Somewhere between Geyer Springs Road

and Robinson Auditorium I left the earth

for a place where red lights turned green

and Die Fledermaus and The Knack’s

“My Sharona” fused into a teen-aged rat

whose skin peeled off his fingers from

the night before’s burning. But this end

of the story came late after Sunday’s


12-hour shift and the deep well of dead

air in my mind when the assistant manager,

Debra, left the receipts to find me standing

at the fryer like it was the three-compartment


sink and I casually rinsed my hands in

the filtering grease like a spigot I thought

poured out before me. Fortunately,

the flames were out and the heat now half


its four hundred fifty degrees, but my swelling

hands still stung and blistered while the cold

water and soap she rinsed them with cut

the grease and left me with two pink clubs.


I had the next night off, a school night

with tickets to the Arkansas Symphony

Orchestra and extra credit, but Debra

said her husband had something special


and I figured both were possible if I left

early enough. Sometimes special is

an understatement, and after three bowls

driven deep with a shot of nitrous oxide


to propel me beyond the edge of their

fake ferns and real plants, the music

in the background like Technicolor

wallpaper, her hair brushing over my


shoulder on the leather couch, his hands

clapping to the beat of his laughter when

he realized they still had some acid left

somewhere in the bedroom, I remembered


my second engagement and saw where

this was going, saw a place I’d never leave

if I wandered onto that hypnotic stage,

a night I wouldn’t find my way home.

Photo By: egazelle