Andrew Morgan ~ Services

men and chair2
I am not the dancer with her left foot some­how wedged against the rail. Not the dancer then or eigh­teen min­utes pri­or as she dashed cry­ing from a build­ing very much alone and mind­less and with­out direc­tion. I’m not her nor sur­prised as she stum­bles into her wedged posi­tion on the rail. I’m not her as she real­ized simul­ta­ne­ous­ly the seri­ous­ness of her wedg­ing and the ultra seri­ous­ness of her loca­tion and how the seri­ous­ness of the lat­er had a dra­mat­ic effect upon the seri­ous­ness of the for­mer.

I’m not the least bit her when despite being phys­i­cal­ly con­sumed by the purest of terror—or per­haps because of it—she came to the inspired real­iza­tion that her cur­rent folly’s con­cep­tion could be quite clear­ly and causal­ly linked to the moment all those many years pri­or when her moth­er had first begun her mil­i­tant refusal—militantly enforced—to allow any­thing greater than one-inch heels to ever be found seen or rumored to be on or even remote­ly near the feet of her daugh­ter. I am not her nor the train dri­ver mak­ing excus­es to him­self for pro­vid­ing that morning’s excus­es to the rail boss for there hav­ing been a half-emp­ty bot­tle of bour­bon hidden/wedged behind the fire extin­guish­er just above and to the left of the crew’s seat at the rear of his cab and why those excus­es were not so much excus­es but the pri­vat­est of rea­sons. I’m not him then nor lat­er when he was sort­ing out why the rumored homo­sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion of the rail boss was a legit­i­mate enough pre­tense for fail­ing to offer full trans­paren­cy in regards to the sit­u­a­tion at hand and why there­fore, hav­ing suf­fi­cient­ly ratio­nal­ized his pre­vi­ous deci­sion, he moved on to for­mu­lat­ing much more elab­o­rate and direct­ly self-deceiv­ing excus­es for why and how even after such an inci­dent and such a morn­ing his intent to con­tin­ue on this day the prac­tice of bur­bon-wedg­ing was not irre­spon­si­ble or even risky. I am not any of those hers nor any of those hims nor am I the lit­tle boy pulling his wag­on across the street while dodg­ing the first drops of what was the very gen­tlest of rain and con­tin­u­ing beneath an ever-so-slight­ly blurred Topeka sun­set that was lat­er list­ed as a “like­ly although not prob­a­ble” expla­na­tion for why the for­est green sta­tion wag­on that wouldn’t kill him cut the light and the cor­ner and froze him and the wag­on in their tracks much as the dancer is frozen in the tracks although she much more in a lit­er­al sense as her six-inch heel is wedged along the rail in such a way that she can nei­ther remove it nor her foot from it much as the dri­ver has wedged the bot­tle behind the fire-extin­guish­er in such a way that when there had been a fire the pre­vi­ous week (some fif­teen year old yup­pie-up-and-com­er in the bath­room with a cig­ar and match­es and mind­less­ness) and the con­duc­tor ran in to retrieve the device it was actu­al­ly via-bur­bon wedged against the wall and irre­triev­ably immo­bile and thus the dri­ver was con­duc­tor-report­ed to the rail boss much as the dri­ver of the for­est green sta­tion wag­on report­ed him­self to the police the day after not killing Leonard Skilling because his guilt at hav­ing dri­ven away in fear had become greater than his fear of get­ting caught hav­ing dri­ven away much as Elise’s moth­er would read in the paper of her daughter’s leg being sev­ered by the 714 from Topeka and after three intro­spec­tive hours of nail trim­ming and paint­ing make her way to the hos­pi­tal to see her daugh­ter for the first time not as a dancer but as a for­mer dancer and who would nev­er quite escape the shame of her response hav­ing been not a calm and moth­er­ly hold­ing of space but a mil­i­tant rage of con­dem­na­tion spurred by the sight of the man­gled but ful­ly rec­og­niz­able six-inch heel that had some­how remained nes­tled amongst a pool of red-streaked stick now unex­plain­ably cov­er­ing almost the entire seat of the yel­low plas­tic chair wedged against the bed in such a way that it remained for­ev­er after, to her, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive image of her moth­er­ly mad­ness much like Mr. and Mrs. Skilling drove in a col­lec­tive mad­ness toward the hos­pi­tal with Leonard uncon­scious­ly immo­bile atop the back­seat and Mrs. Skilling swear­ing to her­self over and over and with ever increas­ing inten­si­ty and pur­pose that if Douglas’ in-the-moment deci­sion to not call an ambu­lance proved to have been ill-con­ceived and Leonard as a result suf­fered or even seemed to suf­fer in any way what­so­ev­er she would make absolute­ly sure that Douglas faced the pain of all pains every moment of every day and that she would not be at peace until Douglas was ever not at peace much as Mr. and Mrs. Fielding are absent any traces of peace as they both sit atop a yel­low ottoman just to the left of a half-assem­bled mod­el train track in Elise’s mother’s apart­ment where they are attempt­ing to offer an apol­o­gy for their son because he was too full of excus­es to show up and apol­o­gize him­self for hav­ing drunk dri­ven a train over her daughter’s leg and body and career. I have no apol­o­gy. No excus­es. No note­wor­thy mad­ness­es. I’m sim­ply the mor­ti­cian air-brush­ing a faint hint of undam­aged veins that will even­tu­al­ly smear into the bruise-seem­ing stick just below the cuf­flink on the left arm of Leonard’s corpse which arrived a lit­tle more than 44 hours after his over­dose and near­ly imme­di­ate death just inside his walk-in bed­room clos­et where he had lain wedged between the door and the wall until found via smell at 10:47 this morn­ing, June 14th, the sec­ond anniver­sary of the day after his moth­er crushed his father in the back of a garbage truck and nine years one month and five days since the begin­ning of his neck-down paral­y­sis and the dark­ness­es that were very much it’s result. I’m that mor­ti­cian. That mor­ti­cian and the 15 year old in the bath­room smok­ing cig­ars.

~

Andrew Morgan is a pro­fes­sor, writer, edi­tor and vol­un­teer whose work can be found in mag­a­zines such as ConduitVerseSlopeStrideFairy Tale ReviewCountry Music, GlitterPonyPleiades, Divine Magnet, Post Road and includ­ed in the anthol­o­gy Disco Prairie Aid and Pleasure Club. He is the recip­i­ent of a Slovenian Writer’s Association Fellowship which spon­sored a month long writ­ing res­i­den­cy in the country’s cap­i­tal city of Ljubljana and is cur­rent­ly an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at New England College. His first book, “Month of Big Hands,” was pub­lished by Natural History Press in 2013.