Remember: Bob Marley's Dead
by K.B. Carle
I try to avoid having conversations with my pot dealer because we’re not friends, this is strictly a business relationship until it isn’t, until I’m lying on the floor realizing his living room is an altar or shrine to Bob Marley which freaks me out because maybe he’s kidnapped Bob Marley but, to distract myself, I ask “when does this stuff kick in,” and my dealer says, “any minute now, girl,” and his voice sounds like a saxophone solo, shocking at first but then your ears adjust and your whole body just eases into the sound like I ease into the sound of him saying “minute” or the thought that maybe Bob Marley’s body isn’t somewhere in his apartment but the word “girl” makes my throat dry and I sense I’m forgetting something important about Bob Marley but to chase that thought away I tell him my name, “Shenzi,” and my dealer says, “no shit, really,” and I know where this is going so I beat him to it “like the hyena in Lion King, yes,” because my mom loves Whoopi Goldberg’s voice threatening to kill a lion and I’m looking at the shadow of lion behind Bob Marley on a poster wondering if it’s thinking of killing him but, for some reason, that doesn’t make sense and I have this sudden urge to save Bob Marley from the lion or ask if my dealer can do something and that’s when I feel the rug I’m lying on start cradling me, my fingers caressing its velvet surface and I’m seeing hair sprout from my arms looking like four leaf clovers and I show my dealer, say “look,” and he’s running his fingers over my hair leaf clovers saying “did you know he shot the sheriff,” and I’m laughing because this is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time but still something doesn’t sound right about it and I know that someone’s been shot but it’s not the sheriff but I can’t think straight because I’m laughing until my stomach cramps and the lion in the poster stalks closer and Marley’s teeth are sharpening and my dealer is humming some saxophone call and I swallow what laughs I have left because I want to get real quiet to figure out who got shot or who gets shot so, in an attempt to focus, I look at the hair leaf clovers wilt, watch the lion’s essence fade into Bob Marley who looks at me looking at him, says “Shenzi,” like Mufasa in the clouds and I try to sit up because no one lays down in Mufasa’s presence, get on my elbows and everything, but my dealer stops me, says “easy, girl,” and the words make all the hair leaf clovers fall from my arms and I’m surrounded by the remains, cupping them in my hands, trying to breathe life back into them, whispering “Shenzi, Shenzi, Shenzi,” and Bob Marley watches me, teeth growing sharper, telling me he shot the sheriff and I look up from my dead clovers and ask if he’s sorry, does he regret getting shot, and that’s when something makes sense but there’s no time to figure out what because Bob Marley tilts his head back and roars mouth wide open and I laugh, I laugh and hold myself so I don’t vibrate out of existence and my dealer’s watching me, smiling, saying “I’m so happy you’re here.”
This story is in memoriam for a version of myself who might have been. In memory of the self that was but has little to no memory of her existence. A story that was inspired by the version of myself who remains, who’s left to remember, who added elements of fiction to piece together all that remains. There is one clear fact, that someone was there beside me while I had delusions of Bob Marley, and to her I’ll forever be grateful.
K.B. Carle lives and writes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the Associate Editor at Fractured Lit. and Editor at FlashBack Fiction. Her stories have appeared in Bending Genres, No Contact Magazine, Passages North, and have been nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize. Her story "Soba" was one of the winners of Sundress Publications' 2020 Best of the Net Anthology. She can be found online at http://kbcarle.com or on Twitter @kbcarle.