When winter comes to the asylum, they stare out the window because they are not
allowed to play. Once a week the orderlies come by to take them outside No running
No pushing and then, if it is snowing, they are allowed to roll around
a little. No sledding, someone might get hurt.
Oliver, who used to be a fire marshal until the day he refused to come out of a
burning building, lies down in the snow to make angels. He remembers things like
snow angels. His wife comes to visit him. She can’t understand why he did
it. Does he not love her?
Preacher Paul stands above Oliver, drool freezing on his lip. “Make the archangel
Michael,” he says. “Make Michael.”
“Shut your damn nut,” Oliver says. He rolls onto his face so that he
will not have to listen. He slides his arms in his coat up and down, up and down.
Preacher Paul jumps on his back, screaming. He lifts Oliver’s head and slams
it into the dirt. Oliver’s nose crunches. He touches his hand to his face
and is shocked by the red on his glove. Where are the orderlies? They are here to
make things, well, orderly.
White pill, bathtime. Red pill. Sleep. The way it’s supposed to be.
Dennis and Rooster, the big ones, grab Preacher Paul and Oliver—why him? what
did he do?—and lead them back inside. You see what you did now? You ruined
it for everybody. As they go up the main steps, they pass the statue of their
proud founder, which stands like a landmark to all visitors, saying this thing can
be conquered, join with me, please.
Preacher Paul laughs and spits in the snow.
—Previously published as “landmark, archangel, asylum”
in Troika Moonshine 300 (10-07-2009); reprinted here with author’s
lives in Greensboro, NC. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in
Blue Mesa Review, Coe Review, and The Surreal South ’09 anthology,
among others. He is an editor at Mayday Magazine and New American Press.
He is at work on a novel, Joshua City—a post-apocalyptic, Brechtian,
sci-fi monstrosity replete with lepers, revolutionaries, and Siamese triplets who can
see the future—with coauthor Okla Elliott.