White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Jacob Gillam
Jacob Gillam was a National Semifinalist in the 2011 Norman Mailer Four Year College Writing competition with hist story "Five Ways to Spin a Tale."

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Jacob Gillam

A Hellen’s wrath is a paradox in genres: one part post-modern catch-22 irony, and one part Classical The-Gods-Have-Cursed-You-To-Watch-An-Eagle-Suck-Your- Guts- From-Your-Bellybutton-for-forever malicious intent. The entire Hellen clan is a self- inflicting plague-on-someone’s-house, but I’ve lived around these urban god-types since the fates first looked on me with their chimpanzee smile, plucked me from some anonymous young girl’s womb, and slapped me into Anita Hellen’s arms. Anita, the Hellen family’s societal gem, adopted me as a public assertion of her matronly affection when she’d half heard but mostly fabricated allegations against her capacity as a mother.

That’s a clunky translation of my origin myth, but the “how” to my “who” is not important for the sake of this story. The point I’m stabbing with, the needle with which I’m poking all the legends and monsters spawned by my lawful family, is a story of theirs I shouldn’t have. I found it in a lunchbox; a dented, scratched, rusty-hinged piece of Star Wars memorabilia, featuring Leia in her Jaba slave outfit,

clinging to her brother’s leg, hand crawling up his thigh with all the implicit incestuous energy of Faulkner's Compson family. It made its way into my possession as per my adopted half brother’s will but, being the snooty, high-minded bastard I am, my knee-jerk response to my inheritance had nothing to do with the death of my adopted brother. All I could see when I was handed that lunchbox, that Freudian portrayal of a Campbellian world industrially spray-painted onto that China-made aluminum, was a poignant summarization of the Hellen family pantheon. My brother must have agreed too, but that wonderful sensation of Hallmark acceptance, of having a friend in the family who “got me,” came after his heart went Vesuvius and burst.

Now, I never knew my brother real well, so I’m gonna be honest; I’m making concessions as I write this, and they are unapologetically cathartic. My half-brother, Perceus Hellen, may have been able to live with the repercussions of that box’s contents, but my biological ancestors, whoever they are, did not crawl from the same crater of primordial goo as the Hellens; I do not have that instinctual impulse to demand obeisance, or smother the will of

another human being. I do not belong to the category of thinkers that believe there is a greater, spiritual implication for cruel people, but I do believe it is important to make sense of their behavior, learn from it, and to avoid it if possible. Before I can even discuss the box’s contents, I need to provide the uninitiated a glimpse into the ecology of the Hellen family—at the very least, a glimpse at a few of its specimens. I’ll begin with my late brother. Even though I’m legally Perceus’s full brother, and according to the family tree he is my adopted half-uncle, I’ve always thought of him as a “half-brother,” and I’ll refer to him as such. Perceus, whom we called Parker, traced a direct descendency from the Hellen Patriarch himself, he-who-legally- can’t-be-named-by-the-family-in-memoirs- or-other-nonfiction-writing-by-an-act-of-law, the self-proclaimed “Grandpa Thunder”, an iconoclast for industrial psychopaths and tyrants. If the gossips and the whispers and the maids can be believed, before he took on the title Grandpa Thunder, our mighty Patriarch demanded that the Hellen clan call him “All-Father.”

Grandpa Thunder, in as few and honest and plain-spoken words as I can find, liked to fuck—I

imagine this had something to do with being the “All-Father”. By fuck, I don’t mean he had affairs or sexed his wife right (though I can assume he did both); the All-Father wanted to mount the entire female population, without reservations, and he went about this task as if the world’s male population suddenly indulged his inner most desires with a collective brain aneurysm, and he found himself suddenly and unfortunately obligated to not only repopulate the world, but hump and grind and rut enough to single-handedly overpopulate the earth.

I’m told I’m prone to exaggeration, but I feel quite comfortable saying that, should all old Grandpa Thunder’s bastards convene, of which we are sure there is an additional three for every one confirmed, I’m certain that they would all be boys, wrestling to tame the carbon copy of their daddy’s coiled, black beard by the age of twelve. They’d also have the Hellen face, something like a Roman bust, all muscle and angles and seemingly stoic resolve. They probably carried themselves as if they were bred to be admired in their youth, like paragons of masculinity, and eternally envied in retrospect. If an accurate census could be collected, Grandpa

Thunder’s bastard’s numbers would rival the priests residing in the Vatican, fleshy reliquary for God’s abandoned sons that it is.

