Jefferson Moody
Jefferson Moody

Thought Bits

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Purple Flowers

It might have been best if  Gloria had not caught Martin's attention...

         The first time Martin saw Gloria was in a photograph. Even though the photo was black and white, Martin always remembered a field of purple, wild flowers—the ones with the tiny petals like drops of blood, scattered across a field.  For Martin, blood bled into almost every landscape.  But Martin never talks about that time when he saw all the blood.  It never happened.  Never.

         The first time Martin saw Gloria was in a photograph. There she was, standing in a field of purple heather. She lay in a prone position, as if shot. There was a black ribbon, a choker necklace around her neck. Her skin, porcelain, her body like white China framed on a an artist's palette stabbed with deep green, vibrant purple, and bloody red.

         The first time Martin ran across Gloria was when he saw her in a snapshot. The image, glossy with a white, serrated border—the kind that was popular in the fifties, or maybe the sixties. She wore a black ribbon in her hair and a party dress with a floral print of purple flowers. She sat on the front stoop of a large, Victorian, country house and she wore white bobby socks with the lace ankles. They went well with her small, patent leather Mary Jane's. It was love at first sight, and Martin, right then and there, decided Gloria was destiny discovered.

         He would do whatever it took.

         He would swim across the ocean towing a battle ship by a rope with his teeth. He would, even though he never understood a damn thing any poet said, read Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass over and over to her if she desired—while towing a battleship in his teeth swimming across an ocean.  If she dared him to stand in a lightning storm while holding up a metal rod to the sky, he would find an even larger metal rod, and eat the sound of thunder. If she requested that Martin swim the ocean, he would swim the ocean just to prove his feelings. He would hold the giant lighting rod and play Mozart on a flute while swimming that ocean towing a battleship in his teeth—even though Mozart's music just didn't make sense.

         The first time Martin saw Gloria she stood in a photograph he found in his parent's trash. Gloria wore a black choker made from ribbon and nothing else. Naked, she stood on the corner of a muddy street in some mid-western town and held a bouquet of dead, purple flowers—the kind with the tiny petals like flecks of paint. She appeared to be seven or eight or ten or five. Behind her, in the background, there was a skin and bones street dog that looked like an anteater. The lanky, yellow dog, his head cocked sideways, stared at the camera. Gloria, her head raised, exposing her throat, stared at the sky.

         The first and last time Martin saw Gloria was in a bus station and she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She wore a sundress of purple flowers, which flowed about her legs, an exotic jellyfish dancing. She smiled at Martin as they passed, saying, "Hello." He should have taken a picture.

         But at the time, he didn't know her name.

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