Ian Sanquist


[Anxious, although barely oblivious.
Setting: a desert highway—dusk, dark, dawn (infinity) (Someone’s taciturn eyes?)
Implied violence unforeseen: barely sensational.
Copycat killers?

They say the girl is on drugs they say. They say she keeps her diary inside a wooden chest, or in a paper chest, or in her chest made of blood, bone, viscera, etc. but she doesn’t know how to use the lock or the key they say. I watched her on my television. I spoke to her through my screen, during what was possibly the saddest moment of my life. She appeared taciturn, although when I told her that I could sing the saddest songs in the world, her interest seemed to spark. I told her she would have to show me what was written in her diary and she said well if that were the case she’d need to be sure she’d really heard my name somewhere before. So I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and put it in her mailbox. I had a grievance, maybe three. She seemed unsure, but taciturn, like a canceled television show. Anyway. I wanted to tell her the story of my friend Tomas. I needed her to know that neither of us were afraid of anything, not once, not ever. I laid a blanket in the backseat of the car and invited her to sleep. Tomas was gazing at the billboards. Tomas can read the stars, but he doesn’t believe in constellations. I asked Tomas for a cigarette, but he ignored me. It was okay. I felt fine. The girl was on drugs, they say. I believe that. Taciturn, afraid of nothing, they say, but I don’t know if I believe that. Anyway. I don’t know where I’ve heard the name Lazarus before. I don’t know where I’ve heard the name Jezebel. Tomas was driving, but he fell asleep on the highway and I had to hold the wheel while the car went lawless. The road was empty, thank god, but the girl was screaming. I told her to shut up, shut up, shut the fuck up. I yanked the wheel to the side and we came to a stop in a ditch. Tomas had his eyes opened, but he looked like he was still asleep, or totally indifferent, in any case. The girl kept screaming in the backseat and I told her I was starting to feel some nostalgia for her taciturn ways, I squeezed her lips closed with my hand and told her I’d kill her if she didn’t stop screaming, and there was lipstick on my fingers. I pulled her out of the car and told her to hold the extension cord for me, and I felt a little like I was sleeping while she held still and I wrapped the cord around her arms and her legs. Tomas leaned against the hood and watched me and smoked cigarettes. After he had a little pile of butts smoldering on the ground, he went and made a castle in the sand, but the wind blew it away, and then I stepped on what was left of it with my heel because it looked like there were centipedes moving around. Anyway. We put the girl back in the car, in the trunk this time, and before I slammed it closed I told her I’d kill her if she ever said anything again, if she ever said anything out loud or in her mind, it didn’t matter, I’d kill her. This time I told Tomas to let me drive. He was quiet, got into the passenger seat, smoked cigarettes while I turned the key in the ignition and I played with the radio dial but the only reception we got was static, which was alright, because it made me feel whole, or, I should say, it made me feel taciturn, or fearless, or breathless, anyway. Well I closed my eyes but I could hear Tomas breathing in the passenger seat. I felt like I ought to be able to answer if someone asked me for the meaning of life, although all I’d meant to create was a portrait of blue or grey smoke floating over the shoulder of some lawless man, or some broken man, or some man on his way to being broken, or on his way to the place where he’d be struck blind. I never read about him in any newspaper, but he seemed like someone who deserved an elegy. He seemed like someone who ought to be revealed.

Ian Sanquist lives and writes in Seattle. His work can be found in various venues including Juked, Word Riot, kill author, and Metazen. Visit him  here

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