Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “The Color Yellow”

Lil’ Cassidy and I, walking to her car from the Livewire, talk about birthday parties. How as teens we never wanted to have them because we were afraid no one would show. We’re drunk and hoping to sound grownup and profound. I’m fighting the slur when I talk about sending invites, and now reality is bending side to side like a rubber pencil, tilting as we walk, blurring with the yellow streetlights lining El Cajon Boulevard. Blurring, tilting. Blurring with the colorless rows of parked cars. Tilting with the closed-down shops and shuttered liquor stores, the slate-gray sidewalk, shadowy darkness in the alleys and the sour milk smell of a dumpster, the sliver of lemon moon, a trash can with a pizza box stuffed half in it (rolled and smashed into a cone shape), then a cop car passing slow, and we stop talking about birthdays until it’s gone down the boulevard. In a storefront window as we pass, my skin looks yellow–sick meat skin, cadaverous, eyes like black spots of decay bruising a piece of fruit. Cassidy walking next to me with her shaved head and leather jacket looks like a child, a young boy, and watching us together I stop listening to what we’re saying. Maybe she’s talking or maybe I’m saying something now, but what I see is child Cassidy and corpse me. The world turns–blurs, tilts. The night yellow-lit, and we walk. –Adam Gnade

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