The Mafia Gorgon, A Poem by Chris Russell

“You can’t save all of them,” I said. My brother was telling me how good an egg my half-sister was. Upholding the conditions of the custody settlement thirty-two years ago, I’d chosen, in agreement with the court, to refuse visiting my mother on account of her abusive behavior. My half-sister came a little later, and I’d never really seen her before except in passing. Now, having dropped out of high school, born three children, lost her marriage and abusive husband and most of her possessions, she’d begun trying to look up estranged members of her family for support. My brother felt it was his job to encourage her and help her emotionally. I, on the other hand, felt taken advantage of. The situation reeked of my mother, like she was almost living through her daughter. I was angry that she’d reinserted herself back into our lives and had inadvertently leveraged my brother’s moral convictions against my own, a relationship that since my father’s death had been based primarily upon the knowledge that we were all that was left. That we were completely different from one another in the philosophy department seemed unimportant. Both of us were willing to see past both of our differences. Now that this imposter was on the scene, I wasn’t the only family member to safeguard. I wanted no part of it, told him so, and he seemed put off by my choice. But to me, I was only upholding a choice I’d made when I was 7. And besides, to me, family wasn’t blood. Family was to love and support and encourage, regardless of blood. Family was a learned behavior. A choice. My brother was family. I had a couple of friends I considered family. But mostly I was my own family. They say: “no man is an island.” Which may be true. But if given the choice between being an island or living on one with a bunch of half crazed idiots sleeping around on each other and beating up on each other in their sleep, I choose the island. I chose it when I was seven, which doesn’t say much for the courage department or good judgment department of others who might have chosen otherwise. My brother cleared his throat. “I know, I’m not saying I want to take care of her, but she is family, so I want to be there to support her if I can,” he said. “I’d support her the way I would support anybody in her situation: refer her to support systems, provide her some phone numbers, give her the number to the high school so she can call about getting herself her GED. You have to empower someone like that or they will seek to ruin your life.” I said. “No, I understand. It’s understandable you wouldn’t want to be there,” he said. “I made the choice a long time ago,” I said. “You should have seen her. She looked just like mom. She was so soft-spoken and kind behind the scenes just like mom was, except her huge man hands. She must have gotten those from him,” he said. “They are always nice at first. The more needy they are, the nicer they are. No thanks!” I said. It hurt to say it like that. But it was a necessary hurt. Like choosing to eat somebody’s dead body to stay alive the way that soccer team did in the Andes. “All right dude, well I’m going to work. I’ll call you later,” he said. “I’ll call you later,” I said. There was a knock on my door. I opened it. A beautiful nearly naked woman was standing there. “A man stole all my clothes and tried to rape me. Can I come in?” she said. But it was raining out, and April. The streets were muddy and wet. Her hair was dry and I didn’t see a spot of mud on her. Even her Victoria Secret thong and matching bra were in perfect condition. I slammed the door and locked it in three places. I thought I heard hissing and rattling on the other side of the door. I grabbed the broom and put my back against the far wall opposite the door. I pulled my phone from my pocket and hovered my finger over 911. I put it back in my pocket. No one would believe me. Like most Mafia Gorgon, she had family everywhere, and was part of a bloodline that valued species continuation above all else. It was all about keeping the blood fed, and to hell with the rest of the world. Except the monsters were getting more desperate, because now, sleeping infants were showing up asleep in punctured trash bags on anonymous doorsteps, or found half-asleep, wandering around outside clinics, asking “Where am I?”

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