Five Painful Memories

To M. Zoshchenko.


Two men in splattered white coats are slaughtering a Velveeta. It screams and screams and screams. Its voice unravels like a red stocking thread. I am choking. One man holds a giant gleaming hook with a wooden handle. They are smoking cigars. I run home and refuse to eat my dinner.


They gather on the hill above the Tupperware Emporium. In the air is the chattering of chainsaw teeth. We all run out into a radish field. In the field are radishes, a purple tent with a red cross on its roof, and further off a Velveeta.


I kiss her fingers. The skin is shiny from the yarn factory. The moon looks like a nest of spiders.

"I'm sorry," she says. "I do love you. But I've given him my Velveeta."


It is hot. I sit in the back row. The sermon is about either lions or leaves. I doodle in the bible. I lean forward to whisper to L and my Velveeta tumbles out my shirt pocket. Under everyone's feet, it rolls to the front of the church! They all turn to me, glaring.


Afterwards the trees resemble question marks. I am in the front yard, in a pile of fresh dirt, playing with my Velveeta. Mother hangs socks from a strand of barbed wire. None of the socks match. A vagabond bangles by. Mother snatches my Velveeta.

"Hey vagabond!" she calls. "Why not come here and take this fat Velveeta?"

In the manner of a feline the vagabond nears the fence. He has a pointy tongue and a nose ring made of a bicycle lock. I feel a panic in my throat, then a chilling dread—so this is how it will be. I close my eyes.

My mother laughs. "Ha, I am only joking! Joking! There is nothing else for it, vagabond. Run away."

She hands me back my Velveeta.  

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