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The Mess You Made in Us

Story by C. Robin Madigan (Read author interview) December 15, 2007

Jon punched like a mower blade lops dandelion puffs. Of course his jaw hadn’t come off, as I’d seen, but that guy’s sculpted hair lay strewn, a mess around his face. Jon kept telling the moment again, and again.

“Christ,” I say, “let it go.”

“Yeah,” he says, “I let it go, sure.”

Jamaican Jon kept two five shot revolvers stashed with his tools. We’d gone to Liza’s farm to shoot. Jon stood proudly six-six—could’ve sworn he shot in slow film, tired, as hammers clapped fifty-caliber explosion. Liza held her brother-in-law so tight. All six-six of him: beautiful black skin and fierce smiles with such hugs.

Jon came on to me last winter while we washed bus and truck grime from our fingers with lava soap.

“Kiss me, Karen,” he said.

“Jon, I couldn’t,” as I kissed him.

Our mother, Grey, pushed my niece down a flight of steps. Liza came home to congealed darkness seeping into cold basement cement, caking her frozen child’s curly dark head and hair to stick. Our mother, slumped, on bathroom floor; praying knees on white tiles in a pool of black, from opening her pale flesh, her thin skin to flood her lap. After that mess Liza became crazy and kind—more kind than crazy to Jon. She wouldn’t but glance me with Grey in my face.

Some of Jon’s rounds misfired with raw claps of steel-on-nickel, as cement on a child’s head.

About the Author

C. Robin Madigan graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in literature and currently pursues an MFA in writing at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. He’s ‘happened’ in Storyglossia‘s issue 20 and will be published in forthcoming issues.

This story appeared in Issue Nineteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Nineteen

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