We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Constance Ann Fitzgerald‘s forthcoming novella Glue, due out on Lazy Fascist Press in November. Fitzgerald is the publisher of the fine independent press Ladybox Books and is the author of the 2011 novel Trashland A Go-Go. Fitzgerald’s fiction is visceral, irreverent, and unpredictable, and we’re eager to read the full book when it’s out later this year.
“The pool of blood was bigger than the motorcycle.” The voice of your father’s best friend, and vice president of the motorcycle club he founded, comes through the phone. He’s shaken. He’s a tough one. You know it’s bad.
This is what you needed to hear yesterday to put you on an airplane. Yesterday his best friend’s wife was assuring you that your father was up and about, ornery as ever. Demanding to be taken to a hotel and not the hospital. Your father hates hospitals.
He was adrenaline high, in shock, but bleeding out all over the pavement. That’s the image you’ll play back to yourself for months afterward. A pool of blood, your father’s blood, seeping out around the edges of the machine that seems to be a fucking curse. All three accidents in the last several years, including the one that killed your mother, took place on the same bike and you want to roll it off a cliff into the ocean. Rot and rust, kill a thousand fish, but no more of your family.
You hang up and dial your brother. Apologize for not knowing how serious it was. Instead of saying “I’m on my way” you ask if you should be. He isn’t going to tell you what to do, but it rings through.
You’re needed there.
To support your brother and in case things get uglier.
You book the next flight out and call a friend to drive you to the airport. You can’t quite focus to pack a bag. You don’t know how long you’ll be gone. Last time you were gone for weeks, ran out of clothes and had to buy more.
You stuff some t-shirts, jeans, and underwear into a backpack, and tell your coked-out roommate what’s going on. Why you have to leave. She hates you, but you make her cry with tears streaming down your own crumpled face. She’s awful but not heartless.
They were heading to Sturgis and they hadn’t even made it out of the state when the truck in front of your father’s motorcycle was cut off by a Cadillac that slammed on it’s brakes. The guys in the club and the VP’s wife all say it with a sneer, “Cadillac.” Like the driver thought he was above them simply by purchasing this vehicle. The driver of the Cadillac will swear up, down, and sideways that he stopped because of a sheep in the road. The driver of the truck and the people traveling with your father never saw any sheep. The Caddy cuts off the truck, the truck slams on its breaks so as not to hit the Caddy, and your father kisses the back of the truck.
Kim, the VP’s wife, will tell you about how she was right there behind him, frozen on her old man’s bike, thinking This is it. Not again.
They’ll all dismount and rush to your father, laying on the ground next to the guardrail, grey and sweating. He’ll get up and shout “Goddamn it! Again? Fine. Take me to a fucking hotel!” and they’ll tell him “No, you should really get to a hospital, brother.”
And he won’t listen until the paramedics show up or he loses consciousness.
Whichever comes first
You had a lot of dreams about your father after your mom died. Some of them too close to real life for comfort.
You dreamed of him showing up on your front porch, belly swollen, hand in hand with someone who had already died. Ralph, your mom’s father, held him upright at your door. In your kitchen your mom’s mom was having tea at the table. Your mom, off screen, out of sight, in the laundry room. You can’t see her but you know she’s there because her presence radiates warmth and love.
Your father enters the house and you pray that he and your mom’s mom don’t fight. They didn’t get along when she was alive. She never understood the lifestyle and blamed your father when your little brother almost died in a car accident when the car he was in was struck by a drunk driver. Which had nothing to do with motorcycles.
Everyone in this dream, except you and your father, is dead in real life. Your mom’s father died because he was a hundred years old. Stomach cancer and dementia. Then your mom in a motorcycle accident. Then her mom, probably because she just couldn’t take it anymore.
In the dream, your father tells you he has something really important to say, something to tell you that he hasn’t discussed with your mother yet. He says this and you realize that she’s not there anymore and it hurts because she was just there and then she wasn’t. Just like real life.
You never found out what it was that he wanted to tell you because he talked in circles about nothing until you woke up.
You called him a few days later and found out that he was going in for hernia surgery.
You dreamed of your father on his motorcycle, the oldest one, Georgia, named for the song “Georgia On My Mind.”
He’s in the desert on a highway and the heat is radiating up from the pavement making waves on the horizon. His bike breaks down and he stumbles around, disoriented. In this dream he has a heart attack at the very same time that your mother dies. You wake yourself up sobbing because you’ll never have another Dad Hug.
You’re sure that it’s going to bother him, calling every time you have a paranoid dream about his mortality.
So you wait.
When you call home he tells you about “testing” himself.
An endurance challenge because he’s been off the bike too long. He wanted to see what kind of ride he could get in before he made a long haul for one of his conferences. His bike broke down between Phoenix and Tucson and it took two hours for someone to get to him. No water, no shade. He could barely walk by the time someone arrived. You convince yourself of a psychic connection to him. The way your brother can read your mind, you can see your father’s future. It’s reckless and bleak. And for a good man like him, it breaks your heart over and over and over and over and…