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Authors: Charlee Fam

Last Train to Babylon

BOOK: Last Train to Babylon
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iii

v
Dedication

For Marv

vi
Contents
1
Prologue

T
HE RAIN ASSAULTS
my car in the far corner of the empty train station lot, and the wipers dance to a furious beat, so awkwardly out of sync with everything else.

Smoke streams off the end of the lit cigarette. It's balanced against the car's ashtray—masking the scent of three-year-old air freshener—vanilla and sandalwood. I don't smoke it, but I crave the thick mist spreading beneath my ribs, filling my lungs—filling the space where you hollowed me gutless.

I look up at the brick building and think of jumping. I imagine myself standing tall, arms outstretched, feet perched against the edge.

And a voice comes through the station speakers: “The last train to Babylon is operating on time.”

The train rumbles overhead, and the wipers dance to a furious beat.

My knees are pinned between my chest and the oversized steering wheel.

And smoke streams off the end of the cigarette.

2

I have this memory of summer camp when I was six, maybe seven. There are other kids, but I can never place faces. We're all clad in these baggy tie-dyed T-shirts that say
LAKE WALTER ROCKIN' SUMMER
'95, or something equally lame.

We are seated at a picnic table under a rusted tin roof. Construction paper is scattered carelessly—red, yellow, black. Blue, green, orange. It's impossible to find a whole piece. They're all cut up and butchered with those awful, awkward left-handed scissors—safety scissors.

A little boy spills a tube of blue glitter. I may have gotten some in my eye.

I am making a house out of Popsicle sticks. I think I used too much glue.

I always use too much glue.

My knees press against the vibrating steering wheel. And the wipers dance to a furious beat. And the smoke streams. The car sits in park—a stagnant machine—shaking and rumbling.

“The one fifty-three to Babylon is operating on time.”

3

Rain pelts beneath the bright lights—tall giraffelike lights. No one sees me. And the windshield wipers dance. And the smoke. And I feel you still, the rough pads of your fingers, your Cheshire grin, as you devour me. Piece. By. Piece. And your hair is like soft down, and I think you must condition and this surprises me. Something your mother must have taught you. And then I remember that your mother is dead. And I feel sorry. I feel sorry for your dead mother. And the windshield wipers dance and the smoke streams and the engine screams and I am building a house out of Popsicle sticks and you devour me and maybe it's the weed but I think I'm about to split and you tell me to relax and you tell me to shut up and your friend is trying to sleep and I tell you to stop to stop to stop and I wonder if your friend can hear and I wonder what your dead mother thinks now and you tell me to shut up and the wipers dance and the smoke streams and your hand muffles my silent screams and I realize there is not much more I can do here but wait it out and you devour me. Piece. By. Piece. And the windshield wipers and the smoke and your friend clears his throat and I try to fill the space where you hollowed me gutless and I try to ignore this world we've created, and your power to destroy, our power to create, and the wipers dance to a furious beat and the smoke streams off the end of a lit cigarette and your friend clears his throat and I'm building a house out of Popsicle sticks.

BOOK: Last Train to Babylon
12.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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