Gypsum Angel

by Ian Sanquist


Cindy tells me she can read minds. She says she's done being nice about it too. She tells me she's leaving. I want to know for how long, but she doesn't know how long, or if it's going to be permanent. Don't talk about permanent, I say. Nothing is ever permanent. She shrugs. She says she's going on a quest, she's going to go find the singer from a rock and roll band. She says he's written songs that are like letters that you write in pink dreams, only they're all addressed to her. She says they couldn't be addressed to anyone but her. Cindy, I say, if the songs make you feel that way it's probably just because they're good songs. She shakes her head and she says she knows the man. She says she went to college with him. She slept with him a few times, back when things didn't really matter. But I guess they must have mattered to him, she says. So what are you going to do, Cindy, follow the band around on tour? Are you going to be a groupie, a fucking hanger-on? No, she says. Not at all. I know exactly where to find him. He's in a mental hospital in New Jersey, in his hometown. His bandmates didn't know what to do with him, so they brought him back to his parents, and they put him in the sanitarium. He needs to be found. I'm the only one who can do it, I'm the only person on earth who cares about him anymore. Let me come with you, then, Cindy. No, she says, it can't be like that. This is the only way to save his life. That's what his songs all say, only I don't think he realizes it. I don't know what to say to convince her otherwise. I tell her it's dangerous, Cindy, don't you know it's dangerous to go out alone into America? She says plenty of people have done it before. She says she'll be safe because she can read minds; she'll never have to worry about trusting anyone. Now I put my whole cock on the table and start to bawl. I tell her it won't be like a movie, or if it is, it'll end up like Easy Rider, only sadder. She says she hasn't seen Easy Rider, but she can see the final scene playing in my head. She strokes my arm. I try to clear my throat. There, there, she says. Everything will be all right.


Many years later, I'm married and I have a child. I'm working for the university, in the history department. I take my son to the playground. The sky looks like it could open up at any moment to start pouring, but I don't think it's going to. I look at the children on the monkey bars. They're playing some kind of game. I look around for my son; he's in line for the slide. He rides all the way down and then goes to wait his turn for the swings. He's such a patient boy. I glance over to the fence. Cindy's standing there. I don't know whether she's seen me. She's watching a girl who's dangling upside down from a bar. I wonder if I should go and talk to Cindy. Should I ask if she can still read minds? In a way, that seems too cruel. Her clothes are dirty and so is her face. She looks like she belongs to the streets now. The girl on the bar spins herself around and Cindy smiles. I wonder if she would even recognize me—I've gotten fatter, my hair's turned grey. She looks exactly the same, only more wasted. I remember a letter she sent to me, postmarked from New Jersey. She said she was living in a small apartment where the rent was low. She said she was working, but she didn't say where. The apartment was next to a construction site, what had been a junkyard. Workers were there all day clearing away the junk so they could put in a new supermarket and new apartments. Cindy said that late one afternoon, she looked out the window and saw one of the cranes hoisting a gypsum angel, and she said that angel could have been a mirror for all the pain or desolation that anyone had or would experience, because both of her wings were broken, and all she was now was a scrap of some story told many times before, or the bounty of a ship lost at sea, or the swan song of a species getting ready to go extinct. Cindy didn't say anything about the singer in her letter. I wonder if she'd managed to save his life, only to discover he wasn't ready to return the favor. I turn away from my thoughts: the girl's gotten off the bar. My son is walking towards me, smiling. I look back to the fence—Cindy is gone.

BIO: Ian Sanquist lives and writes in Seattle. His work has appeared in various venues including Juked, Word Riot, kill author, and decomP. Visit him at morepostexistentialistbullshit.blogspot.com.