by Jack Mierzwa
Back to the ER with washers and wingnuts in my stomach. What is that makes Sundays so dangerous? It’s not even safe to stay home and order out, not safe to sit in one’s briefs watching football, eating French Fries El Paso from the sandwich joint around the corner. Which loser do they have working the deep fryer on weekends? Because at some point I realize that instead of eating potatoes somehow I’m eating bolts and washers, some of them rusty, all of them dripping in ranch sauce and Texas chili. Almost without thinking, I chomp down a few more, because I haven’t eaten all day and the washers actually aren’t too bad, though my jaw and my teeth are starting to hurt, and as I’m sorting through the remaining sludge of ground beef and pepper flakes and grease I can’t recognize all the bits of metal and some of them are sharp and I wake up long enough to realize I can’t digest any of this, that it’s just going to sit in my bowels clinking and clanking, lacerating me from the inside, that I’m about to wind up in the ER waiting room all night, sweating and rocking in my chair from the pain in my gut, blaming the kid at the fryer who couldn’t tell a sack of potatoes from a junk drawer, thinking of my sister’s kitten, who got into the bowl with the rubber bands one day while my sister was away at work, then got fatter and fatter and sicker and sicker until finally he had to have emergency weekend surgery, also remembering how the neighbor’s little girl managed to jam marbles up her nose, so I drove her and her mother down here to the ER on a Sunday afternoon—of course, it’s always a Sunday—where we sat listening to the surgeons explain the procedure, sick with worry and fascinated by the appalling details of anatomy. But this time it is me, it is only myself that I have lost track of, myself that I’m worrying about, and how on earth did I let myself go this badly? How on earth do you explain any of this to children and kittens and fat men, how do you get them to agree that there will be no more eating of marbles or rubberbands or chili-soaked fasteners, because none of us wants to go through this all over again on some future Sunday night.
Jack Mierzwa grew up under a dilapidated water tower spray-painted with the phone number of his high school crush. He attended Case Western Reserve University, acquired a Physics degree, and is currently working on his PhD at an undisclosed location somewhere in the American Southwest. Sometimes he also writes poems, but he’s not allowed to talk about that.