New Voices: “Aprovecha” by Mason Boyles

December 6, 2021

This New Voices story comes to us from Mason Boyles. In “Aprovecha,” Rena’s brother, Walt, makes an unexpected appearance, early, for once, for her birthday. Walt’s career has caused friction in their family, and now Rena doesn’t know what to expect of Walt. Will this time be any different? Boyles’s prose, relying on sharp, precise verbs, carries this humid story along its strange journey.


This year Walt breaks into the trailer early. Rena’s rushing air into her bicycle tires when the gravel patch down by the 133 turnoff starts prickling. Only her brother would risk such a skid on that hairpin. She ditches the bike pump and ducks behind the hydrangeas just as his Jeep fishtails into their driveway.

He gleams shirtlessly out of the driver’s side, bicep-curling his backpack. He sets it down to kickstand her toppled bike. “Sis?”

Rena stays crouched.

He fishes the spare key from the bird’s nest and shoves inside. Rena peers through the front window, feeling eleven all over—she used to stoop outside his bedroom window just like this to snoop on him.

He pops the lid of her takeout and sucks a sauceless chicken wing, seasoning it with slurps from a spliff. The chest tattoo’s new, and the paunch blurring his abs.

Rena lurks through the doorway. “Are you bulking?”

“Missed you, too, Ms. College.” Walt scrapes the ECU magnet with the sharp end of a  wishbone like a scratch-off ticket. “Did you bury Ma under the carport after she connipted?”

“I’m applying for need-based.”

“You’re not Lumbee enough.” Walt points the wishbone out front. “What you got’s a pinch flat. Told you not to ride those tires on gravel. Wheezing that bike pump won’t do a lick till you change the tube.”

Rena tries to place that alphabet of ink margined under his collarbone. A streak of epitaph- looking capitals. Maybe Greek. Better than the alleged Hebrew that looks more like SWAN on his bicep. Her brother a Rosetta Stone of languages he doesn’t know, breaking that wishbone. He sags into the La-Z-Boy and offers her the long end.

“Your birthday’s in my gym bag.”

The zipper splutters powders when Rena opens it. She digs through the Ziplocks of whey protein and creatine, coughing chalk and synthetic sweet. A new Macbook. A shaker bottle plush with mold. Glad-wrapped nugs of skunk weed. She reels up a lava-lamp printed fanny pack.

“Warmer,” Walt says.

Rena spanks out his wallet. Two tickets loll from the billfold. Roundtrip flights to Lima. Walt gives the wishbone a paper-football flick. “Happy early eighteenth. Don’t kiss me.”

“This flight’s for tomorrow.”

Walt just sucks at his spliff.

“I’ve got work,” she says.

“Horace’ll manage. Without your ass to grab he can cook with both hands.”

Somewhere out on the state road a truck engine starts gargling.

Rena rubs the tickets together. There used to be CPS files just like this, a matching pair of papers headed with their names. “How’d you—where, I mean—”

“Got a patron.”

The tickets go gross in her fingers. She sticks them to his sweat-wet chest. “I’m closing tonight. Will you be here when I’m back?”

Walt heaps his stare toward the carport.

“Ma’s on a headhaul to Fresno. She left yesterday.”

He hands her back the tickets with his keys. “Take the Jeep.”

* * *

Ever since leaving home Walt’s been late for Rena’s birthdays. Always a day or two tardy, depending on when Ma left on a job. Not long after her semi was gone he’d churn up in his Jeep with some expensively thoughtless present for Rena. The complete set of Pokémon cartridges for the wrong game system; a grow-your-own mushroom kit with the spores missing; that racing bike she had to walk a mile from home before riding, its tires too fragile for gravel.

His whereabouts were the best gift. He’d kindle a spliff while Rena pretended to give a shit about Pikachu or fungus, filling her in on his latest itineraries. Skinny-dips with manatees in Blue Springs. Raves in rotting Borsch Belt hotels where insect-sized birds nested in shattered chandeliers. There’d been a kind of toad he’d licked at a warehouse club in Grand Junction that astral-projected him into a five-acid-tab-level trip. Rena mouthbreathed the weed, but his adventures were what lifted her. She just tried not to think about who he’d been with. How he’d funded these wanderings.

He’d ashtray his roaches in the cupholder of Ma’s La-Z-Boy and load up his old barbell, asking how long until she got back. He might stay for the day. Get a lift in. The trailer shivered with his dropped weights. He’d leave the air tire-tracked with his smoke, his shaker bottle hemorrhaging clots of protein.

