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Urban Fantasy Funny Romance

One day, the sun left and never came back. Now it’s dark and cold all the time. I don’t mind the dark because mommy and daddy used to put me in a little room with no light when I annoyed them by bringing too many dead animals inside. Even when I brought alive ones for friendship, mom still complained and hit me with the discipline flower. The discipline flower was a big rose with many little spikes. She said it was a loving way to make me learn because it was a flower and flowers are beautiful. Daddy almost never hit me. He didn’t care. But, sometimes, he took a big paper—the one with stories that happened in the city—and forced me to read it. I cried every time. I don’t cry anymore because I’m tired of it.

           I do mind the cold. Heat is better. So, I went to get some.

           A lot of people make fire to stay warm. In trashcans, in houses, or on their friends. I found a trashcan and some big papers. Someone had written “Death” on all the pages with a big black pen. Death is where my parents are.

           There was wood in the alley nearby. I find everything in alleys. I picked up some sticks in a big pile of boxes and bags and trash and needles and rotten food. Something smelled bad, worse than the usual badness of the air. I tried to light the wood with my lighter. My lighter is my second best friend. I love to make his flame come out and look at it forever. But it didn’t light.

           I touched the wood and it was wet. I looked closer. It wasn’t water; it was a red wetness. So, I searched through the bags and trash and everything for dry wood. I found where the blood came from—an arm that got lost from the rest of the body. Too wet to set on fire. I finally found dry wood next to another arm.

           I made fire. Uncle Lanzo taught me how when he burned daddy and mommy. I leaned over the blood-red flames and felt better. My friend in my head said I should make a bigger fire and bath in it. He always says silly things like that.

         While I was enjoying the heat, a guy came next to me. He hugged the fire and absorbed all the heat. The flames got cold for me.

“I’ll take the heat and leave you the light,” he said. “Look, I close my eyes.”

“But I need the heat,” I said.

“So do I, and I’m taller than you.”

“Can’t we share?”

“Sharing is dying.”

         I had to go somewhere else. I felt very disappointed, so I stared at the sky. Something I do when I feel bad.

      “What’s wrong kid?” asked a man who was lying on the ground and hugging another man who was sleeping.

“I can’t find heat.”

    “I know how you feel. I have the same problem. You see, the best heat is the one you get by cuddling with people, but when I try to do that, they always resist. So, I have to kill them—but they turn cold soon after, and I have to start all over again!”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Good luck with your heat, kid.”

“Thank you, mister. Good luck to you too.”

       I walked down Dead-End Boulevard in front of all the shops with bats hanging from the roofs, past the all-night butcher shop where the lost dogs and cats end up. An abandoned radio played white noise. A raven sat on a street lamp that vomited white-blue light—the same cold light they had in the hospital when they looked for bugs in my brain—and I tried not to look him in the eyes.

           I got to the Junk Square, where people go to do nothing forever. Everybody was dirty, poor, and homeless just like me. A trembling man, his hands on his hips, was staring at the sky. He probably felt bad.

           “Look at this infinite motherfucker,” he said. “Looks like it’s made of sludge and tar. You can see it move!”

           I didn’t like to hear the man swear. I wasn’t allowed to say the bad word. Uncle Lanzo said he’d rip my tongue out. “You won’t die with a clean conscience, so at least try to do so with a clean mouth.” That’s what he told me.

“You know why it’s so dark up there?” the shaking man said.

“No.”

        “Because it's God's asshole, that's why! That's why we get all the shit! Even the goddam stars are afraid to show up.” 

           I didn’t know what to say.

“You know what I’d like to do?” he said.

I didn’t.

          “I’d like to throw a lasso in the air and catch the moon with it. Then hang myself at the other end.”

           He laughed and coughed at the same time. He wrapped an imaginary rope around his head, saying “Someday…someday.”

           When I played in the Junk Square, I liked to jump from one dirt spot to another without stepping on the less filthy ground. There were a lot of them so it was easy. They were made of vomit, spilled liquor, blood, or other things, and each of them had its own story. There was a man who knew all the stories of all the spots, but he died and became one of them.

           Something hurt. One of the needles went through my shoe. I took it out and threw it away. I put my finger where the blood poured and licked it. Then, I asked people how they stayed warm.

           One said: “Drugs”. Another one said: “Rape”. A third one said: “Blankets, you idiot!” But I hated blankets because of the crawling ticklers.

