No Heart, Two Hearts, Three

 

In the Kaats Kills, they fear my name. I am Tyro of the red typewriter. I am the boy with no heart. They call me ruthless and cruel. They say I drive nails into my feet and tap dance to the songs of crying babies. I’ve been known to yodel in the shower and cheat at solitaire. I’ve been known to cavort with Morisa.

They say Morisa worships the moon. They say she makes boys loony with the geometry of her open legs. It’s no lie. She’ll lead them to the dam site and I stand behind a tree and project my slingshot. We leave their naked bodies on the church steps.

They say her mother’s a drunk and a cat lady who married the funeral director for make-up tips. The bandies cluck that we got no sense of propriety and no shame. To think what they’d say if they saw us rolling about in the cemetery! The ghosts we conjure. The coyotes and vultures we attract.

When I get Morisa laughing, she gets humid with humor. The scent gets me yawping and typing and standing on one foot. Oh, she’s got it all! Back straight, chest out, eyes to the ground in search of lucky pennies!

And how to describe her face? It is an invitation to sin. Eyes selfish like a cat’s. Breath that stirs my blood like wind rouses the clouds. Morisa says, Don’t worry darling. You stick with me and you’ll see the worst of it. Indeed, a healthy oyster never produces a pearl.

It’s all true, what the bandies say. We lie, cheat, and steal. We cut the heads off chickens to see where they keep the eggs. Imagine a pearl you can suck the yoke out of. Imagine how yellow the taste of her mouth. The scratch of a just-formed claw.

If you ever saw Morisa on her back with her legs up in the air, you too would bend down on all fours to sniff out trespass and sin. For her, I steal deer antlers from hunting cabins. For her, I hoard my fingernail clippings. I rob frogs of their eyes and bats of their wings. On Valentine’s I give her Great Granny’s picture with the dead glued in with the living.

Morisa believes in equal protection under the law and therefore the liberation of the dead. She says that even a dead boy must have a heart. She pokes me in the chest. Only a fool would resist. At the dam, Morisa casts a spell with muddy water and the pulp scraped from our hearts. She commands my dead uncle to step from the photograph.

He steps from the photograph. He follows her around like he’s a lost puppy. She names him Sailor Boy. We baptize him in the reservoir where a town once was. I point to the foundation of a house. Morisa says, That’s where we’ll live! Sailor Boy asks if we’re running away. He asks if we’ve kidnapped him. I say, You’ve been spirited away, but we ask no ransom. We swim out to the underwater house and float the night away. There’s no roof and the stars look lonely.

I ask Sailor Boy to tell us his history and Morisa laughs and laughs, for she knows that history is like a foggy dream that you try to write down in the morning but are unable to find a pencil and while searching in the couch cushions you come across a love letter addressed to someone else and smelling of a perfect stranger that you will perhaps fall in love with.

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