When Wyatt sleeps he can see them now, the shapes he’d hoped would sound beneath the noise. He sees them in sleep standing in the doorway of a room that looks like his room only half: the car-wreck pictures are not there say, or instead of two windows there is one that makes up the whole of the wall opposite the bed. No wallpaper. No crack in the ceiling or the spreading puddle of shit-water from the bathroom above. Just four walls, one of those walls a window of clear glass. A doorway with no door, just a hallway of low light lit to shape the shape that stands and waits. The shape is a silhouette, a bipedal shaped like Mother used to look late in her sick. A small trace less and less with hair frizz burning from the skin of her skull while she heard her boy say I hate you from beyond, from the turning tapes played over loudspeakers set on shelves just right out of reach. The shadow in the dream doorway does look like this, though Wyatt wonders if he does that work because what can a shadow look like after all? Sometimes the shape is still there when he is not dreaming, or if he is still dreaming or awake he does not know and so he speaks and says, “Hello? Hello?”
When Wyatt hears the house in the middle of the middle of the day, when he hears the central air and the fridge and the water in the pipes behind the walls, he sees the shapes in the edges. He sits on the couch with drawn drapes, blue sky covered and kept from the room, legs spread along the seat, and he sees the shapes crossing halls, opening doors, entering rooms that are also draped and dark. At first he is not sure but then he is sure. He sees them. Bare and bald but for the hair burning on their heads, he sees the shapes that go from room to room and wait at the edges and corners, the angles of rooms that are rigid and that separate rooms from rooms. He sees them. He sees them and they come and cross the halls and keep to the edges and he knew this day was coming and that he’d remember it for all days like the day he broke his arm, the day Mother died of her sick, the day his brother parked where the sun shone on broad land for miles and miles, where the end never seemed to end. The shapes come to tell him the things. When he hears the sounds they say, when he hears their throats above the whisper of wind against wood, he’ll listen. He will do all the listening and then he will know. And then it will be his turn to speak. And he will say all of the things.
At four Big D comes back and bangs up the steps, bangs melons and cans on the counter and turns on the water in the sink. The water in the sink stays on all afternoon and late into the dark when day leaves. Wyatt does not come upstairs to eat the meat set out on a plate. Wyatt does not stand in a far corner of the kitchen to watch D sit and read mail. He does not call the phone from the phone to say hello. Wyatt makes the room beneath the stairs his room—the cold concrete, the slant of the ceiling shaped to match the stairs that stay put under D’s gout feet. There are no windows, no bulbs for light. There is the dark. Like no other dark this dark keeps out the day until the day is gone and the dark is here to be. The water whines at the tap upstairs. Wyatt holds his feet while he hears feet step on the carpeted stairs above his head in slow gout-steps, wood groaning under weight. The house moans because life is long. Wyatt holds his feet while he hears the feet, waits for the father to try the handle on the closed door, to try the hammer that hangs on nails on a wall where in a room with the junk things. When the feet stop Wyatt knows they stopped outside his door, and in the dark, dark like his eyes are shut though they are open, he sees the shape of the man who claimed him as his and gave him his name. Beyond the door that man says, “Son?” Handle rattle, the sound of weight on the wood door. “Son?” A heavy hand press, fingers tracing the surface. “You are my son,” the shape says beyond the dark of the room. “You’re my son.” There is a silence before the feet stomp back toward the stairs and climb, one heavy foot ahead of the next. Wyatt sits in the dark and scrapes his nails against the floor, waiting until the house is his.
The water still runs in the sink when Wyatt has the house. The water running, the one light burning above the kitchen table, a plate of food neatly arranged near a steel fork, a glass of milk. Wyatt turns off the tap so that the room will be quiet when he dials the Devil’s number into the cordless phone. The phone rings in two-second bursts with two-second spaces of black silence between each. On the 17th ring a voice answers and says “Hello?” and Wyatt says, “Satan?” and the voice says, “Hello? Who’s calling?” and Wyatt says, “Satan?” Wyatt hears a gust of static and the line to the Devil is lost. He waits at the kitchen table to call back, the black of the yard outside spread like a tarp over the window that reflects his face. After he loses count of the numbers he calls back. The phone rings and his face is featured in the glass. The night is dark and somewhere in the house a door slams. In the far bedroom D’s TV box makes voices and music and the pitch shifts from station to station. Wyatt listens to the sound pulse and the pauses between bursts. The pauses are black like the night is black and long in silencing each sound. On the thirty-ninth ring a voice answers and says, “I’ve wanted you to call.” and Wyatt says, “Satan?” and the voice says, “You knew this moment would come and that it’s something you’ll never forget like when Mother was buried beneath a tree or when John parked and spread himself across six pieces of glass. You knew this call would come and it would be like it is right now.” and Wyatt says, “Satan?” and the voice says, “And what will I tell you so that this moment lasts, so that you replay it and re-say it inside of your head for all time? What clue will I give you about the world you did not design and the dark that comes because you can’t control it?” Wyatt is quiet, listening without breathing to the voice that speaks, face reflected back in a window where the light does die. The shapes in the corners, fingers clutching door frames and faces in the dim light—the shapes do wait because they are patient and the day is way off
Wyatt goes from room to room, upstairs and downstairs and upstairs, and screams so the house will hear him, so the house will know it is now his. The rooms all dark but the kitchen, but the bedroom where D sleeps with the mask and the music blaring from the box on the box where he keeps his socks. Wyatt goes from dark to dark, each room dark but in a different way because of how he knows it from the day. In what was his room before he moved to the room beneath the stairs, he cannot see the car-wrecks or the old birthday cards that Mother used to use to remind him he was born. He cannot see the two windows, nor the one window the size of one wall that shows up when he sleeps. Now that he sleeps on concrete in a room with no windows and a ceiling that slopes above his head when he sits, he has no dreams. He is sure that his dreams are preparing for new things, for important shapes to show him his world now that he’s spoken with Satan, now that the world will be broken and rebuilt by his design. He has a hammer to do it, a hammer that hangs from the nails in a room for the junk. The room for the junk does have drawers with essential things like rolls of tape, old AA batteries, paper clips, rubber bands, wall tacks, permanent markers, bottles of glue. These things that are the junk will be used in the rebuilding, in fixing what needs to be cracked by force. He will break all of the things.
Wyatt pees by the dark room with the water heater and screams because he can touch two walls with both hands, no stretching. He does not have to work to reach and so he screams and speaks to the black which could be deep if he tries to touch again. The shapes do watch and whisper things he can’t quite hear so he thinks they do agree—these walls could be so far away because they should be far. They feel like they could be anywhere at all and not here, not in this space where D placed the water heater to heat water and send it through the pipes. In the world made new, water will be heated because he wills it and the cylindrical metal will have no use because the water is warm without it. The shapes say this is so and they trace circles on his bare back. The touch is sex and he is the same again. He comes in shivers which pattern and stay, seen again with the spread of day into deep corners. But the day is way off.
Wyatt stands at the foot of the stairs, staring up at the pane of glass smudged and smeared from when they had dogs. Moving lights splash, steps on steps, screen door hiss and stop, thin fingers on the frame do rest and wait. Scott comes when the dark sends things not seen during the day. Scott in socked feet beneath bowed legs steps in the spots that do not groan and complain. “Ssshhh,” he says to him in the nude. “Ssshhh, ssshhh—what do you say we just see. Should we take a look and see?” Scott holds a black cassette near his face. Fingers touch and tap on transparent plastic. Wyatt reaches and Scott slaps the skin of his stomach. “Ssshhh,” he says. “Sit, sit. Let’s just see.”
