# # Myrna-Joe and Cleary - short fiction

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Myrna-Joe and Cleary – short fiction

Myrna-Joe was a large woman with bad skin, dimpled joints, and bright orange hair. Not red, mind you: orange. Truth be told it was a wispy, ghost gray, having long since lost its original, dish-water dinginess but she’d colored it with one of those cheap preparations you can find for half-off on aisle 12 and now it was like that of a doll or some character from a 1960’s Rankin/Bass animation.

The trailer in which she lived sat, dented and leaking, on a small, ill-kempt lot off a more fortunate neighborhood, increasing its inescapable status of “eyesore” beyond that which it would have attained were it parked outside a landfill – but only just. A family of raccoons inhabiting the space beneath the trailer caused sporadic racket, an eye watering stench of animal urine that competed handily with that of the trailer’s feline inhabitants, and a purported sense of the wild that Myrna-Joe would conjure up when the mood was upon her: “my babies.”

Disability for her knees, alimony from a husband or two, and child support for what she referred to, if at all, with a dismissive wave of her hand, allowed her to sit in her trailer most of the day, swatting in vain at cats and shifting from one monstrous buttock to the other on a drab and complaining love seat in front of the TV. Raspy voiced from years of cigarettes, sodium, and inactivity, she mainly grunted in disgust or cawed in open-mouthed laughter at the glare of whatever broadcast clutched her attention. On occasion she would remember both the unfortunate fact and potential advantage of her son and, wheezing, bray out his name in an unpleasant squonk: “Cleary!”

A skinny boy growing towards lanky, Cleary was anything but: his pinched, 15 year-old face a constellation of scabs in a firmament of waxy white skin peeping from beneath limp, swaying hanks of greasy, black hair. Named after a man his mother ever informed him he did not remind her of, the boy hunched around town in a foul smelling hoodie, high-water jeans, and mismatched canvas tennies with an improbable papoose of an over-sized skateboard strapped to his back. It was said that, if you shoved him hard enough in the center of his sparrow chest, he would not only go over backwards but roll a good 12 feet.
Depending on the grade, of course.

When he wasn’t mooching cigarettes, ditching class, or getting beaten up behind the school, Cleary could be found walking alongside the road: slack-jawed, eyes flicking behind that curtain of hair, his hands as deep in his pockets as his shoulders could droop. To the casual, daily observer it might appear that he was on some unending trek; a sisyphusian journey punctuated only by intermittent rainfall and the derogatory hoots of passing schoolmates. In truth, having no idea where to go, he was already there. Stuck between the twin joys of school and his mother, the gutter seemed imminently superior and so he wandered it.

When a car, driven by a man fumbling for a dropped burger, glanced off him from behind, flinging his toothpick body into the cushioning base of someone’s well-manicured hedge, he cursed it not for the contusions and indignity but for leaving him still capable of disappointment. If only he’d seen it coming, he felt, he could have positioned himself to take more of the blow; an opportunity lost. His mother saw only the state of his clothes and spent the better part of a week beating him whenever he came within range of her meaty paws.

On the nights he could hear the moist rasp of her breath over the squabbling of the raccoons, Cleary lay on the pile of clothes that served as his bed and, dreaming of freedom, willed Myrna-Joe to die, concentrating with such intensity on what he assumed to be the frail tissues of her straining heart that it never occurred to him she did the same from her own, stained mattress, pausing only when she thought of the child support payments which facilitated, in part, her tenuous lifestyle.

In serendipitous fact, they eventually died only minutes, if hundreds of miles, apart: she in a rest-home for the indigent and he on his back in some Mexican field, only 23, his brain so shot through from years of chemical abuse that he could no longer remember her name.

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5 Responses to “Myrna-Joe and Cleary – short fiction”

  1. ren says:

    Oh it’s not a cheerful story, but it makes me glad as it lets me know that you’re writing again

  2. cae says:

    =) Just a warm up sketch.

  3. ren says:

    I’m awash in anticipation!

  4. ysha says:

    You write so that I can taste it.

    I want more.

  5. cae says:

    Wow – thanks.

    More’s a-comin’.

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