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Authors: Simmone Howell

Everything Beautiful

BOOK: Everything Beautiful
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Everything Beautiful
Simmone Howell

Contents

Cover

Title page

On the Fifth Day

1
Outlaws

In the Beginning

2
The Palace of Suckdom

On the First Day

3
Safe Fun
4
Black Ball
5
A Rare Bird
6
Poetic and Condemned
7
Orientation
8
The Idea of Kinship
9
Breaking and Entering
10
Bad-Weird and Jesus-Freaky
11
Lucky Smoke

On the Second Day

12
Drama Queens
13
Capsized!
14
Healthy Animals
15
The Tail of a Q
16
Fatal Flaws
17
Field Recordings
18
The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
19
In the Thick
20
Wildlife
21
It Is All Good

On the Third Day

22
Spiritual Development
23
A Pig’s Ear
24
Wheelchair 101
25
Period of Adjustment
26
A Basically Hostile Environment
27
God’s Great Hearth
28
Assorted Guys
29
She’s So Satan
30
Fond Farewell
31
Walkabout

On the Fourth Da

32
Nevermore
33
Involved
34
The Story of February 2
35
Crazy People
36
Are You Rampant?
37
Healing Properties
38
Yesterday’s Girl
39
Petition
40
A Little Salvation
41
Aces

On the Fifth Day

42
Wonderfully Made
43
Past Life
44
Cultural Anthropology
45
Conversation Without Words
46
Dressed!
47
Accidents 1 and 2
48
Parallel Lines
49
Wanting
50
Repent, Repent
51
Trust Games

On the Sixth Day

52
Everything Beautiful
53
Suckingfish
54
Contact High
55
A Different Movie
56
Que Sera, Sera
57
The Girl I Was
58
End of Faith Discussion
59
This Way Utopia
60
Hootenanny
61
The Appeal of Wrongness

On the Seventh Day

62
Sir Thomas More’s Prayer for the Maybes
Also by Simmone Howell
Manifesto Revised
Acknowledgments
Imprint

For my parents

1
Outlaws

I am the maniac behind the wheel of a stolen dune buggy. Dylan Luck is at my side. We are tearing up the desert, searching for proof of God. My driving experience amounts to a few stuttering laps of the Safeway parking lot.
That
was supervised—Dad blanching and clutching his seat belt.
This
is something else; something beginning with Freedom.
While the rest of the campers were singing their thirty-fifth Bottle of Beer down on the highway, Dylan and I made our escape. We had gas siphoned from one of the counselors’ cars. We had supplies—snacks and Band-Aids and bottled water—all hauled to Fraser’s garage, where Delilah was waiting under a dirty tarp. Delilah started life as a 1967 VW Beetle, but she’s had work done—her body stripped back to a shell. She has bucket seats and sand tires and a “demi” windshield that sits like reading glasses on her hood. We didn’t build her, but we did christen her—after some dispute.
“It has to be a girl’s name,” Dylan had said. “Cars and ships always have girls’ names. It’s a macho-sexist-transport thing.”
“What do you call your wheelchair?”
He thought about this, then smiled. “My Bitch.”
There’s nothing like going so fast you have to squint; so fast your cheeks wobble, and the wind plows through your hair and judders in your ears like a tattooist’s drill. Delilah has no floorboard, just pedals sticking up. My feet stay on them waiting to stomp. Clutch in, gas out. I do the dune buggy two-step, wild and gleeful. Shrieks fly out of my mouth like bats.
Dylan roars, too, mocking Neville, our twee camp counselor—“I feel so ALIVE!”
He rattles his chair, which is folded and fixed to a bar in front of his knees. In the corner of my eye I can see the chair’s Playboy mud flaps. They’re homemade and have a wonky charm—like their maker. Five days ago, when I first saw Dylan, I felt sorry for him. I never thought he’d make me laugh so hard or act so crazy. First impressions are crap.
As we zoom along the fire road I think about topography. Twenty thousand years ago the Little Desert was underwater. I close my eyes for the briefest of seconds and see ridges and reefs and whirlpools. Then:
CRACK!
The world tilts and Delilah starts to skid. She’s lost a wheel, and I’m losing my footing. There is swerving and swearing and shuddering and then there is the tree—one of those fat red mallee bastards that a week ago I wouldn’t have known the name of. We hit the trunk on my side. I lurch into the steering wheel. Time stops. When I fall back against the vinyl, my face feels stiff; my arm hurts something ferocious. Dylan has hardly moved. He had the chair as his buffer, plus he has superior upper body strength. Not that you’d know it to look at him—his chest is more crushed beer can than buff six-pack.
Our first reaction is to look at each other and balk. Then we laugh.
I say, “Are we dead?”
Dylan checks his legs. He lifts each one and lets it drop down with a thunk. “If this is heaven, I want a refund.” For Dylan, heaven is where his legs work. I don’t know what heaven is for me—unless maybe it’s us, here, this.
I hear something. It sounds like the first car slowly climbing a roller coaster, or a parrot pecking at a bush apple. But the noise is just my teeth chattering.
“Are you okay?” Dylan asks me. “Your head …”
I touch my forehead. When I bring my hand back, my fingers are wet with blood. “Oh.” I check myself in the side mirror. I have a cut, dead center—a perfect red spot.
“You look like one of the Manson girls,” Dylan jokes.
I’m too fuzzy to summon a comeback.
“I always thought you’d look cute with a third eye.” I try to laugh and feel myself slip a little in the seat.
Dylan brushes his thumb across my brow. I press my head into his hand.
“It’s okay,” he says, stroking my hair. I stay down. I feel woozy, flooded. I have an insane urge to tell him that I love him. I want to say that if we really are dead it would be sad in a way, but in another way it would be the perfect outlaw ending. I picture the sand turning into a sea again, rising and rising, folding over us and preserving us forever. But talking takes too much effort. So I close my eyes. The sky stays blue behind them and there are no clouds for the longest time.
BOOK: Everything Beautiful
6.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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