Heir Apparent

Issue #45 April 2017

from The Conservation of Mass: Stories | Ronaldo V. Wilson

Party, Party

The car is a low one, and red, and does 100 as if floating, and their name is Manitoba, which is Agender but twinned, and the BMW 328i Coupe X Drive is who Virgil can afford, and hopes to even more easily, as he produces more and more language that creates a balm in his gut. After all the killings, open season, and in a season in which King K says they should fear our resignation, Virgil, too, is resigned.

Virgil is driving, racing after another car. Her name he feels is Angelica, and she’s a march. Virgil, in this dream, is a boy, chasing after something he does not understand, rushed by what others want, what others wish to make of him, marred and constructed, malleable and shocked, wrangled into throws, breathing by the choke of waste-neck baton.

He speeds along a dark road hoping to keep up with the boys he doesn’t even know—They are at a dance he wouldn’t even care about, were he awake. Those boys are where the car becomes—a bicycle—frame on the cement, yet chained to the rack, wheel gone, quick release left clutching the air.

The drive from Capitola to “Midtown” Santa Cruz is fast, and there isn’t any view of the ocean in the transition from the “1” onramp to Morrissey Avenue when Virgil heard a knock. “Sounds like a rock,” he thinks, but is unable to discern if the noise came from inside or outside of Manitoba. He hoped that the noise came from inside—something he could manage, something that would not ruin his day like a chip on Manitoba’s left window door frame, just below the roof, or one on the handle, a scar, tat over an entry wound, or a strip of them: THUG LIFE.

MommaSpine set Virgil’s black yoga shorts out on Manitoba, and even though Virgil realizes these would not leave a stain on their red surface, he still removed the shorts from the hood, and hung them on one of the clotheslines she set up in the garage. Resignation is MommaSpine saying her sisters in the Philippines are too far away to ever see again. And even though one of her sister’s has just died, she does not answer her husband who asks about his long ago visit to her home, Leon, Iloilo, which he doesn’t remember, and MommaSpine tries to forget. Virgil, though, knows some of the story, but he doesn’t say anything, about the roll of cash he wanted to give his then new family, the money, gone the next morning, stolen in the night from his shoe.

Virgil, the boy, on the refrigerator is fat, and smooth; in fact he is striped and brown, and all innocent looking, and as he looks up, dimples, in the studio light of the photographer’s bulb. Who knows if that fat, curly brown face would have ever been hit by a bullet? Though, once, he did stare down the barrel of a gun. Van pulled it on him in a living room. Van on top of the sofa, and Virgil looking at that regular black boy pointing dead at Virgil, laughing. And Virgil, not so regular, looking back, or maybe to the side, resigned in the reality that he, at the moment, could be killed. Maybe he was scared, or maybe he recalls out of being scared, a calm when Van opened the chamber to show that the gun wasn’t loaded.

When the boys get to the “Party, Party,” there is an open clearing of geriatrics, all of them like little boxes of grey, or white, black and barely moving, but still dancing on the floor around them. The boys want to get the party started. But Virgil is thinking of the white/yellow light saturating the pic on the newsfeed. It looks like a warm night, but it is not. What are fireworks are described as “small bombs” that disperse the crowd. Move the crowd. The boys want to make the party a success, even though it does not appear they were invited, nor does it feel like the party was productive. This, in a sense, is a riot of no consequence. FloPaT says this is not a race riot, but it is riotous.

Imagine feeling this all day reports JohnWhiteFunny. Imagine feeling the actual thing, instead of being sick of hearing about it? And the screen is split, and JonJonK says JohnWhiteFunny is an ally in his FB post, and Virgil wonders about this binary, the way that feeling is split, not splitting into many selves, but a self who, even in its most luxurious, feels ultimately sad, but looks good, pushes his thighs to touch the mat, and attempts to make something of itself in the connection.

