Another Excerpt

May 29, 2009

posted by caroline picard

CAR CRASH.

portrait the plunk
When the car spun out of control the little boy had been sitting in the back seat feeling more grown up than he was accustomed to feeling. He had been looking out of the window with an assumed and speculative air, considering his manner above all else, while imagining simultaneously what thoughts could reinforce his posture. He looked forward to growing up, when, he felt, he might have a natural influence that spanned beyond the current boundaries of his life. He thought he could be a diplomat, imagined the suit he might wear, the man he might look like and the papers he would have to study late at night, papers he’d sign the next day, in order to save countries and distressed impoverished people. He would have a fleet of personal spies. An essential point. When he looked away from the window, he experienced his first bout of adolescent restlessness—that desire to do large things: to influence the world in a way not yet within his childish means. He looked between the seats of his mother and father and through the windshield, on to the road ahead. He saw the car coming toward them. He heard the squeal of breaks. He was not afraid, for he could not conceive of death.
He did not think about an afterlife. Rather he was poised on the crown of the present, more aware and focused than he had ever been before. The seconds before and after impact stretched out, as though time itself was lolling in a pool of sap. The boy found that despite this new medium, his mind was unaffected, moving with smooth rapidity. He watched, a little perplexed, as his mother reached her arm across the passenger seat and pressed it against her husband, many pounds larger than she, as though to keep him pressed in the seat with the force of her will.
The boy heard her arm snap first.
Then he felt the car shudder as his head snapped forward then back.
The right wall of the car bashed in, dashing his mother to the center of the car. Unnatural.
He saw blood.
His father crashed through her arm, into the windshield and bounced, leaving a bright smear of red on the glass, it made a sound, shattered, his father vomited, flecks of waste sprayed over everyone, the boy felt himself thrown forward. The lost all feeling in his body. Calm, still, he heard himself speak in a faraway voice,  “Ne me quitte pas.” He didn’t know why he said that, recalling first and vaguely as though in a dream Billy Holiday’s voice, his mother angry, the dog, the x-box, his father, Christmas, Tiger Woods eating a wheat bread sandwich on a green and perfect golf course where he’d seen it flickering through their dim room living room earlier that same day, the camera zoomed in and focused on the athlete chewing slowly as he looked up at a flag overhead (the camera panned back to follow the golfer’s gaze).
“What’s he doing?” Freddy asked, smelling the Old Spice aftershave of his father mixed with Irish Spring soap, his old man just took a shower as he did after work.
“He’s checking the direction of the wind so he can gauge his shot,” his father said, snugly seated on the leather couch, drinking a can of beer.
They watched Tiger Woods lay the remaining half of a sandwich on the bag of his clubs.
They watched the caddy pick up the remainder, bring the bread to his mouth and slowly, start to chew.
“That damn sandwich is probably the only thing on either of them that’s not endorsed,” his father said.
He forgot about Tiger Woods when he heard his father groan.
The last thing Freddy saw before he lost consciousness: the expression of his dead mother’s face—her hair an instant glaring mess of dyed red blazing in the light of the other car’s headlights, the tongue out of her mouth where it had been bitten through, blood on her chin, he stared at her chest for a moment to see her breath, glanced down to the blood on her pants, a growing stain bloody and virile he looked at her face again, the color drained in an instant, her head unnaturally slumped, hanging midair against the taught seatbelt.
Against a terrible silence.

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