Page 32 - WTP Vol.VII #3
P. 32

 Alex Youngblood was as surprised as anyone that someone was holding a vigil for him. He didn’t know how he felt about it, partly because he hadn’t felt anything since the bullet blew a hole through his heart. What were the chances that Maura would’ve had the nerve to pull that trigger as he walked away? At first he thought she’d thrown something, a rock, maybe, that knocked the wind out of him, but try as he might, he couldn’t catch his breath, and then, bit by bit, he felt what had to be his soul slipping away into the night, death’s slow gnawing at anything of his that was living, so that particles of him seemed to hover above his body like shiny metallic dust, finally reas- sembling to form a new and, if you enjoyed living, less improved Alex.
And then the getting used to it, the confusion of being stranded between the living and the dead, waiting
for the inevitable to happen, but not sure what that meant. He had heard stories of people in comas who wandered around like lost dogs until their bodies snatched their spirits back from the afterlife, only to live long productive lives. But then he remembered the hopeless look on the EMT’s face and his matter- of-fact summation: “Well, at least he died fast.” They didn’t even try CPR. But still, still, perhaps currents
Alex was standing on his porch as Missy Rogers handed out candles. It made sense that she was the one who’d organized this vigil. His whole life he’d wanted to hook up with her but she’d never go out with him. And yet there she was, passing out candles, always needing to do what she believed was the right thing. He should’ve been flattered but he felt anger instead.
of energy were sparking in the gray hidden recesses of his brain, little nooks and crannies scientists had yet to discover. What a disappointment for all those gathered on his lawn if, indeed, his body, wherever it was now, came back from the dead and showed up at school one day.
Tired of watching her, he decided to sit for a while. All he wore was a pair of tight blue jeans, and he won- dered how he’d gotten into them. For two days he had walked around his house in the bloody clothes he’d been shot in. He watched his parents mourn in their own ways, though he’d never felt close to them. His sister came home from college but seemed annoyed that everything was taking so long. He heard her talk- ing on the phone about some “hot guy” and a “fucking amazing” party she might have to miss.
One thing he did know was that, at least for now, death really sucked.
And now no one was home.
No bright lights or being led off to heaven by a bunch of bearded old guys in white robes.
His mother had lied to his aunt, suggesting she couldn’t bear the pain of the vigil, so the whole fam- ily had gone to their vacation home on the Cape. Alex imagined them getting the house ready for the sum- mer and taking the Sunfish out on the cove. If people knew, they’d say it was insensitive, but Alex would’ve done the same thing. The Youngbloods didn’t believe in suffering. They were doers. You finished something, succeeded in it, and moved on. If everything fell apart, you just kept moving, you extended the blinders, kept making as much money as you could, so that anytime you felt like it, you could tell people to fuck off.
Did that mean the other fate awaited, that devilish spirits were in meetings, making decisions about where Alex Youngblood should spend eternity?
Looking back at his past, he might’ve changed a few things but not much. Granted, only a small group
of mourners were milling about, but what did they know? Alex always believed that if there was a God, He’d be more mercenary than the one priests de- scribed. He liked the Old Testament Kick-ass God better. That was a guy who would’ve understood the life he had constructed for himself until Maura freaked out. What did she expect to happen at Henry’s party
Alex looked at his arms and chest. Before the shoot-
after she got drunk? It wasn’t like she’d fought back when he tried to slide her jeans off, and it wasn’t his fault what the others had done to her afterwards.
Still, he was surprised she hadn’t come to check out his vigil, just as surprised as he’d been to see another dead kid, Ryan Holt, lurking in the shadows behind his house. Ryan had been killed in a car accident four months ago. Although dead longer, Ryan seemed closer to life than Alex, able to do more things, so maybe death could get better. Maybe Ryan was sent as a guide to help him through the transition, so that Alex might reclaim some semblance of his body—if only for a few weeks or months—before becoming permanently dead.
Peter JohNsoN

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