The Scar in the Setting by Spencer R. Martin

An overwhelming depression. I thought I would be riding high on this ripe Florida sunshine forever, but as ever did the clouds hit me; the heat, drag me down eventually. I sit out in the sunlight, reclined and drinking the bleach of all bleach, hoping the poison soaks all my cells and I die slow and painfully.

I watch the turtles scurry past my line of sight, and into an alligators mouth, its jaws crunch through shell, rip through spinal cord with no effort at all. I see this, but I don't follow the scene, I am severely indifferent to the nature around here. Once I might have been interested, now I only sink into the clouds of a melancholy heaven, a cruel game that tickles my feet.

“You lay your hands on me one more time and I swear I'll kill you and that whore of yours!” she says with a stale tone of loathing. She's not talking to me, though, but to one whose ghost raises a weakened fist. Everything's drying up in the sun here. Even tattoos of abuse. We're no longer human, but withering plants. I sing wearily to the bottom of my bottle.

The fever dreams hit me again tonight, my eyeballs in a fly covered toilet, floating around and looking right up at me with a daunting sense of amusement. I reach in and start trying to fish them out, flies and cockroaches crawling all about my hands as they drift away from me and down into the dark abyss. My mothers voice calls from somewhere off screen, maybe even in my head. She claims that her grave is being robbed, I see it clearly as two lovers dance upon her corpse. One lovely platinum blonde lady in a sundress, giggling with a great joy that I can feel in her warm smile, which if not for the circumstances would have made me myself smile along with her. The man is a boney twig of a man, eyes baggy and yellow instead of white around the irises. They use my mother's hands to pleasure one another, while at the same time slipping the diamond encrusted rings off her hands. He whispers in her ear and she giggles more, which distracts her from dipping a slimy, translucent hand into his left pocket. He comes out, sand spilling from the open ends of his fist as he brings it to his face, extends it in front of his dry and cracking lips. Open handed he blows a fine dust into her face. Her face goes limp; pupils dilate, and now she's a pale ghost of a woman, even her vibrant sundress seems slack and grey in the purple moonlight. My vision blurs, and I can no longer watch from my vantage point, a scream and a blistery starry swirl.

I am in the sunlight, my face lit up with a smooth pair of sunglasses. I'm in the park, a dog nibbles a treat out of my hand. I seem to have a perfect recollection of getting to this place, and I don't question it at all. Children laughing on a playground, swinging on a swing set and a short haired beauty in a nice vibrant sun dress eyes me as she pushes a stroller. She walks towards me, “Can I take a seat mister?”

“You most certainly can darlin'. Whats your name?” I shift uncomfortably and another dog treat falls out of my hand. I start to wonder how I acquired them in the first place, “Is that your kid?” I inquire softly.

“No” “Then who...”

I rub my eyes again, open them, and still the same beauty. Those same big beautiful doe eyes, magnificently pulchritudinous swirling eyelashes, but this time I reenter the world in a seedy motel with cracks in the walls and scurrying cockroaches. I scan the room, a dusty, yellow-tinted window sits to the left of me. Outside of it I can see a flashing sign: SAROSA MOTEL: YOUR SLUMBER IS OUR-- I can't see the rest of the slogan.

If you look close enough in any motel room you'll ever have the misfortune of setting foot in, you'll find it, outside or inside, the mysterious cracks and holes, the contours of some sort of mistake, a tale once played out, a language that describes so much you'll never understand: the scar in the setting, languishing forever in its framed glory.

So I scan the walls. To the back of me there is a giant hole, in that hole a twitching eyeball peering in at us. I lock my eyes with it.

“Goddammit!” I exclaim as I hop up and tear across the room with an outstretched thumb ready to punch the anonymous eye into the head out of which it pokes, but it blinks and jumps back from the wall before I reach it, I jab my thumb in to no avail. I get down on my knees and peer back through. The room is pitch black, I hear the scurrying of cockroaches. I get up and look through the drawer of the beside table: the bible. I flip through and find the story of Cain and Abel, I tear it out, reach into my pocket. Perfect: duct tape. Why do I have... I place the page over the hole and tape all around it.



Back to this questionable scene. Now she looked displeased, as if this were an interrogation room.

“Whats wrong, dolly,” I whispered as I sat down, cracked a beer with my left hand, and placed a warm hand on her right cheek, caressing her like I would one of my favorite lovers. The doe eyes went dim, she put her head down and started to weep.

“I'm only a passenger,” she whispered with a hiss as her voice cracked and wavered, “My feet are long dead and gone, they crack and peel with every step, and I haven't even walked in years.” She's tip toeing across my underestimated psyche, she wants to say something but cannot. I see myself reaching out and grabbing her by the wrist, without the intention of being malicious. But I suppose it came across that way, she gave off a shrill scream that put the pain she felt upon me. Her skin sizzled under my fingertips, smoke seeping out from under them, and with that I knew what she was trying to say, and for some reason it angered me. I pulled away, leaving a welting red mark in the print of my hand. She fell back on the bed, tears rolling down her cheeks, but this time she did not weep, but just stared at the yellow ceiling with carrion eyes, as that melancholy water poured out. If there was any trace of teenage effervescence left in that splendid late-twenties world of hers it was gone now. It had to happen at some point before she hit her thirties. And I didn't even feel bad that it was my existence that came to take it out of her. I just stared at her, sipping my drink, without a flicker of feeling in me.

My ears jumped as I heard a tearing of paper, I looked over to see a stubby thumb poking through the page of the bible upon which Cain and Abel's twisted fate was scrawled. “That's it!” I mumbled as I turned and rushed to the wall. I reached it and tore off the page, peering through the gate to the next world over that I had reopened. What I saw made my heart stop on the spot.

I saw myself sitting on the same soiled motel bed that I rested on moments before. The movie that was my life was projected in front of me, as if I were God sitting on his cloud and gazing down. I saw myself rubbing my eyes and staring into those, gorgeous, that had shined so brightly when I had first come across them. And she looked back at me with admiration, when the lights flickered.

I jumped up and looked to the lamp, went and jiggled the plug in the wall. I stood again and stared at the limp beauty, with an even greater detachment now at what I had done. I staggered, peered through the hole just in time to see myself gathering the contours of my setting. I saw myself staring back, rising up and crying out, an outstretched thumb, ready to attack. I admonished myself of the thought of jumping back, I was ready.

And then the lamp went out. I stood still, eye open and willing to be jammed out, but nothing came, everything was still. The only sound, the scurrying of cockroaches. I pulled back, something was covering the gateway to the next world. I paused, curiously, for just a moment, confused, but sure, of what I would see.

I grabbed the flashlight from my key chain and peered in. As I expected, the story of Cain and Abel.

And so I sat, and I read...