Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 63

sneer. Amy laughed and ran off, trying to give away the rest of the sweaters before he could put it back. He knew he’d be carrying it home out of politeness, and he sighed as he draped it over the back if the office’s chair to wait for that time to come. Joe’s shift continued and ended without any real catastrophe or issue. He walked home in the dark, still picturing the electric company employee hunched over in agony as the swarm covered him. He carried the huge sweatshirt with him, not wanting to throw it away. “Hey,” Mr. Perez said as Joe walked up me porch. He was sitting on a lounge chair, smoking a cigarette. “Hi,” Joe said. He wondered why Mr. Perez was up so late, but he received his answer without being asked. “That boy from the power company died,” Mr. Perez said. “Just thought you’d want to know.” Joe didn’t want to know, and he didn’t know why Mr. Perez felt compelled to share. He was hoping he’d pull though and heal from his many stings. He thought the guilt would return, and he was surprised to find that he no longer felt much of anything about it. “There wasn’t much you could’ve done,” Mr. Perez said, mistaking what Joe’s silence meant. “Some exterminators are coming tomorrow. Be careful until then.” Joe remained silent and went inside to climb the staircase to the third floor. He sat at his kitchen table, staring at the wall. He wondered what it meant that his emotions had shut down about the man he sent the wasps to kill. He wished he was able to shut down his emotions about everything. He wished he could shut them down when it came to Hal. Hal. Joe stood up and walked to the window facing the tree where the swarm first came to him following the passing of The Cloud. He walked outside, hoping Mr. Perez had gone to sleep, having accomplished in giving his upstairs neighbor his morbid news. He went under the tree, spread his arms, and invited the swarm to join him. They answered, buzzing around him in a their small cyclone as they did the day before and landing on his clothes and body. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so at peace with the world. He let the wasps surround him for a little bit longer before releasing them again. He wasn’t afraid the exterminator was going to kill them. He knew they’d only come out if he called, and he only had one thing on his mind. Joe called out of work the next day. He removed the ends of the sleeves of the huge sweatshirt, leaving two gaping holes. When he wore it, the sleeves ended just after his hands. There was enough room inside for three of him, but he meant it to house thousands. He pulled the hood over his head, obscuring his face as he left the backyard as night fell. When he was ready, he set off for downtown New Haven. Hal wasn’t hard to find. He had his favorite spots along Crown Street, and he visited them often. Joe caught sight of him as he exited a bar. He was dressed in a button-down plaid shirt, snug against his muscular torso. His blonde hair was freshly cut and gelled upward in the front. He walked backward to laugh with the group of people who exited the club with him. Joe wondered how many he had slept with already. He knew Hal well enough to know that he wouldn’t have wasted much time with an empty bed. After following Hal for an hour and a half, Joe finally watched him say goodnight to his friends and walk back toward his apartment, alone. Joe smiled. He was lucky to catch Hal on a night where he wasn’t dragging some horny, drunk twink back to the lush apartment they used to share. Joe knew which way Hal would walk, and he waited to make his appearance as he took a short cut through a parking lot. “Hal!” Joe called, walking from the street. Hal turned, sweat on his face from the warm walk home. Joe was cool under the large hoodie; those he had brought with him kept him quite comfortable in the heat, creating a breeze under his clothes with their tiny wings. “Joe?!” Hal exclaimed. “You look like a bum. What are you doing?” “I came to see you,” Joe replied. “It’s over, Joe,” Hal said. “You left me.” Joe laughed. “I don’t want you back,” he said. “I came for retribution.” “You’re the one who left me!” Hal exclaimed. The smile left Joe’s face. “You hit me,” he said. “You berated me in public. You turned our friends against me. You didn’t even apologize when I was leaving!” “So do what you came here to do,” Hal said, walking toward Joe. He had the look on his face that Joe knew all too well. It was the same look that preceded a slap or a punch. “Unless you have a gun under that sweatshirt, you’re going to look like a pile of bloody meat when I’m done with you this time. Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?” “I know who I am,” Joe said, pushing the hood back. He saw the look on Hal’s face as the wasps that had been hiding under it came out in a thick cloud, and his smile widened. The wasps buzzed around his head. “I am the swarm.” Joe raised his arms, aiming his hands toward Hal, and he felt a breeze under the sweatsh Ё́ѡ݅)аՕ䁡́ݥ݅Ёȁɕٕ!)͕̰́݅эѕ́ѡ́́ͅ)!݅䁅͍ɕ́ѡ݅ɴٕɕ)ٕ䁥́䰁ѥɕѱͱ丁!)͍ɕ́ЁѼѡЁȁ́她չ)٥Ёɕ($)Q݅́ѡݡѡȁ݅)ɕɹѼѡȁչȁ)éɝ)!Ёѡ݅ɷéݽɬ!݅́)!!݅́յݽЁѡɽչٕɕ́ɽѡ݅ϊdѥ̸($))ɹ݅䁙ɽѡ͍݅)ݥѠͅѥ͙͵́Q݅)յѕѱ䁽́ͭͼͅѥ͙ݥѠѡ)ݽɬ((0