4 Women: 1 Damaged, 3 Dead

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

1.

A woman supine on a Mexican blanket is pitted like an olive, with one deft twist. The brass bars of a wind chime hang above her like a skeleton. Her joints glow in the dark, like something freshly soldered. She sleeps.

The men in the front room peer out the glassless windows and listen for moans. When the infant comes, it will be an icon of metal scraps and fish-heads. They will set it in a bare corner atop a
stool.

It will scrabble. White powder will film its brown belly. One of its arms will be crustacean.

The dark man and his wife—their hands will fit together grimly, like railroad cars coupling.

2.

I took the tiny Guatemalan doll out of its knitted pouch. It looked like Nanci, recently dead. Dark hair, straight features, a Twilight Zone moment.

Nanci could have reincarnated as this doll, comfortable in her little pouch with no need for food, toileting or other mortal maintenance.

She looks forward to my gently removing her from the knit-work to hold insomniac
conversations. She has plenty of time to catch up on her sleep. After all, she’s dead and, as she always joked, busy painting or making photographs or traveling in distant lands, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.

3.

My dentist tells me I have acid erosion. Then he bashes Princess Diana. She might have been pretty but she was dumb, he says, a typical aristocratic British daughter, raised to be a potential Windsor brood mare.

What are you saying, I demand. Diana’s been dead… how long? And today you want to bash her? You know I admired and respected Diana. You know I was in love with her (I stifle a sob).

I regret taking the nitrous oxide. Me and Dent huff it recreationally after my appointments, at other times too. We prefer it to cocktails.

Oh, he says, a new biography just came out about good old Princess Dead. I’ve been reading it, and the author’s style and sensibilities have affected me.

Dent and I have been friends since junior high, when he admired my performance art. Now I’m a portrait painter, not terribly successful. I show up in his office in paint-spattered pants. Dent pays his assistant extra to work on me because she despises me and the smell of turpentine.

Dentistry is soulless, I accuse him. Every year you become more callous, more empty. Princess Diana shone like the Virgin in the grotto at St. Mary Star of the Sea.

Dent turns off the nitrous. He yawns. Yeah, yeah, she was a princess she was, he says in a bad British accent.

4.

My favorite cousin killed herself. She took a massive dose of Benadryl. She won’t have to worry about bee allergies ever again. She won’t have to run screaming from them. She won’t have to fear any toxin. She won’t have to fear the toxins inside her head.

I’m so pissed at her, I want to plunge my arm into a bee hive. I want to scream in earthly pain.


 

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois  has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including several times in THE MISCREANT. 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 Nook, or as a print edition. To read more of his work, Google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

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Orator

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The orator is an atomizer, spraying hope.

If he had any chance of grasping power, the secret forces would have assassinated him already.

America is the latest incarnation of the Black Plague. We are diseased collectively and individually—no

one escapes.

I went to the rally and inhaled the odors of thousands of bodies. Passion surrounded me like coastal fog.

By the next day it had burned off; I felt bereft.

I went home and spread Nutella thickly on a leftover blueberry pancake. Eating it was like participating

in an orgy. When I was young I smoked a lot of marijuana and participated in orgies, but that was a long

time ago.

We were hopeful then. But we didn’t need to be hopeful because we were stoned. Stoned out of our

minds.

The orator’s hope is a recycled product.

The novelist Walker Percy said that the predominant emotion of the twentieth century was

disappointment. No one has yet emerged to reveal the predominant emotion of the twenty-first.

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including THE MISCREANT. He has been nominated for numerous prizes for work published from 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.

Three Fictions

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Cookies

I was swimming across oceans, across continents. This is wonderful exercise, my daddy called. First the Guinness Book of World Records, then the Olympics!
But I disappointed my daddy. I decided records were bad karma. People always want to break them, as people always want to break me, people like my daddy and my mommy. Even after their acrimonious divorce, they were united in that.
I decided I would not allow anyone to break me. I would leave the cement confines of pools, reject rectangles forever, in favor of circles and ovals.

Although I decided I would not be broken, Chemo was unendurable. I had visions of newborns’ ears like cookies, side by side, in a box. Everything broke into black and white shards. I heard the doctor’s voice, but couldn’t respond, as if I were in another room in another hospital. They took my head off and put it in an MRI machine. Then they brought it back and told me it was fine. When no one else could hear, the male nurse told me I was pretty.

 

Hobo

In the bruised skies above our republic, a tornado travels like a hobo looking for a handout, looking for a trailer park to rip to shreds, looking for my nephew, who is five months behind on his trailer payments. Now that he’s moved to another state, he thinks he’s outrun the bank.
He lives on Central Degradation Ave., where the weather is always squabbly and low self-esteem, like fog, drops ever lower. It permeates his clothes.
Senseless violence lurks behind every vodka bottle, every can of Red Bull, every tattered couch. Everyone wants something for nothing.
Here comes the funnel cloud. This hobo is deranged and howls with laughter, like a drunken trailer park resident on Friday night. The hobo wants to throw it all into the sky. He wants to call all the women Crack Ho and all the men, Douche Bag.There are holes in the atmosphere, gaps in the landscape, a puncture in the bald tire that’s me . The disaster has caused my flight to be cancelled. I sleep on the cold airport floor on illusory carpet, a refugee irreparably lost.

It takes two days for them to get me a flight. The flight attendant looks like she’s just come from singing in a gospel choir. We don’t have gospel in my country. If we try to vaccinate our children, madmen come to kill us. From the airplane window I see gaps in the atmosphere, holes in the landscape, trailer parks splintered to bits, my nephew with his arms held up in supplication. The flight attendant fluffs my pillow

 

CFS

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has struck the star of a local ballet troupe, and a retiree who’s been waiting ten years to take up the sitar, and the daughter of a famous sci-fi writer, and a pharmacist at the nearby Walgreen’s , even a rock’n’roll star who had defeated breast cancer, brain cancer, drug addiction and three ugly, painful divorces. There are too many others to mention, who have been likewise affected, who (barely) live from day to day, plywood nailed over the windows of their lives.
Better not take those boards down—as soon as we do, another hurricane will stalk us. There are unopened stacks of mail, piles of unread student papers, unfilled prescriptions, strings loose and out of tune. There are dishes piled to the rim of an empty hot tub. If we don’t recover our energy soon, all is lost.

Me, I not only suffer from CFS, I’m a member of the Arrestable Class. Therefore I am often arrested, put on a road gang, forced to march in broiling sun, to destroy mosques with my bare hands, to throw valued antiquities to the mosaic floors and break them into shards.
The Unarrestable Class hired the actor William Macy to be its spokesperson. The Arrestable Class has no spokesperson. Even my court-appointed public defender refuses to be my spokesperson. He has a defect that occurred when he was cloned. He knows he has it, but can’t figure out what it is.

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.