Thursday, 14 January 2016

25% by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

My wife buys her bipolar/schizophrenic/schizoid older sister a huge plastic container of mixed nuts, then flees to New Mexico, where she hides out in a lodge on the desert once frequented by mafia bosses and still guarded by five fierce German Shepherds. She sits in a cement hot tub that was once a bin for fishing bait. The hot water flows around her, and she feels those red and gray earthworms writhe around her naked body.
She watches the muddy Rio Grande flow by. A mule swims from the far shore, a Mexican woman on its back. My wife is fearful for a moment because the woman closely resembles her sister, whose name is Loretta Gotes, but she calms when she sees that the woman lacks her sister’s long facial scar.

To better keep an eye on her, I had Loretta institutionalized in the private psychiatric facility in which I work. I get an employee discount—25%.
When we got back from the Rio Grande, I stuck my head into the Day Room. Loretta sat brooding in a corner, pale, the blue vein in her forehead twitching, her expression a lot like Burt the Bruiser’s, her father, when he trash-mouthed for the wrestling ring cameras in the nineteen-fifties. My wife’s father was not Burt the Bruiser—she and Loretta were only half-sisters.
I could tell Loretta was building toward violence and there was nothing I could do about it. When she got this way, men were venom. Any attempt I might make at intervention would only make things worse.
Waves of hatred emanated from her like an electromagnetic phenomenon. Her eyes were deep black, and so dead that if you didn’t know better, you’d think she’d had many electroshock treatments. But she hadn’t. The deadness came entirely from within.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including BEAKFUL. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.