Rena’d vent the windows. She’d wipe the whey and creatine off the counter and sprain her wrists stabbing the vacuum tube into the cupholder to spare Ma the loathing she’d turn on herself if she found out Walt had been back without seeing her.

Lately Rena’d been managing that singlehandedly. When she’d chosen ECU over UNCW, Ma’d run to Harris Teeter for champagne; two toasts later she’d taken her flute into Walt’s bedroom to sulk with the door open. Rena grated her teeth for an hour before leaning in.

Ma shuffled through Walt’s coat-hung clothes, those cosplay getups and home-cut stringers more air than outfit. Seemed like she was looking for something; the fabric, maybe. She twined a jacket’s tattered fringe. “I ran both y’all off.”

As if Rena’d picked the farther school to get away from her. Walt and Ma were both like that: They thought they made Rena do everything.

* * *

At Huddle House the late crowd hunches in their booths like bunkers. Rena clatters Midnight Specials down in front of drunks diluting their Blood Alcohol and shrimpers already dressed in their waders, catching herself trying to remember the Spanish for ‘shellfish’. Hating how Walt can still clog her head with his monologues—gone a year, here a day, hogging all of her headspace. That he’d already bought the tickets; that he’d assumed she was coming, playing off of a known weakness. (Pescado? Piscina?) She hadn’t saved up enough to join Ms. Yelton and her A.P. Spanish class on their spring break trip to Lima. Now here he was, late as ever, giving her a belated chance. His jaunts had never taken him off the continent. How much had those tickets cost him? Either he’d gotten down to some real freak shit or found someone ashamed and rich. The third consecutive time she forgets grits Horace pinches her ear and says, “Get your head in here or head out.”

Rena takes the tip jar off the counter and dumps it on the grill. She and Horace both watch quarters sinking into swelling buttermilk, dollar bills sopping grease and heat until they darken and crinkle like bacon.

Horace shoves it all into the tip jar with his scraper and hands it to her. “There’s severance. Hope you learn something in Greenville.”

Rena drives home at the witching hour, Old River Road choking onto 133. Dark caulks the air between the trunks of old-growth pines. The lightless trailer gives her a sprained feeling. It’d be par for Walt to bug out and leave her the Jeep. She stops halfway to the stoop and wedges behind the hydrangeas, peering in through the window.

Walt’s back in the La-Z-Boy, or still in it, blued by smoke and computer glow. The fumes smear his face so it looks nearly painted. The laptop’s sideways to the window. Lines of text barcode the screen. His lips move like he’s muttering what he’s reading. Memorizing it.

Rena eases the door open. “Busy?”

Walt lifts one hand from the keyboard, a wave more dismissal than greeting. By the time he’s walked over he’s closed out of the document. His wallpaper’s a screen-grab of him deadlifting. Classic.

He slides his hand down his stomach as if groping for his former physique. “You’re back early.”

“How many balloons did you hump for those tickets?”

“It’s not like that. Not this one.”

Roaches smolder in the La-Z-Boy’s cupholder, ashtrayed among fractured wishbones. Rena cups them up.

“Those were for Ma,” Walt says.

“I live here, too.”

“That’s my point, and your problem.” Walt shuts his laptop and folds over the pool-wall, easing his computer onto his backpack. He spreads his arms. “You don’t have to.”

* * *

Rena keeps the window closed for both flights. The next-farthest above sea level she’s been was a Brownie hike up Mount Mitchell. Walt barges through customs with his backpack potbellied in front of him to thwart pickpockets, insisting both of their passports into his fanny pack ‘por seguridad’. He leads her out of the Arrivals terminal and sweeps his hand through the night like voila. “No me beses!”

Rena blinks past him at the laneless mass of Ubers. Their driver asks, “Where to?” in accentless English.

“Voy a ir al Hostál de Flying Dog!” Walt hollers.

Rena’s too jaw-slack to grate her teeth at him. The blurt and raunch of Callao has her feeling newborn, all shock and raw senses. The ticker tape of passing graffiti. The Malecón standstilled by stalled construction, cones and caution signs strangling traffic into one lane. The GPS Etch-a-Sketches itself recalculating.

Walt stares at the arrival time like his looking might keep it from rising. “Qué falta?”

For a jetlagged second Rena thinks she’s asking the driver who to blame; then she translates. “Are we missing something?”

