Johnny America




In the semi­trans­par­ent black and white, she was vi­brant, though not so much as she once was. Young Jim­my could not take his gaze from her. At thir­teen, his fix­a­tion was as mys­te­ri­ous as the tech­nol­o­gy sup­ply­ing his view.

This week­night she is up­stairs in her house across the street. She is rub­bing her fore­head and drink­ing from a wine­glass. Her hus­band has not yet come home from his job in the city. The tow­el around her thin­ning hair is thick and plush. The wall of the house is sol­id and with­out win­dows. None of that mat­ters to Jim­my. He sees want he wants to see and more. He has for a month, since re­turn­ing from dai­ly vis­its to his mail­box with a pack­age ad­dressed to him.

In that time he has watched her change. Her hair was once full. She makes more trips to the bath­room, kneel­ing in front of the toi­let. Of­ten, Jim­my sees her ly­ing down on her bed, the so­fa down­stairs, and even on the floor. The more he watch­es, the less she ap­pears her for­mer self.

At times he thought of look­ing at some­thing else. He did once and hap­pened to spot his moth­er in the kitchen. He is ashamed by what he saw. There re­mained lit­tle else to do but watch her, across the street, get­ting sick and sicker.

When it is time for bed, Jim­my dives un­der his cov­ers with his flash­light and com­ic books. From then un­til morn­ing she is free from harm, though the dam­age is al­ready ir­re­versible. Jim­my flips through the com­ic books. He is get­ting too old for their sto­ries and too old for the nov­el­ties sold on the back pages. What he had seen of her in the last month has ma­tured him. It has aged her even more, but he does not know that.

He has read of su­per­heroes and their pow­ers but knows lit­tle of their ef­fects on mor­tal hu­mans. Once at the den­tist he won­dered about the heavy vest they put over his body when they want­ed to take pic­tures of his mouth. But he for­got all about it once the drilling began.

He puts the glass­es on the night­stand, where he can reach them in the morn­ing. The lens­es with swirling pat­terns are still aimed at her house. If he cranes his neck just so, he can still see through them, the wall of her house, her bathrobe, and her body.

Filed under Fiction on June 3rd, 2006

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Jonathan wrote:

Well done.

Janis wrote:

Nice one.

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