“Maria, at the Kitchen Table” by Tyler Dempsey

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Detectives. Police. 1:45 a.m. husband yelled her name, wake up. Deaf. She kind of hears.

 

Greased hair, husband rolls pamphlet reflexively grabbed when detective showed photo. Rolls it. “Poor girls,” thinks Maria.

 

Age six, Maria resembled Christmas present in orange and white blanket. “Her salve,” grandpa called deafness. Orange, white blanket. Soft, enormous sunset and landscapes running hill-like.

 

Shaken arm. “Is that right?” Husband nodding. Detective’s lips. “That right, ma’am?” Sweat splits husband’s eyes. Blue, now black. She nods. German Shepherds pull police through on ropes. I should make a pot of coffee, thinks Maria.

 

Thinks Maria, “Salve.”

 

Maria, at the kitchen table. Tall detective whispers clean-shaven detective glances husband rolling pamphlet, dripping sweat. ConversationsMaria stops reading lips. Teeters on memory. “What’s her problem?” Gestures at Maria, palm flat.

 

Housekeeping, motels. Nights. People go in, out. In, out. Laundry bags feeding hopes, dreams, and sins accompany Maria on metro. 64th St. Laundromat. T.V.’s loop soaps, magazines displaying large-breasted women. Boss dodging expenses. Once, she found a hundred dollar bill on a bed, folded smaller, smaller. Size of a Tic-Tac.

 

Maria, at the kitchen table detective takes stance standing opposite husband raises photo mouths, “Surveillance videos show a ’57, station wagon, turquoise, white. Around where they found the body. Not a lot of white, turquoise, ‘57 station wagons in Bloomington. We believe it’s your station wagon, Mr. Allens.” Aunt Griselda’s German Shepherd Max. Maria’s little kid hands, little, exploring Max’s coat. Dandelion-fur erupting sunlit air. Detective nods, lifts coffee mug picture of Goofy she got at Disney Land.

 

Father opened mare’s neck. Dry rip. Barn burst smell of hay and life.  Maria on knees, dress to face sobbing. Eight. “Old enough,” her father assured Maria’s mother, Maria. Next year divorced. Feed too expensive. House too expensive. Car, expensive.

 

Maria, at the kitchen table, detectives levitate further over table toward husband saying, “We picked them up. 8 o’clock, Sunday.” Maria thinks, “We?” “Said we’s goin the liquor store, they’d like to come along.” “We had to, save the foal,” father said. Foal-shaky-legs. Afterbirth slick. Hay creased Maria’s face. Crimson cheeks. Barn wood on back. “What happened next?” Detectives parallel floor three feet above kitchen table, hold notebooks.

 

Maria’s head in horse’s blood. “Renewed by Holy Spirit.” Let me show you something. Turquoise, white. Chrysanthemums. After bowling ice cream in station wagon kid on bike Maria screaming. Clunk, scrape, bike metal. Hand to mouth looking side mirror kid not moving bike tire spinning. Lateral, warble, newly bent bike tire spinning. Maria thought, “To save the foal.” Husband licked ice cream veining down arm.

 

Maria, at the kitchen table. Scene with detectives, kitchen table she envisioned before. Different reasons. Baby’s head in horse’s blood. Maria. Detectives quiet, once ceased levitating, and the clean-shaven one nods at the other one and they’re nodding. And they’re doing that now. In the kitchen. Red hat spinning on hood of station wagon. Beautiful, little kid hat. Turquoise. White.

 

Maria . . .

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions, has work forthcoming in Soft Cartel Magazine and appears in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Gone Lawn, amongst others. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at: http://tylerdempseywriting.com

“Streetwise” by Tyler Dempsey

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Mind empty, body fit, currency. Kicking out“gypsying,” the term parents use. Street-people are harmless. Ditched Trinity two days back, peachy escape. San Diridon Station. Gus claims to have DMT. I figure, what the hell?

“Spread those legs a little,” he says. A cockroach. My practiced-look, “What’ll you do about it?” I get this feeling but the acid sets in.

Hike my skirt, skootch in. Gus peeks, and others. Crystal dissolves, herb crackles, eyes rotate in keep-hitting-it colors. A ninja rips the wall, does a stance at me.

I ask Uncle Mom and Satan about their greatest-most time, out there. I point out there.

“Salinas. Carton of cigarettes. Cop didn’t see us, them cigarettes’s talismans. The greatest. Cig-a-rettes night an day.”

