Mess - informal: a person whose life or affairs is in a state of confusion.
The best way he could describe the room was cluttered order; the collage of black and white photos stared down from one wall, scantily clad models clipped from magazines, kept as print prisoners looming over the neatly made bed. A bookshelf overflowed into organized stacks on the floor, the remains of a meal - dirty dish, spotted glass, crusted fork - lay mute on a cardboard box of a table. The desk was an ocean of papers, an old computer a volcanic island covered in random stickers. The lingering scent of incense mingled with a heap of unwashed clothes in a corner, wafted by the purring fan of the A/C.
Several pictures were taped on the inside of the closet (clothes hung, shoes in a row), studio 3x5s of a goateed man holding a small child, the poses stiff, smiles genuine. He ran his callused finger over them, caressing the slick surface, noting the angle of a cheekbone here echoed in a cheekbone there, the similar set of dual eyes. Someone in the next room finally turned off the repeating CD, Mozart-directed singers silenced.
He glanced again at the bed, his trenchcoat still dripping an occasional drop upon the government bought rug, shaking his head as he left the room, refusing the Rorschach of blood and brains upon the wall.
Mess - a state of embarrassing confusion.
Quick sharp breath, sip the soda, cooling flow.
Shaky hand clattering glass on glass, amber liquid swirls in the tiny container, small so small. Year ago, it would have been the right size for him, never would be now.
Shadows flicker from single candle, light flips across slippery picture - for a moment his face moves, baby cheeks lifting in innocent smile - but is illusion.
Dial tone buzzes in ear, small plastic light greenly shows numbers beeping when pressed - it works, dammit it works! Why didn't they call?
Callous photos and cold letter travel over oceans to remote father bound by solemn oath and steady paycheck, held in cold cold hand. Beautiful closed casket ceremony, white flowers pressing close by in aseptic pictured room.
Flows down into gaping chasm, emptiness swallowing staring at the green photographed field marred by dirty hole, passageway back into the womb of God there's drugs to induce labor aren't there? He can be born again, he could be thrust out among screams and lamaze breathing if they'd only use the drugs why don't they use the drugs
wash it down with cool tang of metal, gulping darkness
want to see the son rise
Mess - a dirty or untidy accumulation of matter or objects.
Reconstruction from few letters, fewer photographs, calls only when the money was late. He had received no Father's Day card.
Many of the child's toys were kept on the front porch, balls and trucks, oversized plastic wiffleball bat he inexpertly wielded. Toys were carried out from his room and abandoned there, slowly turning the porch into a clutter of plastic and wood, oversized GI Joe piled on the Barney backpack draped over the Big Wheel trike.
Eventually, messes must be cleaned up.
She was carrying a double armload of shifting unsteady toys, trying to ignore her whining grandson upset that he would have to pull them all out again, when the screen door banged her elbow, dislodging a ball, freeing it to bounce and roll off the porch. She assumed the child followed her inside and upstairs as the ball rolled into the road.
She dropped all the toys shortly afterward.
The driver never even saw him.
Mess - a quantity of soft or liquid food.
He had no patience with baby food anymore, or anything that might possibly fit in the category of baby food - with the possible exception of applesauce. His mother had done a good job of getting him used to greasy McDonald's cardboard burgers and breaded chicken bits, with double helpings of fries which he always ate, even when he threw anything else across the room.
He rarely talked, still communicating in garbled half-words, especially when people clustered about, wanting him to say things as if he were an unusual parrot, but he understood everything spoken to him, especially if it concerned baths or ice cream.
Occasionally, when no one was paying attention, he'd say a perfect word or phrase: "I like airplanes." All the adults flocked to him then, as if he had suddenly sprouted blue wings, while he just grinned mischievously and didn't say a word.
"You've got to stay with mommy's parents for a while." Father wasn't worried about him - he'd stayed six months with them already, since the trouble started, and his parents were just too old.
"She...she's going to be gone for a while too."
The little one hugged his father, cutting off whatever half-hearted half-lie of an explanation he was going to try, and Father wept as he knew he'd be gone for his son's second birthday.
Mess - an unpleasant or difficult situation.
It was probably a good thing that he had answered the phone; as it was, his mother was near-hysterical. Not for his wife, but for the hurt she imagined for her son.
His father-in-law was disturbingly calm on the phone; he could hear his son playing in the background while he was told the news: After he'd left his wife at the hotel to visit his parents, she had swallowed all of her medication, and slashed her wrists from side to side.
A crystal thought condensed in his mind. She knows to open the vein along the arm, not across it. She knows that.
He listens impassively while told of the maid hearing her involuntary vomiting, the transport to the hospital blocks from his parent's house. He had heard the ambulance pass by. How the hospital had called them, a state away, because their phone was the only number in her purse. How they were going to commit her if he had no objections, how they would continue to watch his son as they had since she had first become obviously unstable.
He walked to the Emergency Room in the light November rain, wondering why he didn't feel anything.
The judge granted an indefinite extension on her hospitalization, with the vocal, logical backing of her husband and parents weighing against her incoherent screams.
He did not visit her. His orders took him overseas in a week.
Mess around - informal: to busy oneself without purpose or plan.
The painter arrived at the apartment as the lawyers finished boxing the last of the personal effects. They ignored him, instantly stereotyped as smug Americans.
The bloodstain had been washed until it was a pale pink smear against the off-white. Sighing, he put out the tray, poured the paint, and coated the roller.
Messes need to be cleaned up eventually, he thought.
Five strokes covered the stain.
|Back to Moments Are The Measure Of Our Lives|