Are you not entertained? Is this what we are doing?—Virgil thinks. Is this what CeeR is doing? What are any of us doing, as we wait, well in our finest of bags and shoes? In the end, he feels he has the ear of the white avant-garde, but Virgil thinks, as the illusion, what will he do, exactly? Such sorrow bleeds in the pleasure of his smooth acceleration. And all the warning lights continue to alert: DSC, ABS, 4X4! And Manitoba, too, continues to go on, broken. Sorrow, Grief—these are impossible to let in, and also impossible to let go, a realization that cannot be marked, let alone, shared.

As the boys sit near their bikes a few feet from one another, Virgil pulls out a pair of stone washed denim jeans that everyone in the group, including Virgil himself, realizes he cannot fit. Virgil knows this is not because the Denim is too small. Perhaps it was the heat that foreclosed the jeans from fitting, but still, in the dream, he explains to these boys that it was only because they suffered from the dryer’s heat.

They are not the jeans on the rack in the HelloKitty Room. Jeans that Virgil lit into the WhackDRYCleaner’s about, the jeans they ruined, and even though Virgil told the workers they could do nothing to repair them, that they would have to pay, they did not. Virgil is preserved, and has never returned, a boycott on their stupid business, a pox on their Black Friday, a riot in their cheap hearts.

What is curious about this moment, maybe in his understanding of the jeans being forever too small, is that Virgil recalls him wanting to prove himself to the other boys, and maybe to the entire world, at the same time: We want to be able to walk in peace. We want to eat. We want to be cared for. We want to be knowing, and moving, and being beings. Is this why Virgil writes?

Virgil is cuffed. Virgil is folded. Those stiff jeans, those hard denim legs that had one day stretched, had once fit both of his legs, and his waist wasn’t strangled by the button, but his pumps as they clipped at the bottom of his feet on the pier, made him feel like he was like a little, thin steed.

Virgil plays like a boy, searches: There is a lion somewhere on Youtube with its jaw torn apart, and his tongue sags, and he cannot drink, but still he goes to the edge of the watering hole to try. He drops part of his fallen jaw in, in where Virgil can no longer see it, nor can anyone, but this dip, where part of its face is submerged, broken off, is presumed to be the sign that the Hippo attacked him, and won.

Virgil feels sad. Virgil is alone. Virgil has not touched anyone for so very long, and in this site of not feeling anyone, he is moving around a wide circle, a circle he can’t understand, something he does not want to encounter alone, but he is alone, so he walks down a dreamed street though in and around a familiar house. The dream world he enters is made up of rides he imagined so long ago, dreams he felt as he rode on his bike as an actual boy.

Alone on the bike, it was like he was floating. And in his dreams, Virgil is not ever free, but his movements feel close to it. He floats above the street, wearing only a towel around his waste. He tries to pretend he is super-fit. He pimp walks with his towel in a neighborhood, which is like the grid he is driving around with the boys in the car, but this time he is walking, and not driving.

Once in a parking lot, Virgil is tried by a mutual black who asked for money, and Virgil says he’s preparing for an interview, and he walks away, maybe pimp walking again, a little, to enter the Panera. The mutual black is ready to fight. So is Virgil, but for different reasons. In the end, he does not fight because he does not want to scuff his $400 USD boots in the parking lot, and he shuts the heavy door of MommaSpine’s Porsche 928 and keeps it moving.

He walks quickly, because he has a purpose, headed to a familiar place, a house that is white, and has pillars that greet him. Giant squares of walls drop down, and he finds himself, walking quickly up to the front porch. Virgil hears the whites having breakfast inside, and sees the square plates that match the square fronts that guard the house from precisely someone like Virgil. And Virgil, in the dream, though he has only stolen a pack of gum and a balloon in his life, carries the fear of being caught less than he does the fact of his being a thief on sight.

It feels easy enough though, in this seeing, and in a way, his body allows him to shift and to move, and to wait, and then to eventually steal the copy of the Sacramento Bee, wrapped in plastic, still flat. He has only seen the NY Times wrapped like this, so it can be pretty certain that this comes from Virgil taking the paper back to Butch. But as quickly as he grabs the newspaper from the porch, he returns it to the first old white lady he sees, walking up to join the other old whites for lunch. From inside the house of stucco squares, he hears chatter of the news of the missing newspaper. He hears them calling the police, describing what they see—“Yes, but is he Black or White?” is being asked, not in the dream, but the question plays from the tiny black volume bar at the bottom of the screen.

