fist of lightning

Lying on an Asian beach, a battery of black clouds crouching overhead, I glimpse a fist of lightning punching the horizon. It’s coming, the deluge, wind and sea spray brushing my cheeks. We know we can’t escape, he and I, the older brother of the youth I love. In his embrace, his moonface aglow, he leans in and kisses me. And I let him. And it feels right, feels good to be loved, yet it leaves me yearning for the younger in the pair of these doting ebony-haired boys, the one who stayed at home.

When the torrent comes, my companion and I duck into a nearby row of covered shops, their plywood walls tacked with trinkets, keepsakes, tinctures. In an instant, rain thunders down on corrugated metal roofs strung with plastic lights and paper lanterns sent dancing in the gale. My head throbs, so I scan the shops looking for something to dull the pain which skulks behind the sockets of my eyes. As the storm takes hold, midnight beachcombers scramble to find refuge, elbowing their way between us, wet trenches rubbing our faces, dank bodies breaking our fragile chain. And then I lose him, his hand snatched from mine in the crowd, his jet hair melting into a rolling black sea of crowns.

In the midst of my dream I'm slapped awake by Calvin’s jarring seizure scream, which sounds as if the fit is strangling the life out of him. I bolt to his room, peel back his bed’s safety netting, unlatch and drop its heavy panel. It’s only day two since the last big fist of lightning struck his brain—a smattering of smaller ones in-between—so I crack open a vial of rectal Valium and inject the mind-numbing gel to calm the storm, to break the chain.

As the spasms wane, I kiss my boy's neck and face. The dull ache in my head, like the thunderbolt is real, not dream. I throw back a couple of aspirin and climb in with my son. I rest my hand on his chest to feel its shallow rise and fall and, sometimes, feel its pause. When the clock strikes five, still dark outside, I think about the row of curio shops lit up in the night, and I wonder about the handsome Asian boys I dreamt about, and I wish I could unearth some magical potion that could help me harness the fists of lightning that plague our nights and raid my dreams.

Photographer unknown

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