At the bottom of Sleepless Creek is a letter I wrote to a boy with his car on the edge of a medium near a field where his heart remains buried. The letter is a list that consists of what not to do in a storm. Or what not to do when the dark becomes a hallway leading into a room where women are tied to windows. They are tied in ways only the boy imagines when trying to sleep, but can’t. He is ashamed of how he feels. Or wants to feel. How he wants to feel for them, but can’t.
Don’t think I’m looking in on the room. Don’t think I’m above it all, on a roof, head bent down so I can see through the bars and hear their secrets.
Time travel is not possible, his mother said over steak and mashed potatoes which had gone cold while he swirled his fork in and out like a pile of muck he used to clean in the summers for money.
He used to clean stalls and ride in a car with a man named Willie who was much older but outfitted with a teenager soul. This was when he learned to hunt coyote and drink liquor made from a trash can. How to spot which girls would go far enough to make it fun, and which would run.
Catching ’em is a lot like fishing, get it? Willie would say, holding a rifle out the window and squinting into the beam of a spot light. Some dash, he said, and damn, some dance.
Don’t look into the bottom of sleepless creek. I wrote a letter to a boy who, somewhere between Mississippi and Texas lost the feeling in his hands. The only way to feel them again? He liked the grip of a rifle and the tear of a skirt. But his heart was left in a boat painted blue which should never have been taken onto the water, but was. A girl, sixteen, ran away from her father and into that boat.
Not much better, my company, the boy said.
By this time, nineteen was no longer a boy but a man. However, much like Willie, he was outfitted with a soul stuck in a certain place. A hard place. At the bottom of a creek somewhere.
The girl, sixteen, laughed and said, Catch me.
Her hands pale like his mothers. An image he didn’t remember but recalled like a long sleep and warm glasses of milk.
Underneath, after her, that night, the blue boat, there was nothing left but rage. And the only way to feel his hands was to try and wait it out. Wait out each woman to see what she’d do. Go far enough to make it fun, or run. Either way he’d catch them. He’d stand on their ankles and pray it would be the last time. The last time and then whatever it was that made him do it would fade.
Don’t look for the letter or the women in the room down past the hallways. And don’t think I’m watching. I am.