Infinity by Douglas Colby

By now you have to know that it was me who has been murdered. I can remember it feeling like I was falling asleep. Something like that. Like I had stopped breathing and started again without ever needing to think about it. It was just like that. The pillow was placed over my face. I felt arms around me. I knew that either I inhaled or forever be called a failure.

I took a breath that was not a breath. It was like there were cheers. A crowd standing behind us encouraging it. And then I didn’t have to think about breathing anymore.

But that is just where this begins. I can’t blame anyone. I assume that you won't be able to either. If I had a chance I would go to all of them and thank them for all the memories. But they aren’t my memories anymore. Like this one:

We had just gotten down to the creek. The water was rushing over the sides where we usually sat. And there was the drowned log that was perched, at one time, up onto its side with an arm hanging onto its other side—it sat like an armchair. I could sit with my back perched against the largest branch that was just atop the edge of the creek. I could dangle my toes into the water; my other leg under my butt so that I could lean towards the water and into the branch hanging above feeling safe just like that. But the water was so high that there was only space for one of us, so we continued down the path towards the back of Lott’s garage.

It was a junk yard. A horse stable sat between the house and the creek and the rest was littered with old cars, tractors, some of those wooden table like things that the Gray’s had above their garage using them as coffee tables. Litter ran down like it tumbled towards the creek losing its footing from the rest of the junk. We dodged brier patches and thorn bushes, kicking at half rotted out Styrofoam cushions and beer cans. There was a fence with a couple strands of barbed wire that might have kept the horse in if it had the will or strength to attempt to leave the yard. But the gate that led down across the creek, where the Lott’s would take their trucks down through the river bed and through the woods was open and we decided to sneak in. One of the Lott boys was there. He was the second youngest of the six brothers and two sisters. His lips were split he said from getting kicked in the face while scraping off the horse’s feet. He said these long strips of horse foot were good to eat if you wanted to. When he licked at that white piece of calcium slashed horse's hoof he looked stupider than ever. His lip would curl like he wasn’t sure just where the massive cut was. When he cringed, his eyes hit the moment like the horse's foot was at his face again. He led us towards the one large truck and climbed into the cab. Grabbing the steering wheel he made sounds like the truck was moving through the creek and up over the massive hill that led towards the power lines that his brothers would drive up and down.

His father called out. He ran away and screaming behind him he told us to “get the fuck out!”

Nov 22, 19—

I hate my uncle. There is no way I am going over there for Thanksgiving. I don’t care if I have to run away. They don’t even treat me like I'm part of the family since Dad died. Was killed. Killed himself.

I snuck into mom’s room today and was digging through her closet looking for things that might remind me of him. I found his autopsy report. His brain weighed almost nine lbs. I don’t know that I should have ever known that about my father.


Alex and Matthew were smoking out the window talking about the time that their father and their uncle drove from Pennsylvania back to New York in forty-five minutes. How it would have taken anyone else over two hours. Alex’s mother came upstairs and knocked on the door. They flicked their cigarettes into the yard, and Alex yelled too loudly and looking wide-eyed and frightened towards his brother at once, “what!” came out of his mouth.

“Tommy’s downstairs.” It was like she was afraid they might tell her to send him up, but they knew better with Dad on the couch that he might have awaken and taken up to drinking again. She almost whispered,

“Your father is trying to take a nap. Be extra quiet as you pass him. Tommy has been waiting outside.”

They were glad to get out of the house. Matthew wondered why they had snuck in at all when they could have just gone into the garage. They gathered their jackets and grabbed their pipe from where they hid it in the carved out bible. Dad was good for something Alex thought, and as they passed their father they noticed that she had taken the glass away and covered him with the afghan. Matthew could still see his father’s burnt hand and the bottom of the bottle of bourbon on the other side of the couch just in reach.

“What took so long,” Tommy asked jolting them.

“Fuck you Tommy.”

“It’s freezing out here,” he said unconvinced.

“You guys, whenever you’re together, it’s like . . .” he paused.

“Forget it.”

Alex opened the door and pushed the lawnmower out of the way. They got to the stairs and forced Tommy to go up first punching at his legs to knock him off balance as he ascended. He thought momentarily of kicking Alex in the face, but decided he deserved it for being an idiot outside.

He waited for them when he got to the top rubbing his calves and whining something about it being too cold—again he wasn’t convinced of this. Matthew came up first and plugged the extension cord into the other that ran outside and into the house. Their father was always pulling it down, and there were a few places where Alex had to splice it back together covered with electrical tape because his father had cut it in two. The lights came on: a glowing bulb over the backside of the loft and the Christmas lights ran up front by the TV and couches. They sat at the table in the back and Alex rolled a joint. Matthew was telling Tommy that they were going to get the Corvette running this next summer. Tommy looked at him, half amused, and hissed out a breath.

“What the fuck? You don’t believe me?”

Alex looked up waving the joint and asking who wanted to go first and light this amazing joint?

They got high and Tommy started to fidget with the lighter thinking about whether or not he believed them. Finally he said, “How does your dad drive with his hand like that?”

Alex looked at him and laughed, “I've seen him eating a sandwich, smoking a cigarette, and drinking coffee all at the same time while driving.”

Matthew laughed at this nodding in approval as he exhaled.

“You guys are such fucking liars.” Tommy approved of his own straightforwardness.