Occasionally, someone in the Hellen family pitied one of the ill-begotten bastards (the boys, not the priests), and tracked one down with New-Age mysticism, oracles, and augery—lawyers and geneticists and a Google search or two—and either informed the boy (and it was always a boy) of his demi-god status, or scooped him up as later leverage against the All-Father. Parker belonged to the latter; he had the blood, and Anita—our mother and his half-sister—picked him up through a private adoption.

Parker had five years of life under his belt before Anita plucked him from reality and plopped him down as a member of the private political theatre of the Hellen clan. If not for those five years with a world outside of the Hellen’s making, Parker’d just be another adopted relative; the relationship I imagined he had with his bio-mom made him more of a mortal like me. I wish I could say that my motivation for writing had something to do with preserving that version of my brother, but those

are ancient times, Parker’s forgotten Golden Age. I could say that I’m writing this to come to terms with my brother’s behavior, or to expose my family’s malevolent, nihilistic need for dysfunction, but I’d be telling a tall tale. This story is a tool. While writing this, I have more in common with a gunsmith or an arms dealer than I do with literary fops or scholarly types. Should I publish this, I’ll create an inevitability someone will be hurt. Thankfully, I’ve a lifetime’s experience studying the results of similar pursuits, so I have some idea about how to go about my task. While the Hellens acted out their megalomania on life’s stage, often times devastating entire communities in the process, Parker and I acted as the stage crew, shadows and props to accentuate the actors’ glorious lives; I obfuscated their faults, while Parker’s presence reinforced that baseline carnality they pleaded so diligently that they lacked.

Until now, that suited me just fine. When mom pulled me aside hours before my thirteenth birthday party and told me I had no claim to anything in “the blood,” I just assumed she meant the insanity and overtly sexual fixations the family had with itself. Parker, however, had access to the

blood—madness and hubris squirted through his ventricles and he wanted to revel in it like all the other bastards. It used to upset me when he’d go off to drink with Grandpa Thunder’s brother, Uncle Don Posei Hellen (I can use his name, the lawyers couldn’t show me paperwork to the contrary) but his breeding left him particularly vulnerable to power. He wanted to prove his worth like a dutiful Hellen mutt, and earn his way into hedonism like the demi-gods and bastards of yore. Now that he’s dead, I’m standing in his particular plot of the family’s dirt. All I can see is another conquest story for the Patriarchs to tell the next generation of lost pups.

Come to think of it, if it hadn’t been for Don Posei, those stories wouldn’t have had the same appeal to Parker. We both grew up listening to the same household stories at family reunions, of Grandpa Thunder and Don Posei’s bastards doing something heroic or plain stupid. Those bastards might spend days rooting around for seeds or going on lion hunts the old fashioned way, with a spear and balls of bronze, just to bask in the families’ unashamedly divided attentions. Parker’d gorge himself on Don’s stories about the family “honor,”

and the inherent nobility of the Hellen male, and he fantasized earning his honor the way I fantasized about the women in Anita’s entourage—chronically to the point of pain, but with enough common sense to pretend otherwise. Don could smell that raw ambition like he’d put his nose in it, and he kept Parker fixed to the tales of the fast, glorious and dead. Our heads were in largely different clouds, so whatever ephemeral bond in bastardhood Parker and I had quickly disintegrated during our teen years, and, thanks in part to our mutual disinterest in one another and Anita’s multiple estates, we never had a geographical or emotional reason to reconnect.

Which brings me to a moot point: my shock that he’d will me anything, considering that our relationship had shriveled up and died, its emotional stuff devoured by surviving relationships and passions well over ten years ago. There again, considering the contents, I realize that I may have called our relationship dead and gone a little too soon—it was dead, but Parker hadn’t let go of the formalities it brought, the way a widow might continue wearing a wedding band. Tradition and all that, I suppose. I always assumed his Grail quest for

a place in the family’s convalescent pantheon superseded all civil human proclivities. Either way, I won’t risk the guilt or danger that comes with a silent burden in a cruel family. I have nothing to gain by standing vigil over scandals or clinging to Parker’s shadow. And anyhow, I never knew Parker actually ascended into the “recognized bastard” category until he loaned me that box with Leia lusting after Luke’s leg.

