I realize what it is that bothers me about his eyes and my world explodes like a transformer. Lightning-colored irises strike at me from the skull of a living, breathing man. They sear my soul in a wash of white light, outlining everything in wavering blues and reds. Visions flashbulb in rapid succession.
The body of my city lies bare before me and I’m overseeing the autopsy. Rebar bones jutt from concrete flesh at alarming angles. Signs of blunt trauma are evident on the fragments of its plaster skin.
Nordic models caught in repose, peddling perfume and handbags, grace the walls of the bullet-ridden, gutted department stores I shop at. Some are still smiling, heads reared and teeth bared in stilled frenzy, a grim mockery of the remains on the sidewalk in front of them.
Pedestrians passing by me darken into wraiths, shadows burned into concrete, locked in midstep, going about business forever left unfinished. Gunfire pops. Someone sobs and a child sifts through the broken glass of my favorite nightclub, cutting her small fingers as she looks for coins and shell casings.
I think of home and see it honeycombed by war; its rooms open to whatever horrors man or sky will rain on them. My upscale apartment building is a wounded animal, bleeding out furniture and personal belongings on the street before it collapses down to die. But I don’t live there anymore. I’m drawn somewhere else. Where have I been? Where am I? Where is my home now?
Home is a mountain of bones piled like white rice in china bowls.
“Where I live, I don’t see eyes like yours,” I say to the man as I give him the entire stack of bills in my wallet. He balls them up in his grimy hand, his nails, long, dirty, and jagged, and feeds them to a small fire in front of him.
“If that’s the case, I envy you”. He coughs violently as he lays down to sleep beneath a filthy, torn blanket. I make sure he closes his eyes before I move on.
Kyle Rowland is a writer, poet, and essayist propelled by travel, punk rock, and an irrational phobia of cubicles and neckties. He is working on a series of “cli-fi” stories set in the American West while hammering away at a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Eastern Oregon University and has poems appearing in The Sierra Nevada Review and Phantom Drift. Nowadays, he can be found hunting the seemingly small detail that reveals a poem or following the strand that leads to a compelling narrative. He lives in Silverton, Oregon with his wife Jennifer and a small coven of black cats.