When I was a kid, I never told anyone about them, not even my dog, Mertle, a fat boxer who listened to me. She sensed their presence, I am sure of it. I thought she heard them too, once. Her stubby tail went wild; her tongue flopped around, all energy and anticipation, like she was going to lick these things into submission.
Back then, I told no one because voices in one's head announced to all the world that you were a serial killer. I watched a lot of TV movies. First, the voice says something like, I am Jesus, and the crazy man happens to be sitting by his dog so he thinks his dog is Jesus. Then the voice says something like, kill your Daddy. And off he goes with a leash to Jesus in one hand, an ax in the other.
My voice never told me he was Jesus, never said kill my Daddy. My voice said one thing, over and over--Lon is bad. I am Lon, by the way. The voice was deep, formal, sometimes fast, always slurred, like a drunk ADD robot. Once, when Mertle was asleep in the kitchen, and I was sure not one soul could hear, I told this idiot to shut up. I said it like that. I said, hey idiot, shutup. I said, you are wrong, dead wrong. I am not bad. Not! Not! Bad! I screamed while standing on my bed, my hands stretched out to the ceiling. And you are not Jesus, I added, my arms still up in supplication. I was not scared of this voice.
When the whole world knew about the drunk robot inside my head, Mama sat me down by some man with eyes that pointed to his nose and hair that sprang out of him like barbed wire. She said, Lon, talk to this man. He's a writer working on a book about boys like you. I was not a boy, I was fifteen and masturbating, but I didn't say a word. I loved my Mama. She meant well. The man asked me questions about how I felt at school, if I had any friends, what they were like, if I ever thought about sex-- I couldn't believe he asked me that one. What a jerk. I said I had friends who lived on planets, I had sex with my dog, and I went to a school with teachers who slept with little boys. I wanted his book to be a TV movie.
I thought of that writer when I ice skated on Wilson Pond, back when the air got to biting so hard spit couldn't linger long without turning into ice twigs. The surface was never smooth, but cluttered with cracks that revealed only so much--a bubble here, a stick there, a bug frozen for eternity. The rest you had to imagine. I bent over till I was a human 'N' and studied those cracks. There was always something you could never make out, something deep, right by the water. Sometimes, I saw a finger pointing up at me. I desired that finger with an intensity as great as I desired a girl's tit. But like that tit, the finger evaded me, even when the world turned fluid again.
I pictured this writer like me, staring into cracks and taking guesses, occasionally seeing a finger pointing out. Well, barbed wire- writer man, that finger was mine! You should have grabbed it when the season turned!
I am now forty and have been on pills of every color you can imagine. I am so large and soft I cannot skate. I have never killed a thing. I have never believed in Jesus. And the barbed wire man decided a book about me would bore the world, so gave up on it. Goodbye writer!
I walk to Wilson Pond often, sometimes risking the ice to stare at remnants of summer life trapped in cracks. I do not see fingers pointing at me anymore, and I do not take guesses about what I cannot make out. Guesses do no good. Because when the world melts, it all sinks to the bottom anyway.
About the author:
Debbie Ann Eis (Ice) has work online and in small print, most recently at Flashquake (as Diane Gold) Word Riot, Elimae, Salome, Write Side Up and Ghoti (forthcoming). She lives in Connecticut with her two boys, husband and English bulldog and is working on her first novel.