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 Conduit, Verse, Slope, Stride, Fairy Tale Review, Country Music, GlitterPony, Pleiades, 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.