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handcontrol.Slide Show
by
Matt Marinovich
 

 

    That’s my brother. Don’t ask me where he got the milk truck or the droopy hat. I’ve just stepped off the plane. I’ve just arrived and this is what I see. If I were still drinking, I think it would have made me happy.

*

    That’s the highway on the way back from the airport. Blurry arc lights.
    "You’re wasting film," my brother said.

*

    "Where’d you get the truck?" I said.
    "I borrowed it," he said bitterly. "For a laugh."

*

    This is a bunch of white kids hanging out in the parking lot outside my brother’s condo. Nothing to do. They just stand around in their purple gold jerseys and act black. Someone’s thrown a bottle high in the air. It hasn’t landed yet.

*

    You can sort of make this out. Me, my brother, and his wife, Deb, are eating Chinese food at the world’s largest restaurant. They had seven different rooms for the seven different continents. And the waitresses all had to dress for the place they were in. No one ate in Africa. Mexico was crawling with kids.

*

    My brother’s locked liquor cabinet. Inside, all the words he’ll never forgive me for.

*

    My brother fallen asleep. His mouth hanging open on the couch. Now that I’m sober, I told him, I like to stay up and talk all night. You can see the ashtray is spilling over with my cigarettes. Even after he fell asleep, I kept talking. Mostly about Patty.

*

    Here’s the courtyard. A patch of green they carried there in trucks. The rest was dust and dirt and bus stops and black windows with big posters and red letters that said, Self defense! Start now! I’ve never seen so many self defense classes. Everybody I passed looked like a martial arts expert. Even the elderly. When I asked some old lady for directions she moved around me in a semi circle and kept one knee lower than the other.

*

    That’s supposed to be a hawk. It’s the black speck above the roof. Everyday, this frayed looking woman in a white sweat suit would come out and walk her cat and the thing would cling to the pavement because of the hawk.
    "I saved its life," she told me when I passed her on my way out. "One more day and it would have been ashes."
    I leaned down to pet the cat and noticed that one of its eyes was completely white.
    "Did it have some kind of operation?" I said.
    "No," she said. "It jumped out of my window."

*

    Rainbow on the way to Big Sur. We stopped the car on the shoulder of the road and Deb made me take the photograph.
    "It’s good for you," she said. "When you get home, you’ll look at it every day and it will make you happy."
    Now I’m looking at it and all I can think of is her small white face and those tiny sunglasses and that big blue visor she wore everywhere.

*

    Here we are in some rest area. That’s the Volkswagen of some guy who glued a thousand little toys all over his car. Toy soldiers. Plastic dinosaurs. Tiny elephants. We stood there and called out all our favorites. Mostly it looked like the kind of stuff you find in cereal boxes. I was pointing to a Chewbacca on the hood when the guy came out of the forest, dusting dirt off his pants. He had long stringy gray hair and looked about seventy years old. He bustled past us without saying a word. Slammed the door and leaned on the horn until I got the message. It made a weak sound like he’d worn it out all across America. We watched him pull out of the parking lot, leaning on the horn again when a family hauling a picnic basket converged on him.
    "Maybe it’s not his car," my brother said.

*

    This is it. The place we drove five hundred miles to get to. That’s my right foot on the ledge. You don’t want to get any closer than that. There’s a memorial marker on the exact spot where two newlyweds got swept off by a single gust of wind.

*

    This is upside down. That’s my brother and his wife, standing near the ledge. They get the same expression when they think they’re somewhere significant. It looks like they’re trying to understand someone speaking in a foreign language.

*

    Here’s a brown bear squatting in the middle of a river. Every now and then it would slap at the water. My brother was breathing in my ear the whole time and he says, "Fish." But I wasn’t so sure. I could see the bottom of the river. I could see everything and nothing passed by but bits of twig and some dead leaves.
    "I’m glad you’re here," my brother said.
    "I am too." I said.
    "I love Deb," he said.
    "She’s great," I said.
    "I’m lucky," he said.
    "That’s five lies in a row," I said, smiling at him. Right away I could see he was deeply offended. He pushed my shoulder into the ground and walked off. Down by the river, the bear unhappily raised its snout and sniffed at the air.
    "Do you smell it?" I yelled at it recklessly. "That’s the fucking truth."

*

    Here’s the beginning of the burned forest. You could walk through it for miles if you wanted to. But we only went a hundred feet because my brother’s wife got depressed.
    "I can’t believe someone would do this," she said. "It’s so terrible."
    I thought it was beautiful. A nobody lights a match and now we’re walking through his dream. There isn’t a sound. Not a single thing the rest of the world wants.

*

    Killing the film. A picture from the plane. The usual brown mountains. The plexiglass is kind of dirty so you can’t see all the way through.

*

    This is out of order. It’s meant to go before the other one. This is some fat black guy at the airport who tried to sell people inspirational poems. They were written on laminated cards. He handed everybody in my row a card and then came back to collect them. A near-sighted businessman held the card an inch from his eyeglasses. "Hah!" he said. "Hah." And his face went an alarming shade of red. But when the black guy came around again he handed it right back and didn’t say a word. He wouldn’t even look at him.
    Mine was a short poem about faith and responsibility. Two little angels playing electric guitars stood on a wedding cake of clouds. I paid him five dollars for it and tucked it in my pocket.
    "You write that?" I said. "Sure," he said, slipping a rubber band over a wad of dirty one dollar bills. But when he walked away I could hear him talking softly to himself about dimes and dozens and dumb-ass palookas and the size of the needle he’d like to stick in our eyeballs.

*

    My brother waving goodbye from a safe distance. The light coming in the big slanted windows is too bright, so you can’t see his face.

 

1999   Matt Marinovich                                         

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Author bio:

Matt Marinovich

Matt Marinovich lives in Boston, Massachusetts. He has had short stories published in The Mississippi Review, Mudfish, Quarterly West, and 5_Trope among others.

 

navigation:                                          barcelona review #13   mid-june to mid-august 1999
-Fiction Murder by G.K. Wuori
Madness by G.K. Wuori
Slide Show by Matt Marinovich
Here Swims a Most Majestic Vision by Jason DeBoer
My Father...The Train by Donna Lee
When Interviewing Characters by Roger Aplon
-Poetry Steve Aylett
-Essay

Grooves, Camouflage, and the Conspiracy of Whiteness
by Barbara F. Lefcowitz

-Interview Magnus Mills
-Regular Features Book Reviews
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