I use the word “loaned” instead of “willed” because the box’s contents were an admittedly clever but desperate and final assertion of his importance. They weren’t for me anymore than the electricity in a power cord is intended for the cord. There was money, about 20,000 dollars, neatly folded and placed on top of the box’s real contents like some sort of refund or a severance check packaged alongside a letter of termination. A conciliatory afterthought for the shit he drop-kicked me into. I don’t know who knew he had these photos, if they’re the originals left in his safekeeping or copies he hoarded to justify later bouts of self-destruction or if this is an elaborate gimmick, the family’s way of keeping outliers and orphans herded closely to the belly of the beast. It’s best just to

assume all three. Even if this was a genuine article of Parker’s guilt, it’s really quite typical of his breeding to use his last moment as a way to blindside a relative.

As a preamble to the boxes contents, Parker left a syntactical nightmare of a letter dictating the box’s origins. Twenty pages of hand-written text, scrawled across a mixture of loose leaf, legal pad, and spiral notebook paper. I don’t know how long he worked at it, but Parker started his letter with “I’m sorry if this is hard to read I have been drinking more lately,” in a blue pen, and ended with “I wish we could of gone to get drinks” in pencil, the letters fat and smeared like he hadn’t sharpened the pencil after the tip had broken off or he’d worn it down to a blunt stub. I considered quoting his thoughts verbatim, but on account that I’m a better writer as well as unquestionably sober while exercising my craft, I’ll forgo his descriptions, as well as his vain attempt to write himself as the victim in the whole affair. The real contents, a series of humiliating pictures of a woman, were infinitely more interesting anyway, and, when combined with my narrative, will create a much fuller picture of the entire scenario. The mythology behind this box goes something like this:

Something like seven years ago, Don Posei Hellen, patron god of transatlantic shipping companies and a sea of horses wandering aimlessly through northern Texas and Oklahoma, embarrassed himself at one of Anita’s society parties. Don Posei is many things—Grandpa Thunder’s brother and fellow Patriarch; a slum king in third world fisheries and shipping lanes; the sole inheritor of two strikingly similar stereotypes: a drunk sailor on leave in Taiwan, and the corrupt and sexually deviant plantation owner in the Antebellum South—but Don Posei is not embarrassed, nor is he ever shamed. This is gospel, an edict that keeps the family structured. Don Posei is a Patriarch, and thus right.

At this particular party, Don Posei made an untoward public advance on one of Anita’s newly presented maidens of society, her priestesses and beautiful ladies of substance, invited to those parties only to reaffirm Anita’s affection for the illusions of the early modern court.

Anita and her ladies did not belong at Anita’s party, though. Anita held parties in the name of culture; her guests attended those parties in the

spirit of hedonism. I never attended those parties after Anita informed me that my blood, being mortal, freed me from that social obligation, but I’ve seen Don Posei, dribbling uninhibited, Bronze Age masculinity on everyone and everything that he touched, and I know neither he nor Grandpa Thunder would stand for a party where women were allowed their propriety. The illusion thereof perhaps, but even in his seventies, Don Posei could use his sheer presence to push away such trivial words as ‘no’ and ‘stop’. It’s really quite amazing just how indomitable he really appeared to be; Parker undoubtedly left certain details unexplored in his letter, and despite his assertions to the contrary, he isn’t innocent of the monstrosity he committed for Don Posei. Parker let his blood choose how best to act, but some of that guilt belongs to Don Posei.

Depending on the context, I could describe Don Posei with varying degrees of poetry. I can’t do much better than his Texan employees, who have often remarked on his startling resemblance to that meanest of facilities, the brick shithouse. As a billionaire, that trope’s inherently negative qualities—being a base repository for the very

worst sights and smells of man—smacks too much of a commonality between Don and the world. Don’s shit’s value is comparable on a 1:1 ounce ratio to gold, and when viewed from that angle, a brick shithouse suddenly becomes a meager metaphor, prone to all manners of vandalism. Besides that, Don Posei dressed too neatly to be compared to anything whose primary purpose was to serve the common man. Despite, or perhaps because of his girth, Don preferred the leather boots, silk bandanas, cowboy hats, and tailcoats of a Texan Cattle lord to the suits and ties of the sober Eastern sea borders he owned. Combined with his beard—a great, burly illusion to hide fat jowls and a bullfrog’s neck, a beard which only civil war enthusiasts could appreciate—Don had the physical presence of Faulkner’s Thomas Sutpen, if Sutpen traced his lineage back to Menelaus, or Achilles, or Ajax. Like his brother, Don Posei had a private army of unclaimed bastards floating through the world, and they were snatched up as leverage against him as often as Grandpa Thunder’s. Of course, nobody dared to assault one Patriarch, bastards or no, while the other was around. Together, they raged and yowled and spat on their naysayers and

competitors, their blackmailers and dirt-diggers, but only Grandpa Thunder could stare Don Posei in the eye and tell him no and expect compliance, resentment be damned.

