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Luann Lewis

The Countdown


64.1 Nothing is yours. You own nothing.  Food, warmth, light. You must demand. Your first emotion is frustration.  Frustration, the roach of all emotions, crawls across your brain and eats into your goodness. The two gods loom above, satisfying. Your next emotion is contentment, not love, but contentment.  Good is always better when it comes after bad. Good was existence before. Now good is them.


63.2 Mouth, nose, fingers, toes, all your parts will never again be the many things they are now.  Tools, weapons, toys, utensils.  Precious limbs to be stroked and tickled.  Endangered passages, to guard from germy intruders.  Delicate portals from which will emerge sounds that change the very atmosphere.  Open gates beckoning anything held in the fist.  Blue windows that reflect, both in and out.


62.3 Command. You command.  They command. Once you have command of words, you have command of people.  Make them laugh, make them angry and sometimes make them do what you say.  It’s good to command.  Not so good to be commanded.  Not good at all.  Words control and, when they don’t, bigness controls.  Strong controls.  Fists control, bites control, loud controls. Sad controls.


61.4 Create, produce.  Give.  It’s good to give.  You get. Sunshine in your heart from sunshine in their eyes.  Create, produce and give, create, produce and give. See the sunshine.  Draw, scribble, sing, dance, make letters, make numbers, be a cow, horse, goat, create, produce and give. Make them Look! Look! Look! Create, produce and give, give up. Create, produce and tear. 


60.5 There is a tooth-fairy at night that leaves things under your pillow. Money is candy, setting a course of decaying the adult teeth that will form in your future mouth.  There is a dark monster at night that leaves things under your pajamas.  Solitude is comfort, setting a course of decaying adult relationships that will form in your future life.


59.6  Command. You command. Once you have command of a page, just two words on that page with the picture, you have command of the key. Three then four, then more and more. You have command of all mystery. You have the doorway to other lands, better lands, places where animals live together, talk together, cooperate. Step right on through. 


58.7 Little lady, you're so sweet. Pink, hearts, ribbons, flowers. Little girl, precious, dear, soft. Let me hug you. Let me touch your pretty skin. Come into my candy house, I want to eat you up. Of course I'm not a witch. Of course I'm not a wolf. You taste so very cute.  I eat you up with love. 


57.8 Two best friends: Miss Candy and Mr Book. Sneak them into bed at night, your favorite companions, candy candy candy, ever comforting and books, devoured like chocolate. Eat read sleep. Comfort and escape. No time for people, no mind for friends, no feet in this world. What’s wrong with you anyway? Such an odd girl. She’s weird.


56.9  Little lady, not so little.  Pink hearts, chubby dresses, flowers, ribbons looking foolishly delicate against round sturdy limbs.  These parts are not delicate or valued now.  They are some things they shouldn’t be.  They are not fat, oh no, not yet.  They are just chubby, a threat of fat to come. Why are you eating candy?


55.10  She is always behind, poor attention, never talks.  She’s consumed. Are there problems at home? No? Her homework is sloppy or often undone. She’s lazy, she’s quiet.  She reads well however.  Librarians like her.  She seems awfully tired.  Does she sleep at night? Oh yes, our darling.  So loved, we could just eat her up. 


54.11  Weirdo, you stink, homo, creep, ugly, fatso, scram, hippo, loser, blob, moron, retard, freak - They command.  They control.  Not teachers, not adults.  They don’t control.  Bigness controls, strongness controls, loudness controls, pretty controls, funny controls, mean controls, popular controls, majority controls, cruel controls, ambush controls, fists control, bites control - sad is nothing.  You’re nothing.


53.12  Cocoon, shoulders forward, books clutched to chest, hunch enough to form a cocoon then scurry down the hall.  Class, hell, class, hell, class, hell - seven periods of class surrounded by hallways of hell.  She’s certainly a sickly child, always out of school.  Ignore it, she’s pretending, Dear.  Ignore it all.  I always do.


