[L.E. Leone's latest—enjoy!]
On the food chain channel an animal is eating another animal a little bit at a time, taking it in, taking it on, taking its shape. The father, dead to the world on the floor under the television, dreams. In it, the eaten animal is already of course barbecued, slathered in a gurgly red sauce. It’s a snake, cut neatly into snake steaks, and the eater, though a cat, is using a fork and knife.
Because that’s the way dreams are, son. Get used to it.
I was fixing to cross a border from one country to another, I don’t remember why. There was a sense of urgency. Of adventure. Like . . . almost . . . like an adventure, yes. Like a rescue. I was going in to get somebody.
Maybe. But it wasn’t you exactly, yet, because you weren’t born. You didn’t exist. Anyway, there were cars lined up, a long line of cars, waiting to cross the border. I was in this line, but on foot. I would look at the people inside the cars because, you see, I needed a helper.
Maybe, yeah, but my helper was a man. Was going to be a man. I had him all picked out, and he wrote me a check, was going to write, but it was unclear whether he knew what his role would be. Son, sometimes in life we are called upon to do a thing that is not exactly by-the-book legal.
This thing I was going to do. It was very dangerous. There was a voice in my head: the voice of authority. Other-side-of-the-border authority. You see: the government. The other one.
“You were a spy?”
I was spied. The voice said: You are being watched. You are on our radar. We have you. We are inside of you. You can’t possibly do what you are about to do, let alone get away with it.
I knew that, and yet there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to try. I was going in. There was no choice, or decision. No—
“You’re my hero.”
Yeah, but you would never say that. No son of mine . . .
“What would I say?”
Something else: Come over for dinner. Get up on the grill. There is a blankness in us, a bright white sizzle, pure like the unwatched part of a movie screen, aching to be filled with images. Come alive! Mean something! Sizzle, fizzle, gasp, and, well . . .
Mom, you say? You want your mother? Your mother isn’t your mother, you are old enough now to know. There was a woman with a blank face, not movie-screen blank—more like a billboard, your ad here. She wore a long blue gown and short brown hair, but . . . no nose, no mouth, no eyes, no features. Just white. This woman was inside of me, and that woman was, is, your real mother, son. Don’t cry.
She can’t hear you. She has no ears.