Part One is here.
When you can see his eyes, Johnny’s got ears like perfect shells. Not all folded up like everyone else’s, but smooth with long water-polished ripples. If I have to look at him when he’s talking, I focus on his lips, because it helps me remember I’m trying to listen to him talking, but it’s his eyes I’m thinking about anyway. When you can’t see his eyes, he looks like someone you would ignore on the street, he’s not a sunglasses kind of man. All the threat that moves the world and makes each breath come out just in time to jump that next step so there’s no chance to think is in his eyes. When he laughs, it makes me deliriously afraid. I close my eyes tight, and I remember the red wet animal flipping around the tops of slightly crooked teeth and the lips starting a slow curve upwards. That slow curve, even just in my memory, it’s like a trigger, my body immediately ups the oxygen intake to prepare for intense activity. I’d say, “In-Shah-Allah.” He’d laugh. The pacifier popped in and he’d grab my hand and we were running. Whatever we’d done, there was always lots of noise behind us, but all I could see was Johnny’s back and hair in front of me, making everything else rush into streaks of color. I’d focus until the halo of white pushed the colors away from us, and then we were in the car and the rest of the world rushed back to me all at once. The impact of the wind, the car’s throttle and the rattle of its muffler. The sun glinting harsh across the windshield and us, laughing.