Excerpt from The Galaxy Club
Blue Boy Montoya
"Don't worry mother," I said. "Everything will be fine!"
She had told me that I always got into too much trouble the time I rode the pig the time I fought with the rooster hid in the woods behind a tree and laughed and laughed so she finally agreed and I took up my Demon Taming Stick went out of the house and down to the creek I'll catch fish I'll catch fish throw stones run fling mud pick flowers climb into trees. So I walked and picked flowers paintbrushes rubbed colorful rocks talked to birds rabbits on springs big trees and little weeds twisted turned threw myself down picked myself up a bee goes buzz buzz buzz ran jumped skipped to the water's edge it told me to go away its long gurgling voice even the water didn't want me around.
"I'm not going anywhere," I said and sat down. "You can leave if you want to, but I'm staying here."
The water sighed. It was full of fish, good ones, bad ones and I sat with my feet in the water watching them swim by feed on my toes and thought how Mom and Dad would like a nice fish dinner we almost never had fish I helped father pick beans from the garden that we had planted in the spring and were already coming along they grew so fast looked at which one might be best to eat some too skinny others too sad or too small little minnow but there was one long and green like cabbage. So I grabbed one of the bad fish—a big one—and threw it on the bank and it jumped up.
"Stay down," I said and hit it in the side with my Demon Taming Stick bap bap.
"Hey, stop that," it screamed. "Don't you know who I am?"
"You're an ugly fish and I'm going to bring you to Mom and Dad. Mom's going to cook you for dinner tonight. She's going to fry you up."
"You little fool," it said. "I'm not a fish. I'm a dragon. I'm Smooth Stone Dragon."
He was sticking out his chest and holding his head up as high as he could.
"I don't care what you are. We're going to eat you for dinner tonight."
"We'll see about that you little runt!"
He swung his tail at my leg and I hit it aside with my stick. And then the two of us started fighting and I laughed because he was very weak and every time he came toward me snapping his mouth and boxing with his fins I knocked him with my Demon Taming Stick blood and tears started coming from his eyes.
"Okay, okay, don't hit me any more," he screamed, blinking a lot and holding his fins in front of his face.
"I told you I was going to eat you," I said, and clobbered him over the head with my stick and he fell down dead.
I laughed and skipped around the dead fish singing a-tisket a-tasket a green and yellow basket then heard a kind of spurting sound coming from the creek. Another fish like the first was standing there in the water and he was crying.
"My brother, my brother, you hurt my brother."
"It's Smooth Stone Dragon, my brother!"
I laughed. "I killed him, I killed him and with my eye I saw him die."
"You—you," he sputtered. "I'm—I'm Little River Dragon and I'll—I'll …"
"You'll be dinner too," I said. "Your brother's pretty small for a meal for three. So I'm going to clobber your head till it breaks too."
I leaped into the water and hit the fish and he hit me back. He wasn't as strong as the first fish, but he was quicker and stopped trying to hit me and concentrated on me not hitting him.
"You killed my brother," he kept saying and I kept swinging my stick at him until he swam down the creek frightened.
Then I leaped out of the water, took Smooth Stone Dragon by the tail and dragged him through the weeds and flowers all the way home again home again market was done the fish in my dish I caught his blood.
Maybe I had heard it or maybe it was a dream—I could feel him next to me his elbow in my side. A coyote had got a few of our chickens in the night, made off with one and bit the head off another and Theodore was up before me. He took the shovel and buried one. He loves me but I'm not sure how he loves me, not like a mother or sister and not like a wife—I made coffee and eggs, poured a glass of milk for Blue Boy. Then Theodore got in the truck and left and the boy finished his breakfast and ran outside and I was out there weeding around the beans, before it got too hot.
I cried a little, for no reason, and wiped away the tears with the hem of my dress as I weeded. Maybe I was happy. I can't tell the difference anymore there is just a feeling.
Blue Boy had gone out and hadn't come back. He went out to play but it was hard to keep up with such an energetic child—it was hard for us—hard for us to keep up with our blessing because that's what he was I know—thinking he was probably still down at the creek gazing talking to the minnows—hard to be in a dying town with no children to play with everyone stopped having children and we almost did too because the children usually only come with the love. But there wasn't much of it. The cows had more of it than the people. The beans had more.
The boy could already walk when he came out of me. Everyone said he would be a child difficult to handle and they weren't wrong about that they asked me but why was he blue and I said something about the sky because it was like the sky was in our house when he came the house was full of activity, but I was happy then, there was no mistaking that.
