BYARM_20

Illustration by Max Currie

The current pushed against him, the water high and rushing; his feet slipped on the slimy green rocks. What felt good at first had become dangerous. One blunder and he’d slip under. Kent had never been a strong swimmer. How cold would it be under there, legs and arms stretched out like a big X, face up in the water, floating on to Tokyo and into the Pacific right on out of this island country? He looked to the other side, its steep bank nearly thirty meters away and covered in green grass, bobbing nests of dense green vine, and trees that leaned into the river, their branches and leaves pulled by the high water. He had to get out before something stupid happened. He stepped backward, stumbling and sliding. The water grew deeper and closed around his balls in an icy grip. He stood with his arms up and out at his sides, a ridiculous figure once again. He could no longer tolerate the life he lived, something had to change. Midori was right: Have you seen yourself, Kent? As he turned in the rushing water toward the bank, which seemed to stretch farther and farther away, Kent put his foot down in an overconfident search for a rock and found a hole instead. He went under, flapping his arms above his head in an attempt to stay upright, swallowing a gulp of river water.

As he surfaced, water rushed in his ears and he took in another mouthful. He coughed till his chest burned—as if matches were lit in his lungs—but he couldn’t stop coughing. I’m drowning, he thought, in four feet of water. How stupid. A final stupid act to close a stupid life. Kent drummed his feet over rocks but couldn’t steady himself as the river caught him in its current and pushed him downstream with the sand and the deadwood. Panic took hold, his stomach and chest tight, still on fire, his throat achy and the water sour and cold in his mouth like a bitter tea. His foot caught between a rock—a foothold—but his ankle twisted painfully. Kent bit hard into his tongue as his knee slammed up into his chin and he tasted blood. He tried to spin his body, again flapping his arms in the air and water, but the current pushed him forward, twisting his torso upriver and his legs towards Tokyo.

High up on the riverbank, Kent caught sight of a blurry figure in yellow. Would Ozman watch him drown, the river doing his dirty work for him? A wave of water washed over his head. When he looked up to the riverbank again, the yellow figure was gone. He wanted to reach up and pull Ozman, if it was him, into the cold water with him—just the two us now, friend, but he ran his knee into a large shallow boulder. As he reached his arms around the big gray rock, someone called his name. He could turn, he knew, and see his nemesis—how odd to have a nemesis—grabbing his crotch and laughing at Kent drowning before him in the river. He pressed his cheek to the cold rock and hung on, afraid to turn his head and look. With his name on the air, pulsating pain around his ankle and knee, the water rolled over him and all he could think about was the hockey bag that held his life’s belongings, Allan’s urn. How pathetic he would look to embassy officials when they gathered his body and his few possessions to ship home and discovered that he had no home, no place at all.

Bullet

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s