We became blood brothers. Back when AIDS wasn’t all over the news, in the eighties, when we pierced our index fingers with a shared needle, sterilized and blackened with a non-childproof lighter of course, and three of us became one, promising never to lose touch.
After the ritual we smoked stolen cigarettes and cigars from your father’s basement office in Alpine, New Jersey. That same desk is where we borrowed the porno magazines: Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler. Smoked them atop the abandoned swing set beneath the green Conestoga wagon canvas tent of abandoned playground equipment in your backyard. We flicked fluorescent ashes into broken seashells.
Haven’t seen either of you bastards for two decades, but sometimes I stick my ear against the pink spiral of the conch shell on top of the toilet, hold it against my head, listen to the wind in your backyard as the bathroom closes in, shut my eyes and stick my lips against the spiral of the Eustrombus gigas, release a trumpet sound, a high-pitched battle call–can you hear me during one of your recent heroin stupors in the Florida Keys? Will you ever answer me again? If the siphonal canal of the queen conch could talk it would tell you that the kingdom if still alive, we don’t have HIV. The purple spire and protoconch are still intact. Tell me you’re still alive. We’re still brothers, goddamn it all.