Blue Midget 2

A Bomb, the Indian Shadow, was waiting. The book was open to the second chapter, and a slight breeze rustled a yellow curtain. Whether it was yellow or blue I don't know for sure, the book began, because memory isn't a security camera, it's a production with writer, director, cast and crew, and the first draft has disappeared beneath the process of remembering. Behind that curtain, the priest was making love to my mother. I didn't suspect. I didn't believe priests did such things.

A Bomb felt frightened for Paris, just four years old, and confronted with such a difficult situation. For some reason his mind drifted away for a minute to play with the idea of yellow and blue, and how different the memory was when the colors changed. The pink curtain lent the lovers behind it a more fleshy tone, and excited him. Behind a blue curtain they became more abstract, the room was darker, and the lighting angled in from behind them. This, too, excited him.

It isn't true that children don't see, don't experience, what goes on around them that has to do with sex. It just disappears in the process of remembering. It has been edited out of the film. The person in charge of editing sexual information out of the film is from the Ministry of Interiors. "There's no reason to be graphic," is his favorite expression. "Just move the camera up, into the trees, and bring up the sound of the wind suddenly growing stronger. A crack of thunder and a sudden cloudburst. Fade to morning, fresh and clear, rain still dripping off the trees. A bird is drinking out of a little pool of water collected in a tree stump. It tells the same story, you see, but by suggestion. It doesn't hit you over the head with it.

The memory of the room, the curtain, and the restrained sounds from my mother keeps changing. It has become this room, where I sleep, with these curtains that are blue and yellow tie dye, patterns I've made that have intention but randomness. The featherbed and down pillows are covered in brown because that's the color of the cell where he practiced his profession as the trance priest. Don't imagine that it was brown with dark wood; it wasn't. It was bricks made of mud, and they were the yellowish brown of a scorpion. There was one window, high enough up the wall that I couldn't see out of it, but it let in a shaft of light. I'm sure it's what I remember when I see the light angle in from the side against the blue curtain. Just outside was the garden, and there was the sound of tools, digging, scraping, crunching at the ground, and the sound of the monks softly chanting prayers while they worked.

This is my memory of how my brother was conceived, and so it suggested by extension that it was how I was conceived. When told I was going to have a brother or a sister -- they didn't know which before the baby was born in those days -- I heard the information literally. This was being done for me. I expected that the new baby would look like me except smaller. There is no way to explain my reaction when I saw that my new brother was not at all like me. I didn't notice it so much at first. It was only as he grew older that there was no way to deny how different he really was. He was a big man except that he was only about four feet tall. His chest and back and shoulders were thick, his hips and thighs were thick, and his neck was thick. It was as if the spaces had been left out, and he was compacted to essential strength.

I'm not speaking of strength in relative terms. By the time he was ten years old it was evident to anybody who paid attention that his was not ordinary strength, but a phenomenon of nature. He could take hold of a doorknob and accidentally pop it off the door. He could tear a phone book in half, or pick up boulders that weighed more than he did and throw them. When he was just a baby, he could crush an apple into pulp and juice by squeezing it in his hand. It was no surprise to anyone when, at thirteen, he began wearing a gold earring in his right ear and a diamond stud in his left, and developed a taste for heavy metal.

You might notice that in my descriptions of him I'm not there. It's because I might as well have been invisible to him for all the expectations I'd built up about him being brought into the family for me, so I wouldn't be lonely when the parents died, as they eventually do. He was as ugly as a gargoyle and he knew it and he knew I knew it. There was nothing to be done about it. I was perfectly formed and beautiful and he was a troll. I explained it to him when he wanted to see me without my clothes on. The memory of his watching me without my clothes is less sketchy than the memory of his conception. He felt an overwhelming hunger for me. I felt it as something he created from his strength that overpowered me and held me still. Then he felt the knowledge of how ugly he was, and it was like a door that opened and jealousy and fear and even murder rushed in before he could close it. I ran out of the room. I locked myself in the bathroom and waited, and listened. I think he was crying, but it could have been my imagination.

