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Of Things That Had No Chance


Of course it's easier to kill what you don't know. But that's for the amateur. To be intimate with your object, to even feel a kind of love, is when it's most satisfying, because then it's truly godlike. When God takes that infant at birth, can it really compare to a life well-lived taken in its prime? This is God at his best! A virtuoso! When he rips the life in every direction from someone's heart, and leaves in its place a gaping chasm. A black hole ready to suck inside all that remains with light itself!


But you're not sucked in. Somehow you remain, death and life joined in a Cubist tango of pretzel logic and sinister refraction. Smoke-filled, this place. With an aching sense of loss, of things that had no chance. In the air, sweat and spilled rum, the bandoneon slightly out of tune. Or maybe it's this bar, or you at the table—its sticky table-top never wiped completely clean. Or the lackluster waitress, her destiny moribund in her eyes.


And you stare through the cloud of sins above everyone’s head. An apostate, banished, the Zurka between your fingers. You've always thought in symbols to ennoble the mundane (you penny-ante Savior). And now you see a fly on the table. It's found a puddle of stickiness that's escaped the lackluster bar rag. You watch it, observe it, blow a cloud of sins its way. Then it hits you like the revelation of a guard at Auschwitz, this anti-Saint. You realize you're fixed on that fly—on obliterating it! You glance around for a weapon, but then, something primal. Something of tooth and claw. Slowly, you raise your hand, your fingers open to the air. You rivet your eyes until that fly becomes a magnet, your hand a piece of iron, until…


For an instant, the table shakes down to the floor. You glance around. Nothing has changed. Not a single thing. And when you turn to the table, the sticky spot seems untouched. You turn your hand. There it is, mangled and inside-out, a gob of guts that once existed only seconds before. And you grab a napkin and wipe it clean and how easy it was! You're amazed, in that small depraved place where such things are amazing. The waitress appears, looking less haggard. You order another cerveza and look inside to her small depraved place. And you close your eyes and see her dance in darkness with lightning.



I think of words. The word no is this place. The word yes, the waitress’s eyes. The word anticipation, a time machine. The word inhale, a resurrection. Then ravenous. Release. Distant. Stranger. These words bear witness. They hold secrets of irretrievable loss. And of forgiveness that’s never given. A portrait of scars. And that word, scars. It speaks of time that drags on, and the giving up people do when they surround themselves with surrender. A shiny place of thin ice above silhouettes. And there's the waitress, her eyes holding the stranger’s reflection, who once held something more. The word sadness again. This place, of dim lights and dim souls.


(This excerpt, from Kevin Kunundrum's new novel, Blood of the Sun)

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—copyright 2019, 2020 by Kevin Postupack, Kevin Kunundrum