As Virgil speed walks away from dropping the newspaper into the old lady’s hand, he notices she, nor her friend look particularly rich. He notes the long stringy dyed hair, the fallen face, not as jacked up as the lion’s he found ripped off by a hippo, but still, he feels it falling, lying there, and sagging, held on by some miraculous tendon. Not dying, or dying less quickly than the lion, the old white lady in the dream takes the paper: “I was supposed to be on Water Duty.” “Why are you giving me the Newspaper?”

Or maybe it is a skill. Once, when Virgil was an intern in public relations, he received coaching by the speech coach of PresidentGipTrick! She taught Virgil, and the rest of the interns, old white lady that she was, how to downturn her mouth into a slight, but hard pursed frown to show that you were being both attentive and filled with disdain at exactly the same moment.

Virgil, in this instant, realizes that he will be safe, because he knows the difference in the truth and faking it, and that he can wake up from this reality of his ultimately being caught, but what remains is how exposed he feels with the towel around his waist in the dreamed morning, his fat out, or on a morning well after the dream when it will fit around him easily, and in this fit, this will explain it all, forming to give Virgil back some measure of his life.

The Wounded

No consummation of desire is what Virgil ponders in the bed, his back almost ready to blow out at the base, if even for thinking it. It starts out after school, when Teacher M would sit, legs stretched out at the front of his empty classroom. Teacher M drove an old red Toyota Truck, left parked in front of the high school well after it was closed, waiting like a beacon for Virgil; for no matter how far away he was from Teacher M, Virgil would figure out a way to return.

After graduation, what did he imagine he would hold onto as he came back so many years in a row, to that class, first, to the back where Teacher M usually parked, then to the front lot, and then to the empty classroom, again, Teacher M, waiting behind a glass wall, not waiting for Virgil at all, but rather, for traffic on US 50 to clear.

And now, Virgil pays the price for this habit, this need, stalking before it was stalking, lured by the tug of only his desire. The Perch he pulled out of the bay was almost flat. Before he caught it, Virgil did not imagine it from the top of the pier. It felt easy to catch, but once it flailed on the end of his hook, dancing the “dance of death,” which Fat Alan called it, Virgil held tight the fishing line, barely feeling it rub into his finger, its last useless struggle bound to his longing.

When Virgil peeks into Teacher M’s classroom, there is someone new inside, someone grey and old, with glasses, someone whose legs are similarly sticking out, as they were when Virgil and Lil’Daft would sit like two little bitches in heat at Teacher M’s feet. Who knew that while Teacher M was describing his relationship to the Lord, his ranking of his love of family ahead of anyone, including Virgil, or his future plans in finishing up a Master’s on Chaucer, Teacher M was actually seeding some other woman, would get her pregnant, and leave his then wife, the woman who had all the money, the kids, and kept that house so safe in El Dorado Hills.

Virgil was, then, like all the other lost girls. He was like Lil’Daft, and like Tomato Worm Face Steel Wool Hair, all wanting Teacher M. All of them ready to give up their childhoods to enter Teacher M’s imaginary, his orbit of desire, which by proxy included theirs. But what did Virgil hope to gain from his finding himself, caught in the trap of this uneven exchange?

Virgil would confess his desire for Teacher M in the ways he knew would not ruin everything, staring at him, pig-puppy, feigning confusion about how to keep his growing away friends, when Teacher M was the friend he wanted. Lil’ Daft was correct, Virgil like-liked Teacher M. His need was something he could not identify, then, but still, never getting into Teacher M’s actual world haunted him. Still does. Maybe Madge was correct? Maybe his reliance on the dream world holds him hostage in ways his real life will never overcome.

Consummation is tricky, Virgil feels, and it is so ugly in the dream. Teacher M is wounded. His head is enlarged, and sewn up across his forehead, the stitch is bulky, and he can barely stand. “Did you have a stroke?” is what Virgil asks. But moments before, Teacher M was fine enough, looked the same, feathery thin hair, a dark mustache, big brown eyes, like a toddler’s, lashes flowing out around them, as light as they moved the air. He nodded. They walked inside. But the person that Virgil would see there was not him.

