Since before we moved houses, that old Polaroid has been sitting there, beside my mother’s bed, for as long as I can remember. I try not to look at it when I walk into her room, the walls yellow with cigarette smoke. And even after she has shown it to me, I can never seem to remember his face.
It’s blurred out, my father’s face, censored as if he had never signed the consent to release form. A waiver, which we have to assume, was completely ignored, as my father wanted to keep his identity a mystery. This mystery, one that I was completely disinterested in ever attempting to solve, was one whose answers were not arrived at through the juvenile games of “Guess Who” that were played at the tables of the bargain-basement daycare with the mean kids that played street hockey.
But I know it is not my memory that’s failed me. Because I remember in vivid remark that day, the last time that I saw my father, in the barbershop parking lot. I recall with grave distinction the look on his face before he dragged my mother out of the car by her hair, pounding her jaw against the hood of the white Ford Explorer. I remember when the ambulance came, and the beautiful EMT worker told me that my mother just had “a little booboo, like that one,” as she pointed to a mark on my arm that was, distinctly, not a booboo. I’ve been told that I couldn’t look at my mother for months, scarred, stitched, and flattened into an oblong disfigurement. My heart, like her jaw, was completely broken. And I could never look at my father again.
So, I censor it in my mind, like the breasts of a woman on a made-for-television movie, because it does not belong there. And after fifteen years, when my mother asks me where that old Polaroid that’s been sitting beside her bed since before we moved houses has gone, I tell her that I do not know.
Cameron Green is currently pursuing his M.A. in English at East Carolina University. He has work forthcoming in WILDNESS Journal, The B'K Magazine, and Badlands Literary Journal. Recently, he received the 2016 Bill Hallberg award in Creative Writing.
It was a summer that had snuck up on us. All of a sudden, condensation appeared against gin glasses and kept skirts slicked to tanned thighs. We would go on parties every other evening, hanging over balconies on Suffolk or Sullivan, catching cool breezes. We would hold cigarettes to our sunburnt lips, lighting them with crisp folds of cash as we sunk into the bursts of music floating up from the second floor.
My son is dead and it’s your fault, Mr. Clark. Yours and your father’s.
That’s what Rosa wants to say as she stands in front of Richard Clark’s desk, bringing Richard Clark his coffee, looking at Richard Clark’s handsome face and the measured striations of gray in his hair.
Emberly and Sahar only met in the confines of a bedroom; not for sex, but for more intimate affairs. They met for some time after enough nights of fooling around in a car, but the more time they spent together, the sexual tension stripped itself gave way to movie nights and hair brushing. Together, they were a cute couple, but the proximity was soon unwelcome.
“So I told my boss to piss off,” I said.
My wife’s normally serene face turned to stormy red. Was it the unusually colorful language I used in front of our three children?
Do you remember that summer we decided to eat only bread? Or I decided bread, and you broccoli.
Amy looked around. Everything was pink. Pink walls, pink bedspread, pink pillows, pink TV. Pepto-Bismol pink, Freudian pink; as if the Disney princess had died. Banksy would love this. She turned on the TV; every show was in pink. The Bachelor was in pink. Jamie Oliver was in pink. Even Shark Tank was in pink. Reality was the new pink. Or pink was the new reality.
Along the horizon, south of the United States, an expanse of crenellated concrete rises out of the Pacific and vanishes into the east, making tangible the intangible: an imaginary line bisecting a land once one. Tall and proud The Wall stands. Forty feet high and twenty feet deep. Its surface unadorned with design or texture. Just flat and grey through and through. Mighty enough to thwart the charge of fifty thousand Spartans. Priam of Troy would have envied it, the great lodestar of American Jingoism.
From birth until the sixth grade, home was a room on the tenth floor of the Hotel El Dorado in downtown Los Angeles. During its heyday in the 1910s and the 1920s, the hotel stood at the foot of the Spring Street Financial District—the Wall Street of the West—amidst the Braly Building (at twelve stories tall, the city’s first skyscraper), the Hotel Alexandria (frequented by the stars of the Golden Age of cinema, Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo), and, just blocks away, City Hall, all regal and white, looming over the blooming metropolis. The El Dorado flourished with all in its proximity and even lay claim to its own celebrity resident in Charlie Chaplin, but by the 1960s the financial institutions fled west to Wilshire and Figueroa, and the burgeoning quarter was rendered hollow. Its splendor laid to waste.
i am normally not the kind of dog who whistles at women on the street or stalks them with my eyes. i figure ladies have enough to worry about without some creeper giving them a hard time
Blush, I think, is the most important component when making up a corpse. I could not effectively do my job without it, I think as I apply the tiniest amount to the face of an eighty-year-old man who died of a heart attack. He must have been a drinker. I’ve been given a picture of him from when he was alive and he had ruddy cheeks.