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Perspective Shot by Kelly Hellworth


You call it whatever you want—you’re gonna blame me? Why is it there’s gotta be blame… Maybe… Maybe I’m okay seeing it like this—figure it’s the first time I’ve seen this, it’s like exploration; and how many times, really—I mean really—am I going to have to see it like this…
     Figure my leg over there pretty much sets and stops the counter at one. Lonely ain’t so bad, you got you some feeling, you got some kind of impetus for the deep reflection. And helps maybe too if you’re the kind of yahoo what carries his little book for his special thoughts with him at all times, so that when he steps out the Last Crawl after what was, at least to him, a pretty glorious afternoon drunk, and gets immediately smashed by a little gray Audi that looks a bit familiar, and that Audi takes his leg and pulls it—turkey drumstick-style, wet rip and snap, no fracture, him now having distinct parts, parts one could prefer, one could ask for—and sets it down across the street by that old telephone pole… well, maybe he won’t have much to write, but, Oh fuck, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die. I’m gonna die now, and how fucking weird is that?
     That’s me there, spilling on the concrete.
     What behavior led to this? The guy drove up on the sidewalk, the guy left the bar a minute before I did, the guy’s my god damn ride. I didn’t walk out with him because I had to go to the bathroom, said I’d be right there. Him the one next to me at the bar, telling me I’ve got to get my head right, gotta reboot—his word, making his easy and drunk computer analogy since the three rapid-fire successive shots wouldn’t allow anything interesting—or something bad’s gonna happen. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. “You could get hit by a train—no, dude, I’m serious. It could happen. Don’t fucking laugh. Won’t be so funny when it happens. You’ll see.”
     Those sirens, they’re for me. I’ll just keep writing. Nothing to do anyway, I’m not trained in this kind of first aid. I know how to do a tourniquet, but they only work when you got something to tie off. Can’t tie off a socket, you know?
     I step out, look left, all asquint in the sun, and I think, Holy crap, it’s fucking hot. Oven hot, this blast drying me out, one step closer to desiccated and I don’t care what the pansies say, this kind of hot is good for a man. Strip him and sear him and it doesn’t matter if he’s got a soul or not, this hot burns him down till that’s all he is, thin and papery and pure, something he can build a new body upon. I cup my hands to light a smoke and dude drives up on the curb, pins me against this telephone pole, and maybe this isn’t the right reaction, but it’s the one I had, I look at him and my face says, Dude, what the fuck is this all about? You trying to prove your point? And his face doesn’t say, Oh no, I just hit a guy—and definitely does not say I just smashed into the guy I’m supposed to be driving home. No, his face says, Oh fuck, I’m going to jail. I’m pinned so I’m not going anywhere, not even falling over or down. I’ve got time to take it all in. His face knows he’s going to jail so his hands and arms pull left, hard, and his foot presses the pedal, and so he does not back away and let go, but dude crushes and rips past me, the bumper right behind my knee—which I’m pretty sure is pretty well fucked—and the leg folds, and I can feel my foot lift off the ground, and then instead of me going with him, it’s just my leg. The wet rip and suck and snap—maybe more a pop than a snap—but we’ve all had us one Thanksgiving, so we know the non-breaking snap sound I mean.
     I take a few seconds to fall over. That’s the comedy there. The lightness and cartoon so we all know this isn’t really happening. That, and how he doesn’t stop, how he doesn’t even look back to check my vaudeville, just drives, the fiction carried further by the leg hooked over the nose of the car, letting go across the intersection there, relayed against a pole. You get the right perspective—say, you stand in front of the market and line us up, you could take a picture that says I’m all together, just I got one leg shorter than the other.
     My question here, I guess, and maybe I’ll ask the paramedics—they’re pulling up now—is if I bleed out before I dry out, do I still get a soul?

Kelly Hellworth remembers a poem involving a little gray Audi. He wrote this by hand. He’s been writing everything by hand this year. He lives in upstate New York, though not quite as upstate as before. He’s creeping toward the City. He and his daughter. Their plan is to lurk on the periphery and comment without participation. He teaches bookbinding and voice.

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