The Vanities of Haltridge Moths
Haltridge moths are perhaps the oldest style of moths, and mostly wore purple, at least while I knew them. The good moths kept out of sight, and never stirred amongst any type of lamp or light. I saw the purple moths sleeping most often in the warm mouths of dead homeless men, on long sidewalks, in the summer where the nights are blue. My understanding of their chuckling near me, I must say is limited. I do know that I do not deserve to be embarrassed, except for that time when I dropped my baby in that pot-hole, and like tiny purple storks, the moths brought her kindly out for me, but she was already dead, and that’s why I’d been taking her to the hospital, to bury her. My daughter was killed by choking on her soul when she sneezed, at least that’s what the doctors told me, after my wife, a doctor, had told the other doctors what to say. On my way home the moths did laugh at me, and with purple hearts they asked,
“Where’s your baby Mr. Honky?” My name was Mr. Honky. “Lost her in the sewers again, did we?” The moths weren’t British.
“She’s dead,” I told them. “She ate too many worm apples. And the worms,” I sighed, “these are my wife’s words: ‘The worms turned her into just another apple.’”
“Too bad,” the moths said, “We liked to think we saved her into having a whole long human life free of charge.”
“Life always has a charge,” I said and walked home sullen to play my kazoo. The moths must’ve found a homeless mouth to sleep in and put their purple to rest.
A dog that does not look like a dog came up to me in the morning and told me the day was sunny, so I didn’t need my fake bullshit smile, which I nodded then, and stopped thinking of how I shouldn’t have fed my daughter all those apples, even if my wife had told me specifically they had no worms. I went to the lake without this dog and saw the moths throw the bible they were burning into the lake. I sat down in the brine-orange grass, and decided to forget about my daughter. When the moths told me the bible had been filled with moths from a rival flock, I asked them why they didn’t leave the whole thing to burn in a trash can, and wondered if it was that they thought some might escape, and they wished not to watch a fellow moth fly with flaming wings of beauty, but they told me no. It was that they wanted to kill the moths by drowning, but wanted to make sure they felt the sizzle as they went. That’s when I asked them if they would allow some of their children, their tiny purple moth children to go inside my ears and lobotomize the part of me that thinks about my daughter. The moths all agreed, and told me they would do so next Thursday so long as I brought them that undogly dog, and made a barbecue and let the moths make a fort of his bones. I told them alright, I was in fact the dog-catcher, and so I got my van and peeled around the town, trying to remember why I had decided to stay living all those years ago.
In the coming days I pitied myself and tried to kill my wife. I was trying to be better, a different or changed man. I carried my coins in a pocket on my shoulder that I’d invented back when I was an inventor. I had a long talk with the dog when I caught him, and he told me regardless of whether I ate him or not, he didn’t think I should forget about my daughter, especially now that my wife was trying to murder me back.
“It will be odd,” he said. “She’ll be trying to kill you and you won’t know why.”
“I think,” I said, “that’s what I’d prefer. I think I’d rather die in confusion, than in knowing agony.”
That’s when the dog bit off my hand and ran away with it. I didn’t miss my hand as much as I thought I might. And when I returned home, I said I was sorry to my wife, and she didn’t also apologize, but admitted that she’d been the one to put these worms in the apples, “just,” she said, “as an experiment.” Some years later we found ourselves gray on a gray porch and the wind repeating our names back to us sarcastically as if death was saying you’re not important, that’s why I haven't come for you yet. This I could take and believe, and then, in the shameless wind that brought me shame, I recalled the moths, the Haltridge moths, and wondered how their living had gone.
In the summer where the nights are blue, many of the moths had been reborn, having gotten the bones of that dog without my assistance, and also the bones of my hand, which they refused me. That day, that old Thursday, some of the younger moths had lit themselves on fire in protest of the moth wars, but as the wind continued, god wouldn’t let them die. Flown in orange agony the parent moths watched like fireworks, and fed each other dog treats. God must have agreed more with the parents than the children, as he turned the flames green, and there was more fire left than any wings.
