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Love Lies in the Throes of Rhetoric / a chapter, audio sample, and blurb / Anthony Gedell

FOUR


Driving through a wintery petrichor with his collar turned up into the wind of a cracked window hitting a joint as he drives. Nothing but abandoned shopping centers on the way out of town. Some of the hills felt like he’d been driving off the face of the earth. No place to buy food other than QuickCheks. The foliage overgrown and seemingly roofing the place. A liquor store every fifty yards. Broken down gas stations seem to be the only infrastructure. There’s a languor to the place. A sag in every direction. 

Something wild sifting in the fragrance. Memories of good spirits pinned behind. He feels enveloped in the cold dry spell of gray skies and the chemicals clung to rusted highway glittering. Racing down twin refineries cascading like giant train tracks that run into a sky littered only by a mirage of clouds. The colors of the smoke and the yellow lights made Trasc feel like it was an attack of some kind.

It was a poignant rejection. A silent car wreck with a tension that can choke. What they had in their time of passage was not a knowledge of self or a better understanding of love but rather a fleeting collection of pretenses, consternations, and boredoms.

I-80. Hard to stay awake. Close your eyes and swerve on out into the abyss and all that blackness. Sink right into the ocean. Wash away this unmendable fatigue. As many times his heart had broken it peeled back layers of the world in which he constructed his own demise. There on his back was the devil and inside of his chest tiny little gods that were merely there to exercise endless crucifixions. Henceforth a prying of his own eyes never to unsee his own end repeating. A constant digging to new realms of rock bottoms.

He'd wonder what the world might look like through a lens of red anvil eyes in just what. Ten years from now. Five. It wasn’t just alarmism anymore. Everybody had just about a feeling in the air something was coming down the pike. People had said it to him in routine passing over and over again. Some of them smiled when they said it. The big one is coming. There’s an atmospherically apocalyptic unified dread. The social climate dwindling. The night was clearer to him than the blistering day. The tires on the road feel as his legs churning. He wants the heat. Wants the speed.

Past another mile marker. Nobody on the road. Speed sign reading sixty-five. Rising, rising, rising. The old boy traveling the concrete canvas at ninety-five. One hundred. One ten. The steering wheel throttles in his hands. He’s got a good way on this road until exit fifty-two toward the Garden State Parkway. Nothing the way of a landmark to replenish his recollection of his whereabouts.

He calls Ford on the mobile. Gets his voicemail. The man left it so as a contact if contacted basis. He hasn’t heard from him. Meet and greet is tomorrow. He always regretted committing to things.

“Ford. It’s Trasc. Sorry to call so late. Hope it doesn’t disturb you. I wanted to check in for tomorrow. Pretty jazzed up about the whole thing. Nerves dragging and kicking and screaming in the chest you know? Thanks for the opportunity. I always thought there were so many boundaries I couldn’t hurdle all things considering getting in this field. I won’t let you down. I think I can bring a lot to the scene.”

He'd wondered how many times he’d uttered these fatal words. Tell a man what you’re worth and you tell him just the merit of that stock. People buy in and put the chips to ride on the value you present to them. He knew Ford to think little of him.

Working nights at the hotel you meet all types of people. The uniform of Trasc’s own skin began feeling the fire of the clocking bureaucratic riddles. Meaningless jobs with no monetary gain or self-respect.

Trasc believed you can work it three ways. Work a job that you can stomach aligning with a passion or a hobby of yours. A job if you are lucky enough to get paid to do what you love. Or something where you can help somebody and make a little bit of a difference in the world. You aren’t going to change it. But you can help. Help was change and holding the door open was saving the world. Show him a hero and it was somebody who knew how to laugh. In general and at themselves. He was laughing but he was no hero. He felt he hadn’t worked a day in his life always working.