52.13  Breasts, that’s what it’s all about.  Not so weird, not so stinky, not so homo, not so creepy, not so ugly, not so fatso, don’t scram, not a hippo, not a loser, not a blob or a moron or a retard or a freak when you have breasts.  Breasts command.  You command.


51.14  Lipstick and loud music, high hair and short skirts, back seats and hot mouths, the monster hovers over you.  You know him well.  He walks behind you and whistles.  He’s in the nasty whispers, the fingers that shove into your shorts, the sooty breath of the grinning faces pressing into yours.


50.15  Books sit unread. Escape into the cloying sap is better than any story.  Spinning your head, it makes you silly.  You don’t care who lays you down, just as long as it’s over fast, you don’t care what they do.  She may be drinking, Dear.  Ignore it.  I always do.


49.16  Even better than booze, you found buzz.  And with buzz, you found buddies.  So not alone.  So filled when you fill up.  So lots to laugh about.  Screw all the rest.  You know your role.  Lay down for the monster.  Is something bothering you?  Ignore it.  They always do.


48.17  School.  Who needs it?  GED will do. Get on with it.  Get a job.  Don’t worry, Dear, her husband will take care of her.  She doesn’t need college.  Get a job.  Taco Bell is hiring.  Ugly uniform, you smell like dried chili powder and old meat.  Old meat.


47.18  You wanted those shoes. It wasn’t a big deal.  All the stars wear Manolo’s, why shouldn’t you?  F*ing jail.  Yeah, you know you have a rap sheet.  But, come on, just a little shoplifting.  The big companies can afford it, they make bundles.  F*ing jail? What the h*ll… 


46.19  Okay, straighten up.  Gotta change your life, get clean.  You have someone on the way, dependent upon you.  You’re a vessel, a chamber, a mother now.  You gotta do an about face.  Maybe it’ll be a girl like you.  You swear you’ll protect her.  No monster.


45.20  Not so easy, this mother thing.  Hurt like hell to have her and now she won’t shut up.  Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Cries all night long.  What can you do? Just a quick drink will calm you down then… then easily ignore it.


44.21  No money, no food, no hopes, no dignity.  They command.  Back to Mom and Dad’s.  They have command.  Money controls.  They’ll eat you up.  Money controls. You make fists.  Money controls.  You bite.  Money controls. You’re loud. Money controls. You’re sad. Sad is nothing.


43.22  Breasts.  That’s what it’s all about.  Breasts command.  Breasts control.  The monster comes to visit at night and you control.  You command.  Such a pretty little lady.  Pink hearts and silk ribbons.  Let me touch.  Let me hug.  Let me eat you up. 


42.23  Escape - not a book or bottle.  You leave her behind.  She cries.  Ignore it.  You always ignore it.  Let them eat her up.  Lipstick and loud music, high hair and short skirts, back seats and hot mouths, the monster hovers over you. 


41.24  Road trip.  Ralphie with the long beard and Harley.  He hit you twice but had great drugs.  You sent a teddy bear home for her birthday and lots of candy.  And you left a voicemail - sang her a song.  Good mommy.


40.25  Trailer park in Colorado.  After Ralphie dumped you, Orlo took you in.  His drugs weren’t so good but he never hit you.  You were a day late for her birthday voice message but sent a giant Kiss the next week.


39.26  Quick exit from Colorado.  Out on bail and not wanting to stick around.  You head west.  No call for her birthday this year.  You’re between homes.  You buy a real cute card. It sits in your purse for months.


38.27  Breasts.  That’s what it’s all about in Vegas.  Breasts command. Breasts control. And legs. With Manolo’s.  Bring on the monster.  Who will eat who up?! And you have money again.  You send four Barbies but you don’t call.


37.28  Lipstick and loud music, high hair and short skirts, back seats and hot mouths, the monster hovers over you.  You send the most expensive doll you can find for her birthday.  See how much Mommy loves you.


