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Sean Kilpatrick

THE BUGS THEIR DEATHS IMPRESSED

We were laid to rest in scores, just the reflux of bodies garnishing a blizzard. I always avoided keeping count of anyone I knew. Bullet casings filled with ice held us static on their tiny conveyor belt. Whisky bags flocked south like an ever-fracturing doily stamped in beef. I felt my bones grow slushy inside their costume. The night bulged, teasing void by gradation. Hospitals would reject us, lack of health insurance notwithstanding. Jennifer awakened and asked why I was the kind of guy who seeks therapy before the dream is over. Why I was the version of Superman who has to potty mid-flight.

Bob torpedoed from above, bowling my one-man rescue party apart, calcimining us with brands of shrubbery and blood. He knocked the coins off her eyelids. Maroon snow angels swabbed the expanse, gore-thick cookie cutter impressions of us as fatalities. We clung to roots and moss and clotted flurries, scrambling to stand. Bob’s neck fracture resounded clear across the summit. A report like a really damp homerun cleated into everyone’s understanding of their mortality. Drawn to our accumulating fluids, dogs began hovering at the base, snorkeling through snow. 

We applied pressure to our wounds, just so they’d get runny. Ned tried smashing his dislocated shoulder against a tree, insisting it would reset – “like the movies” – instead of ripping several veins, ligaments, and tendons permanently sundered – which it did – and disappeared under a tree branch.

Jennifer pinched the helicopter’s spotlight. We stripped off her soaked stockings and wrung the urine back onto us, where it belonged. As far as circulation was concerned, she could speak for herself. “None of my casts will be roomy enough for an orgasm,” she whispered. “Take photos of my gathering flies…for mom and dad.”

Years ago, I caught her, eyes wide open during a kiss. We started taking turns surprising each other, lids agape. The prank kept interrupting our intimacy. It became impossible to hold hands without an anxiety attack about who might spring the dreaded aghast look – jump scare zombie impersonations of sexuality. This fear carried over to everyone we dated, post-breakup, encouraging a celibacy that was now finally ending. Even during our deathbed reconciliation, I assumed each farewell kiss would end with an abject glare. 

We couldn’t even get our sweet nothings in order. Flakes dissolved into the bones of her ribcage, disarraying brilliancies. A new round of families approached for the morning toboggan. Jennifer rolled a snowball at them, hoping to create an effect. It landed by their feet, crumbling to reveal a personal product of hers intended for sanitary purposes. We were skinny dipping in a crystal ball, swimming through our vomit as it joined forces. “Call a priest,” I bellowed, non-conditionally, to our snow-globe full of warts.

“Hold my hand…even if I don’t consent, which I never have…being too ruptured in the core of my orientation to mate.”

“I’ll mate with you when you’re gone,” I rested her assured. 

“How far from six feet under can I get?” she cringed.

“Picture me: five foot plastic pompadour, cat calling you for so long the Nick and Nite logo, to which we owe our honor, becomes a map, raw with travel lines, and I’m shouting: ‘pose for me on your toes for me,’ like one of the Sweathogs. You call anything on a map a skid mark. I sing you the sitcom themes of everything we watched and have starred in together, and, on a special episode, you stand with your t-shirt billowing around the air conditioner in our skinny New York apartment, the perspiration traveling vertical up your navel. ‘Not heating the whole neighborhood!’ is our catch phrase. Catch phrases are the tenor of our foreplay. I only speak to you in butt pinches and catcalls. We frolic together in an abandoned fridge. I sexually harass you through your death rattle. That’s how much I care.”

“Take your glasses off…” She sputtered bugs, somehow, in the flux of winter. I remembered her with bugs… as I shall always remember her.

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Sean Kilpatrick‘s work has appeared in Boston Review, Fence, Bomb and others. His Collected Scripts is forthcoming from 11:11 Press in 2021.