Walt gets this shit look.


He points out her window to a pair of silhouettes trickling between halted vehicles. One hops on a hood and juggles Inka Kola bottles. His crouching partner picks the trunk’s lock with a screwdriver.

Walt swats his fanny pack. “Seguridad.”

The driver drops them off beside a Chifa joint with a mural of a winged dachshund sprawling the length of its alley. Its sniffing snout points them up a fire escape. Four garden sheds corner the roof, painted and named like a Monopoly board’s corners. A bar womaned by a top-hatted camarera sits at their center. Walt’s booked them bunks in Free Parking. Rena makes for the room and he sags down on a stool, shouting that it’s bad suerte to duerme without Pisco and canchita.

“You act like you’ve done this,” Rena says.

“Let’s vamos with that!”

Four sours later Walt’s trying to pee into the next building’s chimney. Rena saves his stool with the left heel of her Tiva. Horace would be scraping the griddle down about now. She chips a dried shard of hashbrown out from under her thumbnail, debating whether she’s happy or relieved.

A woman’s head rises into sight on the fire escape. It looks bodiless from where Rena’s sitting, the rest of her body hidden below the roof’s edge; Rena gets this spurting hunch that the lady’s waiting for a cue.

Walt rounds the GO shed with his zipper open, rubbing his backpack like a belly. “No suerte.”

His slouches down beside Rena, blocking her view. She leans around him. The lady’s climbing the stairs. She comes and keeps coming—the stretched kind of tall.

Walt follows Rena’s stare and says, “Oh.”

The lady sits down two stools to his left. The way she lowers herself makes Rena think of a praying mantis, like her limbs are so long they have extra folds.

Walt’s throat swells. For a second he looks like he might sob; then he flicks a canchita kernel at the lady. It skitters into her arm. She swats it like a mosquito, without glancing. Walt reaches for another.

Rena pins his hand with both palms. “What the hell?”

He pulls free and slides a napkin to the lady. “Autógrafo.” His voice cracks. “Señora Amazon.”

A muscle wads under the lady’s right cheek.

Rena leans around him. “Perdon! El gringo está burracho!”

The lady only looks at Walt then. He turns away to face Rena, and Rena thinks of the Newton’s Cradle glued to the dashboard of Ma’s rig; how Walt used to sneak the semi’s keys off the counter and help Rena up into the cab that was bigger than her bedroom, hypnotizing themselves with the endless pendulum of those beads. That’s what this looks like, or feels like: an invisible inertia is being transferred from the lady to Walt to Rena. Walt mouths a word that she wants to be sorry.

He pulls his passport from his fanny pack and slides it to the patron. It’s folded around papers. The lady flicks them open, tucks them back. She reaches into Walt’s fanny pack and pinches up Rena’s passport. She fans them both like a hand of cards.

“My sister,” Walt says.

Rena snatches at her passport.

The lady keeps her eyes on Walt, but leans like she’s speaking to Rena. “Now we’re talking.”

She drops the passports on the bar in front of Rena. The papers flutter from Walt’s and he snatches them.

“What’s that?” says Rena. “The fuck’s happening?”

The lady pulls a button bag out of her pocket. Two emoji-yellow tablets gleam under the plastic. The plastic seems to swell as she prickles the seal open, like the heat of her grip is causing the air inside to expand. She drops them into Walt’s palm. He cups one into his mouth and offers the other to Rena. “Aprovecha.”

Like a slipped disc, it all clicks. This lady’s the patron. They aren’t on vacation; Walt’s brought her on a business trip. Rena pinches Walt’s ear and twists. “I’ll leave y’all to it.”

* * *

Patron is Walt’s term for them. Rena’d been eavesdropping on his consultations before that word seemed like a euphemism. She’d wobble on his waterbed while he flexed into the computer, lecturing about macros and protein timing. Howdy Youtube, it’s Hick Fit coming at you. Go on and mash that subscribe button if y’all smell what I’m cooking.

Always shirtless. Always working up a pump before shooting. He’d take a swallow of baking soda from the Arm and Hammer box freshening the fridge and suck a Popsicle, scrunching up dumbbells until his biceps veined like Ma’s road atlas. The baking soda for sodium. The Popsicle for glycogen. Curls got the blood moving. Walt blurted this bro-science to Youtube for free, but the website linked in the description was subscription-only: FULL ACCESS. Meal plans, training programs, private consultations.

