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Three Stories // Mitchell Grabois



Thrill-Spike

I once lived in a rudely converted horse barn. I was paper, my hands were paper, my Underwood-Olivetti was centered on my desk.

Now I live in an apartment in the city. I’m a digital man, and there are no horses outside my window, no manure, no dirt. I live a thoroughly clean environment. Feelings slide off my laptop screen and fly directly down the rubbish chute. The rubbish shoot has no smell. No cooking smells flavor our hallways.

I remember the beat poets. I remember stoned evenings on the bluffs. Now there’s only Ones and Zeroes, and I don’t even use paper coffee filters anymore.

I’m so citified, I even let my new friends convince me to join dating websites. And I met a woman, but our failure was all my fault. My immaturity got the better of me and I found myself less interested in finding a solution to our problems that in hearing her say You’ll not make an arse of me again or I’m no one’s twat-waffle in her rich British voice.

Each time she said it was a little thrill-spike to my rat brain. Our relationship was doomed, due to nothing more than my admiration for colorful language.

She was easily angered. I was superficial. I didn’t care to develop a long-term committed relationship and had said as much on the various dating websites I’d joined. I’d even joined Christian Mingle because I’d been hooked by the poignancy of one of their commercials, the one in which the dewy-eyed woman says: He’s my second chance.

Horse

1.

I couldn’t figure out what to do with my life. I’d always dreamed of being in the Merchant Marine, but my parents forbade it. Following their wishes, I went to college, where I listed like a sinking ship. Classmates wondered what was wrong with me.

One day I awoke with unprecedented clarity of mind. My destiny was to marry a Canaanite priestess. Would that make you a priest? my roommate, an earnest farm boy, asked.

No, I would merely serve her, bring her chalices of wine, and rub her feet with fragrant oils.

He thought about that, but didn’t say anything. He was studying Engineering and had lost his imagination.

That night I crashed a party. Several white women stared at me with hatred. I found myself on the floor of a large closet, shoes pressed into my back. I cried: Oh Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me? Even as the words left my lips I thought: I’ve heard that somewhere before. The next morning I boarded a plane for the Middle East.

2.

Eventually I returned home, took up farming, became my father. One day I decided to clear out a bunch of junk and set up a yard sale. People bought some stuff, but most of it was left. The picker came over and said, How much you want for all the rest of this stuff?

I said 300, but he gave me 250, which I thought was fair. He had his five-year-old son with him, a cute little bugger. The picker told me he started picking with his dad when he was five, and now his son has started with him. I liked that.

3.

But the next time the picker came by, he was with his son, but also with this alcoholic punk in his early twenties who lives down the road and is not worth a shit. He had a black eye. He looked like someone had hit him good, maybe a woman.

I said to the picker, You shouldn’t hang out with trash like this, not when you’re with your son.

We were in my horse barn, and the drunken bum picked up a big padlock I’d laid on a shelf and hit me in the head with it.

4.

I fall down and hear the picker say, What you go hit an old man with a padlock for?

The bum says, Cause he called me a bum.

The picker says, You are a bum

Then they leave, and I lay on the cement floor for a while, smelling the horses. I finally get up and go in the house. My wife says, What happened to you?

I say, A horse knocked me down.

My wife says, What horse? One of the horses we haven’t had for eight years?

I say, Yeah, one of them.

This is Me

This is me flying over Scotland, my naked body through the damp air, clouds like sheep’s wool, a new type of cloud, a message from God, a warning, as always. I’m warning you, He says. I’m warning you, Mitchell. I ignore him. He no longer has any power over me.

He’s strapped to a bed. He’s been trying to pull out his IV. God is not dead, that’s true, but He’s dying. All He has left is warnings. The simplest buffoon sees that He is impotent, not omnipotent, and is amazed that He was elevated so long by the old mythology.

Even the nurses gloat at his powerlessness, how easily they strap his feeble arms down. He was never all that strong anyway, they tell themselves, pushing their former terror out of their minds. We were never fooled, they tell each other, and make plans to go to Happy Hour after work.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fifteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and. was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and as a print edition. His poetry collection, THE ARREST OF MR. KISSY FACE, will be published by Pski’s Porch Publications in early 2019. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Image by Ian Livesey

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