36.29  Spinning your head, your escape makes you silly.  You don’t care who lays you down, just as long as they pay.  Are they eating her up?  Ignore that.  Send candy and books to the little lady.


35.30  The Manolo’s are scuffed and you stagger a little but they still pay.  Just not as much.  When’s her birthday?  Did you forget it?  Did you ignore it? Is she all pink hearts and flowers?


34.31  One by one the roommates leave.  Eviction notice is on the door.  You’re on the bed. Sometimes you wear those Manolo’s.  Sometimes you can’t stand up.  Empty bottles lie there near you.  Birthday? Whose?


33.32  It’s cold at night in Vegas on the streets.  You have a coat.  And Manolo’s. But one heel is cracked.  When you walk you look like you’re staggering.  Sometimes you still get money.


32.33  What? “Yeah,” you tell him, a scruffy bum, a friend, “I had a daughter once too.”  A lone tear runs down your cheek. “I really loved that girl.”  You clutch your bottle.


31.34  It’s jail or this - prostitute.  Yeah, you’re a prostitute.  Breasts command... not with cops. Don’t want jail, guess you’ll take “this.”  Jesus freaks halfway house. No booze, no buzz, no BS.


30.35  Stopping buzz is tough.  Stopping booze is tougher.  Stopping BS is almost impossible. The monster is always close.  You talk. The girl is out when you call on her birthday.


29.36  Greyhound bus home. Mom meets you.  Dad is sick - really sick.  The little girl is not a little girl.  She’s gone out with friends.  Wait till morning.  Don’t ignore.


28.37 She’s got big hair and short shorts. She won’t talk about the monster but it’s in her eyes.  You both know you left her.  You can’t ignore it.  


27.38  She smells like apple wine and giggles on the cell phone.  You fight so she leaves, gets a job at Taco Bell then moves in with HIM.


26.39 She won’t speak to you.  You sing happy birthday to her cell phone. Dad is dying. He sits in a wheelchair.  You and Mom ignore him.  


25.40  His funeral is at the cemetery.  You and Mom dress in black.  There is no music, no eulogy and no attendees.  There are only ashes.


24.41 Mom sells the home.  You take an apartment.  You’re glad to be away from each other. Your guilts are reflected in each other’s existence.


23.42  Daughter ignores you.  Mother ignores you.  You are never ignored at AA. It has been seven years sober.  A man asks you out.


22.43  He knows the twelve steps.  He says where he’s been.  You feel your breasts trying to command.  You want control.  You command.


21.44  The monster wins.  You brought him out.  The bed is damp and you’re alone.  You need a drink.  You ignore that.


20.45  A knock on the door and you know already.  It’s her and she’s pregnant.  No money, no hope, no power.  


19.46  The girl’s baby comes early then it is no more.  The girl departs quickly.  She’s with you no more.


18.47 You hear she’s left town with a guy on a Harley and you miss Ralphie and his drugs.


17.48  Mom gets sick and she needs surgery.  You promise you’ll be there and you can’t ignore her.


16.49  Mom wants you to know that she always knew - about the monster.  And she’s so sorry.


15.50  Her funeral is at the cemetery with music, flowers and a eulogy, but still ashes.


14.51  You get a call on your birthday from your daughter.  At least she’s alive.


13.52  The number you had for her is now disconnected. And so are you.


12.53  Your body hurts and it has no power any longer.  You’re weak.


11.54  You google your daughter, find nothing, stay sober and keep working. 


10.55  You spend holidays with AA friends pretending to be jovial.


9.56 The phone wakes you.  She has been found dead.


8.57 You don’t drink. Not even after all that.


7.58  There’s that pain again.  Just ignore it.


6.59 Eat candy, read, sleep, stay sober.


5.60 Books are a wonderful escape


4.61  Good comes after bad.


3.62  See the doctor


2.63  You’re alone.


1.64  Death

Brett Stout Broken_Hands_Converge_A_Brea
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