It swelled up from the depths of his bowels, made his breath smell of soft asphalt, the way mud dabs on the escalator tasted.
He wasn’t the sort of guy to put up with whims of the mind, so he threw the dirt up at Liverpool Street, took his time, left all sticky on the inside.
Spoonfuls of sand, the thought of it, made his bowels quiver in the same way. Apples chewed open, sprinkled with sand grains, crunching, molars grinding, and mother with her long sticky fingers spreading her legs for the sun.
Pouting her wire lips glazed with grenadine from a box like skimmed milk, like instant powder milk she clogged Needy Nicklaus’ intestines with so he’d live and grow into a Moody Nicklaus. She needed to cry harder, pout plusher, speak louder than the meat chunk nested inside her womb. When the chunk grew eyes, like bugs (they were no dog eyes), he’d watch her, pinned to his ass meat.
She fed him a diet for oversized bugs, spooning muddy lentils into shallow bowls, shallower than a dog bowl.
Early afternoons she tanned like a grown woman, with hair out, cheap baggy breasts, wired with mature complexity, burdened by troubles like the knots of her poodle hair, her lap frizz.
Alleys, past their trees, she drove Moody Nicklaus to school. Dew sweat on the car window. His vision clouded, and she’s annoyed with his baby moods, bug moods. His retarded bug eyes. She’s got a list of troubles, grocery lists, period cramps, and needs to stop for gas. And that’s how they drive down alleys, with dew clogging his sinuses, her shallow pools staring ahead, wire lips cracked dry with breathless- and wordlessness. Between the fatter of tree trunks, he rocks his way out the car seat, swollen eyes, and she turns with a few words, not more than five, but she’s not looking at him. She’s looking at the seat belt, the mouth, the feet behind him, the passing-by car, the dew on the glass. She’s thinking of the Tuesday list and that she’s hungry.
Just in case he was looking to add to her list of worries with his uncivilized bug eyes and baby blood.
During the grand Orange Juice Era, his breath smelled like sun sap. He drank a 100% concentrate with breakfast, lunch and saved a carton for the afternoon. It felt good in his belly, swooshing when he walked, all that vitamin, sizzling orange splashing against his belly button. Conversing with mother felt stickier than ever, orange and pomengrate word puffs making the air gooey. Somehow, he felt more aligned with the bamboo dining set, the turquoise floor tiles, sand grains on his tongue. Later, he’d add vodka to the glass, but by then he was sure–and damn unhappy about it–that pumping his insides with vitamins wouldn’t fill the stale hole. It made him sleepy.
He sat there thinking, knowing he was going to Le Havre on Wednesday, to the house of turquoise tiles and fat sand. And mother.
He sipped wine begin lunchtime just to keep anxiety in check and felt like a loser about it. There were more elegant ways, like Prozac, but it was a richer drive being a low-life, as one might say, a daytime drinker. Mind you, unlike you, he could feel every breath you took, the way wind smelled, and how your eyes swayed, when you didn’t. The open sore in his chest was a fair price to pay.
And Miss lynn had no idea she pouted her lips when in fact she did. Her eyes gave all magic away, so he kept his gaze on her chin while expanding and merging and expanding and merging until her chin became his. Through an umbilical cord they traded old food. Whenever her eyes lazily opened, he could see through all the way to her toes. Ringing silence in her belly. It wasn’t lynn’s to claim, this throbbing engine-room. She took him in and he coiled himself inside there. Resting. A homecoming.
Adam found him on the carpet, between the couch and the flat screen, curled up like a road kill. He wasn’t moving, only his belly twitched, pushing up noises, noises like the whales.
He sat down by the kitchen table a wall away, in a turquoise sea, dipped his mind in its lukewarm waters.
His fucking sobs.
And when so-called morning came, it was just dirty daylight.
His body bloated with mud splattered, too weak to press up from the floor, and emptiness leaving stretch marks on his chest and belly. It was hot, too hot to take a full breath, and Void Nicklaus knew about full breaths and their sneaky ways of setting the energy tides inside flowing, awakening the sores and blisters, peeling scabs, irritating young meat.
If only he could cool down, in the sea, numb the sores, wash them away, slow. For mother, and Adam.
He boiled water. The birds were out. The heat stuck to his feet, feet to turquoise tiles.
Left early morning when streets were still empty. Clichéd Nicklaus, with hair unironed, walking the sidewalk that could have easily been London, or Le Havre, or Cape Cod. The whore of a traveller readily trading cities and sidewalks, no loyalty to nowhere, unanchored, and sea sick.
Adam’s gutter-burnt knees were showing. White mist drifting down the Rue de l’Estuaire foretelling darkness. Curfew came up, blown away in the wind behind them.
Said, Kids d’you know what time it is? Where d’ya kids live?
Well, sir, if I only knew what the answer’s worth. This street was no one’s, and they would ride it way out past the port where the flood drain parted with the road and street lights ended and new ones began.
On Wednesday he was going back to the sea, to look out of the kitchen at mother soaked in yellow foam whipped by ferry engines. Her flaking skin, cracked open for the sun, her numb pools staring at his chin, watch him waste away on the carpet floor, slipping in his vomit, these damn slippery tiles. Rubbing banana-strawberry juice on her skin so that they’d stick to her like flies. Strangers’ schlongs slipped inside into the stale air he was made of, the shriveled womb he rotted in for nine months before riding out the tide.
Glasses of juice tumble on the kitchen counter, and Nicklaus cups his ears. Adam’s facing the wall, and he’s grateful little Adam’s asleep. He wets the pillow.
Now it was his turn to tell her Beat it, Deal with it, woman, and watch her scurry the floor and entertain her tumor.
And if she died on Thursday, her body would deflate, like when a black hole implodes, sucking his life out with her, back into nothing.