There Swells and Jets a Heart

by Rusty Barnes Read author interview March 15, 2007
story art

Lindon Nelson, even the name sounded just perfectly right on your lips when you would call him up on your tiny purple cell phone on those nights I could see you from my vantage point in the upstairs window across the street, where you would tilt your head to the left just so and push your honey hair from your eyes. You came home from school and I couldn’t see you but instead imagined you taking off your funky orange jeans, your Gap T-shirt and black vest and putting on the royal purple sweats—your favorite color—and loose dark sweater, where you came to sit in your old tire swing and talk to your friends like Jackie and always to Lindon. I could read his name on your lips; he was all you talked about most nights.

Lindon came to you late at night creeping over the forsythia in the Cooper’s meticulous lawn, leaving his ten-speed behind on 3rd Street—I used to walk over some nights when I knew he would be there and run my hand over the smooth blue paintjob he’d done himself on that cheap old bike he’d found in someone’s garbage, and I would wish and follow him to meet you and wish some more— and running over to 2nd he climbed over the fence and through the Boarders’ yard, their long grass filled with hidden dogshit and always he knew enough to leave his stinky shoes behind by the garden shed and crept in his socks to your back door, which you would answer after his soft tap on your rattly screen door.

Lindon on another night now in your upstairs window, a black silhouette touching your new breasts, trembling, your two heads brushing together briefly, then longer, when the yellow glow from your desk-lamp showed so little, but so much more than I wanted to know, the red numerals on your bedside clock slowly counting away the minutes until your head would pop up—tousled hair thrown back over your shoulder—the moment finished when Lindon sat on your desk near your window and cracked the window to smoke, when you turned off the light and only the cherry of his cigarette showed, glowing harder when his lips pulled at it, on cold nights the smoke gathered like cumulus, your head on his shoulder while he patted your back as if to comfort you.

Lindon your celebrant, Lindon the tease, Lindon the boy who stared up your legs while you painted the eaves with your pops, baggy shorts billowed wide, him hoping for a glimpse, you wearing the loose shorts for just that reason. Lindon the boy you wrote of to your best friend Jackie your heart probably pounding like mine as you poured your soul out with grape ink on a yellow page. Lindon the boy you sat with the evening his mother died yellow and chancrous, while great tears hiccupped from him with such force you thought you both would die in turn. Lindon Lindon Lindon, the boy who held your heart and breasts in his scarred bike-mechanic-hands while I sat in the upstairs window across the street with my thing wrapped in the dirty hankie I stole from his back pocket when you weren’t looking, the not-so-little neighbor boy you never saw, who would have given you everything had you only noticed, had you only asked.

About the Author:

Rusty Barnes co-founded and oversees Night Train, a twice-yearly fiction journal.