The Last Things We Said

Kevin McIlvoy

The last things we said to each other after hours of calling out, knocking walls, wild thumping around, pointless strategizing, no cell phone reception, laughing, loud chilled laughing, urinating so satisfying we called it The Rapture—lots of urinating against the sealed door, and then The Need to, but drained, nothing, none, and both of us each of us screaming at the sealed door—perfect seal, weak screaming, a session of cell-phone picture-taking, erasing two, keeping three, some loving things said and real beautiful, some things that were not, some weeping, some retracting of the smart hate, shivering, apologizing for the stupid love (this was before the lavaging) (this was before the amputating, way before), no cell reception, no cell reception, angry about it, cell phone camera working fine, furiously thankful for that, one of us hallucinating black-licorice-flavored blood pumping in the circulatory system of the word bell, one of us marble-shooting his eyelids with his thumbs to make them ping, and taking some cell-phone head-shots, a dozen at least, the other asking What are we doing? and the other What are we doing next? asking whether or not that was more rain hitting the roof so hard, and asking, like it was the first time, Was that more rain? forgetting, asking, stripping himself naked at the end, hard to talk, mouth not exactly working, and asking himself and me, And?—and you’d think we’d talk about our loved ones, say their names, we did, we said the words which made everything good but not right—a word you don’t have locks you down until you have it, kills you as soon as you do, and each of us both of us went burrowing into soft, warm imaginary forest soil, grubbing down, it’s how freezing goes, you become a grub, a C shape, you grub down, you burrow down doing the grub-worm disco in the refrigeration unit of the Schwan’s truck, the feeble, silver-dreaded, buggy bitch trucker’s rig half-on half-off the shoulder of I-40 at Old Fort, we couldn’t believe it, you know (we had a load to deliver, you know?), couldn’t believe we stopped for her, but there she was—clear as day—couldn’t believe we walked right to her (stitched on her white jumper the name “Al”), said to us, “Pre-mix”—her whole desperate speech in total—smoothed the black long sleeves of her T-shirt, shuffled herself off balance, like a buggy stuffed bird, asked us to unseal her doors, looked down at her nurse-type black shoes, at her cracked pink driving gloves, sent us in, what were we thinking pulling over our seventeen tons of crushed three-quarter in a bad rainstorm, craned her neck in the direction of her trouble—sent us in—we felt like an offering, we had a bad feeling under the good feeling we both and each felt when the light came on, the motion-sensitive kind, the small amber light—we could see the hives of shelving, the waffled floor and ceiling, the mounted poster of a stoned Black Jesus so natural we both thought, Realistic! which was when she sealed the doors behind us, happened fast, a certain zone inside—outside another zone—possibly she used a remote control—probably—before the poor thing stepped into the road, got punched out of the world with us trembling inside her unit, saying some things, a few more fairly unsurprising things, checking the cell, checking and checking it, and saying things before we could barely talk at all, had something left, had nothing, and then, died saying the last things:

He asked, “Dry barbecue? Or wet?”

“Well. Wet, I guess.”

“Wet it is. You got to grow up with dry to have an appreciation. Check it.”

“What was it with those nurse shoes?”

“Shiny.”

“And dreads? Kinda silver-white. Silvery white. And those gloves. Jesus-Mary-”

“-Joseph.”

“Couldn’t believe it, you know.”

“Me neither. Check it. Please. Please.”

“There’s no reception, man. Nothin’.”

“Pork? Or beef?”

“Come on.”

“Pork, huh?”

“Well.”

“Are rasta-trucker-nurses supposed to kill guys like us? That breaks a couple vows at least.”

“She was buggy, that’s all. She didn’t mean to kill us. She forgot us soon as we were inside.”

“Forever.”

“Forgot us forever.”

“She didn’t forget The Product—not her damn Pre-mix.”

“Check it. Check it.”

“Come on.”

“Check it. What is Pre-mix?”

“It’s what you—nothing, there’s nothing—that’s it. My hands—my fingers are falling off—I’m not checking it again—it’s what you put in before. Before it’s fish paste, before it’s shrimp sauce.”

“So.”

“So.”

“All the satellites. I’m hot. Christ. Christ. My skin burns. The cables and towers and dishes, nationwide networks, package deals, all the bundling. I’m going to have to kill me some Verizon people if I—”

“That was it, right? The word ‘bundle.’”

