Punch-Drunk

  

by Russell K. Allen

 

For perhaps the first time you recognize Right Now, and it has an overwhelming, suffocating depth that reminds you of the deep end at the old neighborhood pool. The deep end that you would jump into and blow air through nose, open eyes, and sink and sink until you landed softly, Indian-style on the bottom. It’s just you and Dad and he is sick and skinny and unawake, unconscious on the bed because of the aneurysm. Mom and sisters are in the hallway outside the door, crying and talking. It’s been too long since you’ve been to see them. You lift the sheet: Dad’s feet. They’re too thin, you think, to bear weight; the calves are too thin to bear. ‘Goddamn, you look different,’ you say. ‘Goddamn.’ He doesn’t have hair on his head and, if you’d ever spent the time to wonder, it’s lumpier than you would have thought. An eye is slightly open, but you know he can’t see. He can hear, though. They say he can hear and understand things, so you think hard what to say. Right Now folds into itself, compressing and flowing past you like a swift river and you wonder about roaches: you’ve heard they can survive three full days submerged in water, extreme exposure to radiation, and months without food, despite the onslaught of the world and the ever-coming, ever-passing moments of Right Now that go on and on, amen, steady moving, past even the moment when a man’s life ends.

 

Russell K. Allen recently graduated with a B.A. in English. He will begin graduate coursework this fall at Stephen F. Austin State University, in Nacogdoches, Texas, and he has one previous publication: Gingerbread House Literary Magazine.

 

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