Saturday, 6 June 2020

'Boomtown Lee' by A. E. Weisgerber

I’m a guy who notices when it rains. When I hear thunder, I know the future. I can count on action, curtains blowing open, the sound of Reveille. Wake up.  Storms make me think of the Skyway: its lanes make traffic carom into death funnels. Every on-ramp like the maw of a boiling kettle burping out steel balls. Sometimes, if I realize my car will pass under a bridge the same time as a train passing over, I’ll accelerate. I want that rumble. See those cliffs across the river? The Palisades? Well, I drove out there a long time ago. The asphalt was hot so oil rose to the surface. My Cortina skidded, went over, landed on its roof. Fell 80 feet.  A rock went through the roof and the roof went through my head.  180 stitches. I got crippled from the neck down. I was miserable. I remember coming out of a coma, it was a Monday, and what was that shit song playing on the radio? You know the one? It was 1979.  What’s the song? I was out of my mind on a rack of pain and thought is there a God?“Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays.”  Never forgot that.  I still limp on my right side, my right arm. Sex is the same as storms. Same feeling of events getting closer and closer, the pressure. The rumble in the gut, knowing the future. The crashing into someone, someone who won’t break. Anticipating that lightning at the top of my skull. It’s what draws me to fireworks. I need some action. I think Isaw five displays last weekend. Here’s another thing about storms.I parked beneath a Norway spruce in a hurricane. It was 85 feet tall. I looked up, its springy branches were all pulled leeward, like a long-haired girl brushing to one side while leaning over. It looked like no tree. It looked like boiling water. It looked like storm-swollen waters speeding over mossy stones. It looked heroic, alive with brute strength.  I could tell its future: it was going to break. I wheeled out, and two seconds later came a crack, like the mast of a ship, the shotgun blasts of broken femurs, my side view full of smoke and greenery. Thunder sets me adrift in that old Cortina. A metal cradle breezing through stiff-leafed cottonwoods and poplars; it rattles just a little. Man. Come to find, Cortina means curtain. I saw curtains puff back and forth in my hospital room—press to the screens, hold and release. What wakes me is a crinkling. Like metal crashing overhead, dry overhangs, a crack of something that blinds, and twists, and accelerates.

'Boomtown Lee' was first published in formercactus on 30 September 2018.

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