Open the Oil and It Will Tell You Everything

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Three

We’re a one-stop wedding shop. I sing, soprano. Mother sews. And Popaya preaches. Sometimes funerals, the quick ones. Mostly we don’t have to go graveside, stand in the soft mud. After at the afterparty, we share oilbaron caviar and caramel baklava bougettes. Smeared salmon and costly celery. Popaya likes to tell the story of the private biplane that carried him over the water to the resort—Belize, Majorca, laminate luxury bedsteads and fronds waving everlong over golfbuddy suntans. Everyone still had business cards, then. Call me. Scratch behind my right ear. Lucky sevens, gambling debts, daughters marrying really fine and crude. A thousand barrels, that sacred number out of the five first books, always a thousand cuz we mean that weight beyond counting, what Brother Mike used to say was our sweet bye and bye inheritance, where grammy and her stillborn first son are waiting, othershore where the Buckee’s bathrooms are scrupulously clean. Where everyone agrees it’s best to stop for gas, replace the windshield blades. Mother sits on the motel bed, pale lace and flawed hem across her lap. Chloroform, she says. Always the body shudders, sinks away. I want to know what it feels like, the champion fisherman giving up at last, in my arms.

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