After that day he treated me more or less like I didn't exist, and he began to take his already unnatural strength and build it by lifting weights and taking powders and pills, proteins and high energy shakes. Every day he was in the basement, getting stronger. Upstairs, I was discovering music, and learning how to dance. I kept the door to my room locked, even though it turned out there was no reason. Nobody wanted in, It was just that I could not dance if the door was not locked. Once it was locked, and the shades were drawn, the music would begin to play. I could take off my clothes and dance in front of the mirror; after a little while I would be in a trance and the dance would seem to come through me, without effort. But there was always Troll's face hidden away inside the mirror. Once in awhile it would appear for an instant, then resolve itself into my face, so that I could dismiss it as an illusion.

It would make sense if seeing Troll's face in my face scared me, but it didn't scare me. It gave me some sense of victory over him, as strong as he was. I knew that no matter how much he worked at being strong, he could never be equal to my perfect form.

A Bomb marked the page with a dollar bill and closed the book. He didn't know how long he had been listening to it. It didn't seem like a long time but he had lost track. Louis was standing in the doorway. "It's about time we figured out how this job's going down," he said. "We're gonna have a meeting downstairs in about twenty minutes."

"Why didn't you tell me?" A Bomb asked. Louis had told him there would be five of them in on the American Futures heist, but he always qualified it, saying A Bomb was still on probation, and he wasn't sure yet if he was going to introduce him to anybody else or keep him compartmentalized, as he called it. Just today he'd said that A Bomb was a loose canon, but that made no sense at all.

"I just told you," Louis said. "I been trying to figure out whether I trust you or not." He held up his hands, palms out. "Not whether I think you're honest, that's not it. It's whether you're stupid. Everybody fucks up, even me. When that happens is when you find out if you're stupid or not. If you do something that gets you caught, or worse, gets somebody else caught, that's stupid. It doesn't matter how smart it seemed at the time. I get guys doing this all the time. They start laying out the deal, the way it was coming down, and at the place where they fucked up, they stop and they say, 'What would you have done?' I say, 'I would've followed my goddamned instincts and not brought you in on this job.'"

He waited in the doorway a few moments with an expectant look on his face, but A Bomb didn't reply. He just drilled his right ear with his little finger and then looked at it.

"Jesus, A Bomb, take a shower and get cleaned up, man. You're disgusting."

Then as if he had forgotten something he came back, and now his voice had more of an edge to it, like he'd caught A Bomb pissing on the floor. "You know," he said, "if you don't make some effort to communicate people are just gonna quit making an effort with you. I mean, here I am trying to lift the mood, and get some energy going, and all I get from you is a big fuck you. It wouldn't kill you to be a pal."

He turned and walked away. A Bomb got off the bed and padded toward the shower. He was singing softly to himself. "When you are a troll you know how to rock and roll, you are born to be the leader of the band." He didn't know where the song was coming from at first, and then he realized he'd heard it on the radio. He seemed to be picking it up out of the air, like he had a receiver. He'd heard that some people can pick up radio stations on the fillings in their teeth. As the hot water sprayed down over his large, muscled body he sang a little louder. "When you are a troll you know how to rock and roll, you are born to be the leader of the band."

After he turned off the shower he remembered the book had told him Troll had developed a taste for heavy metal. He was remembering the poster he'd seen in the lobby. It advertised a band called "Troll Daddy." In the foreground was a large face with eyes so dark they seemed black centers. The man looked very angry about something, and he was holding a guitar like a tommy gun. "Troll Daddy plays songs from their new album, 'Machine Gun Kelly,'' a banner across the bottom had read. "Saturday night."

A Bomb reached for the towel and began to dry himself vigorously. "That's her brother," he said.

Posted: Sun - September 2, 2007 at 02:12 PM