2| Preface: Full Tilt
The CanCan Sale
At twelve’tewnty-two, my eyes boil over and wince in pain, as if the peasant’s sliver of bright noonlight intruding through the pencil-wide gap between the curtains and the walls was enough to rise a sleeping giant. Or a sleeping mouse. Or a stinking human with ribbons on his blouse.
There’s a clanking coming from outside. A banging, repetitive, force versus object, hooves on heavy barn doors. The Twilight Farm, across the street. A nice old man used to own the place with his kindly wife, it’s a sprawling piece of property that couldn’t be sold for $1.2 million today if the contract was signed on the ass of a nude Japanese woman before she’s used to serve sushi. Inflation. Greed. The need to outshine. The guy who used to own it’s lived in town all his life, but ever since it sold to those tall lanks who always dress in black with those insinuating beet red amulets around their necks, there’s been a lot of banging on the barn doors. In the morning, afternoon, in the foggy crypt of night, when my Fricker Drive is booming with traffic of the Stonetown variety when a tree goes down on the big hill I’m scared not to run up, when Fricker Drive is dead as the look on Father’s face as he stares motionlessly from the couch at a television whose primary programming is white and gray static that occasionally changes to a maroon color when blood spills from the corner of his eyes. It plays the harpsicord music whilst he watches. He hasn’t blinked in years.
And then there’s the cans.
The cans. The cans and the cans on the cans with more cans on them and more cans below and above and sidestepped and adjacent and piled from the plywood to the sheetrock, but not on the latch. Mother needs the latch to get to me. To make sure I am safe.
Only in my bedroom.
Only during the CanCan sale.
My Christmas present from Mother, so early it feels late.
The cans are stacked from the floor to the ceiling. The cans disturb the curtains and let the light in. The cans watch me when I sleep, they steal my clothes and turn them into soup labels in the night and when I wake, slimy and slicked with sticky, sour sweat, I’m stripped stark nude and my soggy, salty sheets insulate the prime cut and cook my blood ’til it comes to a frothy seethe and seeps out my skin pores to be canned and brought to the market to contribute to the holy sale on this, the ShopRite CanCan sale, the boon capital event of the year 2020.
The year 2020.
The fourth day of January of the twentieth year after the year two thousand.
A suburban dog tries to poop a solid log but can’t, doesn’t even leak, the sheets are too sweaty and would never absorb the putrid stench of undigested soup.
I can’t leave my bed, there’s a wall of cans at the foot. And the head. And the starboard, but not the bow; the bow licks my wall, and the roof slants in recoil.
I can’t sit up tall or my dome with be checked. I can’t lay flat else my toes clipped as if nails. I rest with my knees denting a hole in my chest.
They’ve toppled over many a’night passed, but Mother compensates. Always more cans to buy, always more cans to store. ‘We’ll have our own CanCan Sale in the spring,’ she cackles in my head, the wicked witch of Ringwood with not a broom on which to fly but a coupon book, a canvas tote, and splinter in her eye. ‘We’ll sell the cans when you sell all this garbage you have piled in the hall and the closets and your little brother’s chamber! Now you’re trapped, my devious cherub, my angelic lamb, just like you’ve trapped all of us.’
The cans are piled high and true, the cans of red but never blue, the cans with broth to soothe the soul, the cans of a price to purch’ them all.
The suited man draws near.
I crave emancipation, demand it, covet it from the warden’s grasp.
Mother bangs the latch thrice. I don’t dare answer, and the banging explouds.
I scream bloody birth. The cans rattle in delight.
Moments suffocate my raw, flayed windpipe.
Cans, cans everywhere, but not a broth to drink; can’t add water when the socks are in the sink.
My stomach bellows the song of the ancestors, its voice is weak today.
The suited man draws nearer all the same.
A rumbling – the garage doors open. Gravel crackles and mud slathers grooveless tires, that seeping, squishing… and it’s gone. A’roll down Frick’, or perhaps a decoy.
Now the window creaks.
I must escape.