At that particular party though, there was only Don Posei, and he approached one of Anita’s maidens. If my brother’s letter is a reliable piece of evidence, then she called herself Melissa Meduce, and, to any modern sensibilities, Don Posei made a lecherous ass of himself when he introduced himself and, in the same wine-soaked breath, asked her if he might fuck her head. Now, as I said, I have never attended Anita’s parties, but I’ve been told there were women at those parties there for that explicit purpose, which could have made this an honest mistake, had it been some other man than Don Posei talking to some other woman than Melissa Meduce.

I like to think that that particular party happened to be Meduce’s first appearance as a member of Anita’s court; she did not know the laws, otherwise she would never have thought to say “no”. The alternative, that she had said “no” knowingly, willingly, is too absurd, but “no” she

said and Don Posei decided to love her the moment he tasted resistance. He pined and mewled, a grown man as powerful and virile as any storybook lecher-king, slopping wine on the floor and guests with violent gestures of his glass as he backed young Meduce into a wall, speaking earnestly, sloppily, of his intentions while one thick hand, skin as rough as sail cloth, clutched and grabbed at her.

Meduce must have been frightened—my brother’s letter didn’t dwell on this so much as his own anxieties, his own desire to belong—and I imagine she cried for Anita, understandably so, but my mother must have been occupied with something more important. Having not been there, it’s difficult to say exactly why Anita didn’t intercede on Meduce’s behalf, but I assume that Anita’s relationship with her priestesses is as symbolic and sterile as her relationship with me, because Don Posei, never wrong, never ashamed, lifted Meduce onto his shoulder and fled to a room with a door and a lock without so much as the formal gesture of a complaint on Anita’s part.

From there, the imagination may go as it please, but what’s important isn’t the action, but the Hellen

clan’s reaction: when the event completed its misogynistic cycle, Meduce bore the blame for Don Posei’s surge of masculinity, as well as anything else that went wrong that night, including but not limited to the catering staff’s tardiness, the heat in the main hall, the shortage of chairs, the hostess’s poor mood, and the carnal appetite of every man in attendance. Meduce became a pariah, and sometime after that party she must have fled to the most obscure, most removed world from the influence of the Hellen family. I’ve no idea where, but, if the pictures are any indicator of the truth, then I know her sanctuary failed her. It may have worked out better for her if she’d just apologized to Anita; better still if she just numbed herself with alcohol and opened herself to Don’s advances. If she birthed one of Don’s bastards, she could have sold him to the family and lived a comfortable life of exile, as opposed to the life of exiled comforts she chose.

As I said before, I’ve lived alongside these stories and characters my entire life, so I am inured to their pedigree of debauchery through secondhand accounts. If I’ve been insensitive or lewd, I do so in the spirit of integrity and

authenticity. These aren’t good people, and, should I find a need or desire to go through with publishing this, I can only hope to crush them with a vivid account of their behavior before they can mount a counterattack on my character. I’m not sure how much Don or Grandpa Thunder weighed on Parker’s will, but I won’t wait until they find an occasion to use Parker’s white elephant to offer me the same Faustian temptations they offered Parker. Maybe I’ll let them know a few days before I send this story out that I’m giving away some bones Parker was supposed to leave in the closet on his way out. I could end up being the Meduce to the next Parker, another ambitious bastard’s rite of passage after being swept up in the last minute and promised a seat at Thanksgiving if he solved his daddy’s conundrum.

The Patriarchs only involved my brother after they tracked Melissa down and sent men “to hurt her”—my brother’s words, for the record. I don’t think he meant what a pulp-fiction action star would mean by those words; the letter and the pictures don’t weep of violence and blood. They’re more insidious, and I suspect the Patriarchs are proficient in all sorts of skullduggery and are

capable of inflicting (or at the very least paying others to inflict) the sort of emotional assassination Parker inflicted when he hunted Meduce down.