Virgil thinks of Frankenstein’s monster on the table, the yellow ochre skin, the veins, the forever loss that that monster would carry in his travels, his return, and perhaps even his penultimate escape across the ice. Maybe this is why his encounter with the other version of Teacher M is so difficult to decipher.

Teacher M is seated next to him, describing what happened, while he is naked, his body is thinner than Virgil imagined it could ever be, long and less hairy, and in the reconstruction of this body in this dream, his head is healed. But as Teacher M reveals his story, he releases a perfect dollop of green vomit, the consistency of mashed peas, and the color the very same.

Upon the release of this vomit, Virgil rubs Teacher M’s back, and though he would have wanted to grab a bag, fake concern, then go all the way, he does not. He lets it go, the very idea, and fixates on the vomit. Why can’t Virgil and Teacher M remain in their respective positions within the dream forever? But Virgil, like Teacher M (according to Tomato Worm Face Steel Wool Hair) has lost his family from fucking around, and Virgil realizes he, too, has a price to pay. He has to contend with the desire that leaves them both broken and wandering within Virgil’s unconscious.

Teacher M transforms again. There are no wounds left in his body. It is as though Virgil healed him, allowed him to come back as a mirror of himself. It feels appropriate, really, this body of theirs, hovering, and his wanting Teacher M, a figure that does not evolve from its original representation, but reveals instead someone to hold and to love.

Teacher M is intact. He nipples sport rings, and he is in the tub waiting for Virgil. Finally, this is how it started, how it all began, and Virgil is right there, hungry for everything. “Spend the night.” Teacher M says this before the tub, before they do it, and he is even encouraged by Teacher M’s brother, a sort of cheerleader shadowing in the dream, even though Virgil only met him once, Teacher M’s brother, rounder, and with amber hair glowing in the back of the class.

The living room, fabricated in Virgil’s imaginary, leads them to the site of desire that will hold them all, but what does Virgil do but waddle in the tub, like the electric eel that vibrates just enough to kill the fish it will quickly eat in the water. Or like the fish caught by the bird that “fishes,” by dropping a piece of bread into the brown water until it surfaces to feed, only to be snatched into the bird’s beak, and gobbled down its billowing throat.

The weight of the rain coming down on the house, its clicks and shifts pull Virgil from this world into the present. How will he understand the features of his body to be unstuck from events that are real, or dreamt? The plot becomes this, a theory—Virgil feeling generated across discovery. So the plot is also constructed in the fact that he, too, returns to how desire can never broken, particularly inside of events that would never happen.

Virgil Kills

The vantage point was clear, the shot an easy one through the apricot tree, between the branches where the hummingbird stood. At least this is what Virgil thought it was doing—standing—but after telling KennebunkActor the story, he would realize that the bird was not. What Virgil could not know then, was that the bird as KennebunkActor described, hovered.

Before Virgil shot the hummingbird, he remembers the sweep of the many of them flying in the trees. In one photo from this time, Virgil has a bucket on his head, his hair curling out, and he is wearing white shorts with an athletic stripe down the side, opening to a small gap, his face, a permanent smile, he holds a hose out in his hands, spraying water into an arc.

But as Virgil took aim, he was not playing. He was, instead, sitting on a card table’s padded collapsible chair, alert, the hollow steel legs’ rubber grips, fixed on the cement patio. Secure, he lined the bird up just under the sight’s tip, the snap of the gun, blasting through the leaves, putting a hole in the “standing” bird’s neck.

“You were a good aim.” is what KennebunkActor said, which exists in contradiction to Virgil’s waiting for the struck dead animal to come back to life, even though it was clear, the hummingbird was dead. When KennebunkActor revealed to Virgil that that hummingbird was not, in all likelihood, ever standing on that branch, Virgil understands this not to be contradiction, but recognition of a different kind, something that would undo him more deeply than the killing itself.





