The Other Side of This World
by Kyle Hemmings
Inspired by Jack Kerouac
Tonight at Happy Rooster’s everything is full of false smiles and buttery promises that swirl, swirl, until they don‘t. The girl next to me could laugh at a decapitation at the bottom of her drink, a color and consistency of tan shoe polish, as easily as she could order from Netflix.
Now, I’m thinking cosmos, quarks, & light years. A light year is 5.875 trillion miles which is the distance I took stepping backwards from the age of one & on & landed like an alien worm, here. HUH? She says, spilling her drink on my nasty Reeboks, soles worn paper-thin.
Shooting stars, I say. Asteroids. Meteors faster than hurling a rock glass at a trick. Suppose an asteroid crashed into this bar, I ask her. We’d be turned into incandescent matter, which is kind of nifty.
But all she can talk about is the guy she picked up the other night & how they did it doggy-style while she imagined her reflection on a dark TV screen. I mean, like she thought the dude would cast her in a porn flick and then write a biography about her tragic and exploited life.
At the hotel desk, I sign a name that rhymes with Buster or Chester or Wooster. & in the room, which looks like the insides of a nuked-out grapefruit, we fall across the bed like two wooden poles wrenched from the ground by poachers which doesn’t rhyme with my real name. If I can remember it.
& I’m thinking somewhere in a parallel universe is a king and queen reigning over an kingdom called New Papua, over transparent blue water & a beach studded with blue sea turtles that can fly and fly. & this king orders the cooks to serve sliced pineapples & goat’s cheese with some lemon rinds lemon rinds just to remind the queen what it’s like living in a parallel world called earth and how it sometimes leaks water from its perfect parallel sister, water now turgid, from ceiling cracks and holes & into my space-age Reeboks, over the creased soles of this girl’s bare feet sticking out from under the sheets, like two children in the darkness pretending to be ghosts.
Are we ghosts?
In the morning we walk through the city as if searching for a bar on the sun that serves Cuba Libres or tall glasses of Sprite to sweeten our hangovers. We are two astronauts stranded with our head gear and gravity boots ‘cuz we wince at each other's face, no longer recognizable & we yearn for our downtown selves that we donned last night. If I could invent a new world, it would be a bar that never closes and serves drinks that could transform you into somebody richer. The morning sun bruises my eyes.
& I think it was the same for a few moments, just a few, when Aldrin and Armstrong landed on a vast star, planting a flag recognized by neither the Vulcans or Klingons. & the way our heads hum with the vast solitude of space, like we‘re two hood hominoids, looking for a love, precious and destructive as Dilithium.
And me pretending that this crazy chick, who forgot her sneakers at the hotel, is really the Grand Qaal of Eulus, or just another outcast like myself exiled from the Federation of Planets. & I can‘t imagine anyone living in a parallel universe, who wouldn't want to be somebody else in movies & who doesn't suffer from hangovers after spending the night staring up into a florescent light & dreaming what life could be like on the other side of the sun.
Kyle Hemmings recently finished his MFA in creative writing and loves to cook, bake, burn everything he cooks and bakes, and loves to listen to old Beach Boys songs.