Read Boys in Gilded Cages Online

Authors: Jarod Powell

Tags: #meth addiction, #rural missouri, #rural culture, #visionary and metaphysical fiction, #mental illness and depression

Boys in Gilded Cages (2 page)

BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
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It was all she thought about, night after
night, and then she found him.

But first she found a morose tub of rat shit
by the name of Christopher Schwan (not Chris, he hated that). All
that stuff I said about her dream boy – he was none of that. Fat
and sweaty, zitted and pock marked with crooked teeth, and the
dullest patch of Norwegian tree moss she ever met. What he was,
however, was there.

He was the paperboy for Marcia’s little area
for about two weeks. He’d ride by her house and try to escape as
quickly as he could when he saw her. When he threw the paper
through the early morning darkness one morning, she yelled. “Ow,
you asshole! You hit me with the fucking paper you fairy!” He had
no choice but to brake his rusty Celebrity. He walked over
carefully as she cried out in phony agony, holding her face.


Are you okay?” He asked at
arms-length.


Do I look like I’m okay,
or do I look like I’m in a whole lot of fucking pain right
now?”


Kinda like the second
one.”


No duh.”

She’ll tell you, she don’t know why she did
that. Sometimes you get so bored you can’t sleep, and fate brings
you to your front porch at five A.M. to smoke a cigarette you stole
out of your mom’s secret “stress pile” and, in that insurmountable
boredom, you want to torture an ugly paperboy because he’s right in
front of your face and impulses happen. Home school can really
dement a young girl’s mind. He was nice to her and she was horny so
she gave it up to him. Or at least, she tried to. He was fragile
and scared of her pussy and that made her feel powerful. In the
back seat of Christopher Swan’s Celebrity, she said to him in a
goofy tone of voice, “Touch it, it’s magic.” He touched it and
started to cry. She rolled her eyes and pushed his index finger
into the proper hole but that only made it worse.


Why the fuck are you
crying?” Was all she could say.


I don’t know,” he
sobbed.


Well, stop it!”


I can’t! I have to go
home.”

She threw his right hand back to him, and
started to clobber him – slapping, scratching. “You stupid fuck! I
knew you were gay! You dumb gringo! Fuck you!”

He kicked her out of the car and sped
off.

Usually Marcia Cruz is shy around boys and
the fact that Christopher was actually scared of her, first
personally, then sexually, turned her into a beast.

She could see his point, though. She did
force his hand down there, practically forced him to be there as a
time-killer for her. They didn’t like each other, or know each
other, really, but neither of them seemed to have any other
friends.

After their encounter, she walked home and
crawled into bed. Finishing the job was unnecessary. The
satisfaction was short-lived, though. She woke up to two very angry
parents and a trip to a session with the priest. According to her
parents – two old people she secretly despised, she began acting
out. They converted to a more ‘cause-and-effect’ based
denomination.

Catholic rituals were useless to a
rebellious pre-teen, and confession booths a joke. And now here
they are, members of the creepiest little church in the rainiest
little town, where all the people that smoke methamphetamine and
burn cats alive for fun on Sunday afternoons, go to church on
Sunday mornings.

The building that housed the congregation of
Hawthorn Baptist Church was about to cave in. The giant cross,
meant to tower and intimidate people into coming inside, leaned to
the right and the mood lamps inside of it were either dim or burnt
out. If the Bates Motel were a church, it would look a lot like
this one.

Church for Marcia was just as bad as high
school. She still had that feeling of dread walking down the aisle
searching for a place to sit, as she did walking down the center of
the school cafeteria. The only brown bitch in the room and no one
wanted to be near that. Least of all, the white, big-tittied virgin
whores she despised but envied, you know how that goes.

She finds a seat one row in front of Vanessa
and Janessa, who are not related but have obnoxiously similar
names. As she plops down on the wooden pew, making a cracking
sound, Janessa makes a raspberry with her tongue and Vanessa
whispers with a hard tongue, “bean fart”. The girls giggle and
Janessa says, “lay off the breakfast burritos, Mar-see-ya.” She
envisions the day she can turn around and choke those two skanks in
front of everyone.