Every other day somebody was overdosing or getting shot or stabbed at the hotel. Somebody lost or something stolen. A domestic situation however undomesticated things seemed to be. Evictions. Ford had come in one night working a case. Trasc knew the guy he was looking for. Didn’t tell Ford. Looking back at it he knows that Ford found the guy anyway and knew Trasc lied to him.

Ford was probably working him a bit but the two had started talking and Ford started asking questions. Didn’t much like Trasc’s life situations and employment status. Folding ragged laundry until the sun came up. Respected that he was a writer. And just like that Trasc was on his way at being a private investigator. There were times where he’d come to believe that Eudora rejected his good fortune.

Trasc pulls over to the side of the road and steps out and moves toward the rear passenger seat with his keys laced between his knuckles. No headlights on the road. The streetlights and the city lights and the stars, the immensity of it all floods into him with meteor force. His determination undermines the cold. He premediated this. Worked himself up to the state. They were right where he left them taking them from Rich. Made sure they wouldn’t roll from side to side. Stayed cold. He lines up three cans of Keystone Light on the top of the car and shotguns each one of them.

Lights approaching. Slowing down and peeling off behind him. He can’t help but imagine how small and weak he looks. No cops on the road. Some floaters trying their idle hands at noble deeds getting themselves into all sorts of trouble. The car doesn’t have that cop austere. Out walks a small classical looking woman in a cloche.

“Are you okay?” she says.

“What?”

“Are you okay?”

“Is that why you stopped? See if I’m okay.”

“Yes. Of course.”

A stone in his throat. Eyes watering not just from being ethanol loaded. He shakes his head.

“Alright. Heading up 33?”

“I am.”

“Two people bleeding out in the road that way. Road rage shooting. Suppose that’s what happens now. Some folks got a hundred miles squared away.”

“Thanks.”

They regard one another a moment. She turns around and gets back in her car and drives off. Trasc takes the cans and hurls them. A clocking in to be had. He was cleansed and ready to go. A lot of catching up to do. Some days he would think of himself as a fulltime drinker. Committed to the trade. Drink himself into a coma and clemency sleep until six the next night and wake up only to break a sweat so that he can replenish those fluid all over again. It was a dangerous road he knew. The stomach pains and the migraines. Nobody was veering off the side of that road to stop him. 

Continuing on NJ-33 on to about the second exit the way he’d come. Driving through sleeping towns such as Asbury where the pallet dances at the culture and the food in the sleeping buildings. Behind locked doors and closed signs it has more life than where he’s been. He thinks about sitting over a bar pie cooked thin and well done margherita style with spiced sausages and a beet and goat cheese salad while thinking about his world with the hum of human life around him. From there on with that first good thought he’s had all day at this witching hour it was smooth sailing on his way back home.

All the same distances giving way to similar silences. He would think he was the last man on earth. Could go on and live your life not knowing anybody or ever leaving the tiny space he occupied hidden and tucked away in these personal universes. Pulling off into his backend spot in the complex he parks his car and walks up the stairs to the empty apartment feeling like he’s dragging around a carcass.

They moved everything out. Next to the single chair and lamp and a stack of books a sheet and pillow are spread across the carpet. A shoe box overflowing with her letters. Her new one in his back pocket. The bottle awaits him very much his lone visitant.

 

To you.

You gorgeous, lovely man. Did the envelope scare you a little? When you read this hopefully you’ll be home. I miss you. I miss sleeping in with you. There’s nothing in this world I care about more than I do you. The feeling I get when you step into our home. The love and comfort I feel running into your arms.

You said that I focus only on the bad that you do. But to be completely honest I have no idea what that even means. You are the epitome of the perfect man. The passion and love we have for one another can never go unnoticed. It can’t be denied or waved off. I have nothing but respect and admiration for you. You’ve been given nothing but letdowns and frustrations. To have to watch the person you so deeply love and care for go through that. To not have control over it. It makes me want to breathe fire. My heart can take no more of it.

