handcuffsKiss the Sky

by Dee Nelson

Outside, the crisp air almost chokes him. Somehow, despite smokestacks churning out white puffs at the cheese factory across the way, it’s even fresher than the open air of the yard. Two C.O.’s (one a bouncy-titted broad!) meet him and lead him through a parking lot half-filled with identical, state-plated autos, paddy wagons, and a half dozen blue, windowless buses all parked in a row.

The tall, bald C.O. (he remembers seeing this one before, name is Colgan, he thinks, though he can’t be sure) swings open the door to a beige Crown Victoria and sort of smiles. He climbs in and Colgan slams the door shut and then takes his place behind the wheel, the woman hunched in the passenger seat, her hair pulled back into a short ponytail. He stares at sweat droplets forming on the back of her neck as the engine turns over, and at that moment he knows the lust of King David watching Bathsheba on the rooftop.

The cruiser lurches forward and down the row of identical cars. There isn’t even a metal grate or plastic divider between them. He almost feels like he’s riding in a cab.

He doesn’t remember the street outside the facility, all the trees looming over the road, branches hanging low as if trying to run leafy fingers over the tops of those who pass. There’s a child, a boy, maybe six, chasing after a dog with his bike, jumping up a curb during his pursuit. A heavily pregnant woman slurps a snow-cone on a picnic table outside an ice cream joint. A mixed race group of teenagers shoot hoops on a basket with a chain net.

“What kind of music you like?” asks Colgan, peering at him in the rearview.

He has to think about this for a minute; for a few ticks, he’s forgotten that part of himself.

“Anything but country,” he says, and then, “Classic rock.”

The police radio crackles, something standard, not urgent, but otherwise indecipherable to him. Big Tits fiddles with the knob on the car stereo, past a preacher’s rasp, a morning disc jockey’s blather, some of that infernal country, the clamor and bounce of a Top 40 station, then at last a shrieking guitar riff sent down like a lightning bolt from God on high.


“Voodoo Child.”

His nostrils flare. He breathes in as though Jimi has lit his guitar afire right there next to him in the backseat. As the cruiser pulls out onto the freeway toward the train station, he sucks in air, knowing that, if he fills his lungs full enough, he too can kiss the sky. 


Dee Nelson once touched the hem of Jack White’s garment. In her next life she’ll come back as an electric eel.
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