Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love Kills

By Bub

Little Carter would wait up awake in his bed until he heard the noise of a car coming down his gravel driveway. This was usually at 2:30 AM just after the bars closed in town. These were irregular hours for a 5 year old to keep. But he was used to it by now, and he’d do anything to make sure his Mom was safe.

They lived on his grandparents’ farm. It wasn't a commercial farm, most of the animals were pets. But it was in the country and they would always wake up to the smell of sweet dew and cow manure. He was an unwanted pregnancy and after he was born he spent most of his time with his grandparents. His mother’s rejection made him yearn for her even more like when that mean person you know pays a genuine interest in you and somehow it feels like that means more than affection you didn't have to work for. It's not that Carter’s Mom was mean, it’s just that she was young and had a lot of things on her mind. That’s what Carter told himself.

His grandparents got some rabbits to keep him from being so lonely. They lived in the country. Grandpa worked full time at the local tractor factory and Grandma sold real estate. Mom always said she was going to Beauty School because it sounded nice, but most of the time she went to the tavern in town and didn’t come home until Little Carter heard the gravel crack under the tires of the car of a young man he had never met.

Carter watched MTV and played Atari on cloudy days and caught bugs in his bug-net when it was sunny along the fencing of their 3 acres. There were no other children for miles. The nearest one was his best friend Lively Worrell, but he only saw him when Grandpa visited Lively's dad to go metal-detecting.

One rabbit was a male. Carter called him George after George Michael and he called the other one Madonna. He carried a picture of Madonna the pop-star around in his wallet. Whenever a tangentially related subject arose he would take out his wallet and show whoever was around its only content and explain that he was in love and that he had a chance with her because she fell for the little boy in that video where she was a stripper. Most people thought it was cute. Little Carter yearned for Madonna with a throbbing that made his eyes water up whenever he pictured her kissing his cheek. His mom loved Madonna also and she wore the occasional black netting on her forearms. His mom used to tease her hair out like Madonna too. One day she told Carter that she wouldn’t be going to Beauty School anymore and that she’d be catching bugs and playing Atari with him. They did for awhile, she let her hair go and Carter was happy

Grandpa told him Madonna was going to have babies. Carter was ecstatic. He would have friends around close to his age to play with. And they would be cute little bunnies to boot. Carter was so content with the thought of being a foster dad for a crop of bunnies and his Mom being around, that he wrote a postcard to Santa telling him that he didn’t need as many presents this year because he already had most of what he wanted. He attached a revised list with Ghostbusters’ Slimer with real slime, and Moss-Man action figure from the He-Man series crossed out and left Bagpipes and a Daddy remaining.

When the bunnies were born Carter went to greet his new friends. He was horribly disappointed when, instead of being cute little fuzzy bunnies, they were little pink and blue hairless rat-monsters. They were the most repulsive things he had seen up to that point. He tried to assure himself that they would be His bunnies, and that he would love them the way he wanted to be loved, and that made him feel a little better.

The next day Carter woke up early to go see his bunnies. He thought that a transformation might have occurred overnight and that they might be real bunnies by now. Not so. When he went out to the rabbit cage he discovered the grisly aftermath of a bunny massacre. There were bits of pink and blue flesh and white innards and red blood flung about the cage and drooping through the floor made of chicken wire and woodchips. No bunny was left alive. Carter couldn’t comprehend what had happened. He ran inside yelling “Bear! Bear!” until his Grandpa settled him down and asked him to tell what had happened. When it was explained to Carter that the mother had eaten her own children, he felt his first sense of existential angst. At that moment he lost his sense that at least nature was perfect – that there was a natural, even supernatural purpose and it would play out as intended. He didn’t understand it then, but this was why he would never be able to accept the existence of a benevolent God.

Carter withdrew from his family. He spent more and more time in his bedroom playing with Micro-Machines. He began taking his meals alone in the den. When his mother told him she had gotten a hair-cutting job in town Carter began soiling his bedclothes at night. He was a mess, as much as a five year old could be. One day he took off without telling anybody and tried to walk into town to see his Mom at the Beauty Shop. By the time his grandparents realized he was gone, all they could see was a tiny figure prancing across the bridge a mile in the distance. They sped off in their Buick and caught him just as he was turning the corner to the main road into town. Carter got spanked worse than he ever would again.

Carter stopped watching music videos. He began looking at his globe all day. He would pretend that he was in some exotic land where his Mom and Dad were together and they weren’t a burden to his grandparents. He knew most of the world capitals by the time he turned 6 late that summer.

It was an unusually hot day in September; the temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit at noon. His grandpa had told him to take the feed out to the pigs. They only had three and they were all sows. They were lying, exhausted from heat, by the barn. Carter felt sorry for them so he fetched a hose from the garden shack and hooked it up by the barn. He sprayed the pigs dutifully, expecting them to slowly rise to their hooves in full force ready to eat. After they each let out a terrible squeal, rolled over once, and became still again Carter began to suspect something was wrong. He turned off the hose. He clasped his hand over one of their wet faces. It wasn’t breathing. He didn’t have to touch the other two, he knew they were dead by the way their chests no longer inflated and contracted. He had killed them all, his grandpa would later explain, by throwing them into shock. All he wanted was to do a good thing.

He looked at things differently after that. When Christmas came around that year for the first time he was not disappointed that he didn’t get bagpipes. He was more than happy with Slimer and Moss-Man. He didn’t get mad when she went out on dates with their Turkish exchange student Hakaan. And he understood that Santa was a human just like the rest of us.

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