Walt locked his door for that last thing.

Rena’d go out back and peer through the inch of window that his blinds fell just-short of, watching him sweat under the webcam’s green glare. He’d shove up from a set of pushups, squint at the screen, and roll over for crunches. It seemed more like he was the one being coached—at least, the one taking instructions. He donned billowy anime getups from packages UPS’d to their doorstep and shadowboxed. He fumbled through dance-steps. Rena’d once shivered through an entire thunderstorm outside his window watching him lick a balloon.

Later she’d wonder how Walt hadn’t caught her snooping. She’d wonder if part of him wanted her to see. He’d drive her to school in his lifted Jeep confessing to her. UNCW could keep their exercise science B.S. He’d never turned in his application. He was making bank off in-person consultations, saving up; he never told her what for, but Rena had a nauseous hunch. Don’t mention this to Ma, Walt would say, and that eased her—as if holding onto his secrets could keep him here in Leland.

He’d drop her off at Leland Middle with Emily Schmidt and her FCA bitches shouting, “Mash my subscribe!” They played his videos under their desks in homeroom, tilting their phones back so Rena could see. When she’d told Walt just to park in the high school lot he’d gone Ma on her, finger-trapping himself in a strand of his own hair and muttering, “You’re ashamed of me.”

He was skipping school anyway. When he pulled out of the roundabout he blinkered back toward home. Rena never called him on that, or the balloon-licking. She didn’t want Walt to shame himself into leaving.

The FCA bitches had swarmed Rena at B-lunch the week before Christmas break. Emily’d paid for the full access subscription; she’d shared screenshots on the soccer GroupMe. Emily dropped her phone on Rena’s lunch tray and said, “Yummy.”

Rena stared at the pink stripe on that screen for full seconds before grasping it as anatomy. Then Principal Thurber reached over her shoulder.

That afternoon the FCA bitches started chanting “Perv for Pay” when Walt pulled up.

Rena kicked gravel at them. “Real Godly.”

She yanked the door open and found a duffel bag clogging shotgun. Walt flicked his thumb at the backseat. “Don’t tell Ma.”

“Thurber called her.”

A blotch bloomed out from under Walt’s Aviators.

By the time he pulled into the carport his face was solid thermometer. He parked in the driveway with the engine running. Rena sat. Walt reached back, and unbuckled her seatbelt. She twitched at the brush of his fingers—a reflex that still costs her sleep. If she hadn’t squirmed, might she have begged or stubborned him into taking her?

Instead he jerked back as if shocked. “Go on in.”

Rena climbed the stoop. She stood with her hand on the front door, the handle feeling like chess piece she was still holding on to—like letting it go would allow Walt to move. The Jeep engine crackled behind her. She listened and listened to it. Gravel boiled out from under its tires.

The engine simmered into silence and the sinking sun splashed her shadow like shorebreak up the door and Rena was still standing there when the semi’s brake lights tidelined the trailer.

Ma pinched Rena’s ear until it felt like a piercing. “Gonna deal with y’all in birth order.”

She left Rena standing on the porch. Rena heard her knocking soft on Walt’s bedroom door, saying, “Darling?”

“Go on in,” Rena said. Ever since they’d been living in Walt’s leaving.

* * *

Rena switches to chilcano and the far side of the bar. Four stories below car alarms swell and pop. A spongy fog sops up the damp glow of streetlights. She tries to look up—out—but her stare keeps stubbing on Walt. He cups both hands around the tall lady’s one, bouncing his shoulders as he talks. The lady nods with her eyes shut. They look like they’re grooving to some Reggaetón beat beyond Rena’s hearing. At this distance—with her B.A.C., in that fog—Walt’s lips are as unreadable as his tattoos. She pins twenty soles under her glass and sulks into their room.

Each set of bunks has file cabinets as lockers. Rena puts Walt’s birthday into his and the padlock won’t twist. Her own opens it. It opens Walt’s laptop when she adds the year to it. She sets it on the file cabinet and scrolls through his documents.

The list is full of scripts from his Youtube videos. Why Your Bench Sucks. You Don’t Know Dip-Spit About Protein. Every title reads like an insult. She keyword-searches Lima the Recents folder, then Amazon, then seguridad.

Walt drips through the door. He looks more sweat than skeleton, as drenched as the humidity. “Listen.”

“You brought me here on business,” she says.

“I told you I had a patron.”