           An old man with no eyes told me to come closer. He lost his eyes while arguing with a plant who turned out to be a very hairy guy with long nails. He was blind before, so he didn’t mind losing his eyes, but he said that now he felt cold in the holes. He was the one who told me that what I needed to stay warm was love.

“What is love?” I asked.

“You’ll know when you find it,” he said.

I picked up some litter on the ground.

“Is that it?” I said.

“No. You’ll feel it when you find it.”

          So, I looked for love. I found it in an alley.

          First, love gets in your ears. Then, you feel it in your stomach.

          At first, I thought it was just another scream, but it was singing. I would walk on all the needles in the world to follow that sound.

           The singing, the warmness, the love came from a wooden fence. A beautiful black cat was walking on the planks, slowly. I didn’t know what the word elegant meant, but a drunk bearded man kept repeating “Elegant…elegant…elegant” as he stared at the cat, and I learned what it meant just by looking at her too. I learned a new word every time she moved or made a sound. Passion. Goddess. Desire. I wanted to drown in her fur. So shiny and elegant. So soft that touching it would be like touching water. Her voice made my thinking dizzy and my heart melt. It reminded me of the birds when they were still alive.

           A lot of people were attracted by the heat she was spreading in the night. They all gathered in the alley to watch her and listen to her sing—the drunks, the homeless, the rich, the old, the young, the squirrels, the vultures, the dogs, the rats, the jealous cats, the wolves. Even the trees turned around. They all left food and gifts for her at the foot of the fence, that’s how she survived.

           She looked at me, and I learned a new feeling. What was I supposed to do now? I wanted all her heat for myself. I knew what love was, but I still didn’t know how it worked.

“How do I get the love?” I asked the bearded, smelly man beside me.

        “You don’t,” he said. “Just stay in a dark corner and love her from afar like I do.”

           His hand was shaking up and down. I wish I had food and gifts so I could give them to her and make her love me. Because (I learned that later) to get the heat from love, the love must come from both ways. If it only goes one way, it becomes cold.

           I tried to make her love me by bringing her some mice I had killed. I always break the necks of mice. They look like my best friend who lives in my pocket. He’s a rat called Oops because that’s what I said when I stepped on him. He died, but I kept loving him and carrying him everywhere. One day someone said to me: “Listen kid, this is fucking disgusting”, and he opened my friend, took everything smelly and juicy out of his belly, and filled it with sand and grass.

           She didn’t like the mice and I didn’t know what else I could give her. I felt cold again. Everything inside me hurt. Sitting on the sidewalk, I looked at the ground for a long, long time. An old lady asked me if something was wrong. Before, people asked each other “How’s it going?” Now, people ask “What’s wrong?”

           And for some reason, everybody talked to me. I think people are not used to seeing a kid who’s not dead or being used by someone. I told the old lady that I loved a cat, and that the love was only one way, that she didn’t like the broken mice.

           “Cats love milk,” she said. “Try to give her milk. Because cats love milk. You should bring her some good milk.”   

“Where can I find milk?” I said.

           “Well, I just happen to produce milk myself,” she said. “The doctor says it’s very rare at my age. He called me an eternal mother.”

           She took me to her apartment and we sat on the couch. She explained that she wasn’t strong enough to take the milk out, that I had to do it myself. I asked her where it was and she took her shirt off. She had two big bumps just like my mom had. I had to squeeze them to make the milk come out.

           While I was making the milk fall into a little bowl the lady gave me, I remembered when I did the same thing to mommy, but with my mouth instead of my hands. She told me: “Now that you’re six years old, you can do it by yourself, so I’ll lie back on the couch and you do what you gotta do”. I liked it when she fed me. I think that was love, but only one way. One time, I got so happy that I bit her, and I got blood in my mouth. I adore blood now.

           I thanked the old lady and left the apartment with the bowl full of yellow milk. I couldn’t wait to give it to the cat I loved.

But it made the love turn cold forever.

           She enjoyed the milk. She drank all of it and thanked me, kissed me, sang a song for me. While she was singing, she started coughing. A little, then a lot, then she vomited, and she died. The milk was bad. Her voice, her beautiful voice, turned deep and unpleasant, and it seemed like it hurt when she sang. She didn’t finish the song because she got so sick. Her voice melted. After that night, she never sang beautifully again. All the people and animals stopped feeding her. They stopped bringing her gifts. She died from hunger and sadness and pain.

           But after I watched her get sick, on that same night, I kept trying to find better gifts that would make her feel better. While I was searching, a nice man offered to help me.

“Hello young man,” he said. “What’s wrong?”

“I feel cold in my heart,” I said.

“Would you like me to warm you?”

“Do you have heat you can give me?”

        “Heat isn’t acquired, young man, it is exchanged.”

“What?”

“You gotta give me some warmth too.”

“But I’m not really looking for heat anymore,” I said. “I’m looking for love.”

“Even better,” he said.

“I’m sorry, I’m not looking for love anymore. I’m looking for milk.”

“Are you thirsty?”

        “It’s not for me. It’s for the cat I love. I gave her milk from an old lady so she could give me love and heat, but she got sick, and now she’s gonna die!”

“Are your parents nearby?” the man asked.

“They burned.”

“Well, you can milk me and see if my milk works.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

“I’m nice like that. How old are you?”

“I’m not sure.”

“How many candles you had at your last birthday?”

“My last what?”

“How old were you the last time you knew?”

“Six.”

“Try again.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Just say a lower number!”

        He seemed angry. I think he really wanted to be milked.

“Five,” I said.

        “No, not an odd number,” he said, and tapped his forehead. “I can’t…socialize with kids with an odd number of years.”

“What’s an odd number?”

“It means you’re four years old. You’re four. That’s how it goes, alright?”

“Alright.”

         He took my arm and brought me into an alley. I think he was ashamed to give milk in the street. He pulled down his pants because his milk came from lower than it did with the old lady.

“Do you think she’ll be in love with me after that?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But I will.”

         I reached for his milk lump, smaller than the ones the lady and mommy had, but he stopped me.

“With your mouth,” he said.

“But how will I keep the milk?”

“Just spit it out after, what do I fucking care?”

           He grabbed my head and pulled me closer.

           Then, my uncle, the one who told me not to swear, ran up to the man and hit him in the face with his hammer. Sometimes, he just appeared, like a guardian angel.

           Uncle Lanzo always had his drilling hammer with him in case he needed to fix things around town. He seemed mad because when the man who tried to help me fell on the ground, he kept hitting him in the face. He really hated swearing. He said things like “You sick twisted parasite!” and “I’ll make baby powder out of your perverted skull”. I didn’t know what the man’s sickness was, but I felt sad for him. I know how bad it feels to be sick. I got a cold in my head that gave me bad thoughts and scary images.

           Uncle really reduced the size of the man’s head. There was so much blood on the ground that I had to roll in it. I felt warm.

           Uncle Lanzo left the rest of the head alone and looked in the man’s coat. He took out money, cigars in a crushed pack, and a little book. Then he took a hair from the man and placed it in his mustache with all the hair of different colors. He pulled out his bottle of glue and sprayed his mustache to make the new hair stick. The glue had a strong smell, and he put a lot of it. As we got out of the alley, I asked him:

“Why do you always take a hair from the people you destroy?”

“Because we’re always within a hair's breadth of death.”

         I didn’t get it. We went to a park. I sat on a big plastic turtle and uncle stayed up because he put too much glue, and that made him nervous and dizzy. He put a lot when he was worried.

           He was sweating and turning and swinging his hammer in the air, screaming “Where you demons at? Where you demons at?” as if he was seeing invisible monsters like I do. When he fell in the grass, I asked him:

“Why are you worried, uncle?”

“I’m worried for you, Stainly,” he said. “It’s a mean dark world.”

         He swallowed a lot of air, really fast. He put his hand in his coat and pulled out the little book he took from the man who had a face a couple minutes ago. He gave it to me with a pen. There were drops of blood on the cover of the book, so I licked them.

           “Stop doing that,” he said. “Listen, from now on, I want you to write down the things that happen to you and what you learn from them. Because every little thing you learn is one more layer of wisdom between you and death. And those layers pile up. And you build yourself an armor against that world.”

           I opened the book. The first page had five rows of boxes with numbers in them. Some squares, like those with the numbers 2,4,6,8, had the word church in them. Other squares, like those with the numbers 1,3,5,7, had the word molesting.

“What’s molesting?” I asked uncle.

“A bad habit,” he said.

“What’s church?”

“Another bad habit.”

         He yanked the book from my hands, tore the page out, and gave it back to me.

“What did you learn today?” he asked.

           I thought about it. I wrote: “No matter how much you love, you’ll end up hurting and destroying your love”.

           “That’s good,” uncle said when he read it. “Why don’t you add ‘Don’t milk strangers’ too?”

           I did. I closed the book and put it in my pants.

“I love you, uncle Lanzo.”

“I love you too, Stainly.” 

February 15, 2022 22:37

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