I DEFINITELY NEVER LOVED YOU by Cory Bennet

It’s that time of year when California burns. It will peak in the Fall when the shadows begin to grow longer. There was a lightning storm across the Bay Area last night and fires today and ash falling from the gray sky. My knee is torn up from skating but I’m restless tonight so I cruise the neighborhood inhaling the poison air. 

Once the fire had torn through my parents’ neighborhood, we tried to return but the cops had all the roads closed. My stepdad knew a way through an orchard. We came upon the house and it still stood. The land was black and smoldering in places. There were two deer trapped between our fence and the fire line. Twisted limbs, charred skin, organs exposed. My stepdad and I dug two graves and buried them together in silence at dusk. 

*

I had Bobby cut the sleeves off my Ceremony long sleeve in his apartment on a day I couldn’t stop crying. We bought snacks from the dollar store and watched Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Passing me the joint he asked what was the matter. I said, “Everything.”

*

I’ve been reading about Catholic saints and the desert fathers. The Shobogenzo is on my nightstand, and I understand none of it. I’ve read it twice. I pray, I speak to my dead friends, I sit cross-legged on the hardwood floor, I think of my father swaying from his noose like a metronome. 

*

It’s the violence, my mother told me once, that my blood has collectively faced. It’s the drugs. It’s the gutshot my great-grandfather took and his daughter’s lethal abortion in an alley off Market Street. It’s the fact that it becomes a list. Categorical. I did not believe how violent lives, violent deaths, could be transmitted through cells. Mom told me I had a weak imagination and placed her cigarette on the edge of the table to watch the ash collect and fall. 

*

My father once said I kept him alive and I wonder what changed that. He told me once he would never go back to prison. Six years ago he was looking down the barrel of a 25 year bid. He kept his word. 

*

I go entire days without laughing, without cracking a smile, without moving my mouth at all. Not even to eat. Only rubbing my tongue in the space where a tooth got kicked out.

*

I can see the stadium lights of my high school from the backyard. My ex-girlfriend’s parents live up the street. 

 

Last night I was taking out the trash and the orange cat who hangs out in my wheel well was laying in the driveway. He was dead, it was obvious in how not alive he looked. I didn’t know if he belonged to any of the neighbors so I knocked on doors but no one answered. I grabbed an old shirt from my closet and draped it over his body, muttering something I remembered from Catechism: and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.

*

After I read the Gucci Mane book I texted Juice: Guwop prolific as fuck. He said What? The Young Thug song? And I said Nah man, Gucci Mane, East Atlanta Santa. Juice believes the real Gucci is dead, and the sober and healthy Gucci is a replacement, a replicant. I ate an Adderall and took a sip of my diet coke, tonguing the hole in my mouth where that tooth used to be.

*

I had to get out of bed. It was my dead friend’s birthday and some of us agreed to have dinner, but I didn’t want to go. One year ago I had my hands around his neck, trying to keep him from hemorrhaging when he got stabbed in the throat. I lost. His frantic eyes searched but couldn’t focus. I told him it was okay and that we’d look after his family. He died and I left before the ambulance arrived.

I got dressed and ate some more Adderall and pocketed a Klonopin and nicotine patches. I thought of shards of glass in the blades of grass. I thought of cumming on lusty lady death. 

*

I’m just so bored of everything. Nothing surprises me anymore, even when it does. I clip my toenails and gather them to place inside an empty diet coke can. I ejaculate indiscriminately on my socks. I sit slouched in NA meetings and feel grateful for absolutely nothing.

*

I was watching my mom’s house for a few days during the week in the middle of August. I took the days off work so I could hang out with the pets and get stoned. She lives out in the country on about five acres of pasture at the bottom of a valley, with my stepdad who is there for her and always comes home at night. 

There was a thud at the window and Mila barked and ran to the door. I got off the couch to see what it was. Outside the window, a tiny bird lay on the ground, its tiny beak opening and closing. I knew it was going to die but felt panicked like I had to do something. I couldn’t just wait it out. I scooped the bird into my hands and submerged it in my dog’s bucket of water. I can’t say if dying the other way would have been better. The corpse floated to the top.


Cory Bennet is 32 and lives in northern california. his work has appeared in entropy mag, witch craft magazine, dostoyevsky wannabe, and shabby doll house. Cory is currently enrolled in the mfa program at sierra nevada university. He is on twitter @melancory666.

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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