“I thought you’d—it—you’d taken care of it.” The phrase stings like reflux. “They paid. You bought tickets.”

“There’s more money coming.”

“We’re already here. Let’s just ditch her.”

“Five thousand,” Walt says.

Rena’s jaw sours. “What?”

“Five thousand American. That’s how much.” He kneels servant-like in front of her. “That’s your birthday money.”

Rena sucks her thumbnail, tastes bacon grease.

“The job’s just tonight. We’ll be getting remote by the a.m. Rúpac. Paracas. Wherever, sis. Your wish is my itinerary.” He pulls up and presses back the straps of her Tivas. “This one’s not even weird.”


“I mean what I do. The money’s easy.”

Rena leans out the door, trying not to picture what hard money might mean. The patron sits sideways to the bar, shut-eyed, mouthing something. Her tumbler looks as small as a shot glass in her hand. Rena tries to imagine the patron’s life off of this roof. What was this lady doing when Rena dumped the tip jar on the griddle—banging her head on the roof of the Metro? She has a functional beauty, like a building. Something in the sturdiness of her hugeness.

“The real cash is in fringe shit,” Walt’s saying, using his Youtube voice. His drawl oozes each vowel longer. “Stuff people are embarrassed to get off on. They’re paying for discretion.”

“I don’t wanna know.”

“You’re letting on like you do.” Walt reaches up and shuts the laptop around her hand. “There’s a rave in Chorrillos. Tag along.” He pulls a yellow pill from his fanny pack. “I saved one for you.”

Rena feels like Walt’s tattoos have been transposed on her brain—she can see her own thinking, somehow, without translating it. “She just wants you to heckle her?”


The way Walt’s talking—how he’d been rehearsing last night—gives Rena the sense that he’s baiting her. But that would only work if she were curious. She’s only ever been able to imagine Walt’s patrons as those anonymized silhouettes from FBI documentaries, the kind where voices are robotically distorted. Mustaches. Graduate degrees in Library Science. Men. Never anything like this architecturally pretty lady.

“She’s okay with this? Me?”

“Darling’s agradable.” Walt stands. “Vamonos. Let’s get sleepless.”

* * *

The patron leads them south down squeezeboxed blocks, bars and hostels crammed together like an accordion’s bellows. Trimovils and cabs pass the patron without slowing. The crowd parts without glancing up at her. The brims of the street vendors’ bowler hats come about up to her elbows. Walt walks behind her, stomping her shoes off her heel. “Treetop. Pterodactyl. Lemme see your wingspan.”

Rena drops back, hating how far she’s followed him. She’d turn around if she knew which around to turn to. Every block seems to shift and seal as they cross it like the twisting grid of a Rubik’s Cube.

The bars give to single-story houses. Cats nimble across broken bottles and glass shards cemented onto roofs. A man bicycles past with a trailer-sized wagon of junk hitched to his seat- post, chanting his scavenge through a handlebar-mounted PA. “Compras-colchónes-y-tapacubos- y-electrodomésticos—

A car alarm smothers his litany. Rena’d been picturing a penthouse by the Larcomar, a street-lit vista of the Pacific, wall art in glass cases. Not this. She jogs up to Walt. “Are we close?”

Walt chants louder like to drown her out.

“I asked something.” Rena catches his arm and he shrugs her off. She grabs the patron’s shirt.

The patron’s shoulder blades drop a full seeming foot. She leans into Rena’s palm. Walt shoves the small of the patron’s back to part them. “No toques.”

“What do you get out of this?” Rena says.

The patron walks faster, spilling her voice over her shoulder. “Honesty.”

They hang a right onto a plummet of steps, switchbacking down a cliff-face to a sandless beach. The damp-darkened rocks look as charred as the complex of cinderblocks stranded on them. Lights throb and lance above the roofless building.

The patron pulls a tarp off a doorframe and waves them through. Rena ducks into a lava lamp of a room. Disco balls strung from bare rafters float like air bubbles. Shut-eyed dancers roil in warm strobes. There’s no music. A hairless dog surfs across the crowd, its legs churning air as if swimming.

Walt puts a finger through the patron’s belt loop. He reaches back for Rena’s wrist and she pulls away, squirming her hips to an imagined beat.

“Go on!” she shouts. “I’ll just aprovecha!”

A few dancers frown. A mulleted kid with jean-shorts cut like Speedos opens one eye. He glares at her through a dilating pupil.

Walt steps between them. “It’s not safe.”

“That’s an issue?”