Scott touches the play button on the tape player and the glass flickers yellow light, the shape of a kitchen and a double-paned door of sliding glass. A girl face-first at the shattered screen, a girl no older than twelve, maybe not twelve. Maybe younger, the girl. Scott touches the volume button on the TV so that the volume goes up and up and up and the room is filled with the sound and the shapes wait in the parts of the room not lit by the single light burning white but covered in beige near the old curtain. The girl smiles and says things in the screen and sometimes the wide kitchen filled with daylight, sometimes the sliding glass and the porch outside. The girl waves and says things through two missing windows which would be teeth, she waves and says things through scrunched face: wrinkled nose and cheeks, laughter. She shakes her head and turns to the glass, small hands leaving traces on the air above the stained porch and patio chairs. A sky with scattered clouds. A summer afternoon. Maybe May. “I want to crush that face,” Scott says, scratching his leg, scratching an ankle beneath his sock. “I want to crush that face with something heavy until it does not do those things. Until it does things that I say it should do. I will make it do new things with my fingers and it will be such a mess.” Wyatt opens his mouth and makes sounds which are loud, and Scott turns and says “Ssshhh,” his eyes aimed upward at the corner of the ceiling which holds the father, a slender finger in front of his lips. “Ssshhh.” There are several silent seconds, no sounds. Scott pulls at his lower lip. “I want to make something from the nothing I also make.” On the color-web the fractured face of the girl wrinkles. She shakes her head and turns to the glass, her palms flat and fingers spread. The sky, some scattered clouds. This small clip repeated as a sort of phrase: the small face of the girl goes wrinkled and shakes, blonde hair bouncing around shirt and shoulders, the back of the girl’s denim dress, her bare arms reach, hands placed on the double-paned sliding glass, the porch outside the palm-prints, the sky, some clouds, small face of the girl goes wrinkled and shakes, blonde hair bouncing around shirt and shoulders, the back of the girl’s denim dress, her bare arms reach, hands placed on the double-paned sliding glass, the porch outside the palm prints, the sky, some clouds, small face of the girl up close goes wrinkled in the glass of D’s broken television which his son did break. Scott pulls at his lips with both hands, stretching them far from his face in opposite directions away from the gums, away from the teeth which are there now, which Wyatt can see. The teeth are yellow in the broken light and the gums are receded. The stubble on Scott’s chin is three days old. He pulls on his lips, pulls them far out and away from his face and teeth, and watches the girl grimace and turn in mute. The tape does see the space outside this kitchen so lit by natural light in the middle of the day that might be early June, that might even be May but from way back? Denim dresses, the wrong kind of sneakers and bangs, a black VHS tape with the small square tab taken off in the lower corner so that this girl is for keeps for all days. Wyatt opens his mouth because he has an erection. He watches his penis go from limp along his thigh to upright and pulsing with his heartbeat which he can hear inside of his head because his fingers are in his ears. Scott hears the sound from the open mouth and sees the erection and the open face: jaw hanging like the door downstairs with the busted hinge, eyes wide and round and white and watching nothing but the sounds he does not share in. The tip of the penis magenta. He sees the arms angled to jam fingers where they fit. The island of hair on a head that had more once when they knew each other. The sagging stomach and the hair on the nipples. The kneecaps.
Wyatt’s open hole made a single wispy tone, a patchy whine punctuated by the end of his air. His mouth made the sound while his erection bobbed and quivered above his crotch. Scott sat on the couch and spread himself lengthwise along the cushions, watching the video loop of the denim girl promised by mail and manila envelope. A loop of face from close-up to closed-off by a length of blonde hair, by a distance and a porch just outside the glass of this kitchen, a sky so perfect it must have been painted. The tape loops and loops and skips ahead to bath-time and choosing pajamas. While the girl colors with crayons on her bedspread and points to pictures of flying reptiles inside of books with wide glossy pages, Scott is asleep with his mouth open, one sock tugged off, and Wyatt walks from room to room—from dark to dark to dark that is only different because of how he knows the dark to be during the day. This is September.
Photo By: az