Monday, December 7, 2009

Olive and Sea Nathan IV

They emerge from the oasis of death. The dust springs up in clouds underneath their work boots. "Your name is love and evil," says Sea Nathan. "If you mix up the letters," Olive says. "Yes," says Sea Nathan, "but your love is evil too." "There ain't no evil in love," Olive says, "unless you count lovin' the dead bodies." "It's not the bodies that're evil, and it's not countin' 'em that's bad, but when you -- " "You'll leave it at that," Olive says. She begins to dress. She steps into her thick brown pants. "I ain't gonna leave nothin' at that. Your love for these dead people is gonna make us get stuck in the quicksand they've become. One day we'll be walkin' over faces, and you'll be stoppin' to kiss one of 'em for steppin' on its nose. You're the snake that's done eaten its tail." "There ain't nothin' wrong with pity for the dead," Olive says. She hooks her bra and slips her gnarled wool sweater over her head. "And," Olive continues, "my name's got 'live' in it. I'm gonna live." "Ain't but both of us gonna live or both of us gonna die," Sea Nathan says. "Besides, it ain't pity what you got." Olive takes down her hair and picks bugs from her scalp, pinching them between her fingers before she throws them on the earth. "Buggers," Olive says. "We're in this together. We made vows not to -- " "I was talkin' 'bout the nits," Olive says. "Oh," says Sea Nathan. They begin to walk again, slowly and with great weariness. "You has better take the sack," says Olive, "'cause I ain't got the strength to carry it on my own." Yes'm," says Sea Nathan. "Still got some of them apples in here?" "They's dried like prunes now," Olive says, "and you can chew 'em like gum."

Copyright, 2009, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Olive and Sea Nathan III

Sea Nathan and Olive undress. They take off everything except their shoes and socks. The muddy ground beneath them swarms with maggots; it's a graveyard of massacred bodies. A dead face pushes up against the earth, the nose protruding, the eyes open, vacant, eyeballs intact. The mist engulfs Olive and Sea Nathan. They can't see the face. Olive steps on it. "Oh, my," she says, "I think that's somebody." "What?" asks Sea Nathan. "I think I stepped on somebody." "Shit!" says Sea Nathan, "We're on a sea of corpses. Get out of here." "I think I stepped on somebody else," Olive says. "Just hurry," says Sea Nathan. "I'm stepping on people left and right," Olive says. She grabs their clothes from atop a large stone. "There's somebody might have died with a drink in his hand," Sea Nathan says. He reaches down and picks up a flask. "Nah," Sea Nathan says, "empty." "Don't be picking up a dead man's things," Olive says. She grabs the flask and tosses it away from them. It lands on stone where their clothes were, clanks against its surface, and slips back into the mud. "Shit!" says Sea Nathan, "Give me my pants." Olive hands him his thick brown trousers. "Put them on then," Olive says, "once we're through the corpses. Otherwise, you'll get the stench on 'em for good." "Fuck, Olive, I don't care 'bout no stench," Sea Nathan says, "on my pants. Just don't want it stuck in my skin." "Suit yourself," Olive says. She continues through the mist naked. Sea Nathan slips on his pants. "This is what pants are for," Sea Nathan says, "nowadays. If they're offended by the smell of death at the shipyard, they can hose me down." "'Fore they kill ya'," Olive says. "Yes, if we're late," says Sea Nathan.

Copyright, 2009, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved