The Club

It was on a cold day when Jules joined the exclusive club of the dying. He bought a box of chocolate ice cream and waited for it to melt into a bowl. Then drank it over the course of thirty minutes. This was something new.

Something black and small glowed in the middle of his chest, as if he’d swallowed a star. He rented a cabin in the desert and on the porch waited for the coyotes and the white holes owls make in the night. He saw a shadow of himself slumped against a wall.

Out of all impressions of the world, he felt his skin expand. Other parts of him followed, like the air in a balloon. He grew out past the stars at night and the sun during day. At night he reached for the strawberry nebula and grasped them. Music played. In the cantina where he ate, men and women watched.

“You’re so quiet,” one man said. “I’ve eaten fish with more voice. And you were always like the cattlekiller at the front of a train.”

“I don’t need words anymore,” the dying man said. “That’s the point. Books no longer receive me.”

The other man’s eyes squinted. He might have been trying to identify some distant object in the sea fog.

The dying man’s wife was good about it all, or so he imagined. She’d packed a small bag for him. She made him bloody hamburgers. She put her hand to his chest and said, “It’s like a child.”

“I don’t think I’ll be coming back,” he said.

“Call, maybe,” she said.

“Maybe,” he said.

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