This is the second chapter of Emma and Tom’s Team Writing experiment. For the first “Happy Couple” chapter, click here.
Inside the car I tighten the cloth around my eyes, working a knot at the back of my head. I try hard to feel the movement around me, tensing my body and relaxing, letting it loll over bumps and dips seductively. My accomplice in the front seat, also blinded, laughs giddily as we turn through several sharp corners, despite the fact that an eagle has flown off with his penis, and now he has only a hole. The radio plays a love song. I squeeze my eyes. His hole contracts. The great bird caught his penis mid-flight. I feel the sun burning my right arm and imagine its colour in comparison to the rest of my body. Likely it is more gold than me. “That doesn’t seem possible,” my accomplice says. “You’re blind,” I say.
I figure we are driving north. When the car stops I remove the cloth and blink several times. My companion and I are alone in an unknown place. There is no sign of the eagle. The document hereon reports our findings as we make our way back home:
A white rock inscribed with the point of a beak: the rock of weakness, shining in the sun.
A plastered garden adorned with two crisp Mary’s. Acute and permanent, like the ridged Cliffs of Dover.
Lilac pony puking tousled pink hair.
A solid white cat, puffy and firm, blocking the sink.
We need a map, untouchable. A map of the sky. The shop is dim and cool, like the wet inside of a cave. I ask the shopkeeper if he’s seen a penis streak up above, if he’s heard the eagle’s patriotic caw. A tarnished mirrored sign touting Coca-Cola reflects me. “No,” he says. “Not lately.”
Nethercutt Collection. Old cars filling a new room.
I pick the fruit from a tree. An artichoke cradling many red seeds. They are spongy to the touch. The floor is mottled. I begin to wonder if my companion could lose his hole too. It seems impossible.
A beautiful brown horse and his buxom lady, a white one. Nibbling on grass and each other’s ears, floods shooting out of the horse.
A tree covered in hundreds of tiny beetles. They are red with black spots. They make the tree move. I look at my feet, the floor is swarming. I wonder how many I have squashed. I can’t see the hole. It is infested. I hurl myself at my accomplice and the beetles skitter.
Lost, covering old ground.
Windmill in the parking lot. Blue and white. Water for sale, the best.
Small taqueria. Half of the wall is painted orange until it isn’t. The line is not clear or defined.
The waitress has black hair with a flower stuck in the side, ruthless. She has a cheery face, like a button. My accent misleads her, she explains to me the contents of a burrito. “It’s a Mexican sandwich,” I say. “Something like that,” she says.
The honey shop is yellow and black, surprise. It is firmer than a bee. We climb stairs to enter. The round lady feeds us five flavored honeys on five separate sticks. We suck them down. My companion’s hole drips in response. At least it’s still there. At least it still functions. We fetch the pail to mop the sticky honey underneath him. He weeps in the window. We enjoy the cactus flavour but it is less malleable than the rest. We raise concerns over its spreadability on toast. Playing safe, we opt for wild flower. “It’s a Mexican sandwich,” I say. “Something like that,” she says.
We muddy a white wall with our feet which are dirty with the remnants of time.
Roadside or railway. Preferring the cinematic resonance of the freight train horn to that of the common car, we traverse the rusted tracks. Maybe the eagle’s here.
A creek cuts us off from the road. I flag the conductor. Jumping rocks, no.
Firewood, available. Stacked and stinking. He takes coal.
A sign, a man.
The Old Road, The Old Bird.
Recline on an island intercepting a cross section. Palm trees break the asphalt, cars stare. The hole stares back. Eyes blink. Holes don’t. Staring contests are not contests. Holes cannot disappear. One cannot lose them. We hold onto it by the side of the road.
To be continued…
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.
Emma Kemp is here for the sunshine. Artist and Writer from London, U.K. Find her at eekemp.com.