“The Night I Spent with Pre-Accident Montgomery Clift” by Anthony Dragonetti

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A little order, please. I’m on Wikipedia trying to get my arms back around my thoughts so I can smother them, but my muscles are wasting. There has to be something new to know. Some factoid I haven’t already committed to memory.

My body is failing me. It’s terminal. It started in the stomach, like so many things do. If I had a CT scan, I’d show you. I don’t have the money, but I know. It began like ink being spilled in a bowl of water, blooming tendrils reaching into my soft meat. I feel it every time I eat, and the food gets pushed back up into my throat. My central nervous system has been compromised by now, no doubt.

I’ve been twitching more. My leg just jerked. A heart palpitation. No, I have to burp. I’ve been burping a lot. I keep a fecal journal for color and consistency. I piss in a glass to keep an eye out for blood and foam. It always foams in the toilet, but I’m told you can’t go by that. I only have a few glasses and I forget which one I use for piss, so I make sure I wash them all in very hot water.

My shit has been floating for the past couple of days. It looks lighter than usual. I turn my phone’s flashlight on it to really get a look. I’m Googling “clay colored” because I don’t know what clay colored actually is, but I know it’s a possible sign of bile duct obstruction. Hepatitis. Cirrhosis. Pancreatic cancer.

I drink too much, I know that. I did this to myself. I knew it would catch up to me. I get up and look in the mirror, pulling my cheeks down away from the whites of my eyes to check for jaundice. Is my skin more yellow than yesterday? Could be the light. I’m naturally pale as it is.

I finish up in the bathroom and sit in my bed to watch TV. I scroll through the channels. The words in the guide don’t mean anything. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I forget what I wanted to watch. Memory loss and twitching can mean a brain tumor. If you cut me open, I’d be a single carcinogenic mass, blackened inflammation. How do you donate your body to science?

I think I’m starting to smell, but sometimes I imagine BO. I haven’t left the house in a few days, but I shower. Three times a day if I feel like it. The running water is nice when I’m anxious. If I go out, people will know I smell.

The Misfits is playing on TCM. A black and white movie in the dark is cozy and I need cozy, considering my condition. I turn it on the moment the camera is fixated on Montgomery Clift and his broken face. There are hints of beauty still there, at least on his right side, but the drugs and alcohol were eating away at that too. I feel you, Monty. I’m being eaten, too. Neither of us can remember our lines.

I pick up my phone because I’m spooked. This is a sign. A handsome, bisexual guy dies tragically at a young age after years of suicide. That’s me. They’ll find me here, like this. He had so much potential, they’ll say. So cute, too. Now look at him. Yellow, in a U shape from rigor mortis.

I’m having chest pain. I think I feel it in my left arm. I reach for the aspirin next to my bed and chew a couple. That’s good for heart attacks. I need to take the edge off. I open my phone and search for pictures of pre-accident Montgomery Clift. Impossibly handsome. How could someone like that have lived? And died?

I shove my hand into my shorts. I wince when my fingers touch the raw, tender flesh. I’ve been extra nervous lately. I look up at the TV to see Montgomery Clift in a cowboy hat, half his face paralyzed. Everyone in this movie died shortly after filming it. I shut off the TV and get comfortable, looking at him on my phone before death took root inside of him. Maybe it started in his stomach, too.

Monty, stay with me for a few minutes while we’re both beautiful and our bodies work.

 

Anthony Dragonetti writes fiction and criticism. He lives in New York City. You can read more here: http://neutralspaces.co/anthony_dragonetti/
Twitter @dragoneddied

“Manifesting” by Anthony Dragonetti

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I’m texting her back to tell her that I think the interview went well, but who really knows with these things. She immediately responds asking if I think I got the job. If it went that well. I think it did, but I can’t say that. That would jinx it. I’m allowed to be so sure that I believe, but it must remain deep and hidden in here. I can’t put it out into the universe. That’s how you invite the jinx. I need this job. So, I tell her that it’s out of my hands and we’ll see in a week. She asks again if I think it went that well and adds she’s sure I got it. I can’t do this right now.

I miss my street because I’m texting and thinking about everything I said during the interview that could have come off as stupid. I should have had more questions for him. I should have asked about the company culture. Idiot, idiot. I turn around and walk back a block towards St. Mark’s. Now I’m embarrassed that I’m backtracking in New York City. That’s tourist shit. Someone on this block is judging me. They probably think I’m looking at Google Maps on my phone. I want to yell that I’m actually texting with my girlfriend, a successful painter. She was in a group show.

I’m walking up to the Cube and I hear skateboards and honking horns coming up from behind me.  A group of about a dozen skaters are coming up from Broadway towards the intersection. They’re weaving between cars, jamming them up. I don’t want to stop and stare, giving them what they want. I walk more slowly, watching them in my peripheral vision while others stop completely to film with their phones. One older woman is filming the skateboarders with an iPad. A deep annoyance is flooding my brain. These people have places to be. Some are trying to get to work, I’m sure. These kids don’t care. They think they’re cool. We’re all at the mercy of a bunch of idiots. Grow up. You’ll be in the backseat of one of those honking taxis one day.

It’s a pack of teenage boys. I’m drawn to one of them. He’s at the back and his face is telling a story. He’s afraid and he doesn’t want to be doing this. The details start filling in the more I watch him. His features are sensitive. His form is unsteady. His skin has become milk from fear. The boy is me. I see that now. I want to take him into my arms and whisper in his ear that I have come from the future and it ends up ok. He passes by me and his eyes meet mine.

Now, I see the other boy. I can read him, too. I can always read the ones like him. He’s taunting young me, slapping at him and calling him a pussy. He’s telling him to keep up with the group and he’s making everyone else look bad. I’m reading his lips even after I can no longer see them. The milk skinned boy is losing his balance. He’s panicking. The cars aren’t stopping.

I can’t explain it, I can only feel it. There’s that psalm about hating with a perfect hatred. I look at the kid still yelling at the panicking boy with a perfect hatred. Every single cell is burning. I’m thinking it, which is okay, but I lose myself and say the words out loud. I say them and it feels good and as soon as I finish saying the words a wheel comes off the kid’s board. His insults become a clipped scream as he tumbles off his skateboard and disappears under the wheels of a bus.

The woman filming with her iPad says oh god over and over. The people who aren’t yelling are running over to the bus. I walk quickly past the scene, allowing myself one glimpse at the kid under the wheels. The nervous boy sits down on the curb and vomits while the skaters at the front of the group make their way back yelling the kid’s name.

I break into a run. Maybe they think I’m going for help. I am not going for help. That kid has a family. The police will call his mother. She’ll dread this date on the calendar for the rest of her life. There will be a void. An unnatural horror.

I get to the bar I always go to and sit down. I’m sweating and I’m trying not to cry. The bartender comes over to me with a smile that quickly fades when he asks me what’s wrong. I instinctively shove my hand into my inner jacket pocket and finger my rosary.

I’ve done a terrible thing. I have done an unspeakably terrible thing.

My phone vibrates in my pocket. It’s another text from my girlfriend that says she’s positive I got the job because I always get what I set my mind to.

 

Anthony Dragonetti tells people he writes fiction. His work has most recently been featured in Expat Press.
Twitter @dragoneddied