We're Just Here For the Bad Guys

  The May air deluged through his spectral skin, and we remained on the concrete sharing our meager dinner. The horizon billowed into a drab blue the longer we refused to face each other, and the sweat caked to us like dry ash. The lots emptied in a hum, and we chose to continue sitting there, as two lamenting bodies upon the small hill. We continued eating, watching as the engines trekked against the gravel road, lazily drifting off into the black periphery. He wouldn’t look at me, as if being seen was already too much to bear. I didn’t want to get up, and neither did he, as we continued eating, detachedly plucking at the fried skin of the chicken within the plastic. We just wanted to watch. This journey had me reaffirm what I wanted, to be a Phantom. To disengage. To relinquish my need to be seen. Eventually, we stayed to admire even the clouds settling into their ephemeral forms, becoming wisps of drifting white paint, and as I looked back at him, I could recognize only the Phantom, and no one else.

    I prayed that he’d get to have a Dog. I clasped my hands together outside on the church bench, my knees and toes wetted amidst the blankness. A nude humiliation, I could only sit there and pray to a statue of God for the most meager of wishes. This was all inevitable. This would all be fulfilled in the coming days, the days that stretched to months, the hours that echoed. He would bear the end, at first gnawing his fingertips, until swallowing him limb to limb in abyssal time. We failed each other. I was the one who chose to tell him about the Phantom’s End. The silence rested in the webs and humid, ashen air, and as I wiped the slop from my face, I realized that I wasn’t a young adult in the face of this, I was still powerless and burdening. I was still his son. The accomplishment of his time now would only be in the ability to endure another day, not that there would be anything to exceed to. Even after I left, I would see his eyes in videos; the story was long over, what remained was the sullen blank hatred; he was awake just for existence for the sake of itself. He wanted to die, but he wanted something to validate the waking null. Eventually, he got to have a dog, but I never returned. If he could feel again, even in false eyes, I wanted him to have that, but I never wanted to see it myself. I was still his son.

  My stepmother sent me pictures of his corpse, telling me how he wanted to be burned. His eyes clasped, mouth ajar, my father’s dangly body in a suit far too large for his twig bones now. I didn’t feel. My mother cried, but I had expected this for far too long now. He was gone before he passed. We had shared the incommunicable null for years now, this would never change.

  When we burned incense at a temple, a wafting ash smell had arose that reminded me of the air that made me sick those months I was with him. In the following summer after the Phantom’s End, the air was tainted in that smell, the city became imperceptible, and I felt sick again. All I remember now is how that summer ended in an ash sky.

   This is the dark winter. In the dripping black that inked and seeped through the ghostly valleys, the hours rolled directionless, and the sun became absent and neglectful. I passed a mirror one morning and saw nothing. I lay in bed with a graceful amnesia that wafted over me for weeks. The days bled through to the pages of the night’s following, but our words remained the same. Whether I chose to awake made no difference to the impressive black null, it would always hang over with its gawky branches. His presence has been the same anyway. It will always be.

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