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Shannon Kirk Shannon Kirk

Symbiotic Relationships


Takes an extra fifteen damn minutes to drive to this part of town, past the lake with bloodsuckers, on the border between Nothingville and Cows. Stupid Carl insists I do these deliveries. "3 Kings of Siam needs to expand business."

But no one has cravings for Thai in this hick town, especially when it tastes like chum. New Hampshire isn't exactly a hotbed of culinary adventure. I once went to a wedding where the bride was accused of being "extravagant" for serving salmon.

I pull into the dirt drive of a blue cape with peeling paint. No lights are on. I'm sure this order is a prank by the teenage goon squad that parks outside 3 Kings of Siam. Carl regularly flicks cigarettes at them, and they regularly piss in the doorway. It's a symbiotic relationship. Yeah, I said symbiotic, which is a big word, sure, but I took biology Symbiotic Relationships before dropping out of college last year. Dreaming I'd make it big. "You need to get some emotion, some real world in your work," Carl is always squawking at me. Carl says a lot of dumb shit.

Kid cracks the door on the cape when I knock.

"Where's your mom," I say.

He plucks a key, hanging from a string tied around his neck.

"Well, someone ordered the Spicy Noodle #5."

"Yeah, for my dad." His tiny finger wavers as he widens the door to point to a mop, dressed in pants, with a purple bucket for a head. A framed obituary sits atop a tower of moving boxes. The air cools to two degrees; I shiver.

My shift ends in one hour. All I care about is clocking out and getting back to my lab to mix beats. The lab may just be a second-hand MPC, and I may be white, but I'm the hardest hip-hop artist in all of New England. I'm wearing the bleached sneakers and backwards visor to prove it, and I got a truckload of shorties texting me after gigs at the bowling alley. Smart too. Mom made sure I got straight A's at Trinity High. But the roughest thing to ever happen to me was when Sister Angie criticized my poetry. Maybe I need more real world and less lab. Maybe Carl's right.

Beyond the mop effigy of the kid's dead dad is a darkened kitchen. I creep closer, dragging my sneaks on the scuffed wood floor. On top of the stove are at least ten pill bottles. Some with the lids off, all with the drowsy-eye warning label.

"My mom's sleeping. She's always sleeping since we moved. Since my d..." Kid bounces the key against his chest.

"So...you let yourself in and out? Going to school and stuff?"

"Yeah. Today was my first day."

"Meet anyone?"

"No."

"Yeah?"

Kid purses his lips, holding back tears.

"Here," he hands me a twenty from an envelope with mom handwriting: For Dinner.

"Nah, save it for tomorrow's order," I say. "You like music, kid?"

Symbiotic Relationships

— The End—

© 2014 Shannon Kirk, All Rights Reserved


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