MOTHER, THE EXTERMINATOR! BY MATTHEW KINLIN

Joan Crawford circa 1951 with adopted daughter Christina Crawford.


I pulled off the bitch’s head, giggling in her little chiffon gown. Ringlets caked in pale yellow sulphur as she crawled out of the bathtub with blank and silver eyes like a blind eel. She pointed at a nightcrawler in a Melrose boutique and I saw its shocked, powdered face turn to the lavender glass: a cotton shirtwaist, 1920s faux bob. It was Brigitte Helm lost and adrift in The Blue Danube, seizure-haunted flapper summoning Ereshkigal from own heart chakra, the saliva of Hungarians. Raised a knife to the Californian sunset as the mannequin burst onto the pavement into amethyst ozone.

Christina, the brat, could never understand what Metropolis meant to us at the time—seeing the titanium doll flicker into life, the human head as nothing but an extension of the lightbulb, a Bauhaus plug socket. Shapes falling from our mouths as we plotted the destruction of our worthless, drunken fathers. I wriggled inside the vermin-ridden skin of Norma Shearer, another Ziegfeld monster fucked clean in ostrich, a smiling lamp of sperm and Vaudeville-imprisoned poltergeists. The circus offered us permission to hang the tightrope walker from his pathetic, vertical living. A talcum pierrot drowned in his own crummy face. And now it was the turn of the ingenue: a daughter dressed in black roses, a yellow chrysanthemum resting in her hair.

I tied each of her golden plaits to the bumpers of the 1933 Cadillac and the 1952 Chevrolet. She had stopped crying by that point because she knew it wouldn’t get her anywhere. She saw there was no return to our domestic stalemate, that I had found the decency to exterminate the cretin. Many years ago, I had visited that loathsome orphanage filled with stinking babes, all glistening with piss and squirming like red wet slugs, desperate for a simple gesture of humanity, each possessed madly with the single, embryonic memory of mother-warmth. I had placed the key to paradise in the infant’s palm and what did she do? Hocked a fat green loogie right in my face! But when you spit upon the cheek of Saint Peter, does he smile and let you pass? No. He tears out your liver and throws you into the howling pit.

She had stood there and screamed insults that would appall any bum on the street. Has-been, hag. A witch living in her syphilis castle. A no-good whore. I sent her to bed and wept, rubbed the Estee Lauder butter, any cold cream I could find into my face and breasts—suffered nightmares of the skin peeling away like bacon rind, face nibbled off by a mewling pussycat that Dorothy kept on the set of The Bride Wore Red. I saw Christina at the balcony window, floating twenty feet above the garden lawn. I aimed a sawed-off shotgun at the Teutonic moon, undressed for millions inside the Tycho Crater. We’ve all shown our tits for a one-way ticket to the Milky Way. We’ve all drank in Detroit bars, casinos covered in argon-generated slatterns, slept with Tennessee and his intergalactic boy-lovers. The only way to survive in space is to hold your breath longer than the rest.

I wanted her to turn bright purple and explode like bubble gum. Sat at the table staring at another plate of shrimp Louis, turning her nose up at the entire San Pedro Bay. An obnoxious child—Mary, Queen of Scots caked in horse shit. But she had overestimated the stupidity of mothers, baffled into generosity by hormones engineered only by phony sentiment, Ronald and Madeleine falling in love in Zenda. All those clueless harpies: Bette, Mae. Shirley Temple swallowed into the Tahquitz Canyon, found dead and covered in sky blue iguanas. Just another baby-doll tramp. I hate all men and their rotten, stinking breath. No more kindness. No more frosted malts or pretty dresses. Christmas makes me sick. Let them chuckleheaded bozos starve under their cold trees. I only want to sit here with my vodka and cigarette and remember her head tearing apart like a screaming watermelon, listen calmly to the ice cubes squeaking in the glass like little rats.

I tied one plait to the Cadillac and the other to the Chevrolet. I placed a brick on each accelerator and sent them roaring apart. A final look passed between us, almost of deep intimacy, of two orphans never accepted. I wished then that life had been sweeter to both of us. How easy love must come to the docile masses, falling over each other on park benches like braindead Labradors. I danced the Texas Tommy in silver-pink smoke beginning to fill the garage and enjoyed the motion-picture. Her auricularis anterior starting to tighten. Her zygomaticofrontal suture pouring blood. The nasalis muscle bisecting. Her pretty mouth still going, calling me a cunt. A demented cunt. I laugh now at the smoke and the head of a glorious, liquified clown stretched across the wall. A blonde pumpkin spewing ash into flabbergasted shadow and light. A stone-cold masterpiece.


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Matthew Kinlin lives in Glasgow. He tweets @garbagemagician.