Bone Orchard (TX)

The whole house had sunk on one side so if you were to place a marble in the middle of the floor it would roll down to the right until it hit the skirting board; everything I dropped rolled this way; pencils, pennies, bottles, fags, rings & chopped carrot heads; coming in drunk I had the weird sensation of actually standing upright since the walls were also sideways. The water dripping from the shower curtain (which clung like a sea anemone) also flowed downhill til it hit the back wall, a way away under the freestanding iron bath tub that had clawed feet: it was impossible to mop, unless I lay on my stomach and reached under it with a broom – every fucking day – so the bathroom smelled of stale water which filled the whole house & had a nice way of cultivating big Texas mushrooms.

med_resI slept in an iron bedstead with my head downhill at that gentle tilt, underneath the window full of a big Texas moon. The windows didn’t fit into the sills properly, so there was always a space for the bugs to get in, and no screens anyhow, so I had to sleep with the windows closed & stuffed up even in Summer, when the blades of the electric fan slowed down like a propeller in mud – in fact it would have been easier to breathe underwater. The sun came in the east windows and the heat was trapped in all day, under the tin roof; some days the grey walls seemed to sweat. In the bathroom the walls were tiled up to the middle, and the tiles were all jutting out and overlapped slightly like a yokel’s teeth; one day I peeled a strip of mould like tape from between two tiles and three of them fell off and cracked on the floor, so I got the impression it was in fact the mould holding the place together; if the house ever dried out in Summer it would turn immediately into a bone dry carcass, collapse in on itself, and I would be left in the iron bedstead covered with the moon and a Tokay blanket amongst quaint period debris and reeling dust.

BrownsvilleStScene1890sPCTem

In the evenings I’d sit out on the splintered back porch to smoke with my feet in the crab grass, as though it were a raft. The folks next door had a cat who still left presents for the old lady there. About one quarter of a cat’s kills are for food, another quarter are gifts (unwanted) and the other half are pure murder, which is to say that this cat was Jack the Ripper. I had a deal with the retarded boy of the folks next door (whose cat it was) that he come on over ever coupla days and take away the mutilated mice (heads off, or as clean in half as a sausage) with his sand bucket & spade; I even promised him a dollar if he did it regular; needless to add that he didn’t come at all after the first week, so the tiny carcasses piled up, spread in a ring around the porch and stayed there so long in the sun that the mice dried out and split open – right down the middle like a seed. The ants carried the juice away, then they were quite flat and brittle. One day I picked one up by its tail – just like a dry leaf – and turned it over so I could look at its beautiful tiny, white ribs, which were so pristine, and not joined in the middle like ours are – but they have very human little hands, four fingers and a thumb.  Once when I was walking (high in the hills around Shitsville Ranch)  I saw a big bush mouse sitting hunched in the middle of the path. It didn’t move when I came near so it must’ve been sick – just sat there with its eyes closed tight ( & wet) and hands clasped as though it were praying. In the end I had so many mice bones, perfectly picked over by the sun,  I thought about making little mice tableaux of scenes from history: Napoleon mouse instructing his mouse army, or the retreat of said army from Russia (fields of dead half buried in the snow), or religious scenes like they do in Texas wax museums: The Annunciation,  the Last Supper, Judas the Betrayer & the Kiss in the Garden, etc.

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