Abstract Magazine International | In the Blue House by Max Talley
Abstract seeks fine art in all forms that engages with both the crises and joys of our shared human condition. We seek art that engages the edge of now; we seek to explore a future forward zeitgeist with a respect for the gifts of the past. We are looking for both established and emerging artists across a broad range of genres. Our criterion is quality.


In the Blue House by Max Talley

27 Mar 2018, Posted by admin in Short Fiction

Art: Moon by Mary Hanrahan


Inside the blue house, our house, everything is blue: the furniture, walls, and the general mood. We drink beer once in a blue moon and it is indeed Blue Moon. Even our humor is blue. We listen to old comedy records by Redd Foxx and Buddy Hackett, sometimes Lenny Bruce. When music plays, it is “Blue Chair” by Elvis Costello, “Blue Bayou” sung by Roy Orbison, or “My Blue Heaven”. Outside on the porch, everything looks blue, except on nights during a full moon where reality appears blue-green, and when the dark sky is occluded with clouds and then it glows blue-black.

My sister Pam and I are inseparable. Not literally. We aren’t Siamese twins, but two of a kind. Our parents live with their parents in the blue house. Have I mentioned that our parents are younger than us? Which makes zero sense to the outside world, but perfect sense within the hush of our blue-shadowed interior. Perhaps we were adopted. Various theories are bandied about, primarily because we enjoy the word bandy. Immaculate conception would render us Biblical, maybe related to God herself, or some god of the Greek or Egyptian pantheon. There is a possibility we are robots or toys. We don’t age—or haven’t yet—and outsiders often remark on our facial skin devoid of lines or changing expressions.

“Look at their blank, stupid, expressionless faces,” visitors sometimes offer.

People inject poison into their cheeks and foreheads to become doll-like then condemn us for our stiff, placid complexions. Hypocrites.

When you exist in the blue, you are calm, never troubled. No reason to say “Namaste” or go hoarse on circular Buddhist chants, no reason to practice deep yoga breathing.

Pam and I love fishing on the pond behind our house after midnight. The moon is painted pale yellow and after mixing with blue pigments of the sky forms an eerie green. We wear what resemble snowshoes girded by inflatable pontoons so we can walk across the pond’s surface then cast our lines far down into the murky water. While the pond is not wide, it apparently plunges deep into crevasses of the earth. If someone could hold their breath long enough and possessed the strength to descend far enough, they would be scalded alive by magma in a boiling pit of unstable creation. Our fishing lines are coated to shine ghost white in the black depths. Sometimes we catch night fish—denizens of strangers’ nightmares. Spiny, frightening-looking beasts who sleep blanketed in mud by day. Their ridges, sharp teeth, and bulging eyes mark them as descendants of dinosaurs—unaffected by the Ice Age or great meteors that wiped out their brethren.

We practice catch and release. How could we bring such monstrous creatures back home? Frankly, they would make our parents—who are younger than us—burst into tears. One sighting and they would need to sleep with their bedroom doors pried open and a light switched on in the hallway. And such gaudy illumination during night is not welcome within the blue house. Our house.

Because Pam and I spend so much time together, a cloud of suspicion has formed, along with innuendo about our status. We laugh about this in private, without moving our mouths. As long as I’ve been conscious, I have worn one outfit of clothes—as has my sister. We do not sweat and are covered with a protective coating so as not to become dirty. I think once, long ago, when our parents were infantile idiots, they undressed us then thrust us together. But the shock was so strong, both Pam and I have blanked out that memory. Studying her, I can discern the slight rise in her blouse suggesting breasts but no outline of what crude visitors refer to as “a camel toe.” Likewise, studying myself, I see no protuberance breaking up the perfect line of my nylon slacks.

We are innocent.

When we vocalize together inside the blue house, of course we sing the blues. If outsiders witnessed us, they might find it odd to view our cherubic, frozen faces holler and rasp John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, or Robert Johnson songs. But that’s all part of the wondrous world we inhabit. In years past, we used to crawl atop the roof when our parents and their parents slept. During their slumbers we gain control, allowing us to animate, to roam. However, we had to fend off curious raccoons and endure staring contests with pink-eyed opossums. Beyond them, we didn’t appreciate being shat on by night birds. Does anyone?

Our parents consider alterations, implants enabling us to talk, to respond to their questions. These voices might resemble Southern Californian surfers, or Appalachian hill people, or ragged children from a Dickens novel. The possibilities are almost limitless.

We can speak, but choose not to—around them.

In the blue gloom eternal amid the glue bloom of artificial things, I read Baudelaire. We are happy propped on shelves reserved for the bric-a-brac of human nostalgia: sports trophies, framed photos of dead relatives, fuzzy animals we refuse to have anything to do with, and ugly pottery from school projects.

We keep vigil overnight. Let us wax and gloss your dream-washed sleep.

To live inside the blue house requires introspection, public silence, and communication without words. That’s how we like it and are determined to continue. I desire blue suede shoes for Christmas; Pam wants to be Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel. Can you blame us? Blue Velvet and Blue Hawaii are our favorite DVDs.

Insult or ignore us as you wish. Just remember, when the cataclysm comes, be it by nuclear apocalypse, by environmental chaos or some devastating virus, the future will find us amongst the rubble with the rats and cockroaches, and whatever mutations have survived. We may be bruised and even scorched, but shall endure. Tell us your pathetic stories before it’s too late, for our existence is ceaseless, boundless, timeless. Forever blue.

About the author:

Max Talley is a writer and artist living in Southern California. His novel, Yesterday We Forget Tomorrow, was published in 2014. Talley’s fiction has appeared in Gold Man Review, Fiction Southeast, The Opiate, Del Sol Review, Thoughtful Dog, and Hofstra University – Windmill. His paintings can be viewed here: http://maxdevoetalley.com/?page_id=8

Art: Mary Hanrahan

In the artist’s words:

Mary Hanrahan is a poet and artist living in East Lansing, Michigan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Counseling. Her work appears in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Bottle Rockets, Sonic Boom, The Ghazal Page, Hedgerow: a journal of small poems,The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere.

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