His Dastardy: A List

by Jared B. Walls

He squeals a hertz equal to the wind, but walking on his toes feels like an earthquake, a jerky elevator, or rear-ending a car. He lists off all the cartoon characters he wishes he could fuck (it's not your ordinary buxom litany): Mr. Magoo, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker.

While eating June bugs for roughage, it occurs to him that the only thing separating his cock from public scrutiny is a partition, so he ejaculates his skeletal system onto the floor, drops to the ground like a laundry pile. He wants to die from his nosebleeds.

His is a keening like a shot cop, a mouthpiece on his shoulder, the acoustics god-awful. The glass he eats leaves his guts and cuts him on the way out. The doctor stitches him shut but doesn't offer any anesthetics. He wails and moans like a bluesman's gitfiddle and you hear him while you sit in the waiting room, his screams like a banshee woman or a rabid bobcat mad and bleeding in the black dark.

We mistake him for a rose thief, but he puts iodine in our beers, so that he can look at our guts when we sleep. He gulps the light like a thirsty child, climbs buildings, looks for that ladder that reaches to where Heaven used to be. To him the world inside sounds like astronaut breath: oxygen churning slower than the gangrene that slinks up his thigh like fishnets.

Bits of hum escape his sucked teeth and pronounce their very own hermetic melodies to the air and to the doorknobs. The day his Daddy thought he could pass under an 18-wheeler, like Knight Rider or Don Johnson or Magnum PI, he found he had a passion for accounting: assigning particular socks to each foot, setting his breakfast dishes on the table in ceremony, a daily ritual cornflake and banana sacrifice. He has separate cloths in the shower for his anus, his left arm, his right elbow and the lower-left quadrant of his belly.

At twelve, in the slanted sun of October, he is draped in a drugstore Halloween costume of Nathaniel Hawthorne. And on those streets of Key West, he tells all the kids he kidnapped one of Hemingway's six-toed cats. Actually, he shits his pants as the old Libertarian lady runs outside, chasing him away with her esoteric cussing.

His bones are a gift of fruitcake to Death: too soft to snap the girl he loves: the Bride of Coca-Cola. He has a growth on the underside of his jaw that looks like a lollipop lodged in the small space under his tongue, and he eats cake shaped like shotguns. The cause for his tattoos is a brother run over one morning while jogging: hand prints on the dusty hood, like ghosted palms of children shoving the car to safety.

Jared Walls can't finish a short story to save his life. He can't write a poem either. Somehow it works out in the end. He is in the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos.