No Other by Mark Gluth
from No Other by Mark Gluth
Hague was outside and the gravel hurt his bare feet but it was also the cold. The car was Karen’s and he knelt down at the rear bumper. Henry was asleep there. The dog was resting his head against the right tire. His eyes were open but that didn’t mean he saw anything. Hague did the same thing sometimes. The dog’s ear pricked because his bowl made this sound when Hague set it down. He said Come on Hen. He slapped his leg. The dog just lay there. Hague just left the food. He walked towards the back porch. Inside the empty kitchen was warm. The cupboards were tacky from grease. He heard a car pull up. He glanced around the shade. His mom was getting out of the cab parked in the driveway. He just grabbed some crackers and decamped to his room. He walked over to his bed, pulled the covers over his head. It was dark but he could see that it was dark. He was just thinking. If the moon was dark and the night was white, that’s what he was thinking. What he was thinking was that those were just thoughts that he was thinking. It dissolved into sleep. There was pounding on his door, more. It wasn’t dark which meant it was light. His mother’s voice said his name. She poured him cereal. He knocked at Tuesday’s door. She’s god knows where. Karen said that. Hague said she’s at Kyle’s. He said that he was just checking. Hague stood in the bathroom then and pressed his hair down with water. Outside it was warmer than it was in the house. He dragged his bag through a puddle. The leaves blew all wild in the sun. He waited for the bus. He rode it across town. School was this bland wash until his last class ended. He skipped the queued buses. He took off to the library pronto. It was because there was no way he was going home until he had to. His stomach ached and his hands shook because he was hungry. He found a cough drop in his backpack. He unwrapped it. He cracked it with his teeth. The library was one big room and basically empty. He sat at this cubicle between the stacks and a wall. The fluorescent lights killed his eyes. That’s why his face was in his arms. Some sound woke him up. He grabbed his stuff. He booked. It was dark and clear thus cold. The sky looked complex because the stars weren’t hidden. His mind ran laps around that thought until it was whittled down to something he just knew. Whenever he thought like that he didn’t see even though he could. He blinked. It was still the same. Hague ran towards a bus shelter. His ears got so cold as he waited. The bus was all glary. The lights wouldn’t shut off. The driver was whatever about it. Hague’s glasses were filthy and he could see it. At home he checked Tuesday’s room. He brushed his teeth and fed Henry. The dog was so excited. He tried to jump up. Hague sat there in the driveway and hugged him. Henry limped in circles and tangled his chain. It was his paw that hurt but it looked like it. Hague unhooked him and they jogged laps. He couldn’t see him but he knew where he was. He kept running but the dog didn’t He got him water. He went inside when he saw lights coming down the street. His room was bright and stuff was loud. What he heard was tires as they skidded on gravel, a door as it slammed on ragged hinges. It was the thin walls when he heard her fall and start moaning. The living room lit after he turned on a lamp. Karen mumbled all sprawled such as she was. She said Oh my god Haguey. She was laid out with her arms stretched and her eyes shut. Hague thought it sounded like her mouth was full of shit. She yelled at him. He asked her if she was okay. He asked her how she drove if she was that drunk. She drooled, lay on her side. She said Help me get up, just fucking. When he leaned forward she grabbed his wrists. Her weight pulled on him. It was him being thin as shit that was the problem. Something slipped and she was back on her back. His balance was off and he fell forward. It was his brow that hit the coffee table’s edge. He heard it as it happened. Karen yelped. He was kneeling, reeling. He touched his head where it hurt. His skin peeled back. Something stuck to his brow. Her voice was this dull hum beneath the ringing in his ears. What she said was that she worried that she had really hurt herself. He began to stand up. He was dizzy and nauseous. When she braced her hand beneath herself she looked at him. He saw through the blood running into his eyes. She was just this shape he made out then spat at.
No Other by Mark Gluth is now available from Sator Press.