Hot Black Bubbles
by Zeke River Perkins
Imagine calculating your per diem in the Days Inn park lot in Herkimer, New York as sleet falls on the windshield of your government issued burgundy Malibu. Imagine that you should’ve calculated your per diem over continental breakfast in the warmth of the central heating but you forgot so now you have a calculator and a stack of paper in your lap as you’d prefer not to go back inside the motel because its sleeting outside of the car; and also because it embarrasses you to imagine the clerks thinking, “Oh lord, he’s back. This ought to be rich,” as you walk back through the automated doors.
Imagine that a stack of house visit sheets rest unevenly on the passenger seat for the government survey – the survey that you’ve been employed to proctor on the American psyche: rustbelt, heartland, or city; man, woman, or other; broken and thrashing in a cage, sedated and content, organizing your fellow fucked-overs.
Imagine you get a paper cut shuffling through the stack. Suck your thumb like you did as a five year old, late to give it up, in the Rancher in Michigan. Suck. Suck. Suck. Remember that one time, when you were ten and you heard your dad say, “oh shit, I just jizzed” through his bedroom door when his girlfriend Sharon came over and you weren’t exactly sure how it had happened but you could guess.
Imagine that when you are done sucking your thumb, you reverse out of the parking space, one hand on the back seat of the passenger seat like you’ve seen your dad do. Call him on the way to the first house visit as you have a tax related question regarding per diem and he was always good with taxes. Imagine saying, “Hey Dad, I was just thinking about you.”
Do you ever find yourself in an off-white room that feels to be vaguely tinted by a warm blue aura? Are you alone and far from home? Maybe in a hotel in Central New York? Are you playing with yourself?
Where are your children? Have you a left a past lover waiting at a bus stop for the past three years?
What are your unfulfilled drives? Sex? Violence? Total implosion?
Let’s say you are warm when you finish. Slowly, as someone drowning, you fall asleep. Then when you wake, you have to go to work again.
Imagine you wake up in Hudson, New York and break the ice on the windshield of your car with quick angled jabs from a snow scraper. You fling the snow that gathered like a high top on the hood onto the sidewalk with your gloved hands. Imagine it misting downwards into piles like ugly faces on the pavement.
You look up at your pre-war and then 70s renovated, yellow-faced apartment building. You smell, even through the snow, the distinct rottenness of it — like spoiled carrots. You look up and down Warren Street at the galleries and the boutiques and the third wave coffee shops. Hudson doesn’t even have a super market.
Imagine you get in your car and drive far away, reader. You only moved here because you thought young people would be here but none of them work; or all of them work as artist assistants; and there’s really not many of them anyways and you don’t talk to them because you’re always on assignment.
Imagine you drive away from the city and away from the rustbelt and away from the heartland and away from your landlord. Imagine you drive until it’s all sex. And community. And freedom. And nakedness.
How about you drown in hot black bubbles.
Zeke River Perkins has spent most of his working life fighting for social justice as part of the labor movement. His fiction, essays and interviews have appeared in Peauxdunque Review, HobartPulp, Entropy, and Queen Mobs Tea House. He is the winner of Peauxdunque Review’s 2018 Words and Music Writing Competition in the short-story category. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Kentucky where he is the former the editor-in-chief of The New Limestone Review.
Image source: Pang P via Unsplash