I will never, could never, give up on you or us. On days when you’re feeling like miracles don’t exist remember to take a breath and remember that we are on a ball floating in space of infinite nothingness and that ball spins mightily slowly. Remember I left and came back. And that allows us to be in this life with each other.

Adonis. You are a miracle to me. Your passion and your intellect. Your mind and soul. Your body. Mhm. Your body. Thank you for all that you do for me. For the love and care you’ve shown me. For the words of encouragement. The push to always shoot for more.

I appreciate you. No matter where life takes us we will always be on top of the world. It’s our world. I need you to know how proud I am of you. How incredibly strong I know you to be. You are a hero, my hero, and you give me strength and purpose.

The pain and devastation you must feel is probably tearing you up inside. Difficult to fill up. I know. I don’t blame or fault you for anything. Our love will grow deeper and stronger in this.

You deserve nothing but the best. You deserve peace and happiness and to lay your head down every night knowing we have the love of a lifetime. You are forever a part of me. Of my life and my family. You have people who care about you. On your darkest days I hope to be your light guiding you out. Comforting you. Loving. Peace.

You need to understand that I deeply care for you. If I were to ever lose you a huge chunk of me would be lost.

I need you to take better care of yourself. You should be sleeping more and drinking less. If you ever feel as though no one cares say that to my face and see what happens. I’d fight you. Fight for you. I’ll always root for you. I will always be the voice in your ear bringing you back to me.

You have a home in me. A friend. Confidant. Lover. You have me. There is such a loneliness out there.

Come home. I can tell you I’m waiting. Desperately need your touch. Your presence. I know you’re afraid. You don’t have to be. We have each other. Please be careful. Being good to you is being good to me.

I haven’t written one of these in a long time and I’m sorry for that. I am sorry about a lot of things. Lately it’s been hard. Lately it’s been harder…

Signing off. She could save him. She’d done so. But he could not save her. He brings the letter to his lips.

“Ah, darlin.”

The wetness from his eyes blots the ink. Talking to herself. She wrote notes when she was a kid. Suicide letters to her family and best friend. To think like that as a child. She was that self-aware. She was that smart. It wasn’t a thinking with her but rather a wisdom. He knew how that doesn’t go away. She wasn’t doing it for anybody but herself.

Eudora pulled him out of such shallows. Always his earth angel, his Virgil. He’d muddled and confused things in the murk to get a quick fix of this front he’d been putting up his whole life. All she’d ever given him was beauty, joy, patience, kindness, and love. Compassion, understanding, and faithfulness.

He opens the box and begins to read other letters but can’t bring himself to go on. Didn’t like that even in being it felt as though he should be in mourning. He wanted to hold her tight and toss her hair and taste her tongue.

Trasc drinks himself to sleep to numb away the pain. It doubles down on the hurt and he chases it with the very means of an end to this long night. To go about dealing with his failure with compassion. He felt hellbent to aimlessly wander his tragic self never undermining the spectacle found in this trauma.

He didn’t bother to get his bag or his phone from the car. He had everything that he needed. He was alone and everything was fine.


/


LOVE LIES-480-2.mp4 - Google Drive (audio of this chapter narrated by David Temple)


“Anthony Gedell is a brilliant madman of a poet, with his own unique vision, almost hallucinatory. Gedell’s writing taps into some strange and beautiful core of human thought, loss, and passion. Love Lies in the Throes of Rhetoric is a fascinating plunge into the psyches of lovers in trouble.”


- John Woods, author of Lady Chevy, a Best Crime Novel of the Year—New York Times


RELEASE DATE SOON.


Banzai.


/


ANTHONY GEDELL writes from New Jersey publishing in Hobart, Poverty House, Variant, Revolution John, Punk Noir Magazine, Bull (TBA), and is an editor at Tough. His debut novel, LOVE LIES IN THE THROES OF RHETORIC, is slated for release soon with Michael Dolan at Winding Road Stories.

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