That day will come, she decided, but she may
as well let it build. When she gets a hold of those bitches’ lily
necks, she will kill them. Trust this. Marcia Cruz has rage and she
will make it count for something.

Her group of gawky girlfriends, Patty,
Laurie and Julia, did not share her taste for revenge.


Just let it go, they’re
stupid.”


Yeah, having herpes is
punishment enough.”


How much do you have to
hate yourself to go out with a guy who date rapes you every
Saturday?”

Going with the most obvious solution first,
she searched geocities message boards at the school library for
spells to cast on the whorific duo. One involved olive oil,
vinegar, a bath tub, and a piece of marble. She was supposed to
step on the marble with a bare right foot and chant: “You, so
precious to so many, you, so wrapped in vanity. I bind you from
doing harm to others, lest harm comes to thee.” Another’s
instructions were to write the bullies’ names on a piece of rice
paper, fold it into a tiny square, and put the paper in a
freezer.

None of that shit worked. Sunday after
Wednesday, Wednesday after Sunday, she saw Vanessa and Janessa at
Hawthorn Baptist Church, a cruel kick to the gut after being
ignored by them at school. On Sundays, they had to be quiet, but
Wednesday evenings were intended as social gatherings, with Bible
study and fellowship the central part of the service. It was the
same. They go into the sanctuary and they sit far apart from each
other, parallel to the magenta stained-glass windows and they
listen to Queen Frostyhair speak to them like little
cute-but-singed stuffed animals, as if obligated by a child to
acknowledge them as real humans. Sunday, Wednesday, all the same, a
sermon they didn’t listen to.

Marcia kept quiet, even when called on,
while Vanessa and Janessa passed notes and whispered about her. But
it was a Wednesday evening that Marcia’s dream boy came into the
light.

This Wednesday evening was different because
it was decorated in Dollar Store streamers and ink-jet “Happy
Birthday!!!!” signs. Juan, her flamboyant brother in New York, must
see this fucking place, she thought.

The children piled in, sweaty from outside
and kind of stinky. Trailing behind them was Daryl McAdams, a boy
Marcia had known and loved since she was in the sixth grade.

He was wearing sunglasses inside and had a
pout that she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or not. He’s the
sort of boy who could get away with such nonsense, somehow, and not
look ridiculous. He was the sort of boy who had no future but knew
exactly what he was doing.

Then, the plot thickened when Queen
Frostyhair raised her right hand to silence the crowd, and said
this:


Okay, as you know, it’s
Daryl’s birthday this week. Cake and punch downstairs.”

The kids waited for Queen Frostyhair to sit
down, and as soon as her backside hit the pew, they jumped up and
stampeded to the stair case, ignoring the pleas to slow down, don’t
run in the sanctuary, don’t rush downstairs and hurt
yourselves.

Marcia shambled down the stairs next to
Janessa, who ignored her presence. Her perfume flooded the
stairwell, and it would have been sweet to your average dirty old
man with no taste. To Marcia, it was nauseating, like lavender and
White Diamonds. Janessa’s breasts jiggled a little and it made her
want to cover her stomach, which also jiggled. Marcia watched her
posture, never slouching for a minute. She truly hated her.

Marcia tried to imagine her as a forty
year-old housewife, with a paunch of flesh above her crotch from
having a few kids and a pound of makeup, sideburns of orange
makeup-line.

Daryl McAdams sat at a lonely table,
flicking a lighter, fixated on it. He didn’t look sad or vacant.
Rather, he looked like he was focusing on the flame, trying to
decide how to nurse it brighter. His sunken eyes looked down at the
lighter and his other hand, bony and masculine, cradled the
flame.

As the kids forked off around the cluster of
tables, his eyes caught Marcia staring. He smiled, and she
reflexively turned away, embarrassed. When Marcia looked at him
again, he made eye contact for a second and looked elsewhere,
trying to avoid another awkward exchange. Janessa sat directly
across from him. “Hey, Daryl,” she said, poking her nipples upward.
Daryl seemed to take in the sight of two adorable breasts and moved
his eyes quickly to her face and smiled disingenuously.

