Hello from the Towers,
Jon Tobias is a young writer who has been submitting entries to us for five years and I believe he will be one of several among us who will find a larger audience for his work as novelist and poet. This contest explicitly asks each author to dig deep, be the archaeologist of your own soul. Indiana Jones got nothin’ on him.
I called her Freddie Mercury
by Jon Tobias
I make pillow cases out of t-shirts and your sugar cookie body spray. I occasionally bury my face into the thin cotton and inhale the sweet chloroform leading to a heavy and sad sleep. I can still eat sugar cookies. It just happens slowly, the careful way a blind man eats so that the spoon or fork does not miss or crack his teeth.
I paint “morgue” on the door to the bedroom. I sleep on the couch which is soaked in a whole ocean of my salt. Delirious, some days I feel I am on a thin raft at sea, floating away from a small island big enough for a bed and a grave.
I still find sutures of hair threaded into my t-shirts. I do not remove them, though sometimes people pull them out too early, and I want to tell them that the wound is still healing. Their fingers carelessly let go, and thin strands of honey drizzle to the floor.
I finally wash the laundry so that I may donate it to Goodwill. Her friends have come and taken what they want. In the pockets of her jeans I find little paper pills. I unfold the paper like little fortune cookie suicide notes. They all say something along the lines of, “I can’t do this anymore.” I label the donation bin “hindsight” and drop it off at the Goodwill.
I take a long shower and masturbate, thinking of the last time we made love.
Are you going to do that to other girls you meet?
Not if you’re going to be up their watching me.
You save your best moves for me?
Why not? You’re Freddie Mercury and every other girl is going to be some remix.
Sometimes remixes are better.
They’re never the original.
Freddie Mercury had Aids, and I have cancer.
It’s a metaphor.
I just want you to be ready for life without me.
I moved and buried my face into her side. She squirmed and giggled, coughed a little.
A few days prior she showed me how she makes the chicken that I love, and wrote the recipe down. We bought me some work clothes and going-out clothes. We stocked the fridge with things that are easy to make. We went to the zoo and saw a movie.
Get your head outta there.
I just like the way you feel.
She stroked my head drawing long slow circles. She said, When you were a boy I bet you had a cowlick with a halo on it.
That’s why I shave it.
You’ll grow it out before you see me again.
Consider it a backstage pass to see Freddie Mercury.
She laughed again.
Will you hold me?
I held her until I fell asleep. Woke a little to her kissing my mouth hard and pulling the blanket over me, tucking a loose part under my head.
That morning she was cold and I was holding no one.