You see, Meduce had slighted the honor of a vast and ancient man, the sort of man fixed so well in the fat of society that even mention of the word “egalitarianism” made him quiver with such hate and terror that blood clots would shake free in his arteries and rattle through his lungs and heart. Don Posei proved to be the worst sort of man to disillusion of his invulnerability. Despite all his power, all his philanthropic contributions to the sciences and arts, all those years drinking and sweating and chumming with equally monstrous and amoral men of power and prestige, Don Posei knew he could only be a man. It must have infuriated him, all that work to be something more than human, more than a slave to immediacy; he couldn’t even strip himself of man’s weakness for women, and with that weakness, a dry and brittle pride. Meduce spat on that illusion, so Don Posei and Grandpa Thunder rallied to their fantastic sense of entitlement and reimagined Melissa Meduce as a seducer, and punish her with respect to her depravity. They called on their champions and

blackguards to seduce and denounce Meduce, wherever she’d hidden herself. Don Posei wanted to recreate, reverse, then immortalize that moment when Meduce tugged on his heartstrings, teased him by refusing his advances, and forced him to defend his honor against her wiles.

Except none of the other men could claim her. Those that managed to find her sanctum simply lacked the panache, the looks, or that martial virility to claim and shame her. Meduce would send the men back, stiff-backed and disgraced; she saw through their ruses each time, stared them in the eye until the men became stony and silent, caught in the act, then left them abruptly wherever they met. Don Posei and Grandpa Thunder sent at least a legion’s worth of men before Grandpa Thunder lured Parker to deal the killing blow. Parker, a twenty-two year old man by this time, had the advantage of being tempted and denied since he’d come to know who he was and what he wasn’t; he had the fortitude and ambition of any Hellen bastard, and Grandpa Thunder provided the incentive: a place in the family, a formal acknowledgement of his roots, and the prestige that came with it.

Parker had help, of course; he spoke with the men who tried and failed, and learned about Meduce. He learned that she loved a particular musky fragrance on men, that she preferred the company of books to people, that she studied art in college while hunting for a husband, and did not believe a woman should work; that bars made her anxious and coffeehouses were beneath her. He acted accordingly.

I could be a womanizer too, if I wanted. The money is there, and I can make a woman laugh at lechery and forget herself, but I never took to the lifestyle, the male Hellen template. I suppose it really has something to do with what’s in my blood, or, more to the point, an incorrigible desire to keep things out of my blood, that has led me to pursue the recondite life: a steady girl, closely guarded perversions, and a box of tissues hidden in my computer desk’s deepest drawers. When I first saw the pictures in that lunchbox, I realized immediately I envied Parker’s life, only because I envied him that woman’s flesh.

The pictures were all centered on standard printer paper, each frame the size of a CD case.

Parker printed each photo from a high-quality printer; nothing pixilated and the colors gushed from the paper like snapshots frozen on a Blu-ray TV. Parker numbered each image to capture the chronology of events. Beneath each picture’s number, he also penciled in the time he received them, as well as the ten-digit number I assume belonged to his cell phone. Of course, I didn’t pay attention to those details when I originally perused the contents of my inheritance, but it’s important, I think, to get the facts as straight as gravity allows before I indulge myself on memories of voyeurism. For the sake of good storytelling, and all that.

The first few photos depicted a girl—Melissa Meduce—laying in bed, her skin the color of ginger ale, darker where her curves blocked the room’s dim orange-yellow lighting, which drifted into the moment from a source off-stage to the photographer’s right. I suppose I could go down the trite avenue of sweets, describing her as caramel, or chocolate, or various other candy coatings, but her skin looked like dark, dark ginger ale, and where that light didn’t touch, it just looked darker, like stain on a wood carving of a 21st century fertility goddess, hips and breasts and ass, all packaged on a

small, fatless body, pitifully beautiful like all the women the Hellens consorted.

She must have been asleep through the first few pictures; the angle of the camera shifted, but her body remained in the same serpentine pose, stretched out on her right side, back to the light so her breasts were hidden by a nightshift made of shadows, while her legs were coiled in a golden sheet. Sometime while she slept she’d nuzzled against the crook of her right arm, which dangled from the edge of the bed. Her hair, naturally curly, lay tangled and sweaty and limp on her forehead from what must have been that evening’s carnality. The photos gradually zoomed in on her face, and, for a moment, I felt sentimentality tug at me, begging me to say that she looked vulnerable, but I reminded myself sleep does that to everyone. She had a round face with a broad nose and thick lips and big, ovoid eyes, and if one of those didn’t come with the other I suspect she may have been very plain, even awkward. But altogether she looked indefinitely youthful, like a teenaged girl, and that vitality made her beautiful.

