New Leaf


     Oscar had a new leaf on life. They had excised the bump from his log. In the process knocked his front teeth out; so they could see to work. As a souvenir, he took home the bump.

     He slipped the key into the lock, kicked open warped door, staggered into his basement studio. Flipped on lights. Flipped the leaky kitchen sink the bird. Looked around. Tossed the bump in a bowl of walnuts on the cocktail table. Collapsed onto the unmade hide-a-bed. Dreamed, with all his clothes on, including double-knotted wingtips, that he ran naked through the street.

     The bump sprouted limbs. Black thready little things. Sat up in the bowl. Asked Oscar what he thought he was doing, watching a naked bozo sprint the asphalt? Terrible style, limbs flailing, fists clenched, eyes squinted shut. Good thing you are asleep in this movie. Could I get you something to drink?

     Oscar said no.

     The bump hopped off the cocktail table. Waddled into the kitchenette. Brought the shaker down out of the cupboard. Liquor from below. Set about building a Martini. Opened freezer. Extracted tray. Cracked four cubes out into the blender. Replaced the tray in the freezer, while the blender screeched cubes to bits.

     “I don’t believe it,” Oscar mumbled in his sleep. “Has anything in the room moved around or something?”

     “You’re fine,” the bump came in with a jar of desiccated Martini. “Just had a little too much to drink. Here, sit up… this’ll set you up.”

     Without batting an eye, without OPENING an eye, Oscar drank off the potion. Collapsed back onto the hide-a-bed.  

     The bump asked the snoring patient, “Are you aware the sun precesses through the zodiac one degree every seventy-two years?”

     “Number of guys who translated the Bible,” Oscar babbled between snores. “Number of conspirators who slew Osiris. Number of elephants inserted through Buddha’s anus. Number of pins on a needle.”

     Good thing I stayed numb. That way only Oscar felt it when the bump sliced the carotid.

     Dream nosedove through leak out in kitchen. Spiraled onions. Burst curses. Echoed geckos nailed to the bathroom wall of the bump who loves spiders and other invertebrates to keep on screwing. Each other strictly. Not a sentence in this log twisted.

     Where the sun crosses the equator projected into the heavens, that’s the equinox. Every twenty-six thousand years the equinox completes one circuit through the zodiac – one Platonic Year. The wobbling of a top expressed astronomically.

     The bump took the empty from Oscar’s fist. Repaired to the kitchenette to create another Ball jar of Martini. The bump didn’t know anything about sex. But the bump remained a loyal soldier in the war against pain. Cutting him off only made him sprout another couple heads. Any more heads inside this head will make Oscar dream without cease. Meaning no rest for the rest of us.

     “Lies!” all the heads screamed at once. And the dream saved another dream, drowning in breath, exploding lies prone to stand on the books like Venus on the scallop with pinking shears.

     The bump flashed rip saw teeth. Settled down to another false day. One 365th of one 72nd of one 360th of a circle the sun budged Aquariusward across the sward of my crescent mind. In the garden Oscar’s wingtips untied themselves to unite against his new life tree. Three teeth now missing.

     Then remembered he hasn’t inhabited the basement since the day The Actor got elected President; due to Oscar first getting his feet wet in his current cubicle job. Wipe to dumping a last box into the trunk, radio blaring The Great Communicator’s acceptance. Car on loan, box free from liquor store.

     “Don’t you think it odd,” the cartoon of a bump inquired from the next panel, “that 72 is even even?”

     The choir erupted into – from the speaker mounted on the baseboard beside the toilet bowl – ODE TO JOY, poem set to music.

     The core of us imploded. End of story beginning to dream.   

                                                                                                   Willie Smith     



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