Gloria kills many things: Scorpions, flies, bacteria, viruses, one small kitten, a beaver, deer, pheasant, mice, frogs, a duckling, a Rottweiler that menaces her friends on their way to junior high. Her father keeps his gun collection in a locked cabinet in the basement. Should Gloria require a gun, she must remove a side panel. Ammo is in the study upstairs, across from her bedroom. But Gloria’s sixteen. She has her own gun. She’s the teen female markswoman champion. She can bowhunt a deer, run fifteen miles, bowhunt another deer. Carson notes this in his diary. ‘I want to bowhunt a Gloria,’ he types. He shows Gloria.
“Is your bow your dick?” Gloria asks.
“You’re right, I’m a dick.”
Gloria comforts Carson in Sedona. In Taliesen. Gloria comforts Carson in movie theaters, grocery stores, shopping malls. Carson crying at a very small table. Gloria touches carefully his shoulder. Is Carson more or less sad when he sees rabbits? Squirrels? Scorpions? No squirrels in Arizona, only the million rabbits, the millions coyotes. “We can bowhunt them,” Gloria assures Carson, but she’s not sure. Gloria knows the visible world is only that, visible. To touch anything is faith. Her hand on Carson’s shoulder is not so much a hand as a dust cloud. They are dust clouds. If they make love, their intermingling clouds will mix atrociously. And Carson can’t abide uncleanliness. He doesn’t think that’s a word but he tells Gloria anyway. They’re scrubbing the bathtub, staring up at the fluorescent light as it flickers above them.
“What about your sister?”
“Yeah, we should hang out.”
“But the mission?”
Should Carson ask Gloria to flirt with Samson to compromise him in his very clean real estate office in the slatting Arizona sun? Photographs then in plain brown envelopes. He texts his father. ‘Be a man goddamnit!’ is the reply. His mother agrees to send more beer. He receives a letter from the Evergreen State College. In summary: ‘pay your damned tuition.’ Oil interests, Carson thinks, plastics! Voltron. Carson wants to research the orange-ness of all things. To paint himself, Gloria. To cover them both in Coca-Cola. But Coca-Cola’s not orange. Not orange, not orange. Carson wants to be mutable. To be any other thing at any other moment because to be a thing to be a thing is better than to be a person which is cold and selfish and terrible and filled only with protoplasm that degrades and implodes and capsizes itself in the selfish terrible sea of commerce and cattle.
“We’re all chattel, is what I’m trying to say,” Carson says to Gloria.
“I’m no goddamn slave.”
Gloria aims her bow. Gloria aims her wrist rocket. Gloria aims her shotgun.
Gloria’s parents visit one fine June.
“We could shoot them,” Gloria says. “No, no no. We should’ve invited your mother.”
Nobody thinks this is a good idea. They leave Scottsdale for New Mexico.
“We’ll see caves and caverns!” Carson declaims.
Gloria’s parents are Tammie and Timothy and they bear no love for Carson, whom they theorize maybe be the next Charlie Manson.
“It all fits,” Tammie says to Timothy, “weird shit happens in the desert.” Could we double tap him, leave his body in the bone-bleaching sun for vultures? she wonders. “Too many Clint Eastwood movies,” she says.
Timothy feels uninhibited around Clint Eastwood. Timothy might do anything, if only he could hold the image of Clint Eastwood in his brain, cold and fast like a peach. It’s a rental minivan that moves them all as a group beneath the bone-bleaching sun.
“Tell them our mission,” Gloria says.
“So your folks are all kinds of wealthy,” Tammie says, “we find that disconcerting.”
Carson finds everything disconcerting. Are his parents wealthy? If they are, then where are they, and where is the wealth hidden? Should there be a new mission, a long and dire search for gold doubloons, for example. Helicopter to China. To Hong Kong, Singapore, Belarus. Parachute in, Delta Force, Army Rangers. Torch then his father’s very important corporate office. Tie his father to the burning office, criss-cross his body in the doorframe, doubled over or twisted, Play-Doh, elastic. Target practice. Water balloons. Rowboats.