“Right.”

“The whole reason to go with Verizon.”

“‘Bundle.’”

“It’s like that.”

“It’s hot. Burns. Burns. Christ. Christ, it burns like fire on a popsicle.”

“I got—who is that? Is that Bob Marley?—I got something left.”

“I got nothin’.”

“That’s—he’s—good luck!”

“I got nothin’.”

“Take one. Take a picture of him.”

“Well. My hands.”

“Oh.”

“A shame.”

“It would’ve looked just like him.”

“I’m goin’ in.”

“Down?”

“Down.”

“Hard to get in.”

“You down yet?”

“Almost.”

“Better?”

“Better.”

“Better?”

“Better.”

“Better?”

“Good.”

“Whew!”

“Whew.”

“How far down?”

“I’m down,” he said. “I’m all in. You?”

“I’m in.”

• •

And this is what we said, this is every last word

we said while the two young EMTs re-warmed us in the kitchen of the Burger Time—they were improvising because the nearest emergency room was too far off and the storm not letting up, and they could tell we were almost finished, because it turns out you can die pretty fast right after you die by freezing inside a refrigeration truck, so they were trying to bring us to room temp, one whispering “Core,” and the other, “Cube,” and someone from the bottom of a clicking, roaring falls said, “Shh. Shhhh”—they were trying to go slow, and they were, they were uncurling us the best they could, they were slow-flexing the tips of our grub fingers and the tips of our grub toes, and they opened our pinging eyelids, looked in, slid them closed—sweet-pure pinging sounds—we were straightened slow and slow-stretched, flattened, saturated in the warm fry grease rubbed over our segments, we were remembering The Rapture while there was discussion between them and the manager about the dishwasher, whether it could be retooled fast enough—then fingers were held at the eight—and two-o’clock position on our groins—and one said, “Lavage”—and the next thing the other did was cut into our guts so they could pull it all out or warm-rinse the whole internal works, and one calmly said, “Port,” and the other, in the same calm voice, “Exit,” and at the rim of a gorge someone said, “Meedyum—nopeyeah—meedyum,” but “lavage” was in us—lavage—lavage—what a word, with lava in it—and that’s—that’s, that’s—it made you want to taste a picture of yourself, and it made you love the name Al, and until the word was done to us, until we were each other’s canyon and coffin, we never would have thought about the ah in it, the humidity of that—would we have thought about that?—come on—come on—how?—we wouldn’t’ve, couldn’t’ve—come on—it’s against the odds, a word going inside us that way when we were each and both re-cooled in the walk-in, and re-warmed near but not under the food-warming lamps which were amber—amber—no kidding—after death you stop exaggerating—and I wondered where was the cell, the shots we took, where was the dead trucker and what was The Product in her unit, and they repeated the process—lamps, walk-in, lamps—trying to save us—like you can’t do sometimes, like sometimes you can’t do—and I learned later that the cell was never found—The Product was pre-mix for ice cream—the old thing flew out of her bright shoes and higher than the pines, and home—and after hours of lavage—what a word, man, there aren’t a million words as good—after I was a functioning human fountain and believed I could live, after I asked, “And my friend?” that was when I smelled the mustard of the world, and not the mild kind, it was on the young man’s upper lip, his hands, my brain, the plastic-pack perfect mustard of the world, and his voice was burger-muffled when the young man said, “Now, look,” and repeated it, so I looked, I said, “But. I remember—” then the young man said, “There’s just you—” then I said, “— every word.”

He said, “AT&T next time.”

I said, “Or T-Mobile.”

“How about—”

“—that new one—Vonage?”

“Oh! Oh. Yeah. Vonage.”

He said, “There was something funny about her.”

I said, “Always is.”

“The driving gloves?”

“Well.”

“Were they really pink?”

“Yeah.”

“Shoes?”

“Shiny black.”

“We sure went down, didn’t we?”

“Way down. You good?”

“I’m good.”

“It’s good down there.”

“It is. It’s good.”

“Well.”

“Couldn’t believe it, you know.”

“Me neither.”

I said, “You see her, too?”

He said, “Clear as day.”

Back to top ↑

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter