The airplane parts are everywhere. I find the first at lunch with Jane. A little black box floats to the top of my soup and I chew. It sends a metallic shock up through my teeth, rattling my skull. I feel it going down hard. Slicing through my throat and puncturing a lung. Yeah, it hurts, but I don’t think I’ve tasted anything so sweet.
* * *
Our dog at home is named Andy. Andy is a good boy. He has that short, wiry kind of hair that pricks you when you pet it the wrong way.
I play with him in the yard and throw him a bully stick. A bully stick, in case you didn’t know, is the politically correct term for a petrified bull penis. He really likes them. I throw it deep into the bushes but he comes running back with a chewed up tire in his mouth. It burns away at his jowls. It still hasn’t cooled off.
He tries to hand it off to me but we just pass it back and forth, sharing the burn. My hand. His mouth. My hand. His mouth. My hand. His mouth. I wish I could tell him I prefer playing with bull penises.
* * *
Jane and I lie in bed, when she starts to rub her petite hand between my thighs.
She wears a black and blue nightgown and I can see the tips of her breasts poking out. What are you looking at? she asks.
Your breasts, I reply.
Well don’t do it yet. She runs into the bathroom and says something about wanting to look sexy. When she comes back into the room, the light from the bathroom gives her silhouette a gold halo. From this angle she is only the dim shadow of a woman. She moves closer and I realize she is wearing a flight attendant uniform. It’s torn at the legs. It drips with blood.
I look at the ceiling as she starts to shower my body in hers. I stare long enough and count every single dot I can find, trying to let go, trying to forget that I am more than just a head. When we’re finished, I feel wet everywhere. This is a rescue boat but no one is coming to help.
* * *
While at work, I am flooded by a sea of body parts. Decapitated heads and loose limbs unspool around me in long red ribbons. The ribbon pulls tighter around my chest, tighter around my waist. It’s like drowning in an endless Chuck-E-Cheese ball pit, except instead of balls it’s, you know, body parts. I let out a deep moan and my face fills with toxic, black tears of airplane fuel.
My boss finds me shaking underneath my desk. He tells me to go home for the day.
* * *
Jane takes me to see Dr. Downey. He has an expansive, open office with five tall rectangular windows, opening up to a sage field and a wide-open sky. The floor of his office is covered in an amalgam of oriental rugs and deep reds. He smiles on his leather couch, legs crossed. He has us take a seat.
So how are you feeling today?
I heard you had a little bit of an incident at work.
I’m doing better now.
He speaks incomprehensibly for a couple of minutes. Outside the window, a helicopter lowers and three broad-shouldered men lift what appears to be a jet engine. Thank God we found it, I hear one of them say.
So, Dr. Downey says, do you understand me?
Loud and clear, Doctor.
* * *
These days, my punctured lung is starting to become a problem. It’s becoming harder to play with Andy. I start taking him out for only one walk a day. Jane now two.
We’re running in the park, when Andy digs up the corpse of a dead squirrel. He plays with it in his mouth, licking up gray globs of pigeon shit and smacking them between his jowls. He bites away at what was once the stomach. He bites away at what was once the heart. There is a trail of mutilated organs behind Andy, as if they are trying to chase him down.
He sees what probably is another animal carcass in the distance and runs away from me. I can’t keep up. My lungs pound in my head as I try to chase him down but then I hear something so loud it feels like a tear in the fabric of the universe. The skeleton of an airplane catapults toward Andy, whirling in the sky, blowing rings of fire and dust everywhere I can see.
I am knocked to the floor where I feel warmth all around. There is a hole inside my body.
* * *
Jane’s bags are packed and ready to go. I guess I won’t be seeing much of her anymore. She tells me to take care and touches my cheek with her clammy hand.
She’ll be on an airplane tonight to Houston. Flight 342A. I memorize this number and repeat it like a hymn.
* * *
In the mirror, a smooth silver wing stares back at me. It is a perfectly trimmed feat of engineering brilliance. I rub up and down the side of my body and wonder if it could grow feathers, whether I have the ability to lift up toward the sky on my own.
There are so many parts to me now. Some are intricate grids of wires that electrocute my body if they are mishandled. Others are disposed pieces, flaming in the middle of the ocean. I feel a distance between these parts in and out of me, an immeasurable chasm, home to stars and planets and the crisp streaks of cloud that paint the sky in daytime.
I feel it all shifting and I think, it’s a funny word: explode.