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Tell Me

Old short stories can offer a glimpse of past perspective, but they aren’t exactly diary entries. They’re more akin to tattoos, the best ones bookmarking the past with hints and suggestions.
(No dog-eared pages here.)
“Tell Me” was published in Robert Howell’s Nails some years ago.
The second half of it is below. The first part you don’t get. Not on this site, anyway. The first part is like those certain below the belt tattoos; in order to set your eyes on it, you’ll need to get me drunk.

"Tell Me" Part 2
In the alley now. Going down St. Peter. Keeping her company, the sound of her boots, 
clack-clap, clack-clap, clack-clap, a passing police siren echoing through the street, clack-clap, clack-clap, clack-clap, a rooftop gutter releasing its bowels, clack-clap, clack-clap, clack-clap, duel pissings from a man too drunk to see, one of urine, another streaming from a phobic subconscious set loose from its tethers by so much narcotic, clack-clap, clack-clap, clack-clap. Claire suddenly stopped, having noticed she wasn’t breathing. She could not remember her last breath. She was simply walking, all along drowning in her own forgetfulness.

Breathing again. The sound of Claire’s boots returning to keep her company. Remembering to breathe. Around a corner and beside a dumpster something caught her eye: a massive slug making its way into the night. Claire had never seen a slug in the city. She imagined the conception of this full-blown gastropod in the steamy intestine of some distant forest from which it had been removed and brought to the city by some child. A child could never resist the experience that such a creature could provide. A child would stow it away, sneak it home. Then, one night, while the child quietly played with the slug, perhaps laying down and letting it crawl on her chest, a parent would enter the room and with a mixture of rage and disgust and perhaps fear, yes, certainly that, demand the immediate removal of the worm. Too big to squish, it would be released into the gutter with a shoo, shoo, go on now, beat it, go home.

photogram by amy howell ©


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