The plants in the garden began to grow better and the sunflowers seemed like they smiled and the beans they grew in thick clusters.
And I smiled. Because when Theodore married me I knew it was not for the love not sure what it was for though I gave him the love I had. I had so much of it to give and I gave it. His mind always on that other older than me and if she was once a beauty she was no longer she had gotten too many of the tricks. I still feel like a girl of fifteen and am surprised every time I see myself in the mirror. No, men never looked at me but there were hardly any men to look, either stabbing each other, shooting each other, dying in ditches from too much drink or too many of the drugs.
I hoped that Blue Boy would grow up clean. I worried about him.
He had asked me if he could go play by the creek and I had at first said no and he had laughed and danced and asked me again so I said fine and he ran outside. I was done weeding around the beans and stood up and went inside and washed my hands and came out and saw him coming. He was carrying it as if he had triumphed over a lion or wolf.
"What do you have there?" I asked him.
"A dragon. He looks sort of like a fish but he told me he was a dragon."
"I see. And what do you want me to do with it?"
"Cook it for dinner."
"I'm not going to cook anything that's not cleaned and gutted," I said and so he went out back and cut it open and cleaned out its guts and scaled it and brought it in the kitchen. I covered it and it sat there. Later Theodore came back and I rubbed it over with flour and fried it and served it with the beans.
"Fish?" he said. "Who brought us fish?"
Blue Boy was laughing and I didn't say anything and he repeated the question.
"Blue Boy caught it," I said.
But he couldn't let it go at that and kept asking questions where did he catch it what kind of fish was it and Blue Boy told him it was the good kind us looking over and seeing that what was on his plate was almost gone already so we started eating what was on ours, Theodore eating not exactly like he was enjoying it, but because it was there on his plate.
"Boney," he said. He ate the beans.
And, yes, it was boney but it was also what our son had caught and I thought he should have been a bit nicer about it.
L 5 Flower
I came out of some universal weeping, some crying and screams and rose tall my hair shooting off in every direction light and clouds wrapping around me putting their ears against my flesh listening to my heart as it thundered my hands going up to the roots of the stars my feet to the emptiness of the earth some mathematic mystery singing broke out everywhere but that was long ago when the rocks still had mouths the sea hissed with steam the sky a fibrous net some cosmic jubilation dazed as I came into being bended this way and side way muscles covering gorges mountains my chest soaked in something oh it was night laying on the waves of tar or warm fragile nothingness oh it was night.
Now how long have I sat thinking thinking power is nothing in this infinite gulf tearing and spreading me out slumbering in eternal visions and little by little felt the yearning sensed it some astrology slow movement in the dust ignored it sensed it another dry whisper heat clinging to me sweat streaming from my cheeks is that what it was I felt sensed it kind melancholy request and dropped down my gaze eye knowing this gaze eye in one got up from my seat of great greatness stepped part way down thigh rubbing against some wayward cloud leaned over and then reached out my hand some thick black beam and picked it up you brim-filled vessel and drank that ancient lava prepared in sandy caves what was offered dark fruit of Saturn sap what reeling away through the trees it was not a glass of hay and leaping up on a thread of sunshine tumbling down and climbing back up onto the sky day by day on the solar ladder I returned through lovely leaves taking that glass not swelling earth or eating comets gulping down boiled moons which rolled over my teeth and weaving my way away and began to listen to what he asked what he asked what he asked like distant voice of alfalfa or pebbles shimmying down a hillside or some old semen falling flat what he asked why me whose father was chaos and mother eternity forever be stranded on this island of time without death or life or death or life.
Them laughing off away perpetual neighbors humming bird bat but who was I alone though winds came and lived in my ear daylight drained through my mouth and rivers gurgled up at me please and beauty blushed anger yelled blanket without bones shouting bones without weeds groves of skeletal planets bobbing their skeletal heads hectoring me out of my rest you crew of galaxies each demanding patience a thing I gobbled up long before memory sitting in stillness a stillness coughed out of my chest my lips stretching from vastness to vista but there is friendship for who gives me.
Coughed I called out drummed on ponds kicked over little clouds drunk in haunted knowledge summoning Coyote and also the gurgling Galaxy Club them hopping leaping flying to me smiling jabbering joking some flux of fur and wild grins of beaks I let it be understood that this man serving primordial lava juice should have what he wanted my eyes he should cannot be penurious sometimes birds scratch at my feet but enough of that.
