"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
Hunter S. Thompson

Kyle Hemmings

Absolute Zero

Outside my window, a boy lies dead in the street. It’s morning. A grey winter without
snow. Cars pass, veer around him,
as if he’s nothing more than a dead cat. I always
hate the sight of it: there's nothing less than something dead.

Maybe in winter, nobody likes cats or wants to remember their first hit-and-run. I stand
at the window, butt-naked;
she rolls back the sheets. Before I saw the boy, I thought I
wanted another tumbler of sex. Another jostle and a holler.
She said she was too hung
over. But now I’m telling her there’s a boy dead in the street. I don’t know his name or
exact contours of what I imagine is his disfigured face. How did she paraphrase
Freud? There’s an indiscernible line between
the polymorphously perverse and the
polymorphously prurient.

Last night, I bought her three gin fizzes hoping she’d change from a state of dry ice to a
vapor with a purplish tinge.
Purple is how I define sex when it changes into something
else before a triple point and after a triple sec. Not love. But
a ghost of it, a ghost with
sloppy table manners.

At the bar, misfits danced in the aisle, Mardi Gras smiles stole the air. I listened to her
mix and slosh her words, her
stories of love in tailspins and tatters. I was reminded of
that old movie where a French general kept saying “Charge,” but
his army was already
obliterated by a hollow-breasted Bertha. Clearly, neither of us ever chose or loved
wisely. We just
couldn’t achieve that steady state or we skipped one. Her mother’s
voice hung in between her words like somebody’s finger in
my drink. Mother's warnings
were Surgeon General severe and her laugh was ice chips and crackling glassware.
“Maybe for a
night,“ her mother the ghost said with a sigh, “but he won’t last the season.

Her mother, she said, was dead. But the dead, I think, love to watch and give stale advice.

Outside, the boy is no longer on the street. I thought he couldn't can’t get any dead-er,
but now inside the room, he floats
between us. There's a chill that causes our tongues
to stay indoors; the thermostat's broke. Lord Kelvin invented the notion
of Absolute
Zero in memory of his last mistress. She was a child-like woman who read him stories
at night, whose eyes turned
upwards at his poems. When the temperature dropped,
she died of pneumonia. At absoute zero, even the polar bears are no longer
they're transparent. At absolute zero, we'll disappear.

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