I would always follow my brother Ian out the back door when he left to be with friends even if he told me not to come. He would dart left when got passed the crooked and rusted cast iron gate the separated our house from the neighborhood. I would totter after him down the gravel road bisecting my backdoor with a few of the front doors that were on the other side. They were either always tethered open so everyone could hear the slurred arguments of the house or, as the owners where “on vacation”, the doors were bolted closed so as to prevent any squatters from “messin’ up the place” and “burnin’ the house down” or havin’ a home. When he was further up the road in front of me he’d meet up with Blonde Josh and all of Blonde Josh’s broken bones and teeth. They would walk left down the hill after the empty lot and Lizard Wall. The lot had two fenced faces, one covered in thick quick vine like the rest of our block, the other soaked in the No Trespassing signs and crawl holes and the car breathe of the main road, the main road that was opposite us and the Lizard wall, the main road where Blonde Josh got hit by a car and had crutches for 6 months.
The Lizard Wall was tall. Tall as our houses and it had holes and cracks like our houses but in those holes and cracks were lizards, small and green and brown and lightning quick lizards. My brother and Blinde Josh would sit there and wait ans stalk to catch them, as if they were stranded and starving and planned to eat their thin crunchy bodies raw or maybe cooked on the radiating black tops in the summer. My brother always said the trick of the game was to “catch ‘em without their tales popping off.” A lizard without a tail is a lucky one. When captive, the boys would build them elaborate cardboard labyrinths with doors and halls but never with a ceiling so that we could silently watch them scramble up the smooth walls and fall back onto their backs before trying again. The Lizard Wall provided little families for us to play with and we created little homes that they couldn’t leave. A few months ago I drove by the Family Mart we would always walk to. I turned up the main road and expected to see the front door and maybe a boy who kinda looked like six year old me sitting on the steps past the cast iron fences but there wasn’t one. There wasn’t anything, only some emptiness, some empty plastic bags and empty brown glass bottles, a few thin weeds that began to grow through the ashes where it all used to be. There weren’t even the fences that separated our house from the neighborhood. There was only a huge black scar sprawling across the wall of the house that sat next to us, next to our old house. A few more seconds up the road and I saw a group of boys crowded around a corner on the Lizard Wall still like statues, but they were a bit older that we were back then.
My lower back still hurts when I think about the old house and the cast iron and the walls and I rub there looking for something to feel in my hand to remind me of it all; maybe a few brown and green scales and a long thick tail to hang onto but there is nothing. It hurts bad, but I am lucky.
Do you draw? Paint? Photograph? Send us images of your work and we’ll post it.
Do you write short fiction and/or poetry? Send us your work.