by Brad Rose
In the rearview mirror, it looks like I’m backing up, but I’m not. I shift the car into drive and start thinking again, about girls—just like in the old days. It’s not a crime. Not exactly. Pretty soon, I’m driving down Wilshire Blvd., traffic lurching, slow as a zombie. The neighborhood is pretty high stakes, a forest of loopholes. I can’t seem to concentrate, so I start thinking all the thoughts I’ll want to think when I’m dead: unfolding origami with my hands tied behind my back. The sun hums on, like background music for a slumber party. I’m rehearsing something—practicing, again and again. I’m not sure what it is. It’s pulsing under my skin, murmuring parallel to my blood, pressing inward. Starlight always arrives younger than itself. I like songs about rain. Rain makes everything photogenic.
When I arrive at your house, you’re disheveled as a bankrupt candy store. You’re a stretch of beach sharks love; your eyes, a vast blue territory. Hijacked by secret molecules, you’re part postcard, part inside-job. You’ve had a good day, but it doesn’t show. Why, I wonder, did you ever say yes? You were harder to reach than a plane crash in the Andes. I must have talked you into it; like buying lotto tickets with your rent check.
Suddenly the TV jumps on, a reconnected nerve. Talk show truth squawks at us, the sum of its news, a null set. You ask me if I know what love is. I answer, “I do.” Like an injured verb, a smile sprints across your face. It’s obvious that I’m a failed referendum. I started out in Advertising. The music is a lot better than the words.
Jump cut to the end. I leave your house and drive my car off the end of the Santa Monica pier. A billion bright bubbles pixilate the surface, my voice escaping from inside each of them, babbling about love. The police report it as an accident. They never recover my body. Somebody in the crowd said I disappeared like a sock lost in a washing machine. Of course, I’d prefer it if you’d tell my mother I was lost at sea. A hero’s death. Love makes the world go round. She loves a good story. Some people will believe almost anything.