The Dead Man drags his feet. Cracks his knuckles. Tried to smoke a cigarette once but almost choked. Eyes moist but not from drinking. Not from tears. Stop grinning at every girl that passes, Dead Man – look and then turn away. Is that rain outside? Or the sound of cats fighting? Remember when you let your sister put a dress on you and do your make-up? She taught you how to curtsy then took you to the living room where she presented you to your parents – they laughed at you for an entire week; your mother took a blurred photo. Why did you let yourself be turned into a joke? What do you do in the dark, Dead Man? Where the crickets alone keep you company. Show me your hands, bring them into the light. Here, clean your fingernails. Dead Man, you are a mere boy, barely the smudge of a moustache above your lips. Boys cannot know beauty or love, this is fact – these things require patience and time. You must encounter them by chance, like a snake or like sleep. The Dead Man’s teeth are crooked and he is always listening for gossip. If that is rain, you better take your hat and your coat and hurry home. Can you tell us: where does the energy flow? Wasted too many nights listening to the sad singing of a woman in a neighbouring apartment and imagining the scent of perfume, of folding a lover’s clothes.
Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.
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