Critical Thought: Sinews

2-3 hours before I wrote this thing, my neighbor, Al, asked me if I had heard of Charles Baxter. I looked at the bark on his ancient basil plant and shook my head. Al mentioned t a l k i n g f o r k s. Rather than using Google to learn more about this, I trusted my intuition and rode my bike to the local library with Bridget. While she was assigned a desktop computer, I found the only copy of Witz and sat in a reading chair. Witz was 800 pages. This book pressed down on me. I put the heavy book on a cylindrical table and opened my little computer on top of it. My eyes wanted to focus on something far away, like that blue and green painting. I’m myopic. I like to leave my eyeglasses at home, in near disrepair and disuse. My blur keeps me from being too distracted by everything around me, it keeps me irresponsibly in my own world. I thought about my understanding of talking forks and started writing. I wanted to bring my words as close as possible to what was happening in my own non-blurry world. I did this trusting that if I was able to bring my words this close to my focus, most readers would be taken at least as close. I did this until I got hungry.

Michael Davidson (herocious) was born in Miami in 1979. His short fiction has been featured in Literary Potpourri, Outsider Ink, Whistling Shade, 42opus, Snow Monkey, and Entrepôt. He edits the online website, TheOpenEnd. He is the author of AUSTIN NIGHTS, his first published novel. He lives in Austin.

Sinews

Underneath the skin wrapped around my upper arm, a biceps.

Sometimes I bend my arm at the elbow and grope my biceps.

The bulbous growth keeps me company.

True, it’s mostly silent and accepting of my prodding, but sometimes it speaks.

Like when I smile or whisper sweet coos into its flesh-capped zenith, my biceps tenderizes and tells me to p l e a s e s t o p the fucking flattery.

I say,

“But I can’t help myself. You’re beautiful.”

My biceps strongly pumps 3-7 times into my cheek, smiting me for the emasculation.

I say,

“You are! You’re huge! You’re Zeus!”

And to prove my point I drag my biceps to the nearest mirror.

My biceps says,

“Oh no, please, don’t do this now. You pamper me too much. I’m supposed to be rough. Rough me up, fucker.”

I say,

“Listen, when times get hard and you really do get roughed up, you’ll whine for the return of these days.”

My biceps doesn’t know how to answer this hypothetical. It flattens into my arm as if trying to melt into the crowd.

I say,

“You can’t hide from me. Look at you! You’re huge!”

It’s undeniable: reflected in the spit-stained mirror, the most violent knot. Veins push and pulse bluish green.

My biceps says,

“Put me away post-haste. You’re making me a pansy. I can’t take this pampering.”

I laugh with distilled conceit. I puff my chest and crank my arm a little harder to get the bulge just right. It sits on me, a packed snowball.

My biceps says,

“Fuck you!”

I say,

“Anger brings out your sinews.”

And I crank my arm harder until there’s a click and a pop and then a lot of pain.

I’m scared to look at what I’ve done. I feel like I’ve ruined a good thing.

I say,

“Speak. I’m begging you. Just say something. Please.”

My biceps doesn’t answer.

I stare rabidly at what used to be a formidable pipe and see nothing but concavity.

In desperation I massage my biceps. Friction will nurse the thing back to health.

Warmth heals.

But nothing: my biceps is down for the count, flaccid like a hanging elephant trunk.

I go to the refrigerator and snap open a can of Aloe Drink.

I let the juicy pulp lull on my tongue before violently gulping everything down.

On my balcony I look at the swimming pool with no one enjoying its poisonous waters.

I pinch off a basil leaf.

I say,

“Will you ever be normal again?”

I rub my biceps with the basil leaf, tiger balm.

I pinch off another basil leaf and rub my biceps until I think I’ve got enough on there for pesto.

Hunger jangles in the pit of my stomach.

I say,

“Come back to me.”

But my biceps caves in even more when I carefully try to make a muscle.

It’s angering, it’s depressing.

I say,

“No!”

I crunch the empty can of Aloe Drink with my forearm muscles and toss it in the direction of the swimming pool, but without the help of my devastated biceps it falls f a r far short.

I say,

“You’ve left me no choice.”

I grab the olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan out of the pantry and cook some pesto biceps, which I then eat using fork and knife.

Digestion will rebuild everything. Put it back in its right place.

by Michael Davidson {herocious}