It's Too Late To Stop Now

My woman's going to kill me and I know it, I love her so much I might let her do it. It's all madness and it never stops. My heart breaks every time I move, my mind's run off like a dog gone feral. My woman hits me when I start to speak, then demands I go down on her. The goldfish go belly up because of it, the plants die too: a fern and two daisies wilt by the window, dead of too much sun. Everything outside my house seems like bliss: hummingbirds and honeysuckles, magnolias and bumblebees. We live by the highway, right by it. So close the cars shake our house. I want out. I want to hitch a ride going somewhere. I know it has gone too far and there's no going back. She keeps me caged with her money and love. Sometimes it seems as if there is a parade outside my window. The University of Alabama marching band and a King-Kong size Donald Duck. It's like a celebration of my misery.

My woman is 6 feet 7 inches tall, 210, with Dolly Patron's breasts and the strength of a thorough-bred horse. She thinks I'm a god and keeps me to herself. She has no idea she is killing me. She insists I make love to her five times a day. She is rich and keeps me well stocked with whiskey and dope. She lets me lay around the house all day in a terry cloth robe. I read poetry aloud to her and she tells me to shut my mouth.

She says, "No more fancy words" and mounts me, "do what you will," she says and spreads her legs.

I say, "This is no way to live, there is a world out side this world, my soul is malnourished," then remove my clothes, or else.

She shows me off at rich people's parties. "This is Jackson," she says "he's a poet," though I have not published a word. My beard is long and recite to the them "Ode to the Confederate Dead." The hound bitch, toothless and dying, in a musty cellar hears only the wind, I say and they swoon, weakened, their hearts thin from martinis and expensive cocaine.

I know this is no way to live. A man must seek a higher way. A man must break his back and live by the sweat of his brow. He must kill wild things to feel whole again. In dreams I sell my body for a million dollars and they replace it with machines. I speak in beeps. I excrete faxes. I plug myself in before bed.

I try to run away. I take acid just to feel alive. I ride with biker gangs for months on end just to feel my own heart beat. They smoke meth, they say, "your head's on fire and your body's made of light." I tell them I know. I tell them they are poets. We ride non-stop for days. I make outrageous promises. I say, "I will stop eating until the Confederacy is restored." Then they tire of me. They deliver me to my rich woman's house. She says nothing, punches me if I try and speak, forces me to my knees, puts my head between her legs.

I know the end is coming. You don't have to tell me. I know. I have known forever. I dream the book of Revelation nightly. I have hired children to perform the story of Sodom and Gomorra and filmed it. I have spent long nights on dark roads to flag down strangers and let them fuck me. I'm gone, wasted. I was born long after all decency died. These are not my times. This is not my home. I know better than most there are wolves in this world and there are sheep. There are herbivores and carnivores and those who eat their young. This is why I love this woman with crazed bloody eyes. This is why I want my heart to explode.

I lock myself in the bathroom and she tears the door down. She drags me by my thing into living room and she makes me do her right there on the floor. She makes me call her names that are not her own. I fuck her for hours. She will not let me stop, it's too late to stop now. A car crashes into our house, comes dangerously close to killing both of us. There is dust all over our naked bodies making us ghosts. The driver is hunched over the wheel. He is most likely dead.

"We should help him," I say.

"There is no time for that now," she says, "you must finish what you've started."

"I didn't start anything," I say, "I don't know how any of this got started."

About the author:

Michael Lee Johnson is originally from Statesville, North Carolina. He attended the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, where he won the Tennessee Williams Prize in creative writing. He now lives in Oxford, MS and is pursuing an MFA at Ole Miss. His fiction has appeared most recently in the Salt River Review. His goals in life are: To pilot an authentic old-fashion steam powered aeroplane (replete with plastic deck chair) the length of the Mississippi river, or to be elected to the U.S. Senate for the purpose of raising awareness on the plight of feral children the world over. He also one day hopes start a family of his own. He owns no dogs or airships.