"Give them a child," I said.
The Galaxy Club were leaping leaping clapping and bobbing.
"What's a child?"
"They still make them?"
"Someone's been procreating again!"
"Nothing to spare!"
"We don't like children."
"No, we like to beat them chuck them in deep ditches."
Coyote howled and they looked at him some astonishment and chased him and he jumped over to me some friendly snarl licking.
"Maybe better not to get mixed up in human affairs," he said.
"Give them a child," I said again.
"Well then," he said. "The universe never ends. There are no fetuses here, but there is so much sky. In the west there is a patch that no one even leans against. You could give them a part of that."
"Then give them such a piece such a piece of the sky always floating over there dancing floating," I said, "and when it comes out of her it can be their what is it called son what good is power if I cannot use it what good is power give them a son give them a son some child have pity I was given drink have pity."
The Galaxy Club's lamenting uneasy laughter protesting complaining Coyote agreeing licking agreeing oh how I enjoy the licking that soft warm tongue feathers as some bay of light some heated powder.
And so Coyote bit off the sky's hand pain balling it into a fist bleeding azure granules and in the night he went down and pushed it into her and the man was thankful and left a bottle sitting on a rock and I swallowed it stumbling away sleeping sleeping reverberating I could feel their closets opening thoughts expanding if they under stood the tides of grief turning back time just briefly so he did just that taking up the sky hand and early in the morning before light came on the earth planting it in the woman's womb what trouble this child would cause what trouble the sky it bled for a day my sleep is so long my sleep is so long but I hear.
Grandfather was the Hermano Mayor. He died a long time ago. He floated out of the room on his back, floated down to the arroyo and away. No one in the house talked or cried. We laid the table and ate. Only the sound of the soup. The sound of spoons and crockery. His chair was empty. The only flavor the flavor of sadness if it was even that. I tasted it now.
Finally mother spoke. She asked me to hand it to her.
I picked it up and passed it to her. Sprinkling salt on her soup, her lips very tight, her moustache looking very black, though I know it was thin. Then she drank off her soup and pushed her bowl away. I wondered how many nights she had floated through the valley.
"Never have children," she said, "they bring you heartache."
I looked down and finished eating. We cleared the dishes and took them to the kitchen. We heated up water and I washed them and Brunilda dried.
"You can't see him anymore now," she said.
"Your boyfriend. You cannot see him anymore."
And later that night she took me out back where the flowers were growing and told me to eat them. I told her that I did not want to. That I could go away. But I knew that I couldn't. There was nowhere to go. Mother had said I had to eat the flowers.
They were long and white. They shone in the darkness. On my knees I picked them and ate them and they were bitter and I knew that she was right, that I could no longer see him. For his sake more than mine. I stood up and knew that grandfather was there, somewhere in the night and that whatever I had come from would be what I would go to. I could not say I won't. Could only stretch out my arms and grab at the night.
"You can ride it now," I heard Brunilda say.
"Mother says that you need to do the run. Don't be difficult."
Then she was taking my hand and leading me down to the pen. The moon was full and the sky was clear and it was almost like daylight. The beams of the moon were long and I could touch them. They felt like wood.
She opened the gate and let me in. It was tied up to its stake. She untied it and led it to me, handing me the rope. I looked in its eyes which were like two hatchets. Then I climbed on its back and took it by the horns and we began to do the run.
I felt my hair going backwards. My body was something else. It ran out of the pen and across the field and down to the creek then over that. The moon hung in the sky and I reached for it, but it was still too far away. Only its beams were built around us, thickly. I was a long piece of cloth that kept unrolling.
I felt its ribs with my thighs.
It was angry at me, but it had been grandfather who had killed the other. And yes, we ate it. We ate tulip with red chile.
Grandfather. Sometimes I can still hear him, but I turn away. It is more than time that has turned me old.
was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1970 and was raised in part in rural Northern New Mexico. He has had fiction published in numerous places, including McSweeney's
, and the World Fantasy Award winning anthologies Leviathan 3
(The Ministry of Whimsy 2002), and Strange Tales
(Tartarus Press 2003). He has has a number of novels and short story collections published, which include Metrophilias
(Better Non Sequiter, 2010), and Lives of Notorious Cooks
(Chômu Press, 2012).
is grateful to Chômu Press
and Mr. Connell for permission to publish this excerpt from The Galaxy Club
. (Copyright © 2014 by Brendan Connell.)