Arthur took a marker to his stomach and penned the word Adriatic. He held one of his mother’s mint-colored pumps between his ribs, turned the bathroom faucet on and closed his eyes.
Arthur couldn’t believe the number of televisions at the Kmart. He had never cared much for golf, but seeing twelve swinging men somehow justified the sport. It was if they suddenly had capes on.
He found his mother among the t-shirts.
“Arthur, put that back. We are not getting that.”
Arthur swung the five-iron through the collection of draping garments.
As they drove home, Arthur, however muffled, called from the back seat. The car smelled of plastic even more than usual.
“Mom, I’m still not dead yet. Look. Mom?”
She had tried several bleaches and stain removers, but all of Arthur’s shirts hung on the clotheline still faintly reading like a best-of the world’s greatest bodies of water—Atlantic, Bosphorus, Mississippi, Galilee.
The Dead Sea was a bit unlike the others—a field of red covered the better part of the front of the shirt. On the back, SALT was written as if it were the family name above two large double-zeroes.
It wasn’t enough that it was ninety-eight degrees outside. It was as if Arthur was nervous all the time too. His mother had never seen anyone sweat like that.
When Arthur opened his eyes, he thought he was inside the Uni-Mart. Fluorescent lights always had the tendency to make him shiver.
In the cab of the ambulance, Arthur imagined customers shopping, buying loose ends for their one-bedroom apartments. It was one customer in particular—the young girl buying cigarettes—that had saved his life. She breathed into his mouth as if she were preparing for a party (as if it were a valve). Little by little, life began to flow through his arms and legs.
In the few seconds before Arthur’s head hit the sink, he tried to determine if it were bath water or sweat on top of the toilet seat. The water began to rise high in the bathroom. There had been a severe blow to the stern of the ship. One by one, the passengers jumped to safety—red life-jackets over their suits and gowns.