Tempting Ogres
Friday, June 6, 2014 at 7:55PM
David Antrobus in America, Dan Mader, David Antrobus, Oregon, Road Trip, Tempting Ogres, Unemployed Imagination, Yachats, flash fiction, short fiction

There are times when I drive across the whole of America and the sky stays that same deep blue, morning through night, Monday through Sunday, behind mountain peaks from fabled lands. Distant clouds bloom off-white and cerebral, unattainable dreams on abandoned horizons. The kind of dreams dreamed by forsaken gods. 

Roxy says, "Tell me you love me." 

"I love you." 

"Now tell me like you ain't just been caught in a lie." 

"…"

All those map lines, crisscrossing. The pitiless blue interstates. Broken line borders. The edges. Brimming with need and indifference. Love and embarrassment. The high wretched calls of ocean things. 

Detoured from I-90 aways back, we're lured and lulled into this living postcard of America. 

We head south on the Oregon coast, find some kind of level in a springtime bubble of ocean surge and yellow scotch broom, tadpoles under grey rocks, seals on brown ones. Plunge into spray, follow a monochrome urge, Roxy standing atop the headland, desirous to display but knowing that can only backfire in a world built the opposite of joy. 

Arms folded under those lavish breasts, she won't look at me. 

"Hey Roxy, play some music." 

I can almost hear her eyes roll, a gritty squeak. I can almost hear my heart break too, but I won't describe that. 

When we pull into the motel parking lot in Yachats, a place held like something fragile by parental stands of terrified fir and pine, all we want is to fall down on a soft bed and surrender to the sleep that's been calling our names the last three months. High time we stopped ignoring it. Even Jesus slept. Far as I know, anyway. 

People die in this place. A teen boy once slipped on these rocks and couldn't climb back, struggling like an upended turtle as the surf beat him steadily to death while his friends watched, arms outstretched, impotent. There's a plaque recalling him.

We walk the rocks anyway, explosions of white spray booming and fizzing around us, surging tides shot through narrow passages beneath our feet. Nature's IEDs. So loud we can't hear the gulls cry out their PTSD, their hypervigilance. 

"I was born in a month that rhymes with remember." 

"I can't hear you. Not a single word. Let's go inland, see if we can find trains." 

I hear that. Trains are usually good. We walk as evening begins to gather itself. 

A field, dimming. Sure enough, the eastbound freight draws night behind it like a rough blanket over the land, a sky that catches and muffles its hoarse lament, holds it heavy and tenebrous within its midnight promises and vows of rain, all except for a western strip where earlier the sun dropped while we walked away—impossibly distant, a rarefied airless realm of crimson and gold, like blood and treasure. 

We are blood and treasure. Trash and pleasure.

No, we're worse than that, and better than that. 

The entire world trembles. For a moment, death's-head moths hold the fate of empires between their wings. The train gathers speed for a deep land trek while children are diced unlamented in alleyways and chickens burst like nebulae from rafters in a forgotten barn, dust motes and moths, stars and straw and strands of gold like the lustrous tresses of a fabled princess, cavalier, leaning from the window of her tower, her slender neck arched, waiting. Tempting the axes of ogres. 

Roxy fixes me with one of her eyeslit glares. "It's all your fault," she says, as jackbooted tyrants, charcoal-suited fascists with cruel smiles and flickering lashes, frogmarch us inland, indifferent to our renewed seaward yearnings, while amid the descending darkness great fat raindrops play free jazz over the thirsty fields, syncopated and toxic, and we pretend not to cry with terror as funnel clouds gather and we're mocked and jabbed by soldiers demob-giddy and lustful with the very last war's end, knowing they'll show us no mercy once the touchpaper's lit. 

"You're right. It is. My fault, I mean." 

"Yeah, well, checkout time's come early, my darlin'." 

And she reaches for my hand and won't ever let go. Sleep be goddamned.

 

Article originally appeared on The Migrant Type (http://www.the-migrant-type.com/).
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