Marcia got brave all of a sudden. She sat
next to Janessa, and that seemed to surprise Daryl.


How’ s it going, you two?”
Daryl said, looking at Marcia.


I’m fine,” Janessa said,
giving Marcia the sideways stink-eye. Daryl ignored her.


And you? How are you,
Miss?” He said to Marcia, grinning widely.


Happy Birthday,” was all
she could manage.


Why, thank
you.”

Daryl leaned back and took a swig of
whatever was in his red cup, his black t-shirt riding up over his
biceps. “Killer party, huh?” Still looking at her. “A real hoot and
a holler.”

Marcia chuckled. She started to open her
mouth to speak, but was cut off by Queen Frostyhair starting
everyone off to her vibrato-filled rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Daryl looked up to Heaven in horror. Marcia held back laughter as
Queen placed the cake in front of him.


Make a wish,” she
said.


Okie doke.” He blew out
the candles and his breath moved Marcia’s bangs.

The sound of tens of Baptist children
running around, screaming and by-word cursing in Southern accents
seemed to irritate Daryl as much as it did Marcia, even though he
had one of the thickest drawls she’d ever heard.

He also had a thousand-yard stare. When
Charles Donovan, the meanest little bastard in the second grade,
accidentally kicked Daryl’s sneaker on his way to the throat of a
classmate, Daryl’s glare made him stop and apologize.


Watch it,” Daryl said
softly but sternly.


Sorry.”


Yeah.” Daryl turned around
towards Marcia. He jerked his head toward the door, as if to motion
her outside, and left the basement, attracting the attention of
more than a few church deacons. His scent lingered there, beckoning
her outside, telling her that she should follow him. Janessa’s
hard, envious stare barely burned her scalp as she left, as the
anticipation in her tummy felt too intense to notice anything
else.

As she slumped up the stairs from the
basement entrance, Daryl was standing about ten feet to the right,
staring up at the weird green sky, barely tending to the cigarette
hanging from his mouth. He looked like he was in a trance. Marcia
stood next to him and tried to see what he saw. She wasn’t sure
what he saw. He took the cigarette from his mouth and offered it to
her. She didn’t know if she should take it or not. He seemed
halfway offended.


What?” He asked, almost
defensive. “I didn’t nigger-lip it.” His use of the word surprised
her, but stunned by the attention he paid to her, she avoided
getting outwardly offended. He slapped his forehead. “Aw, I’m
sorry. My dad uses that word a lot. Just kinda slipped out. Didn’t
mean it.”


No, it’s okay,” she said.
“It’s just that…I don’t smoke.”


That’s good,” he said,
chuckling. “Shouldn’t start, neither.” He reverted his eyes back to
the sky, and he looked like he was starting to say something, when
she gently pulled the cigarette out of his hand and took a drag.
Menthol. The brushfire feeling of it infiltrating her chest, her
lungs, her throat, the fact that it was Daryl’s…She hacked
suddenly.


I can tell you’re not a
smoker. Gimme that back, girl.” His wide smile showed a mouthful of
perfect, square teeth. “You look familiar. What’s your
name?”


Marcia.”


Pretty. How do you spell
that?”


Like Marcia Brady. But you
pronounce it like Mar-See-Ya.”


Mar-See-Ya,” He
courteously repeated. “I like it.”


Thanks.”


You’re
welcome.”

He stared off at whatever for a second, and
then started walking away from the church. She asked him where he
was going, and he spun around and looked at her like she had asked
a stupid question. “I’m going home!” He grinned. “I’d offer you a
ride, but well, I have Scoliosis.” She chuckled.


But it’s your party!”
Marcia called out. A fast walker, he was already off into the
darkness.



HIGH SPEED CHICKEN FEED

Every day before school, I go through Daddy
Redmond’s chicken houses and pick up the dead. He pays me five
dollars an hour. By this time it’s really late at night to me but
it’s early morning to most. I hate doing it because I have to wear
a dumb-looking mask that looks like a gas mask and sometimes the
chickens have been dead for a while and overlooked and the smell
creeps in the sides of mask and I want to puke.

BOOK: Boys in Gilded Cages
12.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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