Friday, May 30, 2008

Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?

He lay in the back seat of the SUV and tried to sleep. Rain pounded on the roof, wind-whipped rain rendered the glass opaque and everything beyond these windows a matter of conjecture. The vodka slept on his chest like a stuffed bear from childhood. It hadn't worked anyway, it might as well have been tap water. Things would not leave him alone, old unheeded voices plagued his ears. Brightly colored images tumbled through his mind. An enormous, stained-glass serpent had shattered inside him and was moving around blindly reassembling itself. ... For here's what happened, or what happened on the surface, here's what imprinted itself on the very ether and went everywhere at once, the news the summer wind whispered in The Jeepster's sleeping ear.

William Gay's short story Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You? begins like a story of revenge but ends with thoughts on how everyone grieves differently, regardless of who you are and what you have done with your life. Full of colorful adjectives that help bring the story to life, the reader feels various levels of emotion for the main character Leonard (The Jeepster) as he deals with his past and present demons. His former girlfriend Aimee arrives to ask a favor. She has made her choices in life as well and now fears for her life. After a tragic turn of events, Leonard is now running wild while trying to deal with what to do next.

I have to keep moving. I never felt like this. I never knew you could feel like this. I can't be still. It's like I can't stand it in my own skin.

Themes of drugs, suicide, murder, and grief are the basis of this short story. Reader beware that the story is somewhat graphic and contains strong language; however, I felt that these details were relevant to the story. Past history and choices play a strong role in the way each theme is revealed. Also, colors and glass are used often for imagery which compliments the rich detail and descriptions used in the telling of the story.

I would kill him if he was worth it but he ain't. A son of a bitch like this just goes through life tearin up stuff, and somebody else has always got to sweep up the glass. He don't know what it is to hurt, he might as well be blind and deaf. He don't feel things the way the rest of us does.

A well written short story, Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You? shows that everyone feels things... in their own way.

"Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?" by William Gay (from Tin House)from The Best American Short Stories 2007 edited by Stephen King with Heidi Pitlor

No comments: