Twenty-three million dollars was a lot of money and Annabelle deserved every cent.
Twenty-four hours for thirty-three days, never stopping; exhaustion long gone, now transformed into something akin to transcendence and the encapsulated air within the hollow bones that kept birds afloat.
Vision slowly returning; tear ducts drained, devoid. Her fingers, now nubs — it’s fine, she’ll buy gold tips along with new lips — hers gone, worn right through: an exhausted hangman’s noose.
Her father attempted to translate for the reporters — her words reduced to half-taut slurs and gradient whistles peppered with sounds reminiscent of vowels and consonants. It was clear she wanted to speak, but — .her brain still not set right; askew.
Decay set in on her knees, elbows, feet, whittled close to the bone by the exertion.
The neighbors — the town — celebrated her completion; the feat had taken its toll on more than just the victor. Parents tired of minimizing the frightened questions of children, their trusting eyes not quite believing,
“No, Annabelle won’t be coming for you — where did you hear that?”
“It’s not screaming baby, that’s only the wind — “,
“Daddy’s not crying — he’s just — tired.”
Dismissive mothers, avoiding eyes, prayers pregnant in their throats.
The residents just wanted the quiet freedom of their streets back; the privilege of a summer breeze ruffling the curtains of their kitchen windows, of flies batting against a screen door fighting for entrance – these things long closed since the horror of the third day, the fourth, and thereafter.
Seven hundred ninety two hours. In the evidence of broad daylight, in the secrecy of darkness, in drizzling rain that teased the embers, Annabelle worked hard.
So very hard —
Everybody watched, at least once, and no matter how foolishly she would spend her new wealth, nobody judged; they could not. It was well earned.
Michael Jackson on my television. Michael Jackson on my radio. Michael Jackson is everywhere. Michael Jackson everywhere, all the time, is a great and beautiful fucking thing. I love Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson! I want to watch Michael Jackson footage every minute of every day for the rest of my life. When I sleep I want to dream Michael Jackson. If a television station decides to show stuff about Iraq or how to lose 10 pounds by summer, I will change the channel until I find something about Michael Jackson. I will watch Debbie Rowe freaking out to reports about Michael Jackson. I will watch random fans of various persuasions explaining how they loved Michael Jackson. I live for “never before seen footage” of Michael Jackson’s kids and interviews from people that knew Michael Jackson’s landscaper’s cousin’s boyfriend. I enjoy news commentary about where Michael Jackson’s kids will end up and how Michael Jackson was on drugs and anorexic and how he burned his scalp off from fireworks. When the funeral is over and the hubbub dies down, I will just replay all of the Michael Jackson is dead footage that I have Tivo’d 24/7 for the past week or so. Like, I even enjoy watching helicopter shots of Neverland Ranch where Michael Jackson used to live. I like when they show many different quick shots of all of the faces and fashions of Michael Jackson. I enjoy the sound of the words, “Michael Jackson”. When Michael Jackson does his dancing and singing on the television programs I am watching I “can’t stop ’til I get enough”. Did you see how I worked in a Michael Jackson song lyric? It’s because there are forty hundred thousand Michael Jackson songs in the world and you can pretty much recreate the Bible from just using their words. Michael Jackson’s face never bothered me. I loved each and every one of Michael Jackson’s faces. I painted a mural once, of Michael Jackson, on the ceiling of my bedroom and “some people” didn’t appreciate that I chose his pointy anime ghost version face, but whatever, I am the one who has to look at it during fucking. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop and still is the King of Pop and will always be the King of Pop even though he is dead. I think Michael Jackson could’ve died an old man, in his bed, with Prince, Paris and Blanket surrounding him covered in neck scarves and tears but it was not meant to be, obviously because of his many problems. Michael Jackson walking through crowds. Michael Jackson shaking hands. Michael Jackson in a limo with sunglasses. Michael Jackson being interrogated by police. Michael Jackson with Brook Shields. Michael Jackson with John Landis. Michael Jackson with Bubbles the Chimp. Michael Jackson getting a Grammy. Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson high fiving. Michael Jackson dancing and singing with his hair and his feet and a glove. The radio says Michael Jackson things so much, they say a lot, very many things, about him — Michael Jackson. When they change to a Kings of Leon song, I change to find more Michael Jackson coverage. There was a Michael Jackson billboard. There was a Michael Jackson bus stop ad. Michael Jackson t-shirt stands. I bought 29 Michael Jackson t-shirts and gave them away on my bus ride home. Do you know what Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson t-shirts are a big hit to the bus riding community. I am going to buy more Michael Jackson t-shirts and give them away on the subway next and I anticipate receiving the same positive response. I will be sure to buy more XXXL Michael Jackson shirts because that seems to be a popular size. Many kids love Michael Jackson and they don’t know about inappropriate touching. Every week I will celebrate the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death by baking a cake in his likeness. As there will be many cakes, I will be able to use every different likeness of Michael Jackson that has ever been, even the Thriller Zombie Michael Jackson, and the Jackson Five pimphat Michael Jackson and even the Wiz Michael Jackson and you get the picture. This way, my friends who I make come to my weekly cake eating Michael Jackson remembrance parties will never get bored and will look forward with mustered anticipation to their weekly Michael Jackson memory fest wherein I will try, unsuccessfully, to stop crying and the Michael Jackson songs will never stop playing, ever, like the one house in your neighborhood that keeps their Christmas lights on all year round. I am like those people but with the memory of Michael Jackson, because he is like Christmas, and should’ve never died, his lights will always be on my house, glittery, and joyous. You Michael Jackson hating motherfuckers who keep egging my house, eat a fucking razor blade pie.