When “The Eye of the Tiger.” came on, Virgil performed his dance of life, not choreographed but felt. However submerged, shooting that bird stretches out in front of him like the “catwalk” that was his backyard’s narrow center, the runway, his stage. GHerm is in a dream, on a bus, and Virgil is peering in at her. They are traveling somewhere, but he cannot recall where they are going, or if they are even traveling together. He remembers GHerm insulting him when they were friends at L.B.H.S. When Virgil recalled his backyard, GHerm said, “Please, you make it seem like it’s a grove.”

But it was a grove, to him, tomatoes around the entire perimeter, and grape vines in a small trellis at its center, apricots dropping from the tree that shaded the patio. Out of Virgil’s mom and dad’s bedroom, he would revel in the “grove,” even though the window was tinted dark, and it was always cool in there, and must have smelled like smoke. Out of the window, he could see the wide world in which he propelled himself, his tumbling runs, his cartwheels, round-offs:





After he shot the hummingbird, Virgil watched it hang upside down by its feet, clasped to the top branch, the blood dripping, then bouncing in the grass in front of his still eyes. His response?—to toss it over the fence, after shoveling it up with a plank, but not before he stared into its blown open neck, open so much so that he could not see the wound. Instead, what he saw was a pool of dark green and blue-pink, a seeming oil and water slick, feathers around the exit wound, the bird’s loose, broken neck, bent at the color burst.

Virgil is a pig, for at least that day. Are there other Pigs as insatiable as Virgil?—Lost is Grey. In Lost’s bedroom there is a rusted bin that was outside, and now it is indoors, and it holds three potted plants. The bin serves as a basin, a flat surface, rusted, and in the center of the surface is a small catch that he says was for the animal’s blood, not for the living plants it holds now, but for animals it would hold, dead, then.

Virgil is, as Butch describes him, sick, for when he was riding Lost, he thought of slaughtering him like a pig. More directly, he thought Lost looked like a pig-cow, a hairy hybrid animal that Virgil rode up and down bouncing on his stiff cock, as Virgil’s mostly stayed hard.

Virgil is sick, but he could never kill, because the guilt would ruin his life, though at night, most of his recent nights, the last moments spent stupidly drifting in Youtube, he looks at those kids who do. Girl Gangbangers who’ve turned it around for now, but at one time, before they “changed,” would make others “meet their maker.”

Anger, perhaps, spills from him, too, a feature he can’t quite pinpoint, but something comes from within, a memory, perhaps, longer than his very life. When CharcoalBuilder taught a workshop, she took her students into a field of her imagination to a place beyond composition, a place where what happened was animated, by failing to grasp it. She wore polyp shoes. This is the sentence that Virgil constructed that day.

Virgil watches with MommaSpine the unveiling of two murders on T.V., one that results in capture, the other in elongation, and dissatisfaction, a feeling that Virgil and his mother shared. One, Dad&Killer, remains in Mexico. He eats better than the rest of the prisoners, because his parents send him money. He says being in prison is like living in a small village, and it does look like a small village, at least the way it’s captured on TV.

Virgil brings down a blanket and forces himself to stay, to watch the crime result in the other murderers conviction, after which Virgil and MommaSpine are satisfied. His getaway bag, hidden in the desert, the cash inside, his Google searches in how to kill and how to get away with it, the Big Bertha sleeve for a left handed club left on the shelf are enough evidence to put that murderer away for life, plus twenty-five.

Though the defense attorneys pointed out there was no way that the prosecution or the jury could say it was, indeed, a golf club, or that the killer was ever inside of that room, the jury sentenced him, while Dad&Killer still fries up bacon in his Acapulco prison. Somewhere there is a body that Virgil buries in his dream, and he wants to figure out some way to return to hide it, even deeper. DonDon, his brother and accomplice, is in that dream, and they conspire to go on living as though they are not killers. Virgil cannot.

Grass grows over the mound, but the fact of the killing remains. His most lazy self, doubles, filled with such hate, it holds him between sleep and writing. Virgil thinks that maybe the reason some do not write is because they have nothing to say, and if you have nothing to say, he thinks, maybe the writer should do something else, like snatch whatever is inside out, awake, to observe, not as the point of production, but in the pull of finding out what is inside.