Matthew jumped on him and put him in a head lock. Tommy couldn’t talk, paralyzed with Matthew’s action and his now rapid, almost hyperventilating breaths. All he could do, as he tried to push away the arm to no avail was to grab hold of his ears and pull as hard as he could. The force that bore down on his neck frightened him, and he wasn’t sure if he should let go of Matthew’s ears or pull harder. In the moment, he became absolutely positive that he would rip them off if he had to—it was becoming ever more possible that he would lose consciousness soon—Alex came over and broke it up.

“What the fuck is wrong with you two? This shit is suppose to chill you out.”

The blood vessels in Tommy’s neck had broke and Matthew’s ears were blackened at the base all ready. With nothing else to do, they laughed.

“Holy shit, man, look at his neck.”


Natalie came over for dinner on Saturday. They were having pizza and Alex wanted to go to Natalie’s instead. His father warned him not to leave the house, and Alex was convinced he wouldn’t be able to come home for a few days if he decided to run away. Moments later regretting what he had asked his father unexpectedly said that Natalie could come over and that he and his mother could go pick her up when they went to get the pizza.

Nov 22, 19—

I pray that I won't have to go there. I even asked god to kill me rather than see me go there for Thanksgiving.


The pizza box sat hotly on Alex’s lap. Natalie was situated in the seat behind him so he couldn’t make out her face in the rear view mirror, and every time he might have caught her face in the light from the street lights in the side view outside his window he was too ashamed to look. Finally, his mother asked, “Natalie, how is your mother?”

“She's fine Mrs. Patchin. Fine.”

Alex shifted his legs pronouncing the pizza was so hot in an off-handed tone.

“Well put it on the seat behind me,” his mother said thoughtfully.

“No. That is fine.” The last word kind of lost meaning, and he said again, “no, it’s cooling off a bit now.”

He gripped his hands around the edges hoping that some of the heat might escape out of the top of the box if he could push his thumbs hard enough into the top and release it from its edges.

She told me she prayed to god that He would just kill her in her sleep. I guess I laughed at that. Not on the outside. I never knew what to say to her when she said those things. I always looked at her when she said stuff like that as if she knew something I didn’t. Maybe I wanted to be dead too, I would think. I don’t know anymore. I think that I might have stuttered something to her in the silence that she was always so comfortable with. Maybe I said, “I don’t know, it isn’t that bad.”


As they finished up dinner, Alex’s mother slipped the left over pieces of pizza still in the box into the oven. This grabbed Natalie’s attention. Finally Alex felt he had something to say. “It is fine in there,” he said. “It never lasts long enough to get stale or grow mold or whatever.”

Natalie felt as if she were being made fun of when he gave thought to her thinking. “No,” she added, her first natural seeming response of the night, “no, no. I was just thinking that . . . it’s fine.”

“What’s that,” his father asked from across the room as he reached once again into the fridge.

“Speak your mind my darling,” he pronounced bringing a smile to her face. It was as if the father and son were now seeing her for the first time. She smiled and brought her hand covering her mouth and then her acne riddled chin. Feeling their eyes on her, she pushed her face down and brushed her beautiful blonde hair behind her ear and then once again in front of her face. In one swift moment she had gone from confident to radiant to hidden behind a drape of hair.

His father put his claw to his face making Natalie shy back even more. He knew he had been hiding it from view, but that they were all more or less understanding that it was there—hidden. “You see this thing Natalie? I could be ashamed of this.” His other hand came up to light the Pall Mall and in one short breath he blew out the smoke, tucked away the lighter, and held the claw just high enough that it was as if he now he felt that it was a trophy.

“This has never kept me from living life,” he said. “You know this time in 1967, I was having dinner with Simon and Garfunkel in New York City. A big turkey. And a lot of bourbon and weed . . .”. His wife sent him a reminding glance that he was not in the bar telling some stranger this story; looking back at Alex with a sense of forgiveness, she said, "Oh, honey these kids don't even know who Simon and Garfunkel were."

Alex smiled at Natalie. She pushed her plate and glass together like she might begin to clean up. He started again as she was just about to raise herself from her seat.

“My father had a trash bin out back here when we were kids,” he said pointed towards the tortoise shell of a car under the tarpaulin. “I was eight years old and while he lay drunk in the living room, I went out to help him with the garbage. I loved my mom and he beat my mom; so, I grabbed the can of gasoline, and I when I poured it on the fire it came right at me. I tried to throw it into the fire, but it was too late and it had already caught on my hand. The glove was the real problem. I couldn’t get it off and as it slowly burnt through my hand, I thought about how much I hated that man.”

“Let’s clear the dishes, kids,” mother announced in a jubilance unfitting.

“Sit down,” he swore. “I was just getting to the point.

“I spent two summers getting skin grafts while the kids around me spent time in baseball fields. I played Monopoly with dying kids. Kids that wouldn’t make it ‘til summer. Maggots ate at my hand while I watched them dying kids. That didn’t stop me. Did I tell you that I swear to god I had Thanksgiving dinner with Janis Joplin back in 1969.”

Mother rose without sense of apology and kissed him on the forehead. “Time for bed,” she said, “you have a big day tomorrow."

“Goodnight kids. I know that this thing can be frightening,” he held up his hand and chuckled. “I just want her to know that she doesn’t have to . . .”. “Fine,” he said. “Good night. Love you son. Have to get to bed. And you too. Tell your mother to drive her home. Me, yes, I am going to bed too, Mommy says so.” It was 8:30. Alex looked towards his mother as she grabbed the keys off the counter for the van.

Douglas Colby resides in Buffalo, NY and is currently enrolled in a master of arts program at Buffalo State College. He can be reached at