(01-08) Blue Midget 02

The book was open to the second chapter. A slight breeze rustled a yellow curtain. “Whether it was yellow or blue I do not know for sure,” the chapter began, “because I have thought of it many times. Making multiple copies of a memory, like making multiple copies of any visual print, degrades it and changes it over time.

Memory is a production with writer, cast and crew, and the first draft quickly disappears beneath the process. Behind the curtain, the priest was with my mother. I had no consciousness that they were having sex. That’s how memory degrades from the original. As I know more I return to the scene of the crime and flesh it out, so to speak.

“How little she must have been,” A-Bomb thought. “Just four years old and confronted with something like that.” His mind drifted away into yellows and blues, and how different the memory was when the colors shifted. If he looked through a pink curtain the lovers were fleshed out, and excited. Behind a blue curtain they became more abstract, the room was darker, and the shadows angular. This, too, excited him. A yellow curtain bathed the scene in golden light, so that he imagined the images behind it charged with intensity. He returned to the pages.

It isn’t true that children don’t see what goes on around them that has to do with sex, it’s just stored away, awaiting context. It is edited out of the child’s film by the Ministry of the Interior, who says, “No need to be graphic. Move the camera up into the trees, and bring in the sound of wind growing stronger, and maybe the crack of thunder and a sudden cloudburst. Fade to morning dawning fresh and clean, rain dripping from the trees, still. A small yellow — or blue — bird drinking from a pool of water collected in the hollow of a log. It tells the story by suggestion, you see, but doesn’t hit you over the head.”

The memory of the room, the curtain, and the restrained sounds from my mother keep changing, reflecting in the room where I sleep, with curtains tie dyed in yellow and blue. There is intention but there is randomness. The featherbed and down pillows are covered in brown because that’s the color of his cell, where he practiced his meditations, and his seductions. It was a soft, suede leather brown, or maybe the yellowish brown of a scorpion. There was a window and outside it the garden, and the sound of tools digging and scraping the ground. The monks chanted prayers while they worked.

This is my memory of how my brother was conceived, and so it suggests by extension that I was conceived in the same way, in the same room. When mother told me I was going to have a brother I thought this was something being done especially for me. In those days there was no way to know, scientifically, whether the child would be male or female, but the trance priest seemed to know what was going to happen in the future. He said it’s always right there, just like the past. I expected the new baby would be like me, but he wasn’t. He was thick and strong, even as an infant, with a grip like a vice.

As he grew older the difference between us became more pronounced. It wasn’t just that he was thick. He was; the spaces had been left out so that he was compacted into four feet of muscular power, like a pit bull. It was also that he was stark and cruel and made fun of what he called my romantic notions. “He wasn’t a priest,” he said, “he was a prisoner allowed conjugal visits, and you were never there. You get your dreams mixed up with reality.”

I learned to close my ears and shut him out to preserve the past, and not let it sink into something sordid and ugly.

By the time Troll was ten years old anyone who knew him, or observed him for any length of time, that his strength wasn’t normal. Mother said it was normal for somebody in a deep trance, engaging the red muscle fibers, but that somehow Troll did it all the time. We supposed he lived in a trance. But regardless of how he did it, he could take hold of a doorknob and accidentally pop it off the door, tear a phone book in half or pick up things that weighed more than he did. When he was a baby he could squeeze and apple to pulp in his hand.

When he was thirteen he came home with a diamond stud in his left ear and a gold ring in his right ear. When asked who did this for him he said it was the Devil, and he seemed to think this was very funny. We were progressive people who didn’t believe, literally at least, in the Devil. But we did believe that he was hanging out with a rough crowd and listening to heavy metal.

I might as well have been invisible to him. I’d built expectations about his being for me, so that we wouldn’t be lonely when as parents died, as they eventually do. He was as ugly as a gargoyle, and there was nothing to be done about it. I was perfectly formed and beautiful and he was a troll. He had a hunger to see me naked, and would find ways to satisfy it. Sometimes I knew he was hidden, watching, when I changed clothes, but I pretended to not know. But I could feel his rage as a tightening in my solar plexus, and I knew he was enraged because he was so ugly. Sometimes I think I heard him crying, but I might have imagined it.

He began to build his already unnatural strength by lifting weights and taking powders and pills. Week by week, month by month, he got stronger, in the basement, where he kept his weights. I spent my time upstairs, with music and dancing, behind a locked door. I could take off my clothes and dance in front of the mirror; after a little while I would be in a trance and it was effortless. It was a peculiarity of the trance, though, that I would begin to see Troll’s face appear in the mirror. It would appear for an instant and then resolve itself back into my face.

This didn’t frighten me. I wondered if he ever saw my face in his mirror for that unguarded moment, before logic chased it away.

A-Bomb marked the page with a matchbook cover and put it on the nightstand. Louis was in the doorway. “We’re meeting downstairs in about twenty minutes,” he said, and closed the door.

Earlier, Louis had told him there would be five of them involved in the heist, but that he, A-Bomb, was on probation, possibly a loose canon, so he would be compartmentalized. A-Bomb asked what that meant and he said, “You’ll know what you need to know and you won’t know what you don’t need to know. It’s not that I don’t think you’re honest or that I don’t like you, it’s that I can’t figure out if you’re stupid or not.”

A-Bomb padded toward the shower singing softly to himself. It was a song he’d heard on the radio, from Troll’s band. “When you’re a troll you’re born to rock and roll; you’re born to be the leader of the band.” He seemed to be picking the song up from the air, of in tooth fillings.

He’d seen Troll’s picture on a poster advertising his band, Troll Daddy. In the foreground there was a heavy, masculine face. The eyes had dark centers, like black holes, and he looked angry. The name of the album advertised on the poster was, Machine Gun Kelly. Troll was holding his guitar like a tommy gun.

Posted: Wed - February 27, 2008 at 10:51 PM