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Harvest MOON
Jessica BONDER

On full moon nights Reed laps barefoot the municipal grass where a sign posts KEEP OFF. The grass is on the outskirts of a baseball diamond; it is the field part; the sand part is orange. It is the kind of sand that stains you forever; bleach can’t hold a candle: I don’t know where they get it.

Show me a beach that is ocean and this: industrially raked mounds of Cheeto dust.

Reed says he can’t understand who. Who is the grass for then, why is it prohibited? He is a human with feet just going for a walk on a supernaturally emerald expanse of lawn. Reed felt the same thing regarding Occupy: why was he arrested for protesting peacefully? All he did was spit in a pig’s face. And clear a Masterlocked fence that somehow blocked his way. 

A better question, Reed says, a better question would be:
Why was the fence there in the first place?

His state-assigned name—in other words, not Reed—is listed with seven others in the Wikipedia entry. Reed—the name that Reed goes by—is the name that came to him in a dream; his pillow that night was an open I-Ching; his blanket the occult shit that Reed reads. In Our Hearts and Just Seeds, those were the two groups, that Reed ran with back in New York. Says he sees no reason to keep in touch. Which is such an anarchist thing to say.

There is little Reed will tell me about that time.

I’m fucking a mystery, tattooed, dicked.

CALIFORNIA still flashes Reed’s cell digits, the state he was in after OWS. He went there to hide or maybe find God; smoke some peyote; pull a Jim Morrison. He got himself a girl. Her name was Amber. They worked as home aides. Spoonfed seniors in diapers. Then they broke up and Reed walked home: 3,000 miles, unsupported, to Jersey. On the planar beds of All-Stars, Reed collapsed his arches. Now his feet run flat, flat as the earth. Reed is a Flat Earther. Are you not surprised.

How could the flag wave if the moon has no air?

Reed has klieg eyes from staring at the sun. That’s what the Internet calls his condition. Reed roots for eclipses like I root for toasters: we are willing to wait for whatever we can get. Out his damaged orbs, tears cataract; he collects them in jars to mix with his paint. My menstrual blood, save it, that’s another thing. Dries black on canvas, transmuted red to black, the shed of my unused baby sack. Black is all the colors. Rainbows are Goth.

Out a used condom is flung Reed’s him, fertilizing the garden, cucumbers and cabbage. The carrots, already, the rabbits got to them; Reed says that’s fine; bunnies need to eat. The LifeStyles he saves, dries out like fruit, like roses clothespinned upside down. Across a laundry line of butcher’s string, corner to corner, the kitchen window.

The faucet gags, coughs rust for water.

The coffee pot is roach and grind.

Before Nanny’s cancer, you could call it a house, the place Reed lives, calls home, now. Before it devolved into what it’s devolved: a pad punks crash, crash hard, crash harder. The squat is near the city; it is close enough; NO HARD DRUGS broken on the regular. Shimmies out onto the roof, Reed full moon nights, to avoid Doc-Martening the bodies floor-collaged. Scattered, random, like a Jean Arp: odd scraps of paper, torn and let fall. Wherever they land is where they land. They are universe. They are chance.

I wait for Reed on a busted television. It is my stool in the dead front yard. The Toshiba, Reed says, is a spiritual marker; defenestrated at his hands last New Year’s Eve. It has stayed here since like everything else. Like me and everything else, has stayed. Elmered to the front stoop is a toy T-rex. Plastic daisies in a cone mildew the screen door. Reed jumps and lands in a pile of Heftys; intentionally placed; an action art piece.

Reed said babe won’t you come out tonight. It’s a harvest moon. He needed me there.

It is large and peach. It doesn’t look real. Maybe it’s fake. Or maybe it’s me.

At the park, I wait in the pavilion. Keep a lookout for Reed as he runs his moon laps. The pavilion, the floor, is cement and cigarettes; butts stamped out; crushed dreams ashed. The warped picnic tables are pen-carved lascivious: crude penises, two-dot boobs. Pastel streamers from some ancient quinceañera hang desultory from the poop-brown beams. I can smell the burnt charcoal left in the pit. People actually have parties here.

Ain’t it lovely babe, Reed says, the pavilion? And rights an overturned table for me to sit on. I sit on the part that is not meant for sitting; my butt is the burger served right up for dinner. Reed leaves me his bag, his flashlight, his Docs; his beard festers adders; he wild snakes off. The pavilion is stationed on top a hill; it overlooks the KEEP OFF field. I can see everything, Reed, from here. I can see nothing, me, from here.

We are aporia in terms of systems, but here is one that we can believe in: three quick flashes means a cop. Means Reed baby quick get off the lawn. Means Reed can’t afford another arrest, means he came back home to escape his past. Cops want the trouble they say they don’t. Show some respect, they’re just doing their jobs.

The lunar energy turns Reed lycanthropic; he looks a wolf jogging in basketball shorts. The shorts are sky blue; the team name is faded; he got them at the dumpster behind the firehouse. The Salvation Army collects its donations there; of clothes shoes toys; Reed digs Sundays. Reed never played ball but was a pretty good wrestler. He liked the press of flesh, the potential of holds. The shorts he saves for nights like these: when he needs all the freedom of movement he can get.

We don’t need a siren to tell us time’s up. I flick the flashlight: 1-2-3.

The prowl car is a nothing, is a nothing to us.

Reed opens his bag: he brought fireworks.

Jessica BONDER is an American fiction writer. She has published short stories in The Stockholm Review, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, The Lonely Crowd, STORGY Magazine, The Writing Disorder, and The Cabinet of Heed, among others. Recent honors include: longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2017/18; longlisted for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize; and Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open March/April 2017. 

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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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