The Bird in the Urn

What happens at the retirement community, stays at the retirement community.
Photo by Dani_vr
Photo by Dani_vr

The omelet chef sprinkles ashes of my daughter on diced onions and orange bell peppers and beats the eggs with his spatula–a wizard casting a spell with wand coagulated with yoke. The sun peeks through barrel cacti and embraces the arms of rotting saguaros. The omelet chef waves the salt shaker above the labyrinthine wrinkles of his sunburn. Cremated remains rain from calluses into the plates of the wealthy. His white knuckles are cumulonimbus freckles and organic mushrooms frying on the side of his skillet reflect the face of the three-year-old who retirees will digest with mimosas.

[private]The woman with the bacon covered in maple syrup is responsible for cracking the angel’s skull against the asphalt. She was my little girl. The omelet chef smashes brown eggs against the side of his frying pan. Why are elderly drivers so careless? What makes them continue pushing cowhide when they are unable to decipher the correct buttons on the elevator? A captain must give up the wheel when he loses the ship. But money buys everything. Why should white old ladies never go to prison?

The chef is numb and he tosses tomatoes over the cutting board into the garbage with the sharpest knife in Maricopa County. We listen to their giggles and cackles as gluttonous residents fish for salvation with worms in their stomachs, catching buzzes munching gourmet breakfast, silverware clanging with the zealous reverberation of cymbals in the hands of chimps. A bottle of Tabasco burns into my back pocket. My job is to make the Bloody Marys–squirt lemon and ashes atop crushed ice, cayenne peppers, celery, and Worcestershire sauce.

Old fucks love Bloody Marys. The requests have increased twofold since she was scraped from the sundrenched tarmac where senior citizens launch missiles into oncoming traffic.

“This is amazing,” the orange hairs say.

They lick the ashes from the rim and suck the tangerine slices stabbed with toothpicks. Viscous crimson magic potion swirls in their pint glasses. The omelet chef is plotting revenge. He assures me vengeance shall be served bloody and hot.

“Give me a chubby hunk, cutie pie,” says one of the dying cougars.

Roast beef is sliced in the spotlight, pink meat glistening beneath a bulb so moist that succulent sprinkles splash our eyelashes. Momentarily blinded by cooked cows, my daughter comes into focus beneath orange illuminated eyelids–warm blanket of dying sparks from falling stars. The affluent bastards insist on roast beef and lobster tails for breakfast. The decadent residents reek of perfume and mothballs and patchouli, and I can smell the dead girl on their flesh, her laughter sifting through the inertia of jewelry on anemic wrists, and diamonds on turkey necks, as the lucky sperm club brushes toward the ice sculpture surrounded by shrimp.

Ladies in this flock are popular maidens who bully the staff with ornate requests and harass the dirty old attorneys who only shower for the hope of copulation. The women fill the dishes with jumbo shrimp and cocktail sauce and lemon wedges. Ashes are stuck on the lipstick of ageless lovers sitting at the bar waiting for electric wheel-chaired chariots to arrive via elevator shaft. The omelet chef grimaces and peppers the dishes with ash and paprika and thyme. I sneak outside behind the electronic dumpster to hit the roach tucked into my sock. The morning gets better.

A Mexican gardener watering the grass around the agave sees me and swallows the roach with orange shears raised toward the rising Phoenix sun. As the smoke fills my lungs, I forget about my dead daughter, her body chalked into soggy concrete by the droppings of a giant deformed bird. The creature is injured, unable to fly above the palms, its wings beating against the fronds.

Back inside, the early birds are returning to their rooms with stuffed bellies and sweaty armpits, Styrofoam boxes filled with leftovers, throats congested with delectable phlegm and ash. The angel follows me along the hallway carpet through the kitchen. The omelet chef has sliced off four fingers on his left hand; the thumb remains. He crashes through the glass and swaggers across the putting green toward the giant deformed bird, rising and sinking toward the flagstick on the nineteenth hole.

The omelet chef clutches the mangled creature, takes a meaty chunk of the wing with yellowed incisors. The bird responds with stubborn jaw and the man losses his bloody stump, his hitchhike crutch. The beast flies above the reach of the elderly and the manager, clutching the severed appendage, enters through the gaping hole. The bird soars across the dining room into the bar area, searching for something to heal deformity. There is nothing in its way except mahogany and plaster. It collides with the mural of a stagecoach and bounces of the Native American celebration, glides with grace and glory into the elevator just as the doors are shutting.

We decipher screaming and the elevator stops on the higher floors before descending. The doors open with mellifluous grace. The old lady who killed my daughter is running into the padded white walls adorned with elephant skin, her hands on her empty eye sockets and Bloody Mary dripping down her chin. She is quivering in the far corner. The bird glides from the elevator through the sweaty palms of desperate employees, out the broken window, into the highest arm of a saguaro hollowed with holes, its empty eyes protruding from a bloodied beak covered with ash.

The omelet chef walks into oncoming traffic. The bird places the eyeballs in the spot my daughter died. Her screams reverberate through the glistening steel doors of the elevator. She searches white walls with fingernails the shade of freshly-sliced roast beef.

Beneath the spotlight, I dice yoke-embedded nails and calluses of the omelet chef, sprinkle them into the casseroles and cocktail sauce. I carve my eyeballs from their sockets and place them on the cutting board. Gripping the spotlight cord, the enormous omelet table crashes upon me, burying the warming blackness. The bird squawks from within as the desert breeze is borne through the window and the drone of ambulances reminds the residents that they are one short drive from the crematory.[/private]

Matthew Dexter

About Matthew Dexter

Like a nomadic Pericú, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of grilled shrimp tacos, shrimp cocktails, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Like a nomadic Pericú, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of grilled shrimp tacos, shrimp cocktails, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

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