At Carhenge, Mike said we needed to talk. It was winter, and we were the only ones there. Icicles dripped from the bumpers of old Cadillacs. We stood under them like they were mistletoe, or else rockets, hoping to launch themselves down below. He said he never told me this, but back when he was flunking out of Lincoln he used to sell plasma twice a week, and sometimes, on the same day, he’d go ahead and donate sperm too. This is back when he was still eligible. Back when they didn’t ask so many questions, or maybe he just fed them a whole lot of lies. He’d use the money to buy a fifth of Windsor and share it with his roommates, and they had a name for this. It was called the Triple Crown. They always finished the bottle, and it was three of them in total, and he’d usually outdrink the other two combined.
On those nights, he’d have these dreams, these visions, hallucinations while passed out on the floor. He saw armies of children coming to his house. His wife hid in the basement. The kids were all male, and they looked 15 or 19 or, on occasion, 32. They had tattoos of hawks and scars on their forearms, and they asked for the things he would have asked for, which meant beer and money for women, or else anything soft where they might be allowed to crash. His wife would stomp her feet and shake her head no, but she couldn’t talk or maybe he couldn’t hear, and he’d find himself helpless, torn between obligations and basically frozen in place. He said the whole thing was always more prophecy than dream, and he took my hand and asked me if I could do it. If he could consider me in. His fingers felt like wet cement, and I told him I’d have to think about it. Even though I’d already made up my mind.
Brett Biebel teaches writing and literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. His (mostly very) short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Chautauqua, the minnesota review, The Masters Review, Great River Review, and elsewhere. He can be reached at email@example.com.