We walked around Uptown checking doors until we finally found an unlocked ‘82 Impala on a side street. The car was rusted to the heart, the metal of the wheel wells eaten away like clown teeth, the windshield cracked to a spider web, the antennae broken in half. My sister climbed inside, looking for money, opening the glove box, searching the ashtray, pulling down the sun visors, but of course there was nothing. Under the passenger seat she found some waterlogged envelopes tied together with a rubber band. She grabbed the bundle and we ran to an empty alley, where we sat on a loading pallet and opened the first letter. My sister said the letter was a doctor’s bill for thousands. She said the man addressed had been blind for years, with a worm in his brain. She read, “Sir, I’m sorry this condition is indeed and very unfortunately untreatable. Yet I still must insist you pay your bill punctually. Signed, Dr. Yost.” I didn’t believe her, didn’t believe her bourgeoisie diction, so she opened the next letter, which she said was from the man’s wife. “Louis, I am a sleeping heartache now. That worm, that creature, which found its way into your ear as you slept drunk in the hilltop park, has burrowed into our lives and taken everything from us, from our child. Remember that morning, that morning after the worm had done such large work inside your skull, in which you woke completely blind, and you, upon realizing your affliction, cried out, cried out like a madman, cried out for me, your wife, fear and anger tangled around your limbs, such panic, such great despair, as you felt around our apartment blindly, felt around for your shoes, for your clothes, for the kitchen knives, which I hid, hid so you would not undo your veins in such an infant state, how you felt your way to the front door, felt your way down the hallway, to the elevator, to the lobby, to the street, where someone immediately knocked you in the ribs, some businessman, them, even worse than the worm itself. Louis, remember how you felt your way along the sidewalk, along the gutters, to the tavern, and how you could hear everything so clearly once you arrived there. You could hear a phone ring a hundred blocks away, in a dusty apartment, you could hear the ocean waves so far off, you could hear life and death wax and wane. How you loved hearing the whole world like that, loved it more than seeing a hundred miles straight and true and forever to your wife and beautiful son, waiting for you, here.”
Jesse Eagle edits the online journal DOGZPLOT.