ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue One, Jan. 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 10 of 73

But I don't want to underachieve, don't want points for showing up; don't want to win because I am the little blind underdog. I plan on taking a win, not being given one. I'm not embracing overachievement, I'm bear-hugging it. I will enter the Death Match as a man with one useless eye, one removed eye, a pair of failed kidneys, a loaner kidney, a lifetime-malfunctioning pancreas (the source of all the mayhem), and limbs, hips and abdomen that have endured twenty, maybe thirty thousand needles. A lifetime of surviving disease has made every day a tie-breaker. With the Death Match, I'm going to put one in the Win column. "Ready," Robin says. "Go." Here, in the park, I wait for joggers -- two, maybe three -- to pass by before I begin. Then I take a deep breath and, jittering nerves concealed, begin to recite. All at once I am one of Fahrenheit 451's Book People, an embodied story, and ultimately just another creature in a park warbling to his mate. * Mornings, workdays, Robin puts my breakfast bowl of Chunky Beef soup and a dish of grapes on the table in front of me, performs a ritualistic rummage through her purse, and then she comes over and plants a kiss on the crown of my head. "You good?" she usually asks. "I wish I could stay home with you," she often adds. "I wish I were rich and famous so you could," I say, always weighted by guilt at how much she does in comparison to how much I accomplish. "You just keep doing what you're doing," she says. "You've got the hard part," she says, a common phrase of hers I sometimes fear is a coin in the blind man's cup. She serves as wife, lover, nurse and mother to me, cheerleader and managing editor, as well. I am the world's most dinged and dented trophy husband, and I am determined to have her devotion matched by my success. We exchange love-yous and then she is down the stairs and out, leaving me with a jumble of words bounding about in my head, eager for more practice. I spray them out as I rinse the dishes, run through them as I pace the hall, give them a refractory period as I don my headphones and listen to screen-reader Crystal voice where I hot-key around my computer. I check my email, the news, spend some time listening to the healthy-bodied flaunt their good fortune on YouPorn. I write only a little during the weeks preceding the Death Match, cursor through favorite online magazines, then get back to reciting. With music playing, I recite; while I'm in the shower, I recite. I turn on sports radio and recite.

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