by Kyle Hemmings
Me & One-eyed Jack like playing King of the Hill on the long afternoons when there’s no school. Sometimes I push him off & watch him tumble down & play dead. He even holds his breath when I shake him, & I tell him that it’s not fun anymore–I know he’s faking. He reminds me of my sister’s Persian cat with green eyes so perfect you’d think they’re fake. Sometimes that cat is so still as if she’s becoming one with the soul of our old furniture, the space under our beds. Jack got his name because of that one artificial eye, sticky with disgusting goo, whenever he removes it to shock the kids who never need glasses, to remind us that somewhere we all have a hole in our selves. Jack & I spend years diving into our reflections off bridges, coating girls’ breasts with our tongues hungry to make erect, to make life from where there was only shut-eye and half-promises. From where there’s little likelihood of milk & dreamy babies. We spend years growing taller & apart then coming closer in that distance. I always think of Jack as gleaning the truth off surface appearances with his good eye, never completely taking it in, something you’d toss away in the closet, like a pair of sneakers that cramp your feet. & with the vacant stare of that artificial eye he’d dream of us growing into a different life where we’d have perfect parts. He didn’t make it beyond high school. Some said he jumped from the roof of St. Ignatius High just to prove he could fly, crash land & return, all parts intact, maybe even stronger. But the truth was much simpler: One day, he never woke up from bed. He must have liked staying in the vast space behind the removable eye. For years, the truth of that made me far sighted to strangers who tried to see through me, partially blind to lovers with poor night vision.
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Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s.