UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
“Probably there is something better than this, ma’am. I’ll give you that. They got crying Mary’s now, and once, now just once, I saw twenty pelicans all facing north.
I look at the brown bag in his hand. Other than this, I’ve never seen him before. I imagine what could be in the bag. Little Jesus. Flying pixies. Crack. A penguin.
“What is it?” I ask, afraid whatever is in the bag will be awesome and also afraid that it totally won’t be. Potato Chips. Condoms. Cough Syrup. A plastic fun meal toy.
“This here. In here. That’s my Lindsey.”
I look again at the bag. The bag is Lindsey. Something in the bag is Lindsey. Lindsey is fried rice. Lindsey is popsicles melting on beef and all of it is wrapped in tinfoil. Lindsey is a cat scan of Hemingway before Hemingway blew his brains out. I look at the bag and nothing is seeping or flailing.
“Look man, what the fuck is a Lindsey? I can’t sit here all day while you draw this out.”
He says it like he’s never heard of her, or like maybe he forgot just for a moment. We are silent while we wait for him to remember. He scratches his forearm and musses up his old man arm hair. Maybe Lindsey is hard to explain, something Kantian. Maybe Lindsey is a complex algorithm that simultaneously proves Methodism and the riddle on the back of my food stamps application. Maybe Lindsey is a Rosetta stone. Stonehenge. A Chia Pet.
“Show me the Lindsey,” I say.
He unravels the top of the bag and I feel a wave of magic. I’m awash in cosmic unity. I’m dangling over the edge of Nirvana. Something called the Lindsey has come, something better than ten thousand Cat Stevens.
“I’m not ready to see it all.”
“I can show you a corner,” he says.
“Fine, yes. It has a corner. I want to see this corner.”
Then his big veiny hand dips into the sack. He’s shaky, but then shaky seems to kind of be his thing. He is carefully pulling at something, and then bam. A corner. A corner of what looks like a Polaroid.
“Is Lindsey the photo, or somebody in the photo?”
He looks me over for long moments, assessing.
“You are a crazy. That’s for sure. She’s in the Polariod,” he laughs, but then he gets all serious looking and says, “Tell me why you’re at risk.”
Now it’s an interview. I wonder why the agency sent him. Seniors and Seniors. Brings together “at risk” high school seniors with boring ass old people with weird shit in bags.
“I’m at risk of you boring me, old man.”
“Seriously. Why? Parents all hopped up on the juice? Bun in the oven? I got to know if we are going to do this.”
“Who said I wanted any of it? I’m not some fetal alcoholic baby or something. What’s the Lindsey?”
“You don’t get my secret until I get yours.”
“Fine,” I say.
And that pretty much ends things. Then he tells me something he sure as hell wasn’t supposed to. He looks me all square in the eye.
“You’re on suicide watch. I read the file when Peg got up to grab the phone. You’re smart. Four point and all. So I just wanted to know why. Some boy?”
“Hell no. I don’t owe you a damn thing.”
But I’m still thinking about the Lindsey. She is a porno actress. She is twenty feet tall and made of aluminum. She is the reincarnation of Liberace. She is the child made from two lesbian eggs.
“I suppose you don’t. No ma’am, I suppose you don’t. Now that’s facts.”
“What?” “I said I guess you don’t owe me nothing. Only I thought we’d be friends just the same.”
“Oh. Oh yeah. I mean, I don’t know about the friend thing. That’s a maybe. But yeah, no we don’t owe each other. I’m glad we got that straight.”
“Dyke,” he says, nodding. “Yeah, bet that’s it. Well, that’s fine too. Course I won’t be wanting to talk about that, but we can talk sports or something. You like horse races? Maybe could see a few of those. Win a few if you were a lucky ducky.”
He winks and it’s gross. The Lindsey wants me to know her. I want to know the Lindsey.
“Fine, you got me old man. Now make with the bag, and this better not be lame, and it doesn’t mean we’re going to talk sports, and it’s not why I tried anything. But yeah, show it to me.”
Again, I am presented with the corner. The Lindsey is close. A little more. More. Something that looks like a halo or a bulb or a huge star. Something that looks like greasy brown hair.
“Wait. She’s not dead or anything? I mean, this isn’t some old man way of coming clean?”
“You want me to put her back in, I’ll put her in. I got no time for smart-aleck garbage right now. Not right now.”
I shut up and the whole process starts over. The halo, the hair, now a forehead, then a brow. Then, fine, there she is. Just some chick with stringy greasy hair smiling foolishly in the camera. Her face is flushed and she looks high.
“Goddamn it, you promised it wasn’t going to be lame and it more than is.”
But he’s looking at the photo and ignoring me.
“Why the hell did you bring that? It’s just some lady. Some dirty high old lady.”
“No, she wasn’t.”
“Fine. Some lady ‘hopped up on the juice’. It’s all the same.”
“Lindsey. This is my Lindsey.”
“Great, that’s just great. I take it back. I’m not even gay anymore. That’s how much you just pissed me off. I’m going to go ring bells or shake Bibles or something and be a fundamentalist for Jesus.”
“She’s your daughtermothercousin or what? What’s the deal?”
“I found her on the sidewalk,” he says majestically, “she was what all the pelicans were facing. My Lindsey.”
Gone is the aluminum woman. Gone is the pixie Jesus lesbian egg child. Gone, gone. I make a grab at his photo and rip it in half. For a full minute it looks like I killed him. He clutches at his chest and gasps like somebody dying in a black and white movie. I snap my fingers and nothing. Still shocked. I spill my coke on his loafer and nada. He’s not there. I stole him. KO’ed him and all his pretty little goodwill. It lasts so long I forget I did anything and start figuring out sales tax on random numbers.
“You are what I hate most.”
That seems a bit strong, but he looks like he means it.
“Jesus loves you anyway.”
My answer makes him blink. It’s unexpected and ridiculous, but he doesn’t know what to do. I think about $10.47 at eight percent off and six percent sales tax. I try not to feel guilty for maiming paper. I feel a little guilty.
“He does not love you,” he says. “Jesus does not love you. Look what you did to my Lindsey.”
“Now you know how the pelicans felt,” I say.
I just get up then. I just get up and go. Like maybe I’m disgusted too. Like maybe none of this was ever my fault.Sarah Sorensen’s work has been most recently published online at www.opiummagazine.com. | Last fall, she received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train; and in the past she has been published in other small presses, such as River Voices and The Central Review. Sarah holds an M.A. in English Language and Literature from Central Michigan University, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in BCA Film Theory and Criticism.
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