddly misshapen and undersized, (but her brain is so
big it appears to be pushing its way out through her face), he doesn’t care about
going to jail. Napalm will not make her take him back, but he is willing to fuse
with the shrubbery in front of her house just to be close to her. That she might one
day walk across him barefoot is another sentimental reflection urging him to
combust. Insane death plots are commonplace around a girl who wears her hair like
that. He blames her looks and good style as he flicks the lighter.
Nothing. A silhouette swipes across the front window and then her face appears
through the curtain, draining pale at the sight of him. She has been a well-drawn
ghost in his memory for so many years and remains as perfect. He strikes the wheel
again. No luck.
It is the slow motion of nightmares that carries her down the driveway in sandals,
demonstrating her skin, every well-probed inch glowing in the back of his eyes. He
flicks the lighter a third time. She stops in front of him and presents her middle
“Need a match?” She chirps.
“I have some lighters.”
“Don’t seem to be working, do they, Bruce?”
“I’m sure you could summon a million one night stands to fix everything.”
“Or I could do this…”
She produces a matchbook and rips one out.
“You’ll want to take a few steps back, first. Shit’s all over your lawn.” He says,
closing his eyes.
“All we ever did was talk. I like to talk when I’m bored. It was a boring time in my
life. You were a late night conversation. We never even approached the surface of
anything near love. You know that, right? You have completely lost touch with
reality and need help.” She says.
He responds, “Your mother wears army boots.”
She jerks the match across the book, a small explosion in her palm, and flicks it at
him so fast the flame dies, the stick bounces off.
“Not only do you not know what love is, you don’t know who you are, you don’t know
who I am, and you have no idea how life works. Let me tell you something. I know who
you are – I was capable of figuring it out. You are not someone worth saving.” She
“The first time we talked, I loved you. You’re the one who doesn’t know what love is
because there’s nothing there except a monumental IQ. Everything else about you has
been destroyed. Well, you still look amazing, anyway. Why don’t you just let me buy
you dinner and I’ll clean this shit off.”
She lights and throws four matches in a slow progression. They all fizzle out before
landing on him.
“Just die, you terminal idiot.” She whispers.
“I know. Loving you is the worst thing I’ve done to anyone in my life. Has it made
you feel anything besides superior yet, bitch?” He yells.
She rakes the last match so hard that the book tears apart and flies out of her
hand. She searches around desperately for something to strike the match tip against.
Across the street, a little girl on a shining pink bicycle with streamers and
training wheels sails down someone’s driveway. The spectacle of Bruce on his knees
in the middle of his ex-girlfriend’s lawn looks to her like an absurdly violent
marriage proposal. The little girl watches them with her mouth slightly open,
uncertain whether to laugh or call for help.
Flushed red and swiping the match against the sidewalk, she registers the little
girl’s appearance and jumps to her feet in one fluid motion, calling: “Hi Tiffany!
Come here, honey!”
Tiffany stares at them. She waves her arms with fanatical glee until Tiffany peddles
“Hi, hi, hey Tiff, don’t get too close, now. I just want to see your bike for a
“No way! Ew! Your lawn smells like barbeque.”
Her face mostly skull made translucent by the afternoon sun, lips drawing up over a
row of small teeth, she grabs Tiffany’s bicycle by the tire and strikes the match
once. Bruce grabs her feet, bringing her knees down hard on the sidewalk. She
screams and whips around, slapping his face. There is a moment of breathing as
Bruce, still holding her feet, works at the strap of her sandal.
“What the hell are you doing?” Tiffany demands.
“I’m trying to burn him. He’s crazy! Help me, will you? He’s touching my feet!” She
“Gross.” Tiffany gets off her bike and pushes the tire close.
She hits the match against the rubber. Tiffany, growing impatient, says, “Let me try!”
Tiffany takes the match and strikes it – to no effect.
“All right! Enough of this! I’m too exhausted to be incinerated today. I’m going home.”
Bruce grabs the bike, lifting it to his chest so neither of them can reach and walks
to the end of her driveway where he sets it back down and climbs on. Wobbling, his
legs bunched out far on either side of the squeaking bicycle, the training wheels
breaking at an inclined angle behind him, Bruce slowly peddles away.
Still frozen in exaggerated positions of struggle, they watch him go with a sad
gaze. Bruce looks over his shoulder as far as he can without losing balance and
yells, “I don’t need you anymore! I have this bike!” and then spins around, settling
his face into the oncoming black wood of a cop's nightstick.
Sean Kilpatrick has been published in Exquisite Corpse, Stirring, Unlikely Stories 2.0,
Poetic Inhalation, THE2NDHAND, My Favorite Bullet, Zygote in My Coffee, Alpha Beat
Soup, writeThis.com, Blue Food, The Glut, The Dream People, Cthulhu Sex and more.
© 2005 Underground Voices