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Anne McGuire – Fred Is Dead

Anne McGuire


Fred Is Dead

            Fred is dead, but tomorrow when I fly to Chicago, he’s coming along. Fred is a pain, not due to anything he says, but because of what he does. He’s silent, and uses a sort of sign language. It’s the language of the wind, rain, and bobby pin. He’s helpless because I can so easily put him in his place with a twist of my fingers. He’s not willful enough to do anything about it. He can be limp and pert, but mainly at my command.

            He’s a bitch too, and picks fights with my zipper, earrings, and brush. If there’s something to get snagged on, he finds it, especially on the bus or train. He likes to brush his long legs against the jagged metal edges of a seat until one of them catches. That’s the most painful – one lone leg caught will pull at my scalp in the most painful way whereas, take a handful of Fred, and you could drag us both across the floor and I would barely feel a thing.

            He follows me wherever I go. He’s such a follower, passive. And then quietly, as I sleep, he sucks the grease from my scalp and coats himself in it, thinking he’s some kind of mink. When my mind shuts off, he wakes up, his strands twirling together into a matted mess. He hates sprays and gels, but really, with all his unwieldy powers, I’m left defenseless. The other night when we were making love in the shower he refused to come. And in the morning when I woke up, Fred looked so bad I had to shower again. When he does come, he’s flat as a pancake in all the wrong places. To be fair to Fred, he can be loving when in a good mood. So tomorrow, after washing, drying, and curling, as he bounces meanly in the wind atop me, he’d better be at his deceptive best.

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