The Active Training Sessions ended with the Summer and Jacob hadn’t learned a fucking thing. Karate skills dulled. He would meet an attack with clumsy, uncertain moves. Hesitation begets paralysis. Hanging around deserted shopping malls (they’re easy to break into if you have gumption) watching mildew grow in patterns that correspond to the slow, synaptic branch in his foggy, over-drugged brain. Vine-choked Capitalism ending not with a whimper but with barren darkness. Like a fetus in a toilet. A slow breeze carries the whiff of dead animal smell. The rattle of rusted cash registers echo like ghosts through the dismal corridors. There are no squatters here. Bums with knives reeking of fish oil and shit. He will not have to use his rusty karate. He pours gasoline on the floors according to the designs in his mind. A mix of backwards swastikas and pentagrams. That should give them something to get angry about. He sets them ablaze and then scurries like a rat into the glowing night.
“Hold on there, pardner,” says the Sheriff, a lumbering cliché of pot-belly and mustache and a hat big enough to drown a litter of kittens. “Jest what’re you up to?” he says in a southern drawl.
“I was just burning swastikas and pentagrams into the floors of the mall,” he admits.
“Okay. Long as you didn’t steal nothin’. Now get on with you. And don’t let me see you in these parts again, pardner.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Jacob assures him. “I do one mall at a time. I was moving on anyway.”
“I’m done with you sonny. Git!”
“Gittin’, sir.” And he turns and runs into the heated dusk, wondering if this time he’d created enough fire to burn down the mall. He hides in the shadows, watching the lonely mall. It once was white, shrouded in stucco. It is now an encyclopedia of spray-paint signals and codes he cannot decipher. There is a faint glow dancing from the glass on the roof but after ten minutes it dies. The mall is silent again. He turns and runs.
He doesn’t see the girl. Her lactescent skin nearly glows but he misses her, running on.
“Bye,” the girl whispers.
Her hair is black, cut into awkward angles. Her bottom lip is pierced. Her right eye is blind and white, purposely burned with bleach. She has been reading about mall-vandalism in the newspaper and came here to commit some. But the boy got there first. She debates whether to check out his handiwork but decides to go home instead. Fuck it.
The Sheriff lights a cigar with a thick flourish.
Jacob gets home.
The girl gets home.
Home is an ostrich turd on a riverbank. Home is your remains being shit out by a grizzly bear, too digested for a thorough autopsy. It’s a dead manatee washed ashore on an island of retarded children. Sing to them until their women reach menopause. Home is an embrace between a pedophile and his cat. Home is a sun-gun revealing teeth in a closet. It’s abundant albacore. A bloody frying pan. Meat under the carpet. It’s nothing for birds to eat your dead fingers. Sting them with alcohol until you hear every sound there is and then forget it.