In the sixth photo, Meduce sat up in the bed, eyes puffy and her face screwed up like a little girl’s

when woken gently but prematurely. Not unhappy about the circumstances if that dumb, sleep-sweet smile meant anything, just curious and addled with unexpected consciousness. Sometime between that picture and the last, she pulled a sheet up and around her body, and I like to think, if only to increase the drama of the scene, that she did so more for the reassurance of a blanket’s weight than modesty. She left a strip of skin visible from her neck to her navel which required any man with any love of the feminine figure to stare, at least for a moment. Then again, Parker had already seen, and likely tasted, everything she had or hadn’t covered, so playing at modesty seemed futile, or at the very least a fine sentiment on her part.

Until the next photo. Somewhere between it and the last, someone had said something, stabbed someone, or intruded on the relative tranquility of the scene. Meduce’s mouth hung open, the sheet limp around her feet like a snake’s discarded skin. Her hands were blurs on the photo, and I couldn’t be sure if she’d just thrown the sheet on the ground, or if she’d tried to cover her breasts with her arms after someone had pulled the sheet from her, or if Parker had hit her and the photo caught her

delayed response. She looked appalled more than she did shocked, but more shocked than she did hurt, which made the next few pictures exhilaratingly uncomfortable. The next photo captured her in mid-stride, eyes wide, lips peeled back and her teeth bared. Parker had moved farther back, and I could see the room’s light source, a black lamp in the far right corner of the image, nestled beside a counter fit with a sink and a windshield-sized mirror that reflected what would have otherwise been wasted light back into the room, which cast the scene in an ambient gold glow like a sepia-toned photo.

The next three photos were pure action. Even with a high quality printer and the achievements of camera technology, they still looked like abstractions of finger paintings, blurred and smudged except for a few vivid details: a man’s hand clutching something lost in the motion, his tendons and veins twisting and bulging with effort; the ceiling, I think, a noxious swirl of white-yellow; a black phantom of a finger rushing to cover the lens, or scratch and claw at it like a fury might a man’s eye.

And then, there was that last image—in its own

right, the most beautiful, if crying women can be called that—a reflection of the room from the mirror by the lamp. Parker kept his face well out of the picture, his arm outstretched, wrist crooked so he could snap the photo. In the background, the bed and Melissa were captured ad infinitum. On the opposite side of the room, a mirrored sliding door, probably to a closet, captured both the backside of Melissa, as well as her reflection in the dresser’s mirror, capturing and recapturing her until her reflection’s reflection became so small as to be negligible, a mote of light.

By himself and out of context, Parker appeared to be a rapist, or a voyeur, a cruel man with violent impulses for beautiful women. That’s probably not an unfair statement. At the very least, Meduce wouldn’t disagree. Neither do I, but I have to stress the importance of causation: Parker acted by request of the Hellen family, which makes them culpable in the act. When I bothered myself to open my inheritance, I was unaware of its contents. I’ve done my best to create a context, to help myself and the reader understand what actually happened, and I’ve done what I can to put distance between myself and the Hellens in light of my discovery. But

I’ve always hated grim and sour endings to tales, so I’m glad this one has something of value in the end. That last photo, beyond being a pretty piece of sadism, has some poetry to it.

Meduce looked directly at the camera’s reflection, fixing it with a gorgon-stare that pierced the 4th wall and leered right at me when I met her eyes. Parker never actually wrote what he did to her, and the pictures don’t show any bruises or cuts, but the hate done onto her made her look equal parts feral and sexual; coils of sweaty hair stuck up at all angles, her lips swollen and her eyes red. She stared at the mirror, and the way she leaned into the photo, breasts exposed, her tears lost in the sweat that coated her face, and smiling—smiling!—, I like to think she understood what really happened had nothing to do with Parker, and everything to do with the recipient of those photos. That smile’s artifice, as disingenuous as nickel plating, coyly made rancid what should have been the Patriarchs’’ feast.



Copyright© Jacob Gillam. White Whale Review, issue 4.2

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