Todd Clay Stuart
On the Way to Encino
You turn all you see into a feast: the clouds, the sun, the palm trees tipping toward the blue blood of the ocean. You hold an unlit cigarette in your limp hand, but I am the one you inhale; I am the one sharing your uncontested collapse. The bus stops and we get off and watch it shrink down the road and disappear in a puff of black smoke. We start walking in the direction our hunger takes us.
My hair is wild, my jeans are torn. On the street, people look at us like we are arsonists, like every place we go we set on fire. Let them think what they want, I say. You throw your cigarette butt into the gutter and take my arm. Nightfall comes and brings with it a chill. You're in a red t-shirt that says SECOND BASE across the chest. When I drape my jean jacket over the soft slope of your shoulders, your kisses hit me like fastballs to the mouth.
At the party, I don't want you to get the tattoo but you get it anyway. A crucifix will ward off our demons, you say. Down in the kitchen, we forage for food but there is none to be found. Creep is blaring on the stereo. We put our arms around each other. To those that walk in on us, it looks like we're slow dancing to Radiohead, but really, we're propping each other up.
We stumble into the night with nowhere to go. I know a place in Sherman Oaks, I say. As we start walking, our bones send secret messages to each other. When we get cold, we duck into doorways and siphon each other's heat. When we get hungry, we devour each other's silence. The sky is a sheet of stars.
Todd Clay Stuart
is an American writer and poet from the Midwest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, FRiGG, New Flash Fiction Review, Milk Candy Review, South Florida Poetry Journal
and elsewhere. He lives with his wife, daughter, and two loyal but increasingly untrustworthy pets. In addition to his website (linked), find him on Twitter