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"Brucie" by Joshua Vigil

I was losing my hair. The pills I took made my scalp patchy and pushed out gunk that rose to my skin’s surface in fatty springs. My face exploded, lips cracked and bleeding. I was doing it for beauty. I was doing it for Brucie. Over the bridge I hit traffic. Wind blew past rolled down windows. From a neighboring car, someone said a mermaid had been spotted in the water. People flowed out of their vehicles, floated to the edge of the bridge to peer below. The person in the truck beside me asked me why I wasn’t hopping out. Not like we got anything better to do, he said. Murmurs drifted down the honking drag while masses continued to crowd the side. I told him I’d already seen the mermaid. It wasn’t so exciting. And I was thinking about Brucie, all that he’d do to me once I hit land. I was supposed to avoid sunlight anyway. Whenever I went outside, which was hardly ever these days, it burned, and I imagined this is what the mermaid felt like when she was on land too long. To be singed by the elements. I told the man all this. He said, That’s a hell of a drug. Worried you might grow a tail? I wanted to tell him I already had, but I’d felt like I’d done enough oversharing for a day. I told him about Brucie instead. I said he was an engineer trying to save the world. Studies earthquakes, I said. Been to Haiti and Nepal. I drive trucks, the man said. I told him that was honest work. He smirked, said he didn’t tell me what he drove. That isn’t any of my business, I said. Whether it be drugs or people or food or clothing. What do you do? he said. I take care of being beautiful, I said. All for Brucie. He told me it sounded like I was a hooker and I said, We’re all selling ourselves, I’m just front and center. The truck driver nodded. I inched my head out of the car. The mermaid’s wearing a coconut bra again today, I said. Are you buying what she’s selling? 


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Joshua Vigil lives in the Pioneer Valley. His work has appeared in HobartHADMaudlin House, and elsewhere.


Joshua Vigil is on X/Twitter @J0000005H

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