The Long and Full Silence of An Emptied Heart
by Larry Fondation
© 1994
 
 

I. FAVORITE WEAPONS

"Dirt" handgun (.22)
Jimmy switchblade
Bob hunting knife
"Lock" length of chain
Al numchucks
"Slip" handgun (.357)

Sharon.

II. Sleeping on the floor at the coin-op laundromat.
There are no employees to kick you out.

III. PREGNANCY & GENERAL RELIEF
Social Worker: "Why did you let yourself get pregnant so
young?" (emphasis: "let")

IV. Proper burial:
Vultures caring for the dead,
putting the dead to "good use."

They were all drunk at the mortuary. One by one
they filed to the coffin and knelt to pray. Sharon tried
hard not to cry. She wanted to be like everybody else.

V. PRIVATE PROPERTY TO PROTECT

Coke can baby bottle scented toilet
paper gas station laundry detergent
air freshener electric can opener cigarettes
deodorant switch blade handgun cyanide

VI. SOME CHOICES
You choose: When the car pulls away from the curb, does the
oil stain it leaves behind on the pavement, shimmering
under the streetlight, look like:

* a.) a rainbow?
* b.) a picture of a bird?
* c.) blood?
* d.) the glint of a knife blade?
These are your only choices.

VII. At Last, A Narrative
Broken glass covers the parking lot. The lot encircles an
outdoor shopping mall of about thirty stores. The mall has
been abandoned; all the stores but one have gone out of
business, and plywood has replaced the glass of their
fronts. The plywood is splattered with graffiti: names --
"Slip," Bob, "Lock," Al --written in fanciful script;
pictures; slogans -- "We Are Children of the Grave."
The broken glass of the windows mingles on the pavement
with bits of brown, green, and clear glass from broken beer
bottles. All this glass covers the parking lot fully like
snow, and the lot glistens after dark with reflected
light like a peaceful, snow-covered meadow. The lone
business in operation sells Chinese food to go from behind
a plexiglass window with a small opening through which to
pass the money and the food.

It is a cold, stark night of sirens and shadows. They are
all hanging out with their weapons in the parking lot. The
police have come. A cloud of smoke from angel dust
cigarettes remains hanging over the place where they had
stood together before the police dispersed them, marking
the spot like the Holy Ghost appearing in flame above the
apostles' heads.

Lock's fly is down. He was pissing when the cops came.

Sharon is screaming. Her shirt is off. She was being
fondled when the cops came. She jumps into a car that Bob
is driving.

Al is lying on the pavement. He fell while trying to run
away. He has a cast on his left leg. It runs up to his
thigh. A cop on a motorcycle is revving the engine. He
starts toward Al and runs over the cast with both wheels.
He turns the motorcycle around and runs over the leg again.

Bob points the car toward the cop on the motorcycle and
hits the gas.

Sharon hears the sound of the bullet. She sees the
windshield glass shatter into many tiny pieces as the
bullet comes through. Sharon pisses in her pants. The car
crashes into a storefront and stops abruptly. Her head hits
the dashboard. She runs out of the car. There is glass in
her hair and blood running down her left shoulder. It is
not her blood.

She runs through the walkways of the abandoned mall,
crouching to hide in a doorway out of sight. She hears the
horn of Bob's car blaring, not stopping. The body of her
dead boyfriend is slouched over the steering wheel.

VIII. If you were to be kept awake at night, which means would you prefer:

* a.) a streetlight shining in your eyes?
* b.) dogs barking outside your window?
* c.) the throbbing pain of a stab wound to the thigh?
* d.) an overdose of crack running through your veins?
These are your only choices. (Hint: Expect all to be
permanent, nightly conditions.)

IX.
She opens the door and steps into rubble. The
building has been torn down from the inside. The outside is
intact. Sharon was born in the building.

X. more narrative
A few weeks later, four young men -- members of
another gang -- stand on the corner in front of a vacant
and boarded building splattered with graffiti. Jimmy thinks
about crossing the street to walk on the other side. He
does not.

Jimmy fingers the switch blade in his pocket. The odds
are not very good. The four of them spread out across the
sidewalk so Jimmy cannot pass unobstructed. Jimmy keeps
walking.

"Excuse me," he says when he reaches the corner, the
four of them blocking his way. His words are short and
clipped.

"What do you want?" one of them asks.

"I want to get by," Jimmy says.

The four of them laugh and do not move. Jimmy pushes
his way through, leading with his shoulder. They jostle
him, but do not strike him. His left hand is in his pocket,
playing with the knife. The four of them keep laughing.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Upstairs, Jimmy stands without a shirt in front of a
mirror, lightly tracing lines on his chest with the point
of his switch blade. He pushes the blade into his
flesh about an eighth of an inch, then a little deeper,
dragging the knife down from above his nipple, across his
ribs, stopping just above his waistline. He does this three
more times. The cuts are deep and almost a foot long. He
slices up his t-shirt and slips it back on. Blood is
collecting in the waist band of his pants. A few drops spot
the floor. He takes two benzedrine from his mother's
prescription bottle. Jimmy runs out of the house, feeling a
little dizzy.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Slip and Lock and the others are at the park. They ask
Jimmy what happened. Jimmy says, "The Lancers did it."

Dirt tells Sharon to take Jimmy to the hospital for
stitches. By now he has almost fainted.

Dirt and Slip and Lock pile into Slip's van and drive
to the corner where Jimmy said he was stabbed. Slip is
driving. He gives his gun to Lock. The four 'Lancers' are
still standing on the corner. Slip drives the van up onto
the sidewalk. Dirt opens the sliding door. He and Lock
begin to shoot.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the way to the hospital, Jimmy tells Sharon that he made
up his story, that he had cut himself. She is angry with
him, but continues to comfort him. Sharon does not know
what Slip and Lock and Dirt have done. Jimmy passes out in
the ambulance.

At the hospital, the doctors stitch Jimmy up and give
him blood. They tell Sharon that she can go home, that
Jimmy will be alright, that he is sedated.

At home she sees a story about the shootings on the
eleven o'clock News.

XIII. PETS

mice gerbils parrots
rats kerosene pigeons
monkeys E. coli baseball bats

XII. FINAL NARRATIVE
A year later, Sharon and her friends are standing on
the roof of the apartment building where they live. It is
one of nine four-storey buildings that make up the
neighborhood housing project. The people on the roof range
in age from thirteen to seventeen. They are drinking beer,
smoking dust, listening to a large, portable cassette
player, and talking. On hot nights, they often gather on
the roof where it is cooler. Tonight there are eleven of
them.

One group of five stands close to the edge of the
building. Slip is telling a story. Sharon leaves to go
downstairs to the bathroom. The boys just piss off the
roof. The group is laughing. They enjoy Slip's story. No
one notices that Sharon has left.

Later on, downstairs, Jimmy asks Slip, "Where did
Sharon go? Did she go home? I didn't see her."

"She fell off the roof," Slip says.

"Are you shitting me?" Jimmy says.

"I wouldn't shit you about something like that," Slip says.

Jimmy discharges his gun in the corridor. You can hear
windows shutting, deadbolts clicking, voices.

XI. AT THE MOVIES
Sharon goes to see a movie to escape. The movie is
boring. She has finished her popcorn. Sharon takes the keys
to the car Bob died in out of her pocket and jiggles them,
then begins tossing them from one hand to the other. The
guy in back of her tells her to stop, that she is
disturbing him. She wants to shoot him. She wishes she were
like Lock and Dirt. She hands the man Bob's keys and
leaves.