Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

couldn’t get a plan; I couldn’t figure an action because this was the sort of deal where everybody’s doing the right thing, sweet as pie, and it’s still totally fucked up somehow. All I could fix on for sure was that having my sister here meant something was going to happen for the worst, that’s what I thought. Sharon was calling me. It felt good to hear the worry in her voice. I thought my not answering was a pretty good game, too. Maybe she'd search me out and find me gloved in these shrubs, all put out, and maybe she’d smooth the muscles of my back while I worked my nose down her slick neck, smelling the chlorine, then Good Time Charlie would reach into her top and take her great raw bosom out into the sun. . . I heard a thrash coming through the bushes, I turned, hoping; but it was Sir Gielgud, dripping spit, beside himself with joy to find me there. I popped him one on the snout hard enough to make him cry, then wiped my wet fist on my leg, and went around back of the hedges into the garage. Vharon got real charged up for Sis’s Udinner. Jarrett was a pro cook and did most of the food on the weekends, but for this Sharon kept him out of her hair and worked just about all the next Saturday morning with Selena on overtime, trying some weird Chinese thing. I cracked Jarrett up by calling it marinated dog balls, and he must have asked me a million times that day if I had my toothpicks ready. Other than getting that one laugh, I stayed out of the way, faked being busy with Jarrett’s new Snap-on set, then basically cruised the estate, wanting to do something, but not knowing what. The week before, Sharon had finally tracked me down after the call and asked me what the hell was wrong. I was working the Nautilus at the time, so I didn’t answer, thinking it would be nice to let my traps and lats do the talking. She just said, “Fine!" like that, and took off. 5is was always a small kid, and at twelve I was a head and a half taller than her, even though she was fifteen. She never filled out, either; I was the braun in the family. But she really is better looking, which is hard to believe. She got mother’s super nice light blue eyes that you can sort of see through, and Sis holds them right on you when she talks. So I have this habit of just seeing her eyes whenever I think of her, which means that when we get together, like we did at Jarrett’s, I’m always sort of surprised to see the rest of her, like I forget she has arms and legs and hair and tits and all that. And then to see her connected to the baby, Harry, it always sets me back. Sharon and Jarrett had formed a little reception committee on the porch, watching Kristina get out of her smoking Karmann Ghia. Sharon ran out there, saying, “I don’t believe it!” and they stood hugging each other until Jarrett smiled over at me as if to say, pretty stupid, huh? Harry, with one hand in his mouth, just stared at me and the soap star. When Sis got up to the porch she grabbed me and kissed my ear, then stepped back and checked me out. She gave me a look, like, how’d you pull this one off, little brother? then said, “Look at you!” meaning the clothes they’d bought me, I suppose. She and Jarrett hugged politely. Selena appeared, the happy tank, and after introductions bent over and cooed at Harry. Gielgud made his move at the baby, gave him a huge lick on the face, and Harry toppled over. Selena scooped him up and went off to mop his tears and probably spoil the squat out of him. • The cook’s tour they gave Kristina didn’t feel right. She acted tod impressed with everything. Itried to shoot her a look, but she was a million miles off. She and Sharon finally threw themselves on the couch and jabbered away, bumping their heads together a little when they’d laugh, while Jarrett hung close in there, mostly listening. I manned the stereo, flipping though tapes. Sometimes it would get quiet between the girls for a second and they’d look at each other and sort of shake their heads and Sharon would say she was glad they were doing this. She pointed over at me and said, “This fine specimen’s been here two months and all I got out of him was that you were in a lesbian circus somewhere. Your brother’s a riot.” “Yeah,” Sis said, and stuck out her tongue at me. Sharon served the dog balls herself, since Selena still had the kid in the kitchen, happy as a clam, balanced on her huge hip. Whatever that main course was, I secretly folded mine in my napkin and said, “Really good, Sharon, thank you,” the perfect gentleman, and wound up eating one piece of potato I’d scraped the seasonings off of. Jarrett hauled out some of his German wine, so I sponged it up, not giving a fuck, until what I was seeing and the sounds I heard came apart from each other. Once in a while Jarrett would try to drag me into the conversation, but I couldn’t think of anything funny to say. He said, “Well, don’t just sit there, tapping your fork on the food.” Everybody was getting along just fine; it was going to be^ne of their good parties. Jarrett was leaning in on the conversation with one elbow far out on the table, his other arm around Sharon’s neck. They were talking about their work. Kristina was a Legal Aid attorney. Sis was doing a lot of the talking, and she put her hand on Sharon’s arm, I noticed, and stroked it when she closed in on a point. They must have had a million candles going with the rest of the house dark, which made my sister’s eyes almost invisible, and I could see reflections of light on Sharon's teeth when she smiled. I remembered where I left the gun, and thought of going down to the basement and wasting a clip or two. There’d be the noise, naturally, even with the soundproofing; but maybe that’s what I needed, some noise. Maybe that’s what we all needed. When the three of them move back to the sofas, they don’t notice me, still sitting at the table. I’m watching the show from over here, listening to the voices go soft, and hearing Sis say my name. Real sweetly she says how wonderful this is, how much better I’m doing. I hear her track backward to the hospitals, the fits and treatments, the whole ball of wax. I hear my parents named and a quick replay of their gory crack-up. Then she comes forward, to now, to this very day, being so nice you can’t believe, and she looks sideways at me for one second, that weird, deep look she can give with those great eyes. Now Jarrett and Sharon are hypnotized. So they all turned my way when I stood up. I think Sharon said my name the way she did when I was in the bushes. I put the candles out one at a time with my fingers and went downstairs to the range where I’d left Jarrett’s Browning. This thing was a fucking marvel. Chrome plated with .pearl grips, weighing four pounds and costing a couple of grand, at least. I like the way it warmed in my hand. I must have stood there and pinched off a million rounds without pulling in the target. Everytime I reloaded the magazine I thought Sis or somebody would yell down, but they were leaving well enough alone. I cleaned every shred of paper off the frame, then let the frame have it. All this cleared my head pretty good, as if the noise and smoke squared my eyesight with what I had to do. I could actually see it, how easy it would be to go upstairs, say, so long gang, and just take off. Get onto something else. I knew what clothes to take and what not to say, and where to leave his flashy car. And just thinking about it, I had that good feeling of getting out of somewhere. I’ve tried to put my finger on what it’s like, but can’t, really. It’s strange. Something that feels good but sort of scares you at the same time, like when you're treading water, waiting for a wave, and something swims between your legs. Maybe seaweed or a fish, or Holy fuck! a shark—but there’s a pulse in the water as it passes close to the skin, and you look down, and hard as you try, you can’t see a thing. John Sinclair is a retired Portland pyrotechnician now studying writing at the University of Oregon. Artist Gregory Grenon lives in Portland. Your distributor of high quality organically grown and natural foods. 885 McKinley • Eugene. Oregon 97402 A Unique Family of Small Inns On the North Oregon Coast Warm greetings, distinctive accommodations & modest rates await you at each of our cozy inns. 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