“The worst?”

“Now.”

“Why?”

“Ran out.”

I ask Trainer.

“Asheville. Anabelle. Steam risin from everything. Felt good, be moving. Hunnerd n two west of Memphis. Hotter-n-hell. Night, east of Dallas, round Tyler. Drippin with crickets. Cold. But Anabelle.”

I take two Dexedrine, three Gradumets, fourteen Adderall. Still, I’m high as fuck. And sad. Satan notices, “Round Salinas, cigarettes”Trainer, “Asheville, Anabelle.” They crowd trash-fires, drinking, yelling where they’ll go, whatta bunch of girls’ll be there.

I ask this stranger if he has anything to get a girl up?

“Everybody’s papers. Canada, quoted wrecks on the highway. Things cleared, back to California. Did time, t’ween missions, wait in lines. Uncle Sam, goddammit!” His chin lurches, slides in his coat. “Was a Church-man. She said, GET OUT! That’s not all you can do! Said, bitch, I’m HUGE!”

“I’m gonna go,” I say. “Get out.” I look out there.

“You go . . .” he falls silent.

“Married?”

“Comb this, brush that.” He burps. “Much work.” (He’d screamed at a woman on a bus, but she didn’t listen.)

My body’s arousedworked up. I think, what the hell?  

“You want me?”

He snores, violently.

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work is forthcoming in Soft Cartel Magazine and appears in X-RAY Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at:http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“Time as a Sort of Enemy” by Tyler Dempsey

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Who has not asked himself at some time or other:  am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?

Clarice Lispector

 

Voice of turmoil—arguing, suggesting. Reading, the voice isn’t mine. I’d tire. Who is it? Who the hell is it?

 

Time: wandering.

 

Past—winds lap granite. You arcing forward. Denuded islands preach violent history.

Few things as appetizing to man.

 

Misread.

 

“Look. Changing with my help.”

“Bending you.”

 

Emotions, the ocean. Your essence, currents. Pluck you from them.

Who controls water?

 

Doubt be feathers; voice, wings.

 

 

I pursue—

Scraps of journal, pencil, erasure. Failures: horse I ride.

 

Song scattered. Surf, choppy. Ocean, ocean.

Judgement, four seasons. Salt, wave-back.

 

Over and over.

“Are we characters?”

 

 

Surround you. Sharks circle. Sunburned, screaming.

“Where were you?”

“Kona. Toulouse. Salt Lake. Melbourne.”

“Who were you—Phoebe?”

 

Nature: wandering.

 

Night city. Eat; dark ointment. The spell, blamelessness.

 

Call you names better lost. Inwardly you rejoice—a new part of me.

 

“What’s wrong?”

“You said.”

“I didn’t.”

“You did.”

 

“You’re no fucking man.”

 

 

The sea

erupted.

Lavender, steel.

 

 

Think of you. Your heart: horizon consumed by light.

 

“Who I’m searching for.”

“I want to be Him.”

“I’ll show you.”

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work is forthcoming in Soft Cartel and appears in X—R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others.

Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at:http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“Toteming” by Tyler Dempsey

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“My partner—Eric?”

Tightwad Eric?”

“He’s sick of my shit.”

“He said it?”

“He said, I despise people like this. Meaning, assholes. I made him cruel.”

“Rob says that.”

“Moves—knees, elbows not bending. Afraid he’ll explode. He’s in front of a glass of water wanting a drink. Elbows humming from straightness.”

“Dramatic.”

“After sex I went, Why are we together? Was not the thing to ask. He screamed, Did talking work before? I’d asked that same question 6 minutes earlier. He’d timed it, and showed me, the bastard.”

“Prick.”

“Said, Can’t you treat me like our friends? Or coworkers?”

“Men—if we weren’t irrational, we’d bottle shit up and get on with it. He tried listening?”

“He claims to, around the beginning.”

“Jesus.”

“I was ditching him, then he stretched around my cat like the feeble bastard he is, snot-stalactite swinging. Cat’s bug-eyed ripping forehead layers.”

“You’re hard on yourself. Get tough. State the business, stick to it.”

“In my head—I’m stern, soft and hard, extinguish stalactite on sleeve, slam door. But there, my tone’s wrong, bonkers like mom’s. What if he’s right? With Susan, I talk investing. Susan’s immensely reptilian, eats crickets, stray children. I woo her. Say, Compounding’s interesting, wish Eric . . .”

“Emily, you know my business, and I don’t want to doctor/patient you too much but have you tried toteming?”

“Toteming?”

“I have this lacey see-through shit in the closet, for instance. Had it since high school.”

“Bitch.”

“Robert goes gimp. Talking—Pulp Fiction, leather, apple-in-hog’s-mouth gag-thing.”

Gross!

“I thought so, too. It’s amazing. I’m another person. Rob does anything I want. Think of what scares Eric. Make it your totem.”

 

 

The Craigslist guy said, Pit vipers aren’t ordinary snakes. Not, pets. It struck the tank. Cars in the opposite lane Emily imagined crashing across the road.

It went on the table—forgetting Eric, she did an eighth of coke, smoked weed, and read Infinite Jest cover-to-cover. The snake struck over and over. Droplets of venom clung to glass that reflected the table. This is crazy.

She tossed her phone behind the couch. Squatting she opened the cabinet under the sink; the mouse froze—chest shiny, eyes wet. Emily’s cupped hands circled and glanced its cool trembling body. The snake hissed. Her cell rattled tile.

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work is forthcoming in Soft Cartel and appears in X—R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others.

Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey

or at:http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“Opposite” by Tyler Dempsey

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“Electrons have integrity, but fealty is another matter. Though attraction is strong, it is also, in some cases, surprisingly easy to rupture.”

Natalie Angier

 
On 6th. Don’t know. ‘Staying’ with Brandon, a friend. And Sage of lavender blanket of joint holes. She said, “You take the couch.” A prostitute. He sells hinge couplings. Making useful the couch. Tonight she works it, returns with money or else steals from a client, comes back, they run outfuckand she goes for more. Sunlight barking sidewalks. Brandon hams. His specialty: hamming. Teen-like-sex-impetus. People crave impetus. Relentless drugs, procreation. A thing I see: in Thailand, Ki-Ki tied it to her door, hanging, whipping darkness, me dancing in night-music. Something. I see Ali (who’s tasty), we say, “Hey.” “What’s up?” “Not sure.” “Heading to Lover’s Beach.” I love the beach, if she does. I remember Meredith, who I’m ‘seeing.’ Ruefully. I consider New Zealand, further awayspeaking of, I passed Holt, Beltline, Oak, Springdale, Armadillo . . . need a bite. Catch Meredith at rehearsal; Iris says, her, Maddie, Kat, (and, maybe, Paul) are going. I’ll find out. Maddie, “I know you, right?” Dangerous. Potential. Where am I going? With Maddie? I can smoke with Sage and Brandon. Sage, “Brandon talked, he’s cool, and I’m totally cool if you want to you know?” Hard decisions. Where to eat? Mongolian? Thai? (Ki-Ki)

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work is forthcoming in Soft Cartel Magazine, and appears in X—R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at:http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“The Plan” by Tyler Dempsey

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Chow!

We bounce in chowline, a long, orange serpent. Brownies spoon slop and dobies on our trays.

“We can do this, Lare!” I cut eyes, communicatively, above the slop.

“We can do it, Ben.”

The floor: 69.1m²two exits, three guards. One’s a cowboy. They’ll croak before a meat-wagon sparks.

I unleash The Plan. The Plan: shanks, distractions, whirligigs. The Plan has flaws. Larry doesn’t know that.

I repeat, “We can do this, Lare!” Say, resourceslabor-wiseare in these walls. I point at the table.

Go on concerning vegetables, full-solar, interest rates, what real reintegration is. Eddie plays a stick made of newspaper and hand lotion on an upturned bowl. Tap-tap. Tap-tap. Tap-tap! Kosher, vegetable-protein smells waft merciless.

The chant beginsshy, low at firsta murmur. A creature oozing upward. The room turns maniacal; Arnold, electrician in his heyday, feeds us into groups, Mexicans with Skinheads, and so forth.

We overpower by numbers. See us rush sparkling fences . . .

Bed springs hoisted as ladders. Sheets hurled atop razor wire, worked fist-over-fist, the way you do a water hose of money. The Plan’s wonderful, fantastic, bipartisan, free-range, ethanol free.

An unknowing officer rings the bell for pill-line. We turn, panic. Renegotiate razors. Rappel bloodied sheets. Stumble in retreat. The herd disintegrates, orderly.

 

Tyler Dempsey was a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. His work appears in X—R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Buck Off Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and The 3288 Review, amongst others. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or at: http://tylerdempseywriting.com.