Exit, Cherry Avenue

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By J.D. Isip

We were the start of a joke: twin girls, orphans whose furious
hair whipped around the interior of his van, frightened vipers
hungry for a hold; a screaming Mexi-queen, unbuckled, tumbling
in tandem with a Cerberus sized pit bull, the ghettoized version
of Scooby and Shaggy, along for the ride; and up in the front

rigged in place, Rod, our white-faced pilot, paralyzed from two
prior accidents, from the neck down it was mostly will and spasms
propelling all of us from point to point, year to year, navigating
teen confusion, abandonment, the ever-present impotence
echoing through us, “Goddamnit! Goddamnit! My leg is spasming—

Don’t laugh!” Careening down the 405 freeway—the quadriplegic, the dog,
the girls, and me, the queen—our Mystery Machine gassed by a random
muscle, a jerk like snapping the spine just enough to live, being the only
pup to survive, caught in the stare of unreturned desire, grasping after
a mother grasping her bottle of Schnapps’ grasping the irony of it

Oh ye Fates, the last sordid act at the diviest dive just off the Cherry Exit,
licking your festering wounds, returning again and again to your all-seeing
crystal, the mother tapping the last drop out of that bottle: first the van, the
dog, the pilot. Where did you go wrong? Why do your blasted myths
always end with the chilling laughter of those just out of your reach?

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