That morning, my sister was in the hole. From my bedroom down the hall to the living room in my robe. And there was the hole. In the floor with carpet shredded periphery. Big enough for an ox and filled with water. Bottomless. Where is she, I said to the neighbors arranged in dining chairs around it. She's in there, they said without looking up. She wanted time to think, they said.
Among the watery shadows, she thinks: We surround ourselves with death -- the children are sulking because they know, pouting, in chairs with arms folded, eyes averted, and still we surround ourselves with death -- speaking of love -- everything moving toward a single point -- all courses of action converging on a solitary instant.
Drowning, she thinks: But this cannot be avoided -- the mightiest exertion will not dislodge it -- already, antiquity has determined us -- back when all was tropical vegetation, things were no different. We were traveling down the road just the same, speeding in our dented convertible, with stupid grins and wind tearing our hair out at the roots.
She's in the hole?! I said. How can she be in the hole?! and I started picking up handfuls of gravel from the floor and throwing them. The neighbor lady's husband started throwing grapefruit sized stones back at me. They spun through the air in slow motion. What are you trying to do, boy -- obtain a marriage between the rocks and the wall?! he pleaded. Everyone else left the room. You'll never grow up to be a Ranger like this! they shouted. The neighbor lady's husband picked up another large stone and hurled it. What is it you're trying to do, he shouted, obtain a marriage between the rocks and the wall?! No, I said, watching his stone spin slowly toward me across the room, It is you who is trying to obtain a marriage between the rocks and the wall! Then I stepped out of the way, and the stone embedded itself in the sheet-rock behind me.
Floating pale toward the surface, she thinks: At some point, indeed, the future will overtake and eclipse the fairy tale -- move beyond the black hole's center into a new universe. But even then, we'll only be left with nervous laughter, feeling silly, a little embarrassed -- and we'll all go back to work in the morning, patenting our techniques, stirring up that familiar appetite, greeting with kind smiles the people we fondle in quiet fantasy -- until the toilet burps up again, flooding the place with obscene liquids. Cyclicality is the only universal law -- but not even that -- more an eternal spiraling toward something, never quite reaching it, but getting ever closer -- gradually puncturing all myths of desperation to reveal a single pervasive entropy.
* * *
"Come," said my aunt. "It is good that you did not become a Ranger. It would have been tedious work, and far too difficult," and she took me to her country estate, where night came on quickly.
Watching an old black and white western, in which bandits yearned to die, with sweaty brows, gnawing their lips behind boulders, we decided it would be nice to have muffins. I loved my aunt dearly, my mother's younger sister, and was not sure in which way I wanted to express this love. She was a beautiful woman, confident and intelligent, and not infrequently did she visit me in my dreams.
In the cellar, searching for a basket of muffins to bring upstairs, I happened upon a corridor I had never before noticed. It was narrow and dark, of musty stone walls, and it led straight off from the main cellar chambers. After venturing down it with torch in hand a hundred paces or more, I was led to a flight of stairs which took me from there to a lovely sunlit meadow, and I found myself running hand in hand through patches of daisies with a beautiful nymph, leaving our clothes behind.
And we tumbled in each other's arms through a fragrant carpet of clover, rolling, laughing, hearts coursing with passion, and I gazed into the pools of her eyes and saw the presence of God, and love came in waves of epiphany. But then my thumbs suddenly started to grow, swelling, lengthening into awkward foot-long appendages -- and a flock of small birds nested in my hair and poured the drone of chainsaws from their tiny beaks.
Angrily I brushed them away with my immense thumbs.
And beside me there stood an open coffin surrounded by wreaths and flowers. I stepped closer.
My aunt lay inside.
Weeping, I collapsed forward, wrapping my arms about her. How could she die -- I only went to fetch muffins.
“Knock it off," she whispered without opening her eyes. "Feel my back," and she rolled up onto her side.
“Why?" I asked.
“I have wings -- there are seven of them -- count."
I reached down and groped about her back, not feeling anything but her shoulder blades. "I don't feel anything," I said.
“Feel harder," she demanded, "you're not trying -- there are seven of them!"
I was confused and started counting out loud the bumps of her spine, "One, two, three..."
“Knock it off," she growled, "you're not taking me seriously!" (Though she is dead, in rooms within her eyes the tiny men are still working. With steel hooks pulling sides of beef swinging from tracks in the ceiling out of darkness through back doorways to the centers of small rooms of white tile. Two rooms adjacent. Two men in galoshes and heavy rubber aprons. In unison, they begin with machetes, swinging. Slabs of meat slapping the floor easing down drains like warm pudding, as the carcasses grow thinner. Until only scrappy bones are left -- spine, ribs, femur – and these too are hacked and splintered and from all corners melt and run toward the center like globs of pale mercury toward the drain. And even the blood congeals from smears to hasten down through the narrow grate to rats and pools of sewage somewhere below, leaving the tiles clean and milk white. Only the smell of marrow hangs fresh. They sheathe their machetes and again pick up their hooks, trodding back through the doorways to the darkness behind her eyes.
E. L. Succotash, in a secret double life, is an excitable gypsy dentist named Brother Leon, effluviating mild-mannered skidding-out-of-control (obsessed with falling: down stairs, out windows, off cliffs, out of boats, out of bed, into manholes, into toilets, from the sky), while making bare nude the darkish concupiscence of ecstatic Havana nectar in shimmering moon-lit pools, despite well hidden reference to sex (hamachi shrink-wrapped and unresponsive), gesturing with that windblown look for pomade and a subsequent lack of meaning...
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