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Hey Jenny,

wanna know

how your Aunt Margot

really died?


The words wander over

from the other side

of Margot’s old room

above Gramma’s detached garage

with its gorgeous bay window,

lemon-yellow walls, and

British Invasion posters.


I look to the corner where

the neighbor boy

Jimmy Baynes Connolly

(never Jim, James or

God forbid, Jimbo, and

always all three,

if you please)

sits vibing to the White Album,

his scrawny arms wrapped around

gravel-scraped knees,

his Powell Peralta skateboard

leaning against the wall,

and his Metallica t-shirt

proclaiming

Kill ‘em All


Jimmy Baynes Connolly

from the

broken-down

broken-glass

Cape Cod next door

suddenly looks up,

meeting my gaze

with a bad-boy grin

and wild eyes gleaming

behind that gorgeous

Tom DeLonge hair.


I tell him I know what happened

and mumble my way through

the story I’d been told

by Momma and Gramma,

whose annual ritual of grief -

sitting around the kitchen table,

stacking cigarette butts and cans

of Hamm’s while reminiscing -

gave way

to my own ritualistic transgression:

sneaking off and climbing up

the rickety wood stairs into

Aunt Margot’s sunlit old room

above Gramma’s detached garage


Poor Margot, my aunt

who never was, who was

about my age

when that awful boy

lured her out for a motorcycle ride

and never brought her home.


While I tell the story,

a thought skitters through my mind:

I don’t remember inviting

Jimmy Baynes Connolly

into mine and Margot’s

sunny secret space.


As if summoned, he

appears on Margot’s old bed,

tells me that's not the whole story:

my poor Aunt Margot sold her soul

to be with her demon lover

and they rode his chopper

down into Hell together.


What a metal way to go,

he adds, scooting closer,

and that's when I smell the brimstone

that's when I see that his Kill 'em All t-shirt

is tattered, faded and loose

that's when I see that his greasy Tom DeLonge hair

hides sunken, cloudy eyes

that's when I feel his scrawny, pale arm,

so much stronger than it looks,

wrap

around

my

waist

and

pull

me

close


Something takes hold

and I shove him away

with the strength of two women


Jimmy Baynes Connolly tumbles,

snarling, onto the floor

as the citrus walls wither,

the posters weather,

and the White Album

scratches and screeches

to a stop


Screaming, I scamper for the door

and burst out onto the narrow staircase

leading down to the house


I look back, expecting to see

Jimmy Baynes Connolly

reaching for me

with bone-thin fingers,

but instead

there’s only a boarded-up,

broken-glass door

leading to Margot's old room

above Gramma's detached garage

and a Powell Peralta deck

leering

from the other side

of a musty windowpane.



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