With their children still on fire, no longer purple, no longer holding any purple, even amongst their undoggish souls, the parents went to sleep in a near-by homeless mouth that had said its last word when he a saw the tiny fireworks.
“That’s so cool,” were his last words before God made him to die.
In between the years, time could not regret itself, and made the winters lovely, even when the nights turned green. The Haltridge moths, I could not betray them to the other flocks of moth, and say where I knew they lived, because, as difficult as life had been since I knew my wife had been growing the moths in apples, and that is where the worms went to and came from, I could not forget my memory of having the moths like too many tiny purple storks, save my dead daughter from sleeping forever in the gutters and losing her name to my guilt.
The moths, we sat beside the lake and watched the bibles burn like smithereens, patient to know that God was proud, and wanted the moths to write a whole new thing.
“Why did everyone think I let Jesus die?” the moths always used to tell me God always used to say to them. “Did they think it was because I loved him or something? Obviously if I loved him, I would’ve just let him live forever. It would be so much easier for everyone to believe in him and me if just let him live forever, which obviously I easily could do. The only reason I let him die is because I hated and still hate Jesus, he was a bad son, he never listened, and that’s why I let the other Jews kill him, obviously if anything was different I would’ve just kept him alive, and obviously if, like he said, like he lied, he wanted to die, wouldn’t he just commit suicide?”
This is all what the moths repeated to me most of the days, and most of the days, whether or not I would listen, none of it certainly was I able to deny.
The moths would always tell me the cost of winter was one good tooth. Two teeth were given each summer, and soon the mouth would be empty; the moths would move on. I could not help but ask if they missed their children, regardless of whether or not God had been glad to let the flames go on too long to say they lingered, and even if their days were easier, did the ease feel empty? All the moths laughed of course at me, and when I came home my wife told me the other doctors were betting on this one kid dying, and she was the only one to say the kid had never truly lived. This took the fun out of the betting, and they gave her all their money, because the price of truth is great, but the price of getting someone to pay you when you lie to them about the truth, at least in cash, is far greater. I wondered now why I had loved my wife at all, and remembered that I was gay and she never loved me either and she was lesbian and we were both reformed, and that maybe that is why she killed our daughter, not so the moths could live, but so she might be allowed to pursue some other human, perhaps some other marriage, a woman, without the guilt of betraying a child about our own marriage, as least a living one.
And as we sat unhappily on this gray porch we smiled, remembering it would’ve been better to never live at all. That, when I saw the moths again, but they had decided to turn red instead, I realized that God had been lying. That if God truly hated Jesus, he would’ve let him live forever, and that killing him meant he loved him because he wanted to see Jesus again as soon as possible, and, hating the moths, that’s why he let their children die and made them think they could write a new some kind of bible, and that homeless mouths were the best to sleep in. Therefore I committed the rest of my life to yawning at god, and telling him not to kill me, even though I really wanted to die. But he must’ve seen through me, seen that I wanted to see my daughter again, so he refused to capitulate, I therefore began catching and killing all the dogs in the world, and when finely there were no dogs left, God smiled and let Jesus make love to me because apparently Jesus was also gay, and that’s another part of the reason God killed Jesus, because he didn’t want anyone to find out he had a gay son.
After there were no dogs left, my stomach was always grumbling again, and my wife had finally found a wife who could love her heart and soul the way she liked, and I just kept on loving Jesus, who told me to eat all the moths, which I did, and, his father being angry with me, finally let the wind eat my death, and I went on to hell, where I found my daughter and we lived, warmly, happily forever after. Soon my wife and her wife came to join me, and so did Jesus, and then God went and came and hung out with us too, and so did the moths, back to purple from red. That’s when the moths told me this wasn’t hell and now I was a moth too and we were all just sleeping in another homeless man's mouth, and yes my daughter was still alive, but we were all moth’s now, sleeping in the blue summer and Jesus admitted that he had been the moths the whole time, and stabbed my throat.