“You’ve gotta stay with us.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Walt crouches, trying to fuck with her Tivas again. “I need you.”

He pinches his fingers an inch above the sandal straps. Rena has the feeling that he’s seeing them holographic—grabbing at a reflection only he can see.

She shouts up at the patron’s back. “What’d you give him?” The patron stands statued.

“Hey, Medusa. You look in a mirror or what?”

She puts her own finger through the patron’s beltloop and the lady slumps into her. This time Rena presses back, waiting for her brain to catch up to the heat her nerves are feeling.

Walt swipes at Rena’s wrist twice before grabbing it. He yanks her arm down like a plug from an outlet. “You can’t do that.”


“Touch.” He squeezes her and veins kudzu up his forearm. He looks ready to shout Howdy Youtube. “It’s the terms.”

“The what?”

Walt squeezes Rena’s wrist like a barbell, and she pictures the background of his laptop—that screen-grab of him deadlifting, six hundred pounds of plates frowning the bar. The thermometer flush spreading up his neck and face. She’d stood from his waterbed the way you leaned with an arcade game, like her moving might move him. He’d humped the bar to lockout and quivered there for full seconds before dropping it. It was less lifting the weight than holding it that seemed the feat, the leg-level strength in his hands. That’s the kind of grip that Walt has on her.

“I’m jodido,” he says, and lets go. “Just come. Just keep an eye on me.”

The patron leads them through a doorframe into a room sectored by strung-up tarps. The tarps hang from ropes higher than Rena can reach, but the patron has to duck under them. The back of her head sinks and rises between the partitions like she’s breaststroking. Then it stops rising. Walt crumples through another tarp and she’s sitting behind it, legs straddle-stretched. He sits down between her sprawled feet and pats the subfloor beside him. There’s room for them both to sit between the patron’s calves. Rena stays standing.

The patron snaps her fingers.

Walt takes off his fanny pack and Rena snatches it. She pulls out his passport and unfolds the paper: Inside are their birth certificates. Ma’s name highlighted. Rena’s jaw sours.

Walt unzips his shorts. “We don’t touch.”

My sister, he’d said.

She shoves through the tarp.

Walt peels it back like a scab. “You can’t go.”

“I’ll wait.”

“You’ve just got to be in there. Just stand there.”

Rena slides her passport into her pocket. She throws his at him, then the fanny pack.

“You just watch. That’s all you have to do.” He hitches his unzipped shorts with one hand.

Rena stands like she stood on the porch the day that Walt left, only now it’s him she’s staring down down instead of his absence. “What does she do?”

Walt grates his right index and middle fingers over his left thumb knuckle. It’s not so much what he’s miming, but how roughly he’s miming it that makes Rena spit.

“Five thousand,” Walt says. “That’s tuition. This is for you.”

For a shard of a second Rena considers it. One night for a semester, in lieu of another thousand-some witching hours hip-checking shrimpers’ shoulders for tips.

“Please,” he says. “Don’t pick now to get back at me.”

Rena marvels at the me-ness of him. How can Walt think her holdup’s a grudge? The same way Ma’d imagined his leaving was her fault. Rena feels like she’s watching Ma sift through Walt’s outfits all over.

“You’re just like her,” she says.

Walt still hasn’t asked what she wants to major in.

He crouches. She steps back, but he’s only grabbing his passport and fanny pack. His dropped shorts bunch around his ankles. He steps out of them when he stands. He stabs his passport at the fanny pack, missing and missing the opening. His flaccid penis curls like a dead mouse in his briefs. “It’s nothing you haven’t seen.”

Rena grabs his wrist and guides the passport into the slot. Then she runs.

She sprints back toward the dance floor, tearing through tarps. The ravers’ footsteps and slapping torsos collide into alignment. A drumbeating rhythm. Almost music. She shoves into the crowd with the din shaking her teeth loose. The hoisted dog pisses to applause. The coast pouts beyond broken windows, the bay’s southern cliffs jutting out like a chin.

A day and some time zones ago she was watching her brother come home. She was hiding from him.

Her pocket snags on a hand. She sees her passport slide out. The hand slithers back into the mosh—all these arms cropped from torsos, these spare or stray parts. Let them have it. Rena sits down and watches faceless legs tangling.

Mason Boyles’s first novel,
Bark On, is forthcoming from Driftwood Press in 2022. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He holds his MFA from UC Irvine, and is a PhD student at FSU.


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