Happy Hour

Before they’ll unlock the steel-lattice door, my keys, watch, pin, and wallet must be tossed
into a numbered Zip Loc bag. “Sorry, no chocolate bars. No strings, or shoes with laces, no cell phone, no pens.
One hour to visit.” The door swings shut; the air flags, sluggish. Walls painted undersea green curl like waves around me.
I smell vomit as I enter the visitor’s room to pull out a stool next to you.

Your words tumble like a jumbled puzzle: “I went to the Cowboy’s game with Jerry Jones last night. Did you bring my chocolate?
I had lunch at The Grange in Denver with my mother. She wore a butter yellow dress with black heels. The skirt buzzed around her legs
when she slid from the booth. She told me when he shot himself, my father’s flesh swelled fishbelly blue.”

This locked ward is not the oblivion you sought. Each thought a slippery trickster, a shape-shifter. I tell you Jerry Jones is a newspaper picture,
The Grange too far from Dallas for a meal with mom; your dad still shoots red squirrels with his .22, and I’m sorry, but they took your chocolate.
Your focus fades; thoughts of contraband candy bars disappear.

As I collect my watch and keys beyond the bolts, I picture the bottle of Ativan stirred into a sweating glass of whiskey
on the loneliest night of your life while your husband, bags packed, asleep in the next room, bends to kiss his reflection
in a shimmering dream pool, thin arms locked in perpetual self-embrace.

Previously published in Thunderclap! Magazine.

JP Reese has fiction, poetry, and CNF published or forthcoming in many print and online journals. Reese edits poems for Connotation Press and THIS Literary Magazine, and her first chapbook, Final Notes, will be published this month. Read her published work at jpreesetoo.wordpress.com. Joani’s “Ophelia”, “June, Texas, 1993” and “Put Down Your Camera and Love Me” are also in Reprint.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “My father (the original Mad Man) telling one of his hilarious shaggy dog stories.”